The busy holiday season brings with it many challenges for keeping employees safe. Extra hours, increased demand, and potentially, even seasonal employees can all increase safety concerns. It is vital for employers to be vigilant in training employees about hazards in the workplace and safety protocols this time of year.
The importance of safe and healthy workplaces never takes a break. Keeping this in mind will help employers stay focused on one of the most vital responsibilities they have, which is providing a safe work environment for all employees.
The holiday season can also bring added stress to the workplace. Employers should be providing employees with tools to manage stress. While there are many things in life that induce stress, unfortunately, work can be one of those factors. However, workplaces can also be key places for resources, solutions, and activities designed to improve well-being.
At National Safety Compliance we offer the tools and information businesses need to create safe, efficient, and compliant workplaces. OSHA’s website also offers a variety of resources to assist employers in helping and informing their employees of ways to stay safe at work.
Sometimes seasonal employees are young workers and also temporary workers. Host employers must treat temporary workers as they treat existing workers. It is especially important to include adequate training for young temporary workers. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee and are therefore jointly responsible for the employee’s safety and health.
Often temporary or seasonal workers are workers supplied to a host employer and usually paid by a staffing agency, whether or not the job is actually temporary. All workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace, whether temporary or permanent. Actually, the staffing agency and the host employer are temporary workers’ joint employers; therefore, both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment for those workers.
The staffing agency and the host employer must work together to ensure that all OSHA requirements are fully met. OSHA recommends that the temporary staffing agency and the host employer set out their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their contract. This is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of each employer’s role in protecting employees. In order to clarify the employer’s obligations, including such terms in a contract will help avoid confusion as well as ensure that each employer complies with all relevant regulatory requirements.
All year long, employers must ensure that every worker is properly trained. Employees must be equipped to recognize and prevent job hazards and implement safe work practices. The busy holiday season is no exception, safety is too important to neglect.
Fatal injuries in confined spaces average 92 fatalities per year, according to the US Department of Labor. That’s almost two per week. Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered confined. The configuration of these places hinders the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit.
Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines. Workers in many industries are required to access them in order to obtain equipment, make repairs, and perform routine maintenance.
The most common risks of working in confined spaces include:
Limited entrances or exits
Poor air quality
Exposure to gases and dangerous toxins (which are more likely to build up to dangerous levels in confined spaces)
Risk of fires or explosions
Drowning risk in trenches, pipelines, or water tanks
Construction workers often perform tasks in confined spaces. However, the risk is not limited to construction workers. Agricultural workers, electricians, and maintenance workers are also at high risk of being injured in confined spaces. Spaces such as pits, manholes, and crawl spaces are not designed for continuous occupancy. It can be very tricky to exit these. An emergency makes escaping even more difficult. Confined spaces can present life-threatening hazards. Hazards such as toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation. Exposure to these hazards can largely be prevented if addressed prior to entering the space to perform work.
By definition, a confined space is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. According to OSHA, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the workplace to determine if any spaces are confined spaces. Indeed, worker training is essential to the recognition of what constitutes a confined space and the hazards that may be encountered in them. For instance, if it is a confined space, the next step is to determine if it is a permit-required confined space.
Permit-Required Confined Space Characteristics:
Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
Contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
Has walls that converge inward
Has floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area
Could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress
In general, the Permit-Required Confined Spaces Standard requires the employer, to evaluate the workplace to determine if any spaces are permit-required confined spaces. If workers are authorized to enter permit spaces, a comprehensive permit spaces program must regulate employee entry into permit spaces. OSHA provides detailed specifications of the elements of an acceptable permit spaces program.
Further, permit spaces must be identified by signs. Entry must be strictly controlled and limited to authorized persons. An important element of the requirements is that entry be regulated by a written entry permit system. In addition, proper atmospheric evaluation and testing of the space before and during any entry by workers. Further, an entry must be monitored by an attendant outside the space. Additionally, a rescue plan is required in the event of an emergency. In order for a rescue to be successful, the confined space safety plan must be quickly accessible to all employees.
