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Make It A Safe Day!

  • Ebola Scare: Should We Be Concerned?

    Has the media whipped up enough pandemonium to get everybody running for the nearest exit and away from or demanding immediate action to the latest healthcare crisis “Ebola”? In short, Ebola is a disease that attacks the immune system, and is passed by body fluids. Politicians are weighing in and pointing fingers. Czars are appointed, and hysteria reigns. Truth is in the mid 1970’s there was an Ebola outbreak in Sudan and Zaire, Africa (“Ebola” is named after a river in Zaire Africa), maybe we should have taken it more seriously then. It infected over 284 people and over half of them succumbed to the virus. Since then, there have been other outbreaks of different strains. A third strain “EBOR” even paid a visit to the USA in 1989 coming from infected
    monkeys.

    So why the sudden concern? Perhaps the mounting numbers or perhaps we have seen the Symptoms_of_eboladreaded disease actually claim a life here in the USA, with more cases reported, although minimal. In Africa however the numbers are almost staggering.  Some headline seeking politicians are even calling for a quasi-quarantine by restricting or banning travel to and from the offending country. What they need is our help and prayers.

    So how does or how should this affect us as Safety Advocates and Professionals? We need to be proactive and develop an overall general “staying healthy in the work environment plan”. The flu season is bearing down on us, and avoiding the flu can be similar in that proper sanitation is the key, both personal and environmental. Proper hand washing, sanitizing work surfaces where practical, more than periodic cleaning and sanitizing of the restrooms, checking air filtration systems,  and EDUCATION. Make your employees more aware of coughing and sneezing, and make sure they have the proper Blood Borne Pathogens training. Encourage your employees to get a flu shot and to make sure the rest of their inoculations are up to date, eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids. All this will help to improve overall immunity to illness and disease.

    For more information on Ebola signs and symptoms check out Mayo Clinic. We do need to keep ourselves informed and educated. Get involved with other healthcare initiatives in your hometown and workplace. If you have school age children teach them proper techniques for washing hands, don’t send them to school if flu symptoms are apparent, and covering up if coughing or sneezing.  We do have a lot to consider as we look out for each other regardless of nationality.

    Give your employees a healthy work environment and make their safety a number one priority with a safety program you can trust. Visit safetyinstruction.com for all of your safety training and supply needs! From everyone at SafetyInstruction, make it a safe day!

  • Wearing More or Less Hats

    It’s 9 pm, and as I’m leaving the lumber yard with some trim boards, nails and some ¼ round, my wife calls and asks me to pick up some milk and cereal. I walk dutifully back into the store, and the clerk greets me while asking if I had forgotten the nails. “NO” I mumbled not too happy to be out at this hour, “but can you tell me where I can find the milk and cereal?” “Sure” she replies cheerfully. “You’ll find it in aisle 12 next to the frozen pizzas, take your time we’re open till 10 tonight”. You’ve got to be kidding me.  Lumber yards used to be lumberyards, grocery stores were grocery stores and at gas stations you bought gas and a candy bar. Times have really changed.

    All this reminded me that even in industry things have really changed. We’re all wearing more Safety-Professionalhats than ever before and trying to satisfy more needs with more responsibilities. It now becomes imperative that you come prepared with a plan. As a safety advocates we find that having a written plan is only the tip of the iceberg when trying to satisfy OSHA’s general duty Clause (Pub. Law 91-596 Section 5(a)(1)). I’m sure there isn’t a safety person or HR person out there that doesn’t struggle occasionally trying to cover all of the bases of this clause which is non-specific, but specific saying that just in case you’ve missed something , they didn’t. The hazards encountered today are numerous and more are being discovered as we speak. Finding, not just the proper training, but also the time to train, and budget, all becomes an uphill battle. So education and training starts with you, the HR, safety person, competent person, trainer, or all of the above.  There is more education available for you through OSHA, numerous college campuses, seminars, and technical colleges. That’s a good thing, and there are more young professionals choosing this career today with more education.  You might consider hiring them as interns before graduation, and grooming them in your application specific industry.

    Sourcing the information however has become a little less daunting with more resources available including “online” training, and more up to date videos. If you are still shorthanded and need help with training, auditing, or need a risk assessment, there are professionals providing that as well. The key to all of this is of course, is realizing or admitting what you can and cannot do, and getting the help, and tools necessary to keep your employees safe.

    I am thankful that I didn’t need to go out and find milk and cereal. I could actually get it right there in the lumberyard with my ¼ round, nails and trim. So sometimes change is a good thing, and wearing one less hat would be nice too.

    At SafetyInstruction.com we try to make things as easy as possible, offering both OSHA compliant training and safety supplies, giving you everything you need to ensure the safety of your employees, while promoting and maintaining a safety culture.

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  • Boy Did That Go Fast!

    Boy did that go by fast. Did anybody get a chance to visit with summer? I invited summer to come and stay with us for a while. It was a pretty nice offer, but she seemed to have a better offer and is already packed up and gone.  Fall has now arrived, but assured me that she could only stay a little while and I should get prepared for the inevitable. Up here in Wisconsin the ice fishermen are already checking out their gear including ice shelters, boots, mittens, tip ups and jig poles. These guys are out shopping for the latest gear to keep warm, but first have to get past the Halloween décor, which is quickly being replaced by Christmas trees. Are you kidding me? As soon as the ice is dangerously thin, some of them will start to venture out, and invariably fall through wishing they’d waited a little longer.

    I’m already getting calls for winter PPE. This makes sense.  After last winter it seems nobody wants to get caught without something to keep them warm, besides a fire and a cup of hot chocolate. Now is the time to make sure you’re prepared. Are you working outside in the logging industry, public agencies, construction, are you a School Bus Driver, or employed in an industry that would require you to work outside or in extreme cold temps ? Even if you are working in an unheated or minimally heated warehouse, then please consider Hi-Vis clothing Hi Visibility Winter Jacketfor cold temps.

    The following data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    • Data for 2011 are preliminary.

    From 1999 to 2011, a total of 16,911 deaths in the United States, an average of 1,301 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural cold. The highest yearly total of hypothermia-related deaths (1,536) was in 2010 and the lowest (1,058) in 2006. Approximately 67% of hypothermia-related deaths were among males.

    Here is another frightening statistic from the department of health:  Figures released by the Department of Health show that 28,354 episodes of hypothermia were treated in 2012/13 – an increase of 25% on the year before and 40% on the year before that. Many of these relate to the over-70s and babies, who are more susceptible to the cold.

    As a safety advocate, parent, grandparent, and outdoor enthusiast, I would highly recommend you learn and recognize the signs of hypothermia, and how to treat it.  There are several sources for this. I’ve chosen WebMD for a concise list.  If you need training, check out your local Red Cross or see your Health and Safety Director where you work, to see if there is an opportunity for participating. If not, encourage them to sponsor a training. Please don’t learn the hard way, and if you must test out the ice make sure it’s in your choice of beverages. I Like root beer.

    From everyone at SafetyInstruction.com, make it a safe day!

    Interested in a complete learning management system for the safety of your employees? Sign up for a walkthrough of our LMS and we’ll show you how your employees can get the best learner experience at a price you can afford!

  • Combustible Dust: There Will Be No Dust in My House

    The other day I happen to see that on September 15, OSHA reported that a company in Ravenna, Ohio will need to cough up about $61,000.00 in proposed fines. On March 13th 2014 an inspection revealed that employees were exposed to combustible dust. Here is an excerpt from the OSHA NEWS release:

    "Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for combustible dust explosionsevere injury and death," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "OSHA's inspection found that (company name omitted) used potential ignition sources, like powered industrial trucks and electrical equipment, in areas where combustible dust was present. This is dangerous and unacceptable."

    OSHA's March 13, 2014, inspection found workers were exposed to the combustible dust while working in the facility. For the exposure, the company was cited with one serious violation. If this dust is suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries and destruction of buildings. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718 and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.

    I’m thinking I might send my wife to take a look at the place. I love my wife; she comes from a very large family here in the Midwest with Dutch and German heritage. She was raised strictly and taught early on the value of hard work and having a clean house. If you had nothing to do you were sent to clean out and organize drawers. When we were dating, there were times I had to wait till her kitchen floor was scrubbed. Together we have 4 sons and 2 daughters. She began the process of training our children, as well as myself in the finer points of a clean place to live early on. After 43 years I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’m sure that it wouldn’t take her long to get that plant in Ohio straightened up.

    Combustible dust is not anything you want to take for granted. It’s dangerous and as reported is deadly under the right conditions.

    The following is from the http://www.nclabor.com/osha/etta/indguide/ig43.pdf

    The National Fire protection Association (NFPA) defines a combustible dust as “a combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations regardless of particle size or shape.”

