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.

Safetyweek 2014 May 4th through 10th

What is Safety Week?

Many Roles, One Goal – Building Safety Together!

Every year, more than 80,000 workers suffer an injury on construction job sites across the U.S. Any one incident is one too many. Life is too precious to not make safety the number one focus in the U.S. construction industry.

That’s why 31 national and global construction firms comprising The Construction Industry Safety (CISI) group and the Incident and Injury Free CEO (IIF) Forum have joined forces with a single aim: to inspire everyone in the industry to be leaders in safety.

We know being safe every day on every job site crosses competitive boundaries. That’s why we have banded together to create and celebrate the first US Industry Safety Week, running this year from Sunday May 4 to Saturday May 10.

Why SafetyWeek?

The Industry Safety Week effort presents a unique opportunity for construction firms across the U.S. to work together to eliminate worker injury.

We can all be leaders in keeping our workforce safe – no matter where you are located, your company size or your role in our industry.

Our collective mission for Safety Week 2014 is to partner together in:

  • Thanking our workers for supporting safety and recognizing their efforts to be injury free
  • Increasing awareness of the importance of being committed to safety, every day
  • Inspiring all of us to share best practices and to work together to strengthen our industry’s safety culture
  • Celebrating the need to be injury free
  • Conducting on-site safety awareness activities to support education

Educating Employees on the Dangers of Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens can transmit deadly diseases to those who come in contact with such pathogens. However, many people are confused about how infections from these pathogens actually occur. That is why it is so important that workers – especially in industries that are at a high risk for injuries and accidents – know how the spread of pathogens take place and what to do to keep themselves safe.

Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are well-versed in the spread of bloodborne pathogens but most workers in industries such as construction are not. In such cases, training by a certified safety services consultant is vital to the health and safety of these individuals.

So how are bloodborne pathogens spread? What follows is a brief explanation and ways to prevent the spread of such pathogens:

  1. Bloodborne pathogens are spread through direct or indirect contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids.
  2. Direct contact occurs when bodily fluids pass from one person to another at a correct entry site.
  3. Indirect contact occurs when a person touches an object that has bodily fluid from another person on it.
  4. Droplet transmission occurs when a person inhales droplets from an infected person. This occurs through things like coughs or sneezes.
  5. Vector-borne transmission occurs when a person’s skin is penetrated through an animal bite, inspect bite, or sting.

Hand washing is the most effective way to avoid exposure to bloodborne pathogens and prevent the spread of infection. Hands should be washed regardless of whether or not protective gloves are worn. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used when soap and water are not available.

Engineering and work practice controls also are essential to reducing the spread of bloodborne pathogens. These controls include avoiding the splattering of infectious materials; removing and disposing of protective equipment as soon as possible; cleaning and disinfecting soiled equipment and surfaces; proper hand washing techniques; and isolating contaminated areas.

A safety services consultant also will instruct employees on how to clean up equipment and spills. Methods include, but are not limited to, wearing disposable gloves and personal protective equipment; cleaning up spills as soon as possible; disposing of material in the proper biohazard containers; disinfecting the contaminated area; and properly scrubbing or disposing of soiled clothes and shoes. A safety services consultant also will be able to inform employees involved in exposure incidents on how to properly report and document any such incidents according to their employer’s exposure control plan.

As you can see, educating and protecting your employees from bloodborne pathogens is no easy task. That’s why it is so important that you seek assistance from a safety services company that can help you keep your employees safe and protected from exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

Don’t Underestimate the Risk of Workplace Fires

As a business owner, workplace fire safety measures are one of the most critical things you need to put in place in order to protect you, your employees, and your livelihood. According to the National Fire Protection Association, office fires kill an average of four people each year and injure another 37.  Further, such fires cause about $108 million dollars in damage annually.  But even a minor workplace fire can disrupt your business operations to the point where you may lose a considerable amount of income.

To keep your workplace safe from fires, it is important that it has the proper fire extinguishers and fire alarms placed throughout.  And you need to make sure that these items are in working order.  A fire alarm that is not working cannot alert you to dangerous smoke or fire. It also is a good idea to conduct company-wide fire drills on a regular basis and have clearly marked evacuation routes and exit signs located throughout the office.

