OSHA’s Top Priorities for 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has come out with their yearly agenda and it lists their main priorities for 2015.  One topic on the top of their agenda is the control and exposure to crystalline silica, which is an element of sand, soil, granite, and other minerals.  With constant inhalation and exposure to these dust particles your lungs can build up scar tissue that reduces your ability to take in oxygen.  Silica may cause a disease called silicosis, which there is no cure for and if severe enough it may be fatal.  OSHA has received more than 1,700 public comments and has a testimony from more than 200 stakeholders during hearings regarding this topic.  They will analyze the comments and provide feedback by June 2015.

OSHA is updating and making changes to their record keeping and reporting rules:

  • Effective January 1st, 2015 – Employers must let OSHA know within 8 hours if an employee is killed. If an employee suffers an injury and is hospitalized, suffers an amputation or a loss of an eye you have to report it within 24 hours.  Even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records have to follow OSHA’s new requirements.  They are working on an electronic form that employers can use to report, but until that is available you can report to OSHA by calling or visiting your nearest area office.
  • OSHA updated the list of industries who are exempt from regularly keeping injury and illness records. Although exempt these companies must still follow the new requirements for reporting severe injuries.

In March of 2015 OSHA is scheduled to release their final rule for confined spaces in construction.  In June they plan on releasing the final rule that will address slips, trips and fall hazards in the work place.  Also, in the rule there will be requirements for per OSHA has some proposed rules for the new year for exposure to beryllium and changes to its rule on crane and derrick operator certifications.  The goal is to have a rule that employers must follow to ensure that operators are “completely qualified” to perform the use of cranes and derricks safely on the job site.  They plan to address the type and capacity requirements for certification.  One other proposed rule is to look at three new fit-test protocols that is used to select respirators.

There are a few pre-rule actions in regards to chemical safety on the agenda.  OSHA’s comment period in which they are seeking input on effective ways to regulate exposure to chemicals will end in April.  Then in June a review panel will meet to discuss updating OSHA’s process safety management standard to prevent major chemical accidents from happening.

Benefits of Using a Safety Staffing Agency

All workers have a right to a workplace that is safe.  A requirement of OSHA is for employers to provide an environment that is free of known dangers.  If you have unskilled, or untrained workers, the unknown dangers could become deadly.  Usually an untrained worker will not have the skill, or the knowledge to recognize safety hazards.  Companies need to be sure that they are getting trained, alert, and dedicated safety workers!

Are you aware that temporary workers make up 20% of the entire job growth since the recession, according to the Labor Department?  This growth has given companies ways that they are able to save money on workers compensation, and other costs.  When it comes to the safety of employees it is key to find a safety specialist that will be dedicated to your business.  It is a huge risk, and could cost your business a lot if you hire unskilled workers for providing safety on the job.

Due to the increase in the number of temporary workers OSHA is making a coordinated effort in making sure that the temporary worker is protected from hazards on the job.  OSHA has raised concerns and is starting to issue citations regarding the lack of protection to the workers.

Using a safety staffing agency will ensure that your company is getting a qualified and trained specialist who can analyze numerous types of environments and procedures in the workplace.  A specialist can inspect workplaces, and design processes and procedures that will help protect workers from hazardous work conditions.  This will help prevent disease, damage to the environment, injury, and government fines.  They can investigate accidents and incidents to identify the cause, and determine how to prevent them in the future.  A specialist can conduct training on a variety of safety topics to help employees gain the knowledge and awareness of workplace safety.  They seek to increase productivity by reducing equipment downtime and absenteeism.

Some other benefits to consider for using a safety staffing agency:

  • Reduce Rising Costs – healthcare, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and payroll taxes.
  • Reduce Risks – provide pre-screened, qualified candidates who have a proven track record that will best match your job requirements.
  • Saves Money and Time – we can advertise, use job boards, recruit, screen interviews, network, and perform reference checks to find and attract candidates to fit your job.
  • Eliminate overtime labor costs and the cost of training an employee
  • Avoid having to pay the costs of insurance coverages, premiums, and benefits.
  • Eliminate payroll taxes, filings, and processing.
  • Avoid claims due to unemployment.
  • Increase flexibility by providing a skilled employee, letting your permanent employees focus on their main tasks.

