Fall Protection for a Safer Workplace

By Jason Chan on October 21st, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

 

According to OSHA, over 100,000 workers are injured every year due to falls on the work site. If those numbers doesn’t surprise you, the annual reports for fall-related deaths are tragic; work-site falls account for 150 to 200 deaths yearly (on average). That’s why it’s so important that employers take extra caution with platforms and high work-surfaces.

 

By adhering to OSHA guidelines for fall protection, employers can avoid common OSHA violations and – more importantly – preventable workplace injuries. As always, the advice we give in our articles is a condensed refresher of common safety requirements under OSHA. For a more inclusive refresher after the article, we recommend heading to the OSHA standards page for more complete information.

 

Reducing the Risk and Preventing the Worst

 

1. The first and most important step in preventing falls is the proper training of employees. Those who are trained are prone to be more cautious and knowledgeable when working in dangerous conditions.

 

2. Ensure that heightened work-surfaces are stable and properly built. Scaffolding, platforms, and other surfaces showing signs of instability or weakness should never be used. Not only could workers fall from unstable surfaces – the platforms or scaffolding themselves can be a danger to any workers under them.

 

2. Fall protection systems must be in place when workers are on surfaces above: 4 feet in general industry, 5 feet at shipyards, and 6 feet at construction work sites. Fall protection at these heights may include, but are not limited to: safety nets, railings, and toe-guards.
3. Toe-boards and guard rails must be provided if workers are suspended over dangerous equipment or machinery. This rule comes in effect no matter the height over the machine.

 

4. Holes or weak spots in the workplace should be clearly marked and blocked off with railings or sturdy covers. Floors must be kept as dry as possible or marked off where wet to prevent slips and falls.

 

5. If workers are required use stilts or step-ladders on a heightened surface, the railings present for protection must be increased in height. This increase must be equal to the height of the stilts.

 

Though these are common and necessary requirements, the most important thing to remember is that caution plays the biggest part in prevention. Surfaces and protection systems should be inspected before usage. Workers should always report any findings on the work site and these should be fixed, blocked off, or replaced as soon as possible.

 

Fall protection encompasses many industrial standards for OSHA. Subparts concerning ladders, roofing, and excavation are just as important as common safety compliance standards. We’ll cover more standards in the second part of our fall-protection series.

 



Lockout/Tagout: During and After

By Jason Chan on October 14th, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

The dangers of improper lockout/tagout procedures go far past electrical shock. Things like hydraulics and chemicals also play a big part in many work site injuries. If you haven’t read our regulations primer in the lockout/tagout series of posts, click here. It has a few tips and common regulations for Lo/To that you should know. Otherwise, read on to find out the best ways to stay safe during lockout/tagout procedures and how to ensure normal operation goes smoothly.

 

Here are some hazardous energies that cause workplace injuries other than electricity:

 

Extreme heat and cold: Machinery tends to get very, very hot during operation (and stay that way long after shutdown). Workers should always wait and check for heat sources before working on unguarded parts for a machine. Things like engines and piping can cause serious burns to the touch.

Gasses are also considered a hazardous energy source, and their sudden release under pressure can burn or freeze the skin.

 

Chemicals: Although the obvious danger regarding chemicals is direct contact, many machines that use  chemicals can create harmful and sometimes subtle fumes. These fumes can start fires or cause asphyxiation/blackouts. Workers maintaining or repairing machines should always release these chemicals before starting to lower the risk of possible burns and fainting. Respirators might be necessary working around machines which use more chemicals/gasses.

 

Stored Energy: Even after machinery is shut down, unplugged, and locked, stored pressure still poses a serious threat. Pressurized pistons or hydraulics can suddenly release causing injury or death during maintenance. The machine should be tested after shut down to ensure that no post-shutdown operation could cause any sudden release of energy.

