Aug 23, 2012
Each year, there are far too many work-related fatalities. Most of these could be prevented with the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Besides face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, and safety shoes, PPE includes a variety of devices and garments such as goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs, and respirators. Below is a list of 5 important safety products that could save your life:
1. Fall Arrest System – The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma. A personal fall protection system is comprised of an anchorage connector, body wear (i.e. a full body harness), and a connecting device. The connecting device – a lanyard or lifeline – bears the greatest force during a fall and is the most critical life-saving component of the system.
2. Gas Detectors – At high levels, exposure to many toxic gases is fatal within minutes. Gas detectors are life-saving devices. They are precision instruments that are built exclusively to assess and monitor potentially lethal gases on the job site.
3. Respirators – An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators are designed to protect you from toxic airborne substances that could bring about long-term or permanent impairment or in some cases, death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.
4. Hard Hats – Protective helmets are often the most obvious form of personal protection that workers wear. Hard hats are designed to protect against impact and penetration of flying and falling objects, and in many cases, save lives. Many hard hats can even be equipped with accessories such as face shields and earmuffs, for added protection.
5. Safety Signs – In the workplace, safety signs serve as a visual reminder that employees need to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or avoid certain areas. Although signs are typically not something you’d think of seeing on this list, they can certainly save the lives of otherwise unaware individuals in hazardous situations.
All categories of PPE are important and are designed to protect employees from serious workplace injuries or illnesses. As an employer, you must assess your workplace to determine if hazards are present that require the use of PPE. If such hazards are present, you must select PPE and require employees to use it, communicate your PPE selection decisions to your employees, and select PPE that properly fits your workers.
Aug 10, 2012
It is OSHA’s job to regulate safety in the workplace. Failing to meet their standards can result in citations and hefty fines. But a visit from OSHA doesn’t have to bring on feelings of anxiety and fear for employers.
If employers take the necessary steps towards compliance, they can rest easy when OSHA comes knocking.
Here are the top 10 ways to avoid OSHA fines:
- Being Prepared – In most cases, OSHA won’t show up without a reason. Possible reasons for a visit to your jobsite include: a fatality or serious accident, employee complaint of unsafe conditions, and follow-up inspections.
- Hazard Communication (HazCom) – Failure to maintain adequate HazCom programs is one of the most common citations nationwide. The fundamental of this standard is that employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace have a right to know about the hazards and how to protect themselves. Some compliance with the HazCom standard involve having a list of all hazardous materials on your jobsite, training in the proper use of PPE, and MSDS sheets on site.
- Training - Failure to meet PPE requirements, which includes offering required PPE and training to employees as well as written certification, is also a common citation. Simply taking the time to train employees will not only prevent injuries, it will save you money in the long run.
- Paperwork - OSHA views maintaining paperwork as critical to safe operations. Inspectors are likely to review written HazCom or PPE program materials, training documentation and more. By having paperwork readily available, you are showing that you care about your safety program.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls – Because of the seriousness of fall-related injury, OSHA takes fall protection very seriously. Employers must be sure to properly install fall protection equipment, adequately train employees in the use of fall protection equipment, and use safe work practices.
Citations involving ladders have only recently became common. Data suggests that more and more people are using ladders when they shouldn’t. Ladders that are broken or bent should not be used – ever. Working on and around ladders can be hazardous, and proper is a must.
- Ergonomics – Overexertion is a leading cause of work-related injury, and is unique in that is can happen over a long period of time. Ergonomics is like designing the job around the worker through feasible engineering controls. This can greatly reduce the risk of injury – and an OSHA inspection – in your facility.
- Lockout/Tagout – If your employees operate any heavy machinery or equipment that needs to be shut down before performing any routine maintenance or service, you are required to implement a lockout/tagout program. Failure to comply can be costly – up to $7,000 per violation.
- Engineering Controls – Engineering controls are used to remove a hazard or place a barrier between the worker and the hazard. Examples include ventilation systems, sound-dampening materials to reduce noise levels, and safety interlocks. These things may come at an initial cost, but will be well worth it in the long run.
- Administrative Controls – These work practice controls are changes in procedures with the goal of reducing duration, frequency, and severity of exposure to hazards in the workplace. Examples include rotating workers to avoid repetitive motion injuries, requiring breaks when working in hot environments, and proper housekeeping.
- Research – If you are unsure if your facility is in compliance with any OSHA standards, the web has a ton of useful information. OSHA’s website has a variety of materials, supplies, handbooks and articles that will help you to avoid violations during an inspection.
On any jobsite, accidents can and do happen. But by taking the proper steps, you can work with OSHA to ensure all employees work in safe and healthy conditions in order to prevent injuries.
Jul 17, 2012
OSHA requires head protection be worn in any environment where there is a potential for injury to the head [29 CFR 1910.135]. In addition, the head protection must comply with ANSI Z89.1 performance guidelines.
All hard hats are classified according to the specific impact and electrical performance requirements they are designed to meet. This classification is also commonly referred to as the ANSI Z89.1 standard.
Industrial head protective helmets meeting the requirements of the standard are classified as Type I for top protection or Type II for lateral impact protection. Both types are tested for impact attenuation and penetration resistance. Type II helmet performance requirements include criteria for impact energy attenuation from impacts from the front, back and sides as well as the top; off-center penetration resistance, and chin strap retention.
All hard hats in accordance with this standard meet or exceed either Type I or Type II impact requirements. In addition to type classifications, all hard hats are further classified as meeting Class G, Class E, or Class C electrical requirements. Each of these types and electrical classes are outlined below:
- Type I Hard Hats – Type I hard hats are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting for a blow only to the top of the head.
