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December 16, 2015

December 2015 Workplace Safety News and Notes

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

OSHA to Raise Penalties for Safety Violations in 2016

OSHA is expected to increase its monetary penalties for safety violations next year. The change came early this month, with a budget amendment that would allow OSHA to increase its fines in light of inflation. Previously, the agency was unable to increase due to a 1990 law. OSHA must now issue a preliminary final rule that will stipulate details about the increase before August 1, 2016. The fines are expected to be around 80 percent higher. A willful violation, for instance, may now carry a maximum penalty of around $127,000, compared to $70,000 today. View the full amendment here.

Electronic Logging Devices to be Required for Commercial Drivers

caution wide right turns
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced adoption of a Final Rule requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) within two years. An ELD automatically records driving time, monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted. The rule also includes provisions to: prevent drivers from harassment based on ELD information; set technical and performance specs for ELDs; establish new support document requirements. Read more here.

OSHA Issues Tools to Help Prevent Workplace Violence in Healthcare 

OSHA has developed a new webpage to provide employers and workers with strategies and tools for preventing workplace violence in healthcare settings. The webpage, part of OSHA’s Worker Safety in Hospitals website, complements the updated Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers published earlier this year. The new page includes real-life examples from healthcare organizations that have incorporated successful workplace violence prevention programs, and models of how a workplace violence prevention program can complement and enhance an organization’s strategies for compliance and a culture of safety. Visit the new site.

NIOSH Launches Motor Vehicle Safety eNewsletter, Behind the Wheel at Work

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety has launched a quarterly e-newsletter to share research updates, links to motor vehicle safety resources, practical tips on workplace driving and news about upcoming events. Behind the Wheel at Work will include vehicle-related research updates and practical tools to apply research-based strategies in the workplace. The first issue features an article on the NIOSH National survey of U.S. long-haul truck drivers. Learn more.

respirator required
OSHA Expects to Complete Silica Rule in February 2016

OSHA's fall 2015 regulatory agenda projects that its final rule for occupational exposure to crystalline silica will be completed in February 2016, according to the AIHA. The rule has been in development for more than 15 years. OSHA received more than 1,700 comments on the proposed rule issued two years ago and is now reviewing material in the rulemaking record. Read more.

Review Floor Maintenance Procedures to Reduce Slip and Fall Incidents

Analyzing floor safety risks and establishing plans and procedures that address hazards will help prevent or minimize the chance of incidents and injuries, according to a recent article in OH&S magazine. For example, improper cleaning can lead to floors with low levels of traction. Reviewing floor cleaning and housekeeping procedures can help reduce premature floor wear, as well as slip and fall incidents and injuries. Learn more in the article.

pesticide storage area

OH&S Webinars in January

  - January 21 - Chemicals, Pesticides and Other Stuff - How to Comply?
  - January 27 - Care and Maintenance of PPE for Arc Flash and Flash Fire: Incidents and Issues for Practical Applications

See details and register here.

Safety Stats for Construction Trades Released

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) released a report that charts fatal and nonfatal injuries among construction trades between 2003 and 2014. It illustrates injury variations across selected construction trades, and highlights leading causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the most recent years. It also includes recently available data on height of fall. The report also includes data on roofers, electrical power-line installers and cement masons. View the report (pdf).

December 15, 2015

The Top Workplace Safety News of 2015

Workplace safety news and notes
Here's a recap of the 10 articles that generated the most interest in our Connection newsletter and here on the safety blog during 2015. Our monthly News & Notes feature and lists of top OSHA fines also are very popular. (See the Top 10 OSHA Fines of 2015.) We do our best to keep you up-do-date on new rules, tools and tips that can help keep your workplace safe and in compliance. 

Here's our Top 10 of 2015. (Click the heading to read more.)

1. Top 5 Disabling Workplace Injuries Cause 2/3 of Workers' Comp Costs

According to BLS and other data, the top five disabling workplace injuries accounted for 65 percent of all workers' compensation costs in 2012 (the most recent year for which data was available). U.S. businesses spend nearly $750,000 weekly on these five workplace injuries.

2. "Why'd They Do That?" Photos Show Safety Fails

Advanced Safety & Health, LLC, an OH&S firm with offices in Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania, has assembled a wonderful collection of images showing some workplace safety fails that are hard to believe. Looks like "common sense" isn't so common anymore.

3. How Safe is Your State? NSC Releases Top 10 List of Accidental Death Rates

As part of National Safety Month, the National Safety Council released its annual list of states with the highest and lowest rates of injury-related deaths, which include poisonings, vehicle accidents and falls. West Virginia had the highest rate for the third time in four years. The state’s rate of 77.2 deaths per 100,000 people was largely fueled by overdoses from opioid prescription painkillers. For the second straight year, Maryland had the lowest rate at 26.9, which is far below the national rate of 40.6. See the top and bottom states.

4. How To Choose the Right Safety Committee Members

The first step in making a safety committee work most effectively is making sure that it has the right members. You need members representing hourly workers to upper management. They should be respected by other workers, and not let management’s viewpoint dominate discussions. If that doesn't sound easy, you're in luck. This article by Safety Management Group in Indianapolis can help you avoid common safety committeee pitfalls.

5. Fall Protection Tops 2015 OSHA Violations List  OSHA

For the fifth straight year, OSHA's Fall Protection Standard (1926.501) was the agency's most often cited standard, Hazard Communication was #2, followed by Scaffolding and Respiratory Protection in the preliminary list. Finalized data will be available in December.

Top 10 OSHA Fines of 2015 Total $8.7 Million

The 10 largest OSHA fines of 2015 totaled some $8.69 million from January to mid December. What these numbers don't show is that some individual companies have received multiple fines this year totaling from $1.4 million for one company to $1.87 million for another. OSHA issued more than 165 significant fines (over $100,000) for the year, with a total value of $35.1 million.

A recent budget amendment could mean significantly higher fines next year, when OSHA will be allowed to adjust fines for inflation. Fines could increase as much as 80 percent in 2016, taking a willful violation from $70,000 to $127,000, for example.

Here's a list of the top 10 fines issued in 2015. Some are still pending final decisions.

1. $1.8 million and SVEP for exposing construction workers to asbestos in Illinois

Asbestos warning. PPE required
During renovation of a former elementary school, two Illinois construction companies violated numerous OSHA health standards related to the dangers of asbestos. The companies now face a total of $1,792,000 in penalties and entry to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) for willfully exposing at least eight workers to asbestos. The investigation also found management brought non-English speaking workers to the U.S. and threatened them with termination if they spoke with OSHA inspectors. View citations against the two companies here and here. (pdf)

2. $1.76 million fine and SVEP after 1,000 injuries in past 36 months at a Wisconsin furniture manufacturer

After a worker lost three fingers while operating a woodworking machine without required safety mechanisms in place, a resulting inspection identified 12 willful, 12 repeat and 14 serious safety violations. In a 3.5-year period, more than 1,000 work-related injuries were recorded at the manufacturer. See the citations here.  

3. $963,000 and SVEP following a deadly blast at a Nebraska railcar cleaning facility

Moments before a blast ripped through a railcar in April, an air quality check showed a serious risk of an explosion. Despite the warning, two employees were sent into the car to work without monitoring the air continuously for explosive hazards as required, nor providing the employees with emergency retrieval equipment or properly fitted respirators. The explosion that resulted blew the railcar's escape ladder off, killed the two men and injured another. OSHA cited the company for seven egregious, three willful, two repeated, 20 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations. View the health and safety citations.

4. $861,000 and SVEP for repeat amputation and other hazards at an Ohio poultry processor. 2015 total tops $1.8 million

watch your finers & hands
Investigation of an Ohio chicken processing facility found that the company was aware of dangers, but continued to expose workers to serious and potentially fatal injuries. Acting on a referral, OSHA cited the company for two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations. The company has been issued more than $1.87 million in OSHA penalties in 2015, the most recent a $462,000 fine in December. View the initial citations here. (pdf)

December 1, 2015

Construction Site Spotters: Much More Than Backup Assistants

Burried Cable
You wouldn't let an untrained worker operate heavy equipment on a jobsite because it's too dangerous. But what kind of training do you give the spotter you trust to protect that equipment, its operator and other workers? 

If you think being a spotter is an easy job that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower or that the "new guy" can handle it, you could be setting up a disaster. In fact, three of the four leading causes of construction site fatalities – struck-by accidents, electrocutions and caught-between hazards – are situations spotters usually help manage.

A new article by the safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis gives some needed perspective to the Spotter role, calling it "a critical element of site safety."

Besides making sure that backing vehicles don’t run into people or objects, spotters monitor cranes and other equipment operating near power lines. They protect vehicles and equipment, monitor earthmoving processes and stay alert to the presence of underground utilities. Spotters have a variety of responsibilities - and therefore require adequate training and a part in safety pre-planning meetings.

November 23, 2015

What's New at : Texas Code 30.06 and 30.07 Signs

Texas 30.06 offers a large selection of state-specific signs on a variety of topics. New this month are Texas concealed carry / open carry handgun signs. We've carried this signage for some time, but new requirements take effect in January 2016, and we have the new signs you need to comply with Texas Code 30.06 covering concealed carry of handguns and Texas Code 30.07 related to open carry.

Other state-specific items we carry include signs and labels for:

We also can make custom signs and labels to meet almost any need.

November 18, 2015

November 2015 Workplace Safety News and Notes

FDA Finalizes New Food Safety Rules

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 13 finalized more rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The Produce Safety rule establishes for the first time enforceable safety standards for produce farms and holds importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards. So far, FDA has finalized five of the seven major rules that implement the core of FSMA. Read more at the FDA.

NIOSH Small Business Resource Guide

Do you own or manage a business? The NIOSH Small Business Resource Guide provides plans, tools, tips, and information from across the web on how to keep your workers safe and well from job-related injury and illness while managing time and cost investments. This guide is intended to help small business owners, employers and managers. Learn more.

OH&S Safety Webinars in December

  • Stay Ahead of GHS, December 2. How to achieve and maintain compliance with chemical labeling, ongoing employee training and SDS management.
  • Electrical Compliance & NFPA 70E Updates, December 3. Will cover the recent updates and changes from NFPA 70E as well as offer some education on what we need to be doing within our facilities to stay compliant from an electrical safety perspective.
  • Fire Retardant Garments: New research uncovers that fabric choice can be the most important factor, December 8. What fabric characteristics are the most important? What tradeoffs are wearers willing to make?
Learn more and register here.

Drivers Still Distracted for Half a Minute After Using Hands-free Devices

New hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Researchers found potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands. Performance varied greatly depending on the hands-free system in use. Read more on the report and view data.

OSHA Seeks Public Comment on Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines

First published in 1989, the guidelines are being updated to reflect modern technology and practices. These guidelines are intended to help employers establish health and safety management plans at their workplaces. Key principles include finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness, and making sure that workers have a voice in safety and health. Comments will be accepted until Feb. 15, 2016. Review the draft document.

James Bond: 50 Years of Workplace Hazards

If you're a James Bond fan, you'll enjoy this humorous post on the NIOSH Science Blog that outlines many of the workplace hazards 007 has endured and overcome over the years. For example, Bond employed the effective method of “substitution” in the hierarchy of controls when he convinced his lady friend to replace nerve gas with a harmless substance in "Goldfinger". It's a fun read, and quite timely given the latest Bond film release. Check it out.

November 17, 2015

BLS Releases Injury and Illness Data for 2014

We have worked 365 days safe!
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released data on nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by the private sector in 2014. That number translates to 3.2 cases for every 100 full-time employees, and is some 54,000 fewer cases than 2013, continuing a downward trend since 2003.

Highlights of the BLS report include:

  • More than half of recorded injuries in 2014 involved days away from work, job transfer, or restriction (DART cases).
  • Just over 95 percent of total reported injuries and illnesses were injuries (2.8 million).
  • Nearly 75 percent of injury cases occurred in service industries.
  • Workplace illnesses accounted for nearly 5 percent of reported cases.
  • Private industry employers reported nearly 54,000 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2014, compared to a year earlier.

