A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

June 24, 2011

Top News This Month

  • OSHA Residential Fall enforcement postponed to Sept. 15.
  • Survey shows one-third to half of companies experience on-the-job distracted driving crashes
  • OSHA simplification could save employers time and money
  • How to protect workers from heat stress
  • NIOSH issues Lockout / Tagout guide

June Welcome

  "Expect the unexpected" seems like great advice these days. From devastating, unpredictable storms to flip-flopping OSHA rules, the summer of 2011 already is off to an unusual start. And these uncertain times require an even greater emphasis on workplace safety.
  This month's Connection has helpful tips on severe weather planning, protecting workers from heat stroke and even tips for hurricane season. There's also good information on workplace chemicals, recordkeeping and more. I hope you find it helpful in the unpredictable weeks ahead.
Have a safe month
Paul Sandefer, President

OSHA Postpones Residential Fall Protection Start Date

Fall Protection PPE signsResidential construction employers now have until September 15 to comply with OSHA's new fall protection directive. The three-month phase-in was announced less than 2 weeks before the original effective date of June 16. The new directive calls for all residential construction employers to use conventional fall protection, in compliance with Code 1926.501(b)(13).

During the phase-in period (June 16-Sept. 15), if an employer is in full compliance with the old directive (STD 03-00-001), OSHA will not issue citations. Instead, employers will receive a hazard alert letter listing feasible methods they can use to comply with OSHA's fall protection standard or implement a written fall protection plan. If the employer's practices do not meet the requirements set in the old directive, OSHA will issue appropriate citations.

A variety of resources and guidance materials are available to help employers comply with the new directive. They include a new fall-protection slide show and a list of references on the OSHA web site. The slide show describes safety methods and explains techniques currently used by employers during various stages of construction. Learn more with these links:

What's New at

We've added more than 1,900 new signs, labels and tags to in May and June, and we have many more new items on the way. Here are highlights of our recent additions:

Lockout / Tagout Safety TagsSafety Tags for Lockout / Tagout and Accident Prevention. Now you can buy flexible PVC safety tags in a variety of formats on a wide range of topics, and blank, write-on tags, too. Nearly 700 tags are easy to order from our new selection pages. All include a metal grommet and plastic cable tie. Start here to see them all.

How's My Driving / We Hire Safe Drivers Vehicle Signs. These bumper stickers and square truck safety signs make your safety messages clear. Some with custom phone number and company name. See them here.

ComplianceSigns Resource Resource Guide. This 47-page pdf booklet answers questions you may have about our company, how our products are made, our guarantee, return policies and more. But it's not a product catalog. There's simply no way we could produce a catalog that would keep up with our ever-changing selection of signs and labels. Download the Guide, or see all our product bulletins here.

Call Before Digging - 811. Call Before You Dig signsThis new page features more than 120 OSHA, ANSI and other signs and labels related to digging hazards. Many include the 811 national call-before-digging hotline number. Others can be customized with your own phone number. Visit the Call Before Digging page here.

Designer Orange Restroom and Office Signs. We've added more than 750 black-on-orange and white-on-orange printed signs for restrooms and offices. All are available with your choice of mounting option: flat, 2D projection, 3D triangle or easy drop-ceiling mount. See Office Signs here and browse Restroom Signs here.

We've also added dozens of Spanish and bilingual printed restroom signs, and soon will be adding hundreds more non-English signs throughout the store.

DOL Issues OSHA Recordkeeping Web Tool

The Department of Labor has issued a new web resource to help employers - especially small business employers - understand their recordkeeping requirements under OSHA regulations. The new OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor can help you determine: 
  • Safety First signWhether an injury or illness (or related event) is work-related
  • Whether an event or exposure at home or on travel is work-related
  • Whether an exception applies to the injury or illness
  • Whether a work-related injury or illness needs to be recorded
  • Which provisions of the regulations apply when recording a work-related case

The Advisor presents questions and relies on responses to determine the appropriate course of action. It does not store any information. While this new resource is useful, OSHA cautions that the Advisor is not a substitute for compliance with OSHA recordkeeping regulations.

New OSHA Rule Could Save Employers Millions

OSHA just announced a final rule that simplifies standards and reduces employer burdens - to the tune of an estimated $43 million in employer cost savings. The published rule will help keep OSHA standards up-to-date and better enable employers to comply with their regulatory obligations. It creates no new requirements for employers.

"The final rule is the third in OSHA's Standards Improvement Projects initiative that periodically reviews OSHA regulations with the goal of improving and eliminating those that are confusing, outdated, duplicative or inconsistent," said OSHA head David Michaels. "OSHA estimates that the final rule, without reducing employee protection, will result in annual cost savings to employers exceeding $43 million and significant reductions in paperwork burden hours."

