Category: Safety Tips

Demystifying Bloodborne Pathogen Safety

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Bloodborne Pathogens Safety Services Company

Demystifying Bloodborne Pathogen Safety

Working in an environment that exposes you to bodily fluids like blood bears serious risks. These fluids can carry pathogens that can cause fatal diseases. Bloodborne pathogens are especially dangerous. One tiny cut from a small needle can be the difference between a long healthy life and a chronic disease that needs maintenance medicine. 

If work in an industry that exposes you to bloodborne pathogens, your first line of defense is ample education. There are guidelines that are set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA that can ensure your safety. So, whether you are a business operator or an employee, equipping your work place with a bloodborne pathogen training kit and adhering to this set of rules is always in your best interest. 

What are Bloodborne Pathogens?

For those outside the medical industry, the word pathogen can be daunting. Rightly so, as pathogens are any type of microorganisms that can bring about disease. Bloodborne pathogens, as the name suggests, are transmitted through blood. 

Bloodborne pathogens are particularly concerning, especially for those who come in contact with bodily fluids because it is especially easy to get infected. Any sharp object can cause tiny, microscopic cuts that bloodborne pathogens can use in order to infect.  

What Are the Most Common Types of Bloodborne Pathogens?

While there is a slew of different bloodborne pathogens, there are three that are most commonly transmitted through unsafe working conditions:

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B, otherwise known as HBV, is a viral infection that can cause very serious damage to the liver. It is fatal and can make the infected more susceptible to cirrhosis and liver cancer. 

HBV can be passed on in different ways. In place wherein the disease is common, the most known mode of transmission is through childbirth - mothers passing the disease to their babies. Nevertheless, exposure to infected blood and other bodily fluids can also cause the spread of HBV. The virus is common for individuals who handle needles professionally or to sustain their drug dependence. 

Hepatitis B can cause several symptoms that may appear two weeks to six months from infection. While not all patients exhibit symptoms, there are few that experience jaundice, vomiting, fatigue, and abdominal pain. 

There is a vaccine that is used in order to protect a person from developing HBV even after exposure. However, one of the most concerning things about this disease is that there is no known cure. Medication for people infected by HBV is directed toward maintaining quality of life as opposed to curing the disease altogether. 

Hepatitis C

Like HBV, Hepatitis C is also a viral infection that causes damage to the liver. Both types of hepatitis exhibit the same symptoms. However, Hepatitis C or HCV is less likely to be transmitted from mother to child or during sexual intercourse. 

HCV’s main mode of transmission is through needle sharing and improper health administration. There is currently no vaccine or cure for HCV. However, almost 80% of people who carry this virus exhibit no symptoms. 

HIV

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a virus that targets and weakens the immune system. As a result, people who carry this virus are more susceptible to succumb to infection and various types of cancer. 

The spread of HIV can be attributed to different reasons. Sexual intercourse without protection is among the most common forms of transmission. Sharing contaminated needles and tainted blood transfusion has also proven to pass the disease from person to person.

Patients with HIV exhibit different symptoms based on the stage of infection. For the most part, people are very contagious but remain asymptomatic during the first few months of infection. As the virus becomes stronger and the immune system gets weaker, people start experiencing weight loss, fever, and diarrhea. 

If left untreated, HIV can progress to full-blown Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. At this stage, severe bacterial infections and stage 4 cancers are more prevalent. 

Currently, there is no known medicine that can eliminate HIV from a patient’s system. However, there are treatments that can suppress their development. 

What Are the Bloodborne Pathogens Standards OSHA Requires Employers to Adhere to?

OSHA released Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 29 CFR 1910.1030 for compliance of business owners in order to safeguard the well-being of employees especially those often exposed to blood and other bodily fluids. A brief description of the guidelines follows:

Development and Proper Facilitation of an Exposure Plan 

This requirement necessitates the employer to provide a list of employees that handle hazardous materials and those who CAN come into contact with them. Procedures that would be performed by the employees in case of exposure. 

Annual Exposure Plan Updates

Every year the exposure plan needs to be updated with new records of employees that have come onboard. Moreover, employers need to report consultation with front-liners as to improvements for the tasks and procedures set in case of contamination. Updates with medical technology also need to be reported every year.  

Implementation of Universal Precautions

This guideline states that all bodily fluids including blood are treated as if they contain bloodborne pathogens regardless of the origin. 

Implementation of Engineering Controls

Employers are required to provide tools that have been proven to prevent the transmission of bloodborne diseases. These tools include but are not limited to “disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, and safer medical devices.”

Implementation of Work Controls

Implementation of processes that prevent exposure to tainted bodily fluids is required by OSHA. Guidelines for handling toxic materials, disposing of toxic materials, and other procedures that might expose employees should be in place. 

Provision of Protective Gear

Masks, gloves, and other protective gear should be provided solely by the employer. Employees should not cover ANY costs. 

Provision of Hepatitis B Vaccines

Similar to protective gear, employers are required to provide HBV vaccines for their employees who come in direct contact with toxic materials. Vaccines should be administered at least within days of the employee’s first assignment. 

Development and Facilitation of a Post-Exposure Evaluation and Follow-Up

In the event of exposure, employers are required to administer tests and record all necessary details surrounding the incident with all costs shouldered by the company. 

Labeling of Hazardous Materials

Containers that house hazardous and regulated materials should be labeled clearly and accordingly.  

Provision of Proper Training

Employers are required to create their own bloodborne pathogen training kit to educate their workers about occupational hazards and the procedures that should be implemented in case of exposure. Training should be in a language that workers understand. 

Maintenance of Training and Medical Records

A sharps injury log is required of the employer. 

Effective occupational hazard training can save lives. According to research, since the implementation of OSHA guidelines, workplace casualties have decreased from 38 workers a day more than three decades ago to 14 people in 2017. Moreover, workplace injuries are down from 10.9 instances per 100 employees to 2.8 per 100 workers in 2017. 