    Some of the natural and synthetic organic materials that can form combustible dusts include:

    Food products (e.g., grain, cellulose, powdered milk, sugar, flour, starch, cocoa, maltodextrin)
    Pharmaceuticals (e.g., vitamins)
    Wood (e.g., sawdust, wood flour)
    Textiles (e.g., cotton dust, nylon dust)
    Plastics ( e.g., phenolics, polypropylene)
    Resins ( e.g., lacquer, phenol-formaldehyde)
    Biosolids ( dried wastes from sewage treatment plants)
    Coal and other carbon dusts

    Combustible dusts can also be formed from inorganic materials and metals including:

    Aluminum
    Iron
    Magnesium powder
    Manganese
    Sulfer

    What industries are at risk

    Agriculture, Chemicals, Food (candy, sugar spice, starch, flour, feed), Grain Elevators, (bins and silos) Fertilizer, tobacco, Plastics, Wood processing and storage, Furniture, Paper, tire and rubber manufacturing, Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, Metal Powder processing or storage, Automotive Refinishing

    So let this Blog serve notice that if you are in any of these industries be ready with a plan. Have your facility inspected by a qualified person and train your employees in the proper protocol. Of course the other option is I could send my wife, just kidding, but seriously maintaining an environment as reasonably free from combustible dust hazards as possible, is extremely important for the health of all.

    SafetyInstruction's main goal is keeping companies and their employees safe! Sign up for our On-Site Auditing Services which include safety evaluations, monthly safety walk-throughs, accident investigation and hazard recognition to ensure the environment your working in is not a threat to you or your employees. 

  • Trenching and Excavating Safety

    Do you feel like the whole world is falling down on you?

    If the answer is yes, then you might want to visit a psychologist. If you still feel that way and you’re working for a company that provides trenching and excavating, then you might want to take a look at where you are standing, or what you’re standing in.  If you are in an unsupported trench with loose gravel or soil 5 feet or deeper, consider looking for the fastest way out. I heard once that the only difference between a rut and a grave is about 3 feet. So if there is no safe means of exit your company is in serious violation of OSHA standards 29 CFR 1926.650 - 653  for “trenching and excavating”,  and you are in danger of turning that rut into a grave.

    Safety training and compliance in this topic is vitally important. The health and well-being of not just your employee, but also the financial health and reputation of your company will be at risk. OSHA will fine you if you are in violation and the results will be published. This has recently been the experience of an Underground company in the Chicago Area as seen in the OSHA Regional News release dated September 3rd. It would seem that this company is no stranger to OSHA violations and this violation is recurring, and will cost them $76,340 for exposing  workers to trench cave-ins.trenching and excavation

    There are several considerations when planning a project that includes excavation. Make sure you have a qualified competent person and do a site survey and inspection prior to and during the project. This will also include any moving traffic barriers and or flaggers with the appropriate HI-vis garments or PPE. He’ll need to know the type of soil or substrate being excavated, any hazards including electrical energy under the ground or overhead, and more.

    This blog only scratches the surface of what is necessary for the complete safety of your employees during such a project. As a safety advocate we will continue to call your attention to some of these issues. In this cause we sincerely hope that a rut will not turn into a grave.

    Interested in a complete learning management system for the safety of your employees?  Sign up for a walkthrough of our LMS and we’ll show you how your employees can get the best learner experience at a price you can afford!

  • Logsplitter Safety

    You can never be too complacent or be reminded too many times about safety regarding log splitting or chain saws. If you work for a public agency, work in the logging industry full time, or are a weekend warrior, you need to review the safety rules early and often. Last year in September we discussed chain saw safety, this year we would like to look at log splitting. logsplitter safety

    I would like to list a number of common sense rules, but there are others out here that do it so much more efficiently. The following list comes from “Troy Bilt” a made in the USA Company.

    Safety Rules for Log Splitting

    *Read, understand, and follow all instructions on the machine and in the operator's manual before attempting to assemble and operate.

    *Be familiar with all controls and proper operation. Know how to stop the machine and disengage it quickly.

    *Never allow children under 16 years old to operate this machine. Children, 16 years and over, should read and understand instructions and safety rules in this manual, and should be trained and supervised by a parent.

    *Many accidents occur when more than one person operates the machine. If a helper is assisting in loading logs, never activate the control until the helper is a minimum of 10 feet from the machine.

    *Keep bystanders, pets and children at least 20 feet from the machine while it is in operation.

    *Hydraulic log splitters develop high fluid pressures during operation. Fluid escaping through a pin hole opening can penetrate your skin and cause blood poisoning, gangrene, or death.

    *Keep the operator zone and adjacent area clear for safe, secure fitting.

    *This machine should be used for splitting wood only. Do not use it for any other purpose.

    *Always wear safety shoes or heavy boots.

    *Always wear safety glasses or safety goggles while operating this machine.

    *Never wear jewelry or loose clothing that might become entangled in the moving, or rotating, parts of the machine.

    *Make sure the machine is on a level surface before operating.