Contact proactive Safety Services for any staffing or safety solutions that you may need.  We can be reached at 513-372-6232 or toll free 877-209-9648.  You can also visit us at proactivesafetyservices.com.

Benefits of Using a Safety Staffing Agency

bigstock-Group-of-students-in-professio-30690323All workers have a right to a workplace that is safe.  A requirement of OSHA is for employers to provide an environment that is free of known dangers.  If you have unskilled, or untrained workers, the unknown dangers could become deadly.  Usually an untrained worker will not have the skill, or the knowledge to recognize safety hazards.  Companies need to be sure that they are getting trained, alert, and dedicated safety workers!

Are you aware that temporary workers make up 20% of the entire job growth since the recession, according to the Labor Department?  This growth has given companies ways that they are able to save money on workers compensation, and other costs.  When it comes to the safety of employees it is key to find a safety specialist that will be dedicated to your business.  It is a huge risk, and could cost your business a lot if you hire unskilled workers for providing safety on the job.

Due to the increase in the number of temporary workers OSHA is making a coordinated effort in making sure that the temporary worker is protected from hazards on the job.  OSHA has raised concerns and is starting to issue citations regarding the lack of protection to the workers.

Using a safety staffing agency will ensure that your company is getting a qualified and trained specialist who can analyze numerous types of environments and procedures in the workplace.  A specialist can inspect workplaces, and design processes and procedures that will help protect workers from hazardous work conditions.  This will help prevent disease, damage to the environment, injury, and government fines.  They can investigate accidents and incidents to identify the cause, and determine how to prevent them in the future.  A specialist can conduct training on a variety of safety topics to help employees gain the knowledge and awareness of workplace safety.  They seek to increase productivity by reducing equipment downtime and absenteeism.

Some other benefits to consider for using a safety staffing agency:

  • Reduce Rising Costs – healthcare, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and payroll taxes.
  • Reduce Risks – provide pre-screened, qualified candidates who have a proven track record that will best match your job requirements.
  • Saves Money and Time – we can advertise, use job boards, recruit, screen interviews, network, and perform reference checks to find and attract candidates to fit your job.
  • Eliminate overtime labor costs and the cost of training an employee.
  • Avoid having to pay the costs of insurance coverages, premiums, and benefits.
  • Eliminate payroll taxes, filings, and processing.
  • Avoid claims due to unemployment.
  • Increase flexibility by providing a skilled employee, letting your permanent employees focus on their main tasks.

Contact proactive Safety Services for any staffing or safety solutions that you may need.  We can be reached at 513-372-6232 or toll free 877-209-9648.  You can also visit us at proactivesafetyservices.com.

Snow Shoveling / Removal Safety

With the mid-west hit by snow accumulation in the middle of November, this month’s safety topic is snow shoveling safety.  National statistics are kept for most anything related to injuries and death, and snow removal is not an exception.  Here are some statistics from THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE:

1. Between 1990-2006 over 195,000 people were treated in medical emergency rooms for snow shoveling related injuries.
2. 67% of the injured people were male.
3. Children 18 and under accounted for 15% of the injuries.
4. About 7% of the emergency room visits were for cardiac related problems.
5. There were 1,647 deaths reported during this period due to snow shoveling and removal.

With Winter getting ready to start, here are some tips to help your safety whether you are removing snow from your work place entrance or your home driveway.

