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

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