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A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ComplianceSigns.com ®

December 28, 2016

Top Safety Tip of 2016: 5 Extension Cord Rules for a Safer Worksite

Electrical-related injuries are the second-leading cause of death in construction, so electrical safety should be a hot topic for anyone working at construction sites. These simple rules can make a difference with very little effort. 

This tip generated the most views and shares of any tip we shared this year.

Read more here.


December 22, 2016

State & Federal Labor Law Posters Available Soon

Very soon you'll be able to buy labor law posters from the same source you trust for top-quality safety and office signs: ComplianceSigns.com. Our colorful, easy-to-read labor law posters will display all mandatory federal and state labor / employment notices for private industry or non-government entities.

All our posters have been reviewed by a licensed attorney. We've done the research so you can buy with confidence. We'll send our customers a notice after the holidays when they're available, but you can contact us if you'd like to be notified immediately.


December 21, 2016

December 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

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

BLS: Fatal Work Injuries Increased Slightly in 2015
A total of 4,836 fatal work injuries were recorded in the U.S. during 2015, a slight increase from the 4,821 reported in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Key findings include:
  • The overall rate of fatal work injury for workers in 2015, at 3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, was lower than the 2014 rate of 3.43.
  • Hispanic or Latino workers incurred 903 fatal injuries in 2015—the most since 937 fatalities in 2007.
  • Workers age 65 years and older incurred 650 fatal injuries, down from 684 in 2014.
  • Roadway incident fatalities were up 9 percent from 2014 totals, accounting for over one-fourth of fatal occupational injuries in 2015.
  • Read more.
DOL Announces Final Rule to Help Diversify Workforce and Apprentice Programs
The Department of Labor has issued a final rule that updates equal opportunity requirements, hoping to broaden career opportunities in apprenticeships for under-represented groups. The rule extends protections against discrimination to include age, disability, genetic information and sexual orientation. It also simplifies the process of ensuring compliance. Read more.

Mobile App Helps Identify Air Quality Issues

December 16, 2016

Top 10 Workplace Safety Articles of 2016

365 days with zero accidents
These 10 articles from 2016 generated the most interest in our Connection newsletter and here on our workplace safety blog this year. We do our best to keep you up-to-date on new rules, tools and tips that can help keep your workplace safe and in compliance. All these items are worth a second look.

The 3 Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

Certain jobs simply have more risk and danger associated with them then others. Here are the three most dangerous jobs in the United States, according to data gathered in 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read more.

5 Top Workplace Tool Safety Tips

Power tools and workshop equipment send nearly 400,000 Americans to the emergency room every year, cause nearly 200 deaths and cost $15.4 billion in medical costs annually. Here are five top workplace tool safety tips recommended by OSHA to help reduce injuries. Read more.

Staying Safe in Extreme Workplaces and Conditions

Many workers perform their daily job activities in dangerous environments and situations, including fire fighting, deep sea fishing and logging. This post discusses some new technologies that can help keep workers safe in extreme conditions. Read more.

December 15, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Total $2.3 Million in November 2016

In November, Federal OSHA investigators released information on 12 enforcement activities with proposed fines of $100,000 or more. These major fines totaled nearly $2.3 million. Fall protection and machine guards were common citations again this month. Here's some details on the top five fines. Many are still pending final decisions.

 

$526,633 and SVEP following a fatal engulfment at a Nebraska grain bin

Warning suffocation hazard
Working to clear crusted corn from the sides of a grain bin, an employee became engulfed after the wall of corn collapsed and buried him. Rescued by emergency crews, he died of his injuries two days later. OSHA investigators found multiple violations of grain handling standards at Prinz Grain & Feed's facility in West Point. The agency has placed Prinz in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after finding the company failed to:
  • Issue confined space permits for entry into grain bins and pits
  • Test atmospheric conditions in grain bins and pits before allowing workers to enter
  • Provide training to employees on confined space entry

December 8, 2016

OSHA issues recommended practices to promote workplace safety and health programs in construction

Safety and health programs in construction
OSHA just issued Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction to help industry employers develop proactive programs to keep their workplaces safe. The recommendations may be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized contractors who lack safety and health specialists on staff.

