Category: Uncategorized

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.

Rugged Inspection Device Preview: Motorola Defy+

By now you are well aware that Google plans to buy Motorola. What you may not have heard is Motorola’s new device that was announced the same day. It’s the Motorola Defy+. It is an update to the original Defy, a device marketed as life proof. True to the Defy name this device is even more life proof.

Web browsing is faster and better with Flash capabilities thanks to a new Android 2.3 and a 1GHz processor. A 3.7 inch Gorilla Glass display is awesome as well as scratch resistant and a 5 megapixel camera makes capturing pictures a breeze. The best thing about this device is its IP67 compliant, making it dust proof and water resistant in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes

This will be an amazing device for mobile inspections (or mobile audits). Its form factor is smaller than your typical rugged device making it a must have for people who want only one device that is comfortable and easy to use. Its ruggedness means that it can take a beating and your device will remain unharmed and running Google’s Android means it can handle multiple tasks with ease. With a release date of sometime this autumn this is a phone to look forward to.

Rugged Device Preview – Samsung Galaxy Xcover

For today’s device I have a snippet, a small preview of what mobile inspection devices will be like in the near future. I have for you the Samsung Galaxy Xcover. It is fully functional 3G phone that runs Android and the best part is that it is rugged. Yes I said rugged. It is IP67 certified. This means that it is completely dust proof and can be submersed in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It also comes with a scratch-resistant touchscreen and a 3.2 megapixel camera with an LED photo light.

Sadly, this device is going to be launched in Germany alone so far!  However, the future possibilities are the most exciting thing about this device.  The prospect of a fully rugged device for inspection field service that is on par with consumer level devices is great. You get the workability of the device with all the personal aspects. With more companies giving employees devices that they use for business and personal use, this device represents the future for those in rough environments.

Blackberry Playbook Device Preview – Future Field Service Device?

Playbook: Notice the design for thumb navigation.

The tech geeks (i.e. me) are abuzz over the newest Research In Motion devices to hit the market.  The one that catches my eye is the new Blackberry Playbook.  This is RIM’s play at the ever expanding handheld tablet market and at first glance, it looks like an iPad, but looks can be deceiving.  Question on my mind is:  Can it be used for field work such as safety inspections and audits?


At a light 0.9lbs, the Playbook feels seamless in your hands while maintaining its size and durable.  With a width of 7.6”, a height of 5.1” and a depth of 0.4” the Playbook is no bigger than standard net book.  Peering at the truly stunning and vivid display, the 1024 x 600 screen resolution supports 1080p high definition quality video.  From outside the Playbook is like a fine luxury car, but though the looks ARE nice, everyone wants to know – what’s under the hood?

Well, she’s got a dual core 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, an accelerometer, 6 – axis motion sensing gyroscope , GPS and BlackBerry Tablet OS with symmetric multiprocessing.  What does that mean? It means it is fast and versatile.

In the Field

iPad: Larger screen causes one hand to grab one to navigate.

Unlike the iPad, the Playbook was designed to be the perfect size for dual thumb navigation: ideal for a secure hold with  maximum workability and functionality.  The iPad does have the larger screen but for the person on the go or in the field, it must be held with one hand and worked with the other creating an unstable work platform thus producing a higher likely hood of dropping.  In a comfortable office this may be an afterthought, but in the rugged work sites for our main clientele, any design to ensure a longer product life can be the deciding factor.


So is the Playbook good for field service? I would have to go with a yes. I think with its form factor, it could be a great device for inspection, audits and general field service!

Note Blackberry Fans:

If your currently using a blackberry, Blackberry Bridge allows you to pair your Blackberry smart phone with your Blackberry tablet which can sync your contacts and calendar and allows you share your internet between devices.

Portable Gas Detector Safety – Part 1 of 3 – The Basics – Calibration and Bump Tests

Gas detectors have been in the news quite a lot lately and we have been getting more and more of our users using Field ID to manage and schedule their portable gas detectors.  I am not a gas detector expert, so I thought it would be fitting that I wrote a series of blog posts about them as I learn about them.  Today, I am going start off today with some basics.

What does it mean to calibrate?

The only way to fully ensure that a gas detection device is working, is to have it exposed to a known concentration of gas.  By exposing the instrument to a known concentration of gas, we can figure out if the sensors are responding accurately and if the proper alarms are going off.

What are “bump” tests and full calibrations?

The two methods of verifying a gas detector is by conducting a bump test or a full calibration.  Either works, it just depends on the situation.  Both tests expose a known concentration of gas to the sensors in the gas detector to see if they are reading to a specified accuracy within specific time duration.

What is the difference between a “bump” test and a calibration?

The only difference between a “bump” test (or functional test) and a calibration is whether or not the unit is adjusted after it has been exposed to the gas.  If the readings are inaccurate, the unit has to be adjusted.  Basically, a “bump” test is a short quick test and a calibration is a more thorough process.

Check in next week as I discuss the “how and when” of calibration!

Lockout Tagout and Modern Safety

What is Lockout Tagout?

Lockout Tagout is on almost every OSHA top five list with regards to violations.  This includes highest cited standard violations and fines.  When a machine requires maintenance to fix it or needs preventative maintenance that machine must be locked out, or tagged out.  Quite simply, this means applying a locking mechanism or visible tag to ensure the machine cannot become energized, or turned on.  This does not simply apply to an electrical power source, but can also apply to pressure based power such as a valve knob.

Lockout / Tagout Valve

Most Lockout Tagout Procedures

The easiest way to understand the OSHA requirements with regards to lockout tagout is this:

  1. You must have a documented lockout tagout procedure
  2. You must provide training for your lockout tagout procedures

The actual OSHA regulations are much more detailed, but we can focus on these two points for now.  Currently, most organizations have a supervisors that will approve of a machine shut down, and assign a tag or lockout device to an employee.  When the employee gets the tag they have to de-energize the machine they are working on and apply the tag or the locking device.  The procedure is written on a piece of paper, and the supervisor keeps some sort of log book or Excel file about which machines are locked out and who has locked them out.

What’s Wrong With This Method?

If there is an incident with a machine there is almost no accountability for these procedures.  They are written down on paper, and if the lockout tagout procedure is updated, each new employee needs to learn the new procedures.  There is no way to know if the correct procedures were followed when the machine was locked out.  Worse yet, it is almost impossible to know what machine is locked out, for how long and by whom.  This becomes a challenge not only for safety, but also for operations.

Lockout Tagout – Ripe for Modern Safety

It is incredible that something so vital to safety and operations is still in many cases left up to error prone procedures.  If we automated this process we could have an instant view of every machine that was currently locked out, by whom and when it was anticipated to be coming back online.  Beyond improved visibility of the production time of our machines, employees who lockout a machine can be assigned a RFID tag with it.  This RFID tag could be scanned while it was on the machine and prompt the technician with the appropriate steps needed to lockout a machine.  This provides accountability and keeps records that the procedures are followed correctly.

Lockout Tagout is another area where technology has not caught up yet.  A modern safety approach using RFID, mobile computers and web-based reporting can streamline our lockout tagout procedure and help improve operations and safety.

Gas Detection Safety

Gas Leak Inspection Probed

A gas leak in the UK has caused health and safety inspectors to investigate the safety of their gas detection monitors, as well as their gas appliances, gas vents, and gas heaters. The suspected gas leak was detected by the staff on board an oil platform.

A man who wished to not be identified was on board during the suspected gas leak.

“They were called up to the muster stations for six hours waiting to find out if they were to be evacuated, before they were stood down at about 3 am,” he said.

Luckily, everyone was fine. A team of inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive deemed the gas leak “pretty routine.” For more of this story, visit The Press and Journal.

Here are 3 ways this suspected gas leak could have been avoided. Remember, being pro-active is key.

  1. Before you use your instrument, TEST IT. It is crucial to ensure that your sensors and alarms are indeed working properly, so expose your instrument to a controlled amount of gas. Do this test prior to each day’s use, if you can.
  2. Rule out variables that could affect the output of your gas sensor. Variables such as temperature and humidity can affect the output remarkably. Calibrate your instrument to compensate such factors and can ensure that your readings are accurate. Do this once a month.
  3. Analyze your data weekly. This will give you opportunities to find potential impending danger and correct these things before an accident occurs. Again, be pro-active!

You can easily automate such practices with safety inspection software. Automation is the best way to regulate the process and avoid any disasters.

Fall Protection Safety: Thought Leadership with Gabriele Fusco of PeakWorks

Modern Safety professionals are always trying to increase workplace safety while increasing efficiency and eliminating paperwork.  As part of new feature on this blog, I will be interviewing industry thought leaders to provide expert advice on all aspects of the safety industry.

Our first interview is with Gabriele Fusco.  Gabriele is a managing Partner at PeakWorks Inc.  Gabriele spent the last 14 years as a Director of Fall Protection for a leading manufacturer of fall protection equipment located in Canada.  In his capacity, Gabriele is involved with the design, manufacturing, and marketing of fall protection equipment.  Gabriele is a Professional Engineer and graduated with a Mechanical Engineering Degree from a Canadian university. He is a member of the CSA Z259 Technical Committee for Fall Protection and Chairman of the newly formed Z259.2.4 committee for Fixed Rigid Rail and Fall Arresters.

There are so many standards in fall protection, can you explain the different governing bodies, their jurisdiction, and the standards?

In fall protection, the governing bodies in Canada is two-fold: At the provincial level, it is governed by the  Ministry of Labour and federally its Labour Canada.  In the US, the governing body is OSHA which is across all the states.

As far as standards,  the products are designed and test CSA (Canadian Standards Associations) in Canada and ANSI (American National Standards institute).  Each product classification has different standards and test criteria.  For example, CSA standard for full body harnesses is Z259.10-2005

What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to harness safety?

The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to fall protection is the lack of training.  Training is the single most important element in fall protection systems.  If the worker has the correct equipment on site but does not know how to don the harness properly it can be extremely dangerous.

What are the top 3 things that people can do to increase harness safety?

  1. Ensure all employees have proper training
  2. Ensure all the equipment is inspected as indicated by the manufacturer
  3. Make sure a competent person has completed a fall protection plan for your site to ensure all fall hazards have been identified and the adequate equipment and training is implemented

What is single biggest advance in the harness industry in the last 5/10 years?

I would have to say the biggest advancement in fall protection in the last 5 to 10 years would have to be the the integration of RFID technology into all of our fall protection equipment.  The RFID systems increase user compliance and at the same time ensure the inspection frequency is scheduled.

What do you see as the biggest advance in the harness industry in the next decade?

The biggest advance in fall protection in the next decade would be a personal activated system.  When the worker begins a fall,  the system would engage and safely arrest the workers fall.

Tell us about PeakWorks

PeakWorks Inc. is a full-service fall protection manufacturer servicing the construction and industrial markets. The PeakWorks team is comprised of seasoned veterans combining more than 40 years of marketing, sales, and product development experience in the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) market. The founders of PeakWorks are long-time active members of the CSA and ANSI standards boards. PeakWorks sales specialists and customer service representatives are experienced professionals with long established relationships with both distribution partners and end-users.