Protecting Your Workers from the Summer Heat

Laying AsphaltThe days are getting warmer and longer and summer is on its way. For many people that means sand and sun and time at the pool, but for construction workers – and others who work outdoors for a living – summertime is not all fun and games. In fact, it can be downright dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not put in place.

So how can you protect yourself and your employees when the temperatures soar? The most important way is to educate your employees to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion. These include cramps, thirst, dizziness, nausea, faintness, fever, headache, and the absence of sweat. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which is a medical emergency that can be fatal.

When it comes to working outdoors in extreme heat, the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings especially true. In order to ensure the safety of all outdoor workers, the following precautions should be taken:

  1. Acclimate workers to the environment. Although prolonged exposure to extreme heat is dangerous, by progressively exposing workers to severe conditions over a period of time such dangers can be greatly reduced.
  2. Make sure workers are drinking plenty of the right kinds of liquids. Cool water or other non-caffeinated beverages should be consumed by all outdoor workers. It is important that plenty of these types of drinks are placed throughout the work site.
  3. Restrict physically demanding tasks. Physical exhaustion can lead to heat exhaustion so during periods of extreme heat it is important to try to limit such activities. If such activities cannot be avoided, it is important to cycle through workers so no one person is left doing all of the heavy lifting all of the time.
  4. Provide some relief from the heat. Air-conditioned enclosures, or at least shaded areas, where workers can take a break and replenish fluids periodically throughout the day may seem like an extravagance but will go a long way toward keeping workers up for their work in the blazing hot sun.
  5. Adjust the schedule. Jobs that are particularly taxing or out in the open with no shade should as much as possible be scheduled for before or after the hottest parts of the day.
  6. Encourage workers to keep an eye on one another. Many times an individual won’t admit – or won’t know – when he or she is becoming dangerously overheated. Make sure everyone checks on one another and if a problem is suspected, medical assistance should be called for immediately.

The nature of the construction industry means often working in less than ideal conditions – including extreme heat. However, by training employees on the signs of heat exhaustion and taking the proper precautions to protect workers in extreme heat, the risks to your employees can be substantially reduced.

For more information please contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

New EPA Emphasis on EPA RRP Lead Renovators

Lead and toxins have been a top EPA_LeadSafeCertFirm-v2_4Cconcern of national agencies in recent years, but this past year two agencies have dialed up the pressure on lead poisoning focus.   In addition to OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made their presence known in the lead and toxic substances arena with numerous fines and penalties to almost 40 major home renovation companies between May 2013 and January, 2014.  Among the many dangers and effects of lead poison are anemia, lower intelligence in children, hyperactivity in children, hearing problems, slowed growth, reduced growth of fetus in pregnant women, and low birth weight.   The EPA requires all individuals and firms who perform abatement projects (especially housing built before 1978 and those that are child-occupied) to be certified and follow specific work practices.  This means that all contractors will have to follow the lead renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) standards.  Completing the Lead Renovator course will allow companies to continue to bid for government jobs and to display the EPA’s “Lead Safe” logo on clothing, signs, websites, and automobiles.

To make sure you are covered:

  1. Take the Lead Renovator Course as soon as possible (typically 6-8 hours of class time).
  2. Make sure that areas that you are working in are measured for lead and toxins in the air.  OSHA says that employers shall make sure that employees are exposed to no more than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air on average.
  3. Be thorough that all of your employees are protected and that your company’s Personal Protective Equipment, such as masks and respirators, are up to standards and not faulty.

For more information contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232

OSHA 13 National Emphasis Programs

Did you know OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. OSHA’s 13 National Emphasis Programs are:

  • Combustible Dust (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-008)
  • Federal Agencies (OSHA Notice 13-02 (FAP 01)
  • Hazardous Machinery (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-003)
  • Hexavalent Chromium (OSHA Instruction CPL 02-02-076)
  • Isocyanates (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-017)
  • Lead (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-009)
  • Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-016)
  • Primary Metal industries (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-013)
  • Process Safety Management (OSHA Instructions CPL 03-00-014, CPL 03-00-010)
  • Shipbreaking (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-012)
  • Silica (OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-007)
  • Trenching and Excavation (OSHA Instruction CPL 02-00-069)

Contact Tommy or Zach at 513-372-6232 for any questions.

Horseplay and Practical Jokes

Horseplay and practical jokes have always been part of most every work environment.  Normally horseplay and practical jokes are instigated by the person wanting to be the center of attention and the newest employee is most often the victim.  Horseplay and practical jokes will normally receive a lot of laughs – until someone gets seriously injured, and then it is no laughing matter.  The following items would be considered horseplay on the job: Tickling a machine operator in the ribs; greasing steps or ramps; shoving, pushing, or tripping a person; pouring itching powder on a co-worker’s towel; pulling a bench stool  from under a person’s seat; and wrestling or scuffling all could be considered good natured fun – that is until someone gets injured!  All companies should have a no tolerance view on horseplay and practical jokes, as the company is liable for their employee’s actions while on the job.

Remember that a blast of air can cause a person to be blinded or have their eardrums ruptured, along with tossing up debris that may find its way into someone’s eyes.  Always be on the lookout for practical jokers in your organization as one simple prank could set your company back – and depending on the severity of the situation, set back for a long time.

Explaining the OSHA Informal Conference

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We get calls from companies all of the time that have been fined by OSHA and are wondering what to do. Taking corrective actions to ensure elimination of future occurrences is the first priority. Deciding which option to choose is the second priority.   

You have a few options when issued a fine by OSHA. The first is to pay the fine. Second option is pay at a discounted rate. The third option is to request an informal conference with OSHA. Options one and two should be used wisely. Accepting serious violations and paying the full amount of the fine doesn’t help if a second violation occurs and in some cases can hurt your chances to work on visible projects. The informal conference allows you to present your case to the OSHA Area Director and hopefully have the citation severity level dropped and the fine reduced or eliminated. 

Luckily OSHA allows you to bring representation to the informal conference. Our team of safety specialists have extensive experience working with OSHA and can help guide you to the best possible settlement. Over the last 5 years we have helped several companies reduce the severity level of the citation and the fines during their informal conference with OSHA.  

We will work with you to eliminate future occurrences of the fine, help you choose the best option for the fine, research the findings, and provide evidence to support your case if you choose an informal conference.  Contact us today by dialing 513-372-6232 or email sales@pasafety.com for more information. 

 

Dangers of Heat and Humidity

Heat and humidity are common for most areas of the country during Summer months.  Statistically there were 109 heat related worker deaths recorded from 2008-2013 for workers covered by Federal OSHA and State OSHA.  The Summer of 2014 could prove to be even more dangerous for workers because the Spring has been cooler than normal.  Jumping from a cool Spring to the heat and humidity of Summer without much of an acclimation period, is always a dangerous combination!

Here are some tips for business owners and company managers to reduce heat related illness possibilities for their workers:

  1. Go easy the first few hot and humid days that arrive.  Obviously the work has to be done but it’s not worth risking a life for.  Schedule longer breaks, shorter hours, and look at scheduling work hours on a project that avoids the mid-day heat.
  2. Stress drinking water to your employees every 15 minutes and have water readily available.  Remind your workers that heat related illness symptoms start before a person gets thirsty.
  3. For the hottest days, schedule longer breaks and rest in the shade.  If the area that you are working in does not have shade, erect temporary shade such as a tarp.
  4. Encourage your workers to wear a hat and light colored clothing during the heat of Summer.
  5. Learn the symptoms of heat related stress.  Some examples of first symptoms are commonly cramps and rashes.  The next level of symptoms is failing to sweat and clammy hands.  This can lead to the next level of heat stroke – if this happens, immediate medical attention must be initiated.
  6. Inspect your work crew on a regular basis throughout the day – this point cannot be stressed enough!

On OSHA’s site, they remind everyone of three simple words, “Water, Rest, and Shade!”  Plan for the hot days and be prepared.

Digitidoo and proActive Safety Services Announce Partnership

proActive Safety SerDigitidoo Logo 877 x 307vices would like to announce a new partnership with Digitidoo, a cloud based solution for designing, printing, and digitizing the data from paper based checklists. Digitidoo uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to convert paper to data automatically and also allows for direct data input using smartphones or tablets. Digitidoo is an ideal solution for managing checklist data from:

 

  • Behavorial based safety observations
  • Health and safety assessments
  • Building and facility inspections
  • Employee and customer feedback surveys

For more information please contact proActive Safety Services at 513-372-6232

Fall Protection

Today’s topic deals with the job risk of falls and an underestimated fall risk within all industries.  In 2012, 279 out of 806 construction related deaths were from falls.  No wonder that fall protection is the top cited violation by OSHA.  One of the biggest fall areas that OSHA is concentrating on are ladder accidents.  While the number of on the job deaths has decreased over the years, ladder accidents have had a 50% increase over the last decade.  Here are some simple tips to know and remind yourself and staff:

  1. Place ladders in correct positions.  Ladders should never be placed on uneven ground, near doors that are not locked and guarded, or against non-stable structures.
  2. Never use a ladder for anything other than what it is intended to do and do not try to alter it in anyway.  Most all ladder accidents can be attributed to decisions by made by people to short cut a job or problem.
  3. Always maintain three points of contact when maneuvering on a ladder.
  4. Inspect the ladder for any decay or fatigue before each and every use.  A number of ladder accidents happen because of using old, worn, and defective ladders.
  5. Select the right type of ladder for the task or job that you will be working on.  Too many accidents happen because of selecting ladders without enough weight capacity for the job or the wrong length for a particular job.

With Spring finally emerging and Summer close at hand, ladders are a great tool to help with many different tasks.  Make sure you stress the above points for you and staff that will use ladders during the upcoming months.

Confined Space Rescue Training

OSHA has studied confined space dangers for many years and some of the most recent statistics are:

  • 2010 – 63 fatal accidents in confined spaces and 28 hospitalizations.
  • January 1, 2011 to August 1, 2011 – 22 confirmed fatal accidents and 3 confirmed hospitalizations.

The dangers of confined spaces are many including lack of oxygen, toxic atmospheres, explosive atmospheres, and cave-ins.  The most surprising statistic on confined space dangers is the number of deaths and injuries that happen to the rescuers of trapped people.  Over the last two decades this number has fluctuated between 40%-60% of all confined space fatalities and injuries happen to the initial rescuer.  Here are some tips that can help companies and individuals avoid this:

  • When a confined space incident happens, don’t rush in and be a hero.  Think the rescue through before you act – this will protect you and your employees.
  • Call 911 as quickly as possible.  Fire fighters and emergency personnel have been trained for this and other scenarios.
  • Have a step by step system in place for confined space emergencies and any other emergencies that can happen on any job site.
  • If feasible have an individual or individuals on staff that have trained and drilled for confined space rescues.