Eye Protection Vital for Safety on Construction Sites

S1608AAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), thousands of eye injuries occur on the job each day, and unfortunately, construction workers have a particularly high risk of eye injuries. Masonry work, powdered cement, windy conditions, and hammering are all potential eye hazards that construction workers encounter daily. With the potential for serious injury and costly worker compensation claims, companies need to start offering safety services and training to reduce the risk of eye injuries on the job.

Most Injuries Can Be Prevented                     

Most eye injuries that occur on construction sites could have been prevented. Many injuries occur because a worker wasn’t wearing eye protection. Others occur because the worker was not wearing the correct type of eye protection for the specific job. Since most injuries can be prevented, it shows how important it is for workers to keep their eyes protected with eye protection, including goggles, safety glasses, and face shields.

Common Workplace Eye Injuries

The most common workplace eye injuries occur due to small objects or particles abrading or striking the eye, such as dust, wood chips, or fine slivers of metal. Falling or flying objects often cause injuries when they strike the eye, and in most cases, those objects are so tiny that they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Less common types of eye injuries include chemical burns, blunt force trauma, and thermal burns to the eye. In some cases, objects may penetrate the eyeball, causing serious damage.

The Cost of Eye Injuries

Eye injuries do more than damage the vision of construction workers – they’re costly as well. Workers compensation payments, medical bills, and lost productivity on site combine to cost companies millions of dollars each year. The best way to improve worker safety, reducing these high costs for companies, is to implement and enforce safety procedures on the job.

Improving Compliance with Personal Protective Equipment

Why do so many workers fail to wear eye protection on construction sites? Many workers find personal protective equipment uncomfortable, and workers are less likely to wear protective eyewear if that is the case. To improve compliance, companies need to focus on providing comfortable and practical personal protective equipment. Features that improve comfort include vented frames, gel or padded nosepieces, and cushioned brows. Some companies even find that offering eye protection in various styles and colors also improves compliance.

To improve worker safety and compliance, companies need to provide proper training, as well. Training helps workers identify situations when they need to use protective eye equipment, reducing the risk of injuries on the job. Training sessions should address when eye protection should be worn, compliance enforcement processes, where protective eyewear is located, and how replacements can be obtained.

Eye protection on construction sites is just as important as hard hats and other types of safety equipment. Companies must train workers in eye safety while providing comfortable, cutting-edge eye protection equipment. While training and equipment requires an investment, the reduction in on-the-job injuries will reduce costs associated with eye injuries, making the investment an excellent choice.

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

Challenges of the New and Emerging Contractor

Safety Engineer CloseupStarting a new business is no easy task. Every new business owner goes through the stress of getting on their own two feet, but a construction contracting business can be very complex. One of the unique challenges of the contractor is the fact that they have to attain a variety of legally required permits and bonds. A contractor’s ability to obtain to secure work, especially in the public sector, is severely limited, if not unattainable, without the proper surety bonds. Many surety bond providers will offer a complete list of the bonds needed for a business owner including: bid bonds, performance bonds, labor/material payment bonds, performance, supply, and license bonds. The first step towards establishing surety capacity is to contact a professional surety bond producer who can understand and meet your needs.

While starting your contracting business may look like an uphill battle, the surety industry is not quite as intimidating as it looks. According to the Surety Information Office (SIO), “The surety industry is reaching out to new and emerging contractors to help them obtain their first bond, increase bonding capacity, and ultimately become better businesses.” In the SIO publication “Helping Contractors Grow: Surety Bonding for New and Emerging Contractors” there is a variety of information that includes tips on your relationship with your surety company, the prequalification process, and programs for new and emerging contractors.

The majority of your concerns with your surety company should focus on their knowledge and compatibility. Do they fully understand the surety process and all the unique underwriting standards of your particular bond? Do they match your needs as a contractor? These should be simple and easy questions to fill out once you have meet with a professional bond agent. The real pressures of obtaining a bond are the pre-qualifications, which are consistent for every contractor. It isn’t all about your financial strength (that is just the first step). According to the SIO publication, bond companies look for “good references and reputation,” “the ability to meet obligations,” and “experience that matches the contract requirements.” They want a clear picture of your company, and well-rounded proof of your future success.

The most encouraging piece of information is the existence of programs that are developed specifically for helping new contractors obtain their first bond. Many surety companies have developed programs such as the “Model Contractor Development Program,” along with all the information available through the SIO. The Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) and its members work to ensure that bonds are available and accessible to qualified contractors through the Model Contractor Development Program. They provide education on becoming a bondable business, assist in finding federal, state, and local resources, along with help during the actual bonding process.  A surety bond is meant to keep up business and service standards, not bring business owners down.

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

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

Elephant

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.