    *Always block machine to prevent unintended movement, and lock in either horizontal or vertical position.

    *Always operate this machine from the operator zone(s) specified in your operator's manual.

    *Logs should be cut with square ends prior to splitting.

    *Use log splitter in daylight or under artificial light.

    *To avoid personal injury, or property damage, use extreme care in handling gasoline.

    *Never leave the machine unattended with the engine running.

    *Always keep fingers away from any cracks that open in the log while splitting. They can quickly close and pinch, or amputate, your fingers.

    I would also like to add a couple of more thoughts regarding this topic. This type of work will challenge your body, and your equipment. Know your limitations, lift with your legs not your back, don’t overextend. Also know the limitations of your equipment. If you are working with a group remind them of the safety procedures we just presented, and make it a safe project for all.

    At SafetyInstruction.com, keeping you safe is our number one priority, whether it be at home or work. Using hand and power tools can be extremely efficient, but when used incorrectly can cause serious injuries. Make sure you read the operating guidelines and understand the proper safety techniques to avoid potential harm to you or others.

  • This is Only Temporary: Temporary Worker Safety

    How many times have you heard this line? I know I’ve used it myself at home when
    explaining my way out of something I just did or committed to. In Industry however, the use and definition of temporary connotes something completely different as it refers to workers and their hiring status. The temporary worker or “temp” as they are referred to, fill a need in the workplace for those companies not yet ready to commit to a long term employee status, especially if business is cyclical or if growth is actually sustainable. This also gives them the opportunity to see if the new temp hire will be a fit in their employee profile. Over the last several years temp agencies have grown in number by leaps and bounds, creating a whole new segment of workers in our society. These workers are not always treated with the respect they deserve, especially regarding their safety. Employers are responsible for ensuring the training and safety of the new temp hire.

    Below please read the latest news release form OSHA, NIOSH regarding temporary workers

    Aug. 25, 2014temporary worker safety

    Contact: Office of Communications
    Phone: 202-693-1999

    OSHA, NIOSH announce recommended practices to protect temporary
    workers' safety and health

    WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

    Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels made the announcement today at the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association annual conference in National Harbor, Md. The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

    "An employer's commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror these workers' temporary status," said Dr. Michaels. "Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Staffing agencies and the host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions. Our new Recommended Practices publication highlights this joint responsibility."

    Temporary workers are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative, launched last year, includes outreach, training and enforcement to assure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, some in their first days on the job. The Recommended Practices publication focuses on ensuring that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.

    "Workers sent by a staffing agency to a worksite deserve the same level of protection from workplace hazards as the host employer's workers do," said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard. "Recognizing that temporary workers are often new to the workplace to which they are sent, we believe these recommended practices will provide a strong foundation for host employers and staffing agencies to work together to provide a comprehensive program that protects the safety and health of all workers."

    The new guidance recommends that staff agency/host employer contracts clearly define the temporary worker's tasks and the safety and health responsibilities of each employer. Staffing agencies should maintain contact with temporary workers to verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.

    Make sure to check out the recommended practices publication for temporary workers and these additional resources on temporary workers.

    Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

    As an employer this includes temp agencies. Make sure you provide the safety orientation relevant to your industry. The news release you’ve just read is good news for all of us as it will continue to pay dividends not only in dollar savings but also in the prevention of needless injury, and the continued growth of a safety culture. So from this blogger “Make it a Safe Day!

    Interested in a complete learning management system for the safety of your employees? Sign up for a walkthrough of our LMS and we’ll show you how your employees can get the best learner experience at a price you can afford!

  • I Can't Believe I Didn't See Him

    I’m sure all of us have muttered those words at least once in our lives. Sometimes we were more surprised and startled by the discovery than our potential victims. At times it can be quite comical, but conversely there are times when it can lead to an injury or worse it can be fatal.

    I often see walkers and bike riders wearing what appears to be industrial or public agency3m-reflective-mesh-vest high visibility safety vests, or tees. OK, so it’s not very fashionable, but what a great idea! My wife and I are both walkers and cyclers, and are taking the plunge into the fashion world of Hi-Vis safety.

    So how do we as safety advocates know when it’s appropriate to advise on the use of or type of Hi-Vis clothing? The ANSI/SEA 107-2010 Standard is the place to find your answers.  According to ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association) "High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear is an industry consensus standard that specifies requirements for apparel and headwear that is capable of visually signaling the user's presence.” The standard also specifies the types, classes and colors of high-visibility safety garments required based on wearer’s activities and nearby vehicle and equipment speeds. For more information regarding the regulation please visit their website.

    Garments are the same. There are performance classes either 1,2, or 3 and they are defined by the total area of visible background and retro reflective material. These classes are directly proportional to the environment and hazard the wearer is going to be exposed to. So, a hazard analysis should be performed by a competent person as defined by OSHA, and in accordance with the “General Duty Clause”. The higher the class number, the greater the hazard or risk associated with the garment worn.

    For example:

    Class 3, the highest risk, your worker needs to be visible through a full range of body motions from a minimum distance of 1280 feet. These workers include EMTs, utility works, flaggers, etc.

    Class 2 Hi-Vis Safety Garments are worn by those workers exposed to traffic moving in excess of 25mph, or if the environmental background is more diverse. These workers include roadway construction, crossing guards, first responders and utility crews.

    While a Class 1 garment is for use where equipment speeds do not exceed 25mph like parking lot attendants, or warehouse ops.

    As for myself and my wife I think we’ll opt for class 2. Now if we can just get the designer version. Make sure to check out our assortment of Safety Gear and from everyone at SafetyInstruction.com, make it a Safe Day!

  • Public Agency Safety: A Tribute to the Garbage Man

    I grew up in a small town in North Central Wisconsin. Not saying that I’m completely grown up even today, but that’s where the process started. .Harry Truman was president then followed by Dwight Eisenhower.  Everybody knew everybody. You didn’t need cleats or a uniform to play ball. A ball with all the strings on it was prized, and the baseball bat was usually cracked, nailed and taped. The police chief was nick named “Fuzzy,” I never did know his real name.

    A real interesting group was the village crew and most of them had nick names as well. Garbage Man Crackerjack was the driver for the garbage truck. He was a really, really big fella, but had a smile that didn’t quit. If you had something that needed special attention, or something that was really heavy, you just left a six pack beside it to thank them. As the truck drove by we would tease them as the one on the back was hanging on for dear life. We were reminded by our parents that that is something you didn’t want to do for a living, as if there was a stigma about working in that vocation. These guys worked hard in all kinds of weather and usually retired with bad backs.

    All of that has changed since then. The work is still hard, but the idea of working for a public agency has risen, and the career is now a good choice for pay and benefits. The technology is vastly improved and the equipment is better suited to the task. Refuse collection is now a one man job here in our village, and he doesn’t get out of the truck.  Education and training is far more important for this generation of public employees, and safety has stepped to the forefront.

    These men and women are responsible for our public sanitation, the way our cities, villages, and parks look, road work and flagger safety, storm cleanup, and water and sewer plant safety, Does anyone know what a Hydro Vacuum Truck is? Then there is the illusive dog bite just lurking around the corner. So many things complex ,and some so simple. There is a myriad of hazards involved in being a part of a Public Agency and all require training, and or licensing for not just their safety but ours. I think about them when I hear the snowplow at 4 in the morning. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect for their dedication. Thank them when you get a chance.

  • It's That Time of the Year: Refresher Training

    Yesterday I checked my calendar only to discover that summer is rapidly coming to a close and school doors will be open again in three short weeks. Parents will again be sending the kids back to the classroom for more training and retraining, as I’m sure some of what they learned was left on the sandlot. Later my wife and I were out to dinner and during the course of ordering our waitress announced our choice of potatoes. I opted for the “Twice Baked”. Well of course I had to ask if they weren’t baked right the first time. I thought my wife was going to get up and leave, she told the bemused waitress not to pay attention to me. I ordered the “American Fries.”

    Safety training is much the same. Of course the training is done once but additional trainingtraining is important and retraining reinforces the previous training. Just like the twice baked potatoes the potato was good before but now it’s mashed we add a little chive and cheese and its even better. You send the kids to school for the same reason. “Back to School time” is a good reminder for all of us in safety to take a look at our training programs and retraining where necessary and  required by OSHA standards. To keep your training current, review your past training log  as well as updating or auditing your hazard assessment. If you have an LMS (Learning Management System) reviewing your training log should be simple and automatic.

    OSHA does require retraining in some areas for example if Asbestos is a part of your hazard assessment then annual retraining is required, Fork lift training is every three years unless the application or equipment has changed or the operator has had a problem then retraining is required. BBP Blood Borne Pathogens, is an annual requirement, Fire Extinguishers, Hearing Protection, LOTO when there is a change, Confined Space Entry, Respirators, are all annual trainings. Hazcom is another one if a new hazard is introduced. This is also a good time of the year to think about adding new topics and take a look at your 2015 budget process.

    I didn’t say put the boat away or cover up the grill yet or not plan a weekend outing in the mountains. Enjoy the rest of summer, do a little fishing  or plan a picnic, and if you’ve never had twice baked potatoes give them a try.

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