Best Practices in Eye Protection

Eye injuries are one of the easiest of injuries to avoid. It’s simple: Wear Safety Glasses! There are many kinds of eye protection on the market today. No matter what the situation or how “cool” you want to look, the eye protection you need is available.

True Story:

A local aluminum contractor began encouraging his eighteen year-old son to wear safety glasses while working for him. The son finally relented, when aluminum dust started getting in his eyes. About one week later, he was applying some material with an air powered staple gun. Unfortunately the staple ricocheted back towards his face and struck the safety glasses’ lens. The staple hit with such force that the lens was cracked and his eyebrow and cheekbone was bruised. There is no doubt that the safety glasses saved his eye!

What causes eye injuries?

Flying particles causes more than 70% of the eye incidents in construction. Injured workers estimated that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pin head. Most of the particles were said to be traveling faster than a hand-thrown object when the incident occurred.

How can eye injuries be prevented?

Always wear effective eye protection. To be effective, the eyewear must be of the appropriate type for the hazard encountered and properly fitted and maintained.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Tips for rigging

Workers involved in hoisting and rigging must exercise care when selecting and using slings.  The selection of slings should be based upon the size and type of the load, and the environmental conditions of the workplace. Slings tend to be placed into three groups: chain, wire rope and mesh, fiber rope and synthetic web.  Each…

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Incidents To Learn From

I just had a call from a framing contractor saying that one of their employees fell from the trusses of a two story home. As you can imagine this type of incident usually results in serious injuries or even death, yet in this case the employee who fell was relatively fine.

You see, this contractor recently worked with the “Safety Partnership” to develop a task specific fall protection plan for their framing operations. To do this we partnered with their contractors to place simple fall hazard controls.

One of these controls was to cover stairway openings so that if an employee fell he/she would not fall through the opening to the ground. (I.e. they limited their fall distance from around 25 to 8 feet).

In this case their plan paid off. When the employee fell from the trusses he landed on the cover probably saving his life.

Now the contractor’s workers compensation coverage will not be affected, the news vans did not arrive, OSHA did not investigate or issue fines, the crew continued framing, and most importantly a family was able to see their father at the end of the day.

I hope that you realize that the successful practice of safety does not have to be expensive or time consuming. Simply using a cover can make all of the difference in the world!

If you use covers however here is what OSHA requires:

  • Covers must be capable of supporting at least twice the weight being put on it. (Make it strong)
  • Covers must be secured to prevent displacement. (Nail it)
  • Covers must be marked or color coded. (Label them with the word “HOLE” or “COVER”).
For more information regarding incidents, visit us at www.safetylinks.net or email at info[at]safetylinks.net.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Why Not Safety Supremacy?

Why is it so hard to create and sustain superior safety performance? The answer is that it’s not that hard… if you want to. Unfortunately many organizational leaders perceive safety as an “inconvenient task” or an “added expense”.  It may shock you coming from a “safety” company like Safety Links but this perception is actually true! In the short term, safety is often inconvenient for employees and is often more expensive for managers.

Safety Is Good For Business:

That however does not mean safety is bad for business. In fact, our partners have proven that safety is good for business time and time again. Improved safety performance not only results in the obvious (lowered insurance rates, reduced liability, improved compliance), but safety can also greatly benefit the organization in many other ways.

Here are a few real life examples from our customers:

1. A small framing contractor in the residential construction industry recognized the need for improved fall protection. With our guidance they implemented a unique fall protection system for their crews. As a result of their unmatched safety performance they were awarded exclusive contracts with several large production builders. They are now building over 2000 homes a year. Needless to say they are not a small framing contractor anymore!

2. In an effort to improve “compliance”, a printing company with around 50 employees allowed us to guide them through the 5-S process, to improve their housekeeping and efficiency. As a result, their facility has been transformed to a world class printing facility that is now servicing customers around the world.

3. A paint manufacturer with around 100 employees allowed us to guide their transformation from a top down safety management approach to a more inclusive model. Now all employees are actively involved in the safety process and they no longer view safety as the “responsibility of the safety person”! This has resulted in increased employee satisfaction, reduced turnover and ultimately improved production.

I know it may sound cliché but we have hundreds of real life examples in which safety actually pays. If you are willing to invest time and energy into improving your safety performance in the long run you too will experience Safety Supremacy.

