A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

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.

September 1, 2015

Free Employer Toolkit for 2015 Drive Safely Work Week

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has launched an online toolkit to help employers plan ahead for Drive Safely Work Week 2015 (DSWW), the October workplace campaign to improve the safety of employees, employee family members and their communities. The free DSWW toolkit provides easy-to-use Web-based resources, including facts and tips, downloadable graphics, and activities tailored to help drivers be at their best behind the wheel.

The theme this year is Plan Ahead - Your Key to Driving Safely. Materials underscore that planning may be the most critical leg of any driving trip and offers resources to help become a better planner for both business and personal travel.

"Planning is critical to safe driving from many different perspectives," said NETS Chair Joe McKillips. "It can be as simple as planning the best route. Other times it can mean planning for a designated driver, setting aside time with your teen driver to practice or talking to an older family member about the possibility of limiting their driving. These considerations and more are covered in this year's campaign materials."

The 2015 DSWW campaign's daily areas of emphasis will help employees:

  • Remember to take time to plan their trips, even those that feel routine
  • Prepare for driving situations in unfamiliar areas
  • Take precautions to ensure they are driving with a clear head
  • Learn to navigate the changes of aging that can affect driving
  • Plan ahead for driving situations that involve family members

In addition to materials directed to all employees - whether they drive for work or just to and from work - the toolkit includes resources to assist management in development of guidelines and policies as related to safe driving. The campaign was developed using the expertise of NETS' member companies, collectively representing a fleet of more than half a million vehicles that travel in excess of 11 billion miles globally each year.

Held annually since 1996, Drive Safely Work Week is officially observed during the first week of October. However, the materials are not dated and may be used anytime throughout the year. Over the past several years, an average of 3,500 organizations have participated annually, representing 16.5 million employees per year.