Should I Slope That Trench?

Trench Chart

If you do excavation work you know how much a trench box costs to buy or rent. But do you know how much the alternative costs?

The OSHA trenching and excavation regulations require trench boxes or other shoring to be used if the sides of the trench cannot be properly sloped. The slope depends on the kind of soil. From an excavation safety perspective there are three soil types including Type A, Type B and Type C. In almost every case the soil in Florida is Type C because of the high sand and water content.

This means that your trench or excavation must be sloped at a 34 degree angle (one and a half feet back for every foot deep). This may not seem so bad but consider this. A 5 foot deep and 3 foot wide trench would have to be sloped so that the opening would be 18 feet wide! An excavation that size takes a tremendous amount of time and energy and as a result is often done improperly.

Aside from the safety concern you might also be surprised that sloping often costs more than using trench boxes or other shoring equipment. The cost of removing soil and moving it away from the edges of a trench can be very expensive and will typically exceed the cost of boxes or shoring. This is particularly the case in long, narrow trenches (such as pipelines) where shoring and boxes can be used over and over as the trench is dug and filled but sloping requires extensive soil moving along the entire length of the trench.

For instance, the chart below compares soil removal quantities and costs for a two-mile trench that is 5 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

Trench Chart

If you want more information on trenching and excavation contact Randy Free at 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree(at)

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Distracted Driving: Not just a texting teen problem

Distracted man driving

Almost everyone I know does it or at least has done it. Whether you take a quick glance at your phone to view an incoming email, or a brief look to enter new directions into your GPS, we all seem to have a strange double standard when it comes to distracted driving. We view these behaviors as acceptable for us but unacceptable for others. Just imagine the advice you would give your teenager when he or she starts driving. Then take a critical look at what you do behind the wheel. Is there a difference?

Distracted man drivingDespite the public outrage and the national emphasis highway safety officials have put on distracted drivers we still do it. In fact we still do it a lot! I was recently sitting at an intersection waiting to make a left turn. Out of the 10 vehicles which passed in the opposite direction all but one was visibly talking on the phone. Although not a scientific study by any means, I am sure if you did the same on your way home from work today you would find similar results. These unprecedented rates of distracted driving are the reason why there are increasing numbers of serious injuries and deaths.

Now I am not trying to change the way the world operates. I would be naïve to think I could. I am merely trying to change the way you and your commercial fleet drivers perceive the risk of distracted driving. Regardless of what the public perception is, the distracted driving epidemic is not only being fueled by texting teens, it is also being fueled by a growing number of adults who drive while simultaneously conducting business using their smart phones.

Most adults have the idea that they are superior drivers and therefore, better able than teens to multitask behind the wheel. But recent multi-million-dollar judgments against corporations whose adult employees killed or injured other drivers and/or their passengers while using cell phones or smart phones show that adults can be just as distracted when using hand-held communication devices as younger, less experienced drivers.

Running red lights at full speed, swerving into oncoming traffic and rear-ending stopped vehicles are the three distracted driving behaviors currently producing the most severe injuries and fatalities. Distracted driving crashes are typically higher force and produce more fatalities and more serious injuries than other types of collisions since distracted drivers often make no effort to stop or otherwise avoid the collision. This coupled with the alarming number of distracted drivers on the road makes distracted drivers (in my opinion) more deadly than drunk drivers, who, even with their slowed reaction time, sometimes manage to partially brake and lessen the impact of the collision.

So what can be done?

Studies have shown that drivers freely admit that distracted driving carries a substantial risk, but the dilemma is that these same drivers continue to engage in distracted driving behaviors when they get behind the wheel. Why? It’s simply because the likelihood of a collision seems remote to the driver. After all, if they really knew they would be in a collision today they would undoubtedly pay extra attention when driving. Drivers simply don’t believe it will ever happen to them.

