A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from

March 20, 2017

Job Safety Analysis is First Step to Worksite Safety - and More

Entering construction zone
Employees on a construction site don't work in a vacuum. Even when they perform duties in separate areas, their tasks and timelines may cross over one another. Keeping everyone safe - and the job progressing - requires cooperation and careful planning.

A critical first step in planning is the job safety analysis, which is a formal effort to identify and document hazards associated with specific tasks, so workers can take the proper actions to protect themselves.

The safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis have penned an interesting article that defines when, where and how to develop a job safety analysis (JSA - and also know by other names). Here are some key points:

  • The JSA is not just a duty for the site supervisor. It’s everyone’s responsibility, from management to on-site workers who are most aware of potential hazards.
  • JSAs are not necessarily required for all tasks. No need to duplicate SOPs already in place.
  • Communication is critical so everyone understands why JSAs are important.
  • Documentation is key to accountability.

In addition to addressing safety issues, the JSA process can also enhance coordination between trades. Who doesn't need that?

Learn more:

OSHA's 'Safe and Sound' Campaign Helps Employers Keep Workplaces Safe and Healthy

America works safely 365 days with no accidents
In response to recent workplace fatalities, OSHA has launched the Safe and Sound Campaign calling on employers to review their safety and health programs to protect workers and reduce workplace injuries and deaths. By identifying and controlling job-related hazards that can lead to injuries and illnesses, businesses can improve their safety and health programs, save money and improve competitiveness. 

The program includes recommended practices for setting up a safety and health program, as well as Safe+Sound Week in June - a nationwide event to raise awareness and understanding of the value of proactive safety and health programs in workplaces.

A Proven Approach to Safety

Employers have proven that safety and health programs reduce the numbers of injuries and illnesses, and improve their bottom line. While there are different approaches, effective safety and health programs have three core elements:

  • Management leadership. Top management commits to establishing, maintaining, and continually improving the program, and provides any necessary resources.
  • Worker participation. Effective programs involve workers in identifying solutions. Improved worker engagement is linked to better productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better worker retention.
  • A systematic find-and-fix approach. All effective programs are centered around a proactive process of finding and fixing hazards before they can cause injury or illness.

The idea is to begin with a basic program and simple goals and grow from there. If employers focus on achieving goals, monitoring performance and evaluating outcomes, their workplace can progress along the path to higher levels of safety and health achievement.

Easy to Get Started
This job-site is a no-accident zone

OSHA says that creating a safety and health program doesn't have to be complicated or demand outside consultants be employed; there are some simple, do-it-yourself steps to get started.

"We don't want businesses, especially small ones, to believe they cannot afford to protect their workers," said an OSHA administrator from Kansas City. "OSHA provides good safety information and will work with employers to help them comply with safety and health standards." Companies can contact OSHA by phone for assistance in achieving safety compliance.

OSHA's Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs page offers practical advice on how any organization can integrate safety and health programs. Resources and tools include:

  • Communication and Coordination
  • Education and Training
  • Hazard Identification and Assessment
  • Hazard Prevention and Control
  • Management Leadership
  • Program Evaluation and Improvement
  • Worker Participation

OSHA also offers compliance assistance, tips, educational materials, training and other information on how to prevent illness and injury - all at no charge.

Free OSHA Consultation for Smaller Businesses

Each state has its own On-site Consultation Program. This free and confidential safety and health consultation program is primarily targeted toward smaller businesses. Employers can find out about potential hazards at their workplace, improve programs already in place and qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

OSHA initiated 12 fatality inspections in recent months and found a significant increase in fatalities associated with confined space entry and trenching and excavating. Fatalities involving workers being struck by motor vehicles also doubled from two to four persons for the same time period.

Learn more:

March 8, 2017

Study: Young Construction Workers Disregard Hearing Protection

Ear protection required
A recent workplace safety study shows that young construction workers commonly disregard hearing protection that could prevent noise-induced hearing loss later in life. Among young Canadian construction workers, 24 per cent reported not wearing hearing protection, compared to 13 per cent of workers over the age of 50 and 11 per cent of workers in all other age groups. They are also less likely to wear hearing protection compared to young workers in other industries, such as manufacturing and primary resources.

These are results from a 2016 study by WorkSafe BC in British Columbia. Data was collected in 2016 from more than 160,000 hearing tests. Hearing loss can go unnoticed by a worker for years or even decades after the initial exposure or series of exposures. Since 2006 there have been more than 37,000 accepted claims for noise-induced hearing-loss in B.C. In the U.S., an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers' compensation for hearing loss disability.