The statistics speak for themselves. Nevertheless, while necessary, ensuring the health and wellness of your workers through complicated guidelines can be daunting especially if you tackle it on your own. To see how we can solve your company's bloodborne pathogen training needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. Remember, your one phone call can save lives. 

OSHA Top 10 Series: Fall Protection Applications and Innovative Technology

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Fall Protection

OSHA Top 10 Series: Fall Protection Applications and Innovative Technology 

As part of our continued focus on OSHA’s Top Ten most frequently cited violations to its standards, in this article we will focus specifically on Fall Protection as it is the number one most commonly cited standard for 2018.  The number of citations against this standard exceed 6,000, with industries such as construction and manufacturing identified as top offenders.  Considered one of Construction’s ‘Fatal Four’, falls from height accounted for 381 out of 971 deaths in 2017 in the construction sector, and was the leading cause of construction worker deaths. Additionally, according to the National Safety Council, falls amount to roughly $70 billion in both workplace compensation and medical costs in the United States.

Fall Protection is not something that should be taken lightly by any company because the consequences of a breach in policy can result in death or serious injury to workers engaging in work at heights.  Therefore, today we will be looking at how Fall Protection has evolved over the years, as well as new and emerging trends in the Fall Protection industry.

Evolution of Fall Protection

Fall Protection, like most types of workplace safety, has evolved significantly since the early 1900s where fall protection was unregulated.  The Occupational Safety and Health Act came into force in 1970, but prior to this Work at Height was carried out without any type of Fall Protection in place.  Iconic pictures of workers posing on I-beams while working on major buildings such as the Chrysler Tower depict the utter lack of workplace safety that existed during this time. After the enactment of the OSH Act however, workplace safety began to evolve in response to costly litigation and an increasing awareness of the dangers to workers from unmitigated hazards that could cause serious injury or death.

Hierarchy of Fall Protection

Fall Protection encompasses all categories that define controls used to prevent injuries resulting from a fall.  Fall elimination, fall prevention, fall arrest, and administrative controls are systems used in order to prevent falls from height. The hierarchy of Fall Protection that should generally be followed in order to prevent a fall states that:

  1. Falling Hazards Should Be Eliminated, for example through engineering controls that remove the fall hazard altogether.
  2. Passive Fall Protection Systems such as guardrails or covers can be employed to prevent a fall from occurring.
  3. Fall Restraint Systems secure workers in order to avoid the interaction of the worker and the fall hazard.
  4. Fall Arrest Systems can be used to stop a worker’s fall.

OSHA Regulations

Employers must understand any areas that pose a risk to workers, including overhead platforms or areas that may have unguarded holes in walking, working surfaces. Under OSHA 1926.502, employers have a duty to provide and install all fall protection systems that are required as per section 1926.501 and required by that subpart of the OSH Act.

Section 1926.502 outlines various types of fall protection systems, which include the following:

  1. Safety Nets
  2. Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  3. Positioning Device Systems
  4. Warning Line Systems
  5. Controlled Access Zones
  6. Safety Monitoring Systems
  7. Covers

Special consideration should also be given to work carried out above dangerous equipment or work taking place over water. OSHA’s standard for fall protection stipulates that it is required for any work carried out at elevations over 4 feet under its General Industry standard, and at 6 feet under its Construction standard.

Emerging Technologies

There are a number of new and developing technologies emerging on the market that aim to prevent injuries due to a fall from height, in addition to the wide range of conventional fall protection methods:

  1. Using Virtual Reality Apps to Train Employees: To train employees on the risks of working in construction environments with falling hazards, the American Society of Safety Professionals has developed an app complying with ANSI/ASSP Z359 standards that prompts users to identify common fall hazards. The app, which aims to reduce fall injuries, gives employers the opportunity to train employees without the risk of placing them in hazardous situation, while also acknowledging that “hands-on” experience may be more beneficial to conventional classroom training methods.
  2. Alerting Systems For Remote Work: Companies may choose to employ a tool that can be used by employees after they have experienced a fall to call for assistance. In large construction sites, it is sometimes difficult to monitor all employees, but in an emergency time is of the essence and prompt help can reduce serious injury or death.  Alerting systems work by having the fallen employee press a button to alert the system that they need help. Some technologies marketed are even capable of providing information on whether the employee has fallen and how severe the fall has been.
  3. Enhanced Fall Protection For Post-Fall Scenarios: Some companies are improving the existing designs of their Fall Protection PPE by adding components to decrease worker injury and death in a post-fall situation. Workers using personal fall arrest systems have a limited time for post fall recover before permanent damage is experienced.  To increase the time between initial fall and rescue, companies are now incorporating tools such as relief handles to relieve pressure inflicted on femoral arteries that pose a serious risk to fallen workers suspended in fall protection PPE systems. 

Subpart M

There are several companies that offer the products identified above.  However, when research to determine the best solution for your business and your employees, it is always important to understand the requirements under OSHA Subpart M- Fall Protection, to ensure that any Fall Protection first meets and if possible exceeds the regulations and is in full compliance with OSHA.  Employers seeking to understand more about Fall Protection should become familiar with Subpart M in order to protect their employees from fall hazards.  Any tools, equipment or controls implemented to prevent falls should also be compliant with applicable standards and regulations for Fall Protection.

Subpart M details not only the Scope and application of the standard, but also provides information on the duty of employers, fall protection systems and criteria and training requirements for employees.  OSHA also provides resources to employers seeking to comply with the Fall Protection standard on its website. These resources can be used to provide training on fall prevention specifically targeting construction industry workers.

American National Standards Institute

Additionally, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has recently revised Z.359.1- American National Standard Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and components in 2016.  Both of these standards provide critical information to educated employers and workers alike on Fall Protection systems required in the workplace.

To learn how we can solve your company's fall protection needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

OSHA Top 10 Mini-Series: Hazard Communication

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Hazard Communication

OSHA Top Ten List of Cited Violations for 2018

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Authority publishes its list of the Top 10 Most Cited Violations according to Federal OSHA. As of September 30th 2018, the top two most frequently cited standards following OSHA worksite inspections are violations relating to the Fall Protection Standard (29 CFR 1926.501) and the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR.1200). In 2018, there was a whopping 7,216 citations for Fall Protection, while over 4,000 Hazard Communication citations were recorded. Both of these standards frequently fall in to the Top 10 category, and violations often result in what could be considered easily preventable injuries. We will therefore be dedicating the next two articles to focusing on firstly on the Hazard Communication standard, and secondly examining the Fall Protection standard to give our readers important insights into compliance with both regulations.

Hazard Communication: What is it?

As a small business owner, you will most likely come across chemicals in the workplace, whether it be in the office or at a worksite.  Chemicals may range from cleaning fluids, paints and pesticides, to more obvious hazardous chemicals such as chlorine or ethanol.  Chemicals are as prevalent in the workplace as they are diverse, and with many beneficial and oftentimes innocuous applications, it is difficult to always see the adverse effects that they may cause to people.  However, employers should be aware that chemicals may pose health threats as well as physical hazards in the workplace and should therefore be documented carefully to avoid injuries or environmental/property damage.  Wherever workplaces use or store hazardous chemicals, they must have a written hazardous communication program in order to inform employees how the OSHA standard is applied at that facility.

What is a Hazardous Chemical and Do I Have Any at My Workplace?

It is important to note that prior to 2012, there were two systems for classification of chemicals in the United States.  As of 2012, the Hazard Communication Standard was updated so that its system of classification is aligned to the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  These two systems are often referred to in Hazard Communication so it is important to be aware of both systems.

Chemicals are classified as hazardous where they pose a risk as either a physical or health hazard.  These risks may include for example- flammable liquids, combustible dusts, carcinogenic materials or asphyxiants. Employers who receive chemicals that are considered hazardous must also receive information about the chemical to determine the risks it may pose.  This information may be provided in the form of labeling, or may also be found on the chemical Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  Chemicals fall into a variety of hazard classes, and may be further subdivided in to hazard categories under the Hazard Communication Standard (see infographic below).  Hazard classifications are typically completed by the manufacturer of the chemical, while the end user (you) is responsible for being aware of the hazards of a particular chemical as identified by labeling or the SDS.

Safety Services Company - HazCom Chart

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Hazardous_Materials_Markings_Labeling_and_Placarding_Guide.pdf

What Should Be Included in a Hazard Communication Program?

As highlighted above, employers who use, transport, store chemicals, or maintain any working environment where employees may be exposed to hazardous chemicals must have a written hazard communication program. Also termed ‘Right to Know’, employees have the right to be aware of any chemicals that they may be exposed to that can pose a threat to their physical safety or health. It is also beneficial for employers to maintain a hazard communication program in order to manage their workplace, substitute hazardous chemicals for less harmful ones where possible, and reduce the likelihood of worker injury resulting in increased worker’s compensation costs. Small businesses looking to create a Hazard Communication program should follow as a guide these six steps in order for it to be effective:

  1. Obtain a copy of the OSHA Hazard Communication standard and read/understand its requirements
  2. Create a written Hazard Communication Plan
  3. Label all chemical containers
  4. Create a folder with the most up-to-date SDS documents for all chemicals onsite
  5. Train employees on chemical hazard identification
  6. Periodically review and update Hazard Communication Program

1. Understand CFR 29 1910.1200: Hazard Communication Standard

This standard can be accessed online and provides specific information on what should be included in the program, how containers should be labelled, information on Safety Data Sheets and also includes requirements for training.  Some worksites have limited applications under the hazard communication standard so it is important for employers to clearly understand the scope of the standard and how it directly applies to their business.

2. Create a Written Hazard Communication Program

Employers should create a written hazard communication program that specifies how they intend to comply with 1910.1200 by documenting their compliance with the standard. This includes how they will incorporate warnings and labels for the hazardous chemicals as well as how employees will be informed and trained on hazards and how to manage them where possible.  The plan should also identify key individuals responsible for managing the program. The plan should include an inventory of all hazardous chemicals at the worksite, how the employer will inform employees about hazards including those posed by non-routine tasks, and what considerations will be taken for multiple worksites.

3. Label All Chemical Containers

Labeling is a crucial step in any Hazard Communication Program. Labels should include a product identifier (product name), signal word (identifies the hazard severity), hazard statement, a pictogram depicting the type of hazard, and the contact information of the chemical manufacturer or responsible party.

Pictograms are an easily identifiable way of displaying to an observer the hazards associated with a particular chemical.  Some common symbols include:

Safety Services Company: HazCom Symbols

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3491QuickCardPictogram.pdf

OSHA also provides a quick reference guide to the Hazard Communication Standard for labels and pictograms that provides a concise look at how this exercise should be completed for all chemicals at a workplace.

4. Create a Folder with the Most Up-to-date SDS Documents for all Onsite Chemicals 

All companies should maintain a Safety Date Sheet (SDS) folder that contains the SDS documents for all chemicals onsite.  This folder should have the most up-to-date SDS for a particular chemical on file and should be periodically reviewed to ensure that old SDS documents are removed and new chemicals have an SDS on file. SDS documents contain the following sections, organized in such a way that important emergency response information is provided first and technical chemical and manufacturer information is documented in later sections:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard(s) identification
  3. Composition/information on ingredients
  4. First-aid measures
  5. Firefighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure control/personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information

SDS document folders or inventories should be kept in a central location that is easily accessible to workers and should be maintained in English. Some companies choose to have this information electronically, but it is wise to keep paper files on location in case of a power outage as companies should always have these files available to employees.