Key to Safety Supremacy:

Safety Supremacy is accomplished when safety isn’t viewed as safety in your culture; instead it’s just viewed as work. In other words, safety is simply treated as the way you do business. Making safety a “priority” is a mistake because when push comes to shove everyone’s priorities shift. Safety must be integrated into, and not separated from your business. From the organizational vision to the daily work tasks safety must be seen as a core value not merely a priority!

Those who try to implement traditional “safety programs” often fail in the long run because safety is treated as an add-on to production. Unfortunately what they fail to do is treat safety like they treat other key business activities.

Let’s consider how organizations manage employee attendance for example. Organizations typically have policies related to attendance. When a new employee starts they are told about the policy and are informally indoctrinated into a culture which has norms related to acceptable attendance. When employees come in late, or have too many unexcused absences, their behavior is not allowed to continue. This approach ensures that employees understand what is expected of them and that they are held accountable to those expectations. The consistent management of attendance creates a culture in which unacceptable attendance is simply not allowed by the culture.

The key to Safety Supremacy is no different. Safety Supremacy is accomplished when safety is perceived as “how we do business”. An organizational culture which values production, profitability and safety as one and the same is much more effective than an organization which separates safety from the business. To find out how you can achieve Safety Supremacy please contact me.

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

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Types of Smoke Alarms and Detectors

Heat Detector

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately two-thirds of U.S. household fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or with working smoke alarms with old or missing batteries.

Whether it’s a household setting or in a business, the selection and maintenance of an early warning system is critical to save lives and minimize property loss.

Smoke alarms should be placed on each level of your home and outside of each sleeping area. If bedroom doors are closed, additional alarms should be located inside the bedrooms, as well. Since smoke rises, the installation should be on the ceiling at least four inches away from the nearest wall and away from drafts from windows or air ducts.

There are two broad types of fire alarm systems; heat detectors and smoke alarms. Knowing the differences between the various types of fire alarms available is key to matching the appropriate product to the application.

Heat DetectorsHeat Detector
  • Heat detectors are the oldest type of automatic fire detection device. Heat detectors feature a detecting element inside the unit that activates when it reaches a predetermined fixed temperature or when a specific increase in temperature has occurred.
  • Heat detectors are best suited for applications where detection speed is not a prime consideration or where ambient conditions would not allow the use of a smoke detector, for fire detection in small, confined spaces where rapidly burning, high heat fires are anticipated
  • Heat detectors have a lower false alarm rate, but they are also slower than smoke detectors in detecting fires.
Smoke Alarms
  • Smoke AlarmSmoke alarms will detect most fires more rapidly than heat detectors. There are currently three types of smoke alarms on the market: ionization, photoelectric and combination ionization/photoelectric.
  • An ionization smoke alarm contains a small amount of radioactive material. The radiation passes through an ionization chamber which is an air-filled space between two electrodes and permits a small, constant current between the electrodes. Any smoke that enters the chamber absorbs the alpha particles, which reduces the ionization and interrupts this current, setting off the alarm.
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms operate using a light source, a light beam collimating system and a photoelectric sensor. When smoke enters the optical chamber and crosses the path of the light beam, some light is scattered by the smoke particles, directing it at the sensor and thus activating the alarm.
  • Combination smoke alarms feature both ionization and photoelectric technologies. Ionization smoke alarms respond faster to high energy fires, whereas photoelectric detectors respond better to low energy smoldering fires. The NFPA recommends using both smoke alarms in the home for the best protection.

Smoke alarms vary in how they are powered. 9 volt battery powered smoke alarms are very popular due to their low cost, however, care must be taken to replace the battery on a regular basis.

Smoke alarms are also available in 120 volt and a long life 10 year rated lithium battery. Many local or state building codes may require 120 volt interconnected smoke alarms with a battery back-up in case of power outages. The interconnected feature allows all smoke alarms to be linked together. This is especially important in multi-levels homes or in apartment buildings. Smoke alarms with high intensity strobe lights are also available for the hearing impaired.

Regardless of the type of detector or alarm selected, the proper placement and maintenance of the device is crucial. The NFPA suggests battery replacement at least once a year on battery equipped units and a monthly detector test to verify the alarm function. Many people utilize daylight saving time in the spring and the fall as a reminder to change batteries.

