An incident report is one of the most valuable tools an employer can have in their commitment to a safe and healthful workplace. After managing the aftermath of an incident, it’s important to move forward in ways that ensure a similar incident doesn’t occur again in the future – to learn from mistakes, so to speak. A strong incident report will help you achieve this goal by detailing the events surrounding the incident, identifying a root cause, and leading to an effective course of corrective action.
The incident reporting process consists of four steps:
Step 1: Control the Scene
Before you can do anything, you need to make sure the scene of the incident is under control. If the scene remains hazardous, such as in the case of fire or chemical spill, those dangers need to be neutralized and workers evacuated as necessary. If any workers were injured during the incident, they must receive the appropriate first aid, plus medical attention or transportation to a medical facility if the injuries are severe. A supervisor should be notified as soon as possible if for some reason one wasn’t present during the incident.
After focusing on controlling imminent hazards and injured workers, it’s time to lock down the scene. Only authorized personnel should be allowed in the area. Do not move any items unless absolutely necessary for safety, as you will want to properly document the scene with photographs and drawings during the next step.
Step 2: Conduct an Investigation
Since the end goal of an incident report is a corrective action plan, you’ll want to know as much as possible about what led up to the incident. Without a clear idea of how the incident occurred, you won’t be able to determine what measures to implement in order to prevent it from happening again. To obtain this information, an investigation is necessary. Scrutinize the incident scene carefully, taking pictures and sketching a layout that accurately depicts the area. Having this information documented may be beneficial beyond the report itself, should you find yourself subject to OSHA investigation.
There is a limit to how much information you can gather by evaluating the scene of the incident; the rest of what you need to know will come from those involved. Conduct interviews with workers present for the incident as soon as possible, while their memories are still fresh. Interviews should be performed with tact and care, especially if the incident was severe, as workers involved may be under a lot of emotional stress. Furthermore, it’s possible a worker will be on edge out of fear that the interview will lead to disciplinary action. Speak calmly, professionally, and reassure the worker that your only goal is to learn about what happened.
Between investigating the scene and interviewing workers, the information you want includes:
Date, time, and location of the incident
The names, positions, and immediate supervisors of those involved, and witnesses
Events surrounding the incident (before, during, and after)
Exactly what those involved were doing when the incident occurred
Details of property damage
Specifics regarding any injuries, including what part of the body was injured, what type of injury, and the severity of the injury, as well as what treatments were administered
Environmental conditions, such as weather (if outdoors), slippery surfaces, noise levels, etc.
Tasks performed, equipment and materials involved, and personal protective equipment used
Take care to document this information in your report as thoroughly as necessary to ensure that anyone reading it would be able to develop a clear mental picture of the incident based on what you’ve written. Generally speaking, because this is essentially a preventative tool, the more information provided the better.
Step 3: Analyze Information and Determine Root Causes
This is where you’ll find out exactly what your corrective action will address. If you’re only looking at the big picture, you’ll see a variety of contributing factors which led to the incident. These are important in terms of making the proper adjustments going forward, but what you really want is to know what caused the incident at the core. This is known as the “root cause.”
Let’s imagine a new employee was operating a powered industrial truck (PIT) when he lost control and crashed into a stack of pallets. Injuries were minimal, but there was a good amount of property damage and everyone involved was shaken. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the PIT had faulty brakes. Now, to determine the root causes of the incident, you’ll want to ask a series of questions that look beyond the obvious. The obvious states that bad brakes led to a loss of control, but why were the brakes faulty? Is there a preventative maintenance schedule (and if one was followed, why wasn’t the PIT marked as out of service?)? The employee was new – had he received adequate training and certification prior to operating the PIT? Why wasn’t the PIT inspected before use?
The answers to these questions will provide you with your root causes, which lead to the final step:
Step 4: Develop a Corrective Course of Action
With your incident report fully fleshed out, the last step is to use the information you’ve acquired to determine and document precisely how you’ll prevent a similar incident from reoccurring. Revisiting the previous example, this would include implementing a written preventative maintenance schedule and holding maintenance personnel accountable for it. If the new employee had not received the training necessary to safely operate a PIT, then you’ll want to examine how training is administered and how supervisors can test for skill. Once you’ve implemented corrective actions, be sure to reexamine your report at a later date in the near future to ensure these actions were sufficient.