In addition to preventive fire measures that can help to protect employees and your company, you should make sure that employees follow strict rules to avoid a fire from breaking out in the first place. Some of the lesser known causes of fire hazards in the workplace include things like space heaters and coffee pots that are left on.  Other hazards include overloaded electrical sockets and damaged electrical wires.  Employees should also be told to minimize clutter and to always dispose of cigarettes butts and matches properly.

In workplaces where chemicals and flammable materials are used, it is important to familiarize yourself and your employees with the correct handling and storage of such materials.  Proper ventilations also is essential.

A fire is an accident that you cannot fully anticipate but being vigilant can go a long way to reduce the chance of damage from workplace fires. If you are unsure of exactly how to best protect your employees and business from fire, it is a good idea to consult with a safety services company who can perform annual – or more frequent – inspections to make sure that your business is protected from fire hazards.

Sprinkler System Safety: How to Keep the Workplace Safe

You’ve taken the first step in safety services and installed a high-quality sprinkler system in the workplace. This is definitely a move in the right direction, but the process doesn’t end there. Even the best sprinkler system is subject to wear and tear over the years, which is why regular testing remains a necessity for long-term safety.

Sprinkler Testing: How Often Should You Check Your System?

It’s easy to forget about your sprinkler system after it’s been installed, but this approach is certainly not advisable. There is no one correct way of going about this process; the perfect frequency will depend somewhat on the nature of the setting, with considerations such as climate, structure style and the frequency of renovations all coming into play. In general, it’s advisable to seek a full sprinkler system check at least once every year, plus an additional time whenever the structure of your workplace changes significantly. Consulting on the appropriate frequency may be necessary, depending on the nature of your facilities.

Maintaining Your Sprinkler System

Even annual or biannual checks to your sprinkler system will not be enough to make up for careless workplace procedures. To ensure the continued efficacy of sprinklers, you should make a point of keeping the system clean and well cared for. This means avoiding clutter in and around your sprinkler system setup, plus avoiding the temptation to hang objects from the sprinkler apparatus or paint any segment of the sprinkler. It’s important for you to explain these basic guidelines to all employees, as a well-intentioned mistake could completely undermine the safety services you’ve set in place through the careful installation and maintenance of your sprinkler system.

In addition to vetting all employees on requirements for maintaining sprinkler safety, you’ll want to make a point of conducting monthly checks to ensure that all valves are maintained in the open position. Furthermore, it’s important to look into pressure levels at least once a month, as levels outside of the recommended water pressure could result in sprinkler system malfunction at the most inopportune time. Thus, personal monthly checks should be added to your calendar, alongside the official maintenance consulting taking place on an annual basis.

Keeping your workplace safe is a huge responsibility — and a functioning sprinkler system plays a major part in that endeavor. To keep your workplace safe, make a point of scheduling a full sprinkler system check at least once every year; you’ll thank yourself later.

What is the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace?

The NFPA 70E, also titled as the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, is the standard for the National Fire Protection Association. The document is meant to protect employees by covering all the electrical safety requirements in a business or worksite. The NFPA 70E may be best known for the sponsorship of the National Electric Code, which is better known as NFPA 70. This is a regionally adopted standard of the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment within the United States. In short, the NEC pushes the requirements for safe electrical installations in a single standardized source. Creating this standard of safety, even though it is not legally binding, is a way to create a training and construction standard across the country in all newly built and remodeled buildings and workplaces.

The basic requirements of the NFPA 70E break down into three specific areas of safety services for employees in the workplace. These standards also encourage practical safeguards that allow workers to be more productive in their jobs and not have to worry about their own safety in the workplace. Specifically, these three areas are: Electrical conductors and equipment installed within or on buildings or other structures, including mobile homes, recreational vehicles and other premises (like yards, carnivals, parking lots and industrial substations). Installations connected to an electrical supply via various conductors are also covered by the NFPA 70E. And finally, any other outside conductors on a work premises have safety requirements according to the NFPA 70E.

The NFPA 70E was originally developed at the request of the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), to reduce the exposure of people to major electrical hazards. Injuries and fatalities that are meant to be avoided through the NFPA 70E safety standards are shock, electrocution, arc flash and arc blasts. On top of the three specific areas of safety coverage that are a focus of the NFPA 70E, other provisions encompass safe procedures in the workplace, required maintenance to ensure there is no chance of someone being hurt by electricity and requirements for all special pieces of equipment. There is also guidance for identifying future hazards and deciding what is and isn’t risky, choosing the right PPE, setting up work conditions which are safe and employee training, so that the basics of the NFPA 70E are universally known.

A new edition of the NFPA 70E is released every year with various updates to all types of workplace safety information.

The Importance of Asbestos Awareness

Asbestos awareness is among the most important components of construction safety training. Here are a few reasons why that is:

Health Risks

This is, of course, the most obvious and the most important reason why asbestos awareness is so important. The list of health complications that go along with exposure, especially prolonged exposure to asbestos is a long one, but to list just the most common effects of asbestos on the human body:

  • Increased risk of lung cancer

Asbestos does not always lead to lung cancer, but it does compound your risk. If you’re regularly exposed to asbestos and you smoke then you’re going to be at a higher risk than someone who is regularly exposed to asbestos and does not smoke, but whether you smoke or not, the risk will be higher.

  • Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma develops from mesothelium, the protective lining which covers many internal organs. Mesothelioma is a cancer and is regarded as being fairly rare, except in those who have been exposed to asbestos. Even washing the clothes of someone who works with asbestos can increase your risk of developing the disease. This is another major reason why asbestos awareness is so important: even second and third hand exposure to asbestos can be incredibly dangerous.

  • Asbestosis

It’s generally fair to say that you want to avoid any substance that has a disease named after it. Asbestosis occurs when the lungs develop an inflamed and fibrotic condition as a result of asbestos exposure. Essentially, scar tissue develops in the lungs which causes asthma-like symptoms and even total respiratory failure.

Legal Complications

Secondary, but still worth considering are the legal complications involved with asbestos. Part of the reason that companies employ safety services is to avoid lawsuits and lower insurance costs, and those in the safety field are only doing their job in reducing liability.

Even if asbestos exposure does not lead directly to any adverse health conditions, simply putting people at risk of the same can have severe legal complications for business and home owners.

Personal Safety

Finally, not everybody knows that asbestos is dangerous. By spreading the knowledge of what asbestos is and how it can affect the human body, we can ensure not just a safer work environment, but safer, healthier lives, as well.

Lead Exposure Safety Plan Vital to Protect Employers and Employees

Does your company have a lead exposure safety plan in place?  If not, it should.  While everyone knows that lead exposure is dangerous and poses many health risks, many companies still do not have a plan in place to prevent overexposure to lead.  This is a huge problem since without such a plan, companies risk the health of their employees and leave themselves open to potential lawsuits.

Health and safety text book.It is essential that employees are protected from lead on a daily basis since lead is dangerous whether exposure takes place over a short period of time or over the course of several years.  In fact, lead poisoning from brief, occupational exposure can lead to death and long term exposure can cause critical damage to many bodily systems including the nervous, urinary, and reproductive systems.

There are a few industries where a lead exposure safety plan is especially vital because exposure to lead is more likely than in other industries.  These include the shipyard and construction industries.

As is the case with almost all health hazards, the most effective way to protect against lead exposure in the workplace is to ensure that it does not occur in the first place.  The following measures will help to keep the workplace safe from exposure to high lead levels:

  • Engineering controls that include material substitution, isolation, and effective ventilation
  • Sound work practices and training that includes good housekeeping, personal hygiene habits, and inspection and maintenance of equipment
  • Protective clothing and equipment when working with lead, including respirators when in the presence of lead
  • A medical program supervised by a licensed physician who is familiar with lead exposure
  • Air sampling that is conducted when lead exposure may have occurred as well as general periodic air testing

While it is unlikely that any employer would purposely expose their employees to high lead levels, many of these same employers do not have a formal written plan in place because they simply do not know where to begin.  This is not an excuse, however, and these employers should remember that most states have adopted lead safety standards that are in keeping with Federal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards while others have slightly different standards or enforcement programs.

In cases where employers simply do not know how to begin drafting a lead exposure safety plan, it is in their best interest to hire a safety consulting firm to draft and implement such a plan.  This will ensure that the employer is in full compliance with lead safety standards and that their employees are trained and know how to handle any real or potential exposure to lead.  And this will keep everyone protected no matter what type of situation arises.