A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from

March 20, 2017

Job Safety Analysis is First Step to Worksite Safety - and More

Entering construction zone
Employees on a construction site don't work in a vacuum. Even when they perform duties in separate areas, their tasks and timelines may cross over one another. Keeping everyone safe - and the job progressing - requires cooperation and careful planning.

A critical first step in planning is the job safety analysis, which is a formal effort to identify and document hazards associated with specific tasks, so workers can take the proper actions to protect themselves.

The safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis have penned an interesting article that defines when, where and how to develop a job safety analysis (JSA - and also know by other names). Here are some key points:

  • The JSA is not just a duty for the site supervisor. It’s everyone’s responsibility, from management to on-site workers who are most aware of potential hazards.
  • JSAs are not necessarily required for all tasks. No need to duplicate SOPs already in place.
  • Communication is critical so everyone understands why JSAs are important.
  • Documentation is key to accountability.

In addition to addressing safety issues, the JSA process can also enhance coordination between trades. Who doesn't need that?

Learn more:

OSHA's 'Safe and Sound' Campaign Helps Employers Keep Workplaces Safe and Healthy

America works safely 365 days with no accidents
In response to recent workplace fatalities, OSHA has launched the Safe and Sound Campaign calling on employers to review their safety and health programs to protect workers and reduce workplace injuries and deaths. By identifying and controlling job-related hazards that can lead to injuries and illnesses, businesses can improve their safety and health programs, save money and improve competitiveness. 

The program includes recommended practices for setting up a safety and health program, as well as Safe+Sound Week in June - a nationwide event to raise awareness and understanding of the value of proactive safety and health programs in workplaces.

A Proven Approach to Safety

Employers have proven that safety and health programs reduce the numbers of injuries and illnesses, and improve their bottom line. While there are different approaches, effective safety and health programs have three core elements:

  • Management leadership. Top management commits to establishing, maintaining, and continually improving the program, and provides any necessary resources.
  • Worker participation. Effective programs involve workers in identifying solutions. Improved worker engagement is linked to better productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better worker retention.
  • A systematic find-and-fix approach. All effective programs are centered around a proactive process of finding and fixing hazards before they can cause injury or illness.

The idea is to begin with a basic program and simple goals and grow from there. If employers focus on achieving goals, monitoring performance and evaluating outcomes, their workplace can progress along the path to higher levels of safety and health achievement.

Easy to Get Started
This job-site is a no-accident zone

OSHA says that creating a safety and health program doesn't have to be complicated or demand outside consultants be employed; there are some simple, do-it-yourself steps to get started.

"We don't want businesses, especially small ones, to believe they cannot afford to protect their workers," said an OSHA administrator from Kansas City. "OSHA provides good safety information and will work with employers to help them comply with safety and health standards." Companies can contact OSHA by phone for assistance in achieving safety compliance.

OSHA's Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs page offers practical advice on how any organization can integrate safety and health programs. Resources and tools include:

  • Communication and Coordination
  • Education and Training
  • Hazard Identification and Assessment
  • Hazard Prevention and Control
  • Management Leadership
  • Program Evaluation and Improvement
  • Worker Participation

OSHA also offers compliance assistance, tips, educational materials, training and other information on how to prevent illness and injury - all at no charge.

Free OSHA Consultation for Smaller Businesses

Each state has its own On-site Consultation Program. This free and confidential safety and health consultation program is primarily targeted toward smaller businesses. Employers can find out about potential hazards at their workplace, improve programs already in place and qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

OSHA initiated 12 fatality inspections in recent months and found a significant increase in fatalities associated with confined space entry and trenching and excavating. Fatalities involving workers being struck by motor vehicles also doubled from two to four persons for the same time period.

Learn more:

March 8, 2017

Study: Young Construction Workers Disregard Hearing Protection

Ear protection required
A recent workplace safety study shows that young construction workers commonly disregard hearing protection that could prevent noise-induced hearing loss later in life. Among young Canadian construction workers, 24 per cent reported not wearing hearing protection, compared to 13 per cent of workers over the age of 50 and 11 per cent of workers in all other age groups. They are also less likely to wear hearing protection compared to young workers in other industries, such as manufacturing and primary resources.

These are results from a 2016 study by WorkSafe BC in British Columbia. Data was collected in 2016 from more than 160,000 hearing tests. Hearing loss can go unnoticed by a worker for years or even decades after the initial exposure or series of exposures. Since 2006 there have been more than 37,000 accepted claims for noise-induced hearing-loss in B.C. In the U.S., an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers' compensation for hearing loss disability.

Because construction sites are so noisy, OSHA has issued specific hearing standards for construction. OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace, based on a worker's time weighted average over an 8 hour day. OSHA's noise permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that all worker exposures to noise should be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize occupational noise induced hearing loss. NIOSH has found that significant noise-induced hearing loss occurs at the exposure levels equivalent to the OSHA PEL.

Noise may be a problem in your workplace if:

  • You hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • You have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm's length away.
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.

Learn more:

March 2, 2017

Prevent Work Area Accidents and Injuries with Critical Safety Equipment

If you work in construction, you already know the importance of having a safe work environment. In addition to keeping your workers injury-free, having the right safety equipment on hand reduces the risk of liability and keeps projects going on schedule. In order to be sure that your workers stay safe, the following safety equipment and gear should be part of your workplace:

Foot hazard Steel toe shoes required

Choose Rugged Work Clothing

To keep your employees’ bodies protected, they must come to work in tough and high-quality work clothing. A very popular brand is Carhartt. Carhartt offers a wide selection of clothing, including workboots, pants, shirts and outerwear that will stand up to tough working conditions. Most items have plenty of pockets for storing work tools and other gear.

Post Safety Signs

Hot work area
Another effective way to keep your employees safe while on the job — that is also easy and affordable — is post all required safety signs. This will also keep any visitors (and inspectors) to the site safe and alert them to what you are doing. For example, if your team is soldering, welding or doing other “hot work,” purchase and post “Caution Hot Work Area” signs. Compliance signs that remind workers to be careful when on a ladder are also helpful, as are basic workplace “housekeeping” reminders to put things back in their correct locations. This can help keep your team safe from tripping over buckets, tools and other equipment that was used and then left on the floor.

Provide Personal Protective Equipment

hard hat and safety glasses required
OSHA has a handy list of the different types of construction personal protective equipment (PPE) that workers need; this includes safety glasses or face shields that are used when anything can fly into the eye — for example, when grinding, welding or cutting. Workers should also wear slip-resistant work shoes or boots with tough soles that resist punctures and, depending on what they are doing, offer hand and head protection. While these are all definitely important and required types of PPE, it can be challenging to ensure that your hard-working team will actually follow through and use them. PPE safety signs will help, but you can get more creative. For example, if your team is working outside in the summer heat and their safety goggles fog up, think outside of the PPE box and devise ways to make sure those goggles stay on. For example, spring for fog-proof goggles, let your team wear cooling headgear and bandanas and give them more breaks and access to plenty of cool beverages.

Prevent Falls

Fall protection required
While you don’t want anyone stumbling over or onto sharp equipment on the floor, you also want to be sure your team doesn’t fall from scaffolding or ladders. Construct Connect advises employers to educate your workers on all of the potential places they can fall, and provide them with fall protection systems that will keep them safe when working or walking on surfaces that are six feet or higher off the ground. These can include safety net systems, personal fall arrest gear and guardrails.