1. Stretch and warm up your muscles before beginning to shovel snow.  This will help you prevent muscle strains and tears – and pay particular attention to your leg and back muscles.
2. Pick a snow shoveling tool that is right for you – most experts will recommend a lightweight snow shovel that is 3 pounds or less.
3. Push the snow instead of lifting it.  If you must lift and throw the snow, put only as much snow on the shovel as you can easily lift.  This will help you and your snow shovel.
4. Bend your legs and at the waist to engage your leg and abdominal muscles.  Avoid straight up and down shoveling as this puts more stress on the back.
4. If you must throw snow, remember to turn your feet in the direction that you are throwing snow.  Twisting at the waist and throwing snow over your shoulder increases your risk of injury.
5. Take frequent breaks to rest and recover – snow shoveling can be as active as weightlifting.  Think of removing snow as a marathon rather than a sprint.
6. Dress for the weather.  Bundle up in layers of breathable clothing as snow shoveling is exercise.  Make sure your head is covered to keep your body warm.  Extra socks and good gloves help in reducing risk to frostbite in extreme cold.
7. If you are taking heart and lung medications or you are not in good physical condition, strongly consider hiring a snow removal service or hiring a neighborhood kid to do your snow shoveling.

With an early substantial snow fall already in the upper half of the country, this Winter has the potential of having as much snow as any we have seen in the last decade.  Have a plan on how you are going to remove snow and think safety when exercising your plan.

Stress and the Construction Worker

Stress is as much a part of life as breathing, eating, and sleeping. A little stress can be a factor in achieving goals, meeting deadlines, and can motivate workers to do a good job. On the other hand, stress can create a prison of overwhelm and dread. Many workers are faced with job-related stress on a daily basis. Construction workers are no exception. Studies show that blue-collar industries, i.e. construction, are more stressful than white-collar industries.

While managing job-related stress is important in all types of employment, it is essential among construction workers because a mistake can fatal. Mental stress can have a domino effect on the construction worker’s life and quality of work. Here are just some of the ways stress can affect construction workers:

  • Lessens the ability to concentrate and focus on the job
  • Reduces the ability to effectively interact with co-workers and management
  • Contributes to worry, which in turn causes insomnia, poor sleep patterns, and eventually sleep deprivation
  • Prolonged periods of poor sleep caused by stress contributes to a weakened physical condition and reduced reaction times
  • Leads to poor dietary habits
  • Causes low morale
  • Leads to headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and panic attacks.
  • Contributes to health problems, particularly heart attacks and strokes

In order to reduce the stress on construction workers, employers should institute adequate work breaks to lessen fatigue. Employees should make the most of these work breaks in order to “refresh” mentally by relaxing, speaking to co-workers about non-work related topics, or taking a short walk.

Employees also should make the effort to follow an exercise routine. Construction is already a physically demanding job. However, engaging in aerobic exercise or even regular meditation can reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety to the point where one is able to improve sleep, and manage stress far more effectively. Adopting a healthy diet that is high in fiber, protein, and low in sugar, and limit or avoid processed foods can also help to reduce stress.

Mental stress can result in injury on the construction job site. A stressful working environment also may interfere with the ability or willingness of construction workers to practice safety practices on the job. In this respect, it is important that employers have construction workers engage in additional safety training.

Stress is a part of life which cannot be wholly avoided. In many ways, it is a needed part of life; however, when it is in a constant state it can prove physically and mentally detrimental to construction workers. The way to combat this problem is by finding adequate ways of handling stress so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and cause physical, emotional, and mental damage.

 

Construction Workers Vulnerable to Biological Hazards

Given the nature of their work, construction workers who work outdoors are routinely exposed to physical and biological hazards. Therefore, it is important that these workers have taken the necessary training classes to ensure that they remain safe in the face of these hazards.

Biological Hazards Facing Construction Workers

Perhaps the most common type of hazard that workers are vulnerable to is vector-borne diseases. In short, this is an illness that is caused when an infected host transmits a disease to a person through the blood. Routinely caused by blood sucking arthropods like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, a vector-borne disease can also be transferred from birds, rodents, and larger animals. Additionally, construction workers are also vulnerable to venomous animals and insects. Depending on where the worker is employed, they may be more likely to be bitten by a venomous snake or a spider. Venomous threats include wasps, bees, hornets, hobo spiders, rattlesnakes, and coral snakes. In addition to the threat of insects and animals, construction workers are also vulnerable to poisonous plants like poison ivy and poison oak. When a person comes into contact with one of these plants it can burn their skin and leave a dangerous infection. A person who works in California, Washington, or Oregon are particularly vulnerable to developing lung and breathing problems that are associated with poison oak.

How to Confront the Threat of Biological Hazards

It is crucial that every construction worker know if they are allergic to a venomous sting and take any necessary precautions. Additionally, every job site should be equipped with the necessary safety and emergency equipment like an EpiPen and an Automatic External Defibrillator. In addition, when working with dangerous chemicals all construction workers should be wearing the necessary safety equipment like protective suits, gloves, and eye gear. In order to protect the rights of workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was enacted to ensure that employees are not seriously injured or killed while on the job site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for ensuring that businesses meet the workplace safety standards that have been outlined in the legislation. Perhaps most importantly, all employees should be given ongoing training on how to avoid biological hazards and what to do in an emergency situation. Training should be given when a person is hired and throughout the course of their employment.

 

Stretch to Save Lost Work Time

Fall is now here and with it comes cooler mornings for everyone working outdoors (sometimes indoors, too).  In cooler weather, the human body is much more susceptible to injury.  However the number of injuries can be reduced if workers will warm muscles and stretch before beginning physical labor.  With that here are some activities and a few stretches that are recommended before beginning a day of physical labor / work.

1.  Walk briskly to work site from car or mode of transportation.  This activity will warm the body and pump blood to extremities with minimum effort.

2.  Upper body stretch - put right hand on left elbow and gently pull over and back of heard.  Hold this stretch for 10 seconds before moving to left hand over right elbow.
3.  Put left arm across body and use right forearm to push the arm vertically across body as seen in sketch below.  Hold for 10 seconds and switch arms for right arm across body.

4. Bend right knee and straighten left leg with hands on side of body to stretch groin and hips as seen in sketch below.  Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs.

5. Stretch calf muscles by putting hands against wall, holding body straight but to an angle, and pushing lightly on calf muscles in back of the legs.  Hold this for 10 seconds.

What can employers gain by having a warm-up stretch time for their workers before physical labor begins?  Reduced workplace injuries and injury costs, reduced absenteeism, and improved health and satisfaction for your employees.  All of the items mentioned will help your employees to become more productive thus making the company more productive.

 

Avoiding Chemical Hazards on the Job: Training is Key

Of all the dangers faced on construction jobs, none are as threatening as toxic chemical exposure. These hazards are not always liquid. They can also be in the form of gasses, vapors, and fumes. So even when workers are not handling chemicals directly, they are still at risk for exposure by simply being in the vicinity where someone else is using them.

When workers are exposed to toxins, it can lead to suffocation, poisoning, burns, internal damage, neurological issues, and cancer. In women, many of these chemicals can make them more prone to having children with birth defects. Some of the effects of toxic chemicals are not felt until years after exposure.

In an industry where chemicals are common, workers need training to learn how to handle, mix, and use chemicals properly.

Training Prevents Disaster

The biggest danger from toxic substances comes when workers are in confined spaces. Small, enclosed spaces limit the amount of oxygen circulating in the room, so chemical fumes are more potent. It also heightens the risk of coming into contact with something that’s spilled or sprayed in the air.

If even one person in the room makes a mistake with the chemicals, it puts the lives of everyone around him at risk. For instance, if a crew member mixes chemicals together and creates a toxic gas, it will not only affect him, but everyone in the vicinity.

Training can teach workers about inherent and induced on-the-job hazards, while giving them the know-how to reduce the dangers. Workshops can be delivered onsite or online by a trainer who is skilled in safety services. Classes can cover anything from wearing required safety gear to proper handling of toxic substances to reacting if chemicals make contact with the body.

The more knowledgeable and aware construction workers are, the better able they are to think on their feet and make decisions that can save lives. When workers understand that they have the power to protect themselves and others from chemical mayhem, it gives them a sense of self-efficacy and they behave more responsibly.

There is always the potential for danger when employees work with chemicals every day. However, the risk of exposure can be reduced when staff members are trained to protect themselves and those around them. In addition to routine training, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a plenty of available literature on ways employers can improve safety in the workplace.

 

Ergonomic Hazards Common on Construction Sites

Most people associate the word ergonomic with office workers. An ergonomically-designed office space, for example, is one that is designed to help workers avoid repetitive motion injuries associated with activities such as typing.

Ergonomics is the science of designing work tasks to fit the worker instead of forcing the worker to conform to the job. It covers a wide range repetitive motions, as well as physical and environmental factors.

But office workers aren’t the only people who need to pay attention to ergonomics. Construction workers also must be aware of ergonomic hazards on the job.

For construction workers, physical stressors include repetitive motions such as using a manual screwdriver over and over. It also can be caused by jobs that expose a worker to continual vibration, like jackhammering.

Excessive force and working in awkward positions also are examples of physical stressors. Carrying large loads of bricks would be considered excessive force. Working in an awkward position encompasses everything from prolonged shoulder flexion to crouching in a confined workspace.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are directly linked to ergonomic hazards in construction workers and are a leading cause of workplace injuries on construction sites. Construction workers are especially vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders because they do a great deal of lifting, bending, reaching overhead, and pushing and pulling of heavy loads.

It is important to note that physical stressors would not cause injuries if a particular task only was performed once. But if a physically stressing task is performed on a regular basis, it can cause injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and tension neck syndrome.

Environmental factors can also cause stress to an individual’s hearing or vision. On a construction site these can include excessive noise around heavy equipment that leads to hearing loss. Poor air quality is another environmental stressor. It can result in headaches, congestion, and fatigue. Areas with poor air quality would include places where a great deal of dust is floating around or where there is exposure to powerful paint fumes.

It is in a construction company’s best interest to keep their workers safe and healthy to reduce employee downtime. In order to protect workers from ergonomic hazards, companies should take the following steps:

  1. Ask workers for input on what areas they feel are of particular concern when it comes to ergonomic hazards.
  2. Have construction sites evaluated by a safety services company that is experienced in identifying and eliminating ergonomic hazards.
  3. Provide employee training on how to work as ergonomically as possible.
  4. Encourage employees to report any symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders as soon as they appear.

Creating an ergonomically-designed workspace is the responsibility of every employer but it can be overwhelming at times. That’s why partnering with a safety services company to implement such a program is often your best course of action.

Simple Mistakes Cause Dangerous Falls

Working on the WallAccording to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls from elevation are one of the leading causes of death on construction sites. Such falls are the cause of over 800 hundred fatalities each year.

Since safety must be the first priority on every construction project, there are a multitude of important measures that should be taken to prevent falls and protect workers. In order to minimize fall-related risks, certain hazards must be assessed before work begins: covering holes and installing safety nets below bridges, for instance, can mean the difference between life and death. Providing adequate safety gear and up-to-date equipment is an employer’s responsibility, as well.

The usage of faulty scaffolding or damaged, rusting ladders that rest on shaky ground creates ripe conditions for harmful accidents to occur. The implementation of personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), which help to anchor workers during many high rise construction projects, has proven to be a great safeguard against falls as long as the accoutrement adheres to the mandatory safety criteria and workers know how to use it.

Training employees to understand how to use such equipment properly and ensuring that they recognize perils involved in their labor are very critical steps in maintaining the security of a work site. For instance, forgetting to buckle the belt of a PFAS harness could place a construction worker in serious danger of injury. Making sure employees wear appropriate shoes, understand how to work around the weather, and have an unobtrusive environment are also good ways to decrease the risk of tripping or falling.

In addition, something seemingly simple can pose a real threat to workers’ welfare; if a construction worker operating several feet or more above ground does not realize the possible implications of careless footing or allowing oneself to be distracted from the job at hand, he or she puts his or her life and wellbeing in jeopardy. Even to believe that carrying tools while climbing a ladder is probably an insignificant mistake shows ignorance that should be rectified before a laborer gets thrown off balance in the process.

Management of the safety for any construction site is no easy task as these few examples illustrate, so depending on hard hats and a caution sign is hardly enough. In order to keep construction workers out of harm’s way and a work site functioning competently, considering the assistance of a reliable safety services firm that specializes in employee training is a smart decision to make.