 

Once maintenance or repairs are completed, workers must ensure that they’ve properly set back up for normal operation. Here are the most common steps to ensure the safety of workers after normal operation begins again:

 

  1. Equipment must be inspected by the worker to ensure that all guards and safety mechanisms are in place.
  2. Any tools or extra materials the worker brought to the machine must be removed from the surrounding area before startup.
  3. Others in the area must be informed that the machine will be started up.
  4. Connections necessary to system operation must be reconnected and locks & tags removed by the worker who placed them. (Or, as shown in the previous article, someone with authority to remove them at the discretion of the worker who placed them).
  5. Once all conditions for normal operation have been met, proceed with startup.

 

The most important thing to remember about operating machinery and lockout/tagout is that safety comes from diligence. Workers must be alert and take care in how they work through procedures. With proper training and supervision, lives can be saved and injuries avoided.

Categories: Lock Out Tag Out


Six Must-Read Safety Compliance Tips

By Jason Chan on October 9th, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

Let’s face it: we’re bound to make mistakes every once in a while. That’s why it’s so important to comply with safety standards. Even small things can lead to big consequences, and staying alert can prevent the worst cases of on-site injury. These compliance tips will help you keep your job site up to industry standards and make the working environment safer.

 

1. Keep employees trained and refreshed:

A trained employee is bound to be safer than one who has been improperly briefed. It may be obvious, but keeping each and every employee in the know is an absolute must. Training on emergency plans, safety standards, and refresher training will help employees avoid the most easily preventable accidents.

2. Analysis and surveying:

Just as it’s important to train employees, it’s important to understand the worksite. This means that employees should be briefed about every work site, and each work site should be analyzed for hazards. This way, before work begins, employees are aware of any known dangers and prepared to work around/ fix these known issues.

3. Recordkeeping:

Injury is difficult for employers and employees alike. Properly documenting workplace injuries and illnesses for possible reporting is a smart way to prevent things from cropping up in the future.

4. Develop an Emergency Plan

Employees in an emergency situation can be seriously injured if not properly prepared. Developing a plan in case of fire or other emergency can save lives. Every employee should be properly briefed at every work site. Evacuation, route assignments, and shutdown of critical operations are just a few of the considerations one should make to keep employees safe.

5. Follow Standards for an A-Grade inspection

Every employee has the right to a safe workplace under OSHA standards. This means that if an employee feels at risk, he or she can contact OSHA to perform a work site inspection. Keeping your work site consistently safe increases safety for those working and reduces risk of a citation for employers.

6. Learn the most common violations and keep alert

Accidents happen, but many are preventable. OSHA has been populating lists of common safety violations. Since these are the ones that are most commonly overlooked, we recommend reading through our (link)top twelve most common violations(link) for a refresher on these all-too common mistakes.

Categories: OSHA | Safety Compliance


Top 12 OSHA Violations You Should Know

By Jason Chan on October 6th, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

In the industrial sector, you have to be exacting when it comes to safety standards. Aside from the risk of serious injury, it can cost your company thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. Here’s a list of the top 12 most commonly cited violations on the job. Adhering to safety standards means you’ll risk less injury and save your company from the most common safety citations.

1 – 1926.501 (Fall Protection)
Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction sector. Adhering to rigorous standards to protect workers can save lives and companies. Whether residential or commercial construction,  fall protection requires that safety systems be installed on the job site. The risk for work that takes place 6 feet from the next level has to be properly mitigated with installations that prevent falls and proper supervision of employees.

2 – 1910.1200 (Hazard Communication)
A properly trained worker is a safer worker. Labeling, communication, and knowledge of hazardous materials is an absolute must in the workplace. Workplace chemicals can cause irritation, damage, and even death in the worst cases. Every employee must be properly trained and knowledgeable about every chemical or material they come in contact with in order to adhere to safety standards.

3 – 1925.451 (Scaffolding)
Scaffolding is one of the most obvious and common safety violations in the industry. If there are large spaces in between planks and large, open edges between railings, it’s a red flag. In order for scaffolding to follow safety standards, it must be properly designed, built, and fully planked from rail to rail. Fall protection for scaffolding begins at 10 feet above a lower level.

4 – 1910.134 (Respiratory Protection)
In order to keep workers safe in environments with difficult breathing conditions, respirators are a necessity. Properly implemented protection programs keep workers safe in hazardous conditions where dust and particles may otherwise enter their respiratory system. Fit-testing and medical examinations are an important part of the process that ensures employees can properly use the respirator. Choosing quality respirators that adhere to safety standards is a must.