PPE Respirator signsThe new rule will result in several changes to OSHA's existing respiratory protection standard, including aligning air cylinder testing requirements for self-contained breathing apparatuses with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. Other changes will include updating the definition of the term "potable water" to be consistent with the current Environmental Protection Agency, removing the outdated requirement that hand dryers use warm air, and removing two medical record requirements from the commercial-diving standard.

Updates also will include deleting a number of requirements for employers to transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH. The slings standards also will be updated and streamlined by requiring that employers use only slings marked with manufacturers' loading information. Because no new requirements are set by this rule, employers can comply with it immediately.

NIOSH Publication Defines Best Lockout / Tagout Procedures

Workers are at risk of severe injury and death during machine maintenance and servicing if proper lockout and tagout procedures are not followed. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends developing and implementing a hazardous energy control program that includes lockout and tagout procedures and worker training to prevent such incidents.

NIOSH recently published a comprehensive report on how to develop and maintain an effective lockout/tagout program. Using Lockout and Tagout Procedures to Prevent Injury and Death during Machine Maintenance includes analysis of a fatality case, a listing of applicable OSHA regulations and safety tips for workers.


Distracted Driving Policies: How Do Yours Compare?

A recent survey shows 32 percent of companies have knowledge or evidence of on-the-job crashes that occurred as a result of employee cell-phone use while driving. The survey of  500 business managers in North America was designed to gauge corporate attitudes and best practices pertaining to distracted driving.

The survey, commissioned by ZoomSafer, shows 62 percent of companies have adopted written policies against cell phone use while driving - but only half attempt to enforce their own policies. Other findings include:
  • 50% of companies with more than 500 drivers have knowledge or evidence of phone-related crashes.
  • 7.6% of companies have faced litigation for damages alleged to have occurred as a result of employee use of cell phones while driving. For companies with >5000 drivers, the rate is 37%.
  • Long-haul and local trucking companies were the most likely to have written cell phone policies (71% and 83% respectively) while home and business services companies were least likely (< 50%).
  • 25% of respondents who claimed to have a policy declined to answer how such policies were enforced. Among companies that did answer the policy enforcement question, 61% said they utilized "post-incident" employee discipline to enforce compliance.

OSHA Safety and Health Practices Survey

Days Without Injury signOSHA has launched a voluntary survey of private sector employers on current safety and health practices. The survey may contact as many as 19,000 employers nationwide, asking questions about employers' current practices with regard to safety and health management in their workplaces.
The survey will include all industries under OSHA jurisdiction and employers of all sizes. Respondents will receive a paper copy of the survey to complete, but they can choose to take the survey online. The goal of the survey is to develop industry-specific, statistically accurate estimates of current prevalence of a variety of baseline safety and health practices. Survey results will help OSHA to better design future rules, compliance assistance and outreach efforts.
OSHA also proposes to conduct case study interviews with employers in agriculture and state and local governments.

Workplace Chemicals: Keep Your Inventory Up-to-Date

Chemical Safety signsKnowing exactly what chemicals are in your workplace and having a chemical inventory are the first steps toward chemical safety compliance - and a key part of your chemical safety program. Here's some advice from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety that makes sense for US companies, too.
Taking an inventory provides the perfect opportunity to ensure that you have all necessary Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) on hand. It's a good idea to have MSDSs for both commercial and consumer products in your workplace as the information provided in the MSDS helps support your chemical program work.
Cylinder Safety signs
The product inventory also can help you determine if any products require "special attention" or are no longer required so you can make arrangements for their safe disposal. Once you have a clear picture of exactly what chemicals and MSDSs you have, you can move ahead with improving your chemical safety program to:
  • reduce your chemical inventory
  • improve chemical storage
  • review emergency plans
  • review staff training needs

June News and Notes

OSHA Focused on Forklift Safety in Four StatesForklift safety sign
OSHA just announced a new emphasis program in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi focused on reducing fatalities and serious injuries related to powered industrial trucks. Inspections primarily will focus on the training operators receive, maintenance and repair, and the pathways the trucks travel to ensure clear visibility and determine any possible struck-by hazards. The regional emphasis program began May 29 and will continue until Sept. 30, 2012 or later. Read more here.  

New NIOSH Fact Sheet Details Trenching Safetytranch safety sign
NIOSH recently released a fact sheet detailing how to prevent worker deaths from trench cave-ins. NIOSH recommends engineering controls, protective equipment and safe work practices to minimize hazards for workers. Download the fact sheet here (pdf) or learn more about trenching and excavation safety on the NIOSH website.