Bucket Truck Safety Tips

Bucket trucks commonly found on many worksites present a unique set of hazards, including risks for falls, tipping over, collisions with objects and contact with electric lines or other dangerous objects. Use these tips to inform workers of potential hazards and to help keep them safe on the job.

Hazards Associated with Bucket Trucks

  • Fall from elevated level
  • Objects falling from lifts
  • Tip-overs
  • Ejections from the bucket/platform
  • Structural failures (collapses)
  • Electric shock (electrocutions)
  • Entanglement hazards
  • Contact with objects
The major causes of fatalities are falls, electrocutions and collapses/tip overs.

Bucket Truck Safety Checklists

November 16, 2015

Contractor Registries Aren’t Safety Programs

Stay alert so you don't get hurt
You can find almost anything related to workplace safety on the Internet, from PPE and site checklists to safety signs, consultants and even registries of contractors prequalified to meet basic safety standards. Just point-and-click to get anything you need, right? Not necessarily.

Prequalifying contractors to verify they meet your safety standards is an important step – but it’s just that: one step, according to the safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis. In a recent article, they explain that ensuring a safe workplace requires many additional steps and continued on-site monitoring that databases just can't provide.

5 Best Practices to Improve Contractor Safety

Caution Wear hard hat, safety glasses and safety shoes
A recent post on the NIOSH Science Blog outlines results of a new research report on the best practices for managing contractor and supplier safety, noting that "Contractor safety management is extremely relevant in our increasingly global and complex world that involves work in multiple countries, non-routine work and the use of international and temporary workforces." 

The report prepared by The Campbell Institute of the National Safety Council, identifies the three top factors that compromise contractor safety: 
  • Financial pressures and deadlines that can lead to shortcuts and unsafe behavior on the job 
  • Lax training and supervision of subcontract workers, broken information flows and unclear work responsibilities 
  • Insufficient safety standards and enforcement 

November 4, 2015

Maintain & Improve Workplace Driving Safety

How's my driving? Call ____
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, two out every five fatal work injuries in the United States are due to occupational traffic fatalities. Accidents are by far the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities and the BLS expects the 2014 numbers, which will be released in 2016, to be much higher. Not only are traffic accidents dangerous, they are costly to a organization's bottom line, too. Traffic accidents and deaths linked to federal employees have cost the U.S. Government nearly $75 million over a five-year period.

One key factor to consider when working to improve driver safety at your company is whether your staff drives privately owned vehicles (POV) or company vehicles for company business. Check your local laws and your insurance company before you send an employee out in their POV as their can be serious issues if they get into an accident.

Keep Tabs on Driving

October 28, 2015

October 2015 Safety News and Notes

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

OH&S Offers Workplace Safety Webinars in November

Arc Flash and Shock HazardOccupational Health & Safety magazine partners with various organizations to present safety webinars on a variety of topics each month. Here's the November lineup:
  • Specialty PPE in arc flash to meet NFPA 70E - Wed. Nov. 11
  • Combustible dust NFPA 652 - Thurs. Nov. 12
  • New global standards for protective gloves -  Wed. Nov. 18
  • Arc flash and flash fire protection for hands - Thurs. Nov. 19
Learn more and register here.

ISHN Releases eBooks for Oil and Gas Industry

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News has developed two eBooks to serve as a handy reference for safety and health practitioners in the oil and gas industry. Oil and Gas Industry Safety examines industrial hygiene practices, health hazards and safety hazards. Oil & Gas Industry shares research and management information, including best practices and lessons learned from the industry.
Review the eBooks online or download as pdfs.

Use Three Points-of-Contact to Reduce Ladder Falls

Ladder safety instructions
Falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 20% of work-related fall injuries involve ladders. Factors contributing to falls from ladders include haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user's age or physical condition and the user's footwear. Improper climbing posture creates user clumsiness that also leads to falls.

When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize three points-of-contact to minimize the chance of slipping and falling from the ladder. At all times during ascent, descent and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails.