With the holiday season underway, this is the time of year when it’s important to shed additional light on the safety hazards involved with large crowds. Crowd management has been of particular interest since the 2008 death of a retail worker who was trampled during a Black Friday retail event. Since then, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has paid extra attention to the development and distribution of crowd management training and guidelines.
Effective crowd management focuses on both the safety of attendees and employees and the protection of your business’ physical assets. Hazards during the assembly of a large crowd are presented by the crowd itself and the establishment. Common hazards associated with the crowd include crushing (between people and against fixed structures), aggressive behavior, surging and swaying, trampling underfoot, and hazardous behavior such as climbing structures and throwing objects. Hazards associated with the establishment can include slips, trips, and falls, equipment failure, fire sources, structure collapse, choked crowd movement (due to congestion near restrooms or food/drink venues, for example), moving vehicles or equipment sharing space with pedestrians, and obstructed entry and egress.
Proper planning is key in managing a crowd. Before an event, businesses should perform a thorough hazard assessment to determine safety risks in the establishment. Respond to any known safety hazards appropriately; remove obstructions from walkways and supply extra garbage receptacles to reduce the amount of potential floor debris, for example. Hire and/or schedule additional general work staff and members of security/law enforcement as necessary. Also contact your local fire and police departments to ensure your establishment meets all public safety requirements, and that all permits and licenses are obtained.
Employees should be trained in crowd management procedures and your company’s emergency response plan. Designate employees to stations throughout the establishment so they are able to focus on a particular zone and do not become overwhelmed, and assign key members of management to make snap decisions and contact emergency responders if necessary. An emergency plan needs to cover potential dangers such as fire, overcrowding, crushing, and fire. Employees must be able to maintain communication with one another throughout the event – two-way radios are generally sufficient. Ensure there is plenty of visible signage to indicate important locations such as entries, exits, and restrooms.
The use of barriers may be a necessary addition to your crowd management controls. Barriers serve a number of purposes, such as managing the behavior of a crowd, controlling the flow and movement of lines, preventing overcrowding, general security, and shielding attendees from safety hazards. While barriers are effective and generally recommended, be sure to take their own hazards into consideration. Factors to consider are loads on the barrier (crowd pressure and wind), the size of the audience, topography, and layout.
Events that conclude without incident are the result of professionalism and trained personnel, but emergencies can arise regardless of how well you’ve prepared. Employees should know who to contact for emergency medical response, and should follow emergency responder instructions regardless of company policies. First-aid kits, Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) and fire extinguishers should be located throughout the establishment, and employees should be trained on their uses.
If you’ve seen how successfully Learning Management Systems (LMS) have changed the way businesses are training employees these past few years, you probably want to know how your business can get in on the action. Before you can make the jump, however, you’ll be want absolutely sure that transitioning to eLearning is the right move and worth the initial investment. A great place to start in making that sort of decision is getting to understand what benefits come with an LMS, and where you can expect to see cost savings and a return on investment.
First, let’s take a look at some of the core benefits provided by an LMS:
Centralized Learning: This is often considered the most significant benefit of implementing an LMS as your primary training deployment method. Centralized learning means that all aspects of training, its courses, user performance, and development tools are available at any time, from anywhere, from the same online location. Any number of learners or administrators can log in to the system for training, review, or customization at the same time. Centralized learning also means that training is delivered consistently, presenting the same content to all users with zero fluctuation.
Customization: Businesses are ever-growing entities, with new procedures, equipment, job titles, and compliance requirements being introduced all the time. The ability to quickly adapt to these changes in training needs is important, and the customization tools offered by an LMS can help achieve that. Businesses can introduce new material and target it for department-specific training at any time without the burden of orchestrating a scheduled face-to-face training program for large numbers of employees.
Progress Tracking and Reporting: LMSs provide administrators with consistently-updated results of employees’ training efforts. Using these results, management can identify who engaged in what training, and where improvement is needed. Progress tracking fosters further value in that it can identify employees who have demonstrated advanced proficiency in their position and may be best qualified for promotion, thus maximizing the potential of your current workforce.
