Category: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

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.

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.

GETTING A GRIP ON HAND-ARM VIBRATION SYNDROME

Leave a Comment

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) also known as “Dead Finger” or “Dead Hand” causes symptoms in fingers, hands, and arms from using vibrating tools, or by working with machinery that vibrates. HAV, formerly vibration white finger, was renamed to HAVS, as other symptoms may occur in addition to white fingers.

HAV, may appear shortly after starting a job, or may not appear until years later. The harmful health effects of vibrating tools are related to the length of time that a worker has been using vibrating tools and to the frequency of the vibration. The length of time person uses a vibrating tool, and the speed at which the tool vibrates, increases the risk of HAV.

The technical name for HAV is Raynaud’s Syndrome of Occupational Origin. Raynaud’s Syndrome can occur in people who do not use vibrating hand-held tools, and a number of medical illnesses can also cause Raynaud’s Syndrome.

Many symptoms of HAV syndrome will disappear when worker stops using tools vibrate the hands and arms. The muscle fatigue and pain in the arms and shoulders associated with HAV also will generally disappear. In the early stages, if a worker stops using vibrating tools, HAV will not get any worse and may get slightly better.

Preventing hand-arm vibration

Employers can implement the following steps to help prevent HAVS in workers who use vibrating tools:

  • Hold tools loosely, and in different positions.
  • Ensure that tools are well-maintained
  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Keep warm while at work – especially your hands.
  • You should not smoke – the chemicals in tobacco can affect blood flow.
  • Jobs should be redesigned to minimize the use of hand-held vibrating tools.
  • Replace high vibration tools with improved, low vibration tools that are designed to absorb vibration
  • Whenever possible, substitute a manual tool for a vibrating tool.
  • Determine vibration exposure times and implement work breaks to avoid constant exposure. A worker using a vibrating tool continuously should take a 10 minute break after each hour of using the tool.

Education

Employees who are required to use vibrating hand-held tools should receive training about the hazards of vibration and they should be taught how to minimize the ill effects of vibration.

Smokers are much more susceptible to HAV that non-smokers and the HAV in smokers is usually more severe. For this reason, workers who use vibrating hand-held tools should not smoke.

Medical Evaluation

  • Workers whose occupations will place them at risk of developing HAV should have pre-employment physicals, and then be checked at least annually for symptoms.
  • Workers that have a history of abnormalities in blood circulation and especially workers who have Raynaud’s Syndrome should not be permitted to use vibrating hand-held tools.
  • If workers develop symptoms of tingling or numbness, or if their fingers occasionally become white or blue, or painful, should be examined by a doctor familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of HAV.
  • Workers who have moderate to severe symptoms of HAV should be reassigned to work that does not involve using vibrating tools.

It is not clear how vibration causes hand-arm vibration syndrome. It is probably due to slight but repeated injury to the small nerves and blood vessels in the fingers. Up to 1 in 10 people who work regularly with vibrating tools may develop HAVS.

Temporary tingling or numbness immediately following the use of a vibrating hand tool is not considered HAV, however tingling and numbness in the fingers lasting more than an hour after finishing work may indicate early stages of HAV.

Understanding “Quarterly Updates”

Leave a Comment

Quarterly Updates

Most third-party prequalification websites (ISN® * (via their ISNetworld® * database), PICS® , PEC Premier® , BROWZ, ComplyWorks®, Veriforce, Textura or Others.) revise their standard questionnaires fairly regularly. These are known as “updates”.  The frequency at which they happen are variable depending on the third-party auditor.  ISNetworld® is the largest third-party auditor, and we will be taking a look at what a quarterly update is and how it can affect your score.

What is a quarterly update?

At the end of each quarter, ISN® takes initiative and takes a couple days to revise their Management System Questionnaire™ (MSQ™) to ensure that it is up to date with the most current legislative requirements and other important information as requested by Owner Clients.  During this time, the MSQ™ will be inaccessible until the revisions have been made.  The table below details how the quarters are split up during the year.

Table 1

Quarter 1 January, February, March
Quarter 2 April, May, June
Quarter 3 July, August, September
Quarter 4 October, November, December

 

Multiple changes can happen during a quarterly update.  New questions may be added, obsolete questions removed, and new requirements may be populated.  With each quarterly update, every ISNetworld® account will have to answer statistical questions such as concerning the number of employees, hours worked, injuries, time away from work, and other important information for the past three months.  This can be expected and prepared for in advance – this will always be added during a quarterly update.