Worker training is vital to keeping workers safe. In fact, OSHA outlines training requirements and specific duties for authorized entrants, attendants, and supervisors. According to OSH Online, Eighty-five percent of fatalities in confined spaces were among people who hadn’t been trained. Therefore, it is clear, proper training can save lives. In the same way, the reality is with proper training and equipment, the loss of workers in confined spaces can be prevented.
Training for entrants, attendants, and supervisors
Acute or chronic effects of working in confined spaces
Permit-required confined spaces
Emergency rescue from confined spaces
Personal Protective Equipment in Confined Spaces
This training is appropriate for any workers who will work in or around confined entry spaces. As a result of completing this training, workers will be certified in the OSHA Standard 1926 Subpart AA and should be able to use sound judgment and work within confined spaces safely. Thus, this training is also suitable for supervisors, and managers. Similarly, it is effective to train the trainer or as a refresher course for seasoned employees.
Preventing many laboratory safety risks is possible. In general, laboratories tend to have more health and safety risks than other workplaces. According to OSHA, there are more than 500,000 workers employed in labs in the U.S. The laboratory environment can be a hazardous place to work. Consequently, it is vital to train lab workers to recognize hazards in their workplace. Furthermore, workers must protect themselves from those hazards by following safety practices in order to address the hazards that are present. Often workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment. Unfortunately, this makes them more vulnerable to injury. Many hazards found in laboratories seem easy to spot; however, many are frequently overlooked.
Common Types of Laboratory Hazards Include:
Toxins, Flammables, & Corrosives
Fire, Malfunctioning Equipment, & Shock
Microbes, Plants, & Animals
Projectiles, Heating Devices, & Slipping
Many labs are more hazardous and risk-filled than the average workplace which makes understanding the hazards that are present in this work the first step to creating a safe environment for workers. Indeed, it is vital that all lab employees understand each and every hazard of the laboratory. Knowledge and clear safety practices can help protect workers from harm caused by hazards in the laboratory.
There are several specific OSHA standards that apply to laboratories. The Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) was created specifically for non-production laboratories. Other additional OSHA standards provide rules that protect workers from various aspects of laboratory activities and hazards in laboratories.
Employers’ Responsibilities for Keeping Lab Workers Safe:
Thanks to the OSHA Laboratory Standard, effective safety and training programs have been implemented to train laboratory personnel in safe practices. A crucial component of chemical education is to nurture attitudes so that safety is included in all laboratory activities. Particularly, preventing laboratory safety risks is needed to be most effective, safety and health must be incorporated into all laboratory processes. Strong safety culture is the result of positive workplace attitudes, involvement, and buy-in, of all members of the workforce.
Additionally, employers are required to develop and carry out a written Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). A CHP is a written program stating the policies, procedures, and responsibilities. These policies serve to protect employees from the health hazards associated with the hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace. Overall, the CHP contains work practices, procedures, and policies that should provide a safe and healthy environment.
Laboratories present many challenges. It is easy to overlook worker health and safety. However, we can prevent both job-related illness and injury with proper guidance and training. With the many types of hazards found in Laboratories, safety training is especially important. In order to meet the need for safety training, National Safety Compliance offers several lab-specific training courses.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually releases its list of the top ten most frequent workplace infractions. This list is based on the number of citations issued by OSHA, and it can help business owners and HR managers understand which safety measures they should take to protect their employees.
Fall protection continues to be the most frequently violated standard, with 5,260 citations this year. This is followed by hazard communication, which had 2,424 violations, and respiratory protection, with 2,185 violations.
At National Safety Compliance, we want to empower you to create a safe and compliant workplace. To help you to ensure that your workplace is safe and compliant with OSHA standards, we’ve put together this blog post detailing the top ten most frequent workplace violations. We’ll also provide some tips on how you can avoid these infractions in your workplace.