 

If you want more information on our safety training or consulting contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

10 Costly Return-To-Work Mistakes

EHS Today Online Feature: 10 Costly Return-to-Work Mistakes

By lowering the length and duration of time away from work due to injuries and illnesses on or off the job, return-to-work (RTW) programs have reduced workers’ compensation, disability and medical insurance costs as well as strengthened morale and productivity. More recently RTW programs have helped protect employers from lawsuits regarding regulatory non-compliance, particularly related to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

  1. Failure to effectively manage the increase in number of employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).
  2. Insist employees be released to “full duty” before returning to work.
  3. Do not account for co-morbidities.
  4. Fail to commit the budget or resources.
  5. Be deterred from setting up transitional assignments because the employee “may get hurt again.”
  6. Don’t distinguish “light duty” from “transitional work” from “reasonable accommodation.”
  7. Rely on the physician to guide the RTW process.
  8. Don’t understand how laws overlap and conflict.
  9. Don’t stay focused on the goal and establish consequences.
  10. Believe workers’ compensation settlements resolve other liabilities.
To read the article, visit EHS Today HERE.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Scaffolds And Aerial Work Platforms

Your employees may be required to perform work in areas that cannot be accessed from the ground or from solid construction. In these cases the use of a scaffold or an aerial work platform may be required.

Scaffolds:
  • When using a scaffold, a competent person is needed to oversee erecting, securing, and dismantling of scaffolds. The competent person also inspects all scaffolds for visible defects before each work shift and after any occurrence that may affect the scaffold’s structural integrity.
  • Capacity – Scaffolds and scaffold components must be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.
  • Footing – The footing or anchorage for scaffolds must be sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the scaffold and its maximum intended load without surface settling or displacement. Unstable objects such as barrels, boxes, loose brick, or concrete blocks must not be used to support scaffolds or planks.
  • Planking – All planking, if applicable, must be overlapped a minimum of 12 inches or secured from movement by nails or bolts, unless the scaffold is prefabricated and interlocking.
  • Fall Protection – Fall protection is required for any scaffold greater than 10 feet in height. Guardrails, midrails, and personal fall arrest system, when applicable, must be in place to the scaffold being used by employees.
  • Electrical Safety – 10 foot distance rules must be taken into consideration when working near overhead power-lines or any high voltage electrical equipment.
  • Weather Stoppages – Work on scaffolds is not allowed during high winds.
  • All employees who erect, work on, or dismantle scaffolds must attend scaffold safety training.

The Safety Links scaffold (link to http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/construction-safety-courses/scaffolding) training covers the proper use, inspection of, and hazards related to erecting, working on, and dismantling scaffolds.

Aerial Lifts

Aerial lifts include vehicle-mounted aerial devices, extendible boom platforms, aerial ladders, articulating booms, vertical towers, etc. When working on an elevated platform, several factors must be considered:

  • Fall protection – With exception of scissor lifts all occupants must wear a body harness attached to the basket.
  • Moving the lift – The lift must not be moved when the boom is elevated in a working position unless the lift is specifically designed to do so.
  • Lift controls – Lift controls must be tested daily prior to operating the boom.
  • Boom and basket loads – The manufacturer’s boom and basket maximum intended loads must not be exceeded.
  • Outriggers and brakes – Outriggers must be positioned on pads or solid ground if equipped. Brakes must be set anytime outriggers are used.
  • Barricades & signs – The area beneath an operating aerial lifts must be cordoned off and access to that area must be restricted. Restricting access may be accomplished through the use of barricades and signs.
  • Training- All employees who work on aerial platforms must attend an aerial lift operator training course. The Safety Links aerial lift operation training (Link to http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/equipment-operation/aerial-lift) covers the proper use, inspection of, and hazards associated with aerial lifts.

If you want more information on scaffold or aerial lift operator contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Spill Response Preparation

whopper image
Spill Response Preparation
by Trevor Reschny, CSP

The other day I had a conversation with someone who was confused about the spill response training he needed for his operation. The first person he talked to said he needed 40 hours of training; the next person told him he needed 24 hours. Then he read about other training that requires only eight hours or less. So what does OSHA require and, more importantly, what is best for your operation?

While it’s best not to spill anything, the potential for a spill or release of chemicals always exists. Your incident response might involve anything from a mop-and-bucket cleanup to an area evacuation with fully encapsulating chemical-resistant suits and self-contained breathing apparatus. Of course your staff training requirements could vary from just minutes to several days.

A mistake many people make when it comes to safety in general is to first conduct training. In actuality the first thing to do is to anticipate and evaluate the types of emergency situations you face. For example, a sheet metal shop may have small quantities of solvents, gasses and oils. On the other hand a large refrigeration warehouse may have tens of thousands of pounds of ammonia (a toxic inhalation hazard).

Many factors will dictate the level of response needed. These include the types and quantities of the materials at your site, the types of processes being conducted, the availability of local emergency resources, and the potential impact on your employees and the community.

An important thing to remember is that just because you handle chemicals or might need to respond to chemical spills, does not necessarily mean you have to invest a lot of training and equipment. That does not mean however, that a significant investment may be warranted in some cases. You must first anticipate and evaluate the types of emergency situations you face.

whopper image

What is HAZWOPER?

After anticipating and evaluating the potential emergency situations for your operations, the next step is to look at OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.120, also known as the HAZWOPER standard. This standard establishes the safety and health requirements for “emergency response operations for release of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard.”

When reading the HAZWOPER standard you’ll notice that the bulk of the standard (Sections b through p) covers hazardous waste operations such as clean-up procedures at hazardous waste sites or operations involving hazardous waste at treatment, storage and disposal facilities. Only the final section of the standard, Section q, covers emergency response.

When researching HAZWOPER issues or choosing a training provider, it is important that you address the appropriate issues. It is not uncommon for people to enroll in a HAZWOPER class to learn about spill response only to find out later that the class focuses on hazardous waste sites.

What is a Hazardous Substance?

When it comes to chemicals, a variety of definitions for “hazardous” exist. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is concerned with the hazards of materials in transport and orients its definitions of hazardous toward air transportation and other specific transport concerns. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned with the impact on the environment when materials are released or disposed and makes hazardous determinations based on environmental and human health risks.

OSHA is concerned with the hazards of materials to which workers might be exposed in the workplace. Any chemical that might present a health or physical hazard is defined as a hazardous chemical under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Health hazards include any adverse health effect from irritants to corrosives or carcinogens.

The HAZWOPER standard applies to releases of hazardous substances. Although it is an OSHA standard, it does not use the Hazard Communication Standard for hazardous chemicals. The HAZWOPER standard traces its origin to an EPA law, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund), and derives its definition of hazardous substances from CERCLA regulations. The CERCLA definition is based on the substance’s potential impact on the environment and the community.

The basic idea is to include chemicals that would present a significant hazard to people or the environment if spilled or released. Chemicals that do not fall into one of these categories might still present a slight hazard to employees and emergency responders, but technically do not trigger HAZWOPER requirements.

Training Requirements

The HAZWOPER standard establishes five basic training requirements related to chemical emergency response:

1. First Responder Awareness Level

2. First Responder Operations Level

3. Hazardous Materials Technician

4. Hazardous Materials Specialist

5. On-Scene Incident Commander

First Responder “Awareness” Level training is required for individuals who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release and who would take no action beyond notification of the proper authorities. Even if you do not have a spill team and do not plan to respond to spill emergencies, your employees might need First Responder Awareness Level training. This training potentially could include everyone from the machine operator to the security guard.

First Responder “Operations” Level training is required for individuals who respond to releases or potential releases as part of the initial response. They are trained to respond in a defensive manner to protect people, property and the environment. Defensive actions are those taken from a safe distance to keep the spill from spreading and to prevent exposures. Examples include covering drains, placing spill booms or barriers and barricading access points, all from safe distances.

Hazardous Materials “Technician” training is required for individuals who will respond to the release or potential release for the purpose of stopping the release. In other words, they are responding in an offensive manner. They usually will be close to the source of the release and, therefore, have a high potential for harmful exposures. Examples include over packing a leaking drum or collecting contaminated absorbents.

The investment in training, as well as in procedures and equipment, substantially increases when moving up to the “Technician” level of response. Technician level calls for at least 24 hours of training. Personnel also must demonstrate competency in several areas, including the emergency response plan, instrumentation, the incident command system, selection and use of personal protective equipment, hazard and risk assessment, containment and control, decontamination, termination procedures and basic chemistry and toxicology.

Hazardous Materials “Specialist” training is similar to the Hazardous Materials Technician training. The specialist however, is required to have greater knowledge of the chemicals to which he or she might respond, as well as to act as a liaison with governmental authorities. He or she also provides support to the hazardous materials technician. Again, at least twenty-four hours of training is required.

On-Scene Incident Commander training is required for any response beyond the First Responder Awareness Level. The role of the incident commander is to assume control of the incident scene. The incident commander must be someone on-site who is designated and trained to be in charge of the incident. The required training will vary with the level and complexity of the response. The minimum required training is 24 hours.

Remember, like all OSHA requirements, these training requirements are a minimum. Based on the nature of your facility and its hazards, additional training may be necessary. It is also important for each emergency responder to stay current. With that said all levels of HAZWOPER training requires annual refresher training or a demonstration of competency.

By allowing a HazMat team to respond to nonemergency spills, a facility provides an excellent way to maintain skills that would be needed in an emergency. Whatever you choose to do, you must remember to document the training and competency evaluations.

If you have any questions regarding Hazwoper training or if you would like to book a Hazwoper class at your site go to http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/environmental-hazwoper.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Holiday Safety Tip Reminders

This is the number one season for at home injuries so share these key points with all of your employees.

Lights

Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.

Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Candles

Never use lighted candles near trees, curtains/drapes, or with any potentially flammable item.

Toys and Gifts

Be especially careful when you choose toys for infants or small children. Be sure anything you give them is too big to get caught in the throat, nose or ears. Avoid toys with small parts that can be pulled or broken off. If you are giving toys to several children in one family, consider their age differences and the chances that younger children will want to play with older kids’ toys.

Alcohol, Parties and Driving

Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a holiday party.

 

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Common mistakes people make when working on electrical systems

1. Thinking that it’s “only 120 volts”

“It’s only low voltage.” Okay, I’ll admit that you can have an open casket with a low-voltage hit, but you’ll still be dead. The only difference between low and high voltage is how fast it can kill you. High voltage kills instantly; low voltage may take a little longer.

Dr. A.G. Soto, consulting physician to Ontario Power Generation presented a paper at the 2007 IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop discussing low-voltage shock exposures. In that paper, he stated that a 120-volt shock can kill up to 48 hours later. He also stated that many emergency room physicians are unfamiliar with electric shock and that an EKG may not show a problem. The injury to the heart muscle tends to spread over time and cannot always be identified using EKGs.

2. Working on energized systems or equipment when it can be de-energized.

De-energizing is the only way to eliminate hazards. Arc flash personal protective equipment (PPE) just increases your chances of survival; it doesn’t guarantee it. Just be aware that until equipment and systems are placed in an electrically-safe work condition, proper PPE and procedures must be used to protect the worker. See Article 120 in NFPA 70E 2012.

3. Not wearing any PPE.

This could go into number 2 above, but people really don’t like wearing rubber insulating gloves or arc flash PPE and equipment. It’s hot, uncomfortable, restricts movement, and slows the entire work process down — not only by wearing it, but by selecting the correct PPE and putting it on and taking it off.  It will also save your life. One of the most likely times people neglect to wear their PPE is during troubleshooting. The rationale seems to be, “I’m not really working on it; I’m just testing it.”  Yet, CDC/NIOSH studies have found that 24% of electrical accidents are caused by troubleshooting, voltage testing and like activities. We have a tendency to ignore hazards associated with tasks we consider “safe”.

4. Not wearing the right PPE.

Some people think that if they wear anything by way of PPE, that should be enough. Do you know how to interpret arc flash labels? What do you do if there’s no arc flash label on electrical power equipment? Do you know how to use the tables in the NFPA 70E? Do you refer to the notes when you use the tables? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you aren’t choosing the right PPE.

5. Using outdated or defective test equipment to troubleshoot.

When the leads are frayed or your meter is damaged, it’s time to replace it.  The NFPA committee was concerned enough to put two different requirements for using only portable electric tools and test equipment that were properly rated.

6. Not using an Energized Electrical Work Permit system.

People tend to hate paperwork. This is one great exception. You should plan each job, have the right tools and equipment to do the job safely and follow your work plan. How do you document the Hazard/Risk Analysis or our PPE Assessment? The Energized Electrical Work Permit provides the means to plan the work, assess the hazard and the risk, choose the proper PPE for the job and document it.

 

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →