Tag: Harness Safety

Construction site safety in the spotlight

Site safety management in construction is an area of crucial importance to the industry, across both Canada and the U.S. We truly believe this, which is why we’re pleased to see greater attention to safety inspections and audits, and the general health and safety of construction workers. We know that a surprise visit from a government inspector can be a stressful thing, but with recent news about safety violations in Alberta, it’s clear that there’s always a need for safety improvements.

Last month, government safety inspectors in Alberta wrapped up an inspection blitz targeting more than 600 construction sites. The results? They issued more than 394 orders, and in 83 of these cases, safety violations were serious enough to hand out stop work orders. Four out of five stop work orders tied back to problems involving fall protection safety – sites that neglected proper use of guardrails and safety harnesses. And one third of all orders issued had to do with fall protection failures. This wasn’t the first safety blitz in Alberta this year. Government safety inspectors there also ran a safety campaign targeting workplaces using forklifts, and another focusing on workplaces that employ young people.

Construction safety touches everyone on a jobsite, regardless of the size of a project or the number of workers involved. While fall protection is a huge consideration for every worksite, the risks related to improper safety practices can follow workers offsite as well.  Last week, a new study from Dr. Xiuwen Sue Dong of the Center to Protect Workers Rights examined just how dangerous it is to be a construction worker. Here are a few highlights from the research:

– Construction workers have a one in 200 chance of dying on the job.

– They account for 20 per cent of deaths on the job.

– They have a 75 per cent chance of suffering a disabling injury and a 15 per cent chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

– Based on the stats, one in 10 construction workers who go for chest X-rays will show signs of inhaling large amounts of harmful dust.

It’s a little ironic, on the surface level, that the largest growth area for the construction industry is health care, given the workers building these facilities face larger health risks than those in many other industries. The Associated General Contractors of America reports that annual construction spending rate is at about $787.2 billion as of September 2011 – with the greatest growth in the construction of health care facilities.

But the good news is that safety solutions are improving all the time. We talk with safety management professionals and manufacturers of quality construction equipment and safety gear every day, and we know there are a lot of safety management professionals out there who are truly dedicated to keeping workers safe. Many of them are using more advanced technologies than anything that was available just a few years ago. So, despite the bad news, we hope safety blitzes continue. For those who are ready for a snap inspection, unscheduled visits are an opportunity to shine!

Staying Safe at the Top of The CN Tower

I think I have only been to the CN Tower 3 times and I have lived in Toronto my entire life.  Once when I was young they had an attraction that was a space launch simulator.  It was a ride that made you feel like you were launching out of the CN tower and in to space.  The other time was just a class trip to look at the view.  Finally, I took my wife to the revolving restaurant a few years back.  Needless to say this Toronto landmark has been offering up different reasons to visit for years.  Never did I think they would have an attraction that a) was so scary and b) would make a good blog post on safety compliance.

Enter Edgewalk

The Toronto skyline has been defined by The CN Tower since 1976. For 34 years it was the worlds tallest free standing structure.  Now they are adding an attraction that allows you to walk outside this super tall tower clipped in to a fall protection system.  They call it the Edgewalk and it looks a little scary to me.  The CN Tower also has a glass floor which I have walked on.  I was a little bit nervous on the glass floor so i am not sure if I could do the Edgewalk.

How it Works

People who are brave enough to try out the Edgewalk experience will head out 116 storeys up in groups of 6 – 8.  You can walk along a platform while strapped into a fall arrest rail system. Apparently the entire walk can be wrapped up in about 30 minutes.

Fall Protection Inspections

The safety requirements for this type of attraction must be enormous.  To hang people out there for fun every single day must require some very detailed and focused safety staff.  These types of systems require a re-certification at least annually, but I suspect that daily inspections are also performed.  These fall protection inspections might have a bit more glory than those on the constructions site, but they are all equally important.

The entire experience is expected to cost about $175 and last about 2 – 3 hours from beginning to end.  If I end up doing it I will most certainly be writing a blog about it…but I don’t know, I might be too chicken.

New OSHA Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry

Whenever I walk by a construction site and see everyone wearing fall protection harnesses, hard hats and other PPE I wonder “who pays for that?”.  It definitely differs from industry to industry, but as of February 10, 2011 it just became a lot more clear.  OSHA has issued their Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry.  The goal of this documented (taken right from the source) is:

“This instruction, Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective  Equipment in General Industry, establishes OSHA’s general enforcement and guidance policy for its standards addressing personal protective equipment (PPE). It instructs OSHA enforcement personnel on both the agency’s interpretations of those standards and the procedures for enforcing them.”

What I found particularly interesting about this document is how detailed OSHA is about what they require for specific occupations.  The standards are broken down into 5 main categories, but all of these have a large number of sub-categories.  The 5 main categories are:

  1. General Industry
  2. Shipyard
  3. Marine Terminals
  4. Longshoring
  5. Construction

These categories then break down into 143 sub-categories.  Some examples of sub-categories are focused on basic head and foot protection but also cover what one would need when working in very specific areas, such as working with lead.  This type of reading may not be very exciting, but it is put in place to save lives and safety managers must be familiar with their PPE requirements.

OSHA very clearly spells out what they are looking for when doing an inspection in this document.  One of the sections in the document is very clearly titled “Inspection Guidelines For General Industry”.  Having a good PPE program including tracking your PPE will help keep your workers safe and also ensure you don’t get into any trouble if you are the subject of an OSHA inspection.

Safety Compliance and Inspection Management with Microsoft Office?

I use Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook all the time.  Outside of our ERP system (Netsuite) I think Office is a great tool for many jobs.  With that being said I quickly recognize when I need a specialized tool to do a task such as accounting or CRM.  It is very tempting to use Excel for almost anything, but we would never consider doing our accounting in Excel.  Below are three reasons why Microsoft Office is not the best tool for safety compliance.

No Built in Data Backup

It becomes very hard to backup safety compliance records when you are using so many different tools.  You might have a list of fire extinguishers in Excel on your desktop computer (not backed up).  You may have a few inspection checklists in Microsoft Word which is in the same folder.  Your email is backed up, but you don’t really know how to get at all the information that has been “archived”.  When using a web based system everything is always easy to search and backed up.

Error Prone

Once you start collecting a large amount of information in Excel, it quickly becomes unmanageable.  You need to triple and quadruple check formulas.  If you enter incorrect data into one field, it has the possibility to effect other fields.  How often do you test and re-test formulas?  Probably not that often.  If you are using Microsoft Word to do inspection certificates you may need to ensure that a certain value is a unit of measure or a date / time.  Although this is possible, it is a lot of work to set up and maintain and leaves room for error.

Slow

Searching for information can be very slow.  Finding information in a pile of Microsoft Word files is near impossible and once you have more than one sheet in Excel, it is challenging to find the information you are looking for.  Let’s say you have a separate Excel file for your fall protection harnesses, fire extinguishers and rigging gear.  Each one has a list of locations that the equipment is currently located at.  If you need to change the location of only a few of the harnesses you will more than likely have to go through each one line by line and this can take forever.  A purpose built tool for tracking this equipment would allow you to “mass update” the location of harnesses from one to another very easily for instance.

Like I said at the beginning of this blog post, I really do love Microsoft Office BUT you should not be running your business on Excel, and this includes safety compliance.

3 Facility Safety Management Challenges

Over the past 4 years, Field ID has made progression from tracking safety for rigging gear, to cranes and hoists to fall protection.  Now we handle work area inspections and tracking safety data about people as well.  You would think that once you have software to track chain slings, it must be no problem to track hoists; but it’s not that easy.  After 4 years of hard work, Field ID is now flexible enough to track safety inspections for almost anything in a manufacturing facility, oil and gas facility or mine site.  This is commonly referred to as Inspection and Safety Compliance Management (ISCM) on our website, but I have heard another term for this as well: facility safety management.  There is even a magazine dedicated to this exact topic of the same name.  So what does facility safety management cover?  I have listed the top 3 we hear about daily below, but these are just a few.

1.  Fall Protection

If you have a harness, you have to inspect it according to the manufacturers recommendations, which is at least once a year.  If you have a lot of harnesses (more than 10) you now need to know where they are and when they are due for inspection.  Imagine a harness is out on a job for weeks and it is due for inspection,  Multiply that problem by hundreds of harnesses and you have a lot to keep track of!

2.  Ladders

Before we started up Field ID, I never really thought about ladders.  Now I think about them all the time, which is somewhat embarrassing.  I certainly never put any thought into the fact that they are required to be inspected.  Similar to most items that need to be inspected, a few of them are no problem – but how do you manage hundreds, or even thousands of ladders.  Excel just doesn’t cut it.

3.  Fire Extinguishers

We have all seen fire extinguishers with stickers hanging off of them.  Whether it has been at the shopping mall or a restaurant.  Quite often that sticker is a record of inspection, someones initials or signature beside the date that they inspected it.  What you probably don’t think about when seeing that sticker, is who is keeping track of it?  Who ensures that it is inspected regularly?  Well, at a large oil and gas facility or mine site, it is the responsibility of the safety manager, and guess what?  That safety manager is required to keep track of hundreds of fire extinguishers and ensure they are ready for action in the case of an emergency.

These are only the top 3 challenges that we hear about every single day.  Sure, managing one of them may not seem that challenging, but combine all 3 and add eye-wash stations, first aid kits, hoses, valves, rigging gear (the list goes on) and this is more than a full time job.  Having the right tool makes a world of difference.

Worker rescued after dangling six stories – Field ID RFID-Enabled MSA Harness Sighting!

I just read a great article about a construction worker that was dangling 6 stories above ground during renovations to the Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse.  Why is this important?  Well firstly, and most importantly, the worker was saved after an hour by the Syracuse Fire Department.  Secondly, the worker was using an MSA EVOTECH harness that was Field ID enabled!

Picture Proof

Field ID-RFID Enabled EVOTECH Harness

Although the article doesn’t mention anything about the RFID-enabled harnesses, this picture is worth a thousand words.  It is truly exciting to see Field ID and RFID-enabled seen in the public, saving lives in real world situations.  The video is pretty interesting as well; the firefighters actually put a second harness on that worker and I believe that was the EVOTECH.

A Closer Look at the RFID Pouch

RFID Pouch at the Field ID Office

Here is a picture of what the harness actually looks like close up.  Yes, we’ve got one hanging from our office wall.  That small package is where the RFID-chip is located.  Using Field ID, users can inspect a harness by literally scanning it (think of scanning a barcode).  MSA is a manufacturing partner of ours and we are working together to provide Field ID to users around the world.

A good start to 2011

I think this is a great start to the New Year.  Not only was someone saved, but we are now seeing more and more safety conscious people buying RFID-enabled.  2011 might be the breakout year from Modern Safety!

2011 New Year's Resolution: RFID and Safety Compliance Data

Good morning folks! Well, its been roughly two weeks since we’ve all made our New Years Resolutions. This means, that that extra “New Years Motivation” should be gone by now. Are we still keeping up with our resolutions? My new years resolution is to get on Somen’s Top 2011 Modern Safety Blogs list this year. I was quite disappointed to find that I was the only one who didn’t make the list. What is your new year’s resolution? Hopefully, it’s to invest in a better safety compliance solution.

I recently spoke to one of our customers that was telling me about a dilemma they have with their fall protection gear. At first, I thought he was joking, but he was deadly serious. He told me that he’s seen some fall protection gear that’s in pretty bad shape. It’s not only that they might not be safe, he says that sometimes the whole label pack is ripped off of the harness. It seemed quite impossible for any normal workflow to cause the whole label pack disappearing, but the truth is, things happen.

So what do you do? You are stuck doing all these safety inspections, yet for some of them, the whole label pack has been torn off. In the safety compliance industry, often there are too many pieces of equipment to keep track of. Once you see that a harness is unidentifiable, you also know that it is deemed unusable. The easiest solution would be just to throw it out, you can’t identify it, and its not like an unusable product needs to be inspected, so you just throw it out. But now, somewhere in your database is a harness that doesn’t exist anymore. But there is no way to find out exactly which one is the one you threw out. At very least, we want to make sure that its marked “Out of Service”. But we can’t.

This doesn’t seem like a very big problem, I mean its only one piece of equipment out of thousands. But imagine if we did the same thing for every piece of equipment we couldn’t find the label pack for. After a while, you may have stacks of equipment in your database that just doesn’t exist, and you don’t know which is which. In other words, your database is officially inaccurate. So how do we avoid this situation?

Fortunately, RFID is the savior in this scenario. Attaching an RFID tag to every piece of equipment ensures that there is a second identifier associated. With this identifier, even if the whole label pack was ripped off, there will be an RFID tag to at very least, identify the product in your database and mark it for disposal. The best part is the fact that the RFID tag is RE-USABLE! Once you identify the equipment and mark it for removal, you can remove the RFID tag and re-attach it to another piece of equipment. You paid good money for it, so you might as well get the most of each and every single RFID tag. It’s also rugged so no matter what your workflow is, it’s pretty hard to destroy a RFID tag. In my opinion, this is the best way to avoid data loss and unidentifiable equipment.

If you are not using RFID tags yet, I think your New Years Resolution is to invest in RFID. It is the best decision you will ever make. And just to help me accomplish mine, if you don’t mind, click on this blog post over and over and over again. And maybe, send it to all your friends! Thanks everyone!

Seasons Greetings from Field ID!

Good morning everyone! I’m sure you are all aware that the holidays are coming up and that it will soon be Christmas time. With that, I would like to extend my holiday wishes to everyone. Since my colleagues have mentioned that I seem to be linking safety compliance to just about every aspect and incident in my life, I thought to myself that I would be a little more light-hearted this morning and tell you just how all the different kinds of safety plays into your holiday season.

  1. Food Safety: One of the key principles of food safety is: “store food at proper temperature.” This year, try not to leave the turkey in the oven for too long, store it in the proper room temperature once it has been cooked to leave it juicy and delicious.
  2. Fall Protection Safety: The most important thing to remember this holiday season, is to wear your fall protection gear when putting the star atop the Christmas tree.
  3. Fire Safety: While the weather outside maybe frightful and the fire might be oh so delightful, please remember to extinguish all your fireplace delightfulness before you go to bed (Santa may not enjoy it when he’s coming down the chimney on Christmas eve).
  4. Forklift Safety: Your rewards this holiday season might be more than you expected, but keep a cool head and if you need to take heavy gifts back to return, use a forklift. And of course, before you use a forklift, remember to receive adequate training. (It might actually be worth it to just keep the gifts this year)
  5. Workplace Safety: The best way to keep safe in your workplace this holiday season is to not be at work at all. Please enjoy the holidays for these couple of days and get some rest and relaxation to avoid any Scrooge grouchiness around the workplace post-holiday season. Bah humbug.

Field ID Safety: Finally, from all of us here at Field ID, we very much hope that you have a safe and happy holiday. Come back to work refreshed to rejoin us in our mission to keep safety compliance your number one priority.  Happy Holidays Everyone!

Crazy Video: Free Climbing With No Safety Harness

I wanted to share a video showing a worker climbing a communication tower without a harness on.  This video has been posted on a number of sites lately, but it is a good fit for our Modern Safety Blog.  Just watching this video makes me woozy.  The worker climbs to a daunting 1,768 foot peak to perform his repair work, and his helmet cam follows him the entire time.  The craziest part of this video is that the narrator mentions that OSHA does NOT require this person to wear a fall arrest harness.  I found this unbelievable, but I have been doing some online research and it indeed appears OSHA permits what is called “free climbing” for work like this.  I am going to dig deeper, because I still find it crazy that OSHA allows this.  Check out the video below:

Fall Protection Inspection – Harnesses

Fall protection, fall arrest, fall prevention, fall safety, fall training – for many people, these words mean life or death.

How can you be sure that your safety gear is working properly? How can you be sure your safety gear was recently inspected? Can you easily access the records of the safety inspection to make sure for yourself that you will not lose your life on the job today?

Each part of the harness plays a major role in saving your life or ending your life. If your occupation has you using a harness, you will be happy to know that you can now automate harness safety inspections.

Automating safety inspections is the best way to make sure you stay safe, to keep your inspections regular; and automation is the best way to easily access all of the safety information online.

In Canada, The Occupational Health and Safety Act places the responsibility not only on supervisors but on employees and constructors, as well.

It is if critical importance that a company ensure the safety of their employees by ensuring that the equipment is in good condition and complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.