The recommended practices reflect current conditions in the construction industry, including:
  • New construction techniques, materials, and equipment
  • Greater diversity in the construction workforce
  • An aging workforce
  • Increased temporary and contract employment

"The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable," said OSHA head Dr. David Michaels.

Contractors can create a safety and health program using a number of simple steps that include: 
  • Training workers how to identify and control hazards
  • Inspecting jobsites with workers to identify problems with equipment and materials
  • Developing responses to possible emergency scenarios in advance

December 1, 2016

Winter Weather Brings Mine Safety Hazards - and Inspections

Mine safety signs and labels
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued its annual Winter Alert message, reminding mine operators and miners to pay special attention to seasonal changes that may affect both surface and underground work environments. A number of major U.S. mine disasters have occurred during the winter months, according to MSHA's posted data.

Inspection and Information Campaign Underway


The agency has initiated a campaign – which runs through March 2017 – to emphasize increased vigilance and adherence to safety principles during the colder months. 

Federal inspectors issued 130 citations and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at 10 coal mines and five metal and nonmetal mines in October 2016.

This year’s campaign theme, “Make Safety A Hole In One,” focuses on the prevention of coal mine explosions, stressing mine examinations, proper ventilation and rock dusting. It also addresses hazards specific to surface facilities and preparation plants.

November 21, 2016

OSHA Issues Major Fines Totaling $3.2 Million in October 2016

Federal OSHA investigators released information on 29 enforcement activities in October, with 16 of those cases carrying proposed fines of $100,000 or more. These major fines totaled nearly $3.2 million. Fall protection and machine guards were common citations. Here's some details on nine fines that topped $200,000. Many are still pending final decisions.


$359,878 for repeat fall hazards at a Florida framing contractor

OSHA inspectors observed employees of Panama City Framing unprotected from falls as they installed truss framing at a residence. OSHA cited two willful citations for the employer's failure to protect workers with a fall protection system when working at heights up to 22 feet, and for not having a roof access ladder for employees to access the roof trusses. Repeat violations included allowing workers to use powered nail guns without eye protection and failing to ensure employees were wearing head protection. The employer has been cited four times since 2012 for lack of fall, eye and head protection. Read more here.


$317,814 for repeat serious hazards at a Georgia textile and plastic recycler


Wearables: Workplace Safety Is Finally Within Reach

fire fighters in smokey building
When wearable tech starting making its debut, it was mostly viewed in the context of luxury. If you wanted to be hyper-connected to your email or were looking for a fancy way to track calories, a wearable device seemed like your answer. But as technology progresses, businesses have discovered plentiful opportunities to turn this concept into something that can be health altering — and even life saving. Here’s a look at some of the ways that wearables are improving workplace safety and minimizing risk for today’s workers.

Awareness for Increased Wellness


It probably comes as no surprise that the most well known wearables are from Apple, including the new Apple Sport Watch. But while this device is known for its elaborate extras, like the ambient light sensor and retina display, some of its best features are related to monitoring health. This lightweight, low-cost, durable watch offers a highly accurate heart rate sensor that can help users stay on top of their heart health. One user even detailed his story about recognizing a serious health problem while at work, thanks to the information he received from his Apple watch. Office jobs are usually not associated with health risks, but this is a good reminder that a wearable like this can help alert office workers to health conditions that may not be related to their jobs, but may still strike while on the job.

Firefighters and Emergency Responders


November 17, 2016

7 Million Employers Impacted by Final OSHA Rule Updating Walking-working Surfaces Standards

Fall Protection Required
OSHA today issued a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip and fall hazards. OSHA estimates the final standard will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually. The rule becomes effective on Jan. 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites. 

The new rule includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems. It allows employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. 

New Workplace Safety Publications from OSHA

OSHA produces a variety of publications that address workplace health and safety topics. They include compliance guides, fact sheets, QuickCards and other formats designed to help employers better understand everything from aerial lifts and brownfield site cleanup to Zika and zip-line safety. 

Here's a list of OSHA publications added this year, with links to their pdf files:


More Resources:

 



November 9, 2016

BLS Reports Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Declined in 2015

Some 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2015, which occurred at a rate of 3.0 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 2015 rate continues a pattern of declines that, apart from 2012, occurred annually for the last 13 years.

Private industry employers reported nearly 48,000 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2015 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). Because of this decline, combined with an increase in reported hours worked, the total recordable cases (TRC) incidence rate fell 0.2 cases per 100 full-time workers. The fall in the TRC rate was driven by a decline in the rate of cases involving days away from work (DAFW) and other recordable cases (ORC)—each falling 0.1 cases—as the rate for cases of job transfer or restriction only (DJTR) has remained at 0.7 cases since 2011.

Private Industry

Six of the 19 private industry sectors reported a decline in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2015: mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; health care and social assistance; and accommodation and food services. Manufacturing continued an 18-year trend as the only private industry sector in which the rate of DJTR cases exceeded the rate of

OSHA Delays Anti-retaliation Enforcement to December 1

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has agreed to further delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its injury and illness tracking rule until Dec. 1, 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requested the delay to allow additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.
The anti-retaliation provisions were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 10, 2016, but were previously delayed until Nov. 1 to allow time for outreach to the regulated community.

Under the rule, employers are required to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and incorporate the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

October 20, 2016

October 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

Here's a collection of safety-related news this month:

OSHA Top 10 Violations of 2016


OSHA has announced the preliminary Top 10 most-frequently-cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2016. If these look familiar, it's because all 10 were on the 2015 OSHA top 10 list, too. The preliminary Top 10 for FY 2016* are:
  1.   Fall Protection, 1926.501 (C) - 6,929
  2.   Hazard Communication, 1910.1200 - 5,677
  3.   Scaffolds, 1926.451 (C) - 3,906
  4.   Respiratory Protection, 1910.134 - 3,585
  5.   Lockout/Tagout, 1910.147 - 3,414
  6.   Powered Industrial Trucks, 1910.178 - 2,860
  7.   Ladders, 1926.1053 (C) - 2,639
  8.   Machine Guarding, 1910.212 - 2,451
  9.   Electrical Wiring, 1910.305 - 1,940
  10.   Electrical, General Requirements, 1910.303 - 1,704
*Preliminary figures as of Sept. 30, 2016.


OSHA Proposes Rule to Improve Standards

Load Limit __ lbs.Federal OSHA is proposing 18 changes to the agency's recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards as part of an effort to revise provisions that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary. OSHA says the proposed changes will modernize OSHA standards, help employers better understand their responsibilities, increase compliance and reduce compliance costs. OSHA estimates the revisions would save employers $3.2 million per year. Revision areas range from lockout/tagout to PELs and load limit postings. Review the proposed changes.

Case Study Addresses Temp Worker Safety Issues

October 17, 2016

Grain Bin Safety Tips to Protect Workers

STOP shut off and lock out all moving equipment
It's harvest time, and that means more activity at grain bins and facilities across the country. Sadly, experienced workers have already lost their lives in grain bins incidents this year. Grain handling is a high hazard activity where workers can be exposed to numerous serious and life threatening hazards. These hazards include: fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

"Far too many preventable incidents continue to occur in the grain-handling industry," said Kim Stille, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City. "Every employee working in the grain industry must be trained on grain-handling hazards and given the tools to ensure they do not enter a bin or silo without required safety equipment. They must also take all necessary precautions - this includes using lifelines, testing the atmosphere inside a bin and turning off and locking out all powered equipment to prevent restarting before entering grain storage structures."

The control of worker's exposure to hazards in grain handling facilities are addressed in the OSHA standard for grain handling facilities (29 CFR 1910.272), as well as in other general industry standards. These standards reduce the risk to workers by requiring that employers follow established, common sense safety practices when working in grain handling facilities. 


Here are some grain handling safety facts and tips from OSHA and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition to help keep workers safe.

OSHA Issues $4.7 Million of Major Fines in September 2016

Keep guards in place
Federal OSHA investigators issued $4.7 million in 23 major fines in September, up from $3.7 million in August. Fall protection, machine guarding and lockout/tagout citations were common, and Dollar General stores make the list once again. Here are some details of the top citations (over $100,000) reported in September, which may still be pending final decisions:

$704,000 and SVEP for fall, amputation, electrocution and other hazards at a Georgia auto parts plant
Acting on a complaint and as part of the Regional Emphasis Program on Safety Hazards in the Auto Parts Industry, OSHA inspected HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. and cited the company and a staffing agency it employs with 24 safety violations. The staffing agency had approximately 300 temporary employees assigned at the time of the inspection. OSHA issued 12 repeat citations for failure to:
  • Develop, implement and utilize written procedures to prevent machinery from starting-up during maintenance or servicing.
  • Conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedures at least annually.
  • Train employees performing work on hazardous energy sources.
  • Protect employees from thermal skin burns due to contact with hot metallic surfaces.
  • Ensure the repair or replacement of electrical equipment for safe operational condition.
  • Protect workers from laceration and amputation hazards due to unguarded machine parts.
Inspectors also cited eight serious violations for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing electrical protective equipment and failing to train workers about electrical hazards related to their activities. Four serious citations were issued for exposing workers to fall hazards, not providing training on hazardous energy sources, exposing employees to amputation, laceration and electrical live parts. Citations for the two companies can be viewed here and here.

October 13, 2016

NIOSH Lists 34 New Drugs That Pose Risks to Health Workers

Biohazard Infectious materials used in this work area
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released its 2016 list of hazardous drugs in healthcare settings, updating the list to include 34 additional drugs. Health workers who prepare or give these drugs to patients, as well as support staff, may face individual health risks when exposed to the drugs.

NIOSH estimates 8 million U.S. healthcare workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs in the workplace. The new document, NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2016, is the latest version of the hazardous drug list first published by NIOSH in 2004 as an appendix to the document, NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. 

September 28, 2016

Workplace Road Safety News

How am I driving? Call ___

RoadRISK® Assessment Tool Free with DSWW Kit


The RoadRISK® proactive driver risk assessment is designed to help drivers assess their probability of being involved in an incident or collision. The tool is available as part of a free, comprehensive online toolkit employers can download for Drive Safely Work Week™ 2016 at trafficsafety.org. The toolkit is designed to help employers plan for the annual workplace safe driving campaign that takes place October 3-7 and is targeted to all employees-company drivers and commuters alike. The eDriving RoadRISK assessment is highlighted as a recommended campaign activity to engage employees and to kick off the first of five themed days.

NIOSH Launches Business Pulse: Motor Vehicle Safety at Work

NIOSH recently worked with the CDC Foundation to launch Business Pulse: Motor Vehicle Safety at Work. This interactive resource can help employers prevent work-related crashes by providing them with information on the human and economic impact of workplace crashes, policy checklists, and more. Crashes remain the leading cause of injury death at work. Crash risk affects workers in all industries and occupations, whether they drive heavy or light vehicles, and whether driving is their main or incidental job. In addition to having a devastating impact on workers and their families, friends, and communities, workplace crashes are costly. In 2013 alone, on-the-job motor vehicle crashes cost U.S. employers $25 billion. Motor vehicle crashes are complex events, so preventing them demands a multi-pronged approach. Learn more about best employer practices and policies to keep workers safe on the road in a new Q&A.

September 20, 2016

September 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

Here's a collection of safety-related news this month:

Free Toolkit for Drive Safely Work Week October 3-7

NETS, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, is conducting its 20th Drive Safely Work Week™ (DSWW) early next month. The 2016 theme is "Drowsy, Distracted or Focused... Your Decisions Drive Your Safety." Employers can preview and download the free campaign toolkit at www.trafficsafety.org.

