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  • Electrical Safety: What are those little white knobs?

    Normally I’m a person willing to try almost anything once. Growing up was no different. We grew up in a in a big old farmhouse in Wisconsin, with a neighboring dairy farm. The Pasture was hemmed in by an electrically charged wire to keep the cows from visiting other neighbors. Of course we found out the hard way while chasing an errant baseball into the field. You bet we got a charge out of it. Later Dad, while trying to keep a straight face, warned us that those little white knobs were called insulators and were a signal the fence was an electric fence. We did have a little fun with our city friends after that however. Now, let me get back to dad. We grew up in an age where you gave it your best shot at repairing almost everything. You glazed your own windows, repaired rubber boots in time for winter, restrung your own ball glove, and taped up the baseball when the cover started to come off, and Mom yarned socks with a light bulb and a yarning needle. This blog is about Electrical safety, but I’ve got to tell you that pennies back then were used for more than bubble gum. Our fuse box was full of them. I remember dad was repairing the water heater in the basement one Saturday afternoon, when inexplicably there was a loud bang, the lights went out, and my brothers and I were introduced to a fair amount of new vocabulary as dad picked himself up off the floor. Bath night had to be put on hold. I decided then that electricity is something I didn’t want to mess with. I think that was a good decision as now I’m able to look back on those events and be able to tell the stories while reminding my own boys about electrical safety.

    I’m told that electricity is not that complicated. The results of electricity are far reaching and without it the world in which we live would be vastly different. We can see the results, and we can also see the results of its dangers.  OSHA reports that of the top ten most frequently sited OSHA standards violated in 2013, three of them were electrical related;

    *Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)
    *Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
    *Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)

    OSHA further reports that in Construction Safety, which is handled by a different category from general industry, that in 2013 of the 775 total deaths, 9% were from electrocutions. https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html

    As we continue to progress in a world of discovery, scientists are finding new ways to generate electricity; Sun, water, wind, nuclear, etc.  Of course this creates new problems for those charged with not only delivering it to us safely and efficiently, but also for professionals who make a living at installing it and safe guarding its users. Did I say professionals? Yes this is one of those miracles of nature where I would highly recommend allowing a professionally licensed electrician to do the work. They have been trained to do it and can share their knowledge of electrical safety, because not all electricity warns us with little white knobs.

  • My Mother: A Tribute to Competent Person Training

    I grew up in a family of twelve children, five girls and seven brothers. Little did I realize at the time that apparently OSHA had visited my house and declared “Mom” a competent person.

    The term "Competent Person" is used in many OSHA standards and documents. An OSHA "competent person" is defined as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them" [29 CFR 1926.32(f)]. By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person. This definition is taken from OSHA.

    It seemed that Mom was always on the spot to guide us in the direction of sanity. She taught us some of the finer points of working safely in the kitchen, and of course the rewards of taste testing to make sure it was safe for the others. Cleaning was also on her radar, including sanitation. Right to know issues were whose turn it was to do dishes, or sweep the floors. Everybody was involved in cherry picking and pitting for pies and jam. The older boys had garage duty, or loading coal into the furnace hopper. Of course Dad was the force in the repair department, including repairing and glazing windows before putting on the storms in time for winter. Dad also inspected and repaired our 4 buckle boots.  Yes PPE was a part of the routine. We didn’t necessarily have safety meetings but were reminded that if we were going out to play ball, to cross the road safely, make sure the dog didn’t follow us, and to look out for your little brothers. I’m not too sure what Mom told the girls except that she would flash the light on and off if they were in the driveway too long with a boyfriend. Mom passed away this past fall, but left us with a lifetime of memories. Competent Person training was passed down. Now I get to be the competent person in my own home, with my wife’s blessing of course.

    Competent person training is a big deal. Why train a competent person? Employers are required by law to comply with a number of OSHA regulations. These regulations are defined and driven by hazards which exist in your workplace. Compliance with these laws indicate that a “Competent Person” must be assigned the responsibility of identifying existing and predictable hazards, and has been given the authority to take corrective action. If you are a Human resource manager, Maintenance Manager, safety program Administrator, Hospital administrator, on a safety committee, process engineer, department manager, Risk manager, or anyone having safety management duties. You should have this type of training. It covers: Introduction to OSHA, components of an effective safety Program, OSHA Record keeping fundamentals, , Intro to Industrial hygiene/toxicology, Job hazard analysis & Procedures, accident investigation, PPE, Hazcom & GHS, LOTO, confined space. Along with that training the trainer could also be a part of this type of training. Seek out, find and enroll in the training you need. Competent Person Training, Your Mother would be proud.

  • Respiratory Fit Testing

    Did you ever buy a suit or a dress without trying it on first? The results can be disastrous especially after a long winter. You’ll find yourself saying, “they must be making these things smaller, I’ve worn this size since high school”, and “when is the wedding? ½ hour?” You wouldn’t take a chance like that would you? Taking a chance like that with a respirator can have equally disastrous results leading to illness, long term health problems, and can even be fatal. In a different lifetime I wore an OD (olive drab) uniform for the army. During basic combat training we were given the finer techniques of donning and fitting a “Gas Mask” They marched us into a shed, one squad at a time, with our masks on, and if you were paying attention, fitted correctly. Then, asked us to remove our masks. Did I say that they released tear gas for this little party? If your mask wasn’t fitted properly you were already a hurting unit, but, so we knew what it was like to suffer the effects of the gas, we were ordered to walk around in a circle for what seemed to be a lifetime, then don, and clear the mask again. Not my idea of a good time but the lesson was learned. Respirator fit testing became a pretty important part of our training.

    Under OSHA (1910.134(a)(2)) an employer must provide suitable respirators on the basis of the hazard to which the worker is exposed as necessary to protect the health of the worker. Further where respirators are required under OSHA(1910.134(a)(2) and (C)(1) “The employer must establish and maintain a respiratory protection program” including a written plan. There are several factors to consider when establishing or participating in these programs. The bottom line is: Does your respirator match your hazard, is it available, do you know how to use it, and does it fit? If any of these criteria is not met the results could be fatal. Fit testing procedures and training are required of employers under OSHA(1910.134(C)(1)(i) through (1)(ix)).

    If You are the employee you have responsibilities as well: *Make sure you check its fit after each donning as instructed, *use the respirator as instructed, *respect the equipment to prevent damage,* If your respirator fails remove yourself from the area, seeking  clear air, * immediately report a malfunctioning unit to your program manager, *inspect for damage, clean and sanitize after each use.

    Remember this is YOUR PPE “PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT”, and “Respirator Fit Testing” is a big part of it, if you want to return home at night to your family.

  • Green and Yellow Doughnuts; Welding Safety

    Winter has been hard on everything including equipment. So now is the perfect time to inspect and repair, plow blades, mounting brackets, snow blowers, fence posts, gates and mail boxes.  Did I say Mail boxes? So it’s time to get your welding helmets on boys and girls.  It’s no secret that welding has been around for a long time. History puts it around 3000BC The Sumerians, during the Bronze Age, in Ur (Iraq) made swords which were joined by hard soldering. The Egyptians heated iron ore in a charcoal fire to reduce it to sponge iron; the particles were then welded together by hammering. This "pressure" welding or "solid-phase" welding was the first recorded. (Taken from weldinghistory.org) The truth is, it was dangerous then, and it’s dangerous now to both the experienced and inexperienced novice welder.  In the Early 1900’s hand held face shields were put to use to protect from flash burns etc. With World War 1 came more of a demand as war equipment was needed. Better protection for the less experienced was brought to the forefront, and as typical Uncle Sam did manage to get involved as well. Thus Welding safety was given its rightful place in industry.

    Did you ever find yourself looking into the sun driving to work? Can you say yellow and green doughnuts? Now try it with the proper Eye protection.  Have you ever grabbed a hot pan without a potholder, I’m guessing you dropped it pretty quick? Can you say #$%^&* Now try it with the proper glove. Getting the idea? Proper protective equipment is absolutely necessary before you start. The other issue facing most welders today is the myriad of different metal types so be cautious as to what happens when they are heated, especially in confined spaces! The gases created can be deadly.

    Here at Safetyinstruction.com we are always concerned for your safety whether it’s for a simple project at home like welding a longer handle on the wagon or an industrial project welding stainless requiring xray inspection. Please seek out and get proper training. This training will include the different welding procedures, metals, and gases they create. Your local technical college is a good place to start, or check out an apprenticeship program where you work. Please always consider welding safety first before you start your project, and enjoy your doughnuts with coffee.