- Type II Hard Hats – Type II hard hats are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow, which may be received off center or to the top of the head. A Type II hard hat typically is lined on the inside with thick high-density foam.
- Class G (General) – Class G hard hats are intended to reduce the danger of contact exposure to low voltage conductors. Test samples are proof tested at 2200 volts (phase to ground). However, this voltage is not intended as an indication of the voltage at which the hard hat protects the wearer. Please note: Class G hard hats were formerly known as Class A.
- Class E (Electrical) – Class E hard hats are intended to reduce the danger of exposure to high voltage conductors. Test samples are proof-tested at 20,000 volts (phase to ground). However, this voltage is not intended as an indication of the voltage at which the helmet protects the wearer. Please note: Class E hard hats were formerly known as Class B.
- Class C (Conductive) – Class C hard hats are not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors.
Jan 3, 2011
So the first working day of 2011 sees California introduce a new set of workplace safety laws. The state’s worker safety agency – Cal/OSHA – will now find it easier to investigate safety violations that occur in California workplaces following a revision to its labor code laws.
Susan Kemp, a labor law attorney for the California Chamber of Commerce, describes how the new laws will work.
She says the boost to Cal/OSHA’s enforcement powers applies mainly to businesses that own and operate heavy equipment. “Any type of machinery that involves anything that can pinch you, push you, cut you, smush body parts, anything with the height that you can fall, tunneling, people in ditches where there’s a cave-in, those kinds of things,” Kemp said.
Cal/OSHA will enforce a new safety standard this year to prevent farm workers from getting sick from the heat. Farm and orchard managers now have to provide each worker with a quart of water an hour – and five minutes of rest in the shade if the employee asks for it.
Susan Kemp says the new law also requires employers to train managers on how enforce the new regulation. Kemp explains, “The employer has to monitor the weather and make arrangements in advance, and supervisors and managers have to be trained to do that as well.”
The new laws in detail include:
New Off- Duty Meal Break Exemptions
AB 569 provides greater legal clarity to Labor Code section 512(a) which requires employers to provide their employees, who work more than six hours in a day, one 30-minute off-duty meal break after five hours of work. The new law adds section 512.7 to the Labor Code and will exempt from the off-duty meal break requirement workers in specific industries who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that contains meal period provisions. The employee groups include: construction workers, commercial drivers, security officers and employees of electrical and gas corporations or local publicly-owned electric utilities. These are industries or positions where it was deemed an off-duty meal break can be impractical. The revision was made to better meet the requirements of the particular positions. The bill was introduced by Assembly Member Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet).
Workers’ Compensation Extended Eligibility for Public Service Workers
AB 2253 expands workers’ compensation eligibility for firefighters and law enforcement officers who have developed certain types of cancer that are reasonably linked to their jobs. Existing law establishes that this presumption be extended for a period of three months for each full year of service the employee worked, not to exceed 60 months beyond their last day of service. The pending legislation will expand that time frame to up to 120 months and will amend Labor Code section 3212.1. The bill was introduced by Assembly Member Joe Coto (D-San Jose).
Organ / Bone Marrow Donors’ Leave and Benefits for Employees of Private Employers
SB 1304 requires private employers to permit employees to take paid leaves of absence for organ and bone marrow donation, similar to provisions existing for California state employees. Under the new law, private employers are prohibited from interfering with employees taking organ or bone marrow donation leave and after the conclusion of the leave of absence must allow them to return to the same job or an equivalent job. The bill, introduced by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), further prohibits retaliation of the employee for taking the leave and provides employees to seek restitution if these rights are violated.
New Procedures Established and Definition Clarified for Cal/OSHA Serious Citations
California employers are legally bound to provide employees a safe workplace. California law has authorized DIR’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, to enforce applicable safety and health regulations and issue citations when investigations reveal that an employer has committed violations of those standards, including serious violations that cause an employee to suffer or potentially suffer, among other things, “serious injury or illness” or “serious physical harm.” AB 2774, introduced by Assembly member Sandre R. Swanson (D-Alameda), amends labor code section 6432 to define serious physical harm and establishes a rebuttable presumption as to when an employer commits a serious violation of these provisions. The bill further establishes new procedures and standards for an investigation when issuing serious citations.
Learn more at the California DIR.
Dec 8, 2010
Of all the potential risks at your average workplace and working environment, you’d have thought you’d be safest parked in a comfortable chair in a warm office behind a desk.
Not so according to several studies in the U.S., New Zealand and Canada. Sitting between six and ten hours a day or for two hours unbroken can lead to some very serious health problems posing a similar health risk to that of a smoker.
Increased health problems include:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Heart attacks and heart disease
- Musculoskeletal pain and disorders
And the following are a few quotes from various articles:
People who sit without moving for 10 hours a day – and for at least two hours without getting up – are three times more at risk of an embolism or deep vein thrombosis than those who do not, a study by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand suggests. [via]
Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting (outside of work) were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than three hours a day. Men who sat more than six hours a day (also outside of work) were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than three hours per day. The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level. Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality. [via]
Doctors say the evolution of technology has impacted the way we use our bodies. Humans have moved from the active life of being hunter-gatherers to becoming agriculturalists. The Industrial Revolution moved us to factories and the technological revolution landed us behind desks and into the culture of sitting too much.
“Sitting has become the most common human behavior, literally, it outstrips the amount of time we spend sleeping,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that sitting has become a new form of smoking. Smoking was once so common that people were reluctant to see the health hazard it posed. [via]
Quite sobering stuff!