Two New OSHA Bulletins Address the Responsibility of Employers to Protect Temp Workers

certified forklift operators onlyOSHA has issued two new bulletins in its series of guidance documents developed under the agency’s Temporary Worker Initiative. This initiative focuses on compliance with safety and health requirements when temporary workers are employed under the joint employment of a staffing agency and a host employer. The bulletins address bloodborne pathogens and powered industrial truck training. Both documents emphasize that temporary workers are entitled to the same protections under the OSH Act as all other covered workers and that the host employer and staffing agency are responsible for determining the conditions of employment and complying with the law.

FAA Commercial Drone Rules Now In Effect

The first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of drones have been implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration. The new rules – formally known as Part 107 – are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground. Users can operate their unmanned aircraft in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace without air traffic control permission. Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace need air traffic approval. The agency is offering a process to waive some of the rule’s restrictions. Read a summary of the new rules. (pdf).

September 19, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $3.7 Million in August 2016

Federal OSHA investigators issued $3.7 million in 18 major fines in August. Chemical exposures, machine guarding and fall protection were among common hazards. The top fine involved lead exposure hazards at a Wisconsin shipyard. Here are some details of the top citations (over $100,000) reported in August, which may still be pending final decisions:

$1.39 million and SVEP for lead exposure up to 20x the limit at a Wisconsin shipyard

Lead renovation work area
OSHA inspectors found Fraser Shipyards Inc. overexposed workers to lead during the retrofitting of a ship's engine room, where 14 workers had lead levels up to 20 times the exposure limit, as well as other heavy metals. OSHA cited 14 willful egregious health violations for each instance of overexposing a worker to lead, and also cited five additional willful violations for failing to conduct monitoring to assess employee exposure to lead, failing to implement a lead compliance program or a respiratory protection program for lead and for failing to provide training on lead and asbestos hazards.

Inspectors also issued 10 serious violations and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failing to address safety and health hazards. OSHA opened the health inspection after receiving multiple complaints of unsafe working conditions. The agency determined company management knew of the presence of lead and asbestos throughout the vessel. OSHA found workers were exposed to iron oxide, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, cadmium and lead hazards while performing torch-cutting and welding procedures because the company failed to provide adequate respiratory and personal protective equipment to limit their exposure to these harmful substances. Fraser also failed to conduct required medical evaluations and exposure monitoring for employees, in addition to other violations.
OSHA previously cited the company for asbestos hazards in 2000 and for multiple lead violations in 1993. View current citations here.

$320,000 for willful violations following a fatal fall at an Illinois shipping facility

September 16, 2016

Plan for Communication in Emergencies

report to evacuation area ___
Your business probably has an emergency response plan. (If not, you should prepare one now!) You may even practice emergency evacuations and have designated assembly areas complete with muster point signs. But when a disaster is real, employees will have many uncertainties. Sure, everyone is out of the building, but what happens next?

This is the topic of an informative article published in the September Occupational Safety & Health magazine. This post will recap highlights of the article, with some additional information and resource links to help you develop your own emergency plans.


Beyond immediate evacuation plans, employers need a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to guide what happens in the days and weeks after an emergency. This is not the same as emergency action plans required by OSHA, EPA and other governing agencies. A thorough BCP covers everything from replacing buildings and relocating call centers or production lines to cybersecurity, temporary shelters and restocking office supplies.

OSHA & Health Canada Plan Workplace Chemical Label System

GHS pictogram chart
OSHA and Health Canada have jointly developed a 2016-2017 Workplace Chemicals Work Plan. The purpose of the work plan is to ensure that current and future requirements for classifying and communicating the hazards of workplace chemicals will be acceptable in the United States and Canada without reducing worker safety.

