Category: OSHA

USA’s Largest Safety Event coming in May; Over 3 Million Expected to Attend

Fall prevention remains to be the most common fatal injury in the workplace. It’s no surprise, then, that poor fall prevention standards are the most commonly OSHA cited incidents. Can you blame OSHA for being so iron-clad about their policies? According to a 2013 report, the construction industry saw over 890 deaths and a whopping 18,310 injuries from 2008-2010 due to falls alone. 

It’s no wonder that over the years OSHA standards have become more detail-oriented. From positioning ladders to proper guard-rails on scaffolding, there are measures set in place to save lives. Aside from the strict standards we must follow to keep workers safe, there have been events and resources popping up recently – ones especially focused on helping us build a safer workplace.

The “Fall Safety Stand-Down” is a great example of what we can do when we all work together. The two-week program focuses on fall prevention standards, training, and demonstrations, and it’s already proven to be quite a success. In 2014, over 1 million workers and employers got together to learn, interact, and create a safer workplace. That’s over 5,000 companies (from massive operations to small businesses) involved in one safety event.

OSHA plans to have an even more successful year in 2015, and from May 4-15, they’re hoping to reach a whopping 3 million worker participants (or 20,000 companies) to make an even bigger impact. According to their brief report, OSHA claims that 3 million would be enough to reach nearly 4 out of 10 workers.

The safety stand-down is a DIY event in which employers dedicate a block of time — whether it’s over a lunch break or better part of a workday — to talk about safety and demonstrate techniques for a safer workplace. Some employers opt for a direct approach with safety inspection demonstrations while others have found success with a “water-cooler” safety conversation. It doesn’t matter how “big” or “small” your effort is; a simple hour-long discussion can save lives, believe it or not.

If you’d rather leave the education in the hands of safety professionals, OSHA is also holding regional events that anyone can attend. The events are free and – if a company is so inclined – they can even host their own event in their region. Last year, some regional events (like the NASCAR speedway renovation) gathered over 500 workers in the same area to talk about fall safety. That’s 500 workers further educated on fall safety in one afternoon.

While maintaining the existing health and safety culture of a workplace is extremely important, it is only through pursuing improvement in those safety attitudes, processes, and practices that your organization can be viewed as an innovator within its industry. The Safety Stand-Down is just one example of the proactive measures an EHS leader can take to create a safer work environment. For more ways to positively impact the environmental, health, and safety culture of your workplace, visit the Field iD website.

Repeat Offender Sets a Perfect (Bad) Example

When we think of criminal activity, we think of people aiming to hurt others on purpose; those who go out of their way to do wrong. What about those people taking the path of inaction? Could not doing something be as dangerous as doing something bad?

Over the last 11 years, a Maine Roofing contractor with extremely hazardous practices has answered that question, all while illustrating the price of negligence.

Since 2000, Stephen Lessard has been under the OSHA radar for 11 serious violations in 11 locations over an 11 year span. By ignoring OSHA standards time and time again, Lessard has put hundreds of lives in danger over the years — workers on the job were subjected to extremely poor fall protection standards, exposing them to potentially serious or fatal injuries.

Lessard’s contemptuous behavior — including ignoring fines and constant requests for him to correct his actions — has landed him with over $400,000 in penalties and possible jail time. OSHA has finally decided to leverage the law and has charged Lessard with contempt, though it’s taken much longer than he deserved.

After all of the fines and impending litigation, one might assume that Lessard has learned his lesson. If only that were the case.

In the face of all of those accruing charges, Lessard has  managed to shirk his responsibilities yet again. Just this January, Lessard was slapped with another $287,000 fine — a new charge that’s been piled atop the previous $400,000 backlog. He may have ridden on relative lenience all these years, but now the time has come to appear before the law, and the judicial system might not be quite as lenient as OSHA has been.

The question remains as to why Lessard would let this happen at all. Why not take the chance to correct his mistakes in the first place and avoid OSHA fines altogether? We’re far from understanding how someone could so easily put the lives of his employees in danger, even less so how he could do it with consistency.

With all of the tools and technology available to us today — things like Field iD and cloud technology — it’s a wonder how someone could neglect safety when it’s easier than ever to ensure it. If you want to know how to be a better business-owner or supervisor, doing the opposite of what Stephen Lessard has been up to is a step in the right direction. To go one step further in your safety efforts, visit the Field iD main page and see how easy effective safety management can be.

 

 

Improper Fall Protection May Cost West Virginia Contractor $109k

It looks like 2015 is a big year for negligent construction companies, as yet another large OSHA fine has surfaced. K&F Construction, a construction company working out of West Virginia, has been penalized for several violations of OSHA standards. The inspection of the Morgantown work site was conducted September last year, with the violations coming to a head earlier this month.

Among the violations were improper fall protection, improper eye protection during operation of a nail gun, and (the most serious and costly violation) using a forklift to support scaffolding.  No news has surfaced yet as to the company’s plan to accept or fight the findings, but the $109k fine looms regardless.

It’s quite obvious that equipment (i.e. the forklift) should never, ever be used for anything besides its intended purpose; some of the other violations may seem innocuous in comparison. When we take the time to isolate these instances, however, it becomes clear that each individual violation is just as serious as the last, and all pose a threat to the safety and health of those workers involved:

– Protecting your eyes is just as important as protecting the rest of your body, especially when using tools like nail guns and saws. Tools that are used to cut and pierce may cause fragmentation of materials or can injure workers directly; protecting your eyes from wood and metal shrapnel can be the difference between going home and going to the hospital.

– Fall protection is something OSHA pushes a lot, and that’s because falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Workers exposed to heights without proper protection like railings, stable structures, and well-placed ladders can be seriously or fatally injured. Overlooking protection techniques, no matter how small they might seem, could lead to fatalities in the workplace. Employees put their safety on the line to work on projects, and keeping them as safe as possible is our most important responsibility.

– The reckless use of the forklift is the biggest culprit in the K&F fine, and illustrates something that many companies do all too frequently. When the right tool for the job isn’t available, or there isn’t time to fix something due to deadlines, companies often go the route of “ingenuity,” trading safety for convenience and efficiency in the process. They might stuff something under the leg of a ladder if the foot is broken or use boxes to hold up platforms. Though these things may seem like good substitutes, equipment poses an immediate threat when it’s being used for something outside of its main function. When it comes to safety, don’t think exclusively about customer deadlines. Get the right tools for the job and do right by your employees. Doing a job safely is more important than doing it quickly.

Effective safety practices are vital for the successful safety management of your business. Of course it’s nice to avoid a $100k fine that could put your business in the red, but your first duty is assuring that everything is in place for proper inspections and your employees end their workday injury-free.

Learn more about how you can keep your workplace injury (and violation) free at Field iD’s website.

Workers Compensation Changes are Propagating Poverty

Nation-wide changes are hitting workers compensation where it hurts, and injured workers are paying the price more than ever before. A recent OSHA report shows a decade-long trend in dwindling coverage for workplace accidents, leading to identifiable income drops in cases of injured workers. Less coverage for workplace injuries means more out of pocket expenses for workers who are already balancing on the line between poverty and living income.

OSHA has stated that these more finicky coverage plans are exacerbating the lines of inequality and helping contribute to the poverty of workers. The worse news is that low-wage workers are getting the shortest end of the stick, as they are purportedly injured on a more frequent basis.

Could it be that wage can dictate the injury rate of workers? OSHA thinks so. Their report states that the temporary and independent workers are less likely to get proper safety training and are more likely to be injured on the job. The inequality gap, according to OSHA, is now statistically influencing injury rates.

Between industries doing less for their injured workers and insurance companies taking a stricter approach to allowances, it’s more important than ever for all of us, as a collective industry, to focus on safety and prevention. In this economic period where the lowest-wage workers get snubbed most often, particular focus on preventing injury in the first place is vital. Unless we are willing to completely take responsibility for overlooking OSHA’s standards and important safety measures, we should do everything in our power to preclude injuries, not fix them when it’s too late.

Proper inspections, auditing, and training can help prevent worker injuries, ensuring that their funds will be secured for their home lives. The key is staying ahead of the curve with organization and preparation. Using software like Field iD can help you get there. Cloud integration and one-click inspections can make the job a whole lot easier, but whatever method you use (whether paper or digital), ensure that it’s comprehensive and up-to date. Missing out on an inspection can have dire consequences, even if it’s just pushed back a few days, so be sure to keep organized and prepared to keep your workers safe.

To learn more about improving the effectiveness of your safety practices, visit Field iD’s website.

OSHA Fines Fabric Manufacturer $108K for Reckless Noncompliance

A fabric manufacturer out of Maine has been using non-compliant techniques for months, and OSHA finally dropped the hammer on their operation with a massive fine. Amounting to over $108,000, this fine not only resulted from the amount of safety issues they found, but also the risk of injury they presented to employees.

Water jets — laser-precise and extremely powerful tools used to cut metal — were the first culprit OSHA had spotted. These large, dangerous machines were not being properly shut down or locked during scheduled cleanings, exposing employees to possible lacerations, fractures, and amputations. If, during operation, an employee were to have their hand near the jet, and the machine activated, they could be amputated in seconds.

A “trimming robot,” one of the manufacturer’s most important tools, was also a big concern to OSHA inspectors. The machine was moving well outside of its safety perimeter, exposing workers near the machinery to serious or possibly fatal injuries.

Although the hazards identified and the resulting fine both serve as an example of why compliance is important, the shame in this whole situation is the nonchalance about workers’ lives. These people were working in an environment that was inherently dangerous, presenting them with a high risk of injury every day that they punched in.

Some companies might think that way, that compliance is about avoiding fines and keeping OSHA happy, but OSHA is in place for one thing only: the safety of those out in the field. We understand that and completely agree, and that’s why Field iD exists in the first place.

This was a case of clear-cut negligence and ignorance, one that luckily didn’t result in any fatalities. Even for the best of us, though, keeping track of all the small things can be a hassle. The most safety-conscious overseer can make mistakes, and Field iD was made for people like them, individuals who want to stay ahead of the curve and organized to prevent accidents, not deal with them after the fact.

If you work in the industrial sector and have been searching for a better path to compliance, you might like what Field iD has to offer. With one-click inspections and scheduled audits, you can stay on top of important dates. Built-in LO/TO tools makes it easier than ever to ensure that machinery is properly processed before, during, and after repair. Our server-wide network means that everyone will always stay connected, in the know, and ready for the next challenge.

Nobody wants to run a business like that fabric manufacturer, but we may fall into disrepair if we feel overwhelmed by the necessary steps and endless paperwork. We made Field iD because we understand why it was needed in the first place: a simple platform to help people manage safety compliance with just a few clicks.

If you want to go paperless and have a safer, more efficient year, head over to Field iD’s website to learn more.

Your company has been cited by OHSA. Here’s how to prevent it from happening again.

Safety and compliance managers never forget the first time they are dinged with an OSHA citation. Depending on its severity, that violation or violations could change the whole trajectory of a company. Whether the violation is “serious” or not, odds are the company will be paying in some shape or form because of it.

Once that OSHA citation passes, the time comes to take stock of your safety procedures and figure out how to prevent such a thing from happening again. If you’re a safety or compliance manager, expect some tough discussions with employees throughout the company — and especially with executives. You’ll have to communicate to them how important safety is to the health of the whole company.

It can be an uncomfortable process to objectively evaluate where your company stands when it comes to the safety of its employees. However, is there really anything more important to your company than the safety of employees?

Put simply, the best way to avoid more violations is to adjust your procedures and implement an automated solution that ensures you don’t miss any steps. The worst thing you can do is stand back and hope nothing happens.

Review your current procedures and identify what gaps exist. This may seem like an inconvenience at first, but people’s lives could literally be at stake. Look at all your processes and focus on the weak points. Then, get the new procedures in place and change your mentality that it can’t happen to you.

Field iD’s technology can help you automate processes so that you don’t forget any critical steps in safeguarding your employees and your equipment. In addition, all the data gathered by Field iD is kept in an easily accessible archive to ensure that when and if OSHA comes on site, you can produce the exact documentation they need. With the press of a button you can prove you followed the correct procedures.

Having the correct procedures in place before something happens is always the goal. After an accident occurs or an OSHA violation stings a company, it’s important to change the mentality that it couldn’t happen to you, your coworker or your company. Remember, the effects of a violation don’t just impact one person — they can be felt across the company and within the surrounding community.

If you waited until after an OSHA violation to make safety changes, the time is now to get started. People are likely to be resistant to the change, but at the same time, there is no better time to stress the importance of safety in your business. Your employees will thank you for it.

A Budget Boost for Safety

President Obama has put together a budgetary plan for the 2016 fiscal year that includes, in large part, a whopping budgetary boost for the department of labor. All of this funding — specifically for OSHA — points to a more responsive and involved administration.

Our workers’ safety and fair treatment is an important part of running a great business, and that’s why administrations like OSHA and the WHD are so crucial to our success. From injury and health to standardized pay, these associations are there to protect our workers and assure their fair treatment. It’s no wonder, then, that the Obama administration sees fit to give the Labor Department a much-needed boost to help focus on the safety of our workers.

The fiscal 2016 budget would inject an extra $1.3 billion into the Labor Department to be divided among various safety administrations. OSHA, for one, would see more than $3 million  to bolster its response efforts and protection plans.

The extra funding would assist OSHA with a higher level of employer education, allowing them more funds for inspections and training. Whistleblower protection laws would be bolstered by the funding, ensuring that those who report health and safety violations remain protected.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is also up for a helpful boost, and this new found well of resources would help them focus on more efficient inspections and rigorous enforcement of safety policies. There is also an important new rule being proposed to further protect workers from black lung disease.

The most crucial part of this budgetary proposal — especially for employers — is the plan to raise civil penalties for non-compliance. A higher charge for penalties against OSHA standards would act as an extra incentive for employers to fall in line with safety regulations. This, coupled with OSHA’s dedication to reaching more employers and addressing safety issues, would lead to a statistically safer 2016.

Those who work within the realm of safety can only keep their fingers crossed for this budgetary change, as Obama’s overall budget has very slim chances of making its way through a fiscally conservative congress.

 

 

Preparing for OSHA’s 2015 Changes

2015 is finally here and OSHA has new plans to make your workplace safer and more efficient. It’s absolutely crucial to prepare for the coming year, so we’re bringing you the most up-to-date information we could find about what’s coming over the next twelve months.

Increased Inspections

The first and most important part of OSHA’s 2015 plans is the health inspection roll out. OSHA has decided to answer to the rising health concerns in 2014 by preparing for more health inspections in every industry. That means that this year, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and do your part to ensure your workplace is up to their standards.

Remember that OSHA’s inspections are in place to ensure that your workplace is safe for everyone involved, and enforcement of these rules should always be a priority. The best way to prepare for inspections is to always have your workplace running safely. If you need more information and tips about enforcing these standards and keeping your workplace running smoothly, check out our variety of articles on workplace safety and enforcement.

New Standards

Along with the inspections roll out, OSHA is developing and enforcing a handful of new rules and standards to come into effect in 2015. Though many of these rules are still in their approval process, it’s important to stay informed about when they’re enforceable, so we’ll be posting up information as soon as we get word of it.

The first of the new rules is actually an update to OSHA’s crucial injury reporting rule. The update came into effect on January 1, 2015 and is already being enforced.

The updated injury reporting rule states that:

  • All work-related fatalities must be reported within 8 hours of their occurrence.
  • Work-related inpatient hospitalization, amputations, or losses of an eye must be reported within 24 hours of occurrence.

Even those industries which were exempt to these reporting rules before must now abide by these new rules in cases of fatality or severe injury. Injuries can still be reported by contacting OSHA via phone, but they’re also preparing a new online reporting tool to make reporting faster and easier than ever.  More information about the online reporting tool can be found at this link:

https://www.osha.gov/report_online/index.html

OSHA has many other standards planned for the rest of the year, but we’re awaiting more concrete information to keep you well informed. Each of these new standards will be getting their own coverage as the year goes on, and we’ll keep providing you detailed articles and helpful tips along the way.

There’s a big and exciting year ahead of us, and that’s a good reason to start it off safely.  Don’t forget to stay tuned to the Field iD blog all year long for first-watch news about the newest OSHA standards and more excellent safety tips and tutorials.

3 Steps to Avoiding OSHA and LOTO Violations in the Food Industry

Whether you work on the restaurant side or the manufacturing side of the food industry, you’re no doubt familiar with the challenges that come with maintaining a safe environment. To prevent contamination and injury, equipment must be meticulously serviced and inspected and procedures must be carefully followed and documented to make sure no steps are missed.

Much of this revolves around following lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. For instance, when equipment is locked out for service, failing to use the right tools to detect contamination can quickly lead to a disaster. Or consider the case of an employee who services equipment but fails to lock out the power source – risking amputation or even death if the machine starts up again.

Workers often think, “it won’t happen to me”– but the reality is, accidents happen all the time. Violation of Lock Out Tag Out rules was the most common OSHA violation in the food industry in 2012-2013, resulting in penalties in excess of $894,000. In fact, 28 fatalities and 227 serious injuries in the food manufacturing industry were related to LOTO procedures between 2003 and 2013, with the largest number being in meatpacking and poultry processing.

Horrible as the threat of injury is, it’s not the only concern facing the food industry. LOTO violations can also lead to OSHA fines, increases to worker compensation premiums and consumers who flee to competitor brands. That doesn’t even include product recalls, plant shutdowns and a damaged brand reputation, which can all deal a catastrophic blow to your company’s bottom line. So how can workers tackle these challenges?

  1. The first step: making safety a priority. All too often, small businesses that lack defined LOTO procedures are tempted to take shortcuts on the floor. Larger companies might deal with closer regulatory scrutiny, but the pressure to maintain a fast pace can sometimes push them into a quick but risky fix. LOTO compliance must be a top metric, with teams held accountable.
  2. To actually make that happen, businesses must automate and define their LOTO processes. The proper steps must be clear, with all guesswork eliminated, to prevent injuries and contamination. That way, even employees with minimal training can complete the procedures correctly.
  3. A critical part of this is having the right tools. Let’s be honest: human error is never going to be eliminated, not entirely. Using the right tools and technology are the closest thing we have to ensuring our processes keep people, products and profits safe. For instance, Field iD takes you step by step to make sure you have the right equipment in place and that workers comply with the process from beginning to end. We also have specific LOTO tags that are metal detectable, in the event one gets lost or falls into food processing. Those are just a few examples of how smart tools can prevent disasters.

Because in the end, that’s what good Lockout Tagout procedures are all about. Instead of suffering the consequences of an OSHA violation, your business can achieve a new level of safety and compliance — one that ultimately protects your company, your workforce and your customers.

How to know when you are ready for a lockout-tagout (LOTO) program

It’s no secret in the industrial and manufacturing sector that lockout-tagout procedures are crucial to the well being of employees and their safety. However, it’s also a sad reality that a huge number of companies fail to have any sort of formal LOTO policies/procedures in place, and simply believe that the way they are operating and servicing their equipment today is “safe enough.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up to 80 percent of injuries related to servicing and maintenance of equipment and assets can be attributed to failing to follow simple LOTO procedures. LOTO continues to consistently make OSHA’s list of most frequently cited violations, with the Administration citing 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year that could have been prevented by following LOTO procedures.

With those statistics in mind, how can companies determine if they’re ready for a formal LOTO program? It’s not complicated. Any time a company large or small, has energized machinery (powered by electricity, pneumatics, hydraulics and even gravity) there needs to be a lockout procedure in place. Even if the company hires a third-party contractor/consultant to handle any maintenance or shut downs, the hiring company is responsible to have the third party sign off on all safety processes and procedures.

Now that you know when a company should have LOTO procedures in place, the fact still remains that at two similar companies, one may have a program in place while the other doesn’t. Why is that the case? Often times it comes down to a lack of knowledge — companies simply don’t know they have to have a program in place. Laws and regulations can also vary by country and even by state/province, so confusion can arise about how formal (if any) the LOTO process needs to be.

Of course in the U.S. there are strict Department of Labor regulations enforced by OSHA in regards to LOTO. However, it can get confusing beyond the USA, as many places have very little to no directive in regards to what needs to be done to comply with safety standards.

Training for any sort of new process or technology can be a challenge within a company, so when you implement LOTO procedures there are a few things to remember. Make sure to physically walk through the process with employees who work on the machines every day. In addition, take pictures before and after servicing equipment and include them within any software solution you use, such as Field iD.

The obvious takeaway here is to get a Lock Out Tag Out program in place even if you’re not 100 percent sure you need one. New technology, such as Field iD, streamlines the LOTO process and helps increase compliance. From there you’re off and running. As a result, your company will be a safer place for your employees to work.