5 Steps To Protect Your Workplace from Unnecessary Incineration

Warehouses are always vital repositories for a business’ stock. They store most, if not all, of a business’ goods ready for sale or distribution. Because they have such an important function—safeguarding the biggest source of a business’ income—warehouses can control a business’ fate. Any warehouse disaster, such as a fire, can have disastrous consequences, potentially…

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Nailing Down Gun Safety

Nail guns are used every day on many construction jobs.  They boost productivity but also cause tens of thousands of serious injuries each year.  Nail gun injuries are common—one study found that 2 out of 5 residential carpenter apprentices experienced a nail gun injury over a four-year period.  Injuries from use of nail guns hospitalize more construction workers than any other tool-related injury.  Research has also found that the risk of a nail gun injury is twice as high when using a multi-shot contact trigger as opposed to using a single-shot sequential trigger nail gun.  Furthermore, studies have shown that training in the proper use of the nail gun being used is essential in reducing the likelihood of injury.  Since training is usually not required for operating a nail gun, it may be a challenge to find.  You can contact your local community college or hardware retailer about training they may provide.  Training by an experienced user can also be helpful.  At the very least, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and follow the precautions listed below.

Safety Tips for Nail Gun Operation:

  • Use only a nail gun with a sequential trigger mechanism.  NOTE:  Appearance alone won’t tell you if the gun you are using is equipped with a contact or sequential trigger.  Both triggers look the same, but operate differently.  With sequential nail guns, the tool will fire only one nail when pulling the trigger.  With a gun equipped with a contact trigger, if you keep the trigger pulled while pushing the gun against a surface, the gun will continue to fire.  Using a sequential nail gun will reduce incidence of injuries without affecting speed of operation.
  • Never aim or fire the gun towards you or anyone near you.
  • Do not press the trigger unless the nose of the gun—the contact element—is pressed firmly against the work material.
  • Don’t ever hold your finger near the trigger when carrying the nail gun, even though the trigger is the tool’s center of gravity.
  • Clear jams, load/unload and adjust the nail gun only when it is disconnected from the air supply.
  • Avoid nailing into knows or metal since nails are more likely to ricochet.  Dense materials such as laminated beams are also difficult to nail.
  • Don’t remove or bypass safety devices, triggers or contact springs.
  • If a nail gun is not working correctly, tag it and take it out of service.  Defective tools are dangerous.
  • When operating a nail gun, keep as much distance as you can between your free hand and the nail gun.
  • When climbing or descending a ladder, put some distance between you and the nail gun.  Point the nose of the tool away from you and others and don’t drop it by the air hose.
  • When attaching the nail gun to the air supply, pull the collar back on the air hose while pointing the front of the nail gun away from you and others.  Push down, then release the collar.  Wear your personal protective equipment not just when operating the nail gun but when attaching the gun to the compressor.  Place the gun in front of you on a work surface or the ground to give you more leverage.

Remember, injuries resulting from nail gun use hospitalize more construction workers than any other tool.  Be safe and don’t get nailed!

If you would like more information on nail gun safety, contact Trevor Reschny at 800-788-7036 or email him at treschny@safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

CONTROL OF HAZARDOUS ENERGY (LOCKOUT/TAGOUT)

What is hazardous energy?

Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy could cause injury to employees.

What are the harmful effects of hazardous energy?

Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal! Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and others.

Electricians, machine operators, and laborers are among the 3 million workers who service equipment routinely and face the greatest risk of injury. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

What can be done to control hazardous energy?

Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries. Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy.

OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout fact sheet describes the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy.

The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry outlines measures for controlling different types of hazardous energy. The LOTO standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures:

  • Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry, outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
  • All employees who work in the area where the energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s) and about the prohibition against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or equipment that is locked or tagged out.
  • All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace, the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace, and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
  • Specific procedures and limitations relating to tagout systems where they are allowed.
  • Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.

If you would like more information on control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) training or procedures contact Trevor Reschny at 800-788-7036 or email him at treschny@safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Heat-Related Illness Safety

Wow, It’s Really Hot Out There! Many people are exposed to heat on some jobs, outdoors or in hot indoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness. Workplaces with these conditions may include…

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

TRENCHING AND EXCAVATION SAFETY

Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Dangers of Trenching and Excavation
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.

Protect Yourself
Do not enter an unprotected trench! Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be de-signed by a registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/ or approved by a registered professional engineer.