Note: Keeping track and utilizing this feature can make it much easier to document your OSHA 300/A Logs or statistics at the end of the year!  All of your statistical information will already be uploaded to your account – all you will have to do is add up the statistical information for each quarter and document them!

How can a “Quarterly Update” affect my grade?

After the quarterly update has been completed and the statistical information has been entered, there are a few different items that can affect your grade.  These may affect your grade in a positive or negative manner.

After your quarterly statistics are added in, the most crucial aspect is ensuring that you have a safe workplace.  New incidents and injuries will definitely hurt your Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) for the previous 3 years.  However, if you have had incidents and injuries in the past but have worked incident-free, your TRIR will naturally become lower.  Most, if not all, Owner Clients will take a very serious look at a contractor’s safe hours worked when considering them for a project.

New questions added to the MSQ™, depending on the Owner Client, may appear in your GAP report.  These should be addressed as soon as feasibly possible to ensure that your account does not fall into an unfavorable grading.  Keep a close eye on any additional questions!

RAVS® revisions commonly happen during quarterly updates as well – meaning you may have to revise existing policies and procedures or write new programs.  These have a major impact on most Owner Client’s grading scales.  Some Owner Clients may keep you off of a project until the new policies are written.  These should take a high priority on any contractor’s “to-do” list.

How can Safety Services Company help?

Safety Services Company can review every aspect of your company’s statistical information, safety program, EMR, TRIR, and information based on the answered questions of the MSQ™ and provide a Contractor Improvement Program tailored specifically to your organization.  These improvement programs don’t focus on problems, but instead identify effective solutions and assign responsible parties to ensure that they are upheld.

Additionally, Safety Services Company’s Global Compliance Solutions department offers a multitude of cost-effective solutions when dealing with the requirements of any third-party prequalification outfit.  Our staff can produce comprehensive and compliant safety programs, effective safety training material, and perform continual maintenance on your ISNetworld®, PEC®, PICS Auditing®, ComplyWorks®, CanQual®, and many other third-party prequalification accounts.  Why worry about your account and give yourself undue stress when your time can be better spent managing your business?

*Safety Services Company is an independently owned company, specializing in compliance with Third-Party Prequalification Providers such as ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, PICS®, Complyworks® and Canqual®. Safety Services Company is in no way sponsored or affiliated with ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, or PICS Auditing®. ISN®, ISNetworld®, RAVS®, SSQ®, PQF® are registered trademarks of ISN Software Corporation®, PEC Premier®, and PICS Auditing®.

How to Effectively Maintain Your Third-Party Auditor Account

Leave a Comment

Maintain

 

In many industries, to work with Owner Operators (also known as Owner Clients), such as Chevron®, BP®, Shell Oil Company®, Pfizer® and many others, you must be qualified by a third-party auditor. Third-party auditors, e.g. ISN® * (via their ISNetworld® * database), PICS® , PEC Premier® , BROWZ, ComplyWorks®, Veriforce, Textura or Others. These auditors review, verify, and grade potential contractors and determine the eligibility of the contractor to work on their jobsites.

Most third-party auditors grade contractors based on the following elements:

  • Statistical Information: OSHA 300/A Logs, OH&S Statistics, TRIR, TRF, etc.
  • Health, Safety, & Environmental Program: Safety Manual, Safety Management System, HSE Manual, etc.
  • Insurance Documents: General Liability, Automobile Liability, Limits, Workers’ Compensation, Experience Modification Rates, etc.
  • Safety Training Programs: Weekly safety meetings, safety training videos/online courses, etc.
  • Questionnaire Information: Found in the MSQ™, PQF®, SSQ®, or equivalent

It is important to Maintain Your Third-Party Auditor Account to remaining eligible to work with these important Owner Operator companies. So, how can a company most effectively maintain these accounts? Below are 5 key best practices to ensure your ISNetworld®*, RAVS®, PEC Premier® , ComplyWorks®, CQN® , or other online accounts are kept at their highest possible score.

1.    Monitor

Consistent monitoring of your account is the backbone of effective maintenance. You should log into your account at least once a week. Many changes can happen between quarterly updates, such as the addition of new requirements, expiration of insurance documents, and renewal notices—just to name a few! Consistent monitoring and a hands-on approach will be very helpful when the more extensive third-party auditor quarterly update requirements come around.

