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.

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.