Protective Systems
There are different types of protective systems. Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation. Shoring requires installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins. Designing a protective system can be complex because you must consider many factors: soil classification, depth of cut, water content of soil, changes due to weather or climate, surcharge loads (eg., spoil, other materials to be used in the trench) and other operations in the vicinity.

Competent Person
OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.

Access and Egress
OSHA requires safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. These devices must be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of all workers.

General Trenching and Excavation Rules

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Keep surcharge loads at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
  • Know where underground utilities are located.
  • Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases.
  • Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
  • Inspect trenches following a rainstorm.
  • Do not work under raised loads.

If you would like more information on trenching and excavation safety, contact Trevor Reschny at 800-788-7036 or email him at treschny@safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Watch that behavior! Conducting meaningful behavior observations

Man on ladder

Behavioral Observations sounds simple enough. Watch a person do their job then fill out a checklist …right?

Actually, there is more to conducting a MEANINGFUL behavior observation than that. The best behavior-based safety initiatives are unique to a particular company and are developed specifically to suit its circumstances. With that said here are some general steps that should be taken within any organization.

1) Employee Involvement

Man on ladder

  • Employee observations are the backbone of the behavior-based safety system, thus the workforce must understand the need for behavior-based safety.
  • Communication and trust among members of the organization increases as the team concept toward safety is developed.

2) Determining “Critical Behaviors”

  • A hazard analysis should be done in order to identify the company’s “at-risk” behaviors.
  • This can be done using data from employee surveys, interviews and injury and near-miss records.

3) Observation Form Development

  • The selected at-risk behaviors will be used as the basis of the observation form.
  • The form typically includes a list of the critical behaviors in addition to field check off “safe” or “at-risk.”
  • Also a section should be added to allow the observer to make comments.

4) Conducting Observations

  • Observer training is critical. Untrained observers have the potential to turn the Behavioral Observation process into a negative experience for employees which can cause harm to your culture.
  • Typically the process starts with supervisors and managers observing and monitoring employees. Eventually as the culture develops employees can become involved in the observation process as well.
  • Both positive and at-risk behaviors are noted on the checklist. The employee and the observer discuss the results and the employee gives explanations and feedback. Suggested behaviors are discussed and praise is encouraged.
  • The employee being observed should not be named on the observation form.

5) Performance Measurement and Feedback

  • The data collected on the observation checklist should be entered into a spread sheet or database.
  • This will allow the outcomes to bed analyzed and compared to previous months.
  • Solutions for potential problems are based on this data with the ultimate goal of improving workplace safety.

6) Want to take it to the next level?

  • A great way to take your Behavioral Observation process to the next level is to incorporate a “quality scoring” section into them.
  • This will remind the observers to create a meaningful document with the checklist and not simply “pencil-whip” the form.
  • You can create questions to improve the quality of the report such as:
  • Was your employee feedback dynamic (2-way)?
  • Was the feedback positive, negative or both?
  • Did you focus on the monthly safety behavior? (If applicable)

Incorporating a behavior-based observation process into your over-all safety management strategy can be a meaningful way to improve the safety culture at your company and, ultimately, to keep your employees safe at work.

If you would like more information on setting up an effective behavioral safety system contact Trevor Reschny at 407-760-6170 or email him at treschny[at]safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

The Basics of Powered Industrial Truck (Fork Truck) Safety

What are powered industrial trucks?

Powered industrial trucks, also known as forklifts or lift trucks, are used in many industries to move materials. They are also used to raise, lower, or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects on pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers. Powered industrial trucks can either be ridden by the operator or controlled by a walking operator. 

What are the hazards associated with operating powered industrial trucks?

There are many types of powered industrial trucks. Each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety. Beyond that, many workers can also be injured when:

1)       lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks;

2)       lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer;

3)       they are struck by a lift truck; or

4)       they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

What can be done to reduce the hazards related to powered industrial trucks?

Determining the best way to protect workers from injury largely depends on the type of truck operated and the worksite where it is being used. Employers must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in 29 CFR 1910.178(I)(1).

If you would like more information on powered industrial truck safety, contact Trevor Reschny at 800-788-7036 or email him at treschny@safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Slip, Trip, and Fall Safety

Slips, trips and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents.  They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.

How do falls happen?

Statistics show that the majority (66%) of falls happen on the same level resulting from slips and trips. The remaining 34% are falls from a height. This article will focus on “falls on the same level” (slips and trips).