Reduced Administrative Costs: Depending on the number of employees in your business, it can require quite a few members of staff to oversee and manage your workplace safety program. Employees with the knowledge and skills to administer training initiatives can most likely be better allocated to other positions where those skills can increase productivity. An LMS requires far fewer employee hours to micromanage than a traditional training program.
Usability: The best LMSs out there have a user interface that is intuitive and easy to use. There is very little in-person training involved when getting the system up and running and fully integrated into the workplace. The system usability doesn’t change, so as policies and procedures continue to grow, there isn’t any backtracking involved where relearning the interface is concerned.
Simple Expansion: An LMS makes introducing new training material very, very simple, and drastically reduces the complications of distribution. Because everything is centrally located, any new course material added or updates incorporated to existing material is available to all users as soon as it’s added.
Extensive Training Libraries: When purchasing an LMS from Safety Services Company, businesses not only receive the system itself, but access to hundreds of courses spanning numerous industries across the country. The development of training programs becomes a non-issue, as we either have what you need or will create custom solutions to meet your training needs. There is no need to worry about contracting and hosting a qualified trainer, which can be very costly, every time you need to deploy new training.
Mobile Learning: Most LMSs are designed to be accessed from any internet-capable technology, from desktop computers to smartphones. Trainees often respond best to small chunks of learning accessed at brief, convenient intervals, as opposed to traditional classroom training in 60- to 90-minute sessions. This can be achieved through the use of mobile electronic devices, letting employees undergo training during downtime, on their work commute, or at home. Mobile accessibility also eliminates the need to interrupt productivity for training, as employees can choose the most convenient times to complete it without abandoning time-sensitive work activities.
The Return on Investment of a Learning Management System
Calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) of an LMS can be tricky, because safety training doesn’t have an immediate reward involved (it’s difficult to measure the effects of a workplace injury on the bottom line when the injury is only hypothetical). Actual numbers will also depend on a variety of factors unique to your business, such as specific needs (why you’re investigating an LMS to begin with), number of employees, type of training and industry (one business may have different compliance requirements than another), and how geographically diverse the business is (i.e. is there more than one location? Is travel often necessary for training?).
Start by looking at how an LMS will offer immediate savings over traditional training methods – savings that are visible as soon as implementation begins:
Fewer costs for training travel and training equipment and facilities, since training is all completed online
More training efficiency, as an LMS lets management customize training to target an individual rather than delivering prepackaged training programs which may include information not pertinent to a given employee
Eliminating unnecessary training systems and equipment because an LMS is hosted online in a central location
Less time spent away from work activities. This means greater productivity and fewer distractions
No more trainer fees or costs to create, store, and deliver training supplies and materials. Cost savings are produced further by the fact that updates, such as those provided by Safety Services Company, are automatic and reflect changes to safety regulations and compliance
Better scheduling efficiency, since employees can access training remotely, rather than attending a formal training class where several employees are away from their jobs at once
Safety Services Company is North America’s leading provider of safety and compliance training products and services. There is no limit to how we can help transform the way you achieve compliance and increase the potency of your workplace safety culture. Learn more about our Learning Management System and other safety-related services here.
Occupational hearing loss affects millions of workers across the country. This type of injury can severely limit an individual’s ability to function normally, and reduces their quality of life. Businesses can expect to see a negative impact on productivity and profit as well as an increase in lost-time and workers’ compensation claims, leading to numerous additional hidden costs. Not only is it in your best interest to limit noise exposure in order to protect your bottom line, it is your duty and responsibility to provide your employees with a safe and healthful workplace.
How Does The Ear Work?
Sound begins by hitting the outer ear. When this happens, vibrations move towards and touch the ear drum, which transmits them to the middle and inner ear. Once at the middle ear, three bones (the malleus, the stapes, and the incus – also known as the hammer, stirrup, and anvil, respectively), take the vibrations and amplify them towards the inner ear. Within the middle ear, the cochlea, a spiral-shaped section of the ear filled with fluid and hair-lined cells, take the vibrations and translate them into nerve pulses by way of movement of the microscopic hairs. This translation becomes the sound we hear. When extremely loud noise makes its way into the cochlea, these hairs can be damaged or destroyed, resulting in hearing loss.