So how can you change the behaviors of your drivers? The answer is actually simple. Adapt the proven principles of Behavior Based Safety (BBS) to your drivers. If you have had any experience with BBS you probably already realize that people take risks because of some sort of positive outcome. In the case of multitasking while driving the most obvious outcome is that they get more work done.

BBS focuses on providing other consequences (both positive and negative) which will work to outweigh the positive consequences inherent in distracted driving. You can do this by 1) defining critical driving behaviors, 2) making periodic observations, and 3) providing positive and negative feedback to the drivers.

Drivers who are randomly subject to unannounced follow behind’s, a periodic supervisor ride along, and are even subject to a random review of driver camera footage (if equipped) must constantly weigh the consequences of driving distracted with the consequences of the behavioral observation.

If you want to talk about how you can implement BBS principles with your fleet to achieve world class safety performance please contact me. I would be glad to discuss it with you.

Trevor Reschny, CSP. 407-760-6170 or email me at treschny[at]

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Decontamination From An Emergency Spill Response

Spill Response

One of the goals to any emergency-spill response plan is to limit the amount of contamination spread from the site. Any person or piece of equipment involved in a spill cleanup process can be contaminated. Before entering the spill area, steps should be taken to ensure the equipment and workers leaving the site have been decontaminated. OSHA defines decontamination in the hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER) standard, 29 CFR1910.120 (a)(3), as the removal of hazardous substances from employees and their equipment to the extent necessary to preclude the occurrence of foreseeable adverse health effects.

Proper Setup of a Decontamination Area

An emergency spill-response site is broken down into the following areas (see diagram below):

  1. Hot Zone: Spill area, where all major spill cleanup operations will be performed.
  2. Support Zone: Location of the command post, which should be free of any contaminates. This area may be referred to as the Cold Zone.
  3. Contamination-Reduction Zone (CRZ): Buffer between the Hot and Support Zones and location of the Decontamination Corridor. This area may also be referred to as the Warm Zone.
  4. Decontamination Corridor: Area used to clean up workers and equipment leaving the Hot Zone. However, it is important to note that the Decontamination Corridor is not only used for cleanup. This area should be the only access point in and out of the spill work area.

Spill Response

The Contamination-Reduction Zone and Decontamination Corridor should be set up before work begins in the Hot Zone. Location of this zone depends on many factors:

  • Levels of contaminate: Determine whether the desired area is safe for monitoring the contaminate.
  • Wind direction: Determine wind direction to ensure airborne concentration of the contaminate; the work area should be upwind of the spill.
  • Access and egress: Ease of access to the Hot Zone can reduce the amount of contamination spread.
  • Weather: Inclement conditions can hinder decontamination. Set up indoors or use an encapsulated decontamination system when necessary.
  • Topography: The Contamination-Reduction Zone should not be downhill from the Hot Zone, near streams or waterways.
  • Proximity to hazards: Although it is important to be close to the spill, the Contamination-Reduction Zone should be a safe distance from any hazards to help ensure that decontamination workers are not harmed in case of an explosion or other chemical release.
Physical vs. Chemical Decontamination

You can remove contaminates through physical or chemical methods.

  1. Physical decontamination is the process of scrubbing, scrapping, diluting, absorbing or vacuuming contaminate off of a worker or equipment. This is commonly used if the contaminate is a particulate hazard that can be rinsed off easily.
  2. Chemical decontamination involves neutralizing, dissolving or degrading the hazard of the contamination to make it less harmful through decontamination solutions.
Proper Decontamination Procedures

Given that no two spill responses are the same, the equipment and setup of the decontamination site should be tailored to the specific hazards of the site. This might include variations on the method, number of steps required, and types of decontamination equipment used.

Regardless of these variations, there are a few general guidelines you should follow:

  • PPE of the decontamination workers: Any workers who are involved in the decontamination process should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) that is the same level of the Hot Zone workers, or at minimum, one level lower.
  • Containment of decon solutions: Physical or chemical decon might require water or other decontamination solutions. In the cleaning process, the used solution might contain sufficient levels of contamination that would classify it as hazardous. Containment should be set up to collect this rinsate and it should be disposed of in accordance with federal, state and local regulations.
  • Head-to-toe decon: Decontamination of any worker should begin at the head, working to the toes. Special attention should be given to areas that might be more soiled (hands, feet, etc.) and areas where contamination might collect, such as creases in the suit, underarms, etc.