June 23 Webinar Highlights NFPA 70E Changes
Significant changes are proposed in the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, which will be issued by the NFPA® Standards Council in August 2011. Jerry Rivera, director of safety for the National Electrical Contractors Association, will highlight the changes in this webinar. Learn more and register here.
Fall Protection safety sign
Preventing Construction Falls Webinar Planned for July 14
August is the month with the highest number of fall fatalities for residential construction, according to a 2004 study conducted for the National Association of Home Builders. A July 14 webinar and Q&A will discuss best practices and strategies for preventing falls in both commercial and residential construction. Learn more and register here.

Hurricane Evacuation Route signTips on Preparing for Hurricane Season
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urges workplaces and communities to be prepared this hurricane season, which runs from June through November. Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for business preparedness, ASSE is offering safety preparation tips, a disaster safety checklist and resources to assist businesses of all sizes before, during and after a disaster. Download the tip sheet and review other resources here.

June Safety Tip: Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workeers

Summer heat is here, creating conditions that can lead to heat-related illness. OSHA has created a new web page to help educate people about this potentially fatal situation. Here are some tips from OSHA on protecting workers from the effects of heat:
  • Train workers and supervisors about the hazards leading to heat stress and ways to prevent them.First Aid signs
  • Allow workers to get used to hot environments by gradually increasing exposure over a 5-day work period. New workers and those returning from an absence of two weeks or more should have a 5-day adjustment period.
  • Provide workers with plenty of cool water in convenient, visible locations close to the work area. Water temperature should be 50-60 degrees F if possible.
  • Remind workers to frequently drink small amounts of water before becoming thirsty to maintain good hydration. Simply telling them to drink plenty of fluids is not sufficient. During moderate activity, in moderately hot conditions, at least one pint of water per hour is needed. Workers should drink about 6 ounces or a medium-sized glass-full every 15 minutes. Instruct workers that urine should be clear or lightly colored.
  • Drinking Water signBe aware that it is harmful to drink extreme amounts of water. Workers should generally not drink more than a total of 12 quarts of fluid in 24 hours.
  • Reduce the physical demands of the job, such as excessive lifting, climbing or digging with heavy objects. Use mechanical devices or assign extra workers.
  • Monitor weather reports daily and reschedule jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day.
  • Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned recovery areas.
  • Some personal protective equipment can increase heat risk, especially clothing such as Tyvek or rubber. These types of materials trap heat close to a worker's body.
  • Establish a routine to periodically check workers for signs and symptoms of overexposure
  • Use these links for additional information on heat stress:

Prepare For Severe Weather

Ask workers on a typical jobsite about the hazards they face on a daily basis, and few (if any) will put severe weather near the top of the list. But in most parts of the U.S., severe weather conditions occur every year. For those who live in one of the nation's "tornado alleys," powerful thunderstorms are a regular element of spring and summer weather. Other parts of the country may contend with hurricanes, flooding or other weather extremes.

As this spring's wild weather demonstrated again and again, no place is completely safe from nature's fury. That's true for indoor workplaces, but it's an even greater concern on outdoor jobsites. That's why steps for dealing with severe weather situations are a critical part of any safety plan. While you can't predict extreme weather with any degree of accuracy, you can protect your team by preparing for the problems it creates. The safety experts at Safety Management Group can help you identify and prepare for potential hazards. Read more here or browse severe weather safety signs here

Menu Focus: Environmental Signs

The Environmental tab at the top of any page is your fast and easy access point to hundreds of environment-related signs and labels. Here's what you'll find on the Environmental Signs page:
  • Conserve Energy signEnergy Conservation signs to remind employees and visitors to conserve energy and water, or identify no idling zones. 
  • Recycled Water signs identify spigots with recycled or non-potable water that's not safe to drink.
  • Trash / Litter signs that include OSHA, ANSI and standard headers on topics ranging from dumpster rules to maximum load level, to private container signs and even video surveillance warnings.
  • Surface-mount Recycling Signs to identify recycling areas and instructions, as well as a plastic recycling chart that explains the various plastic types.
  • Hybrid Vehicle signsEngraved Recycling Signs in a variety of colors, with tactile and Braille options.
  • Recycling Labels are available in seven sizes, and provide a fast, easy and economical way to identify recycling sorting bins and areas.
  • The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Park / Charge page is also available from the Environmental tab. It features 36 signs designating electric vehicle charging stations, alternative fuels available, hybrid and carpool parking spaces and more.

Top 5 Links Last Month

These were the most popular articles / links in last month's Connection:
  1. State Pool Rules signs at 
  2. National Electrical Safety Month Toolkit
  3. OSHA Guidance Document on Fall Protection in Residential Construction (pdf)
  4. Four Action Steps for Workplace Injuries
  5. NSC Employer Cell Phone Policy Kit