Archive for May, 2011

Safety Training Resources Helps Missouri Employers Prepare For Heat Related Illnesses

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

As the weather heats up, the risk of dangerous – sometimes deadly – heat illness increases. The best defense is a good offense in the form of well-trained workers who know the signs and symptoms to watch out for, and the immediate actions to take when heat illness strikes.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The incidence of heat exhaustion is more prevalent in warm climates where humidity is high. Heat exhaustion occurs when you don’t drink enough fluids. As your body overheats you might look pale, feel faint or feel a headache coming on. As it progresses, you may develop a low-grade fever. Fatigue sets in. Your blood pressure lowers. “Heat exhaustion means that your vital organs aren’t getting enough blood. With less blood available you will feel light-headed and weak. Other symptoms include cool, pale, clammy skin,” warns Bill Gottlieb, author of Alternative Cures.

No Advance Warnings

  • Although it may take time to become so drastically dehydrated, the warning signs of heat exhaustion happen suddenly. One minute you are moving about energetically and the next moment your skin feels hot and moist. Your face reddens. The first time it happens, you may be confused by your symptoms, thinking you have become ill due to something you ate. However, treating the symptoms for heat exhaustion should bring you welcome relief.

Treating Heat Exhaustion

  • The first thing to do is find a shady place to rest or get inside a cool place if you can. Air conditioning helps cool you down, but you can rebound even faster if you apply cold compresses, ice or cool water to your skin. A wet cool towel around your neck or on your forehead helps. If you are in a situation where you cannot go inside, dousing your self with water helps cool down your body. When you get heat exhaustion, your body is running out of electrolytes. Drink cold water or a fluid with electrolytes in it, such as Gatorade. Lie flat on your back and elevate your legs higher than your heart.  OSHA suggests at least one pint of cool, clean and odorless water per hour, which should be done before becoming thirsty.  If you don’t feel relief in 30 minutes, seek medical help.

Risk Factors

  • Young children, babies, the elderly and obese people are at a higher risk of heat exhaustion and are the most vulnerable, according to Mayo Clinic. The bodies of young children are not developed enough to effectively regulate temperatures in extreme weather conditions. Adults over 65 who take commonly prescribed medicines that have the side effect of dehydration are also more susceptible to heat exhaustion. Obesity also makes a person susceptible to the heat. According to Mayo Clinic, “Carrying excess weight can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and cause your body to retain more heat.”

Prevention

  • Use common sense.  OSHA suggests an adjustment period for working in the heat. This is a five day period in which you gradually work your way up from 50% of your work load on day one to 100% by day five.  Drink lots of water and avoid caffeinated beverages, as they dehydrate the body. In hot weather, wear loose-fitting clothing that keeps you cool and wear a hat. Use an umbrella if you have to walk any distance. Stay out of the sun during the heat of the day. If you are outdoors and really feel hot and sticky, splash your face with water. Get your hair wet and the back of your neck. Do not be embarrassed to spray water on your clothing or mist your face with your water bottle. For many who have experienced heat exhaustion once, it may occur again. Liquid mineral supplements can be taken daily if you must work or play outdoors during the hotter times of the year, according to Alternative Cures. Supplements that include magnesium, calcium and manganese are water-based and help with rehydration. Mix one-half teaspoon of the minerals in four ounces of water three times a day.

Safety Training Resources will help train and identify the following:

  • Why the first days on the job are crucial
  • The value of acclimatization, and how to make sure your workers are ready for the heat
  • The 3 essentials that no hot-weather work environment should be without (Shade – Rest – Water
  • Your obligations under federal law to protect employees from heat illness
  • How to put together written procedures that comply with the federal standards and provide a strong backbone for a heat illness training program
  • What the environmental risk factors are for heat illness
  • How to preemptively change work conditions to avoid heat stress
  • How to assess and evaluate work environment controls and determine whether or not they’ll reduce your workers’ heat risks
  • How to train your employees and managers to recognize the signs of heat stress and take immediate life-saving action

Safety Training Resources Transforms Safety Costs Into A Safe Investment

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The benefits of workplace safety performance are often undervalued because of communication barriers between safety professionals and executive management, and the challenge of instituting metrics that demonstrate safety performance in financial or strategic business value terms.