1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501):
Fall protection is the most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 5,260 violations this year. Though it may seem like common sense to protect your employees from falls, many businesses still don’t have proper fall protection measures.
Falls are a leading cause of injuries in the workplace, so you must take steps to prevent them. To ensure compliance with these standards, employers should educate employees working at heights of six feet or more about fall safety.
Employers should also ensure that walking/working surfaces have the structural integrity and strength to support employees. This means ensuring that floor holes are covered, repairs are made to deteriorating surfaces, and slippery conditions are mitigated.
2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200):
Hazard communication is the second most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 2,424 violations. A written hazard communication program must be in place in workplaces that produce or work with hazardous materials. This program should include information on the dangers of the chemicals present and the proper procedures for handling them.
Employers must ensure that chemical labels are legible and that MSDS sheets are readily available. You should also train employees to spot the signs and symptoms of chemical exposure early.
3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134):
Respiratory protection is the third most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 2,185 violations. These standards are in place to protect employees who work in environments where they may be exposed to harmful airborne particles.
Employers are advised to provide a written respiratory program for situations where employees are likely to come in contact with airborne contaminants. This program should include information on the proper selection, use, and maintenance of respirators.
Employers must also ensure compliance with all other OSHA statutory and regulatory requirements under routine and reasonably foreseeable emergencies. OSHA also has some examples of appropriate respirators, such as air-purifying respirators and positive-pressure respirators.
4. Ladders (1926.1053):
Unlike ladders for use at home, industrial ladders are subject to more stringent design, construction, and usage requirements. Ladder safety protocols are the fourth most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 2,143 violations.
Ladder safety is crucial in the workplace, as falls from ladders can cause injuries and even fatalities. Most ladder accidents can be prevented by following some basic safety guidelines.
To ensure compliance with these standards, some safety rules must be followed when using ladders:
Ladders should only be used on level, stable surfaces to prevent them from tipping over.
Employees should use manuals received from the manufacturer on how to use ladders safely and properly.
Fixed ladders should be used at an angle of no more than 90 degrees from the horizontal, as measured to the back of the ladder.
5. Scaffolding (1926.451):
With 2,058 violations, scaffolding is the fifth most frequently violated OSHA standard. With this many violations, it’s clear thatscaffolding safety is often overlooked in the workplace.
OSHA has put together some general scaffolding safety requirements that all employers must follow: When it comes to capacity, scaffolds should be able to support, without failure, an employee’s weight and at least four times the maximum intended load. Scaffolds should only be erected, used, dismantled, or altered under the supervision of a qualified person. It is also important that employees are trained on the proper procedures for using scaffolds safely.
6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147):
With a total of 1,977 OSHA violations, the“Lockout/Tagout” standard needs to be improved upon. This standard is in place to protect workers from the unexpected startup or release of energy during servicing and maintenance of machines.
Lockout/tagout procedures require that all energy sources be isolated and locked before work can begin. The standard applies to electrical and non-electrical energy sources, such as chemical, mechanical, pneumatic, and hydraulic.
All workers who may be exposed to these hazards must be trained in the proper procedures for lockout/tagout. The training should include information on how to identify and control the energy sources, and how to work on machines that are locked out safely. By following the lockout/tagout procedures, workers can help prevent these accidents.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178):
Internal combustion engine-powered hand trucks, forklifts, and other vehicles are non battery-powered mechanical equipment. Employers must instruct all personnel who drive these trucks about safe usage and maintenance, as improper use of these vehicles has brought total OSHA infractions this year to 1,749.
Some OSHA requirements for powered industrial trucks cover these vehicles’ fire protection guidelines, design, maintenance, and use. However, these standards do not apply to compressed air- or nonflammable compressed gas-powered trucks, farm vehicles, or vehicles used mainly for earthmoving or hauling purposes.
8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503):
1,556 companies failed to meet fall protection requirements for employee training this year. With falls being one of the leading causes of construction fatalities, it’s crucial that all employees who work at heights are properly trained in fall safety protocols.
OSHA has established specificfall protection training criteria to reduce the number of fall-related injuries and fatalities. All workers exposed to falling dangers while working must receive this training.
Recognizing the hazards associated with working on high platforms and understanding the actions to take to minimize these risks should be instilled in each employee through this training by a qualified person. Employers must also ensure that if an employee who has received training in fall protection does not understand or retain the required information, that employee must go through the training process again.
9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment–Eye and Face Protection (1926.102):
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for workplace safety. According to OSHA, PPE is “specialized clothing or equipment worn by an employee for protection against actual or potential safety and health hazards.” This category of equipment includes items such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, and earplugs.
One of the most important pieces of PPE is eye and face protection. There are currently 1,401 OSHA violations in this category.
This type of PPE is necessary whenever there is a danger of flying objects, chemicals, or electrical hazards. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have the correct eye and face protection for the workplace hazard present and that it fits them properly.
Protectors must also meet requirements such as comfortability, ability to stay in place, an appropriate field of vision, durability, and compatibility with any other PPE worn.
10. Machine Guarding (1910.212):
Over 1,370 OSHA violations were committed due to inadequate machine guarding. Machine guarding is a physical barrier that protects workers from being injured by moving parts of a machine.
The OSHA requirements state that all machinery should have guards to protect workers from injuries.Machine guarding is a crucial safety measure, as it can help prevent amputations, burns, and other serious injuries, but the guards should not cause hazards.
Some acceptable guards include barriers, two-hand tripping controls, electronic safety devices, and sensor mats. These should be used with other safety measures to provide better protection for workers.
With so many violations, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of safety in the workplace. Employers must be diligent in their efforts to protect their employees, and workers need to be more aware of the dangers in their work environment.
Accidents can happen even in the safest of workplaces. But by following OSHA regulations and taking simple precautions, we can help make the workplace safer.
We hope this list has helped to raise awareness of some of the most common OSHA violations. At NSC, safety is our top priority, and we’re dedicated to helping employers create a safe workplace for their employees.
Are you looking to host a refresher training? Our video training kits make hosting OSHA safety training sessions easy. With our video training courses, you will receive compliance videos, lecture presentations, and printable assets. You can be sure that you will have everything you need to train your employees on OSHA safety standards properly.
You can learn more about our video training kits by visiting our website.
Last week the US Department of Labor announced an update to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Since 2010, the Severe Violator Enforcement Program has focused resources on enforcement and inspection of employers who either willfully or repeatedly violate federal health and safety laws. Or further, employers that demonstrate a refusal to correct previous violations. In addition to being included on a public list of the nation’s severe violators, employers are subject to follow-up inspections.
“The Severe Violator Enforcement Program empowers OSHA to sharpen its focus on employers who – even after receiving citations for exposing workers to hazardous conditions and serious dangers – fail to mitigate these hazards,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
The changes will broaden the program’s scope with the reality that additional industries will fall within its parameters. Previously, an employer could be in the program for failing to meet a limited number of standards. The new criteria include violations of all hazards and OSHA standards. It will continue to focus on repeat offenders in all industries.
The updated Severe Violator Enforcement Program criteria include the following:
The expanded program criteria now include all hazards and OSHA standards.
Program placement for employers with citations for at least two willful or repeated violations.
Employers that receive failure-to-abate notices based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations.
Follow-up or referral inspections are made one year – but not longer than two years – after the final order.
Potential removal from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program three years after the date of receiving verification that the employer has abated all program-related hazards.
Employers’ ability to reduce time spent in the program to two years by consenting to an enhanced settlement agreement that includes the use of a safety and health management system that includes seven basic elements.
If an employer agrees to an Enhanced Settlement Agreement they may elect to reduce the SVEP term to two years. In such cases, SVEP removal is contingent on the employer agreeing to develop and implement a safety and health management system. This must be completed within two years. It must include effective policies, procedures, and practices. These should recognize occupational safety and health hazards. As well as protect employees from those hazards. The employer’s SHMS must include at least the seven basic elements outlined. Lastly, the implementation must be verified by an independent third party subject to the approval of OSHA.
Seven Basic Elements in OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs:
Hazard Identification & Assessment
Hazard Prevention & Control
Education & Training
Program Evaluation & Improvement
Communication & Coordination for Host Employers, Contractors, and Staffing Agencies
Parker further stated, “It is the goal of this administration to maximize all tools available to us to ensure employers comply with their legal obligation to provide safe and healthful workplaces. These changes to SVEP will hold a microscope to those employers who continue to expose workers to very serious dangers and help ensure America’s workers come home safe at the end of every shift.” National Safety Compliance offers many training products to help businesses stay OSHA compliant and avoid ever being included in the severe violator program.
Recently, the term Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has become fairly common and many Americans immediately think of facemasks and possibly gloves when they hear it. However, PPE has been around the safety industry much longer than our recent challenges. Furthermore, PPE includes much more than a facemask and is a vital component to keep workers safe in many work environments. Hazards exist in every workplace in many different forms. OSHA requires that employers protect their employees from workplace hazards that can cause injury. Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. However, when mitigating workplace hazards does not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide PPE to their employees and ensure its use.
The Requirement for PPE
Specific requirements for Personal Protective Equipment are presented in many different OSHA standards, published in 29 CFR. Some standards require that employers provide PPE at no cost to the employee while others simply state that the employer must provide PPE. In order to ensure the greatest possible protection for employees, employers and employees must cooperate in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful work environment.
Employers are responsible for:
Performing a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards.
Identifying and providing appropriate PPE for employees.
Training employees in the use and care of PPE.
Maintaining PPE, including replacing worn or damaged PPE.
Periodically reviewing, updating, and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program.
Properly wear PPE.
Attend training sessions on PPE.
Care for, clean, and maintain PPE.
Inform a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE.
Some Types of required Personal Protection Equipment:
Eye and Face Protection: safety spectacles, goggles, welding shields, laser safety goggles, & face shields
Head Protection: hard hats (Types A, B, & C)
Foot and Leg Protection: leggings (with safety snaps), metatarsal guards, toe guards, combination foot and shin guards, & safety shoes
Hand and Arm Protection: protective gloves, leather, canvas or metal mesh gloves, fabric and coated fabric gloves, chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves,
Body Protection: laboratory coats, coveralls, vests, jackets, aprons, surgical gowns, and full-body suits.
Hearing Protection: single-use earplugs, pre-formed or molded earplugs, earmuffs
PPE can help save lives. It can only do this if it is worn. Further, it must be worn properly and worn throughout the job. All PPE clothing and equipment should be of safe design and construction. Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration. Selecting appropriate items for each workplace is essential. PPE that fits well and is comfortable to wear will encourage employee use. Most protective devices are available in multiple sizes and care should be taken to select the proper size for each employee. If several different types of PPE are worn together, they must be compatible. If PPE does not fit properly, it may not provide the level of protection desired. This can discourage employee use. Tragically, it also can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed.
The best way to ensure compliance with the Personal Protective Equipment policy is to train workers. Employers should make sure that each employee demonstrates an understanding of the training as well as the ability to properly wear and use PPE before they are allowed to perform work requiring the use of the PPE. They must know the risks posed by the job, and how PPE can protect them from these risks. Training in the proper use, care, and storage of PPE are equally necessary. Furthermore, the employer must document the training of each employee required to wear or use PPE. This documentation must include a certification containing the name of each employee trained, the date of training, and clear identification of the subject of the certification.
In addition to proper equipment and training, knowing how to inspect PPE to determine when the equipment should be removed from service is vital. A visual inspection is not always enough. When it comes to PPE the rule is: when in doubt; throw it out. It pays to err on the side of caution. It might be time to purchase new PPE.
Appropriate PPE is important in protecting workers it plays a pivotal role in keeping workers safe.
Eye injuries in the workplace occur daily. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), about 2,000 U.S. workers per day sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe proper eye protection can prevent 90% of these eye injuries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires workers to use eye and face protection whenever there is a reasonable probability of injury. Personal protective eyewear, including goggles, safety glasses, face shields, and sometimes even full-face respirators must be used when an eye hazard exists.
Chemicals or foreign objects in the eye and scratches on the cornea are common eye injuries that occur at work. Other common eye injuries come from fluids splashed in the eye, burns from steam, and ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure. In addition, health care workers and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases from eye exposure. This can occur through direct contact with splashes of blood, respiratory droplets generated during coughing, or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects.
Other occupations with a high risk for eye injuries include:
It is vital for employees to know the requirements for their work environment. The type of eye protection needed depends on the workplace hazards. Safety glasses with side shields are appropriate for a workplace with particles, flying objects, or dust. However, goggles are required when working with chemicals. In a workplace with hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that specific task provide better protection for workers’ eyes. It is important to note that side shields placed on conventional glasses do not offer enough protection to meet the OSHA requirement for many work environments. In addition, employers need to take steps to make the work environment as safe as possible.
The type of necessary eye protection depends upon:
The type of hazard
The circumstances of exposure
Other protective equipment used
Individual vision needs
Two main reasons for eye injuries at work include not wearing proper eye protection and wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job. A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. Most of these workers reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.
Steps for preventing eye injuries in the workplace:
Assess: Inspect all work areas and equipment for hazards to the eyes. Identify operations and areas that present eye hazards
Protect: Select protective eyewear designed for a specific duty or hazard. Protective eyewear must meet the current standards.
Fit: Workers need protective eyewear that fits well and is comfortable. Provide repairs for eyewear and require each worker to be in charge of his or her own gear.
Plan for an Emergency: Set up first-aid procedures for eye injuries. Have eyewash stations that are easy to get to, especially where chemicals are used. Train workers in basic first-aid and identify those with more advanced training.
Educate: Conduct ongoing educational programs to highlight the need for protective eyewear. Add eye safety to your regular employee training programs and to new employee orientation.
Support: Management support is key to having a successful eye safety program. Management can show their support for the program by wearing protective eyewear whenever and wherever needed.
Review: Regularly review and update your accident prevention policies. Your goal should be NO eye injuries or accidents.
We offer an Eye Safety Training Course that will familiarize your staff with good eye safety practices. The topics included in our eye safety training class are potential eye hazards, hazard assessment, and implementing an eye safety protection program. Further, this training will cover appropriate OSHA-approved personal protective equipment and how to use it and assess eye danger in various situations appropriately.
Safety Data Sheets are critical to keeping employees informed of the identities and hazards of the chemicals present in their workplace. Specifically, OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of important hazardous chemical information. In addition, this vital information must be available and understandable to workers. All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers. Furthermore, they must train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
An important component of this workplace standard is the nine pictograms. Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border and represents a distinct hazard(s). The pictogram on the label is determined by the chemical hazard classification. The pictograms help alert workers of the types of hazards they are dealing with. The pictograms will also enhance worker comprehension. As a result, workers will have better information available on the safe handling and use of hazardous chemicals.
In addition to the pictograms, the Safety Data Sheets are valuable in communicating information regarding hazardous chemicals in the workplace. These sheets have a specified 16-section format. Sections 1 through 8 contain general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, composition, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures . Therefore this information should be helpful to those that need to get the information quickly. Sections 9 through 11 and 16 contain other technical and scientific information, such as physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity information, toxicological information, exposure control information, and other information including the date of preparation or last revision. The SDS also contains Sections 12 through 15 which include the information required in order to be consistent with the UN Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
Specific Sections of Safety Data Sheets:
Section 1: Identification
Section 2: Hazard(s) Identification
Section 3: Composition/Information on Ingredients
Section 4: First-Aid Measures
Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures
Section 6: Accidental Release Measures
Section 7: Handling and Storage
Section 8: Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties
Section10: Stability and Reactivity
Section 11: Toxicological Information
Section 12: Ecological Information (non-mandatory)
Section 15: Regulatory Information (non-mandatory)
Section 16: Other Information (This section indicates when the SDS was prepared or when the last known revision was made.)
Employers must ensure that the SDS are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This is done in a variety of ways. For example, employers may keep the SDS in a binder or on computers as long as the employees have immediate access to the information without leaving their work area when needed. Furthermore, employers may want to designate a person responsible for obtaining and maintaining the SDS.
Employers are required to train their employees to recognize the nine GHS Pictograms. Our Safety Data Sheet binders make compliance easy because the SDS binder is printed with the GHS Pictograms. It is designed to allow easy reference for any employee accessing SDS records. The pictograms are printed on the inside of the binder along with the SDS Requirements.
Maintaining a safe work environment for your team members is critical. To keep your employees safe, your business should prioritize fire prevention and response plans, and ensure that the entire workforce is adequately trained in fire safety best practices.
Each year, workplace fires and explosions are responsible for more than 200 deaths and 5,000 injuries. They also account for more than $2.3 billion worth of property damage. To avoid adding to these numbers, it’s important to communicate fire prevention and protection procedures effectively, to minimize hazards and leave as little up to chance as possible. Doing so could make all the difference in avoiding preventable injuries, damages, and deaths.
Not sure where to start? Here are eight essential fire safety tips for the workplace, plus helpful NSC resources for putting your fire prevention and protection plan into action.
Fire safety tips every workplace should follow
There’s more to workplace fire safety than simply stocking up on fire extinguishers. Implement these additional tips to mitigate fire risks and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Tip #1: Implement a fire safety training course
All employees should receive proper fire safety training, even if they don’t interact with fire or heating elements as part of their job. This will ensure that your entire workforce understands what fire prevention and response entails.
The easiest and most affordable way to set up a fire safety training course is to utilize existing resources like the NSC Fire Safety Training Video Kit and Employee Training Booklets. These are a great starting point, and include additional printable materials like compliance manuals, quizzes, and fire safety certificates that support your training efforts with current employees and help with onboarding new ones. They can also be purchased as a bundle for added savings and convenience.
Tip #2: Identify workplace fire hazards
You don’t need to be working in an oil refinery plant to be at risk of a fire. In fact, there are plenty of common fire hazards in modern workplaces, from cooking and electrical equipment to smoking and general human error.
As part of your prevention measures, identify the hazards in your place of work and communicate them to employees. You should also offer reminders of the most common hazards to keep them top of mind, such as by hanging up our Faulty Wire Can Start a Fire Safety Poster.
Tip #3: Maintain your fire prevention and response infrastructure
It’s crucial that your workplace is fitted with working smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers. Your building’s control panel should also be kept accessible, so that you can shut down power in the event of an emergency.
Check all of these systems regularly to verify they are working and easy to reach, and cover the basics of how to use each system during your fire safety training course with your team.
Tip #4: Be smart with your electrical cords
Overloading your circuits can lead to overheating, which in turn can lead to a fire.
Use grounded plugs to prevent risky power surges, and always check (and double check) that there are no loose electrical connections. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for noticeable signs of trouble, such as frayed cords, flickering equipment, or darkened outlets, and always unplug any devices that aren’t in regular use.
Tip #5: Properly store and dispose of flammable materials
Any flammable materials on site need to be handled with care. Follow all manufacturer instructions for how a particular material must be stored, and do your research on what materials can and cannot be stored near each other. Highly flammable and/or combustible materials should be stored in a flammable cabinet, with access restricted to only those individuals who need to use the materials for their job.
Tip #6: Avoid clutter
A messy workplace isn’t just bad for productivity, it’s also dangerous. Clutter can fuel a fire, and may even start one if it’s in close proximity to flammable materials. And if a fire does occur, clutter can block access to emergency exits and make it difficult for all employees to safely escape the environment.
Invest in safe storage for workplace items, and maintain good housekeeping protocols in all common and personal areas so clutter never has a chance to build up.
Tip #7: Put a risk reporting system into place
Workers are busy, and it can be all too easy to forget to notify the right person about a fire safety hazard. The best thing you can do is take all of the guesswork out of who to report risks to, and how, so that issues get flagged to the appropriate team member at their first sighting.
Of course, this goes hand in hand with educating staff on what these hazards look like. But by doing so – and by removing obstacles to reporting – you take a key step toward identifying and addressing hazards before they turn into fires.
Tip #8: Design and communicate an evacuation plan
The time to work out the specifics of your workplace fire evacuation plan is before a fire event, not during. Mark all emergency exits, and keep a clear path to them at all times. Emergency exit signs should be well lit and always visible, with immediate maintenance if they’re not. You’ll also want to designate a concise exit plan and educate every single employee on what it is, including a safe outdoor meetup spot where everyone should go after leaving the building.
You can’t always prevent a fire in the workplace, but you can train employees on how to mitigate risks, and coach them on what needs to be done to protect themselves and their peers. Doing so is a core part of broader workplace safety training, and can be instrumental in keeping everyone safe.
For additional support, check out our Fire Safety Training Bundle, which includes everything that you need to enact an effective training program in your workplace. You can also supplement your training program with other NSC materials, such as first aid training, fire extinguisher training, and other useful resources.
Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs. In addition, it offers ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe. Last year, more than 5,300 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers’ health and safety. All organizations looking for an opportunity to highlight their commitment to safety are welcome to participate. (Sign up here) Further, participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one, or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.
Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness. This naturally improves sustainability and the bottom line. Serious job-related injuries or illnesses don’t just hurt workers and their families but can hurt businesses in a variety of ways. However, implementing a safety and health program can improve businesses’ safety and health performance, save money, and improve competitiveness.
Safety and health programs help businesses:
Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
Improve compliance with laws and regulations
Reduce costs, including reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
Enhance social responsibility goals
Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations
At the core of every effective safety and health program is a systematic process for identifying and minimizing workplace hazards. Traditional approaches to finding and fixing workplace hazards are often reactive. Therefore, actions are often taken only after a worker is injured or becomes sick. Often the injury is followed by a new standard or regulation. Other times an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed.
Finding and fixing hazards using a proactive approach is far more effective. Dangers can be addressed before they cause injury or illness. Workplaces are constantly changing as new technologies, processes, materials, and workers are introduced. Using a systematic approach, businesses can safely manage emerging hazards that could lead to injury or illness.
Workers often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. Therefore, the most effective safety and health programs rely on workers’ collective experience and insight in order to find solutions to workplace safety and health challenges. Workers are more invested when they are involved in finding solutions.
Workers can participate in many ways, including:
Developing the initial program design.
Reporting incidents (including near misses) so they can be investigated.
Analyzing hazards associated with routine and nonroutine jobs, tasks, and processes.
Defining and documenting safe work practices.
Conducting site inspections and incident investigations.
Training current coworkers and new hires.
Evaluating program performance and identifying ways to improve it.
Participating in Safe + Sound week can be just the beginning. Safe + Sound is a year-round campaign to encourage every workplace to have a safety and health program. Soon we will share some challenges intended to keep the momentum going.
Making sure all employees have a safe workplace is the goal.