2.    Review

In addition to monitoring your account on a regular basis, it’s important to be proactive with your safety programs. Most important, your safety program should fall in line with and meet the requirements of your health and safety administration (OSHA for the United States, OH&S for Canada, HSE for the UK and Australia). Review the applicable codes and federal regulations and make sure your safety programs are compliant. After this is done, thoroughly review your Owner Client safety program requirements—they may actually be stricter than the legislative standards!

3.    Update

In 2015 alone, Safety Services Company has made over 60 revisions to existing programs and written over 30 new chapters for the United States and Canada to meet the ever-changing RAVS®* on ISNetworld®*! That equates to researching and developing 2 new chapters and updating 5 current programs each month, not including the training to go along with them! Whenever a change is required in your programs, review the changes requested against what you currently have written. Changes in policy requirements can be quite extensive and take substantial amounts of time to properly research and write, so be sure to set aside the proper time and resource.  Brand new requirements may have to be written from the ground up if you do not already have a written policy on them. Owner Clients may require you to have programs that don’t pertain to your company specifically, but must have because they may be present on the job site.

Outdated account information that doesn’t meet ongoing regulation changes affects your third-party account score. A low score can be detrimental to your business and may even keep you off a job site— proper attention should be given to these changes and updates right away. A safety program is a living document; it should be updated each time there is a legislative or requirement change, and changes should be communicated to employees.

4.    Document (Correctly)

The most common mistake companies make when maintaining their accounts is incorrectly-submitted documentation, or mistakes on the company’s end. When filling out OSHA logs or submitting statistical information, be aware that not every incident is required to be recorded!  Learn the differences between recordable and non-recordable incidents, otherwise it may appear that your company has a higher Total Recordable Incident Rate than it actually does.

Always double check that your documents have been filled out correctly.  Training documents should include the type of training received, date, location, time, supervisor that held the training, and a list of attendees, with a supervisor’s signature. Insurance documents must have the same company name (exactly) that is on the account, and abide to all of the requirements and limits. OSHA logs reflect exactly what is entered underneath statistical information.  Experience Modification Rates can be obtained from your workers’ compensation provider.

5.    Implement

Most important, it’s not a matter of just having the proper policies and procedures, training, and documentation—but it must be implemented throughout the company. Some third-party auditors will actively come onto the jobsite to ensure you not only have the policies and procedures they are looking for, but that you are following them. Communication of the policies and training should be given to each employee so that everyone knows what to do.  Simply having policies and procedures doesn’t keep job sites safe—following them does.  Actions speak louder than words!

Keeping these five best practices (Monitor, Review, Update, Document, & Implement) in mind can help to maintain a positive score on any third-party auditor.

*Safety Services Company is an independently owned company, specializing in compliance with Third-Party Prequalification Providers such as ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, PICS®, Complyworks® and Canqual®. Safety Services Company is in no way sponsored or affiliated with ISNetworld®, PEC Premier®, or PICS Auditing®. ISN®, ISNetworld®, RAVS® , SSQ®, PQF® are registered trademarks of ISN Software Corporation®, PEC Premier®, and PICS Auditing®.

Health Canada, OSHA Work to Align HAZCOM Standards

1 Comment

The Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB) of Health Canada and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are entering into an agreement to collaborate on the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Chemical Classification.

The GHS is a universal system of chemical hazard identification developed by the United Nations. The goal is to eventually have every country in the world adopt the system.

Under the agreement, OSHA charged with promoting worker safety and the HECSB charged with protecting consumers from chemicals and other unsafe products, will establish a working group to identify barriers for implementation into workplaces and at the consumer level.

This group will also collaborate to reach common positions to present to the United Nations GHS Sub-Committee regarding proposed updates to the system.

Legislation in Canada requires the adoption of the GHS by 2015 and training of employees to be complete by June 2016.

In the U.S. the GHS was officially adopted into the HAZCOM standard March 26, 2012 and all employees must be trained on the standard by December 31, 2013.

The major changes the GHS is bringing to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and HAZOM in the US include:

  • Standardized content of formatting of Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
  • Changes to the hazard categories of hazardous chemicals
  • Hazardous chemical label elements
  • New Pictograms

Library Shut Down by OSHA

Leave a Comment

A public library in Orange, New Jersey was shut down by the States Department of Occupational Safety and Health last month due to numerous safety issues.

“It was a threat and a safety issue to patrons and workers in there,” Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren told the Jersey Journal.

The inspection results were not immediately available, but according to Warren the issues with the library include roofing problems, electrical issues with live wires, boiler and heating system trouble among other deficiencies.

The mayor estimates that the town will need to spend more than $1 million to repair the library.

