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  • OSHA News, Are We Paying Attention?

    I visit the OSHA website for recent news and fines fairly frequently, to see whose getting nicked for violations and what the violations are. I’m not sure why they publicize them, but it sure can be interesting, and eye opening. January did not disappoint, there were 37 news releases regarding enforcement and citations for violations. Just reading through these gives one reason to just shake your head and wonder: What are they thinking? Or not? Wile E. Coyote never had a OSHA safetymonth like this.

    Blast turns Fatal
    Death of Welder who fell from misused forklift
    Lack of fall Protection in worker Fatality
    Repeated safety Hazards 2 workers injured 1 fatally
    2 workers succumb to dangerous fumes
    Construction fatality results in citations
    For the third time, OSHA finds roofing contractor allows fatal fall hazards

    The list reads like a bad novel or horror story, and the February list is already growing. If you’re reading this article then you are probably a concerned Safety Advocate. In the past we’ve discussed just about everything you’ll find in the violations OSHA is reporting on their website.
    Fall protection, fork lift safety, confined space, you name it we have even discussed repeat violations.

    Perhaps the site is a good venue for displaying the overall cost of the violations committed and the senseless loss of life, along with the violators. I may have mis-spoke my question of why. It needs to start somewhere. I understand that safety is everybody’s responsibility but reading this is frustrating. I do applaud all of you out there who are concerned about proper training, and make an effort to make sure that training, and retraining is delivered. Somehow however not everybody got the memo.

    Here’s our challenge as a safety community, we need to seek out other venues to share our information. Don’t overlook your local newspaper, sponsor a safety column. Social media is the current darling of information disbursement, learn how to use it. Preaching to the choir gets old and doesn’t get our message to the right people. Average Americans don’t read safety magazines. Have your company sponsor a safety rodeo for young people. And make sure the media is there. If you’re a Union this is a great way to give back to the community, and to show people that unions are still relevant. We all need to be relevant, and sooner than later.

  • Watching Out for Each Other is a Daily Routine

    It’s still cold in Wisconsin, and forecasters are predicting another wave of arctic air for today and the rest of the weekend with high winds. So, as a safety advocate I checked out my PPE. I stepped out into the morning air. It was 4 degrees and the wind is coming out of the northwest. It takes me about 30 minutes to walk to work. The forecasters were right; maybe I should have worked "On Line” This morning

    As I’m walking my mind does wander a bit, and I’m thinking about a blog topic. I live in a small village in northeastern WI, where everybody knows everybody. As I turned the corner and headed into the west wind I could hear the snowplow. Looking up, I could see a “Hi-Vis arm reach out of the window and wave hello and honk the horn. I continued my crossing guardjourney. It’s about this time that the early morning church goers are heading for home, and the school bus driver is making her rounds. We wave every day, acknowledging the routine like a daily safety meeting. I do join the Church goers on Wednesdays just to keep my head screwed on straight. It’s like meeting with management. I’m almost there, and a car pulls up to see if I need a ride. I have to admit I was pretty tempted, but if I wanted a doughnut at the bakery I needed to finish the walk.  The last person I see and exchange Hi’s before I get to the office is the lady crossing guard. She’s been on that corner for as long as I can remember; helping others cross the busy main street on their way to school. We’re both praying for spring to get here soon.

    It was then that I realized that looking out for each other is a part of what we do. This includes safety, and acknowledging others as we pass through our day at work, whether its manufacturing, the office, teaching, public agencies, or in the hospitality industry, it is a very important part of developing the safety culture that we keep referring to. Behavioral safety starts with you, the minute you roll back your eyelids when the alarm clock goes off. This type of human partnership reduces stress in the workplace, at home, and yes on vacation. Ok I’m here now my glasses are fogged up and I’m thinking about finding tickets to someplace warm. Maybe I’ll get a doughnut and a cup of coffee first.

  • Safety, It's Not a Spectator Sport

    Over the last couple of years, we’ve discussed a lot of safety topics relevant to work and play, employer and family, occupation and hobbies. Still the one quote that stands out in my mind is from a safety director in Florida named Jim. Jim was also in charge of news releases, and making arrangements for unsafe acts that went horribly wrong. In 2013, The United States Department of Labor reported 4,405 workers died on the job. Jim said these sobering words:

    “Safety is no joke when you have to stand in front of a widow.”safety is everyones responsibility

    In my personal life I’m a Father of six, and a Grandfather. I’ve also been in the United States Army Reserve USAR, and finished a short career there as a recruiter along with a close friend. Jack and I would visit schools and families looking for warm bodies to join us. This was during the Vietnam era, so we didn’t have a very welcoming crowd. We did however, find that the younger the audience, the more impressed they were with our uniforms, message and story.