The work plan involves activities that support:
  • Developing materials to assist stakeholders with implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling (GHS) and understanding the interpretation of technical issues and requirements in Canada and the U.S.
  • Coordinating opinions on issues that arise from international discussions on the GHS
  • Maintaining alignment between the U.S. and Canadian requirements for implementing the GHS when revisions are made

September 7, 2016

3 Ways to Take Employee Defensive Driving to the Next Level and Beyond

Am I a safe driver? if not, please call__
As an employer, how do you keep your employees and fleet of vehicles safe on the road? Shockingly, someone dies in a vehicle crash every 12 minutes, and every 10 seconds someone is injured in a car-related accident. And, every 5 seconds, there is a crash involving a driver, passenger or pedestrian on our roads.

It's no secret defensive driving and safe driving go hand in hand when it comes to employee safety. Additionally, employers generally bear the costs of injuries and more. In fact, employers pay out $60 billion annually in loss of productivity, medical expenses, legal fees and property damage. However, employers can take action. From defensive driving to critical maintenance, these are the safety tips you should be following.

August 31, 2016

Construction Site Power Line Safety

138KV Overehead power lines 15 ft clearance
Power lines on construction sites pose a serious hazard to workers. A recent article in Canadian Occupational Safety says that in Ontario, 70 percent of power-line contacts in the last 10 years have occurred on construction sites.

They most commonly affect workers operating excavating equipment, but an increasing number of incidents involve dump trucks. Often dump boxes are left up and contact wires, or are raised into overhead lines.

Construction workers on ladders and scaffolds also are at risk of electrical line contact, but direct contact is not needed to create a safety hazard. Simply being close to a high energy line can attract electricity, causing an arc from the line to the object - whether it's a ladder, tool - or a person. When live lines come down, electrical current may flow into the ground creating a pool of electricity in the area. This pool will energize anything it touches, which is why workers should stay inside equipment that has come in contact with a power line.

August 23, 2016

August 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

Here's some safety-related news from around the web this month:


September is National Preparedness Month
Emergency Evacuation Muster Point

September is recognized as National Preparedness Month, a time to recognize the importance of preparing for the types of emergencies we could encounter where we live, work and visit. Ready.gov has a developed a variety of materials, including resources for business preparedness planning and a free communications toolkit you can use to spread the word to employees and your community.


OSHA Launches Noise Safety Challenge

OSHA and NIOSH are challenging inventors and entrepreneurs to help develop a technological solution to workplace noise exposure and related hearing loss. The Hear and Now - Noise Safety Challenge has goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. The competition seeks ideas related to occupational hearing protection. Suggested topics include technology that can: Enhance employer training and improve effective use of hearing protection; Alert workers when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss; Allows workers to hear important alerts or human voices while remaining protected from harmful noise. Get more information here.

Safety Tip: Noise / Hearing Protection for the Workplace

Noise area May cause hearing loss Use proper ear protection
Every year, 22 million workers risk losing their hearing from workplace noise hazards. Hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers' compensation. NIOSH reports that some 10 million US workers incur permanent hearing loss annually. The risk for hearing loss due to noise exposure is especially high among factory and heavy industry workers, transportation workers, military personnel, construction workers, miners, farmers, firefighters, police officers, musicians and even office workers in crowded areas.

If you must shout to be heard by someone standing three feet away, the noise level is probably reaching dangerously high levels - so take precautions. Hearing protection requirements are detailed in OSHA's Occupational Noise Exposure Standard - 29 CFR 1910.95. Section (i) of this standard states, “Employers shall make hearing protectors available to all employees exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels (dB) or greater at no cost to the employees.”

OSHA requires employers to:
  • Provide employees a variety of hearing protectors to choose from
  • Train employees on use and maintenance of hearing protectors
  • Ensure hearing protectors are worn by all employees who meet the requirements of the standard

August 22, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $1.6 Million in July 2016

Federal OSHA investigators issued $1,658,890 in 13 major fines in July. That's quite a drop from the $5.7 million announced in June. Fall protection and machine hazards were among common hazards, but the top fine involved bloodborne pathogen hazards at an Illinois ambulance operation. Here are some details of the top citations (over $100,000) reported in July, which may still be pending final decisions:

$290,100 for bloodborne pathogen risk at an Illinois ambulance service

Warning biohazard
OSHA issued five willful, 16 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to the ambulance service after receiving a complaint alleging violations of OSHA's bloodborne pathogen exposure and various other health and safety standards. OSHA found 14 violations including failures to:
  • Establish an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens
  • Make Hepatitis B vaccination series available to employees
  • Train workers about chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards and precautions
  • Develop an emergency response plan
  • Dispose of, clean or launder contaminated personal protection equipment
  • Develop a respiratory protection program
  • Train workers about the use of hazardous chemicals in their work area
  • Provide injury and illness logs to inspectors within four hours
  • Mark, keep clear and properly light emergency exits
  • Follow electrical safe work places. Investigators found opened breaker panel boxes, extension cords used as fixed wiring, exposed light sockets.
View the current safety citations and health citations. (pdf)

$197,820 for repeat combustible dust, fire, explosion and fall hazards at a New York manufacturer

At a follow-up inspection, OSHA inspectors found the company failed to address combustible dust hazards involving the dust collection system it had agreed to correct. Inspectors also identified new and recurring hazards stemming from failure to:

August 16, 2016

Improve Safety for Overhead Workers - and Those Below

Fall hazards are an obvious safety concern when workers are on scaffolds, ladders or working at heights. But there are other risks as well. The safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis have penned an article that outlines additional "dangers from above" that occur when workers are located above other workers - or with their arms raised above their heads. Here's a recap of key points.

Working Above Other Workers

You can't stop gravity. If someone working above drops an object or debris, it's going to fall on whatever is below - vehicles, equipment or another worker - with the potential for serious damage or injury. Follow these steps to reduce the potential for those accidents, and limit the possible damage.
  • Ensure people working below are aware of work that’s happening above.
  • Mark the area beneath elevated workers with caution tape, barricades or signs that alert workers to the potential for falling objects.

August 3, 2016

FMCSA Warns: E-cigarettes and Commercial Vehicles are a Dangerous Combination

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a Safety Advisory with information for owners and operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) concerning incidents and risks involving possession and use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices [e.g., e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-cigars, e-pipes, e-hookahs, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems]. 

The use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices has resulted in incidents including explosions, serious personal injuries and fires. The explosions regularly involved the ejection of a burning battery case or other components from the device which subsequently ignited nearby flammable or combustible materials. 

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates there have been 25 incidents between 2009 and August 2014. However, news sources place the number of explosions at over 150. A

July 29, 2016

Concealed Carry in the Workplace: Safety Measures, Laws and Best Practices

no concealed weaons allowed
Today, more than ever, gun safety in the workplace is a topic of discussion. The responsibility of employers to ensure the safety of their employees as well as employing at-work gun policies is something that needs to be addressed and taken very seriously. Here's information for employers regarding employees carrying concealed firearms on the job.


Statistically Speaking


Recent tragedies in the U.S. have made workplace safety and gun safety a central focus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2006 to 2010, an average of 551 employees were killed as a result of work-related killings. Further, gun violence accounted for 78 percent of homicides at work.

July 27, 2016

NSC: One in Three US Workers Say Employers Prioritize Productivity Over Safety

Safety protects people Quality protects jobsThe National Safety Council has released survey results showing 33% of the 2,000 employees surveyed across the nation believe safety takes a back seat to productivity at their organizations. The percentage was even higher among employees in high-risk industries. Sixty percent of respondents in the construction industry, and 52% of those working in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, felt safety was less of a priority than finishing tasks. Those industries are first and second when it comes to the number of occupational deaths each year. 


The survey is based on the Council's Employer Perception Surveys. Other key survey findings include:
  • 49% of temporary and contract workers, and 41% of employees working in healthcare settings, said they were afraid to report safety issues.

July 22, 2016

What's New at ComplianceSigns.com


You'll find more than 2,600 new signs and labels at ComplianceSigns.com this month, including:
boiler room not an exit
  • Employee Notice - OSHA, ANSI and other styles on topics that include: Biohazard, Customer Policies, Employees Only, Enter/Exit, Open/Closed/Hours, Restricted Areas Visitors and more.
  • Do Not Enter - A variety of sizes for applications including: Alarm Will Sound, Exits, Explosives, Fire Operation, Restricted Access, Closed Areas and more.
  • Custom Street Name Signs - It's easy to make your own MUTCD-compliant, reflective street name signs in varied styles.
 

July 19, 2016

July 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

OSHA Civil Penalties Rising August 1

In November 2015, Congress required federal agencies to adjust civil penalties to account for inflation, and OSHA has announced that maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Serious and other-than-serious violation penalties, now at $7,000, will rise to $12,471. Willful and repeat, now at $70,000, will rise to $124,709. Failure to abate, now at $7,000 per day, will increase to $12,741 per day. Read more


NIOSH Launches New Mobile App for Pocket Guide on Chemical Hazards

NIOSH has created a new mobile application (app) version of its trusted Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards that can be used on any device with a Web browser. The Pocket Guide gives general industrial hygiene information for hundreds of chemicals/classes and helps users recognize and control workplace chemical hazards. It includes 634 chemical entries and appendices; links to IDLH, NIOSH and OSHA Methods, easy searches and more. Read more about it. 

Major OSHA Fines Top $5 Million in June 2016

Federal OSHA released details of 16 significant fines in June, including a near-record $3.42 million assessment against an Ohio auto parts manufacturer. These top fines totaled some $5.7 million. Unguarded machines were a primary cause of violations. Here's a look at the top OSHA fines announced in June, which may still be pending final decisions:

$3.42 million and SVEP for willful machine hazards at an Ohio auto parts manufacturer 

finger-hand hazard
Investigators inspected a Sunfield Inc. plant after two workers suffered severe injuries in separate incidents. The facility has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. OSHA issued citations for 46 egregious willful, two willful, one repeated and eight serious safety violations with penalties totaling $3,426,900 and placed the company in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards. Most of the violations involve lack of machine safety procedures which expose workers to amputation, lacerations and other injuries. OSHA said the company's leadership failed in its obligation to properly train workers for the jobs they were hired to do, and created a culture that routinely tolerated willful and serious safety violations.

Prior to recent inspections, the company had an extensive history of OSHA violations. The agency has issued 118 citations for numerous machine hazards similar to those cited and resulted in 90 serious, eight willful and five repeated violations to the company, which has repeatedly assured OSHA that it would address the unsafe conditions. The company also ignored its own corporate safety manuals and its safety manager's warnings that workers lacked the training to protect themselves. The agency also found multiple electrical safety violations including lack of personal protective equipment, workers exposed to live electrical parts, and use of damaged equipment. Read details here.

$285,300 for fire hazards, unguarded machine following an amputation at a Pennsylvania manufacturer 

OSHA initiated an inspection after a worker had a finger amputated by a machine. The inspection was also in response to a separate complaint alleging hazards related to the storage and handling of flammable liquids at the cosmetic manufacturer. Citations issues include: improperly stored, transferred and processed flammable liquids; fall and forklift hazards; failure to properly guard a filling machine, which caused the amputation; failure to provide fire extinguisher and flammable liquid training; and failure to develop and implement a written hazard communication program. More details.

July 18, 2016

You Can Improve Workplace Safety Without Going Broke

Teamwork - the best way to prevent accidents
Safety isn’t always top-of-mind for small business owners, yet they sometimes discover the hard way that it doesn’t take many injuries to put a company in real financial peril. Safety pro Phil LaDuke recently shared an article on entrepreneur.com with seven approaches any business owner can adopt to reduce the risk of worker injuries without breaking the bank. Here's a recap:

1. Hire smarter. Carefully screen candidates to ensure that they have the skills and experience it takes to be successful and work safely.

2. Train your staff. Share techniques that can make tasks safer. Counting on common sense to keep workers safe is a recipe for disaster.

3. Demand safe work practices. Accept the fact that there's always time to do things safely, and don't accept unsafe work. If you choose productivity over safety, then you send the wrong message to workers.