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May 25, 2016

Improve Workplace Safety With a Smartphone

Smartphones are everywhere today, and while many are used to launch digital birds, post selfies and rate potential suitors, smartphones are also becoming increasingly useful in the arena of workplace safety. Although many workplaces consider cell phone use a safety distraction, others are embracing the technology to promote and improve safety. In fact, smartphones and their associated apps may be the next great innovation in occupational health and safety. Here's a look at some of the ways smartphones are being used to improve workplace safety.

The Safety Voice

Lift with your legs not your backMasons have one of the highest rates of overexertion and back injuries. Research shows that the best way to prevent these injuries is ergonomics. Telling a person to lift with their legs is more than a simple platitude. It is an easy solution to a potentially life-changing tragedy. The safety voice system, known as SAVE, is a smartphone program that gives ergonomic training to workers and then reminds them of the key features on a periodic basis. According to preliminary testing, this simple, mobile-enabled system will reduce workplace injury and the associated employer costs.

May 18, 2016

The 3 Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

Logger felling a tree
There are dangers associated with every occupation. In some jobs you fear spilling your coffee or a meeting that puts you to sleep, in other jobs you fear sinking to the depths of the ocean or getting injured by heavy machinery. 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 (BLS).

1. Loggers

Always in the top three of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., logging took the number one spot in the 2014 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) with a fatal work injury rate of 109.5 for every 10,000 full-time equivalent workers - a total of 77 fatalities in 2014. The logging industry is responsible for cutting down and trimming trees, usually in remote places, for sale and transport all over the world. As you can imagine, logging has many associated dangers including dealing with chainsaws and heavy cutting equipment, massive trees falling, sliding and rolling with unstoppable momentum and working in remote and difficult terrain under inclement weather. As a result, many laws and regulations have been placed on the industry to improve safety in the workplace. To continue keeping their employees safe, logging companies should provide safety tech such as satellite phones with SOS and GPS functions to be used in the case of emergencies.

2. Commercial Fishing Workers

The commercial fishing industry is the second-most dangerous job industry in the U.S with a fatal work injury rate of 80.8 and 22 fatal work injuries in 2014. Providing the U.S. and parts of the rest of the world with fish to enrich their diets is not an easy task, nor a safe one.

May 17, 2016

Follow These 5 Steps for Effective Safety Conversations

Anyone can conduct an effective safety conversation to promote learning and improvement. The key is to start with a caring attitude and a goal of collaboration with employees to seek their commitment to safety - not an attempt to simply criticize, correct and control them.

This concept of effective organizational conversations is not new, but David Galloway, of Continuous MILE Consulting, has written an article for EHS Today that applies these concepts to workplace safety talks. The goal is to generate conversations that enable coaching and collaboration that can improve the safety culture in your workplace. The framework can be used after an incident or proactively to help identify risks that can cause problems. Here a brief overview of the essential five steps:

1. Frame the Conversation

Framing a conversation with care and concern will make it clear that you need the employee’s help and will encourage him or her to participate. Ask questions in non-threatening ways, such as: “Can you help me?", “What is the major risk?” or “What mistakes could be made?”

2. Listen for Influences

Your challenge is to find out why it made sense to the employee to take an unnecessary risk. These include: perceptions, habits, obstacles and barriers. In a

May 12, 2016

OSHA Requires Electronic Reporting to Create Public Injury Database

Report all injuries immediately
OSHA just issued a final rule to revise its Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation. The final rule requires employers in certain industries to electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness data that employers are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations. The frequency and content of these establishment-specific submissions is set out in the final rule and varies with the size and industry of the employer

OSHA intends to post the data from these submissions on a publicly accessible Web site, but without information that could be used to identify individual employees.

To ensure the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee's right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting. This aspect of the rule targets employer programs and policies that, while nominally promoting safety, have the effect of discouraging workers from reporting injuries.

May 10, 2016

Monitor Leading and Lagging Indicators to Prevent Workplace Accidents

An article in the current CCOHS Health and Safety Report promotes the use of leading and lagging indicators to measure safety performance as an effective way to prevent workplace incidents.

"This process involves measuring both your bottom line safety results and how well your workplace is doing at accident and incident prevention.  By controlling leading indicators, such as the amount of safety training you provide, you will control your lagging indicators, such as your injury rate," says CCOHS.

Lagging indicators, such as injury frequency and severity and lost workdays, are the traditional method of measuring health and safety performance. They give a picture of the past effectiveness of your workplace health and safety program, but they don't show how well your company is preventing incidents and accidents. And many workplaces have too few injuries to be able to distinguish real trends from random occurrences.

Leading indicators are predictive measures that can help identify and eliminate risks and hazards that could cause incidents and injuries. Examples include: percentage of managers and workers with occupational health and safety training, the frequency of health and safety meetings, ergonomic assessments and safety audits. Leading indicators focus on future safety performance, continuous improvement and injury prevention. They can help identify factors affecting the risk of injury.

Use both together to gain a "big picture" view of what is and isn't working in your safety program.

May 9, 2016

Focus on Eye Safety During Healthy Vision Month in May

wear eye protection
Every day some 2,000 US workers receive medical treatment because of eye injuries sustained at work. Common causes include: small particles or objects striking the eye, blunt force trauma, chemical burns, and thermal burns. Some workers are at an additional risk of exposure to infectious disease transmissible through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of exposure to droplets of blood and other body fluids or other contact.

To help workers and their employers improve eye safety in the workplace and at home, NIOSH has partnered with the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI) to promote Healthy Vision Month. The organizations have produced a variety of materials to help employers and employees take important steps to protect their vision, including a free Healthy Vision Month toolkit, videos, posters, infocards and infographics at the Healthy Vision Month website.

"While workers have a vested interest in safeguarding their eyes, employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to keep workers safe from hazards, including those that may impact vision," said NIOSH in a recent blog post.

Workplace injury is a leading cause of eye trauma, vision loss, disability, and blindness. But flying debris and dust are not the only common workplace eye hazards. Poorly organized, designed or maintained workplaces can put workers at risk of

May 2, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $2.7 Million in April 2016

Federal OSHA announced details of 17 major fines in April with proposed penalties of $2.67 million. Repeat fall hazard violations by construction and roofing contractors were common citations, along with machine guarding hazards at manufacturing sites. Here are some details of the top citations reported, which may still be pending final decisions:

$385,000 for continuing to ignore dangers at Pennsylvania and Delaware construction sites

A residential construction contractor with projects in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has been cited for two willful, nine repeat, eight serious and one other-than-serious violations in recent inspections. The company has failed 21 of 27 federal safety inspections in 12 months, primarily for fall hazards. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $789,536 for violations in 20 of those inspections. A more recent inspection added $106,470 in fines.

OSHA cited fall hazards on scaffold platforms and a lack of training for those hazards, failure to provide and use fall protection, and failure to inspect the jobsite for fall and fire-related hazards. Other recent citations included:

  • Failure to provide and use proper ladders to access a work area
  • Failure to provide fire extinguishers
  • Failure to provide covers over holes located 6 feet above the lower floor
  • Failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program