5 – 1910.305 (Electrical – Wiring Methods)
Just as in Lockout/Tagout safety procedures, utmost care must be taken when electrical wiring is involved. Proper grounding can prevent deadly workplace shocks, and insulation and proper installation is a necessity. This violation also takes into account the manner in which conductors have been routed, and the requirements for wire covers/canopies.

6 – 1910.178 (Powered Industrial Trucks)
Industrial machinery is an inherent danger on the job, and improper handling is not an option. Employees must be re-trained and evaluated on a standard basis, trucks (and machinery like forklifts) must be repaired before safe operation is guaranteed, and each newly acquired machine must be examined before use.

7 – 1926.1053 (Ladders)
Ladders are sometimes improperly used in the workplace, and this violation stands as a crucial yet common one that should be avoided. Ladders should only be used as intended. Their siderails should extend three feet off the landing surface to ensure proper support. The top step of a stepladder should never be used as a step, and defective ladders must be taken out of service until repaired. Often overlooked, employees who are carrying heavy objects or objects that may cause a loss of balance are prohibited from climbing any workplace ladder.

8 – 1910.147 (Lockout/Tagout)
Machinery can be dangerous when improperly handled, but an often overlooked danger is the energy used to power it. Energy control is imperative in keeping employees safe from high voltages and other dangers, and it requires training, proper communication, and lockout/tagout devices to ensure the highest risk mitigation.

9 – 1910.303 (Electrical – General Requirements)
Labeled equipment must be installed according to the instructions included. Working space around electrical equipment must be sufficient enough for employees to safely maintain and operate it. Live parts must be properly blocked and/or guarded and all equipment must be free of any possible serious hazards.

10 – 1910.212 (Machine Guarding)
Protecting workers from sparks and rotating parts on large machinery is a must if the machine is a possible hazard. If machines are to be set at a fixed location, they must be anchored to ensure no movement occurs. Blades are required to be guarded. The employees in the machine area must have sufficient space to work around the machine and the guarding must be set in place to prevent any inherent hazards.

11 – 1926.652 (Excavations)
Excavations can be extremely dangerous if improperly prepared for. Sloping and benching systems are a necessity. Trenching hazards in which improperly designed openings can cave in on workers are more common than they should be in the industry. There are also a plethora of other hazards in excavation such as toxic fumes and lack of oxygen.

12 – 1910.272 (Grain Handling Facilities)
Combustion is a serious concern in grain handling facilities. Fine grain dust can combust and cause fatal explosions. Ignition sources and grain accumulation are two of the most common culprits in serious injury in these facilities. There is also a serious risk of engulfment, and employees should be properly harnessed when entering a grain storage structure from above.

There are, of course, more violations, but these are less common. Many times, these violations could be completely avoided if employers put in the work to ensure safety. In order to lower the risk to employees, employers need to concentrate on the seemingly smaller issues that result in serious injury.



2014 National Safety Council Expo: Safety today and tomorrow

By Jason Chan on September 2nd, 2014 @ 9:05 am

It’s that time again. The National Safety Council (NSC) Congress & Expo will kick off on September 13 in San Diego. More than 14,000 safety professionals from around the globe will meet up at the largest annual industry event to take part in more than 100 technical sessions as well as 28 professional development seminars. It is an opportunity to learn about the latest products, research, trends and thinking that assist in keeping workplaces safe.

 

A little history: The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization founded in 1913 with a clear mission: to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, at home and in communities. It does this by undertaking research, education and advocating for safe practices with the objective of changing behaviors.

 

Major Dan Rooney, (Retired) an F-16 fighter pilot and author of A Patriot’s Calling: Living Life Between Fear and Faith,” will get things started with the opening session titled “Safety: Putting the Pieces Together.”

 

Topics range from how to create a safety culture to leading in high risk environments to the fundamentals of risk assessments to using inspections to engage employees to an introduction to the future of safety and the concept of “deep safe,” a level of safety competence that goes beyond systems, rules and metrics.

 

Throughout the week, keynote speakers will also share their experiences and insights. Master Lock spokesperson Kina Repp will share her personal story and the need for workplace safety training and procedures. Kina survived a horrific workplace accident when she was a 20-year-old college student that took her arm and almost her life. It was her first day on the job as part of a cleaning crew at a fish cannery. She received no training and was asked to clean the conveyor belts. The machine was inadvertently turned on and her arm got stuck in the roller. No one knew how to turn it off. This all happened during the first 40 minutes on the job. Today Kina is committed to advocating for workplace safety, the need for lockout/tagout programs, training and implementation.

 

More than 900 companies will showcase their newest products and services. Our booth number is 2527, be sure to stop by and see what Master Lock Field iD has developed to help you and your organization stay safe.



Regular audits and inspections could have prevented the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster

By Jason Chan on August 22nd, 2014 @ 10:59 am

Canada’s Transport Safety Board (TSB) released its final report on last summer’s deadly Lac-Mégantic rail tragedy. Forty-seven people were killed and dozens of buildings destroyed after a train was left unattended and jumped the tracks spilling burning oil on the small town of Quebec in Canada. The accident, which occurred on July 6, 2013, has been described as the worst of its kind in modern Canadian history. The town and its residents are still trying to rebuild more than one year later.

 

The report was some 200 pages long and the transportation safety agency had harsh words for Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MM&A), the railway responsible for the catastrophe, which has since been driven into bankruptcy as a result. The report made clear there was no single cause that led to the events of that night, in fact a confluence of 18 different factors were to blame, and it attributes several but not all to MM&A. The report states MM&A:

  1. Cut corners on engine repair and maintenance;
  2. Did not make safety a priority;
  3. Was reactive not proactive;
  4. Had issues around training and monitoring;
  5. Operator had no emergency management training.

But the report also called government regulators to task, stating the accident was a failure of regulatory process. Transport Canada knew about the problems but the auditing process was not happening often or thoroughly enough.

 

As a result, the TSB made two new recommendations: the first calls on Transport Canada to require additional physical means to prevent trains from moving when left unattended. The second calls for more frequent and detailed audits of railways’ safety management systems.

 

It is clear that this tragedy could have been prevented. If audits and inspections of equipment and safety systems had been carried out both by the railway and by Transport Canada, the brakes would have functioned properly and the operator would have been better trained and known what to do.

 

The best way to prioritize safety is to live it. Technology such as Field iD that clearly defines and automates the inspection and audit process, provides step by step instructions on what needs to be executed and when. There are no short cuts.

Categories: Inspection Software


Is compliance to OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standards a concern for you?

By Jason Chan on August 13th, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

Almost two decades after it was first introduced, about two-thirds of companies across the U.S. still struggle to meet the standard. In fact, lockout/tagout is the number one most cited regulation in the manufacturing industry and top five across all industries. The reason: the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s requirement is both demanding and time consuming.

 

For those that don’t know, OSHA created the Lockout/Tagout regulation to protect employees servicing machines and equipment from injury due to unexpected start-up. The standard requires companies to adopt and implement practices and procedures to shut down equipment, isolate it from all its energy sources and prevent the release of hazardous energy when workers are performing maintenance.

 

In a nutshell, the foundation of a responsible lockout/tagout program starts with understanding your machinery and knowing where the dangers are and what has to be done to contain them when you work on equipment. Complicated machinery with multiple energy sources require written procedures that outline all the necessary steps to ensure the machine is off and no hazardous energy is flowing to it. Once it is determined the machinery is in a zero energy state,  a personal lock must be attached to every point that controls the flow of energy preventing others from inadvertently turning it back on.  Then the machine must be tested to ensure it cannot be re-energized.

 

Perhaps the most critical aspect of OSHA’s standard is the requirement for written procedures for each and every piece of machinery that must be maintained. Unsurprisingly, it is also the most time-consuming and as a result presents the greatest challenge to businesses. Our cloud-based solution simplifies the procedure writing process.

 

Master Lock’s Field iD is a critical tool to facilitate the behaviors necessary to be compliant with OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard.