How to avoid safety violations in the retail industry

By Jason Chan on December 15th, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

To shoppers, retail stores seem like safe, innocuous places. You stroll up and down the aisles and probably never think of what it takes to pack all that merchandise safely in a store that hundreds or maybe thousands of people pass through each day.

But if you’ve ever worked in a retail setting, you probably have a better idea of what it takes to create the well-oiled machine that is a busy store. There are countless moving parts and safety can be easily overlooked. Some companies are better than others when it comes to worker and shopper safety in the retail space, but there are common problems seen in many

These problems are the sort of thing that can cost a company dearly when it comes to OSHA violations and potential worker injuries. Let’s run down a few highly noted infractions:

  • Not having functional or up-to-date first aid kits and fire extinguishers.
  • Blocked walkways and/or unsafe storage of boxes.
  • Improperly placed merchandisers that could lead to a possible accident between consumers or employees.
  • Unsecured gas tanks for balloons.
  • Blocked electrical outlets or exits.

The larger and busier the retailer, the more emphasis is required to be placed on workplace safety by management. Take discount retailer Dollar Tree for example.  Dollar Tree had racked up $866,000 in fines for safety violations in the past year. Many of them can be avoided with the right technology in your corner.

With Field iD, users can create custom checklists so that these safety violations outlined above can be avoided. For example, imagine you’re inspecting the aisles within a store. Field iD users can create a step-by-step process to make sure everything is compliant. Safety managers can check off things like “Are there boxes on the floor?,” or “Do the aisles have a five-foot wide clearance for customers to pass?”

If something fails to pass an inspection, it’s recorded and corrective actions can be taken immediately. And just as important, Field iD will assure that the safety and compliance checks are in fact taking place because the process is time-stamped when you begin. In addition, GPS can be utilized to ensure that checks are happening where they are supposed to.

With Field iD, you can inspect and audit anything and everything. And the big advantage is that all the results are instantly visible to store managers and whoever else needs to see them.

In addition to general inspection and compliance, Field iD also gives store managers a better way to lockout tagout (LOTO) potentially dangerous equipment and machinery. On-the-job injuries related to forklifts are common, and many of those could be avoided through the use of Field iD’s LOTO technology. The same goes for other energy sources in retail settings, such as water valves, gas valves and electrical panels.

While the safety issues that face retailers might not be on the same scale as mining or heavy manufacturing, that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. By using the latest safety compliance management and inspection technology, retailers can assure their employees are as safe as they can be.



High Voltage: Electrical Control and Safety

By Jason Chan on December 10th, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

From light shocks to burns to fatal injuries, electrical equipment can cause a variety of issues on the work site. Though electrical hazards are usually demarcated clearly and employees are well-trained, electricity is a subject that demands attention to detail and a respect of machinery – that’s why we’re taking the time to cover the basics and some oft-overlooked steps to preventing shock.

            We can’t stress the importance of proper grounding enough. Metal objects, whether electrical boxes, conduits, or machinery, should always be grounded properly and tested often. An improperly grounded box can shock someone trying to gain access by screwdriver, and improperly grounded metal can send dangerous currents through all objects it contacts. That means that grounding can prevent massive networks of currents from forming through any machinery it touches, thus reducing danger all around the worksite.

Electrical Emergencies

Without consistent inspections of electrical equipment, there’s no way to tell how safe the wiring will be. In order to prevent the emergencies in the first place, make sure you have a system and schedule for keeping equipment running smoothly. In the worst-case scenario, wiring has either been installed faulty or eventually become faulty, and that means that extremely hazardous currents will be running in all the wrong places.

In an emergency where someone has been shocked, it’s important to call 911 right away. Depending on the voltage of the electrical hazard, different outcomes may occur. In the higher voltage ranges, people can suffer from severe burns or outright electrocution. In the lower anges, they might just suffer very minor burns or non-fatal shocks.  The fist thing to take note of in cases of shock is whether or not the victim is still in contact with the hazardous surface. Man times, victims can be “locked” into these contact-points via poor positioning or even paralysis by the shock.

