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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.

  • 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!

  • Fall Protection in Residential Construction, PPE Harnessing for Safety

    Have you ever really given any thought to the definition and purpose of “Harnessing? As a teenager my Dad (May he rest in peace) used to harness a team of horses to plow a field. In some areas of this technology driven country of ours it is still being used by our Amish friends, and hobby farmers anxious to reconnect with Mother Earth. “The Free Dictionary” defines it this way:

    1. The gear or tackle, other than a yoke, with which a draft animal pulls a vehicle or implement.

    2. Something resembling such gear or tackle, as the arrangement of straps used to hold a parachute to the body.

    3. A device that raises and lowers the warp threads on a loom.

    4. Archaic Armor for a man or horse.

    So feeling a little like a Horse? Well that part of the definition really isn’t that far off. Here’s some more of its relevant definition: 2. To bring under control and direct the force of: If you can harness your energy, you will accomplish a great deal.

    So essentially what we are talking about here is PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) a harness worn by you to control the energy of a fall. Fall Protection, by use of a safety Harness, is what we’re concerned about here. In the last year or so OSHA has made a concerted effort to protect those workers by redefining “Fall Protection in Residential Construction”.

    Today we’ll discuss the Key Changes to OSHA’s residential Construction fall program. To do this I’ve invited a guest author from “Falltech”. Falltech is our provider for fall arrest equipment and systems, her name is Kelly May. Her article follows:

    Up until late last year, people working in residential construction did not have to follow the same fall protection regulations as other industries where work at height is performed. The Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction (STD 03-00-001), allowed residential construction companies to use alternative fall protection methods, such as safety monitoring systems or slide guards instead of the more traditional methods of protecting workers from falls. All of that changed when OSHA rescinded STD-03-00-001 at the end of 2013.

    Falls continue to be the leading cause of death among residential construction workers - accounting for 76 percent of fatalities. Even worse, workers in the roofing industry are three times more likely to experience fatal work-related injuries than other construction workers*. It was statistics such as these that led OSHA to decide that something must be done.

    Now, all workers engaged in residential construction six feet or more above lower levels must be protected by guardrail systems, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems.

    There are exceptions. In the roofing industry, alternative fall protection measures can be used, depending on the pitch of the roof. On low sloping roofs, with pitch of 4:12 or less, warning lines and safety monitoring systems are allowed. However, if the roof pitch is over 4:12 guardrails or personal fall protection systems are now required. OSHA does allow the use of fall restraint systems instead of personal fall arrest systems as long as it will prevent a worker from reaching a fall hazard and falling over the edge.

    Also, if employers can show that such fall protection systems are not feasible or create a greater hazard, a qualified person may develop a plan outlining alternative fall protection measures. This plan must be in writing and site-specific; however, a plan that is developed for repeated use for a particular model of home will be considered site specific.

    Employers must also ensure that each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards is trained by a competent person to recognize the hazards of falling and the procedures to be followed in order to minimize those hazards. In addition, the employer must verify the training of each employee by preparing a written certification record that contains the name/identity of the employee trained, the date(s) of training, and the signature of the employer or the person who conducted the training.

    The differences between the Interim Guidelines and Subpart M? **

    General Requirements

    Interim Fall Protection Guidelines (Dec. 8, 1995 – June 15, 2011)

    Fall Protection Requirements of Subpart M (June 16, 2011 and beyond)

    Use of Conventional Methods (guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems) for fall exposures over 6 feetRequired, unless infeasible or creates greater hazardRequired, unless infeasible or creates greater hazard
    Use of Alternative Methods (slide guards, safety monitoring systems, warning line, etc.)Allowed, for prequalified tasks identified by OSHA as meeting a greater hazard and other tasks where infeasibility or greater hazard could be demonstratedAllowed, but employer has the burden to demonstrate conventional methods are infeasible or creates greater hazard before using
    Site Specific Fall Protection Plan (only if using Alternative Methods)Required, but does not have to be writtenRequired, must be written
    TrainingEmployees must be trained to understand and follow the Fall Protection PlanEmployees must be trained to understand and follow the Fall Protection Plan
    Roofing-Specific Requirements
    Low Slope Roofs (4:12 pitch or less)Use of warning lines and safety monitoring systems allowedUse of warning lines and safety monitoring systems allowed
    Slope Roofs (over 4:12 up to and including 8:12)Use of slide guard allowedGuardrails or personal fall arrest system required
    Steep Slope Roofs (over 8:12)Guardrails or personal fall arrest system requiredGuardrails or personal fall arrest system required

    * Fatal Falls from Roofs Among U.S. Construction Workers; Xiuwen Sue Dong,Sang D. Choi,James G. Borchardt,Xuanwen Wang,Julie A. Largay; Journal of Safety Research; February 2013

    **Resource Guide; NAHB/NAHB Research Center Fall Protection Training; Sept. 2011; Page 7 of 8

    You can reach Kelly at Falltech 800-719-4619

    General descriptions, definitions and rules for components of an acceptable fall protection system are found in OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.66 Appendix C. The information found in this standard applies to safety harnesses and fall protection systems used in any industry.

    So there you have it, “from the horse’s mouth” so to speak, harnessing your energy for more important things in life. Harnessing for Safety, Fall protection in residential construction.

  • Why is Safety in the Workplace so Important?

    Recent information has shown that casualties in the workplace were up in 2011, while they dropped in construction, there were more deaths in transportation and other services than in earlier years. That brings up the question, why is safety in the workplace such a big deal?

    It is important for employees to have a place to work that is safe and free from dangers that can hurt them while they are trying to work. However, everyone in the workplace has to pull together to achieve a 0% when it comes to accidents. OSHA and the presidency are working together to ensure that every employer works towards the goal of zero accidents on the job.

    One problem seems to be that employers, as well as workers, aren’t taking workplace safety seriously. It’s the common assumption that all of us have, “it can’t happen to me, I know what I’m doing.” Then the phone rings and you realize it has happened to a loved one, or you are in an accident at work that ends with you in a wheelchair or seriously injured.

    Once an accident happens, it can’t be taken back; so it’s better to work to prevent the accident from happening in the first place. The video “Before Days End,” gives us a harsh inside look at exactly what being careless in the workplace can do to you, and the loved ones that you may leave behind.

    Safety in the workplace is not only a responsibility that you have to your employer, and your employer to you, it’s a responsibility that every worker has to the families that they are working to support. One slip, one careless step, or being distracted just for a moment, can destroy the very reason you are working in the first place.

  • Safety for Sandy’s Recovery Team

    Hurricane Sandy has left a tragic mark in the face of America: the devastating loss of people we love. Before we even begin to get our feet back to the normal ways of our lives (if everything’s going to be normal ever again), we will have to take the long road to recovery. Our recovery workers from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) have all our thanks for starting the work. As a reward to them, let’s not put their lives to (yet another) danger. Here’s an eye-opening read from Rory Lancman of Huffington Post: “Sandy Recovery Must Include Safe Working Conditions.

  • Violent Assaults, Workplace Safety Issue

    Workplace violence is another angle the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has been looking at for dangers employees (and even customers) may face. In fact, they have just found out that even nursing homes aren’t safe. Find out the full story in “Workplace Violence Prompts Rising Concern” by Eric Robinette for the Middletown Journal.

  • The Fined, the Injured and the Dead

    Workplace safety measures are put into place to protect the employer and the employee. Millions of people are affected each day by simple violations. Agencies such as the OSHA have their hands full with the number of infractions that are taking place, all of which are causing costly, if not fatal, consequences.

    According to an article concerning Marquette County, small violations can add up quickly. This county received over 60 infractions between their courthouse and waste water treatment plant alone. After a 60% reduction in fines, the overall cost was $15,000, a hit that just about everyone is going to feel. This is small amount compared to what a Excel, a packing plant, is going to have to pay after 43% of their accidents went unreported. Companies are shelling out major money for negligence of safety standards.

    It is important to remember that it is not just the monetary cost that makes an impact for violating company safety regulations. Hundreds of people are being injured or killed as a result of workplace safety violations. In Alberta, Five are Dead as a Result of Work Related Accidents this week alone. The impact of these fatalities is affecting families, friends and coworkers of all those who fall victim to safety negligence.

    There are a number of consequences that are a result of not applying safety regulations regularly. All it takes is one minor violation to result in an injury for a costly undertaking to occur. Many organizations and private businesses are taking a step up in their safety measures in order to protect their employees and enterprises alike.

  • Good News for Airline Ground Workers

    The working environment for airline ground workers is about to get more safe. OSHA is teaming up with the Airline Ground Safety Panel for the next two years. The goal of this collaboration is to gather data on the many hazards of airport groundwork, and come up with specific safety solutions which will increase the well being of workers.

  • The Cost of Safety Standards

    Keeping the workplace safe and conducive for labor is one of the top priorities and obligations of employers to their employees, in addition to fair compensation. Sadly, the fact remains that neglecting (or at least, providing inadequate) workplace safety measures is a lot cheaper and, not to mention, convenient, to employers than adhering to the set standards. This can only work alright for so long - until someone gets hurt or, in the worst case, dies.

    In fact, a lot of companies get sued every year due to workplace safety violations and casualties. The state laws together with the policies set by OSHA protect workers from such violations. Fines and sanctions are common punishments for safety violations, the most grave of which is probably getting the company shut down. How far would employers go, just to be able to save on their expenditure and increase their profit margin?

    Although it is far from becoming a trend, a number of companies and industries are turning employee-friendly, taking measures to provide the safest workplace possible. OSHA has been acknowledging such positive workplace attitude and safety measures, even handing out recognition and awards to deserving companies. More of these role models are needed in today’s society - employers owe it to their employees to give them the fairest of working conditions in exchange of their services. Learn more about the voluntary safety measures that have been put in place by these companies from Michelle Chen’s article, “When Safety Becomes Voluntary: Workplace Self-Policing Program Under Scrutiny.”

  • In The Navy: Sailing Toxic Seas?

    The OSHA has recently found a number of safety violations in a rather surprising place - the Navy. A Coronado aircraft hangar has been found contaminated with toxic materials - lead, cadmium, and beryllium - putting an unbelievable 350 men at risk. Fortunately, there has been no reported illness or injury, although such cases should not have existed in the first place. Read the fullstory from Julie Watson, reporting for Bloomberg Business Week.

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