To turn that situation around, Safety Training Resources incorporates four basic strategies to enhance the business value of safety.

1. Identify safety as a core business value driver. Profitability is an obvious corporate value driver, but so are your brand name, compliance risk, and the productivity of your workers. All of these drivers are influenced to some degree by workplace safety activities.

 Safety Training Resources believes that increased productivity and reduced costs are the top benefits of workplace safety and health.   An investment in workplace safety can have a positive impact on your company’s financial performance. Many believe that a return of investment of $3 for every $1 they invested in workplace safety programs.  

2. View safety as an investment in continuous improvement. An “investment” is a commitment to earn a financial return or gain future benefits or advantage. Safety programs have been directly linked to the benefits of increased productivity and efficiency.

3. Use a combination of leading and trailing indicators of safety performance. Using the combination instead of just trailing (or lagging) indicators to measure progress toward business objectives is much more effective.

Leading indicators tell you about the future value or direction of performance.

  • Employee turnover rate can indicate future changes in productivity and/or injury rates.
  • The number and frequency of near-misses can indicate the risk of future accidents.
  • Hours of employee safety training completed or the number of employees trained can indicated changes in productivity and safety.
  • The number and/or frequency of completed inspections can indicate the level of compliance risk, integrity of equipment, and changes in productivity.

Trailing indicators tell you where you’ve been. For example:

  • Injury and illness reports
  • Lost workdays
  • Workers’ compensation claims

Trailing indicators can highlight past costs, but they are inconsistent and often unreliable indicators of future performance.

4. Enhance employee involvement. It’s not effective just to tell employees what to do and judge them on how well they follow directions. Since they are working with the process all the time, workers are more sensitive to the integrity of safety and productivity data than management. For example, workers can see what is really going on behind the data in the injury and illness reports where management often cannot. Employee involvement is now a major component of most true safety performance evaluation methods.


Safety Training Resources Specializes In Smart Recordkeeping

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

OSHA has extended its Recordkeeping National Emphasis Program (NEP) through early 2012.   They are looking for employers who are underreporting injuries and illnesses, and they are not leaving any stone unturned. 

 Safety Training Resources is helping Missouri employers track and record injuries and illnesses in compliance with the OSHA recordkeeping standard.  In addition to helping you avoid costly OSHA citations, smart recordkeeping practices can also help you make injury-reducing and profit-boosting improvements by allowing you to learn from past mistakes.

Safety Training Resources will help your management team better understand the key elements of an effective recordkeeping program and design a system that will track and record your injuries and illnesses in compliance with the OSHA recordkeeping standard.  Our training strategy will ensure the following:

  • The proper use of the three OSHA required forms: OSHA Form 300, OSHA Form 301, and OSHA Form 300A  
  • Where to get the forms to use, and how to complete them properly
  • Which incidents must be reported and which merely need to be recorded
  • How to differentiate between medical treatment and first aid, and why the distinction matters
  • Which cases require restricted work activity or days away from work, and how to record the number of days
  • How to maintain employees’ privacy when reporting an incident
  • How to perform a recordkeeping audit and assess the working environment

In addition,  by improving your recordkeeping, Safety Training Resources can help you:

  • Measure the effectiveness of your safety program
  • Identify high incident areas
  • Enlist management support
  • Enlist employee support
  • Measure the effectiveness of your countermeasures

Bottom line, effective and efficient recordkeeping for occupational injuries and illnesses provides the foundation for a successful, well-managed safety program.


Safety Training Resources Steps Towards Effective HazCom

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Safety Training Resources takes 7 simple steps to ensure an effective hazard communication program.

1. Train supervisors and safety personnel to communicate hazard information and safety procedures effectively. Also train them in general communication skills so that they can interact more successfully with employees.

2. Encourage employee participation in the development and implementation of workplace safety and health programs—for example, through safety committees and other team initiatives.

3. Welcome employee suggestions about ways to improve chemical safety in the workplace. Take their concerns and suggestions seriously and incorporate them into safety programs. Remember that to be truly effective, hazard communication must involve two-way communication.

4. Emphasize safety protections as well as hazards in hazard communication and other chemical safety training programs. Make sure employees understand that working with chemicals is safe as long as they follow established work practices, use appropriate engineering controls, and wear assigned PPE.

5. Provide intensive MSDS and label training. Teach employees how to find and interpret the information in the MSDS and on the label. Provide them with glossaries defining technical terms in plain language. Make sure that they are comfortable with their ability to understand and use chemical safety and health information. Your training effort is not complete until they are.

6. Involve experienced, knowledgeable employees in training programs as trainers and coaches. These workers have a natural rapport with trainees, and they are also well positioned to provide practical information about how to perform the job safely and efficiently.

7. Work hard to build trust between management and employees by demonstrating your commitment to employee safety and health every day. Involve top management in safety awareness campaigns and feature safety as a fundamental organizational goal.


Safety Training Resources Illuminates OSHA’s Expectations: The Electrical Safety Questions OSHA Will Ask During an Investigation

Friday, May 13th, 2011

When it comes to electrical safety, OSHA standards can be technical and confusing. What requirements do safety managers need to know?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what OSHA is training its inspectors to look for during an inspection that includes electrical safety, including surprising new areas of emphasis based on national OSHA directives?

Safety Training Resources covers some of the typical electrical safety questions that OSHA inspectors will ask during a field investigation, what they mean and how to be prepared and in compliance.

A good starting point is to understand OSHA’s approach to electrical safety. OSHA’s goal is for employers to identify all electrical hazards, both potential and actual. In the past, OSHA focused on process changes, encouraging companies to de-energize circuits before working on them, perform lockout/tagout procedures and develop ongoing safety programs that include worker training and retraining. A more recent area of emphasis is arc flash safety, which means electrical safety professionals must analyze the workplace for shock and arc flash hazards, establish safe protection boundaries and define what personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used within these boundaries.

For electrical safety in the workplace, OSHA relies on expert consensus bodies such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and its standards published in NFPA 70E. To ensure that employers are following NFPA and OSHA guidelines, OSHA trains its inspectors and compliance officers to ask specific questions in the event of an electrical safety incident. Some typical questions follow.

1.  Is there a description of the circuit or equipment at the job location?

OSHA expects employers to know their workplaces. If an employer cannot provide a written description or drawing of the circuit or equipment, then the compliance officer may assume that the employer has not assessed the facility for electrical hazards.

2.  Is there a detailed job description of planned work?

In order to know which safety procedures to use, the worker must be provided with a description of the job task. OSHA publication 29 CFR 1910 lays out employer responsibilities for protecting their workers from electrical safety hazards. It states that the employer shall train workers to use safe work practices that are designed to avoid injury.

3.  Can you justify why equipment cannot be de-energized or the job deferred until the next scheduled outage?

Per OSHA 1910.333(a)(1), live parts to which an employee may be exposed must be de-energized before the employee works on or near them, unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is not feasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. (Live parts that operate at less than 50 volts to ground need not be de-energized if there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or to explosion due to electric arcs.)

The message is clear: never work on live circuits unless it is absolutely necessary. OSHA allows work on live circuits in some cases, but the reason cannot be simply that turning off the power is inconvenient or will interrupt production. Nor can workers use the excuse that they didn’t have the authority to shut off power.
When it is necessary to perform work on energized equipment, OSHA 1910.333(a)(2) requires safety-related work practices to be used and NFPA 70E Article 110.8(B)(1) requires an Electrical Hazard Analysis before work is performed on live equipment operating at 50 volts and higher.