If there is an electrical switch nearby that would be easy to deactivate, attempt to turn it off first. Turning off the contact (in most cases) will cut off the current and prevent further shock. If they are still in contact with the surface and the switch is too difficult to reach in a short amount of time, you should use a non-conductive material (like wood) to pull them away from the contact-point. The surface will still be hazardous, so you should never attempt to touch a shock victim with bare hands or other conductive materials. Also make it clear to anyone in the vicinity that the surface is still active and do your best to shut off the electricity as soon as possible.

One of the easiest ways to prevent deadly electrical emergencies is to properly documents dangerous areas and conduct regular inspections. By staying ahead of faulty parts, you can stay ahead of injuries. Lock Out Tag Out procedures are also another way to prevent anyone from activating electrical equipment during maintenance. Most of the time, preventative medicine is the best type when it comes to electrical currents.

Signage and labeling are another important part of the process, and any new worksite should be clearly labeled where any hazards are present. Informed workers are safe workers.



The Compliance Caveat: Managing Compliance for a Better Workplace Pt. 2

By admin on December 8th, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

If you haven’t read part one of this blog series, click here. You’ll learn some basic concepts that are important to keeping your workplace safe.

Records for Better Business

The biggest growing pain about workplace compliance is keeping exhaustive records. Making sure that you’ve got everything recorded either electronically or physically can be a tremendous task that takes up a lot (a lot) of time. There’s also the matter of proper scaling when work sites grow or shrink, understanding how much work it’s going to take each time.

The importance of records can’t be overstated. Properly recording injuries, inspection requirements, equipment usages, and other common work site needs is an absolute must to keeping a safe business free from down-the-line issues.

Reports

            The chain of command needs to be in the know. Reports and safety information are a constantly changing part of the workplace, and you need to have access to these things to guarantee great audits. Make sure that each machine and piece of equipment is properly reported on every time it’s in service, in use, or out of commission. Certifications have to be consistently updated to OSHA requirements to ensure that inspections go off without a hitch.

Asset Management

Assets like equipment need to be managed with extra care in the workplace. Any time workers use the equipment, it should be documented and “checked out” so that management knows where that piece of equipment is and how long it will be there. Another important aspect of asset management is the repair or retirement of that equipment. When equipment is used, it should be inspected for any obvious safety concerns.

Any asset that is in need of repair should NEVER be allowed for a check-out. Before this equipment is used on the work site, it should be deemed safe or replaced completely by new equipment.

An Intuitive Approach

            Paper can be a hassle, and even things like spreadsheets and shared documents are on their way out for industrial management. Because the work is getting more complicated and safety is a bigger concern, the tools we use should be prepared for the extra workload.

The good news is that there are plenty of compliance management tools out there to help you get your bearings. Software companies have been creating apps and software to help record-keeping and inspections go by without a hitch. The problem is that most of these software solutions only offer an isolated solution to record-keeping.

Field iD does things a little differently. Our mobile and desktop solution is an interconnected management platform that keeps everyone in the know, whether it’s management or Lock Out Tag Out authorized employees. With Field iD, you can keep to schedule on inspections, perform inspections with simple one-click commands, manage assets directly from your phone, and even publish reports to your network so compliance management is easier than ever.

It’s no wonder that over 10,000 companies are now using the Field iD technology to make their workplaces run like clockwork. If you’d like to check out what makes Field iD better than all the other apps out there, head over to http://www.fieldid.com/features to see a list of time-saving features that can get your business back on track.



The Compliance Caveat: Managing Compliance for a Better Workplace

By Jason Chan on November 28th, 2014 @ 8:45 am

Imagine a world where compliance was a one-time process. There’d be less workplace injuries, more efficient jobsites, and better protected workers. Let’s bring you back down to where we are now. The fact is that compliance is a workplace constant that demands attention to detail and great care. It’s not something you can finish and forget. To stay ahead of disaster, we have to be on our best watch at all times to make sure we’re covering all the obvious hazards our workers face every day.

The first thing we should understand about compliance is that it isn’t the enemy. Regulations are not there to make us do extra work or waste time auditing and reporting. Sometimes all the clerical work can blind us to why it’s there. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that Compliance rules exist to ensure a safer and more efficient workplace. It’s that simple. The reason it can feel like a slog is that our work sites are sometimes sprawling, full of all kinds of hazards that we have to protect our workers from.

To manage all the ways things can go wrong, we have to have a system in place that helps us report and audit efficiently. Here are some tips and tricks you can use around the workplace to make sure that your compliance stays consistent and simplified.

Train, Train, Train

A workforce is only as well-informed as the individuals within it. Since your workers are the ones out in the field, dealing with all the hazards and regulations every day, they are your most important piece of the compliance puzzle. Training your workers and supervisors on every regulation and compliance issue they’ll face is the best way to ensure maximum safety.

Since OSHA standards require that employees be trained for all workplace hazards like chemicals and electrical equipment, you’ll be doing taking two important steps for safety compliance in one. It’s also important that your employees feel respected and held to high standards in the workplace. If they’re to spot something on the work site that presents a hazard (no matter how large or small)  they’re more likely to let you know to correct it if they feel your open-door policies are focused on their well-being.

Signage and Labeling

Since management starts far before the paperwork might begin, it’s important that every jobsite is properly labeled before the work begins. Having signage placed near hazards is the best way to prevent those early workplace accidents. Though trained workers ought to be informed enough to take extra care around hazardous areas, signage helps reinforce safety standards and remind out-of-place workers of an areas hazards.

In part two of this blog series, we’ll discuss more about compliance management in the office and some intuitive solutions for cutting your auditing time in half.

Categories: OSHA | Safety Compliance


Workplace Hearing Loss and Prevention – Pt. 2

By Jason Chan on November 24th, 2014 @ 9:43 am

Welcome to part 2 in our hearing loss blog series. If you haven’t read part 1, we recommend doing so now as it has pertinent information regarding OSHA rules.

Sound Prevention and Control

Engineering sits on the highest operating level of sound control. Since this involves direct contact with machinery or a certain degree of control over the area, it’s often the most time-consuming to implement (but frequently the most effective).

The most important and oftentimes simplest form of noise control is proper maintenance. Keeping machinery well-lubricated can make it run smoother and quieter. If machines are properly maintained but still prevent a noise hazard, some might choose to implement a sound barrier. Curtains and walls can be installed at the location of the machinery to prevent noise from bleeding over into other work areas. If it is an option and the machine presents too serious a sound hazard, full enclosure presents the most effective form of sound control.

Because building enclosures and walls is not always an option, supervisory or administrative control is the second best method of sound hazard prevention. A well-informed administrator can use shifts and time to keep the workplace running efficiently while reducing sound exposure.

The most obvious course of action for administration would be to set up separate times for the usage of machinery at high levels. If possible, high-decibel machinery should be run in separate shifts with as few exposed workers as possible. The less people expose to these loud sounds, the more flexibility you have in assigning their shifts.

The second method (and a surprisingly effective one) is maintaining worker distance from these noisy machines. By increasing distance between workers and loud machinery, you decrease the effective decibel count of that machinery. If at all possible, administrators should always be keen to areas away from machinery that can be utilized by workers to reduce their exposure.

Just as distance from the machinery plays an important role, a resting room (sound proof or far from operating machinery) can give workers relief from these loud noises and prevent short and long-term hearing issues.

Finally, there are hearing protection devices like earmuffs or plugs. These are the least desirable form of sound control, as they are an isolated tool that can make communication more difficult between workers and keep users from hearing important warnings. They should only be used in special cases where administrative and engineering controls would not be enough to provide a safe environment for workers.

Maintaining a program for hearing protection helps administration stay ahead of possible issues and hazards. Running hearing tests and recording field samples from workers can help you determine who needs protection devices. A proper training program and careful consideration are all that you need to ensure that your workers keep their hearing in tact. With a hearing protection program, you can help run a safer workplace for everyone involved. For more information on hearing conservation programs, visit OSHA’s HCP webpage.

Categories: Equipment Safety | OSHA


Workplace Hearing Loss and Prevention – Pt. 1

By Jason Chan on November 21st, 2014 @ 8:53 am

When we think of injuries, we usually think of the obvious cuts and bruises, or more serious injuries like broken bones. Many times, we forget about other forces like light and sound that can seriously affect our workers’ safety and lives. Hearing loss happens to be one of the most common and epidemic workplace injuries in the industrial sector. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported a whopping 125,000 (permanent) hearing loss cases since 2004.

Besides the fact that long-term exposure to loud noises can have serious permanent ramifications like irreversible hearing loss, many don’t consider the short term issues that noise-exposure can cause. Noise is a stressor and can actually exhaust workers physically and psychologically. The more noise there is, the harder it is to concentrate on the task at hand, and that means there’s a possibility it’s reducing overall productivity. If environmental noises are too loud, it’s harder to communicate with other workers or hear life-saving warnings. Because communication is such an integral part of the work site, having loud noises come between important messages and warnings can lead to serious issues as work progresses.

If you’ve ever left the workplace with a ringing or hum in your ear or stuffed up hearing, it’s a sign that noise could be a serious problem in your work environment.

 

Exposure Levels and Prevention

            Sound is measured in decibels. On the high end of the spectrum are the pain threshold sounds, which sit at about 140db. The lowest end (the hearing threshold) sits at 0. To put it into perspective, a Jackhammer sits at about 95db from a distance of 15 meters, just above a heavy truck from the same distance away.

Because sound is a very real and very common hazard, OSHA takes it very seriously and has come up with a ratio to safely determine a worker’s time-exposure set against certain decibel levels.

  • For a standard 8 hour day, the highest decibel count  workers should be exposed to is 90db.
  • For every 5db above 90db, OSHA cuts the exposure time in half.
  • Assuming exposure levels were 95db (a jackhammer running at 15 meters away), workers would have a maximum exposure allotment of 4 hours instead of 8 (half the time allotment for every 5 extra db).

Though this ratio helps keep workers from being over-exposed to these sound hazards, it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue of sound itself. If there happens to be high decibel counts and a worker has an 8-hour shift, there have to be other ways in which the sound sources are mitigated.

To find out the best ways to prevent sound hazards in the work place, check out part 2 of this blog series. In part 2, you’ll find some of the most common ways to control or reduce the impact of sound in the workplace.



Massey Energy Indictment Brings Focus to Mining Safety

By Jeffrey Ling on November 19th, 2014 @ 9:14 am

Last week it was reported that Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy, had been indicted for, amongst other things, violating mine safety laws related to the Upper Big Branch (UBB) South Mine explosion in 2010. The explosion killed 29 workers at the West Virginia coal mine and has reignited interest in the mining mantra of “safety first, production will follow.”

Whether Blankenship and Massey Energy did or did not put the safety of their employees first will be settled in court, but the story brings attention to something else: The need for high-tech tools that can ensure safety procedures are being followed at facilities and operations where equipment and energy need to be accounted for or contained.

That sounds like a monumental task. How can compliance and safety managers ensure their equipment, machinery and energy sources are safe at all times? One important part of the equation is Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO), the process in which practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. Now, thanks to the adoption of cloud technologies and mobile devices –  the LOTO process has become simpler. Consider what Field iD can provide when it comes to LOTO:

  • Gone are the days of pen and paper reporting. From a mobile phone or an iPad, it’s fast and easy to manage safety and inspection/audit tasks.
  • The cloud’s highly scalable nature means that businesses can house all data about their LOTO equipment in a centralized place where they can be updated in real-time. If a lanyard or harness has been used or inspected, it’s noted immediately and available for reporting ASAP.
  • Safety and compliance managers have a lot to do and not much time to get it done. Efficiency, while still maintaining top-level accuracy, is critical to keeping employees incident free, avoiding fines or even shut downs. Because with Field iD they can use mobile technologies such as smartphones or tables, as well as Web-based interfaces, these professionals can get their work done in the office, on site or in other remote locations.
  • Mines like UBB have to contend with Federal inspections (OSHA, MSHA), as well as state-level officials. By centralizing audit and compliance information on all equipment, machinery and energy sources via a LOTO tool, operations are always audit-ready with up to date information without scrambling for paper records.

It’s not been reported whether LOTO procedures had a part to play in the UBB mining disaster, though reports shortly after the explosion suggest malfunctioning equipment was one of many problems. This disaster and the ripple effects it has remind us that a culture focused on safety, combined with securing equipment, machinery and energy sources each and every time, must be constant priorities.

Categories: Inspection Software


Dress for the Weather: Staying Safe This Winter

By Jason Chan on November 17th, 2014 @ 10:51 am

It’s autumn already, and winter’s coming around sooner than you think. There’s still work to be done out there, but you should be prepared for the change in weather. There’s so much to consider in the workplace for these changes, but we won’t be going over specific OSHA standards. We’ll just be giving you some tips that can prevent you (or others around the work site) from getting hurt.

 

The most important thing to consider this season is if your shoes or boots are up to scratch. A worn sole is a gamble, and if you’re working on heightened surfaces or roofs, you could be in big trouble during wet winter mornings.  What you want is a strong rubber sole with a ton of grip. The deeper the grooves, the better chances you have of getting traction between you and your work surface. Spend as much as you can on these. A good pair of boots is an investment and insurance.

 

If you’re doing a lot of work outside, don’t neglect your upper body. Having a non-intrusive jacket or coat can keep you from getting hypothermia in cold rains and even prevent some injury if you take a fall or slip. Make sure that the jacket or coat you’re using gives you a full range of motion on the work site. If they’re provided to you by your company, assure that the size is the right fit. You want to be able to move around freely and work just like you would in your normal work clothes.

 

Don’t neglect pedestrians or other passersby this season. If you’re laying walkways near a sidewalk or working along a site progressively, chances are someone might have access to some part of the work site. Make sure that any other workers from a different area know of any slipping hazards and that pedestrians are either warned or prevented access to hazardous or wet areas.

 

Remember that it gets darker at an earlier hour this time of year. Prepare your workplace with any lights prior to beginning work and be prepared at sundown to illuminate the area. It is extremely dangerous to work in wet conditions, especially when you can’t see what areas are slippery. Keeping the entire work site well-lit will help you prevent injury to yourself and your co-workers.

 

Our work environments are constantly changing during this time of year. Days can be sunny and dry or dreary and wet from one to the next. Being prepared with the proper attire and keeping ahead of the weather by dressing appropriately can keep you safe this Autumn and Winter half. If you see someone at your workplace whose soles are looking too smooth or doesn’t look appropriately outfitted for the job, don’t be afraid to let them know. Looking out for your coworkers is a part of keeping your work site safe and you can save a life just by giving them a few tips here and there. We hope you, your families, and your coworkers stay safe this holiday season.

Categories: Equipment Safety


How to make Inspections, Lock Out Tag Out, and Audits Easier than Ever

By Jason Chan on November 12th, 2014 @ 9:20 am

If your workplace is drowning in paperwork, constantly at odds with OSHA standards, and difficult to manage: we hear you! It can be a mire out there. Messages get lost along the way, we miss small details during inspections, and suddenly things go very wrong very fast. With all that’s going on at the job site, (Lock Out Tag Out, asset assignment, improper use of equipment) it can be  difficult to keep operations running safely.

The paperwork alone can be time-consuming and difficult to organize. With all that’s constantly happening on the job, keeping track of everything on paper can be a massive time-waster and mistakes are bound to happen if you accidentally overlook something. So when we got together to create a better way to for keep the workplace safe, we wanted something that was easy, paper-free, and all-inclusive.

 

Field iD Will Change the Way you Run Your Worksite

Field iD is a software application that connects you to a powerful safety solution for all types of industrial work. With Field iD, you can manage assets like safety equipment, conduct one-click  inspections and audits, and even have full control of Lockout/Tagout procedures on a connected network.

In order to be compliant with OSHA standards, inspections and audits of machinery and equipment must be conducted once yearly. Consistency with these standards helps you ensure that your equipment will be in working condition and safe for usage. However, keeping up with scheduled inspections and conducting them properly can be difficult when there are more pressing deadlines to worry about.

With Field iD, you can schedule your inspections from top to bottom, including the where, when, and how. With the built-in email notification system, you’ll always be on schedule with time-sensitive reminders.

 

Field iD is an Invaluable LOTO Tool

With Field iD, you can author complete LOTO procedures and keep all the documentation recorded and prepared for any inspections or audits. The Field iD Lock Out Tag Out feature is a deep and simple software solution for managing proper LOTO procedures.

From details about the machinery to the locks and procedures needed for the locking method, you can keep every part of the process in your Field iD network and have workers update directly from the Field iD mobile platform. With Field iD, you and your employees will never be in the dark about LOTO again.

The biggest questions we face as supervisors, workers, and management is how we can stay safer and more efficient. That’s exactly what Field iD helps you do. With its robust features and connected architecture, everyone involved has a way to stay on top of the latest inspections, audits and lockouts. That leads to a safer and more organized workplace.

For more information on Field iD compliance management software or to try it for yourself, head to the fieldid website today.



Safety Series: The Importance of Training for Lock Out / Tag Out pt 2

By Jason Chan on November 10th, 2014 @ 9:21 am

This is part two in our series of LOTO training blogs. If you haven’t read the first part, click here to get a refresher about basic training regulations and the differences between locks and tags.

 

Retraining for Consistent Safety

On our last blog, we covered a bit about the importance of training your employees on Lock Out Tag Out procedures. Just as training is important, keeping your employees informed over prolonged periods is just as important. Though many can retain information from constant practice, standards and devices change each time the worksite does.

Though training isn’t an annual requirement, it’s required under several other circumstances that are likely to come up sooner than later. These include: any changes in job assignments, new machinery that presents a new procedure or hazard, changes in procedures for the control of energy, and deviations in the energy control procedures.

That last rule is a very important one. Inspections must be conducted over time and when certain factors change (machinery, procedures). If an inspection shows that an employee’s practice of the procedures is inadequate or incorrect, it’s absolutely crucial to retrain them as soon as possible. The last thing you want is one employee’s mistakes leading to several injuries.

OSHA requires that certification of employee’s retraining is kept on record. It’s important that you always keep records of training and certification as it can keep you safe in a case where something goes awry that was out of your control.

 

Tagout Safety

            Under tagout standards, employees are entitled to full protection just as with lockout procedures. This obviously requires a great training program and well-informed employees, but it also requires that other measures be taken to ensure that machinery isn’t reenergized during procedures. Any  safety precautions that can be taken to prevent startup or energizing should be taken when the tagout device is placed. That means that disconnection, blocking of switches, and even removing valves are important parts of using tagout properly.

 

Releasing LOTO and Training for Release

Just as crucial as beginning Lock Out Tag Out, employees must know when it is safe to resume operation of the machinery. After maintenance is completed, a pre-startup inspection must be conducted on the machinery to ensure that all risks have been mitigated. After the inspection, employees are required to either clear the area (depending on the energy hazard) or position themselves in a place where startup does not present a hazard. All employees must be well-informed about start up procedures and inspection standards, and this falls in line with the training we discussed in part one.

Though the authorized employee that placed the device is nearly always in charge of that device, there are some situations in which someone else may remove it. If the authorized employee is not available to remove the device, the employer may direct that the device be removed by someone else. For the safety of the authorized employee, he or she should be informed as soon as possible that the device has been removed by someone else. That means that before the original authorized employee enters the facility for work, he or she must be informed of the machines operating status.

Read and Stay Informed

Technologies and procedures are constantly changing, and that means that OSHA standards go with them. To stay informed is the best preventative action you can take to assure worker safety. Inspections and audits are not only necessary, but prevent sometimes deadly accidents. Don’t forget to read up on safety standards and stay informed with OSHA to keep your work site in line with the latest standards.