Measuring Noise Exposure
When measuring noise, we observe unites of sound pressure levels called decibels (dB). This term originated in the early 20th century based on measuring telephony power in the United States, through the Bell system of companies. A decibel is one tenth of a bel, named after Alexander Graham Bell. The version of the measurement we use for occupational noise exposure is the A-weighted version (dBA), which gives less weight to very low and very high noise frequencies has a stronger correlation with noise-related hearing damage. Decibels are further measured on a logarithmic scale, meaning that a small difference in the number of decibels corresponds with a massive difference in actual noise, and thereby potential for hearing loss. Dangerous decibel levels require monitoring, planning, and controls to keep noise from causing worker injury. Any noise with a decibel measurement over 85 dbA is considered hazardous.
What Kind of Damage Can You Expect?
Workers exposed to high levels of noise can expect the potential for permanent hearing loss, even if the exposure is infrequent. Hearing lost in this way is irreparable; there are currently no surgical or auxiliary options available today which can repair loss caused by damaged or destroyed cochlear hair cells. Singular incidents of extreme noise exposure may also lead to short-term hearing loss or changes in hearing (e.g. an individual may feel like their ears are plugged, or hear a persistent ringing). While often temporary to a matter of minutes or hours, frequent exposure can easily lead to these symptoms being permanent. Furthermore, those with noise-related hearing loss may be unable to understand speech or recognize sounds at higher frequencies.
Physiological damage aside, excessive noise can also increase stress in afflicted individuals, both physically and psychologically. It can inhibit the ability to communicate effectively, and increase the potential for dangerous incidents by making it difficult to concentrate or hear important safety or warning alarms and signals.
Engineering controls are the most preferred option in any hazard-mitigation hierarchy. They essentially involve eliminating a hazard altogether through displacement, replacement, installations, or other physical changes. Where noise is concerned, engineering controls take the source of noise and either eliminate it or, somewhere along its path, intercept it and reduce it below hazardous levels before it reaches the worker. Examples include selecting equipment which generates less noise as the same efficiency, installing barriers such as walls or insulation between the source and the worker, maintaining noise-generating equipment (e.g. proper lubrication) to eliminate preventable noise, and isolating the noise altogether.
Administrative controls involve modifying procedures, schedules, or behaviors in order to reduce hazard exposure as much as possible. These controls fall just below engineering controls in terms of effectiveness and desirability. Some examples of administrative controls which can reduce noise exposure include scheduling workers in limited, short shifts to work in noisy situations, positioning work at a long distance from loud noise sources, providing quiet rest areas for reprieve and relief, and scheduling work which generates excessive noise while the fewest workers possible are on site.
Personal Protective Equipment
Although personal protective equipment (PPE) is the least effective control method for mitigating hazards, it should always be used in conjunction with the others. Workers involved in operations where noise levels are above 85 dBA should wear ear plugs or other noise-reducing or –cancelling devices, so long as they don’t interfere with the worker’s ability to work safely and communicate properly.
Hearing Conservation Programs
Developing a thorough, comprehensive hearing conservation program is essential in any business’ efforts to prevent hearing loss, protect existing hearing, and convey crucial information to workers in the form of knowledge and training. Employees from the top down need to know how to operate a workplace in such a way that everyone involved with noisy work is properly safeguarded. Employers need to measure and monitor noise levels in the work place, give workers access to hearing exams, and provide workers with necessary PPE and training.
Workplaces with strong hearing conservation programs see more productivity and fewer losses through injuries and lost-time claims. To learn how Safety Services Company can assist you with creating such a program, or perfecting an existing one, visit www.safetyservicescompany.com.
With cooler temperatures setting in and winter proper right around the corner, workers around the country are facing a uniquely seasonal variety of injuries known as “cold stress.” Although cold stress is possible any time of year, cold weather along with a number of other environmental factors can expose unprepared workers to extreme bodily harm, and even death. Before it gets any colder, now is a good time for businesses to examine their cold stress prevention policies to ensure employees have the tools, knowledge, and training they need to stay warm and work safely.
Awareness and preparedness are the two critical elements of cold stress prevention. It’s important to understand how the human body maintains and regulates its temperature, and how to recognize the warning signs which develop when those systems are failing. Because a variety of factors contribute to cold stress injuries – not just extreme temperatures alone – a worker could be suffering even if it doesn’t seem all that cold outside; having the skills to spot symptoms outside of expected conditions could be crucial for someone’s survival.
Though the right conditions can put anyone at risk, there are some occupations which, by their very nature, put workers in a position to be more frequently exposed to cold weather. These occupations can include sanitation, outdoor construction, snow removal, law enforcement, and emergency response (i.e. firefighters and emergency medical crews).
Conditions (aside from low temperatures) which increase the risk of cold stress include:
Moisture or damp clothes
Time of day (specifically, how much sun warmth is present)
Dehydration and physical exhaustion
Age (your body does not regulate temperature as efficiently as you get older)
Certain health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes
Poor or ineffective clothing and personal protective equipment
Lack of training
Cold stress injuries occur when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Your body tries to maintain a core temperature of 98.6°F (37°C). As you are exposed to lower temperatures, your body will prioritize its heat by taking it away from your extremities and reallocating it to the vital internal organs at your core (chest, abdomen). This is why the first places you feel cold are your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Exposed skin (especially extremities) can quickly develop cold stress ailments such as frostbite and chilblains. Once your body’s internal temperature reaches 95°F (35°C), hypothermia will begin to set in.
Moisture is the enemy. To drive the point home, that really bears repeating – moisture is the enemy. The simplest way to understand this concept is to consider our body’s primary self-cooling function: perspiration. When the body needs to cool itself down, it expels moisture through the pores. Firstly, moisture conducts heat 25 percent faster than air, carrying it from the body. Then, the heat is carried away further when the sweat evaporates. So if the human body is using moisture as a life-saving measure to remove heat, imagine how detrimental it would be if the body were already cold.
Wind isn’t much better than moisture. Your body naturally radiates heat, leaving what we’ll call a thin “heat shield” over your skin. Moving air acts as a conductor, blowing the heat shield away and forcing your body to expend precious energy in order to produce a new one. This works much in the same way as blowing on your hot soup before you eat it – the moving air cools the soup down faster. You’ve probably heard your local television weather anchors discuss “wind chill,” which is a function to describe how cold it feels after actual outside temperature and wind speeds are calculated together. The greater the wind speeds, the colder it feels.
Now that we have an idea how our bodies work in the cold, what are some ways we can protect workers from cold stress?
Dressing properly is probably the most important step you can actively take to prevent cold stress. Wear at least three layers. The inner-most layer should be made of wool (or another animal fiber), silk, or a synthetic/synthetic blend to absorb and keep moisture away. The middle layer should be animal fiber or synthetic for the insulation properties, even when wet. The outermost layer should allow for ventilation and built for protecting against wind and rain. Avoid cotton.
Engineering controls are ways for an employer to set up and design a work space to eliminate or minimize a hazard. In cold-weather situations, engineering controls can include radiant heaters, indoor heated rest areas, and even erecting barriers to protect workers from the wind.
In some areas of the country, the dead of winter comes with brutal winter chill 24 hours a day. Employers can still monitor the weather and attempt to schedule work during the warm(est) times of day.
Safe Work Practices
Promoting safe behavior during the work day can go a long way. Provide warm, sweet liquids while avoiding caffeine or other diuretics which could contribute to dehydration. No one should ever work alone; workers should be scheduled with at least one buddy, as it’s sometimes easier to recognize cold stress symptoms in others than in yourself. New employees, or those unaccustomed to working in extreme temperatures, should be acclimated slowly through gradual schedule increases and rest time decreases (start them with more frequent breaks).
Ultimately, formal training is the way to go. Never send a worker into a cold environment without the knowledge they need to keep themselves and others safe. Workers should know how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses, and how to address them with first aid should they appear. For more safety and training resources for cold stress prevention, visit www.safetyservicescompany.com.
The requests for topics on Oil Cleanup Safety materials have been overwhelming since the BP Disaster. We thought it would be helpful to provide a basic overview of oil cleanup safety, where to get started and what the requirements are.