The inspection of the library was spurred after council president Tency Eason fell in the library and alerted state inspectors to possible safety violations.

Eason stated her fall occurred when she “turned around to get up” but faltered due to the rail missing, falling instead into a glass cabinet.

The closure is the second of the library in the past five years. The first occurred in 2012, when the doors on the institution were closed for two months because of issues with lead paint and asbestos.

Bill Aims to Boost Federal OSHA Authority

Leave a Comment

In the wake of a massive explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant, a California Democrat has introduced a bill aimed at increasing funding to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“As the devastating explosion in Texas shows, the benefits of ensuring a safe and [healthy] workplace are not just confined to the facility’s property line. Local communities also have a great deal at stake,” Rep. George Miller (D., Calif.) said in introducing the bill. A spokesman for Mr. Miller said the timing of the bill wasn’t related to the accident.

Miller’s bill would give federal OSHA more authority over state plans, while strengthening fines and authorizing felony prosecutions against employers who knowingly commit OSHA violations that result in death.

While the bill has the potential to make broad impacts on occupational health and safety, many expect it to fizzle in the House, due to a Republican majority.

The bill comes on the heels of a report by the Government Accountability Office stating some states have failed with their occupational safety and health programs to meet minimum workplace-safety inspection goals, in part because of state budget cuts and reduced staffing.
The GAO surveyed 22 state-run programs in both private- and public-sector workplaces. The report concluded that state agencies have difficulties meeting inspection goals because of a lack of funding and inability to properly staff because of low salaries.

The report recommended the federal OSHA be given authority to step in and take over some inspections when a state plan isn’t meeting minimum requirements.

The issue of funding for OSHA-run plans is an ongoing issue. The federal government has long been reluctant to take over state plan because it would further stretch its own limited resources.

Celeste Monforton, a lecturer at George Washington University and former policy analyst at OSHA, told the Wall Street Journal that OSHA inspectors, on average, visit every workplace in the U.S. once every 99.

The regularity of inspections varies widely by state, partly by the number of workplaces and funding. In Texas, which is covered by federal OSHA, it would take inspectors 126 years to visit every workplace, versus 42 years in Washington state, which is a state plan, she added.

Feds Investigating State OSHA Agency

Leave a Comment

The federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating its state counterpart in Indiana (IOSHA).

Spokesmen from federal and state OSHA departments declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, but documents obtained by the Indianapolis Star indicate that IOSHA is trying to boost the number of inspections it conducts without hiring new staff.

Those documents indicate that IOSHA recently began requiring experienced inspectors to conduct 61 inspections annually or an average of one inspection every 4 days.

Those numbers are concerning because inspections often involve complex test that must be sent to labs. By putting a four day time span on the inspection it could lead inspectors to doing partial inspections or completely ignoring more complex hazards.

The new requirements also encourage inspectors to identify an average of two to three serious, knowing or repeat violations per inspection, according to the  documents obtained by The Star. Those violations bring the highest fines.

Last year IOSHA inspected 1,332 companies, the fewest since the federal government approved the creation of the state department of OSHA in 1986. In general the number of inspections conducted in Indiana has steadily declined each year, from a high in the 80’s of 8,000 annual workplace inspections.

Despite this continual erosion of the number of annual inspections the state’s labor commissioner, Sean Kee­fer, has promised 2,000 inspections in 2013.

While Keefer stated a desire to increase inspections, his agency is not beefing up staff. Currently the state has only 40 inspectors, 30 below what the federal government requires of the state.

According to OSHA the investigation will be completed this week, and a report will be issued by OSHA sometime next week.

Study Finds 1/3 of Employees Stressed from Work

Leave a Comment

A new study released by the American Psychological Association found that one-third of employees experienced chronic work related stress.

“This isn’t just an HR or management issue,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “The well-being of an organization’s workforce is a strategic business imperative that is linked to its performance and success.”

APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey was conducted online among 1,501 adults from Jan. 9-21, 2013 on behalf of the APA by Harris Interactive.

Through the survey employees started they felt stuck (39%), not valued (49%), under paid (46 %) and unheard (53%).

Despite growing awareness of the importance of a healthy workplace, few employees said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage stress (36 percent) and meet their mental health needs (44 percent).

In fact, only 59 percent reported having adequate employer-provided health insurance. Just 42 percent of employees said their organizations promote and support a healthy lifestyle and only 36 percent reported regularly participating in workplace health and wellness programs.

Share ways your company helps reduce stress on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.