If you want more information on HazWoper training or spill response plan development contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]

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Computer work is a pain in the… everywhere

Computer work

If you use a computer for extended periods of time you likely have experienced eye fatigue and pain or discomfort in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or back. The good news is that in most cases, corrective measures are relatively simple and inexpensive.

A survey of actual computer use will help you determine which workstations and individuals should be targeted for further evaluation. Highest priority should be given to those individuals who experience symptoms and spend more than 2 hours per day at a computer.

The following guidelines are intended to help you understand and reduce health risks associated with computer workstations. Since no two people are identical, different styles, models, and sizes of furniture and accessories may be needed. Here are some general rules to follow:Computer work

  1. The work surface should be of sufficient area to accommodate the computer and all associated materials. There should be adequate space beneath this surface for the operator’s legs and feet.
  2. The keyboard and mouse should be directly in front of the operator at a height that favors a neutral posture (23 to 28 inches). When placed at standard desk height of 30 inches, keyboards and input devices are too high for most people. The objective is a posture with upper arms relaxed and wrists straight in line with the forearm. Wrist rests may also help and are built into most keyboard holders.
  3. The monitor should be positioned at a distance of approximately arm’s length and directly in front of the operator. The top of the screen should be no higher than eye level. A monitor placed on top of the computer can easily be lowered by relocating the computer. Many monitors are height adjustable, stackable monitor blocks or even phone books can be used to achieve the desired height. Adjustable monitor arms enable easy height adjustment for workstations with multiple users.
  4. A well designed chair will help with posture, circulation and back strain reduction. Desired features of a chair include: pneumatic seat height adjustment, back height adjustment, seat depth adjustment (either by moving the back of the chair or moving the seat pan), and 360 degree swivel.
  5. Additional accessories can improve operator comfort. Document holders can minimize eye, neck and shoulder strain by positioning the document close to the monitor. A footrest should be used where the feet cannot be placed firmly on the floor. Task lamps will illuminate source documents when room lighting is reduced.
  6. Glare should be eliminated through methods that include reduction of room lighting; shielding windows with shades, curtains or blinds; positioning the terminal at a right angle to windows; and tilting the monitor to avoid reflection from overhead lighting. Glare screens are not normally necessary.

Lastly, to maintain a safe, comfortable, and productive office all computer users should receive some basic training covering the potential health effects that may result from poor posture and work habits, early warning symptoms, workstation adjustment, and other self-help protective measures.

If you want more information on ergonomics assessments or training contact Randy Free at 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]

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Behavioral Safety 101; Positive Reinforcement

Here’s for a little Friday morning positive reinforcement:

The Science of Behavioral Safety 101: A Little Praise Goes a Long Way
Never underestimate the power of acknowledging people for behaving safely or supporting others to do the same.

We probably have all heard the old adage: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Well, there’s plenty of science to support it.

Psychological research has shown us time and again that positive reinforcement is the single most powerful tool in our arsenal for eliciting and maintaining desired behavior. It’s true when it comes to parenting children and it’s true when it comes to creating safe work environments. Strategic use of positive reinforcement is effective and highly cost-efficient.

To view the article, visit HERE.