First off, it’s important to remember that the gulf oil cleanup is a massive coordinated effort that cannot possibly be perfect. In addition to the dangers of exposure to crude oil, chemical additives, dispersants and cleaning chemicals, workers are forced to deal with all the standard job-site hazards such as sharp objects, falls, drowning, wildlife and heat exhaustion in the dizzying gulf summer. We do know that OSHA is taking this seriously, however. Some quick facts provided by OSHA :
OSHA Currently has more than 2,000 federal employees overseeing the efforts of 25,000 workers and 5,000+ boats.
OSHA is working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH ) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to ensure that appropriate training is provided to workers that BP is hiring to help cleanup the oil. Emphasis is placed on ensuring workers were trained in a language and vocabulary they understand. OSHA, along with NIEHS, continues to monitor this program. In response to recently received information, OSHA is in the process of increasing the training requirement for crews on vessels engaged in offshore oil recovery
OSHA personnel were deployed to the Gulf the week of April 26th. Since then OSHA personnel have been deployed to all 17 staging areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. OSHA staff is on the ground monitoring worker safety and health and assessing whether BP is providing appropriate worker safety and health protections. In coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, OSHA staff also board near-shore vessels doing booming, skimming operations, and in situ burning operations, and are stationed on offshore vessels for longer periods.
Every day OSHA has over 146 professionals protecting workers throughout the Gulf Region, 25 of whom are assigned solely to the Oil Response Clean up. OSHA staff is in the field and on boats to make sure BP is protecting cleanup workers from health and safety hazards. In addition, OSHA’s Health Response Team (from Salt Lake City) arrived in Louisiana on May 6th to provide technical support (for worker exposure monitoring) to OSHA response site personnel.
OSHA staff have made over 1000 site visits, covering the vessels of opportunity, staging areas, decontamination, distribution, and deployment sites.
When OSHA finds safety problems on site visits or learns about them from workers, it brings them to the attention of BP and makes sure they are corrected. OSHA also raises its concerns through the Unified Command so they are addressed across the entire response area. OSHA is ensuring that workers are provided, free of charge, appropriate personal protective equipment such as boots, gloves and other protective equipment as needed.
If you would like to get involved with oil spill cleanup, or have lost your employment due to the oil spill, we highly recommend visiting the CareerOneStop website, which is a great comprehensive resource and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Access by clicking the links below :
OSHA’s golden rule : Your employer is responsible for training you in the hazards of your job in a language that you understand BEFORE YOU BEGIN WORK. They are responsible for determining the amount and length of training based on your job duties and hazards.
OSHA’s basic training fact sheet states :
If you are doing work that does NOT involve materials contaminated by the spill, you must receive a 1.5 hour training session
If you ARE doing work cleaning up anything contaminated by the spill, you must receive a minimum of 4 hours of training which are supervised by people with more than 40 hours of Hazardous Operations training.
The company or contractor you work for is alsoresponsible for establishing safe work practices and giving you the personal protective equipment you need to do your job safely.
They are also responsible for developing a health and safety site plan and sharing it with you. The plan should have information about all the job site hazards and requirements for working safely.
Now that spring is here and the weather is warming, it’s time to get training into full swing. No, we’re not talking about baseball; we’re talking about safety training. If your business has been in winter hibernation, now is the time to get your employees in shape for the regular season.
It’s time to review your training records and see if you have any equipment operators that are due for re-certification or need to be trained on new equipment. This is a good time to schedule refresher training on the fundamentals of general safe work practices such as the use of PPE, material handling, fire prevention, and electrical safety. If there have been any changes in the types of protective equipment workers will use they will need training on them.
If your work includes using ladders or scaffolds, retrain everyone on safe climbing procedures and fall protection. Verify that employees who will be responsible for assembling, moving, and disassembling scaffolds have retained the knowledge necessary to perform that work safely.
You should also review your list first aid providers to make sure it’s current, and determine if you want to increase the number of certified personnel. Since certification or refresher, training for your responders will likely require scheduling the training with an approved organization (i.e. the Red Cross or St. John Ambulance), now is the time to contact them and either schedule a company training session or enroll employees into existing classes.
While we’re on the subject of first aid, you should take this opportunity to inspect, inventory, and replenish your first aid kits. Make sure you have enough kits of the right size for the upcoming jobs, and that all of the kit contents are there and haven’t expired or been damaged.
Scheduling training now, before it gets busy, could save you a lot of time or money later. It’s going to be a long season, make sure your team is ready to go the distance and is bringing their “A” game.
Two scaffold safety organizations have developed a concise scaffolding code of safe practices that would beneficial for employers to post at worksites, follow and instill in all applicable workers.
With enough content to fill a small poster, the code covers general guidelines as well as erection, use, and dismantling. Download it here now, and put it to use.
The rules don’t go into all systems so any manufacturer guidelines also need to be followed. Instead this is a way to reinforce basic rules that should be common sense, but can easily be broken without proper education and constant reminders.
In the general guidelines is a step to survey and correct job site hazards looking for: untamped earth fills, ditches, debris, high tension wires, and unguarded openings. In the erection section is a reminder that free standing scaffold towers need to be restrained from tipping if they vertically exceed four times the base, with a 3 to 1 ratio for other agencies such as CAL/OSHA. Dismantling guidelines remind workers to be mindful that the scaffolding isn’t made unsafe in the process, visually check planks, not accumulate excess equipment on each level, or remove ties until the level above is dismantled…
An Industrial Hygienist (IH) is a safety expert whose three main jobs are to anticipate hazards, evaluate the worksite for risks, and work out the best way to control them. Do you need an IH at your worksite, and if you do, are they operating ethically according to these guiding principles?
1. Follow Recognized Scientific Principles.
Industrial Hygienists shall practice their profession following recognized scientific principles with the realization that the lives, health, and well-being of people may depend upon their professional judgment and that they are obligated to protect the health and well-being of people.
Base conclusions on principles and practices that protect employees health and safety.
Do not deceive, falsify, misrepresent, or leave out facts.
2. Provide Guidance Based on Facts.
Industrial Hygienists shall counsel affected parties factually regarding potential health risks and precautions necessary to avoid adverse health effects.
Gather facts on potential hazards from trusted sources
Review the known information
Take the necessary steps to communicate the risks to affected parties: management, clients, employees, subcontractors, and other employers at the worksite
3. Keep Employee and Company Information Confidential
Industrial Hygienists shall keep confidential personal and business information obtained during the exercise of industrial hygiene activities, except when required by law or overriding health and safety considerations.
Relate necessary information to protect worker health and safety
Notify employer, client or appropriate authority when overruled judgment may endanger someone’s health and safety.
Obtain the information owner’s unambiguous authorization before releasing confidential personal or business information, except where a law or regulation requires its release.
4. Prevent Conflicts of Interest
Industrial Hygienists shall avoid circumstances where a compromise of professional judgment or conflict of interest may arise.
Immediately disclose potential conflicts of interest to affected parties
Don’t accept financial benefits from anyone who may want to influence a decision
Do not offer valuable considerations to get a job
Warn employers when you think a project will not successfully improve conditions
Do not accept work that hinders ability to finish current jobs
Always resolve conflicts in a way that protects the health of affected parties
5. Stay Within Your Expertise
Industrial Hygienists shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.
Only carry out jobs when properly qualified – through education, training, or experience – or have sufficient qualified assistance
Earn the necessary qualifications required by federal, state and local regulatory agencies before starting related work
Only attach or authorize the use of their seal, stamp or signature when the document is prepared by them or someone directly under their control
6. Uphold the Integrity of the Profession
Industrial Hygienists shall act responsibly to uphold the integrity of their profession.
Don’t do anything that will discredit the profession
Don’t lie to the public
Do not connect your name to a person or firm that you believe is being dishonest
Don’t lie about your education, experience or credentials
Don’t promote expertise or services in a way that misrepresents or leaves out a fact needed to keep the statement from being untrue
Do not allow employees or employers to misrepresent your professional background, expertise or services
We have complete OSHA compliant safety solutions for all your needs. Call (888) 247-6136 today to speak with one of our highly skilled safety experts.