    In our Church I’ve been a volunteer instructor for a long time, nobody is keeping score so I don’t know for how many years. I know my hair wasn’t the grey color I’m sporting today. These young minds are like sponges, they are full of life and anxious to learn. Last night my 6th graders arm wrestled with the pastor. As a father, it seemed when the kids were younger they were more ready to listen and learn, of course they had to wait till they were 16 to learn to drive a car, although there was a blurred line there.

    My experience tells me that skills need to be taught early and often. I would urgently request that as safety advocates, instructors, and providers, we need to continue to search for ways to convey the message, or preach the gospel, and make it stick. Safety is not a spectator sport!

    The safety industry offers so many more alternatives today for organizing and training, starting with behavioral training both online and in the classroom and up to date videos including  gory stories. Safety training now reaches into our schools and hospitality industry. We need to remind and encourage our learners to take their skills from the classroom not just into the plant, school or place of employment, but home to their families where you are your children’s first and most important teacher. Don’t allow yourself or a member of your family to become a 2015 statistic.

    If you looking to revamp your safety program in 2015, let the safety experts at SafetyInstruction.com help. Contact us and we can help you make 2015 a safer year!

  • One Flu Over

    Every year I’m reminded that I need to get a physical; My wife reminds me, the doctor’s office reminds me, my kids remind me – you get the picture.  Alright, alright, I’m going already. There is just something about that annual physical that I just can’t get too excited about. Maybe it’s the “turn your head left and cough”, or there’s the whole “bend over thing and you’ll feel a little pressure.”

    This year though the routine was a little different. As I walked into the clinic, the first questions fluwere: “Have you traveled outside the US, and have you been to Africa, or come into contact with anyone who has?” In mid-October we discussed the “Ebola scare” and yes it was justifiable and seemed appropriate that a plan was needed to stem what might have been an epidemic that would potentially kill thousands. To date there have been less than 5 here in the US. Now I’m standing in a waiting room with other patients some wearing face masks with children in tow.  Are you aware that according to the government’s Center for disease control CDC, that in the last three years there has been over 300 pediatric deaths related to the Flu and its related symptoms here in the US? That’s a horrible number.

    As Safety and HR professionals, do we have a responsibility here?  Well if I understand the “General Duty Clause” ( Pub. Law 91-596 section 5(a)(1)) published by OSHA. Then the answer is yes. These are hazards and conditions not covered under an OSHA standard. What can we do? I’m going to reprint a portion of that Blog from October, with a few minor changes:

    “We need to be proactive and develop an overall general “staying healthy in a work environment plan." The flu season is now here in a big way and avoiding the flu with 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, EDUCATION.  Making employees aware of coughing and sneezing, refresh your Blood borne pathogens training. Encourage your employees, and their families 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." Additionally if you experience any symptoms of the Flu, STAY HOME, and see your doctor or healthcare professional.

    We need to take this serious. It’s not like it’s a surprise, it comes every year. Prevention is the key to controlling any type of Illness. So educating ourselves, employees and families, is imperative and preparing for it should be done early and often.

    Now regarding my physical. I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy, but that is a whole other uncomfortable topic we should discuss another time.

  • Let's Talk LMS: Learning Management System

    According to the definition found on “Wikipedia”

    learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology (also called e-learning) education courses or training programs.

    Lately there has been a lot of conversation regarding” on line” training versus classroom training. For the most part we are all familiar with classroom or instructor lead training. We know the attributes of such training, and its traditional place in the workforce. If you’re the student then you are also aware of the downside of classroom training, including boredom. I’ve been told that “The Mind can absorb what the seat can endure” As an employer you are also aware of the downsides. This would include the cost of bringing your employees in from a production line or job site, where no time is convenient, and not everyone can attend, now what?  Finding an outside presenter if you don’t have a competent or qualified person can also be a challenge and expensive. The upside is you can get everyone together and with a good instructor you can get the training you need including the “hands on” portion of the training, not found in “on line” training.  The emphasis here is on “Good Instructor” Like any training it needs to be engaging, interactive, and to the point.

