As we transition to warmer temperatures, it’s important to revisit your workplace’s Heat Illness Prevention Program to ensure your employees are equipped to combat heat-related stress and illnesses. Heat is the number one cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States despite the fact that most heat-related deaths are preventable.
Average high temperatures have seen a steady increase across the country over the past couple of decades. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anticipates that average temperatures will continue to increase, and heat waves will become more frequent and impactful. This prediction should encourage all businesses to look at how their employees are exposed to high temperatures, and what they can do to accommodate.
Businesses with employees who perform work in moderate to high temperatures or humid conditions, especially where increased heart rate and perspiration are concerned, must be given the necessary tools to recognize, understand, and prevent heat stress illnesses.
Essentially, heat stress prevention comes down to workplace design, employee training, and effective work procedures. Design and procedures will vary greatly depending on geographical location and the type of work being performed. Businesses should keep in mind that heat stress can occur regardless of the time of year, in both outdoor and indoor conditions. Required personal protective equipment (PPE) can also have a significant impact on the body’s ability to expel heat. Workers involved with hazardous waste operations or asbestos removal, for example, are often required to wear impermeable protective equipment which can trap heat close to the body. A thorough risk assessment will help businesses identify risk elements such as these.
A strong working knowledge of how the body regulates heat, and how personal factors can affect that regulation, is an extremely valuable tool in prevention. The human body needs to maintain a core temperature between 96.8 (36) and 100.4 (38) degrees Fahrenheit to function at peak performance. Weather conditions, manual labor, and personal factors can cause the core temperature to increase, which can lead to the development of a series of heat-related illnesses.
To regulate internal temperature, the body uses two basic mechanisms. The first is to increase the heart rate which assists in moving blood and heat away from vital organs to the skin. The second is perspiration, during which the body expels heat in moisture through the pores, which then evaporates and carries heat away in the process. Personal factors, such as acclimatization, caffeine and alcohol consumption, hydration replenishment, general health, age, and certain prescription medications can affect how well these mechanisms work and should be taken into consideration before performing work in high temperatures. Perspiration is the more effective of the two mechanisms, which means that proper hydration to replenish fluids lost as sweat is absolutely essential.
There are four common disorders which surface as a result of heat stress, ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions:
Heat rash is the most common ailment which occurs while working in the heat. It is also called “prickly heat.” Symptoms include red, blotchy, itchy skin, particularly in areas of the body with high perspiration, and a prickling sensation. Rashes which aren’t cleaned thoroughly and frequently may become infected. Moving to a cool environment, cleaning the affected area with cool water, and complete drying are often effective treatments.
Heat cramps occur as a result of salt being lost through perspiration. They are painful muscle spasms causing lumps in the affected muscles, usually the back, legs, and arms. The pain can be severe enough to greatly inhibit movement. Workers should cease activities to tend to cramps as soon as they feel them. Stretching and massaging the affected muscle as well as replacing salt by drinking electrolyte replacement fluids are useful techniques in tending to heat cramps.
Heat exhaustion is a dangerous result of heat stress which can lead to a heat stroke if not treated promptly with first aid. It happens when the body is so overexerted that it cannot supply blood simultaneously to vital organs and the skin for temperature regulations. Inflicted workers may experience weakness, headache, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, faintness, or loss of consciousness. Call 911 and move workers exhibiting these symptoms to a cool place and give them water to drink. Remove any clothing that isn’t necessary and loosen other clothing. Shower or sponge them down with cool water. It will take at least 30 minutes for the body to cool down after experiencing heat exhaustion.
Heat stroke is a disorder which requires immediate medical attention, and can lead rapidly to fatality if not treated quickly. A person experiencing a heat stroke may experience confusion, hot, dry skin, high body temperatures, lack of sweating, irrational behavior, convulsions, and/or a loss of consciousness. Call 911 right away and take the victim to a cool area to immerse or shower them with cool water. Wrap them in wet sheets and fan them until you can transport them to a hospital or an ambulance arrives.
Knowledge can mean the difference between life and death during a critical victimization of heat stress. Workers should understand the nature and symptoms of heat-related illnesses both in a sense of recognizing them in themselves, and when a coworker is suffering. In many cases, a quick and efficient response can save a heat stress victim from numerous long-term effects that would have otherwise occurred had symptoms gone untreated. Proper training and a strong Heat Stress Prevention Program will help protect worker health year round.
One of the most crucial but tricky tasks fleet managers handle is moving oversized, heavy loads to different locations. This job is a very difficult task, and it could be very dangerous to someone lacking the right equipment and training. Hauling heavy, large loads requires the use ofhauling equipment in construction. This process also demands that the proper machinery is controlled by workers who are qualified, the right routes and permits, as well as compliance with set regulations, which vary in each state.
There are several different types of hauling equipment that can be used for building and construction. Some of the most typical types include cranes, bulldozers, forklifts, dump trucks, and excavators, as well as many others.
Cranes possess a tower-like framework that is equipped with pulleys and cables that are used to lower and lift different materials and objects. In construction, cranes are either mounted on a truck or fixed to the ground. In order to operate this type of equipment, it is best to have a qualified operator do so through radio-type controls, or from a control station cab secured to the crane.
The most basic type of crane is a mobile crane, which consists of a steel truss or telescopic boom that is mounted on a mobile platform. The boom can be either raised or lowered by hydraulic cylinders or cables and is hinged at the bottom.
Bulldozers are greatly impressive machines that are supplied with a dozer blade. Due to their size, bulldozers can maintain their functionality in extremely difficult terrains and have fantastic ground mobility. The machine’s wide tracks allow it to divide the dozer’s weight over large areas; which keeps it from sinking into sandy or muddy ground.
A bulldozer’s torque divider abilities and ground hold are made to convert the engine’s power into dragging capabilities, which allows it to use its own weight to move heavy objects and remove others from the ground. Because of these traits, bulldozers are most often used to clear several types of obstacles, such as shrubbery and debris.
This type of construction machinery is also referred to as a forklift truck – a power-packed piece of industrial equipment that’s main function is to transport and lift different objects or materials with the steel forks attached underneath the load. Forklifts are often used to move loads and equipment that are stored in pallets. Made in the 1920s, forklifts have a broad range of load capabilities and are made in several different types. However, the counterbalance is the most typical.
The main intention of dump trucks is moving loose material, such as gravel, sand, and dirt for construction purposes. A traditional dump truck is equipped with a hydraulically controlled open box bed that is hinged at the back of the truck, while the front of the box rises to let the box’s contents fall out easily. There are several other types of dump trucks, such as semi-trailer dump trucks, off-road dump trucks, and transfer dump trucks.
A hydraulic excavator is different from other pieces of equipment, due to the fact that its movements are made through the transfer of hydraulic fluid. Excavators are usually seen in residential areas, specifically when digging plays a massive role in a construction project. Compact excavators have increased in popularity because of their ability to fit nearly anywhere. These machines are also equipped with different attachments, including breakers, augers, compactors, and clamps, which make them an adaptable piece of hauling equipment.
If you would like to learn more about hauling equipment in the construction industry, or require a crane specifically, call the professionals atH Brown, Inc. today.
Photovoltaic (PV) energy systems that take advantage of solar energy are still a small, but rapidly growing energy source in this country. And because of its ability to generate electricity right where it will be used, it will continue to be a popular choice for businesses. Yet, this quality of distributed energy creates more challenges and opportunities for hazards. Traditional power plants are kept behind fences, located far away from the public. But this distributed generation of solar power, puts power plants next to residences and businesses.
With 1,000 volt system on the roofs of many homes, personal solar arrays have some potential for fire and electric shock. They need to be correctly installed and maintained so they don’t catch fire. When incorrectly designed or installed by untrained installers they can cause fires and kill.
In 2009 a PV system at a Target in California caught fire because of an expanding and loose conduit connector that had very long runs of about 400 feet and incorrect expansion joints and pinched conductors that led to an undetected ground fault during construction.
Design failures and poor installation similar to this often make the fire difficult to put out. When an electrician was called to the site to open the fuses, there were no DC disconnects to the roof.
Such high profile incidents have caused the National Electric Code (NEC) to address solar arrays.
Before the 2008 NEC, addressing solar PV was unclear and problematic to interconnect such as bus bar ratings. The 2008 NEC release created a good foundation for this technology.
The 2011 NEC addressed: DC safety through the clearance of conductors below the roof, grouping conductors from separate systems (AC, DC), requiring an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) in the inverter, disconnecting means for replacing fuses, arc-fault detection on rooftops, and 1,000V systems.
Some of the changes in the 2014 NEC include: better ground fault protection, rapid shutdown of the DC system more than 10 feet outside the array, more flexibility of the interconnection point (bus or conductor rating), AFCI everywhere including the AC side, easier implementation of 1,000V systems, greater than 1,000V for non-residential systems, an auxiliary grounding electrode conductor (GEC) for the array, and required grouping of conductors (DC/AC).
This is a constantly evolving technology that will continue to progress and present additional safety hazards and solutions. The next challenge will be storing energy in large batteries so the electricity can better be used when needed.
Workplaces are feeling the effects of both medical and recreational marijuana legalization. These new laws are making it more difficult to discipline someone who tests positive for marijuana. Ambiguous language protects impaired drivers from prosecution and makes it hard for employers to prove impairment at work.
Unlike alcohol, a test that shows level of marijuana impairment is not available. Instead a person can test positive weeks after using marijuana. One alternative approach to simply banning marijuana use as a component of the company drug and alcohol policy is to cover impairment in the safety policy under fitness for duty.
Start off by requiring employees disclose when they start taking any drug that causes impairment when working a safety sensitive job. This can be marijuana or a cold medicine, and the employee doesn’t have to disclose the drug or medical condition.
Be sure to update all job descriptions to define all safety sensitive jobs in compliance, by just listing essential job functions. Have a policy that states when an employee works in a safety sensitive job they should be able to work in a constant state of alertness and in a safe manner, and disclose when they have taken an impairing effect prescription or other substance.
Then the employer has the right to make a fitness for duty determination or send the employee to an occupational doctor for a fitness for duty evaluation with a copy of the job description. If it comes back that they are impaired and didn’t tell you, then you can manage that under your safety policy, and not your drug policy.
Make sure that all employees have a copy of the written company policy and education on drug and alcohol abuse that includes where to get more information. Supervisors need recurrent training on the effects of drugs and alcohol and how to determine reasonable suspicion.
Everybody needs to know the company position on medical and recreational marijuana and other prescription drug use through a consistent and proactive policy that includes appropriate testing.
The strong cultural presence, acceptance and legality of alcohol make it easy to forget what an impact it can have on health. In 2014, according to the World Health Organization, there were over 300,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United States alone, and over 3 million worldwide.
In 2013, over 10,000 people were killed in traffic collisions where alcohol was involved, accounting for 31 percent of all vehicle fatalities. To understand how profoundly drinking alcohol can affect the safety of a workplace, it’s important to learn how it affects the body. When we drink, alcohol’s active ingredient, ethanol, is absorbed into the blood stream and begins to interrupt chemical processes in the brain that ordinarily allow it to function normally. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t actually kill brain cells but rather damages nerve cell endings, which bring messages to the cells, leading to a change in overall brain function.
Typical symptoms of alcohol consumption often include slurred speech, clumsiness, and slowed reflexes, all highly dangerous conditions, especially in situations where hazardous work is concerned. Brain function is only a small area affected by alcohol – it can damage the heart, liver, and pancreas as well, and has been linked to several forms of cancer.
The consumption of alcohol can bring extreme hazards to every workplace environment; however, the associated risks are heightened where hazardous machine operation or vehicle use are required.
Additionally, workers who drink heavily are more likely to work at reduced capacity and call in sick, leading to losses in productivity. Workplace effects are noticeable even when alcohol is consumed by a worker the night before a given work day.
How long can alcohol remain in our system? It can vary, depending on multiple factors: body weight and body fat affect the rate of alcohol absorption. Alcohol can be detected through urine testing and, considering the amount of alcohol ingested, can still be evident up to four days after consumption.
In order to protect workers from the harmful effects of alcohol-related incidents in the workplace, a Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP) with associated training is necessary.
To find out more about how Safety Services Company can help develop a DFWP unique to your business, visit safetyservicescompany.com.
Bringing any third party auditor account to a 100% score can be a daunting and time consuming task. Understanding the 6 Common Questions about ISNetworld® is our way of giving you a piece of free advice and hopefully aid you in effectively maintaining your account. However, we know this requires time, money, and close attention. But the benefits of properly utilizing a third party auditor more than outweigh the cons! Below are the definition of five important terms used by ISNetworld®.
1. What is RAVS®?
RAVS stands for the Review and Verification Services section of your account. This where you are required to upload your safety program. These programs are broken into individual sections that are requested by your client for the type of work you perform. Generally most accounts can have anywhere from 16-40 programs that need to be custom written and submitted for review. These programs have to be written to the specifications set by ISNetworld®, your client, and any other regulatory agency. We are experts at creating these programs and have the most experience with clients on ISNetworld®. With our industry knowledge we customize each program for your company to comply with your ISNetworld® account. Once these programs are submitted the ISNetworld® RAVS® team reviews the programs and verifies that they are in compliance with your client’s requirements. Safety Services Company can take care of all of your RAVS® needs, call our RAVS® Compliance experts now.
2. What is T-RAVS® then?
T-RAVS® is the training portion associated with the Review and Verification Service for ISNetworld® Safety Services Company can help you with your T-RAVS. We can provide you with the forms, guidance on the best way to train your workers, and we upload the documentation to ISNetworld®. Contact us now for a FREE consultation.
3. MSQ® What?
This is very similar to pre-qualification questionnaires some of the many owner clients may have sent you before you started working for them. The MSQ® however is composed of over 2300+ questions that go over your work industry, safety programs, OSHA statistics, DOT, certifications, Drug & Alcohol, and many other components. This Questionnaire is completed to best reflect your business and how it measures up to the standards set by your client. Our industry experts have extensive knowledge in completing these questionnaires based on the types of work you perform. Get Started Now so we work with you to meet you client’s requirements and expectations establishing a well-documented MSQ® that properly reflects your company.
4. How do we train Employees on ISNetworld®?
It is critical that your workers and subcontractors understand the minimum legislative requirements regarding the safety issues in the areas they work. We recommend that the documents to be introduced and discussed in tailgate meetings, safety meetings (both onsite and corporate), during hazard assessments, pre-job and planning meetings, and at every chance you get.ISNetworld® and your upstream clients want to increase the level of safety and decrease the occurrence of accidents. The ISNetworld® RAVS® process is a facilitator to that. Safety Services Company is available to assist you with the field implementation of any new policy, Contact one of our Training Experts today.
5. I received a ISNetworld® Letter?
This suddenly lands in your mailbox: “We are pleased to announce (COMPANY) has recently established a business relationship with ISNetworld® to further enhance our contractor/supplier management program. As a result of this action, contractors/suppliers and their subcontractors performing services for (COMPANY YOU WANT TO KEEP WORKING FOR) are required to become subscribers to ISNetworld®.”
Everyone receives this ISNetworld® Letter if you are being requested to join because of a client. We know there can be many questions as to why you received this letter and what happens from here. After receiving your ISNetworld® Letter we are here to help you through the process of getting ISNetworld® compliant!
6. How fast can you get me compliant with ISNetworld®?
If you would do all of the ISNetworld® compliance by yourself we highly recommend hiring a full-time employee to take care of it, alternative you can take advantage of Safety Services Companies Compliance Service Specialists that are trained to maintain your ISNetworld® account for you 24/7 saving you time, money and resources.
Why let your account deteriorate and bring you unnecessary stress when you can utilize it to its fullest potential and bring in exponentially increased revenue? Use your account to its full capacity – be safe, and make more money!
*Safety Services Company is an independently owned company, specializing in compliance with Third-Party Prequalification Providers such as ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, Avetta®/PICS®, Complyworks® and CQN®. Safety Services Company is in no way sponsored or affiliated with ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, or Avetta®/PICS Auditing®. ISN®, ISNetworld®, RAVS® , SSQ®, PQF® are registered trademarks of ISN Software Corporation®, PEC Premier®, and Avetta®/PICS Auditing®.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were over 200,000 cases involving falls, slips, trips in 2012, and that’s not counting the ones that went unreported.
Many safety professional believe that these accidents are among the most under reported incidents. If you add in the slip or trip injuries that are reported incorrectly because they resulted in strains and sprains or are “bodily reaction” (a slip/trip/balance issue that didn’t result in impact)?
This issue affects companies worldwide. A 2013-14 report from Great Britain estimated that falls and slips & trips accounted for over a third of all employee injuries
The level of these injuries has been holding steady over the last few years, and even with best engineering and administrative controls, PPE, and training the number don’t change much.
Perhaps it’s time to consider another option, instead of focusing on what happened and who is responsible; it’s time to examine “why did it happen?”
There are studies indicating that mental factors can cause accidents. Attention lapses and distractions may account for many of these incidents.
A noted psychologist sees attention as having two dimensions: width and direction. Width means what you see and/or hear or smell or feel can be too broad or too fine. Direction refers to where you focus, either internally (proper procedures, a chronic pain in part of body, etc.) or externally (your surrounding or environment). We may so focused on our task that we fail to see that we could have walked around that slippery area, or are trying to be so externally aware that we didn’t notice we were holding our breath when walking on a slippery surface.
When you combine the estimate that 90 percent of the brain’s energy output is used for maintaining balance in space with other factors, it becomes easier to understand the even the most conscientious workers can become distracted.
The primary contributing factors most often cited are fatigue, stress, and age.
If workers are pushed, or pushes themselves too hard to keep up with their workload, physical and mental exhaustion can result. This can lead to impaired judgment, slower reflexes, a delayed response to emergencies, and inattention to details and instructions.
Job security, finances, health, and anxiety about personal issues can all increase a workers stress. When employees are distracted by real or perceived threats, they are more likely to make mistakes that could cause injury, and are more susceptible to increased risks of a heart attack, stroke, or hypertension.
Aging workers are more at risk for slips, trips, and falls. Than younger workers. The reasons for this can be:
It takes older people longer than younger people to reestablish their balance, due to lessened sensitivity of nerves in the inner ear that detect changes in balance.
Older workers may no longer have the leg strength to compensate for a slight loss of balance that can result in any misstep.
Vision changes that make it harder to see and adjust to surface changes or obstacles.
Loss of joint flexibility that can reduce agility
A fixation with the task at hand, a lack of awareness about your surroundings, and the inability to react to changing conditions, may all be contributing factors in slip, trip, and fall incidents.
Workplace safety isn’t just training and equipment; it’s a state of mind.
Near miss reporting is a fundamental piece of a strong safety culture. While OSHA doesn’t require near miss reporting, companies capturing that information can gain insight into potential problem areas. Understanding the difference between incidents, near misses, and accidents is important when developing a comprehensive safety meeting topics.
An Incident is an unplanned, undesired event that hinders completion of a task and usually causes injury, illness, or property damage. The terms “unplanned and undesired” don’t mean unpreventable, nor do they mean that you can’t prepare for them. Analysis and planning are how we prepare for serious incidents that may occur, and how we take action to eliminate them.
A near miss is defined as an incident that could have resulted in injury, illness, or property damage, but didn’t. Near misses, also known as ‘close calls’, should really be near hits.
The definition of accident is similar to that of incident, but implies that the occurrence was unpreventable. An accident, using this definition, contradicts the basic concepts of a safety program, which is to find and fix hazards, and prevent incidents. If we accept that accidents have no cause, that means they are unpreventable, and they will happen again.
Training employees on the importance of reporting near misses not only will raise their awareness of potential hazards; it moves your safety program from a purely reactive mode toward a more proactive effort. Near misses are often a precursor to more serious incidents, and may be a warning that procedures and practices need to be examined.
The reporting and investigation of near misses can be instrumental in preventing injuries. Near misses are really a zero-cost learning opportunity, because it signals a potential problem without resulting in injury or loss.
If your current safety program doesn’t include the mandatory reporting of near misses, perhaps it should. Consider implementing near miss reporting the next time you review your safety program, which you should do annually. This commitment to continuous improvement will demonstrate the importance of safety to your company to all employees.
Life doesn’t always give us warning signs, but when it does, we should heed them. Having an internal near miss reporting and investigation procedure as part of your safety program is heeding one of those signs. Being able to anticipate and avoid incidents is far less costly than reacting to one. An ounce of prevention could be worth someone’s life.
Unless you live in Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands you will probably be changing your clocks this weekend as Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins this Sunday March 8th at 2 A.M.
The larger question these days is “Why do we even have daylight savings time?” DST was started during WW I as a way to conserve energy. The use of daylight savings time was unpopular and was halted after the war. It was re-instituted during WW II. Because there was no U.S. federal law requiring the use of DST following WW II, the states were free to implement DST on their own.
This created interstate commerce and transportation scheduling problems, and resulted in the passage of the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The act mandated time changes in April and October (spring ahead and fall back), but also allowed states to opt out of using DST.
Enforcing DST is the responsibility of the Department of Transportation (DOT)
Although created to conserve energy, recent DOT studies have shown that in today’s world, any potential energy savings is lost to the use of computers, TV’s, and other electronic devices. Not only does DST not save energy it can also negatively affect your health.
Researchers in Stockholm found that the number of heart attacks rose about 5 percent during the first week of daylight saving time. The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that this rise may result from the disruption of sleep patterns and biological rhythms.
Today most of the U.S., Canada, and Europe observe DST, and if you live where it’s observed, here are some tips to help you adjust to it.
Start going to bed 15 minutes earlier several days before the start of DST, and move your bedtime up by 15 minutes every couple of nights
If you feel sleepy the Sunday after the change to DST, take a short nap (15 to 20 minutes) in the early afternoon. For some, napping can make nighttime sleeping harder, while for others, a short nap can be refreshing without ruining their night’s sleep
Avoid sleeping in longer in the morning
Try to go to bed and waking up at the same time each day, as this will help regulate your sleep. If possible, get up at the same time on weekends, too, this makes getting up on Monday mornings easier
With the change in daylight, try to incorporate a little more exercise and a little more sleep each day
There are currently renewed efforts underway to abolish DST because of the lack of any evidence that it’s beneficial. It may well be that the only positive about the beginning and end of DST is that it serves as a reminder to check and or replace your smoke detector batteries. If you have any questions about topics for safety meetings contact us today.
Planning for an OSHA inspection with the proper safety meeting topics is good business. Take these 5 steps to prepare for a surprise worksite inspection and you’ll also have a solid foundation of safe work practices.
When you apply to have OSHA’s safety and health professionals evaluate the worksite, anything they find that needs to be fixed won’t result in a compliance citation as long as it is put right.
2. Make sure you and every other employer understands their responsibilities when it comes to the hazards at each worksite.
Known as the “three Cs”, OSHA can cite employers if they: create the hazard, have control of the worksite, or are responsible to correct the hazard. This means different employers can be cited for the same hazard based on their responsibility for it.
3. Establish your rights.
Ask why the OSHA inspector is at your worksite because they need a legitimate reason. This probable cause can be: reported cases, complaints, targeted inspections or expressed points of emphasis, planned inspections, and even a compliance officer seeing a violation from the street.
Ask for a copy of the complaint/reason before they begin the inspection.
You have the right to restrict an inspection to the scope of the reason they are there. This could be a fatality, reported incident, or complaint. But be aware that anything the inspector sees during that inspection is fair game.
4. Know that OSHA can ask any employees questions in a private interview.
So the employer should make sure every employee can explain they know how to be safe at the worksite.
This also means they don’t have to answer any questions. If it’s the end of a long work day, and they have arranged a carpool, or if they are just shy they don’t have to answer any questions. Just don’t tell the workers you don’t want them to answer any questions, it’s their right to decide if they want to or not.
5. Managers will receive extra scrutiny, so train them up.
Whoever is responsible for the safety of others must know how to ensure it, including being aware of the hazards and the safe ways to mitigate them. The threshold for what OSHA considers a manager is low and includes: working lead, acting foreman, and competent person.
Other Safety School articles that examine the more academic concepts of occupational safety: