A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from

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

Consequences of poor housekeeping include:
  • Tripping over loose objects
  • Being hit by moving objects
  • Slipping on greasy, wet or dirty surfaces
  • Striking against projecting, poorly stacked items or misplaced material
  • Cutting, puncturing or tearing skin on projecting objects
  • Electrical or other fires
  • Restricted egress in an emergency

Planning a Good Housekeeping Program

help keep the plant clean and safe
  • Involve workers and safety committee members to understand the flow of work. Usually workers have great suggestions for workplace improvements.
  • Consider your building footprint, plant layout and the movement of materials within the workplace.
  • Have standardized policies and procedures that everyone understands and follows.
  • Train workers how to work safely - and how to protect other workers.
  • Integrate cleaning and organization into jobs, not just at the end of the shift.
  • Identify and assign responsibilities for clean up during the shift, day-to-day cleanup, waste disposal, removal of unused materials and inspection to ensure cleanup is complete.
  • Include supervision and inspection to allow any deficiencies in the program to be identified proactively.

Workplace housekeeping is a shared responsibility. Everyone in the workplace can play a part to keep each other safe.

Learn more:

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

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a final rule, "Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery, Accident and Incident Notification, and Other Pipeline Safety Changes," that lays out a specific time frame for telephone or electronic notifications of accidents and incidents. The rule also amends drug and alcohol testing requirements and incorporates consensus standards by reference for in-line inspection and Stress Corrosion Cracking Direct Assessment. The rulemaking is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 and is currently on public inspection. The rulemaking will become effective 60 days from the date of its publication. Learn more.

OSHA Issues Final Rule Clarifying Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Injury and Illness Records

Report all accidents
OSHA's longstanding position has been that an employer's duty to record an injury or illness continues for the full five-year record-retention period, and this position has been upheld by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in cases dating back to 1993. In 2012, the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (Volks) reversing the Commission and rejecting OSHA's position on the continuing nature of its prior recordkeeping regulations. The new final rule more clearly states employers' obligations. The amendments add no new compliance obligations and do not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required. Read more.

New Report Addresses Volunteer Firefighters' Safety and Health Issues

A new report from the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Volunteer Fire Council can help volunteer departments address several important issues. "Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service" addresses topics that range from department culture to recruitment and retention, funding, personal health, and safety protocols. Download the report (pdf).

NFPA Offers Tips for Fire Safety in Public Buildings

In response to recent fires across the country, the NFPA urges the public to be aware of their surroundings while in public buildings to best protect themselves in the event of a fire or other emergency. NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley delivered the association's tips, saying people need to practice them and not become complacent. Read more.

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.

January 9, 2017

OSHA Issues New Beryllium Rule that Drastically Cuts PELs

PPE Respirator
OSHA has issued a final rule dramatically limiting exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. The new rule contains standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards.

The rule cuts the eight-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) from the current 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms. Above 0.2, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration. The new rule also requires additional protections including personal protective equipment, medical exams, medical surveillance and training. The new standards take effect in March, with most compliance required by March 2018.

January 3, 2017

2017 State / Federal Labor Law Posters Now Available at

Labor Law Posters for all 50 states
Across the U.S., employers are required to display state and federal labor / employment notices in a conspicuous location to help maintain compliance with state and federal labor posting requirements. Now employers and Human Resources professionals can order U.S.-made labor law posters from the same source they trust for top-quality safety and office signs:

These 2017 employment posters combine state and federal notices into one easy-to-hang poster that displays up-to-date mandatory federal and state labor / employment notices for private industry or non-government entities. We've researched and developed posters for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and all have been reviewed by a licensed attorney. We've done the research so employers can use them with confidence.

December 28, 2016

Top Safety Tip of 2016: 5 Extension Cord Rules for a Safer Worksite

Electrical-related injuries are the second-leading cause of death in construction, so electrical safety should be a hot topic for anyone working at construction sites. These simple rules can make a difference with very little effort. 

This tip generated the most views and shares of any tip we shared this year.

Read more here.

December 22, 2016

State & Federal Labor Law Posters Available Soon

Very soon you'll be able to buy labor law posters from the same source you trust for top-quality safety and office signs: Our colorful, easy-to-read labor law posters will display all mandatory federal and state labor / employment notices for private industry or non-government entities.

All our posters have been reviewed by a licensed attorney. We've done the research so you can buy with confidence. We'll send our customers a notice after the holidays when they're available, but you can contact us if you'd like to be notified immediately.

December 21, 2016

December 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

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

BLS: Fatal Work Injuries Increased Slightly in 2015
A total of 4,836 fatal work injuries were recorded in the U.S. during 2015, a slight increase from the 4,821 reported in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Key findings include:
  • The overall rate of fatal work injury for workers in 2015, at 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, was lower than the 2014 rate of 3.43.
  • Hispanic or Latino workers incurred 903 fatal injuries in 2015—the most since 937 fatalities in 2007.
  • Workers age 65 years and older incurred 650 fatal injuries, down from 684 in 2014.
  • Roadway incident fatalities were up 9 percent from 2014 totals, accounting for over one-fourth of fatal occupational injuries in 2015.
  • Read more.
DOL Announces Final Rule to Help Diversify Workforce and Apprentice Programs
The Department of Labor has issued a final rule that updates equal opportunity requirements, hoping to broaden career opportunities in apprenticeships for under-represented groups. The rule extends protections against discrimination to include age, disability, genetic information and sexual orientation. It also simplifies the process of ensuring compliance. Read more.

Mobile App Helps Identify Air Quality Issues