Slips

Slips happen where there is too little friction or traction between the footwear and the walking surface. Common causes of slips are:

  • wet or oily surfaces
  • occasional spills
  • weather hazards
  • loose, unanchored rugs or mats
  • flooring or other walking surfaces that do not have same degree of traction in all areas

Trips

Trips happen when your foot collides (strikes, hits) an object causing you to lose the balance and, eventually fall. Common causes of tripping are:

  • obstructed view
  • poor lighting
  • clutter in your way
  • wrinkled carpeting
  • uncovered cables
  • bottom drawers not being closed
  • uneven (steps, thresholds) walking surfaces

How to prevent falls due to slips and trips?

Both slips and trips result from some a kind of unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the feet and the ground or walking surface. This shows that good housekeeping, quality of walking surfaces (flooring), selection of proper footwear, and appropriate pace of walking are critical for preventing fall accidents.

Housekeeping

Good housekeeping is the first and the most important (fundamental) level of preventing falls due to slips and trips. It includes:

  • cleaning all spills immediately
  • marking spills and wet areas
  • mopping or sweeping debris from floors
  • removing obstacles from walkways and always keeping them free of clutter
  • securing (tacking, taping, etc.) mats, rugs and carpets that do not lay flat
  • always closing file cabinet or storage drawers
  • covering cables that cross walkways
  • keeping working areas and walkways well lit
  • replacing used light bulbs and faulty switches

Without good housekeeping practices, any other preventive measures such as installation of sophisticated flooring, specialty footwear or training on techniques of walking and safe falling will never be fully effective.

Flooring

Changing or modifying walking surfaces is the next level of preventing slip and trips. Recoating or replacing floors, installing mats, pressure-sensitive abrasive strips or abrasive-filled paint-on coating and metal or synthetic decking can further improve safety and reduce risk of falling. However, it is critical to remember that high-tech flooring requires good housekeeping as much as any other flooring. In addition, resilient, non-slippery flooring prevents or reduces foot fatigue and contributes to slip prevention measures.

Footwear

In workplaces where floors may be oily or wet or where workers spend considerable time outdoors, prevention of fall accidents should focus on selecting proper footwear. Since there is no footwear with anti-slip properties for every condition, consultation with manufacturers’ is highly recommended. Properly fitting footwear increases comfort and prevents fatigue which, in turn, improves safety for the employee.

What can you do to avoid falling at work?

You can reduce the risk of slipping on wet flooring by:

  • taking your time and paying attention to where you are going
  • adjusting your stride to a pace that is suitable for the walking surface and the tasks you are doing
  • walking with the feet pointed slightly outward
  • making wide turns at corners

You can reduce the risk of tripping by:

  • keeping walking areas clear from clutter or obstructions
  • keeping flooring in good condition
  • always using installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks
  • using a flashlight if you enter a dark room where there is no light
  • ensuring that things you are carrying or pushing do not prevent you from seeing any obstructions, spills, etc.

If you would like more information on slip, trip and fall safety, contact Trevor Reschny at 800-788-7036 or email him at treschny@safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

How To Determine If You Are A HazMat Employee

According to DOT, a HazMat employee is defined as a person who is, “employed on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis by a HazMat employer and who in the course of such full-time, part-time, or temporary basis directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety.”  More so, this includes a person or employer that uses one employee on temporary, part-time, or full-time basis and practices one or more of the following:

  • Loading, unloading, or handling hazardous materials
  • Tests, repairs, modifies, marks a package or a packaging component that is marked, represented, or sold as for use in transporting hazardous materials
  • Prepares and organizes hazmat for transportation
  • Responsible for safety of transporting hazardous materials
  • Operation of vehicle that is utilized to transport hazmat

To summarize, if you are involved or responsible for the packaging, handling, or even simply completing paperwork for the transportation of hazardous materials, then you are considered a HazMat employee.

Training and the Hazmat Law

The Federal hazardous materials transportation law (49 U.S.C. § 5101 et seq.) is the basic statute regulating the transportation of hazardous materials (hazmat) in the United States. This law requires the training of ALL hazmat employees. The purpose is to increase a hazmat employee’s safety awareness and be an essential element in reducing hazmat incidents.

Each Hazmat Employer Must:

  • Train and Test
  • Certify
  • Develop and retain records of current training (inclusive of preceding three years) for each hazmat employee (during the period of employment and 90 days thereafter)

Training Must Include:

  • General awareness/familiarization
  • Function-specific, training
  • Safety
  • Security awareness
  • In-depth security training, if a security plan is required
  • Driver training (for each hazmat employee who will operate a motor vehicle)

Initial Training

  • A new employee, or an employee who changes job functions, may perform hazmat job functions before completing training, provided the employee does so under the direct supervision of a properly trained and knowledgeable hazmat employee; and the hazmat training is completed within 90 days of employment or change in job function.

Recurrent Training

  • Is required at least once every three years. The three year period begins on the actual date of training.

Training Records Must Include

  • Hazmat employee’s name
  • Completion date of most recent training
  • Training Materials (Copy, description, or location)
  • Name and address of hazmat trainer
  • Certification that the hazmat employee has been trained and tested

Safety Links offers several DOT courses such as DOT Hazardous Materials and DOT HazMat 101. For more information regarding these courses click the links above or call us at 800-768-7036.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Skid Steer Loader Safety

Spring is here…swimming pool installers and landscaping companies are getting busy as home owners want to beautify their property. One piece of equipment regularly used for these projects is a skid steer loader…a “jack-of-all-trades”. With the many attachment options, these units can be found doing many tasks. From earthmoving to landscaping, skid steers help operators get the job done!

Skid steer loaders are manufactured with safety features to prevent unexpected or inadvertent movement of the loader arm and hydraulics when the operator is not in the cab. Operators should read the owner’s manual and demonstrate that they understand the safe work practices when operating the skid steer loader. Operators should be provided with at least an annual refresher safety training, and always document training just in case OSHA pays you a visit.

Common safety features of a skid steer loader include the seatbelt to prevent the operator from being thrown about inside or falling out of the skid steer loader.  Other features include Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS), Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS), and a Control Interlock System. The FOPS and ROPS protect the operator from falling objects and injury due to accidental rollovers. Control Interlock Systems and/or operator seats used on some machines typically activate a safety interlock system that is intended to prevent inadvertent movement of the machine’s controls when the operator is not seated.

When safe work practices are not followed, mishaps are bound to occur. The most common types of incidents from skid steer usage include:

  • Running over bystanders, including children or the operator

  • Entrapment or crushing, which can happen when the operator or helper is caught between an attachment and the frame of the skid steer

  • Entrapment of the operator when a load rolls or drops onto him or her while he or she is in the operator station

  • Rollover when the skid steer is operated on a steep slope or uneven terrain

  • Tipping due to a heavy load or attachment in the front

  • Falls while improperly mounting or dismounting the skid steer

  • Injection injuries caused when pressurized hydraulic fluid is injected into a person’s body

  • Crushing/pinching injuries to hands and fingers due to improper hooking/unhooking of an attachment

While OSHA does not have a standard requiring employers to use control interlock systems or seatbelts on skid steer loaders, it is important for employers to understand that under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act (section 5(a)(1)), employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards that would likely cause death or serious physical harm.

For example, performing maintenance or repair operations while a skid steer loader is energized creates the recognized hazard of crushed-by and/or caught in-between. OSHA may cite an employer for a violation under the General Duty Clause if the employer does not take feasible, effective measures to abate such hazard.

The following practices will minimize hazardous situations associated with operating and maintaining skid steer loaders:

  • Read and understand the operator’s manual before using the piece of equipment.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance recommendations and specifications.

  • Lower the bucket or attachment so that it is flat on the ground.

  • Do not leave the operator’s seat while the engine is on.

  • Never attempt to activate the controls unless properly seated with the seatbelt fastened and the seat bar (if equipped) lowered. Keep all body parts inside the cab while operating a skid steer loader.

  • Never modify, bypass, disable, or override safety systems, and never operate equipment in which safety systems have been modified or are not working properly.

  • Equipment with modified or malfunctioning safety systems should be taken out of service until repaired or replaced.

  • Do not permit riders on the skid steer loader, in the bucket or attachment, or in the operator’s compartment unless the compartment is designed to accommodate a second rider.

  • Keep bystanders at a safe distance from the work area.

  • Establish a routine maintenance and inspection program in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Inspect the skid steer loader to ensure that all safety systems are functioning properly prior to operating the equipment.

  • Do not attempt maintenance or other work while lift arms or attachments are raised without using an approved lift arm support device. Replace protective guards and shields after repairs or service.

  • Operators must be trained on the proper inspection, use, maintenance, and repair of skid steer loaders according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Supervisory personnel must be trained to identify hazards, such as safety systems that have been bypassed, disabled, or that require maintenance.

Safety Links offers an interactive course to provide participants with a general understanding of the safe and efficient operation of a skid steer. After the course, participants will be able to identify specific health and safety hazards associated with operating a skid steer.

For more information on this and many other courses, contact Fran Soto at 800-768-7036 or fsoto@safetylinks.net.

Article written with the assistance of: mysafetynews.com; osha.gov; extension.org


Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Page 1 of 11