Other questions you can expect from an OSHA inspector include:

  • What about safe work procedures?
  • Has a detailed work procedure been established?
  • Are there detailed descriptions of work practices to be employed?
  • Was a job briefing checklist performed, and was the job briefing completed for those performing the work?
  • Was proper management approval secured?

OSHA wants employers to make electrical safety procedures and practices part of regular work processes. Several annexes to NFPA 70E offer guidelines for lockout/tagout procedures, checklists and approvals. NFPA 70E annexes are not strictly “enforced” by OSHA, as they are appendices to the NFPA standard. However, OSHA inspectors and investigators will ask if the content and information contained in these annexes was followed and adhered to.

Safety Training Resources will help you prepare to answer these questions when an OSHA inspector comes knocking on your door:

  • Were required electrical safety analyses performed?
  • Was an arc flash hazard analysis performed?
  • Were flash protection boundaries established?
  • Were all other potential electrical hazards identified?

OSHA regulations state that every employer shall furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm, and that the employer must assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present and select PPE to protect employees. When it comes to electrical safety, OSHA refers to NFPA 70E, which requires employers to conduct an electrical hazard assessment consisting of a shock hazard analysis and an arc flash hazard analysis before work is performed on live equipment operating at 50 volts and higher.

These requirements may be fairly complex, as they involve calculating the potential fault current at each piece of equipment, understanding the characteristics of the overcurrent protective devices and how they are coordinated for each circuit and creating or updating one-line electrical drawings. Complex or not, OSHA inspectors are trained to ask if these analyses were performed, because they are essential to reducing the number of arc flash-related deaths and injuries that occur each year, as well as ensuring a safe installation.

When the safety of any job task involves electricity or electrical equipment, ask yourself these questions:

  • Were proper tools and equipment used?
  • Was the necessary PPE determined?
  • Were the proper insulated tools used?
  • Were insulated blankets and/or sheeting used to properly cover all of the live parts?

OSHA 1910.132 requires employers to assess hazards, select PPE and make sure that employees are trained how to use it. Electrical PPE, safe work practices such as lockout/tagout and safety training are covered by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.301-.399, also known as Electrical Subpart S.

For example, OSHA 1910.333 (a)(1)(i) states: “Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.”

For electrical workers, this standard’s effect is multi-fold. First, employers must facilitate workers’ understanding of the PPE required for each task on each piece of equipment. This may be communicated via a work order, a descriptive label on the equipment or a one-line drawing. Second, employers must select the PPE, which includes insulated tools and protective clothing. Third, the employer is required to train workers in safe work practices – and in particular, how to match the PPE to the level of the electrical hazard. And finally, OSHA 1910.269(a)(2)(iii) requires employers to “determine, through regular supervision and through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis, that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices …”

4.  Were the workers performing the tasks qualified to do so?

OSHA defines qualified workers as those specially trained to work on live electrical equipment. Qualified workers must protect themselves against all electrical hazards including shock, arc flash, burns and explosions. Training is key. Even an experienced electrician is not “qualified” in OSHA’s eyes unless the employer can show proof of the appropriate training and certifications.

OSHA 1910.332(b)(2) also requires unqualified workers to be trained in the electrical safe work practices that are necessary for their safety. Unqualified workers, such as painters or cleaners, occasionally come into contact with energized equipment, and therefore they must be trained to recognize and avoid electrical hazards.


Safety Training Resources Shares Tips for Managing Safety in Machine Operation Areas

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Machine operation areas differ from workplace to workplace. Production areas in manufacturing plants expose workers to a wide variety of potential hazards. During an OSHA inspection, violations can range from machine guarding to electrical hazards. Safety in machine operation areas is an ever-changing challenge that requires continuous management.

Design for Safety

Machine operation areas should be designed for safety. For example:

  • Machines should be equipped with all the necessary safeguards.
  • The area should be well lit so workers can see what they’re doing and where they’re going.
  • There should be adequate space between machines and materials and finished products.
  • Walkways should be clearly marked with yellow lines to separate them from machine work areas.
  • Floors should be made of, or coated with, a nonslip material.
  • There should be a good general ventilation system and a local exhaust system for any processes that produce dusts, mists, fumes, or vapors.

Insist on a Clean Work Area

A well-maintained, orderly production area is another essential. Look around the machine operation areas in your facility. What do you see?

  • Are floors wet, dirty, or cluttered with tripping hazards?
  • Are tools, materials, and other items left lying around when they ought to be put away after use?
  • Is there trash and debris everywhere?
  • Are carts or pallet jacks with materials or finished products blocking walkways?

 If you don’t see reasonably neat, clean work areas, you might be looking at an accident waiting to happen.

Maintain Proper Storage

Along with good housekeeping comes proper storage of raw materials and finished products.

Make sure employees do:

  • Stack materials to be processed on a secure base.
  • Place heavy objects on the bottom of the stack.
  • Use ladders to reach stored items overhead.
  • Wear gloves when handling materials to avoid cuts and scrapes.
  • Secure stored items so that they can’t topple over on someone’s head or fall to the ground and get damaged.

 Make sure employees don’t:

  • Store items too close to machinery.
  • Stack items so high that they could topple over or block fire sprinkler heads.
  • Pile materials too close to sources of heat or electricity.
  • Store items so that they block or stick out into walkways.
  • Lift incorrectly or try to lift and carry objects that are too heavy to handle alone.

Emphasize Safeguards and Lockout

Machine guarding violations generally hit OSHA’s Top 10 list every year. To avoid citations and keep workers safe, make sure machine operators understand the reason for, and operation of, machine guards and safety devices. No machine should ever be operated without properly functioning safeguards.

An effective lockout/tagout program is another essential safety component for machine operation areas. Employees authorized to repair and maintain machinery should be specially trained and certified in lockout/tagout procedures.

But you can’t stop there. All employees who work in machine operation areas should receive lockout/tagout training to be sure they understand the procedure, OSHA requirements, and your rules—even if they don’t actually perform lockout/tagout.

Fires and Medical Emergencies

Fires are an ever-present danger in machine operation areas. Avoid fires by considering all potential fire hazards and the precautions necessary to prevent ignition.

Also, just in case you fail to anticipate every possible risk, make sure to have fire extinguishers on hand that can contain the classes of fires common to machine operation areas. For example:

Class A—Combustibles (paper, cardboard, wood)
Class B—Flammable liquids (solvents, oil, etc.)
Class C—Electrical fires

Multipurpose extinguishers may also be an appropriate choice for machine operation areas.

OSHA has strict requirements for the use and placement of portable fire extinguishers (see 29 CFR 1910.157).

First aid kits should also be available, and employees should know how to report accidents and medical emergencies.

The machines in your workplace are hard workers. But they’re only machines. They can only do the grunt work. They can’t think. It’s your human workers who have to do the thinking in order to prevent machine accidents.

To be sure your workers are thinking straight and fully in command when they operate machinery, they must be properly trained.

Training for machine operators should include at a minimum:

  • Machine hazards
  • Machine operation, including safeguards and emergency stops
  • Lockout/tagout procedures and rules
  • PPE
  • Machine area housekeeping and storage rules
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Maintenance schedules and authorizations
  • Procedures for reporting malfunctions and handling repairs
  • Emergency response, including fires and first aid

 PPE

PPE for machine operators usually includes:

  • Eye and face protection (safety glasses with side shields or goggles as well as a face shield when there’s a risk of flying particles)
  • Hearing protection when noise levels exceed regulatory limits
  • Head protection if there is a risk of materials or other objects falling from above
  • Foot protection to keep feet and toes safe from falling materials or machine movement

 Gloves should be worn to protect hands when handling materials, but machine operators must understand that gloves should not generally be worn when operating machinery. Gloves can interfere with precise grip or get caught at pinch points or at the point of operation, which can cause crushed fingers or amputations.