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  • 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:

    Magnesium powder

    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.

  • Hand Signals: Mixed Signals with Unintended Consequences

    Early in my life I quickly learned the value of signals. I learned the difference in a smiling
    face, and a scowling face, someone waving with all five fingers or just one. Then of course there was the whole dating thing, and a whole new set of signals, including mixed signals which can have unintended consequences. Riding your bike is popular again, so along with your helmet, there are ways to alert motorists of your intention to; 1.) right turn, left arm out from your side and 90 degree angle up at the elbow, like waving, and use all five fingers. 2.) left turn, left arm straight out from your side. 3.) slow down or stop, left arm out away from your side and forearm down. Don’t be embarrassed to use these, and teach your children early by example, but it’s never too late to start though, and please wear your bike helmet. You could save a life.

    In the world of industry signals are just as, or even more important. The role of hand and hand signalsbody signals play a very important role in, crane, mobile lift cranes, overhead crane, aerial lifts, bucket and boom truck safety. Much like traffic signals the operator must be completely aware of his surroundings, and signals given by the signal caller on the ground. Both the caller and driver must work together in harmony trusting one another, like dating. The signals will tell the driver to stop, reverse, move ahead slowly or by inches, raise the load, lower the load, or move it right or left even by inches. Disaster can be the consequence of “Mixed signals.” Both must be aware of the hazards on and above the ground. A sight survey should be standard procedure prior to performing any job, and a safety check on the equipment is an absolute must! In 2006 there were 72 crane –related fatal occupational injuries as reported by the bureau of labor statistics. As of November 2010 signalers and riggers must be qualified, so make sure your driver and signaler are competent and have the proper qualification training. There are new rules for crane operators as well, which will be effective as of November 10, 2014. With several rules in place and new ones being put into effect, it is important to have an OSHA compliant plan in case accidents do happen.

    Whether its signals in industry, at home, on the street or classroom, it’s not just about red lights, green lights or the law which could hold you accountable for not knowing them.  It’s about respect for what they mean and why they are important to us.

  • Tuberculosis: The White Plague

    Much has been written about tuberculosis or the ”White Plague” named so because it made the patient appear pale. It earned its place in history because it dates back to early man, and wherever they migrated they took their diseases with them.  Like its symptoms seen below this disease just seems to be persistent, and just doesn’t want to go away. In the 1800’s into the early 1900’s tuberculosis or TB  killed more people than any other disease. My grandfather Gus succumbed to the disease, where he was confined to what was termed a “sanitorium”.

    By the mid 50’s it appeared that significant progress had been made in treating the disease
    and even thought that it might be eradicated. However, in the mid 80’s, TB made a comeback. In America today it is estimated that 10 to 15 million people carry the Latent TB virus with 20,000 new active cases a year. Worldwide the numbers are considerably worse, and TB is in the top 15 leading causes of death!!

    I do rely on the Center for Disease Control for information. Below you’ll find a short synopsis of the disease including symptoms which they have provided..

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria that are spread through the air from person to person. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of TB.

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria that are spread through the air from person to person. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. The TB bacteria usually attack the lungs, but can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

    Symptoms of TB Disease

    Symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB disease symptoms may include:

    *A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer tuberculosis
    *Pain in the chest
    *Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
    *Weakness or fatigue
    *Weight loss
    *No appetite
    *Sweating at night

    TB is NOT spread by

    *Shaking someone's hand
    *Sharing food or drink
    *Touching bed linens or toilet seats
    *Sharing toothbrushes

    If you think you may have been exposed to someone with TB disease, contact your health care provider or your local or state TB control office to schedule a TB test, either a TB blood test or tuberculin skin test.

    At Safetyinstruction.com we are not just concerned with job hazards but with the general health and well being of all. So this blog will continue to present information that we feel is pertinent, and should be a part of the discussion in keeping all safe, healthy and informed. Tuberculosis is a disease that you will want to take serious, and research vaccines available for its prevention.

    Information like this is only good if used. Take some time today, and keep you and your family safe from the perils of Tuberculosis.


  • Ergonomics: Can You Throw a Softball?

    Did this really exist 40 years ago? Just what is it and what does it mean to you?
    well here is a short but direct definition from “About home” ergonomics

    Definition: Ergonomics is the science of work.

    “Ergonomics derives from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws. Combined they create a word that means the science of work and a persons relationship to that work.

    In application, ergonomics is a discipline focused on making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for the user.

    Ergonomics is sometimes defined as the science of fitting the work to the user, instead of forcing the user to fit the work. However, this is more a primary ergonomic principle rather than a definition”.

    As a safety advocate I think we see a lot of the symptoms and results of poor ergonomics, and probably don’t give it much thought until you or an employee are on the way to the doctor or pharmacist for pain meds, surgery, or physical therapy. This can literally be a real pain in the tush (not the medical term). Take a look around your work space, or audit your surroundings. Are you standing, sitting, turning, bending, typing or keyboarding as they refer to it today, lifting, walking, staring into a monitor or computer screen, throwing a baseball? Yes I did play a little baseball.  What about repetitive motion? All of these conditions can lead to muscular and or skeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, eye strain, torn rotator cuff, or any of a dozen problems with your neck and  back. Yes I did have shoulder surgery.

    Avoiding these issues are solved by “Ergonomics.” Set up your workstation efficiently, choose the right chair and note the proper posture, and key board height, get up occasionally and stretch those back muscles and shoulders right down to your fingers. Standing? Start with proper footwear, and check out the cushioned anti-fatigue mats available today. Make sure your supplies are within easy reach to prevent twisting, so you’re not doing the “Beatles” old song “Twist and Shout”. Is lighting the issue? Have your health and safety person take a look at it for you. That’s a part of their job. If you have to lift? make sure you know the proper technique, lift with your legs not with your back or get the right equipment to do the lifting, pushing, or pulling for you. Putting a widget in a box all day? Check with your supervisor to see if you can rotate out to another job every couple of hours or so. If you recognize an issue, be proactive, don’t wait until you or your job jeopardizes your health.

    Whether you are in the office, the plant, laboratory at home in the kitchen, or are a softball player on weekends, learn how to throw a ball properly so you can play catch with the grandkids when you’re 63.

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