    On Line training offers a broad range of topics which can be taken anytime the employee has internet access, so it becomes more cost and time effective. Like classroom training, it also needs to engage, and challenge the learner with interactive questions and scenarios enabling the learner to retain more of the material offered.  Additionally the topic should be given in bite sized chunks with questions to follow, versus one large test at the end which can be very intimidating for some. Of course you would want a contact person to be available for any questions the learner might have. Once the learner has successfully passed the course a certificate should be awarded and a permanent record of his successful course enrollment created. No need for costly record keeping.  You will still need a written safety plan or overall company safety policy, made available to your employees for viewing. What better way than to post it as a resource to your LMS

    LMS systems buck the traditional way of teaching and not all “Learning Management Systems” are the same. Some are really well put together, some not so much, including poor content. What if you could get all of the above in an LMS. An “on line” experience with engaging content, one that encompasses even classroom, and hands on training, record keeping, and a system that could remind employees of their training obligations? Make a check list of those properties you would want in any type of system be it traditional or “On Line” and  Shop carefully. Of course measuring its success is still the most important part of any safety program. So, in saying this I would highly recommend starting out with “behavioral” based safety training. This will help to establish that safety culture that is so important in today’s industry. That’s what I call the “Buy in Factor”. Without the employee “buy in factor” not just employees but also management as well, nothing will work. This type of training can be done on line or in a classroom, but is a great place to start the conversation.  So again choose wisely, ask questions, take the program for a test drive, understand the needs of the employees and management.

    From everyone at SafetyInstruction, make it a Safer 2015!

    Interested in an LMS? Click here for more information on SafetyInstruction's Learning Management System.

  • Harassment: Beware the Company Holiday Parties

    Tis the time of the year for holiday parties, employee get togethers, lunch room gatherings, and “a good time was had by all,” well maybe not. These times are also prime opportunities for “Harassment,” the verbal, nonverbal, or unwanted physical contact, based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion or race.

    Harassment is more than a little good natured teasing. I have to admit that I can be a bit of a christmaspartyharassmentteaser. My wife, who doesn’t tolerate teasing too well, will let me know in no uncertain terms, when I’ve gotten too close to the line, and it becomes offensive, the room suddenly starts to get cold. Of course, it’s not that simple and it can be very complicated. We don’t all have the luxury of having that loving reminder; it will just show up as a law suit, a pink slip, or a broken relationship.

    The EEOC (United States Equal Employment Opportunity commission) Publishes a statement regarding Harassment. The following is an excerpt from that statement

    Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).

    Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

    Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

    Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

    The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

    The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

    Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

    For the complete statement visit http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm

    Harassment affects everybody; the offender and the immediate victim, as well as those unintended victims. Those victims can include your co-workers, management, and most of all your family, and pocketbook.  Management does have a responsibility under the guidelines of the EEOC to provide training and education regarding harassment of any kind. On line training is also a very effective and inexpensive tool. Now go and enjoy your Holiday eggnog, and from all of us here at Safetyinstruction.com have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Get the Lead Out: Lead Safety!

    So how long do we need to do this dance? Lead is dangerous and can cause long term damage to the central nervous system. Still there are those who would ignore the warning and place their workers at risk. On December 3rd 2014 OSHA fined yet another company for exposing their workers to dangerous levels of lead based paints.lead safety

    The industry and OSHA has been warning us of the health hazards of lead based paints and materials for better than 40 years. As an employer you need to make your employees aware of the hazards of lead. There are several ways to do this including “on Line training” It’s quick and simple. Choose an on line course that is interactive, engages and challenges your employees. When successfully completed it should offer a training certificate. Of course there are videos as well as power points on lead safety for classroom presentation.

    So you see there is really no excuse not to make your employees aware and knowledgeable.. That is the 1st half of the equation the second half is actually putting into practice and enforcing what they’ve learned. Compliance is not that difficult. Noncompliance can be deadly and expensive.

    There are ways of dealing with the remediation of lead in paint. Encapsulation is one way to get the job done. Dumond chemicals offers such a product in their “Lead Stop” encapsulating compound It’s nontoxic, non-Carcinogenic, nonflammable, and low in VOCs. They also offer a paint stripper made for the removal of Lead based paints as well. There are other products, and manufacturers out there, and a quick search will point you to the right product for your application.  If you are a home buyer purchasing an older home please have your realtor, or home inspector test the property for lead.  While they’re looking also have them test for mold and asbestos, two more health hazards that fly under the radar. If you need to hire a contractor for remediation, and disposal, check their credentials, and make sure they are disposing the hazardous waste properly. That’s another whole discussion. The contractor should be able to produce cradle to grave documentation for your protection.

    Please take this information seriously, it’s not just about your safety and knowledge tucked away safely in your mind. It’s about the safety of everybody including children and pets. It’s also about being good stewards of the environment, of which we are so richly blessed.

  • It's That Time of the Year: Blaze Orange and Ladder Safety

    Its cold outside, there’s snow on the ground, retailers are almost giving stuff away, the kitchen smells like pumpkin pie and the turkeys are getting nervous. All this could only mean one thing. It’s deer hunting time!! I hunt with my sons and now 2 grandsons as well. So I trudge down the basement steps to get out my PPE remember I’m a safety advocate we also call it HI-VIS safety apparel. In Wisconsin its Blaze Orange hunting gear. The boys remind me to hang it outside so the deer can’t smell me. Really? Yes they take this pretty serious. I also look for the bullet I didn’tHunting-Safety-Photo use last year.

    As a safety advocate I’m only worried that we do it safely including our annual gun safety discussion before we go out. Another concern is getting in and out of our ladder and tree stands. So a little Ladder safety will come into play here. For that I am going to call on and thank our friends at “Rivers Edge” I can’t say it any better than they’ve already said it you can find it on their safety page.

    TREESTAND SAFETY GUIDELINES

    ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer allowed Fall- Arrest devices and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.

    ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season. Practice with the treestand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions. Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the treestand. Use all safety devices provided with your treestand.

    NEVER exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer. If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer.

    ALWAYS inspect the treestand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use. Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts. Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists. The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.

    ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult prior to using it in an elevated hunting envornment, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level and how to properly use your suspension relief device.

    ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your treestand. Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal. Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device. Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death. If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.

    ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.

    ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your FAS. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.

    ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand’s instructions. Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.

    ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.

    ALWAYS know your physical limitations. Don’t take chances. Do not climb when using drugs, alcohol or if you’re sick or un-rested. If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.

    NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated stands or make modifications to a purchased treestand without the manufacturer’s written permission. Only purchase and use treestands and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards. For a detailed list of certified products, contact the TMA office or refer to the TMA web site at http://www.tmastands.com.

    NEVER hurry!! While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time. Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or treestand every time you move. On ladder-type treestands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

    So there you have it. Again Thank you for the information from “Rivers Edge” If you are a hunter please take care to review all the safety precautions, so you can truly enjoy your hunt and get back home safely to enjoy this most precious time of the year with your families and friends. If you’re not a hunter but putting up decorations to celebrate the season then a little ladder safety training should be on your radar as well.

  • Will There Be Power Tools Underneath the Tree This Christmas?

    Ahh “Christmas,” the season of gift giving is once again upon us. Of course we still need to celebrate Thanksgiving, which unfortunately is now only a speed bump in the calendar and here in Wisconsin the gun deer hunting season which approaches holiday status. My house this time of the year begins with a thorough cleaning top to bottom, and Christmas lists start to emerge. When my family was younger we had trains, slot cars, BB guns, stretch monsters, and dirt bikes. Our daughter, the youngest of the crew learned how to play with the boys toys. She also had a remote control Barbie car which she would run into the wall on occasion. She’s a better driver today. Now our grandchildren do the same. Most of the boy’s things never made it that far. As they got older, the living room looked more like a sporting goods store including: shot guns, bows and arrows, ice fishing gear, and insulated boots. Also included in the mix were some tools. My wife asked if Santa thought they were old enough for tools. I thought this way my tools might stop disappearing.

    Buying tools for gifting any time of the year requires that you consider the age of the person forparent helping child with power tools which it is intended. Ask yourself “is this age appropriate?” Even further is this tool going to a house without a competent person to train the young mechanic or budding carpenter how to use it safely and properly?

    As a safety advocate, I’ve found that individual safety training can be accomplished “on line” quickly and inexpensively. "On Line” training when properly designed to be interactive can be a very effective learning tool. Additionally it can be taken anywhere, anytime you have internet access. Hand and power tool safety is a great topic and can be covered in an hour or so.

    All of us here at Safetyinstruction.com would like to take this time to wish all of you a very Happy, and Safe  “ speed bump” sorry,  I mean Thanksgiving. While you’re decorating for the Christmas season also keep in mind electrical hazards, and  fire prevention, along with fire extinguisher training, and don’t forget that PPE for the cold weather.

  • 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!

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