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A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ComplianceSigns.com

February 22, 2017

Preventing Industrial Fires and Explosions

Hot work area
A recent article in OH&S magazine addresses the five major causes of industrial fires and explosions - and how to prevent them. The National Fire Protection Association reports that an average of 37,000 fires occur at industrial and manufacturing properties every year. These incidents result in 18 civilian deaths, 279 civilian injuries and $1 billion in direct property damage. Here's a brief recap of key points from the article about preventing fires in the workplace.

5 Common Causes

The article describes the most common causes of such fires and explosions:
1. Combustible Dust - A major cause of fire in food manufacturing, woodworking, chemical manufacturing, metalworking, pharmaceutical and other industries.
2. Hot Work - Includes brazing, burning, heating and soldering, as well as welding and torch cutting.
3. Flammable Liquids and Gasses - Frequent at chemical plants, but many workplaces commonly use these materials.
4. Faulty Equipment and Machinery - Beyond furnaces, any mechanical equipment can become a fire hazard due to friction between moving parts.
5. Electrical Hazards - Including overloaded circuits and extension cords, exposed wiring and static discharge.

Preventing Fires and Explosions


March is National Ladder Safety Month

climb ladders carefully use both hands
Falls from ladders are preventable, yet they account for 300 deaths and some 20,000 injuries each year. The American Ladder Institute (ALI) has announced March as the first-ever National Ladder Safety Month, designed to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities.

ALI believes ladder accidents are preventable, but without better safety planning and training and continuous innovation in product design, we will continue to see far too many fatalities. 


National Ladder Safety Month goals include:
  • Increase the number of ladder safety training certificates issued by ALI
  • Lower the rankings of ladder-related safety citations on OSHA’s yearly “Top 10 Citations List”
  • Decrease ladder-related injuries and fatalities
  • Increase the number of competent ladder inspector training sessions
  • Increase the number of companies and individuals that inspect and properly dispose of old, damaged or obsolete ladders
Ladder safety will also be an important component of OSHA’s annual National Safety Stand-Down set for May 8 through 12.

Here's how you can get involved and help improve ladder safety at your workplace:


NIOSH Releases New Sound Level App to Protect Hearing

Ear Protection Required if work exceeds __ hours
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a new mobile app for iOS (Apple) devices that measures sound levels in the workplace and provides noise exposure parameters to help reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss. The goal is to help workers learn about their noise exposure and reduce the chances of hearing loss.

OSHA reports that twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. An estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers' compensation for hearing loss disability. In one year, U.S. business paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. NIOSH hopes to help reduce those numbers with it's new Sound Level Meter app.

The app can be used by safety and health professionals and industrial hygienists to assess risks, similar to using a professional sound level meter. Workers can use the app to make informed decisions about potential hearing hazards in the workplace. The app allows users to acquire and display real-time noise exposure data and help promote better hearing health and better prevention efforts. It also contains some basic information about noise and hearing loss prevention. In addition, users can save and share measurement data with others using the device communication and media features.

NIOSH says the Sound Level Meter app can:

  • Raise workers’ awareness about their work environment
  • Help workers make informed decisions about the potential hazards to their hearing
  • Serve as a research tool to collect noise exposure data
  • Promote better hearing health and prevention efforts

 

Major OSHA Fines Total $2.8 Million in Mid January, 2017

Although no news releases have been issued by Federal OSHA since the January 20 presidential inauguration, the agency posted details on nine significant fines in the first half of that month. Proposed fines total more than $2.8 million, and common citations include machine guarding, lockout-tagout and fall protection. Here's some info on the investigations. Many are still pending final decisions.

$892,551 for wrongfully discharging an Amtrack safety inspector

Federal OSHA says Amtrak retaliated against a supervisory special agent in its inspector general's office by denying employment and terminating him after he raised concerns about railroad safety, fraud and abuse involving an Amtrak contractor and when he supported a fellow agent's safety concerns during an internal investigation.

"In this case, an employee was terminated for pursuing and reporting safety concerns. The employer's retaliation is unacceptable and illegal," says an OSHA administrator. OSHA has ordering corrective actions including:

  • Reinstate the employee
  • Pay him a total of $892,551: comprised of $723,332 in back wages; $34,218 in interest; $100,000 in punitive damages; $35,000 in compensatory damages; plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs
  • Post a notice to all railroad employees about their FRSA rights.
See more details.

$535,411 for willful medical, PPE and machine guard violations at an Oklahoma truck bed manufacturer

Following a complaint of unsafe working conditions, OSHA's investigation at BigTex Trailer Manufacturing Inc., which does business as CM Truck Beds, found 20 serious violations, one willful and three repeated violations. Inspectors found workers who performed spray painting and powder coating did not receive required medical evaluations and respirator fit tests. OSHA cited willful violation for hydraulic press brakes operated without machine guards in place. In addition, they identified 20 serious violations including failure to:

February 21, 2017

Safety Training Tip: Remember PEOPLE

If you're a safety pro inspecting a worksite, do the workers there see you as the management "safety cop" or as part of their team who can help them stay safe on the job? How you present yourself can make all the difference. 

The safety pros at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis have penned an article that can help you get better cooperation from your work teams - and better safety compliance, too. Here are some key points:

Words Don't Mean Much

Humans do far more “listening” with our eyes than our ears. Scientists say that only about 7 percent of messages we receive comes through the words. Another 28 percent comes from the way those words are delivered. But a full 55 percent of messages are conveyed through the speaker’s body language. So when a safety pro speaks to a group of workers, the nonverbal components of the message can have a greater impact than what’s actually being said. The professional’s physical appearance, the body language, the tone and the pace of the voice determine how carefully the workers will listen and how much they’ll retain.

Remember You’re Dealing with PEOPLE

PEOPLE is a handy acronym that makes it easy to remember the six key elements of body language:

February 7, 2017

Workplace Housekeeping Tips to Reduce Accidents

put things back in their proper places
Each year thousands of workers are injured on the job from accidents caused by poor workplace housekeeping. It takes more than cleanliness to maintain a safe workplace. Use these tips form the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) to help ensure a safer environment for your workers.

What Makes a Good Housekeeping Program?

A good housekeeping program plans for proper storage and efficient movement of materials from point of entry to exit. It includes a material flow plan to reduce unnecessary handling, which also reduces injury risks. The plan should ensure work areas are not used for storage and that tools and materials are accessed as needed and returned after use. It could include investing in extra bins, shelving or more frequent disposal.

Poor Housekeeping Hazards


January 26, 2017

January 2017 Workplace Safety News & Notes

Here's a collection of safety news from around the web:

DOT Amends Hazmat Rules to Maintain Consistency with International Regulations

health, flammability, reactivity, PPE
The U.S. DOT posted a final rule on Jan. 19 that amends the U.S. Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) to maintain consistency with international regulations and standards. Amendments include changes to proper shipping names; hazard classes; packing groups; special provisions; packaging authorizations; air transport quantity limitations; and vessel stowage requirements. Some of the amendments resulted from coordination with Canada under the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council. Mandatory compliance set to begin on Jan. 1, 2018, unless otherwise specified. Get details here (pdf).

EPA Plans to Evaluate Grandfathered Chemicals That May Pose Risks

The EPA is developing a proposal of how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017. The plan will address chemicals currently in the marketplace, some for 40 years or more, that have never been evaluated. When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. That law did not provide EPA with tools to evaluate chemicals or require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced. If EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Read more.

PHMSA Final Rule Requires Faster Notification Following Pipeline Accidents


January 25, 2017

Major OSHA Fines Top $5 Million in December, 2016

Federal OSHA inspectors ended 2016 with a bang, proposing fines of just over $5 million in 14 investigations with fines of $100,000 or more. The top citation accounted for just over half of the month's total. Common citations included machine guarding, lockout-tagout and PPE violations. Below are details on the top fines. Many are still pending final decisions.

$2.56 Million and SVEP after a fatality at an Alabama auto parts supplier

Lockout equipment before entering
Following the crushing death of a worker in a robotic machine, OSHA cited 23 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations, including 19 egregious instance-by-instance willful violations, to Joon LLC, doing business as Ajin USA of Cusseta. OSHA also cited two staffing agencies - Alliance HR Inc., doing business as Alliance Total Solutions LLC and Joynus Staffing Corp. - for two serious safety violations each. Collectively, the three companies face $2,565,621 in penalties.

OSHA issued willful citations for:

  • Failing to utilize energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing.
  • Exposing workers to caught-in, struck-by and crushing hazards by allowing them to enter a robotic cell without shutting down and securing hazardous stored energy according to safety procedures.
  • Failing to provide safety locks to isolate hazardous energy.
  • Exposing employees to crushing and amputation hazards due to improper machine guarding.
OSHA also issued two serious citations for exposing workers to laceration hazards and not installing effective shields or curtains on welding machines. The temp agencies received two serious citations for lockout-tagout failures. Read more here.
 

$342,059 for bloodborne pathogen hazards at a Maryland USPS facility

Following a complaint alleging employee exposure to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids while handling packages labeled as containing biological infectious materials,

Would OSHA Consider You a Competent Person?

Safety is everybody's business
OSHA requires that safety oversight be handled by a “competent person.” But what exactly does that mean? What makes an individual “competent” in OSHA’s eyes?

Although there are currently no specific OSHA standards regarding competent persons, a new article by the safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis helps answer that question.

The law defines a competent person as someone who is:
"capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

So a competent person is someone who has the training and knowledge to identify workplace hazards and prevent accidents. But there's more – and it’s the most important part:

January 18, 2017

Don't Miss Feb. 1 Deadline for Posting Your OSHA 300A Summary

we have proudly worked 365 days without an OSHA recordable injury
While much of the U.S. is focused on January 20, don't forget that February 1 is the deadline for posting the OSHA 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. This information helps employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards  - and prevent future workplace injuries and illnesses.

Maintaining and Posting Records

The records must be maintained at the worksite for at least five years. Each February through April, employers must post a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded the previous year. Also, if requested, copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives.