Category: Industrial Safety

Can You Practice Workplace Safety?

Most of us dread what we have no control over, and some people shy away from safety issues for that very reason. Between inspections, auditing, and keeping up with standards, there’s a lot of daunting responsibilities if you’re not quite sure how to handle them.

Some in the industrial sector just walk through safety, unaware of the impact or importance of their training and inspections. Others have the process down to a science. The big question is how? How can some people be good at moderating safety efforts while many struggle? The trick, like every other trade or skill in life, is practice.

So how do you get to a “practiced” level? Safety issues are dynamic and constantly changing, making it difficult to routinely tackle them. However, here are a few steps to getting a more habitual sense of safety.

  1. Learn – The most important part of the safety process is to understand what you’re doing and what is expected of you. Exploring OSHA standards — whether you learn directly from the source, through blogs (like this one), or even infographics — is the answer. The habit comes after you’ve learned common fall protection standards, LO/TO procedures, and other common workplace dangers. OSHA creates new rules to make a difference in the safety of your workplace, and your goal when following their standards should be the same. When you learn and implement OSHA standards, you should not solely aim to protect yourself from fines or bad audits; emphasis on using these standards to better the health and safety of employees is the key.
  1. Practice – Every work site is an opportunity for one or more safety standard to be broken. Practice comes from fixing anything and everything you might see in the workplace. Saying “it’s no big deal” to improperly locked out machinery or poorly set scaffolding is not an acceptable practice. Make it your mission to adhere to standards, no matter how small or how much of a “hassle” they might seem.
  1. Use software solutions to help you organize – Software holds a widespread presence in both our homes and workplaces, so why wouldn’t we utilize it to help us with our safety efforts? By using software, everything is at your fingertips, updated, and connected, so you’re never in the dark with workplace safety. This will let you do more in less time, increasing the attention that can be paid to every safety issue. A vital part of workplace safety is consistent information. If this information is not easily available for all stakeholders in safety, the lack of communication could end in an injury or worse. With cloud and server-based software, you can stay connected to everyone, no matter the worksite, so that the information is always fully available across the chain of command.

Interested in a software safety solution? Field iD can help you build your safety habits with less effort. From digital Lockout/Tagout processes to one-click inspections, Field iD is a powerful safety tool for browsers and mobile devices that digitizes the safety process. The simple user-interface is easy to navigate and use, so whether you’re at the office or in the field, you can always keep things organized and accessible.

If you’d like to learn more about how Field iD can take your workplace from “safe” to “safest,” head over to the Field iD website.

UAE Takes Record for Aviation Safety Compliance

The UAE has achieved global recognition for their outstanding safety compliance with a 98.8% safety rating from the International Civil Aviation Organization. The operation of UAE’s aviation sector is a complex and extremely detailed process. A 98.8% score is an incredible achievement, but let’s look at it for what it truly means: a safer world. This score represents passengers traveling and coming home safely and the rigorous standards the UAE enforces in order to run at maximum efficiency.

The big question on everyone’s mind is “how”? How do you get to the top of the safety world? How could an operation so large run so well? Surely there’s an exhaustive amount of work to be done to ensure that the operation is safe from top to bottom, and the UAE’s infrastructure is near-perfect from local to national to international.  Their aviation infrastructure must have a system in place that helps them methodically enforce compliance.

If you’re looking for a recipe to greater compliance, there are some steps you can take to make your company an industry example. What the UAE has done has taken years of hard work, and they’ve earned their keep in the world of safety. Whether you work in the food industry, construction, or (of course) aviation, Field iD might be just what you’ve been looking for to bolster your safety efforts.

Safety Made Simpler with Field iD

It doesn’t matter whether your operation is local, national, or international; if you work in an industry full of hazards, safety should be your main concern. We’ve built Field iD, our mobile and PC safety platform, from the ground up to help you run things more efficiently and safely out in the field.

The UAE’s aviation sector, just like all other businesses, has to perform inspections and audits; it’s how they keep their planes air-ready and their operations consistent. With Field iD, health, pre-flight, and asset inspections could be performed with a tap or a click. Our up-to-date, industry-standard checklists are built from the ground up to give you the most detailed inspections with an intuitive and simple one-click system.

With our GPS-connected network, workers, supervisors, and management can stay in the know about their business activity; data on where work is being done, whether inspections have been completed, and where assets are is available at any given time.

98.8% is quite the goal when it comes to safety standards, but software like Field iD can help you get there. When you streamline the process, you can start seeing the big picture. When you see the big picture, you can change the way you run things.

Learn more about Field iD and see for yourself how it can help you run a safer, more efficient business.

Workplace Hearing Loss and Prevention – Pt. 1

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.

OSHA Regulations: Lock Out Tag Out

Many people hear the words “workplace injury” and instantly think of injuries like lacerations, force trauma, and falls. That’s exactly why proper lockout/tagout procedures are so crucial in making a safer work site. Out of the fatal four in the construction industry, electrocution sits at the third most common cause of death, right under falling and being struck by an object. Even after electrocutions, hazardous energies in many different forms account for almost 10% of all industry related injuries. (OSHA)

The main caveat of all of this? Implementing employee training and lockout/tagout programs can prevent thousands of injuries yearly.

Here are the most important standards of the (1910.147) OSHA LO/TO regulations. We’ve condensed them to include more specific subsections in fewer words.

  1. These standards don’t cover the normal operation of machinery. Instead, they’re made to cover maintenance and repair in specific cases.
  2. If an employee has to remove or bypass safety devices/guards – or – has to place any part of their body on or in a part of a machine otherwise dangerous while operating, then Lo/To procedures are a must.
  3. If the machine is energized by cord and plug and the employee has exclusive control of that plug, then these standards do not apply, as harm is easily avoidable by deactivation/disconnection.
  4. Employers must have programs in place to train employees on energy control procedures. Any machine that could be hazardous if it were to activate or operate during maintenance or repair must first be inspected and rendered inoperable prior to maintenance.
  5. If a machine can be locked out, then a lockout system must be utilized in the workplace while the machine undergoes maintenance or repair.
  6. If the machine cannot be locked out, then a tag out system must be utilized while the machine undergoes maintenance or repair. The tag out device must be used in the same location as the lockout device would otherwise be used.
  7. Durability of those devices is imperative. The work site can present some serious environmental rigor, and having a device break or fail during maintenance can present the same safety hazards as before utilization.
  8. Tags are simply warning signs and do nothing to prevent operation (unlike locks). Tags are not to be bypassed by anyone.
  9. Only the authorized person who placed the device is allowed to remove it after the maintenance/repair period (unless they are unavailable, in which case the employer may direct it to be removed, considering training for those cases have been developed and implemented into the program).

Though these are not all of the subsets of the standard, they’re the first and most important ones to consider. It’s always important that you stay updated on regulations and proper utilization of standards. Get educated with the full OSHA standards list and stay safe!

Tragic Worksite Blast Injures Five: Could it have Been Prevented?

According to Global News, an industrial facility in Sarnia, Ontario has seen a dangerous explosion and fire.  Four workers were injured and one was taken to a hospital in critical condition.  He passed away soon after.

The explosion started a fire which seriously burned several workers.  The explosion itself caused a partial collapse of the roof, which could have resulted in more fatalities had any workers been near the collapse.  In this case, there is no good news.  Whenever workers are injured, their lives are at stake.  Whether it’s from faulty machinery or improper work site procedures, it’s imperative to be cautious around machinery and hazardous materials.

No reports as of yet have found the cause of this accident, though they have ruled out any chemicals or gas explosions.  Though speculation points to faulty machinery being the origin of the explosion, an important question remains: could this tragedy have been prevented?

Innocent lives are lost every year to fatal workplace accidents.  This is just an isolated case out of hundreds reported by OSHA annually.  These tragedies, in this day and age, could be avoided with the proper tools and procedures. That’s exactly why Master Lock introduced Field iD.

Field iD is a customizable application that makes auditing and inspecting easier than ever.  With this invaluable tool, you can keep your workers safer than ever before and prevent the most common workplace risks.  With Field iD, supervisors and workers can manage and stay tuned to all the changes and inspections at the work site and beyond. Here are just a few ways Field iD can help you keep your workers safe and machinery running smoothly:

Scheduling tools: Keep track of your inspection and audit due-dates.  Stay ahead and prepared for your inspections so you can pass on-time with flying colors.

Paperless Audits and Inspections: Field iD will keep your inspections organized with checklists and one-click audits.  The paperless model allows for seamless knowledge at your fingertips so you can always stay ahead of faulty machinery, parts, and assets.  With more detailed and efficient audits and inspections, you can expect a much safer and more informed work place.

Organize your assets: Whether it’s machinery or equipment, stay on top of all of your assets with Field iD.  Assign assets to specific work sites and even workers and keep updated with the check-in/check-out functionality.  Make sure that your workers have the right tools for the job.

Safety Scoring: Go above and beyond pass-fail with safety scoring. Keeping your operation in top shape with our automated sliders and scoring query is as easy as filling out a checklist.  Customize your scoring to your work site needs and keep your jobs running smoothly.

Lockout/Tagout: Our software is an incredible lockout/tagout tool that reinforces safety procedures by giving you the power to author and assign tasks to staff.  Keeping organized can be the biggest issue with lockout/tagout procedures, but our networked software makes it easier and safer.  From assignment to review, our system is built robustly for those who want a safer workplace for their employees.

Remember that the workplace is as dangerous as the procedures are. Preventing risk while you are ahead is the best way to keep your employees safe at work.  To learn more about Field iD from Master Lock, click here.

Fall Protection for a Safer Workplace

 

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.

 

Top 12 OSHA Violations You Should Know

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.

Field ID at TechAdvantage 2014!

TechAdvantage 2014 is underway this week, and Field ID is extremely excited to be part of it!

TechAdvantage is at the forefront of innovation, delivering critical technologies that are transforming the world of engineering, information technology, energy services, operations, supply management and business. The largest event of its kind for electric and energy cooperative professionals, it’s four days of leading-edge strategies and best practices created to share and demonstrate advantages in science, technology and other industry areas that will benefit Co-op Nation well into the 21st century.

We’re at booth #760, and we’ll be handing out Field ID branded smartphone cases and hosting a random giveaway for a Google Nexus 7 tablet. If you or someone you know is in the Nashville, Tennessee area, drop by the Field ID booth and we’ll hook you up with a pretty sweet smartphone case!

A collaborative effort to improve mining safety

Just in time for the holidays, a gift of safety is the best one can get.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour, MINES Committee, the United Steelworkers and the Ontario Mining Association, collaborated to develop the process for a comprehensive review of mines across Ontario to ensure health and safety of workers, according to Canadian Occupational SafetyRead More

Mining safety…for tourists?

Is there a better way to learn about mining safety than to make it fun?

Mining is actually full of adventure and beauty when you think about it. Now everyone will have a chance to witness the amazing world of mining. Last month, an underground museum, Strataca, located in the abandoned tunnels of an active salt mine in central Kansas, unveiled a new attraction called the Salt Safari bringing visitors through a 3-hour-long sub-surface hike.

For safety, and of course for experience, Strataca’s visitors are required to wear hard hats and self-rescuer devices – breathing apparatuses used by miners in emergencies.  Read More