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Choosing Chemical-Resistant Gloves

Chemical Resistant Glove

Chemical-resistant gloves are important when working with chemicals. The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is often the first place people go to find glove recommendations however most SDS’s provide generic or incomplete information glove selection. That is when you’ll have to refer to a glove manufacturers test chart.  The test data is generally from a laboratory environment and with one specific chemical. Glove manufacturers generally do not test chemical mixtures and don’t consider other variables in your application, such as hot or cold temperatures and cut hazards. Below are chemical guide links for some of the larger glove manufacturers selection charts:

Chemical Resistant Glove

On these chemical-resistance guide charts, you will find gloves made from many different materials. Different glove materials can react differently to individual chemicals. An important consideration when choosing a protective glove for working with chemicals is how the specific chemical reacts with the glove material. A SDS that only specifies an acid-resistant glove is misleading because one glove material might work fine with hydrochloric acid, but provide little or no protection from nitric acid. Gloves are generally tested and rated in three categories for chemical compatibility: degradation, breakthrough time and permeation rate. All three should be considered when selecting a glove.

Degradation is a change in physical properties of the glove material. Common effects include swelling, wrinkling, stiffness, change in color or other physical deterioration. The degradation ratings indicate how well a glove will hold up when working with a specific chemical. Degradation tests vary by manufacturer. There is no standardized test that is used by everyone in the industry. However, the glove material usually has constant exposure to the test chemical and the percent weight change is then determined at time intervals.

Degradation is one critical factor when choosing a glove but other considerations are chemical breakthrough time and the permeation rate of the glove with the chemical. Degradation is usually the first test. Most manufacturers do not test permeation or breakthrough time if the chemical causes significant degradation to the glove material. Degradation alone can be enough to disqualify a glove for use with a chemical.

Breakthrough time is the elapsed time between initial contact of the chemical on one side of the glove material and the analytical detection of the chemical on the other side of the glove material. This test is conducted per ASTM F739 standard test method for resistance of protective clothing materials to permeation by hazardous liquid chemicals. The higher the result, the longer it takes for the chemical to pass through the glove material. The actual time reported on the chemical is usually listed on the compatibility charts. If breakthrough did not occur, the data reported is typically ND (none detected) or > (greater than) the indicated test period. The times generally reflect how long a glove can be expected to provide resistance when totally submerged in the test chemical.

Permeation rate is a measurement that describes the rate of a chemical passing through the glove material at the molecular level. This process is similar to how a balloon loses air after enough time passes even though it is still tied and has no visible holes. The thickness of the glove can greatly affect the permeation rate.

Manufacturers report permeation rate in different ways. Some report in micrograms of chemical per square centimeter of glove material per minute. The higher the result, the more of the chemical that passes through the glove material. Other manufacturers rate the permeation similar to that done for degradation: excellent (E), good (G), fair (F), poor (P) and not recommended (NR). If chemical breakthrough does not occur, permeation is not measured. This is reported as ND (none detected) or NT (not tested), depending upon the manufacturer. This test is also conducted per ASTM F739.

If you want more information on PPE assessments or training contact Trevor Reschny. 407-760-6107 or email him at treschny[at]

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The Benefits of Fleet Safety

truck with bumper sticker
Are your company vehicles costing you too much money to operate or are they actually a benefit to your overall business operations?

There are two distinct groups of company vehicles; primary and incidental. The primary vehicles are those that can be used to generate income for your business by being able to establish charges for their usage, which is billed to the customer.

Incidental fleets or vehicles are those units that generate no operating charges, yet are essential for company personnel to conduct business, such as those company owned vehicles that are assigned to job foremen, superintendents, project engineers, sales, maintenance staff, or material delivery personnel.

These vehicles may be costing your company more than the fuel, insurance, and upkeep that it takes to maintain them.

Did you know that in addition to the normal expected costs, job related vehicle incidents are the leading cause of work-related fatalities and lost time injuries, which cost companies millions of dollars in additional expenses?

You may have a safety program in place with policies and procedures intended to protect your employees from workplace hazards and exposures related to the job activities associated with your operations. Does your company safety program or risk control measures, address the necessary steps to afford the same level of controls and protection for the company vehicles that are provided to employees in order to carry out their day to day activities?

The following four step fleet program is a good start.