Other Safety School articles that examine the more academic concepts of occupational safety:
Federal OSHA regulations are simply the minimum standard. About half of the U.S. states have taken advantage of their own authority to make stricter, or additional, rules.
Maryland OSHA (MOSH) is one of the “state plan” states that administer their own “mini-OSHA.” MOSH has beefed up their regulations on everything from:
Asbestos in protective clothing
Smoking at work
Powered equipment training
Reporting toxic substances
Medical surveillance testing for lead poisoning, to
Tree care and removal
The designs for sloping, benching and support, shields, or other protective systems designed from tabulated data or a registered professional engineer need to be at the worksite while they are being constructed, according to the Federal government.
MOSH wants employers to keep those designs at the worksite even longer to include while they are being used in the larger construction project.
Asbestos in Protective Clothing
Asbestos is as useful as it is deadly, and before its carcinogenic hazards were fully known, asbestos was utilized as heat insulating protective clothing. But because asbestos protective clothing that is improperly maintained can expose employees to that hazard, Maryland has banned employers from buying, using, requiring a worker to use or even keeping any asbestos clothing at a place of employment.
Smoking at Work
Every state has its own smoking laws. Some ban smoking within 20 feet of a business’s entrance; some have exceptions for bars and restaurants – but not Maryland.
MOSH makes it clear that smoking is not allowed in any indoor place of employment, and that there must be a “No Smoking” posted at each entrance.
OSHA’s 1910.146 regulation defines confined and permit required confined spaces, with employer and employee responsibilities.
Maryland decided to eliminate some guesswork and make a rule that, with limited exceptions, requires there to be at least one other person immediately nearby when someone enters a manhole.
The exception to this rule is if the employee can go into the manhole with cables or equipment to take readings, perform housekeeping or an inspection, or complete some other safe task.
Powered Equipment Training
OSHA has specific training regulations for some heavy equipment such as: forklifts and cranes. However, for earthmoving equipment such as scrapers, loaders, tractors, bulldozers, off-highway trucks, graders and similar equipment, the training requirements are vague, and you have to refer to General Safety and Health Provisions training element, 1926.21, which requires employees are able to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions in their work environment.
For its part, Maryland, has established some training elements for what it defines as power equipment: backhoes, bulldozer, front-end loader, skid steers, gradalls, scraper pans, cranes, and hoists.
The employer must develop and carry out a program of the standards needed to safely operate power equipment including: limitations and use; rated load capacities; and special hazards.
Companies need to keep on file a written description of the program, as well as where and when employees received safety training on file.
Employers must also post applicable manufacturer specifications for power equipment, and any required operating instructions.
Reporting Toxic Chemicals
Part of OSHA’s Hazard Communication regulations includes a provision to compile a list of the hazardous materials that employees may be exposed to while at a worksite.
MOSH wants all employers to take that list, (arranged alphabetically by the common name, with the chemical name, where it can be found, and the date it was first brought to the worksite), and send it to the Maryland Department of the Environment every two years.
Lead Testing Medical Surveillance
Where an employee may be exposed to lead (e.g. lead-based paint, old houses) OSHA has a medical surveillance program to initially test employees with periodic testing against that baseline.
Some of the additional testing that Maryland requires is to carry out initial testing before any assignment to an area with airborne concentration at the action level. This is in addition to the federal testing requirement of at least every two months for the first six months, and then every six months after that.
Maryland also wants employers to test employees at the termination of employment.
Federal guidelines have a process for temporarily removing employees with elevated lead levels from the exposure site for medical protection, with follow up tests for up to 18 months until a final decision is made. Requirements after that period are not defined.
Maryland instead directs employers to obtain a medical determination and continue to provide medical removal benefits until the decision is made about whether the employee can safely return to the same work.
Tree Care and Removal
OSHA doesn’t have regulations for every job, and tree care and removal are examples. The employer often must look at the potential hazards and cobble together safe work procedures.
MOSH decided that risks of tree care (e.g. cutting, pruning, tree removal) were enough that it codified the requirements for that type of work. The requirements include regulations on fall protection, the equipment used, personal protective equipment, fire protection, traffic control, power lines, tree and brush removal, chipping, and training.