  • Spring Safety Starts with the First Seed Catalog

    We’ve been focusing on everything winter, but in the next four weeks well OK maybe in the next four weeks we can take out our “Spring” jackets, or think about an Easter Bonnet. My wife sent the family a text message the other users manualday expressing “Hope” as I had received my seed catalog in the mail.  Winter up here has not been kind, not all my perennials and shrubs are going to make it. I’m now interviewing for replacements and dog earring the pages in the catalog of those who might make the cut. Along with this of course I’m reminded that my garden tiller and other yard equipment are in my shed across what seems to be the frozen tundra. They’ll need some TLC before the season gets started. Now is the perfect time, not just to fix what’s broke, but to read the manuals, and brush up on safe operation as well.

    The Manual will usually start out by stating:
    DANGER: To reduce the potential for accidents, comply with the safety instructions in this manual, failure to comply may result in serious personal injury, and / or equipment and property damage.

    “Mantis” which is the type of tiller I own further states in their manual, and goes on to warn that: “Improper use or care of this tiller or failure to wear proper protection can result in serious injury. Read and understand the rules for safe operation and all instructions in this manual. – Wear hearing, and eye protection, and I might personally add, appropriate footwear. If the tiller is used improperly or safety precautions are not followed, the users risk serious injuries to themselves and others. Read and understand this manual before attempting to operate this tiller”.

    This sounds pretty straight forward and to the point. Yet I would guess (and it’s just a guess) that 75% of new equipment owners will not read this part of the manual. I realize that for the most part manufacturers are protecting themselves from lawsuits by those who would see fit to ignore common sense. And besides it’s a requirement.  Here at Safetyinstruction.com we do care, and provide safety instructional material to accommodate safety plans and programs. While we’re thinking about it this is a pretty good time to also look at outdated pesticides, and weed killers you might be storing from last summer. Dispose of them in the proper manner. Check with your local landfill or municipality for “safe places” places to dispose of them.  Safety as we know it is about common sense, but sometimes we all need reminders.

  • Drug Free Workplace is Under Assault

    There is no easy, funny, or politically correct way of approaching this topic. Drug use in the workplace is only going to get worse instead of better, putting your employees and business at risk. The National Institute on DrugDrug Free Workplace Abuse “NIDA” reported some time ago that 75% of illicit drug users were employed. That number may have changed somewhat due to our current economic condition. Even scarier though is that the number will or could go down as more states decide that drug enforcement is just too costly. For the purposes of this article we’re pointing to the use of “Cannabis” or Marijuana. As a result they’ll just approve its use and tax it. Of course the same could be said of binge and heavy alcohol users. Now the statistic will just say users, and create a separate category. This is a new set of rules and your “Drug Free Workplace Program” is coming under assault from a new source.

    If you are a Safety or HR Professional your job just got more complicated. “Cannabis” marijuana, is becoming legally available in more states for recreational use in addition to medicinal  use (wink wink) ok maybe I’ve stepped a little over the line there. This is important, and you’re going to need all the help you can get. NIDA has published the following general information and has a large cache of material at your fingertips.

    Substance-abusing employees are more likely to:

    -Change Jobs frequently
    -Be late or absent from work
    -Be less productive
    -Be involved in a workplace accident
    -File a workplace compensation claim

    “Employers with successful drug free workplace programs report improvements in morale and productivity, and decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft. Employers with longstanding programs report better health status among employees and family members, and decreased use of medical benefits by these same groups.”

    Here at Safetyinstruction.com we are strong supporters of a “Drug free Workplace” and we offer several ways to help you initiate your own program including a written plan and power point presentation. We also offer several videos and “online training”   for your convenience. If you haven’t already started a program there is no time like the present as this assault is only going to get worse. We are also very family oriented in this office, and don’t want to see this as an assault on our families. So take this home with you. Not just a drug free work place but a drug free home.

  • Hand and Power Tool Safety Has No Season

    In just about every garage, or shop across the country you will find some sort of hand tool designed to perform a task making your life a little easier.  Whether you are a hobbyist, a professional, or a fixer, these same tools designed to cut, bore, drill, staple, nail, screw or glue, are also capable of doing the same to your legs, arms, hands, or fingers, and will occasionally take aim at your eyes, or try to rob you of your hearing. They aren’t fussy about the timing either, it can be summer, fall, winter, or spring. Hand and power tool safety has no season.

    I’m a bit of a wood butcher myself and I enjoy my time in the shop as therapy. Now I have the privilege of having an 11 year old grandson come and visit with me as well. His dad by the way is pretty handy around tools as well. So when he spends the night we’ll design a project, and make a drawing. He’ll be the first one out of bed in the morning, and after breakfast we’ll head out for the proper materials. Once in the shop we select the right tools for the job, including Eye and Hearing protection for both of us. We also inventory our arms, hands, and fingers so that when we’re done we have the same count as when we started. We also make sure we can move about the shop without tripping or falling. We work together making certain the tools are used properly, and safely.  Once the project is complete and ready for paint we enjoy a good root beer, but not before we clean up our tools and put them away. Now we can invite grandma out to take a look at our accomplishment.

    hand and power tools


    This past four or five months we’ve been pretty focused on some of the bigger issues including the ugly winter that came knocking on our door. We sometimes forget that the little things like hand and power tools, things we sometimes take for granted, are cause for safety concern. As in the past we want to help you develop a safety culture that includes what you do away from the job. Sharing this type of safety at work should carry over into your everyday living. Don’t take for granted the gift of your hands, eyes, feet, hearing   etc. They are precious. Take time now during this ugly winter to look at your power tools, repair or replace power cords, lubricate moving parts, check to make sure the guards are in place and in working order, sharpen saw blades, and bits, rearrange the shop for ergonomics, check for your eye and hearing protection, make sure you have extra for guests, pitch the clutter. Check for sawdust or combustibles in or around heat sources, is your fire extinguisher up to date? And if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren as I am, let them give you a hand, because Hand and Power Tool Safety Has No Season.

    Hand and Power Tool Safety


    At SafetyInstruction.com we understand that your employees are like your family and naturally you are concerned about their safety. We offer safety training material to train and protect your employees in all conditions, ultimately creating a safer and happier working environment!

  • I’m Just Going to Remove a Little Snow

    At Least today it’s not below zero. It’s still dark outside and once again find myself getting snowblowingready to remove the latest 7” blanket of snow from my driveway and sidewalks. I remind myself that I’m not praying hard enough for spring, and my daffodils are still under 5 feet of snow. This exercise is becoming too routine. I need to caution myself however, because in routine you can find carelessness. So I need to check my list; Coat, hat, mittens, boots, hearing protection, check all there. As a safety guy this is PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. Ok now I’m out of the door and going to be working in cold conditions, and need to consider winter safety.

    I walk past my golf clubs on the way out, and muttered a few words to them about being patient. I opened the shed door, where a hungry but tired snow blower awaits the inevitable wake up. I’ll make a visual check for anything that might have shaken itself loose or broke from the last outing just a day or two earlier. I need to check for ice that might impede the auger or snow chute. Gas, check, oil, check, I want to refuel now so I don’t have to do that when the engine is hot. I check to make sure my scarf or string from my hood are secure and out of the way of any moving parts. One good pull and she starts right up. Keep the doors open and be cautious of carbon monoxide poisoning. Before I leave I grab my shovel and need to remind myself to lift with my legs, not my back. Maybe I should stretch a little first. OK now I’m ready to go.

    As the sun makes its first appearance in days, I have yet another thought. “What If?” What If my snow blower becomes disabled, can I park it in a handicap parking stall? No, just kidding. If the auger or the snow chute becomes plugged, or a shear pin gives way, I need to shut the snow blower off. Snow blowers are a common cause of lacerations and amputations.  Use a long stick to clear debris or wet snow from your machine, and proper tools to replace the shear pin. There are other issues to guard against while performing this exercise; exhaustion, dehydration, heart attack. Take time out to rest in a warm area, and get something to drink. All this sounds like a little overkill but if taken seriously it becomes a part of your safety culture and will be second nature, something you can pass on by example.  Some of this information can be found on the OSHA web site , and you thought you were just going to remove a little snow.

    Winter is miserable enough without slipping, snow-blowing, driving in white-outs, you name it! SafetyInstruction.com is here to make sure you and your employees are prepared! Prevent winter accidents with our array of Winter Safety Training products. For all of your safety needs, SafetyInstruction.com is here to make sure your prepared!