5. Train Employees on Chemical Hazard Identification

Employees must be trained on the various hazards of chemicals onsite. Employers should therefore create a training that is effective in identifying hazardous chemicals in their workplace, the hazards associated with those chemicals, and the ways in which workers can protects themselves. Employees should also be informed of typical locations where these chemicals may be present as well as the methods of identifying a potential release of the chemicals. Training should also brief employees on the general requirements of a hazardous communication program and the forms of labeling and SDS files that are used and kept onsite.

6. Periodically Review and Update Hazard Communication Program

The use of chemicals at a workplace is a dynamic operation that can change quite frequently depending on the type of operations at a particular site. Therefore, it's critical that employers review their hazardous communication program periodically to ensure that it is up-to-date.  To do this, employers must consider:

  1. Determining if there are any changes to 1910.1200 and if any changes are required to their hazardous communication program
  2. Responsible persons are fulfilling their tasks under the program
  3. SDS inventory is up-to-date
  4. Training is up-to-date
  5. Procedures are accurate
  6. Labeling of all containers is accurate
  7. The program is effectively communication chemical hazards

OSHA provides many resources for small businesses to comply with the Hazardous Communication Standard.  For the most up-to-date information, visit their website to learn more.

To see how we can solve your company's hazard communication needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Prevent Heat Stress in the Workplace

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man wearing red hard hat hanged on brown rebar bar

Prevent Heat Stress in the Workplace

It was recently reported in the news that based on global temperatures, July 2019 was the hottest month on record, with temperatures exceeding the previous record set in July 2016.  This means that for workers in industries such as construction, food and beverage and other jobs that require active work in hot or humid conditions, the risk of illness from heat exposure is not only high, it has also increased in recent years.  Daily temperatures, particularly during the July and August months, have continued to break records in last ten years compared to historically recorded temperatures.

To address these concerns, Heat Illness Prevention Plans are included in OSHA-approved State plans across the United States plans and companies must comply with these regulations.

Companies are required to do their part to protect workers from heat stress.  But how can this be achieved and what should you know? What procedures, processes or personal protective equipment (PPE) can you put in place to ensure that your workers are kept safe? Heat stress in the workplace must be managed by taking precautionary steps and limiting employee exposure to exceedingly high working temperatures.

In order to prevent heat stress from occurring, it is important to understand the body’s response to heat.  Where a person’s body is exposed to prolonged elevated temperatures, the body turns on its cooling mechanism in order to generate sweat and release heat externally.  Blood rushes to the skin surface and profuse sweating ensues, but if the body is unable to reduce its core temperature quickly enough, this core temperature begins to rise. Workers should not be placed in situations where there core body temperature is allowed to rise above 38⁰ Celsius, the temperature above which persons begin to exhibit signs of heat illness. 

Heat stress can manifest in several different ways and it is important to recognize the symptoms. 

All employers should understand the signs of each type of heat illness, and the appropriate level of first aid that should be provided. The table below, taken from the OSHA website on Heat-relates illness and First Aid, provides a snapshot of four types of heat illnesses and the first aid measures to be taken.

Illness

Symptoms

First Aid

Heat stroke

  • Confusion or hallucination
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Red, hot, dry skin (or excessive sweating in some cases)
  • Call 911

While waiting for help:

  • Place worker in shady, cool area
  • Loosen clothing, remove outer clothing
  • Fan air on worker; cold packs in armpits
  • Wet worker with cool water; apply ice packs, cool compresses, or ice if available
  • Provide fluids (preferably water) as soon as possible
  • Stay with worker until help arrives
Heat exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Extreme weakness
  • Pale Complexion
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light headedness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Have worker sit or lie down in a cool, shady area
  • Give worker plenty of water or other cool beverages to drink
  • Cool worker with cold compresses/ice packs
  • Take to clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation or treatment if signs or symptoms worsen or do not improve within 60 minutes.
  • Do not return to work that day
Heat Syncope

  • Light-headedness, dizziness and fainting
  • Have worker sit or lie down in a cool, shady area
  • Give worker plenty of water or other cool beverages to drink
Heat cramps

  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Usually in abdomen, arms, or legs
  • Have worker rest in shady, cool area
  • Worker should drink water or other cool beverages
  • Wait a few hours before allowing worker to return to strenuous work
  • Have worker seek medical attention if cramps don't go away
Heat rash

  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin
  • Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry

Source: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/heat_illnesses.html.

Understanding the signs and symptoms are important, but prevention is key.

There are several methods that companies can employ to prevent worker heat stress. 

  1. Provision of Cold Beverages:
    1. Ensure that cold water is available to employees working outdoors or inside hot and humid environments in amounts that are sufficient to prevent dehydration.
    2. Offering employees drinks such as Gatorade should also be considered as these drinks include electrolytes that are lost during sweating. Gatorade restores electrolytes such as potassium so that further dehydration can be prevented.
  2. Provision of Fruits: Companies can supply fresh fruits such as bananas and apples to help restore electrolytes along with replenishing the water intake as highlighted above.
  3. Allow for Acclimatization: New workers unaccustomed to working in hotter climates should be given up to two weeks to acclimatize to their new working environments prior to being given a full workload.
  4. Shaded or Air-conditioned Areas: Remind workers that if they begin to experience the first signs of heat stress, they should leave the work area immediately and move to a cool, shaded location. If possible, workers should relocate to an air conditioned building in order to prevent worsening signs of heat stress.
  5. Rest: Heat stress may cause persons to feel lightheaded and faint. Remind employees to take frequent breaks and rest with their legs slightly elevated if they experience dizziness.
  6. Clothing: Cool, breathable clothing should be provided to workers in hotter climates where heat stress is a concern.  In cases of imminent heat stress, clothing should be loosened in order to cool the body down more quickly.
  7. Provision of Cooling Systems: Where possible, provide adequate ventilation to employees working in warehouses or enclosed buildings, or where employees are working outdoors. This may be in the form of extractor fans (to release hot air externally), installing spot coolers in key operational areas, and providing heat barriers around furnaces.
  8. In Cases of Imminent Heat Stress, Use Cold Compress: Use cold water or cold ice compresses/ice packs. Place these on the affected person to speed up the cooling process if an employee begins to show signs of heat stress in addition to relocating them to a shaded area and sitting them down to rest.