Tips for Safely Climbing a Ladder

Here's some instruction from the American Ladder Institute on the recommended three-point-of-contact method of climbing ladders:
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles to prevent foot fatigue
  • Clean the soles of shoes to maximize traction
  • Use towlines, a tool belt or an assistant to convey materials so the climbers hands are free when climbing
  • Climb slowly and deliberately while avoiding sudden movements
  • Never attempt to move a ladder while standing on it
  • Keep the center of your belt buckle (stomach) between the ladder side rails while climbing and working. Do not overreach or lean while working.
Following these tips will help a climber stay stable if one limb slips during the climb. Climbers should not carry any objects that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder, or the three points-of-contact will be lost.

Learn more:

October 27, 2015

Five Steps to Compressed Gas Safety

CAUTION Keep all cylinders chained
Even a small propane tank can cause a major disaster if improperly stored, secured, maintained or used. It's not common, but it has happened. The safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis have prepared a post that identifies three hazards associated with all gas cylinders, and outlines five basic safety practices to help protect workers and others from these hazards. Here's a short version of the full list:
  1. Store cylinders properly. OSHA rules provide different guidance for storage on construction sites and industrial settings.
  2. Keep cylinders secured. Use straps, guards or chains and never remove the cap from a cylinder until it has been secured.
  3. Inspect cylinders before moving or using them.
  4. Open them carefully. Opening a valve too quickly can cause high-pressure gas to damage the regulator and valve seats.
  5. Follow procedures for empty cylinders. Always leave some residual pressure in the cylinder, rather than emptying it all the way. 

Mobile Apps Help Employers Document Onsite Accidents

It's one of the less pleasant aspects of owning a business: dealing with injuries that occur at your site. You've no doubt seen TV ads for personal injury lawyers looking for injured workers. But have you seen any offering to defend the owner of a site where an injury happened? Not likely. All the more reason to spell out procedures for you and your managers to follow in the event of an accident.

Download an App to Document Worksite Injuries

No one should be surprised to learn there are mobile apps that can be used to document workplace injuries. Most of them are from personal injury firms and insurance companies to be used for documenting car accidents. There are apps for every OS, but Android offers the

October 5, 2015

It's Drive Safely Work Week 2015

Off-the-Job Traffic Crashes Pose Significant Costs to Employers

When considering the human and financial impact of traffic crashes on the workplace, many think about drivers of company vehicles. But the last published report of The Economic Burden of Traffic Crashes on Employers shows that's not the only cost producing incident. Among crashes resulting in injury, there is a nearly 1:1 ratio of the cost of on-the-job crashes to the cost of off-the-job crashes. Preliminary findings for an updated report show the trend has continued.

During Drive Safely Work Week, which kicks off today and runs through October 9, NETS is calling on employers to consider the safety of ALL employees when behind the wheel. To make participation in the campaign easy, NETS provides a free toolkit, available on its website that includes sample email blasts, graphics, social media posts, presentations and more.

Is Your Workplace Ready to Deal with Disaster?

Believe it or not, the most important time to leave your workplace quickly isn’t closing time on Friday. Lives can easily be in jeopardy should an emergency situation arise, so it’s the wrong scenario for you to be relying on dumb luck. Fires and explosions alone were responsible for 148 deaths on the job in 2013.*

This fact becomes even more alarming when you consider the multitude of other potential hazards that can strike without warning, for example:
  • Severe Weather / Natural Disasters
  • Workplace Violence
  • Power Loss
  • Chemical Spills
In larger cities, the potential of responding to a terrorist attack stands out a serious concern as well. The one thing all of these emergencies have in common is that when they occur on your site, you’re safer elsewhere. Emergency exits and exit routes save lives every year, so having them in place and prepared for use is a must for any business looking to be safety savvy.

September 30, 2015

Fall Protection Tops OSHA’s Most-cited Violations List for 2015

OSHA’s Fall Protection Standard (1926.501) is once again the agency’s most frequently cited standard, according to a post today by The National Safety Council's Safety+Health magazine.

This is the fifth year in a row that Fall Protection Standard tops the list, which was presented Sept. 29 during the NSC Congress & Expo. The preliminary list, which covers fiscal year 2015, is:

  1. Fall Protection (1926.501)
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451)
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)
  6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)
  7. Ladders (1926.1053)
  8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305)
  9. Machine Guarding (1910.212)
  10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303)
Finalized data, along with additional Top 10 details and exclusive content, will be available in December.

September 29, 2015

How to Make Your Construction Site More Secure - and Safer, Too

One of the biggest problems facing any construction site is security. Construction Equipment Guide reports that theft from construction sites costs companies between $300 million and $1 billion annually. Threats include employee theft, as well as trespassers looking for tools, equipment and materials to pilfer. Security guards have taken on this challenge in the past, but now new security technologies can help keep construction sites secure from theft - and help protect employees, too. 

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags

Virtually indestructible and built to withstand the harshest of weather conditions, RFID tags are ideal for construction sites. RFID scanner and tracking systems use radio waves to transmit data from tags to a reader. Users place an RFID tag on an item, scan it, and then track it through the integrated software. With unique tags, users can track tools, equipment and machinery to ensure resources don't leave the job site without permission. Even safety harnesses can be chipped, allowing users to track employee activities on-site and provide safety checks, in addition to equipment control. When properly installed and utilized, RFID systems can help contractors identify thieves, recover lost equipment and even schedule and track maintenance. 

September 23, 2015

September 2015 Safety News and Notes

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

Drive Safely Work Week is October 5-9
Drive Safely Work Week (DSWW) is the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety's annual workplace safety campaign, providing an opportunity to remind employees about safe driving practices. Organizers have prepared a complete kit of materials that are available for free download. Learn more about DSWW.

New App Helps Track Confined Spaces on Farms
WorkSafeBC has launched a new mobile application to help agricultural employers keep track of confined spaces on their properties, including dairy farms, orchards, mushroom operations, greenhouses and ranches. The My Confined Spaces app allows users to create an inventory using a map, log information and photos for each confined space, and record possible hazards. Users also can view potential hazards for common confined spaces and share their inventory. A resource library in the app contains documents, videos, tutorials and other resources. Learn more.

BLS Issues Bad News: Workplace Fatalities Increased in 2014

death or serious injury will result
Preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a total of 4,679 workers died on the job in 2014, an increase of 2 percent over the revised count of 4,585 fatal work injuries in 2013. The preliminary rate of fatal work injury in the U.S. in 2014 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers; the revised rate for 2013 was also 3.3.

Mining, construction, manufacturing, law enforcement and agriculture experienced significant increases in fatal injuries in 2014. Fatal falls, slips, and trips rose by 10 percent from the previous year. Transportation-related fatalities also increased slightly. Construction deaths rose by 6 percent to 874.

Key Findings

  • The number of fatal work injuries in private goods-producing industries in 2014 was 9 percent higher than the revised 2013 count but slightly lower in private service-providing industries.

September 22, 2015

Top OSHA Fines in August 2015 Total $4.6 Million

this department has worked 365 days without a lost time accident
OSHA released details on 12 significant fines in August, with total proposed penalties of $4,559,540. That's quite a jump from the $2.9 million of serious fines (over $100,000) issued in July. The top 5 penalties accounted for more than three-fourths of the August total, including $1.8 million of proposed penalties against a pair of Illinois construction firms. Here are some details of August activity, many of which are still pending final decisions.

$1.8 million and SVEP for exposing construction workers to asbestos in Illinois

During renovation of a former elementary school, two Illinois construction companies violated numerous OSHA health standards related to the dangers of asbestos. The companies now face a total of $1,792,000 in penalties and entry to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) for willfully exposing at least eight workers to asbestos. The investigation also found management brought non-English speaking workers to the U.S. and threatened them with termination if they spoke with OSHA inspectors.

OSHA cited 16 egregious, nine willful and six serious violations. Inspectors also found the companies failed to warn employees of the danger, even though they were aware of the asbestos hazard. They also failed to ensure that workers used appropriate work methods and respirators, and to train them about the hazards of working around asbestos. View current citations against the two companies here and here. (pdf)

$861,000 and SVEP for repeat amputation, electrocution and fall hazards at an Ohio poultry processor

Investigation of an Ohio chicken processing facility found that the company was aware of dangers, but continued to expose workers to serious and potentially fatal injuries. Acting on a referral, OSHA cited the company for two willful, 20 repeat, 30 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations. OSHA assessed $861,500 in penalties and added the company to the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

September 21, 2015

National PrepareAthon! Day is Sept. 30

emergency evacuation route
September has been National Preparedness Month, a time to plan ahead for the unexpected emergencies that can devastate families, businesses and communities. Everyone is invited to participate in America’s PrepareAthon! and the national day of action, National PrepareAthon! Day, which culminates National Preparedness Month on September 30.

Don't Wait. Communicate.

The theme of this year's National Preparedness Month is "Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today." This is an opportunity for individuals, organizations and communities to prepare for specific hazards through group discussions, drills, and exercises. Program goals include helping people to:
  • Understand which disasters could happen in their community
  • Know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage
  • Take action to increase their preparedness
  • Participate in community resilience planning

Safety Tip: Stay Safe When Working Alone

Many workers are called to spend time alone in unfamiliar, potentially dangerous environments, from site inspections to confined spaces to home healthcare to real estate open houses. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has assembled some tips to help keep workers safe when they are alone or off-site.

Tips for Employers:

    Warning working in this building requires two persons
  • Prepare a daily work plan so everyone knows where and when off-site employees are expected somewhere.
  • Set a check-in procedure requiring off-site employees to check in periodically. Know when and who to call for help if they do not.
  • Provide training on how to recognize and avoid potentially violent situations, as well as conflict resolution and mediation skills.
  • Use a "buddy system" in high risk situations - make sure employees know this option is available to them and when to use it.
  • Provide information on high risk geographical areas.
  • Limit the time of day visits can be made to high risk areas/clients.
  • Keep client records and ensure staff are aware if a client is known to be aggressive, hostile or potentially violent.

Reducing Risk When Welding and Brazing

Danger welding area
Burns are the most obvious hazard associated with welding and brazing, but there are many others. Eye protection from radiant energy as well as flying debris are critical, but don't stop there. Welding fumes have been connected to nervous system and kidney damage, as well as stomach ulcers. Fires and explosions are risks, and don't forget to consider the safety of workers in adjacent areas. 

A recent article shared by the safety experts at Safety Management Group explains these processes, examines the dangers associated with them and discusses steps that can be taken to reduce these hazards. 

September 16, 2015

SBA Offers Disaster Preparedness Webinars in September

The Small Business Association reports that nearly 70 percent of all U.S. businesses will lose power at one point in the next 12 months. Do you have a plan in place to keep your operations running? Is your organization prepared to communicate quickly and effectively with each other when a crisis hits? How will you rebuild your business if your employees are unable to report to work after a major disaster?

Having a business continuity plan is essential to establishing a successful and resilient business. The cost of creating a disaster preparedness plan is small compared to the financial losses that may occur if there’s no plan in place. 

You can get help with your own preparedness planning through a series of free webinars hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery. The series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign during National Preparedness Month.  The 2015 theme is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”

The 30-minute webinars will be presented at 2 p.m. EDT each Wednesday in September.

Topics are:

  • September 16: Recover from the Most Likely Disaster: Power Outage
  • September 23: Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Prepare Your Employees
  • September 30: If You Do Nothing Else this Year… Simple tips to build your organization’s resilience.


September 4, 2015

What's New at in August

You'll find more than 450 new signs and labels at this month, with more to come in the weeks ahead. Highlights include:
  • hand wash signHand Washing signs in ANSI, OSHA and standard sign formats to encourage employees, customers and visitors to practice good hand hygiene. The signs feature graphic symbols, hand washing instructions and various reminders for locations including medical facilities, restaurants, schools, daycares, restrooms, labs, animal exhibits and much more.
  • High Visibility Vest signs and labels in OSHA and ANSI formats to remind workers of high visibility vest and other PPE requirements to help keep them safe on the job.
  • Food Prep signPortrait-orientation Safety Signs and labels may meet your needs better than traditional horizontal signs. We now offer vertical signs on a wide variety of topics, including industrial notices, recycling, hazmat, food handling, machine safety and more. These signs are available in six sizes, from 5x3.5-in. labels to 28x20-in aluminum or plastic signs, and also with magnetic backing.
See all the new signs here.