  • Restaurant Safety

    Ever wonder how they do it? Waite Staff Coming and going, chefs wielding knives and frying pans, assistants running slicers & other kitchen equipment, including gas cook tops, grills and hot ovens, not to mention lighting your food on fire for a little dramatic effect. Can you spell fire department? Add the bus persons, the facility, and the occasional unruly patron, tossing this all together like a good salad creates the need for “Restaurant Safety.” 

    Serving good food and spirits in the right atmosphere where the diner and patron feel safe is imperative if the owner is going to be successful. Along with that the operator, whether it’s a fast food, mom & pop diner, or a fine club, must be concerned with employee safety and proper training. This on top of food storage, sanitation, personal hygiene, and oh yes being profitable. Have you ever tried juggling? It’s hard to keep all those balls in the air. There is so much to consider, including blood borne pathogens, janitor safety, and customer accidents and liability.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2012 there were 3.4 injuries per 100 full time employees in the food service industry. That’s 208,400 total injuries. By the way have you ever tried to navigate that website www.bls.gov?  You really need a guide for all of the information they provide. My guide was a young man named Luis Martinez. Thank you Luis. Good safety and sanitation habits start with management creating that culture of safety, leading by example, and providing not just proper training but a safe place in which to work, and dine. So the next time you sit down to dinner at your favorite establishment, consider the preparation they went through to welcome and serve you. Thank them for providing “Restaurant Safety”.

    View all stats listed here.

    SafetyInstruction.com understands that there can be many hazards in the workplace and wants you to know we are here to make sure that you are completely safety compliant. View our Restaurant Safety courses as well as are other safety training courses and online courses, so you can create a safety culture to last a lifetime!

  • Hearing Conservation: A Story from Someone Who Should Know Better

    Last year I wrote this blog about Hearing conservation. This article updates the experience.

    I’m a deer hunter from Wisconsin and hunt with my four sons and two grandsons. During the week I work with Safety professionals helping them find solutions to safety issues confronting them. This particular story is defined by this number 29CFR 1910.95. This is OSHA’s regulation for “Occupational Noise Exposure”  

    The “Hearing Health Foundation” reports that 1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss in at least 1 ear. That’s 48 million people. They also report that 20% of the US population 12 years and older has hearing difficulties severe enough to impact communication.  One more statistic; 26 million Americans between 20 and 69 have hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises at work or in leisure activities.

    So I should know these things. Last fall three weeks before the Wisconsin Gun deer season opened up. We were making our annual trip to the woods to “Sight in” our weapons of choice. My #3 son and his son were going to sight in a brand new 30.06 rifle and scope. The other boys also have nice rifles. Me, I still hunt with my 12 ga. Shotgun, which I’ve used for over 40 years. Once we arrived of course, the bragging started.  Soon the targets were set up, wagers were made, and we were ready to go. Gun safety has always been a part of our routine, and this time was no different, well except for one detail. “Hearing Protection” The boys all had ear plugs or muffs, but Dad (that’s me) in his infinite wisdom sat right down and before you know it I can’t hear a thing except the ringing in my ears. Well one ear recovered fairly well, but the other ear, after seven months is, I‘m afraid permanently damaged. I need to make an appointment with an Audiologist.

    My sons finally convinced me, well my wife and daughter also had something to do with it. I made the appointment with a professional audiologist after my annual physical. The doctor recommended a good one after he confirmed what I already knew. Truth is they were both damaged.  I had no idea of what technology had to offer in the way of hearing aids. The audiologist was respectful and recognized the fact that today if you need to have a hearing aid you want them to be discreet, match your lifestyle and your budget. Today I’m wearing a new set of ears and thankful for new technology.

    A gunshot has a decibel level of up to 150db. A decibel is how noise is measured. Noise Levels above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. This does not include the sudden percussion making exposure to damage more likely especially in a more confined area where sound waves can’t escape. Do you have teenagers with a major audio system in their ride? Do they say “What?” a lot? . So now I’m a statistic

    My advice. Make sure you take your safety training home with you when you leave work, and share it with the ones you love, and don’t wait to fix what’s broken.

    Let the experts at SafetyInstruction.com save your money and your hearing by providing you with the proper training materials for hearing conservation!

    Visit www.safetyinstruction.com today to view our complete training library allowing you to create a safety culture for years to come!

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