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October 22, 2014

Workplace Safety News and Notes - October 2014

Here's a collection of recent workplace safety news and notes from around the web:

OSHA launches national dialogue on hazardous chemical exposures
OSHA is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders to manage worker exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits (PELs). Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current PELs, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971 and they cover a small fraction of the chemicals currently used in the U.S. Some new approaches for which OSHA is seeking public comment include: Streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses; and alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures. Read more here.

New Safety Climate Workbook Available

The Center for Construction Research and Training has released a 10-page workbook, “Strengthening Jobsite Safety Climate: Eight Worksheets to Help You Use and Improve Leading Indicators.” The workbook is designed to help construction managers, safety professionals and hourly craft workers learn leading indicators of safety climate, as well as ideas for strengthening them. The book contains eight worksheets with brief self-assessments and a list of ideas that owners, safety directors and supervisory staff can implement to evaluate and improve their safety climate. Learn more here.

The rudest drivers are in... Idaho?

In a survey seeking to rank the states with the rudest drivers, Idaho earned the dubious honor of being #1. Respondents to the survey by said Idaho drivers present a wide variety of rudeness, "Those who are moving so slowly that they’re judged to be rude, and the aggressive drivers who speed around them and flip them off."

October 21, 2014

What's Your Site Safety Assessment Strategy?

safety starts here
Regular site assessments and field surveys are a critical element of any safety plan. Why? Because first-hand observations let managers determine if the safety aspects of a project will meet the objectives set out in the safety plan. They also offer an opportunity to identify potential areas of concern - before inspectors arrive or problems arise.  

How detailed an assessment should be depends on the nature of the site and the work that is currently underway. A thorough assessment should also anticipate upcoming work and identify hazards that may arise as the scope of the project changes.

Safety Tip: Prevent Common Forklift Accidents

do not ride on forklift

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October 20, 2014

Top OSHA Fines Exceed $3.5 Million in Sept. 2014

$3.57 million in fines
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OSHA issued 17 significant fines in September (more than twice as many as August!) with a proposed total of $3.57 million. The top three fines were issued for confined space, chemical and fall protection violations. Other common violations included machine guarding, cranes and scaffolding. Most cases are still pending final decisions. Here are some details:

$497,000 and SVEP for willful confined space violations and more at an Illinois metal recycling plant

The company was cited for seven willful and one serious safety violations following the death of a worker whose arm was caught in a conveyor belt. At least three other workers were also exposed to dangerous, unguarded machines during cleaning operations. The workers entered a shredder discharge pit through a 2.5- by 3.5-foot opening to shovel metal scrap onto a takeaway conveyor system. This conveyor was not guarded and the shredder was not locked out prior to the workers entering the pit.

Willful violations include failing to implement training, procedures and practices for safe entry into the shredder pit and failing to inform employees of the dangers present in pit. The company also failed to prepare entry permits prior to allowing cleaning activities inside of the pit. Other willful violations include failing to utilize lockout-tagout and failing to conduct periodic inspections of equipment-specific lock out/tag out procedures. The company was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

$341,550 for chromium and other violations at an Oklahoma plating plant

respirator required in this areaWorkers were exposed to cancer-causing health hazards by inhaling, absorbing and ingesting hexavalent chromium. Nine repeat violations were cited primarily for chromium violations, including failure to: provide safe PPE for workers exposed to chromium; mark areas where chromium was sprayed; prevent ingestion of food and drinks and absorption of cigarettes in chromium-regulated areas; and properly train workers exposed to chromium, caustics and corrosives. 

October 15, 2014

NTSB Recommends Action to Curb Increase in Railroad Deaths

This vehicle stops at all railroad crossings
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a special investigation report on the recent increase in deaths of railroad and rail transit roadway workers and made recommendations to reduce the number of fatalities. The report provides details of 14 fatal accidents in 2013. Over the year, 15 roadway workers died.

Of fatalities in 2013, 11 resulted from 11 accidents on freight railroads and four were on commuter or transit railways. The average number of railroad worker fatalities has fluctuated but has remained about 6.4 per year from 1990 to 2013. The report states that comprehensive job briefings could help prevent accidents and that national inspection protocols for work activities are necessary to ensure the safety of roadway workers.

October 9, 2014

Common Safety Signs for Hazardous Sites

Guest post by Stephen Whitmore.

On any work site where heavy machinery or potentially hazardous equipment, chemicals or other dangers are present, it’s vital to have the correct safety signs and notices to help keep everyone safe - and to reduce your liability. has the internationally recognized signs for about any scenario you can imagine. 

For example, a growing industry right now is fracking. The number of fracking sites in the United States has exploded in recent years as we aim to hone our use of natural gas to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. While it’s an exciting and relatively new area, fracking sites pose new risks and hazards for workers and site visitors. This makes it that much more important to have the proper signs, notices and warnings to keep everyone safe. Of course, many of these signs are important in other scenarios, but here are a few that can make a huge difference in worker safety at potentially hazardous sites: 

With many sites, there are industrial uses for water and with fracking in particular water plays an important part. However, as we all know, not all water is created equal and drinking contaminated water can have fatal results. This means it’s vitally important to mark all water pipes and outlets according to their safety. It’s both for visitors and workers but also people who may be working directly with or around the pipes. A burst pipe of contaminated water could be a hazardous situation and needs to be treated with the utmost caution.