Companies should also remind employees to:

  1. Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake as these drinks can cause further dehydration.
  2. Limit strenuous activities outdoors during the hottest hours between 11:00am to 3:00pm.
  3. Refrain from smoking, which can constrict blood vessels and can inhibit the body’s ability to acclimatize to heat.

New PPE technologies can also bring added comfort to workers in hot and humid environments.

Other options that companies can explore are new Personal Protective Equipment technologies such as cooling vests or Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) where respirators are required.  PAPRs provide constant airflow and are perfect for employees working in humid, hot environments.  Cool air from PAPRs can also extend to the upper torso for increased comfort of workers.

Heat stress should not be taken lightly.  At the Safety Services Company, we encourage companies to engage in monitoring environmental conditions to provide a safe and comfortable working environment for all of their employees.

To see how we can solve your company's heat stress prevention needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Safety Services Company Awarded Construction Tech Review’s Top 10 Safety & Compliance Providers

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Safety Services Company awarded top 10 compliance solutions providers by Construction Tech Review

Top 10 Safety and Compliance Solution Providers - 2019

Safety Services Company, a leading provider of safety and compliance training products and services, is proud to be named as one of the Top 10 Safety and Compliance Solution Providers 2019 by Construction Tech Review magazine, in Safety and Compliance 2019. Construction Tech Review offers a unique platform allowing decision makers to share their insights on construction technology and vendor solutions such as Safety Services Company, news, case studies and more.

Click here to read the entire report.
To be granted this award, Construction Tech Review’s distinguished panel of CEOs, CIOs, VC, Analysts, and the Editorial Board, review hundreds of technology providers and shortlist the ones at the forefront of tackling the challenges to help CIOs in choosing the right solution for their enterprise. The final 10 companies identified exhibit immeasurable knowledge and in-depth expertise in delivering innovative storage technology solutions, enhancing speed, security, and accuracy of applications. Safety Services Company is one of only 10 to make it through this process.

The construction sector is witnessing fluctuations in numerous ways. Construction Business are becoming smarter and it’s significant to recognize that technology is changing the design, procurement, and engineering operations of the construction projects. Safety and Compliance management is also essential for any business as it helps to build a company’s brand reputation.

When it comes to the protection of employees in the construction and oil and gas industries, Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) must religiously maintain compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. But staying ‘OSHA legal’ is no longer enough. Organizations need to look beyond OSHA regulation compliance and create a safer standard of care to protect their employees from workplace injuries, accidents, and physical harm. Safety Services Company is a one-stop-supplier of topnotch safety and compliance products such as safety manuals, training kits, posters, online training, and safety meetings that helps construction and oil and gas businesses keep pace with the evolving OSHA regulations. As Dan Hurdle, the CEO of Safety Services Company describes it, “Unlike the other players in the safety and compliance space, we stand out in the market by addressing businesses’ and contractors’ compliance needs for both OSHA and third party auditor (TPA) platforms.” The company’s team of safety professionals, who create and update the content in its products, diligently customizes the content for a contractor to align with a customer or owner client. While the team constantly monitors the accounts of contractors on TPA platforms, Safety Services Company helps clients meet their compliance requirements with both TPAs and OSHA, saving them time and money.

Click here to download the full report.

About Construction Tech Review

Construction Tech Review offers a unique platform allowing decision makers to share their insights on construction technology, vendor solutions, news, case studies and many more.

(Source: www.constructiontechreview.com)

To see how we can solve your company's safety and compliance needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Preparing for Hurricane Season: Your Essential Guide

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Preparing for Hurricane Season: Your Essential Guide

With the onset of the hurricane season, which for the Atlantic Basin extends from June 1st to November 20th, it’s critical that individuals and employers alike fully prepare for any adverse weather situations they may be exposed to. But what do you need to know to protect yourself, your family and/or your business? Is there a list of essentials that can help you weather a storm and what should you be considering in terms of hurricane, storm or flood insurance? In this article we break everything down for our customers, so they have the tools and the opportunity to safely prepare for the hurricane season.

What Should You Do if Your Area will be Directly Impacted by a Hurricane?

If evacuation is not mandatory and you plan to remain in your home with family, preparation is key to weathering the storm.

Essential items to stock include but are not limited to the following:

1. Water: One gallon per person per day for 3-7 days stored in non-breakable or decomposable containers.

2. Food: Maintain a 3-7 day supply of the following types of foods:

  1. Canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  2. Food for infants and toddlers such as formula and powdered milk
  3. High energy foods such as protein bars, other types of granola bars etc.
  4. Staples such as salt and sugar

3. First Aid Kit: Ensure that your First Aid Kit is stocked with a minimum of the following:

  1. Adhesive bandages, various sizes
  2. Bandage strips and "butterfly" bandages in assorted sizes
  3. Elastic wrap bandages
  4. Eye shield or pads
  5. Large triangular bandages
  6. 5″ x 9″ sterile dressing
  7. Conforming roller gauze bandages
  8. Sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
  9. Roll 3″ cohesive bandage.
  10. Germicidal hand wipes, antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer
  11. Large medical grade non-latex gloves.
  12. Adhesive tape, 2″ width
  13. Anti-bacterial ointment
  14. Instant cold/hot packs
  15. Scissors
  16. Tweezers
  17. CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield
  18. Super glue
  19. Rubber tourniquet
  20. Aluminum finger splint
  21. Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
  22. Duct tape
  23. Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  24. Plastic bags, assorted sizes
  25. Safety pins in assorted sizes
  26. Eyewash solution
  27. Thermometer
  28. Sterile saline for irrigation, flushing
  29. Syringe, medicine cup or spoon
  30. First-aid manual
  31. Hydrogen peroxide

NOTE: Most First Aid kits can be purchased with the majority of these items.

4. Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs:

  1. Aloe Vera gel
  2. Calamine lotion
  3. Anti-diarrhea medication
  4. Laxative
  5. Antacids
  6. Antihistamines
  7. Hydrocortisone cream
  8. Cough and cold medications
  9. Personal medications that do not need refrigeration
  10. Auto-injector of epinephrine, if prescribed by your doctor
  11. Pain relievers (Tylenol etc.)
  12. Inhalers
  13. Prescription drugs
  14. Denture and contact lens needs
  15. Insulin

5. Tools and Supplies: Essential tools should be kept in a kit that can be easily moved as required.

  1. Emergency preparedness manual
  2. Plastic or paper cups, plates, and utensils and containers
  3. Plastic garbage bags, ties
  4. Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  5. Flashlight and extra batteries
  6. Non-electric can opener, utility knife
  7. Fire extinguisher
  8. Pliers
  9. Tape
  10. Lighter or matches in a waterproof container
  11. Aluminum foil
  12. Paper, pencil
  13. Needles, thread
  14. Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  15. Whistle or horn
  16. Plastic sheeting

6. Sanitary Items, Essential Bedding and Clothing: Pack these items in a bag in case evacuation is required on short notice.

  1. Toilet paper, towelettes
  2. Soap, liquid detergent
  3. Feminine supplies
  4. Diapers and bottles
  5. Personal hygiene items
  6. Plastic buckets with tight lid (for personal sanitation if required)
  7. Disinfectant
  8. Household chlorine bleach
  9. Sturdy shoes/rain or work boots
  10. Rain gear
  11. Blankets or sleeping bags
  12. Hat and/or sunglasses/gloves, prescription glasses

7. Important Documents and Items: These items should be kept together, preferably in plastic Ziploc bags or water-tight containers

  1. Cash/change
  2. List of shelters including pet-friendly options
  3. Deed and documentation for House and Vehicles
  4. Wills
  5. Passports
  6. Birth, Marriage and Deaths Certificates
  7. Social Security documents
  8. Driver’s License and Personal Identification Card
  9. House Insurance and Life Insurance Policies
  10. Important contracts
  11. Immunizations records
  12. Credit Card Documents
  13. Any other important documents
  14. Inventory of household items with photos
  15. Photos or mementos

8. Entertainment

  1. Books or Board games and other games that do not require batteries or electricity

Key Considerations

  • Keep a list of Emergency phone numbers, including contact information for your doctor and veterinarian, local emergency services, emergency road service providers and the poison help line (800-222-1222).
  • Consider trimming any overgrown trees and clear drains at the start of the hurricane season to prevent any damage or clogging during a storm.
  • Consider taping windows before an impending storm with duct tape in an ‘X’ shape to prevent their shattering if they break.
  • Purchase sand bags where possible and know how to use them.
  • Remove any furniture, loose items, items attached on the roof that can become projectiles.

How Should Pets be Handled During a Hurricane?

Planning for pets must be a key part of any preparation for an impending hurricane. Where evacuation is mandated, determine which shelters, hotels or boarding facilities (veterinary clinics) are available so pets can be accommodated. Some further considerations include:

  1. Purchase food and litter (if required) and set aside enough bottled water to be used specifically for pet needs.
  2. Set aside carriers and ensure that each pet has its own carrier in an easily reachable location
  3. Leashes and collars should be purchased, particularly identification collars
  4. Consider having pets microchipped
  5. Pets should be up to date on vaccinations
  6. Keep a current photo of your pet(s)

Do You Have Insurance and How Will it Protect You?

There are many different types and the level of coverage provided depends on the type of policy purchased. Therefore, when choosing flood insurance once should consider the following:

  1. Flood insurance is added to a regular homeowner’s policy
  2. The policy should cover the cost to rebuild your entire home
  3. A hurricane deductible may need to be paid based on a percentage of the value of your home. Take a note of the deductible as there may be a ‘special rate’ and a higher deductible applied
  4. Hurricane insurance is different from flood insurance, but a hurricane policy will cover water and wind damage provided that it was caused by the hurricane
  5. Homeowners should be aware of ‘anti-concurrent’ clauses in their policies- This means that if a home is subject to a wind storm (for which they are covered) and then a flood (which they are not), the claim can be denied, even if the wind is what caused damage to the house
  6. Hurricane insurance is specific to the house and does not apply to vehicles but may include food spoilage if it is considered in the policy
  7. Determine if the insurance policy you are covered under will cover your home for the type of water damage it may experience. For example, if the policy covers flood, but not overflow/discharge or sewer/water backup, then the claim may be denied
  8. Renter’s insurance may cover the cost of evacuation, including hotel, airfare and gas
  9. Insurance companies may suspend the issuance of new policies during and after a storm is due to hit a particular area, so do not wait until a storm is on its way to apply for it!

Where Can You Get Recovery Assistance?

In the aftermath of a hurricane, individuals may find it difficult to recover from its impacts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide relief efforts to help rescue and recover persons, but when the immediate dangers from a storm have subsided, financial relief may be necessary.

Recovery Assistance is provided by visiting FEMA’s Individual Disaster Assistance page or calling FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 in order to receive financial assistance in the form of tax relief or loans. You may also qualify for D-SNAP, the disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program that can provide families with a debit-type card with one month’s worth benefits to be used for grocery supplies.

To see how we can solve your company's safety preparedness needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Contractor Management and Safety Culture

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Contractor Management and Safety Culture

Nowadays, outsourcing is a common practice.  Often, this work can be done off site, with little to no risk imposed to that company.  However, there are many instances where work required by a company necessitates bringing contractor employees onsite. When this is done, it's the responsibility of the hiring company to ensure the safety and health of the contractors is managed.  So how is this done? 

Evolution of Contractor Management

Contractor management has evolved significantly. Industries have become increasingly more aware of the dangers in not addressing contractor employee risk through training and adherence to company protocols.  Historically, the view of contractors and their safety was not given much consideration beyond ensuring work performed met the standards required in terms of quality.  Nonetheless, over time it became evident that while companies were investing time in training and informing their own employees about safety risks onsite, contractors were not benefiting from the same knowledge. This led to a higher rate of incidents among this pool of workers.

Pitfalls of Conflicting Views

When work is kept in-house, companies are able to more carefully control all aspects of an employee’s job activities to guarantee work quality and consistency.  Unfortunately, there are many times where specialized knowledge for a particular job is required and a company’s only option is to outsource this work to other businesses who are trained and competent to complete these tasks.  When this occurs, a greater risk is incurred through the loss of control in outsourcing the work. Problems can arise with conflicting views on the importance of safety, the level of risk that each company is willing to absorb, and the procedures used to complete a job that may put a contractor employee in harm’s way.

Safety Program Evaluation

So how can hiring companies keep all of their workers safe while onsite? One high-level way is to understand a potential contractor’s safety program.  Prior to starting work, evaluate contractors from the proposal stage.  A prequalification matrix that incorporates safety is a simple method to quickly understand a contractor’s approach to safety and eliminate unsafe practices before any agreement to perform work is completed. 

Risk Assessment

The second way to approach contractor safety is to complete a risk assessment with your company’s safety team as well as the contractor company team to ensure all parties are examining the risk involved with a job.  To complete a meaningful risk assessment, the persons doing the work must be included in the risk assessment.  It's not sufficient to have just any representative in the risk assessment, even if that representative belongs to the safety department of the contractor company.  The persons performing the task must be present to outline all job activities and how they will be performed so that risks can be properly captured and mitigated.

Orientation Process

Prior to contractors entering and working on a particular site, they must be required to complete a company orientation that specifies any safety concerns, important EHS policies and procedures, as well as emergency response factors such as muster points and escape routes in the event of an emergency.  This is crucial as contractors should be provided with the same level of basic knowledge about a company’s safety practices as employees.

Monitoring

Finally, hiring companies must always monitor work while underway and complete a post job evaluation. Most importantly, monitoring work can help new contractors who may be unfamiliar with a new site by guiding them from the start to follow EHS procedures. Standards can become stale in the mind's of contractors, therefore by monitoring performance, companies emphasize the day-to-day importance they place on safety.  Additionally, evaluating work after it is completed will allow a company to point out any deficiencies that need to be corrected prior to signing off on work completion. With these tools, companies are creating a safety culture inclusive of all of its workers.

To see how we can solve your company's contractor management and safety culture needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Process Safety vs. Personal Safety

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Process Safety Management vs. Personal Safety

Process Safety vs. Personal Safety

For anyone working in safety or in a high-risk industry such as a refinery or manufacturing plant, you’re probably heard the term process safety. In several key ways, process safety is different from occupational health and safety, so why should you know the difference? How can it affect workers onsite if you are already focusing on personal and behavioral safety? Today, we’ll break down the differences so you can understand how these different schools of thought can have a measurable impact on the overall safety of your site.

Personal Safety

Personal safety, also known as occupational health and safety, deals with the individual worker or employee. To mitigate risks, most companies practice this type of safety by ensuring all employees understand the risks of their job duties, along with any inherent risks in their work environment, and wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This multidisciplinary field strives to protect the health and safety of workers, but may also protect customers, other employees not directly related to the job at hand, as well as other persons who may interact with the worksite and its environment.

The concept of occupational health and safety gained prominence in the 20th century as a result of health concerns arising among factory workers subjected to poor working conditions. Moreover, the field has evolved rapidly in recent decades, especially with the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), as well as a wide range of laws aimed to better maintain safe and healthy working environments for employees.

Process Safety

On the other hand, process safety is an even more recent development in the field of safety. Process safety is primarily aimed at putting in place controls to mitigate the risk of major and potentially catastrophic events in the workplace. These can include fires, explosions, or even accidental chemical releases. While the tools used to achieve both personal and process safety may be the same in some cases (e.g. LOTO and the Permit to Work), in other cases the methods of mitigating risk are vastly different. For example, a layers of protection analysis is a process safety-specific tool while PPE is typically viewed as a personal safety control.

Incident Frequencies

Some principal differences between process safety and personal safety are the frequency which these incidents occur and their outcomes. Process safety incidents, though they can be catastrophic and cause significant loss of life or grievous injury, occur much less frequently than personal safety incidents. Most worksites won’t experience a major process safety incident, and minor process safety incidents tend to occur at a lesser rate than their personal safety counterparts.

Furthermore, process safety events tend to concentrate on preventing hazardous releases of chemicals, energy, or any other hazardous material that can threaten a company’s operations and cause serious damage to person or property. Conversely, personal safety is designed to prevent more common incidents, such as falls, manual handling incidents, or personal injury from contact with biological, chemical or electrical agents.

Mitigation Systems vs. Behavioral Changes

Another key difference between process safety and personal safety is that process safety tends to focus on mitigating risks through the inherent design of a system, whereas personal safety focuses on enforcing behavioral changes in individual workers and teams in order to prevent incidents. Additionally, process safety is tasked with examining the impact of hazards on all workers, the environment, property, along with any reputational risks that may be experienced by the company.

Which is Most Important?

When it comes to process safety vs. personal safety, both are crucial in maintaining overall safety, with neither safety discipline being more significant than the other. Companies should strive to strike a balance between both process and personal safety in order to prevent incidents, small or large, from impacting their operations.

To see how we can solve your site's process and personal safety needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Marijuana Regulation at Work: Your Responsibilities

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Marijuana Regulation at Work

Understandably, marijuana regulation at work has been a topic of much discussion in the media and at the state and federal regulatory levels over the past few years. With 8 states that have approved the use of recreational marijuana and 18 states permitting the use of medical marijuana, it’s critical for companies operating in these areas to understand their legal responsibilities and how to deal with cannabis use at worksites. Today, we’ll clarify the complex rules applied at the state and federal levels to provide this much needed clarity to companies and ensure compliance with OSHA regulations.

State and Federal Usage Regulations

For starters, there’s a wide variation in the allowance of cannabis use from state to state, and at the federal level, marijuana is still considered to be a Schedule 1 drug. Due to this gray area, companies with high risk operations may still be required to prohibit its usage, even if its use is allowed at the state level.

Recreational use of marijuana is currently permitted in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.

Controlled Substances Act

At present, the US Department of Justice reserves the right to prosecute those persons who distribute marijuana, even for medical reasons. However, the Justice Department has deferred its right to prosecute and instead expects states where cannabis use is legal to strictly adhere to and enforce the laws surrounding its usage. At this time, marijuana remains on the Schedule 1 list of drugs under the Controlled Substances Act due to its possibility of dependency and lack of accepted medical use at the federal level.

DOT Workplaces

With conflicting applications of the law on marijuana use both recreationally and medically, where do companies stand in terms of applying the laws to their operations and to avoid discriminating against their employees? The guidance given to employers, particularly those in the construction and energy sectors as well as other high-risk industries, is to prevent employees from working while impaired through the use of marijuana. To clarify, marijuana use has been largely prohibited for companies whose work is covered by federal regulations, such as the Department of Transportation or those under federal contracts. This means that employees with professions under DOT should not be found to be under the influence of marijuana, such as:

  • Pilots
  • Bus and truck drivers
  • Subway operators
  • Ship captains

Note, this list is non-exhaustive and can extend to maintenance personnel for vehicles in aviation, marine and land transportation as well as other professionals under DOT.

Medical Use

For those employees who have been prescribed marijuana for medical purposes, it is unlikely that the Americans with Disabilities Act could apply in this case because cannabis is still considered illegal at the federal level. However, employment laws may vary by state, so it’s best practice to seek further legal advice before introducing policies and procedures that enforce a zero-tolerance policy to marijuana use. Ultimately, it is an employer’s responsibility under OSHA to provide a safe place of work for all employees and to avoid allowing employees to work on a job site where the risk of injury can be high while they are impaired due to improper usage. Therefore, companies instituting drug and alcohol policies as well as drug screening for employees may well be within their right to do so in order maintain workplace safety.

Marijuana Policies

Regardless of your state of operation, it's best to have a clear policy on marijuana use both onsite and offsite in order to avoid any situation that may compromise a safe working environment. In general, companies should outline a limit of 5 ng/mL of THC in serum or plasma in their drug procedure and inform employees that persons will be obliged to submit to a drug screening test upon hire, at regular intervals throughout their employment as well as in the case where impairment is suspected.

To see how we can solve your regulatory safety needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. 

Technology-Based Improvements in Occupational Health and Safety

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Technology-Based Improvements in Occupational Health and Safety

As HSE professionals, we’re always looking for a way to continually improve the health and safety of our worksites. One of the ways this can be achieved is through using new innovations in technology that not only make work easier and more efficient, but help professionals reduce the number of incidents at a worksite through data analytics as well as useful tools to prevent injuries. Today, we’ll look at some of the new technologies that are completely revolutionizing the health and safety sector that can be easily applied to your business.

Digital Recordkeeping for Safety Data

For companies with many worksites or those with a centralized recordkeeping system, one way to give HSE professionals quick access to useful data that can inform decisions, is through utilizing computer-based technologies. Instead of old-fashioned paper documentation, companies can choose to shift to tablet or phone devices with apps that can record audits, safety inspections, and incident observations, then transmit this real-time data to a centralized database.

Additionally, safety professionals can access these databases to review trends for particular incident categories, contractor companies or worksites, while also allowing them the ability to efficiently filter the data and look at historical trends to quickly identify the root cause of an incident and prevent future incidents from occurring. In addition to storage and access to an organized database of EHS information, safety programs that apply risk management and assessment filters to particular scenarios allows for decisions to be made in the field that can alter work practices in order to prevent future risk.

Journey Management for Incident Reduction

Businesses that employ a vast number of vehicles as part of their day-to-day operations will benefit from using journey management software to carefully track their employees and the safe use of their vehicles while in operation. Journey management software provides a diverse range of features, such as GPS tracking of vehicles including speed limit compliance, check-in reminders for employees as well as risk assessments that can be conducted for each planned trip prior to its undertaking. Any serious risks during the journey can be managed through escalation alerts with real time dashboard data, journey mapping and audit logs.

Virtual Reality Simulation for HSE Training

Traditional training methods are generally carried out by an in-person trainer using a mixture of oral and visual presentations of data. However, studies have found that employees learn better through hands on instruction, by doing and carrying out activities during training rather than listening to information that is being presented to them. In this sense, virtual reality simulation trainings can be beneficial because it allows employees to be virtually present in a particular site that they will work in and presents various safety scenarios that the employee might encounter. Virtual and augmented reality glasses are growing rapidly in popularity and as their usage becomes more prevalent, the overall cost of employing these tools in training is becoming more accessible and less expensive.

Smart Safety Clothing

Safety clothing has evolved significantly as awareness of potential risks and hazards at worksites has increased. One of the emerging trends in safety clothing is the incorporation of new digital tools to improve worker safety based on more significant incidents experienced in the construction industry. For the prevention of falls for example, safety vests may include an air bag collar to protect workers and may come equipped with vital signs monitors. Some hard hats incorporate LED lights as beacons as well as work lights for nighttime use. Instead of traditional batteries, these tools can be charged kinetically or through solar power. Other trends include clothing that can monitor vital signs through heart rates and temperature in order to alert workers or their supervisors to fatigue risks as well as narcotics use.

To see how we can solve your safety needs with innovative technologies, check out our services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today.