Because construction sites are so noisy, OSHA has issued specific hearing standards for construction. OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace, based on a worker's time weighted average over an 8 hour day. OSHA's noise permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that all worker exposures to noise should be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize occupational noise induced hearing loss. NIOSH has found that significant noise-induced hearing loss occurs at the exposure levels equivalent to the OSHA PEL.

Noise may be a problem in your workplace if:

  • You hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • You have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm's length away.
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.

Learn more:

March 2, 2017

Prevent Work Area Accidents and Injuries with Critical Safety Equipment

If you work in construction, you already know the importance of having a safe work environment. In addition to keeping your workers injury-free, having the right safety equipment on hand reduces the risk of liability and keeps projects going on schedule. In order to be sure that your workers stay safe, the following safety equipment and gear should be part of your workplace:

Foot hazard Steel toe shoes required

Choose Rugged Work Clothing

To keep your employees’ bodies protected, they must come to work in tough and high-quality work clothing. A very popular brand is Carhartt. Carhartt offers a wide selection of clothing, including workboots, pants, shirts and outerwear that will stand up to tough working conditions. Most items have plenty of pockets for storing work tools and other gear.

Post Safety Signs

Hot work area
Another effective way to keep your employees safe while on the job — that is also easy and affordable — is post all required safety signs. This will also keep any visitors (and inspectors) to the site safe and alert them to what you are doing. For example, if your team is soldering, welding or doing other “hot work,” purchase and post “Caution Hot Work Area” signs. Compliance signs that remind workers to be careful when on a ladder are also helpful, as are basic workplace “housekeeping” reminders to put things back in their correct locations. This can help keep your team safe from tripping over buckets, tools and other equipment that was used and then left on the floor.

Provide Personal Protective Equipment

hard hat and safety glasses required
OSHA has a handy list of the different types of construction personal protective equipment (PPE) that workers need; this includes safety glasses or face shields that are used when anything can fly into the eye — for example, when grinding, welding or cutting. Workers should also wear slip-resistant work shoes or boots with tough soles that resist punctures and, depending on what they are doing, offer hand and head protection. While these are all definitely important and required types of PPE, it can be challenging to ensure that your hard-working team will actually follow through and use them. PPE safety signs will help, but you can get more creative. For example, if your team is working outside in the summer heat and their safety goggles fog up, think outside of the PPE box and devise ways to make sure those goggles stay on. For example, spring for fog-proof goggles, let your team wear cooling headgear and bandanas and give them more breaks and access to plenty of cool beverages.

Prevent Falls

Fall protection required
While you don’t want anyone stumbling over or onto sharp equipment on the floor, you also want to be sure your team doesn’t fall from scaffolding or ladders. Construct Connect advises employers to educate your workers on all of the potential places they can fall, and provide them with fall protection systems that will keep them safe when working or walking on surfaces that are six feet or higher off the ground. These can include safety net systems, personal fall arrest gear and guardrails.

February 27, 2017

Workplace Safety News and Notes - February 2017

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

 Noise-Related Hearing Loss Not Just a Work Problem

A new report form the CDC says that 20% of people who reported no job-related noise exposure did have hearing damage caused by noise. This damage is from loud sounds encountered during everyday activities, such as using a leaf blower or going to loud concerts. These activities can damage a person’s hearing just as much as working in an extremely noisy environment. Get the report here.

Ergonomics Resources for Office Workers

Working in an office may seem harmless but musculoskeletal injuries can develop over time, especially for workers who spent the majority of their time sitting and typing in front of a computer. There is no single "correct" posture or arrangement to fit everyone, but following basic design goals can help. Visit the OSHA Computer Workstation eTool for info, checklists and more.

NHTSA Reports 8% Traffic Fatality Increase in 2016

A statistical projection of U.S. traffic fatalities for the first 9 months of 2016 shows an increase of about 8 percent compared to the first 9 months of 2015. This is the eighth consecutive quarter with increases in fatalities. All 10 NHTSA regions showed increased fatalities in the time period, with the highest increase in the Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas area. Download the Traffic Safety Facts report here.

NFPA Issues Fire Hose Safety Bulletin

The National Fire Protection Association has issued an attack fire hose safety bulletin this week to remind the fire service to purchase, maintain, inspect, remove and repair fire hose in accordance with NFPA standards. Thermal degradation of fire hose has been identified as a factor during fire hose failure incidents in recent years, as flashover occurs faster today then in the past. Read more here.

Upcoming Safety Webinars Presented by OH&S:

March 1 - New OSHA Fall Protection Regulations: Now What?
March 8 - The "High" Risk of Marijuana
March 9 - Are you sure workplace bullying is legal?
March 21 - Creating an Electrical Safety Program, Why It's Important
March 23 - The hidden costs of your employees' poor health and what you can do about it
Learn more or sign up.

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: