Category: Industry

Hauling Equipment in the Construction Industry

Leave a Comment

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 of hauling 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

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

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.

Forklifts

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.

Dump Trucks

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.

Excavators

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 at H Brown, Inc. today.

Solar Energy Safety

Leave a Comment

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.

Marijuana Use vs. Fit for Duty

Leave a Comment

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.

PART 2: DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE – POSSIBLE?

Leave a Comment

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.

6 Common Questions about ISNetworld®

Leave a Comment

Contractor Management

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®.

SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS

Leave a Comment

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.

Fatigue

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.

Stress

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.

Age

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

Leave a Comment

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.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

1 Comment

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.

Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

1 Comment

BannerArtSafetySchool

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.

1. Take part in a Voluntary Protection Program. 

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:

  • OSHA Inspections
  • Contact Release Training for NFPA 70E 2015
  • Scaffolding Code of Safe Practices
  • Emergency Response Plans for Permit Required Confined Spaces
  • Spotlighting the Importance of Checklists
  • Details of a Fully Developed Emergency Action Plan
  • The Six Guiding Principles of an Industrial Hygienist
  • Exactly How Does A Safety Manual Protect Your Company in an Inspection?
  • Who Is Covered (Or Not) By OSHA

SNOW REMOVAL

Leave a Comment

Every year workers are killed or seriously injured while performing snow or ice removal from the rooftops of commercial, residential, and other building structures. Snow removal operations are often performed under extreme weather conditions by workers who may have little experience or training on the hazards of the job which is why having a safety manual can become very important.

Snow removal may be necessary to prevent overloading and collapse or for construction or repair of decking or roofs. Workers often climb directly onto the roofs or structures and use shovels, snow rakes, or snow blowers to remove ice and snow. Other times these operations are done from aerial lifts used to access roofs and apply de-icing materials, or from ground level using ladders and snow rakes.

Hazards

Falls are the most common cause of worker fatalities and injuries during rooftop snow removal. Workers can fall off roofs, through skylights, or from ladders and aerial lifts.
In addition to falls, workers removing snow, face other significant hazards including:

  • Injuries from using snow blowers and other mechanized equipment
  • Collapses or tip-overs of aerial lifts
  • Becoming engulfed by falling snow
  • Being shocked/electrocuted from contacting power lines or using damaged extension cords
  • Frostbite or hypothermia
  • Musculoskeletal injuries

OSHA requires that employers plan and use the safe work practices to protect workers during snow removal activities. Before snow starts to accumulate, think about what will be needed to remove snow from roofs or other elevated surfaces safely:

  • Can the snow be removed without workers going onto the roof?
  • Are there any hazards on the roof that could become hidden by the snow and will need to be marked so that workers can see them (skylights, roof drains, vents, etc.)?
  • How to remove snow based on the building’s layout to prevent unbalanced loading?
  • Determine the maximum load limit the roof can handle, and compare that to the estimated combined weight of the snow, the removal equipment, and workers on the roof
  • What tools, equipment, PPE, clothing, and footwear will workers need?
  • What training will workers need?
  • How will snow removal equipment be moved to the roof?
  • How will you protect workers and others on the ground from the snow and ice being removed?

Remove Snow Without Going on the Roof

Whenever possible, use methods to clear ice and snow that don’t require workers to go on the roof, such as using ladders to apply de-icing materials or using snow rakes or draglines from the ground.

Use Required Fall Protection

Falls cause most of the deaths and severe injuries that occur during snow removal operations. OSHA requires employers to evaluate and protect workers from fall hazards when working at heights of 4 feet or more above a lower level (1910.23), 6 feet, or more for construction work (1926.501).

If workers must access roofs and other elevated surfaces to clear snow:

  • Train them on fall hazards and the proper use of fall protection equipment,
  • Ensure all workers use their fall protection equipment when removing snow in areas that are not adequately guarded
  • Have workers put on their fall protection equipment before accessing the roof
  • Have a written rescue plan in case a fallen worker becomes caught by a fall protection system
  • Remove or mark rooftop or landscaping features that could present trip or fall hazards

Ground Workers

Workers at ground level removing snow from the roof, and bystanders, can become trapped under snow falling from roofs and suffocate. Snow being removed for a roof can be dangerous. One cubic foot of dry snow weighs about seven pounds, while a cubic foot of wet snow weighs anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds. To protect personnel from removed snow:

  • Identify a safe work zone in the area where snow is being removed to keep the public back 10 feet from where snow is expected to fall
  • Instruct workers to wear eye and head protection when removing snow and ice.
  • Instruct workers using snow rakes and draglines to remove only small amounts of snow at a time.

Effective planning and preparation can protect workers and the public from injuries during snow removal work.