Step #1: Administrative Commitmenttruck with bumper sticker

Top management/ownership must be committed to fleet management, showing that they are genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of all employees within the organization while operating and using company vehicles. The next step in the process is to have written policies and procedures. Policies should be written and spelled out covering issues such as: Safe Use and Operations of Company Vehicles, Drug & Alcohol Usage, Driver Qualifications, Driver Screening, Personal Use, Distractions (electronics, cell phones, eating, etc.), Accident Reporting Procedures, and Disciplinary Measures.

Step #2: Driver Control

The company needs to establish the necessary controls to assure that they are allowing only qualified employees to operate company vehicles. Qualified means not only meeting state and federal regulations for having the proper license to drive, but they also meet other qualifying requirements established by the company.

Other qualifying criteria, in addition to a valid driver’s license, include age requirements, physical capabilities, experience, passing company written and road tests, and an acceptable driving history. A drivers’ prior driving history should be verified through a current motor vehicle report (MVR) secured through the state where their license was issued.

Specifics regarding your company driver requirements should be spelled out in the fleet policies. “Acceptable” driving history should also be outlined. What constitutes a “non-acceptable” driving history should be included in the company policy. Some non-acceptable criteria generally include items for prior convictions within a specified period such as; Driving Under the Influence (DUI’s) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI’s). Five (5) years prior is usually the recommended time period for DUI’s or DWI’s. Suspension or revoked driver’s license within the last three years, along with convictions for causing a death while operating a vehicle, hit and run or careless/reckless driving are other infractions that should make the unacceptable category.

Step #3 Vehicles: Selection, Maintenance and Inspections

Company vehicles should be properly selected based on type and usage. A vehicle safety features should be included in the selection process. Maintenance intervals should be established and conveyed to the drivers. Tracking and follow-up with the drivers to assure that these intervals are met reinforces the company’s commitment of having safe, well-kept vehicles in the hands of those operating them. Like maintaining company vehicles, inspecting them on a regular basis is equally important.

Step #4 Regulatory Compliance

Determine whether the company vehicles fall under the scope of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations because of their usage, vehicle size (weight), and/or materials transported, handled or towed? Drivers of company vehicles, based on the factors previously noted, may be required to carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Additional endorsements for the CDL may also be required for specific driving operations, including chauffeuring more than 15 people.

Beyond just the drivers licensing requirements, there are other documentation requirements necessary to comply with the D.O.T. regulations. This documentation includes previous employment verification, drug and alcohol screening, and driving history verification.

Step #5 monitoring

Use a “How am I Driving” Bumper Sticker reporting system: How many times have you been cut off and wished the other vehicles had a bumper sticker? By using a “How am I Driving” campaign you will begin to experience more cautious drivers and ultimately fewer collisions.

Our How am I Driving? System includes a toll free call center where the public can easily report their observations. After words an observation report will be emailed to you so corrective action can be taken. We offer this monitoring service for Safety Partners with small to medium fleets for as low as $150/ year!

Our fleet safety solutions are the most cost effective and professional solutions available! For more information on our new Fleet Safety Initiative call Randy Free at 407-353-8165

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Chemical Safety In The Workplace

The inherent hazards of chemicals can be reduced by minimizing the quantity of chemicals on hand. However, when chemicals must be used, proper storage and handling can reduce or eliminate associated risks.

Proper storage information can usually be obtained from the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), label or other chemical reference material. As required by OSHA, a SDS must be on hand for every chemical in your workplace. The SDS and chemical label can be consulted for information on special storage requirements. The SDS can also answer questions such as:

  • Is the chemical a flammable or combustible?
  • Is the chemical a corrosive?
  • Does the chemical need to be stored other than at ambient temperature?
  • Is the chemical an oxidizer or reducer?
  • Is the chemical light sensitive?
  • Does the chemical require any special handling procedures?

Typical storage considerations may include temperature, ignition control, ventilation, segregation and identification. Proper segregation is necessary to prevent incompatible materials from inadvertently coming into contact. If incompatible materials were to come into contact, fire, explosion, violent reactions or toxic gases could result. When segregating chemicals, acids should not be stored with bases, and oxidizers should not be stored with organic materials or reducing agents. A physical barrier and/or distance is effective for proper segregation.

If cabinets are used to segregate chemicals, consider the compatibility of the chemicals with the cabinet. For example, corrosives, like strong acids and caustics, will corrode most metal cabinets. Non-metallic or epoxy-painted cabinets are available and will provide a better service life with these types of chemicals. However, it is recommended that hydrochloric acid not be stored in any metal cabinet. Some other acids and bases may damage the painted surfaces of a cabinet if a spill occurs.

There are cabinets available specifically for flammable and combustible materials. It is important to be aware of maximum allowable container size and maximum quantities for storage in cabinets based on the class of the flammable. The class of a flammable or combustible is determined by its flash point and boiling point.

The following chart lists the maximum volume of flammables and combustibles that can be stored in a single flammable storage cabinet.

*Not more than 60 gallons may be Class I and Class II liquids. No more than 120 gallons of Class III liquids may be stored in a storage cabinet, according to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(3) and NFPA 30 Section 4-3.1.

NOTE: Not more than three such cabinets may be located in a single fire area, according to NFPA 30 Section 4-3.1.

One more thing…..Do Not Store Chemicals Alphabetically

For ease of locating chemicals, many storerooms organize chemicals alphabetically. However, chemical storage based upon an alphabetical arrangement of chemicals may inadvertently locate incompatible materials in close proximity. A few examples of this potentially dangerous storage method are demonstrated by the following pairs of incompatible materials:

If you want more information on chemical storage assessments or GHS/HazCom training contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]

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Best Practices in Heat Stress Prevention

The season for high temperatures and humidity has arrived, making heat stress a serious concern for anyone working outside. Heat stress occurs because we often build up heat faster than we can dissipate it.  Too much heat can make us tired, hurt our job performance, and increase our chances of several heat related injuries including:…

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Residential Construction Is Back

Residential Construction

The residential construction industry has picked back up. If you work in the industry you already know that it’s still not at “boom” levels but there are tens of thousands of people working, and subsequently at risk, in the our local home-building industry.

Many Hazards

Residential Construction

A disproportional high number of people are killed and injured in the residential construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) has stated that almost a quarter of on-the-job fatalities in construction occur in residential work. Four hazards – falls, electrical hazards, contact with objects, and struck by impacts – cause 93 percent of these fatalities, and a variety of other hazards contribute to home building’s many serious injuries.

Lack of Accountability

Despite all the dangers posed by residential construction tasks, the perception in the residential construction industry is that safety doesn’t matter because the projects are often small-scale. This is particularly unfortunate because home building is a gateway to construction work, so many of the workers are inexperienced with construction hazards. Further, because the sector is largely staffed by immigrant labor formal skill and safety training is rare, and inadequate on-the-job training is the norm. As a result, safety is almost never communicated to the employees on site.

Falls and Scaffolds

Falls are the most common among framing and roofing workers who think for some reason that there are different fall protection requirements in residential construction than there is in commercial construction. This perception is completely wrong from both a hazard perspective and from a compliance perspective. After all, a 6 foot fall is a 6 foot fall no matter what type of building you fall from. In late 2010 OSHA discontinued some of their interim policies regarding fall protection in residential construction so that now the fall protection requirements are the same for all types of construction. For more information visit the OSHA residential construction page.

Nail Guns

Another issue of increasing concern is the use of nail guns. Serious wounds and even deaths have resulted from the use of nail guns. Nail guns are designed with a safety feature which requires two actions to fire including contact with a surface and a separate trigger squeeze. The problem is that people often disable the critical safety feature so that the gun will fire with only the trigger squeeze. This is an extremely dangerous idea!

If you work in the residential construction industry and would like to learn about the simple things you can do to improve the safety on your site please contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree(at)

Also click on the links below for more information on our residential specific courses including “Safety Basics” and “Residential Fall Protection”

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