Research shows that more than one-third of workplace injuries occur within the first year of employment. Those injuries account for one-third of workers’ compensation claim costs. “Safety training programs and practices should start before an employee’s first day and continue throughout the employee’s time at an organization,” said Chris Hayes, of Travelers Insurance. Clearly, it is critical that employers have clearly communicated practices and safety training programs in place. New employees must know who to go to with safety questions and concerns. Further, it is imperative that they are empowered to stop work with out fear of reprisal.
5 Ways to Equip All Employees
Integrate Safety into the Hiring Process
Onboard and Continuously Train Employees
Conduct a Job Safety Analysis
Implement an Accident Analysis Program
Continue Supporting Employees Throughout Their Careers
It is vitally important to show new employees that your company takes safety seriously. For example, consider making it part of the performance evaluations for supervisors. “The most common mistake is not including risk and safety/health goals in the performance evaluation process for managers,” Scott Smith, director of safety management at Selective Insurance. “Having risk and safety/health goals for managers that impact their performance evaluation sets expectations and establishes the organization’s safety culture.” Another “significant, commonly observed mistake is management’s failure to intervene when they observe employees failing to follow sound risk management or safety,” he added.
Additionally, how you manage injuries can significantly impact your business. Employers should be prepared before an injury takes place. Including having a plan that helps injured employees return to work as soon as medically appropriate. For example, a transitional duty program can help employees remain engaged and connected at work during their recovery.
When workers are injured, it might be possible to temporarily assign them to different tasks that are less physically demanding. “There are pros and cons to having an injured employee perform in a light-duty position while recovering,” Smith said. “They can stay engaged in the business during this interim period, which might help with overall absenteeism and maintain positive employee morale, as remaining workers will see the employee returning to work.”
A Transitional Duty Program Can Help in 3 Ways:
Employees to receive prompt, quality medical care.
Keep employees at work, allowing the company to get meaningful, productive work done while the employee recovers.
The employee, employee’s medical provider, employer and insurance professional to work together to help the employee to return to work as soon as possible.
Following an injury on the job, it is important to have a plan for returning employees to work as soon as they are medically able to return.
According to Rich Ives, vice president of business insurance claims at Travelers Insurance, “We stress to our customers the importance of maintaining contact with the injured employee, checking on how they are feeling and setting up a modified duty program as they recover,” he added. “By focusing on what they can do, rather than on their pain or limitations, conversations about their return to work can help an injured employee stay engaged, feel productive and look ahead.”
At NSC we provide a safety orientation course that is an excellent resource for new hires in any industry. It is designed to foster positive safety attitudes and raise awareness of potential workplace hazards and emergencies. Safety in the workplace starts with having the right attitude about safety and taking the right steps to prevent safety incidents. This training course is designed to make you aware of just a few of the possible hazards which you might encounter at work. It is a quick overview to provide you with some basic understanding of each area and to set you on the right path towards a safe and healthy work day. We also offer safety orientation courses specific to janitorial, construction, foodservice, and healthcare industries.
The term hazardous materials, or hazmat for short, may signify chemical suits, gas masks, and decontamination processes. Many people assume hazardous materials are exclusive to very specific industries, like chemical plants or laboratories.
In reality, hazardous materials are all around. They are found in most workplaces, and most people have some in their homes. Household cleaning products like bleach, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and solvents are all classified as hazardous materials. Even pressurized items like aerosol cans and propane gas canisters are considered hazardous materials.
We all work and live around hazardous materials every day. So, it’s important to know the ABC’s of how to identify and handle them – especially for unfamiliar materials. Even if a hazardous material doesn’t appear to present an imminent threat, improper handling or storage can create a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.
To stay safe in the workplace, or anywhere hazardous materials can be found, it’s critical to keep these three “ABC” reminders in mind.
A – Awareness of Classification Levels
B – Be Informed for Proper Identification
C – Careful Handling, Storage, and Disposal
Awareness of Classification Levels
At the most basic level, a hazardous material refers to any substance or mixture that possesses properties capable of causing harm to human health, the environment, or property under the right conditions. That being said, the term eludes definition to an extent; best practice is to assume that all unknown materials are potentially hazardous.
In the U.S., hazardous materials are officially classified and managed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), working in conjunction with organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
DOT separates hazardous materials into nine different hazard classes based on their common properties and risks. There are hundreds of different materials that fall into these different categories.
Each hazard class (which has its own subdivisions) includes specific regulations and requirements for packaging, labeling, marking, and documentation to ensure safe transport and storage. Hazard classes also have specific requirements for storage and disposal. While this is not the only classification used in the workplace, it’s the most commonly used one throughout the U.S.
While these classes have unique requirements and regulations, they are not necessarily distinct when it comes to real-world application. Many materials fall into different classifications in different circumstances. For example, gasoline is primarily classified as a Hazard Class 3 due to its flammable nature. At the same time, it can also fall under Hazard Class 6 due to being a toxic substance.
Hazardous Material Classifications
Class 1: Explosives –This class includes materials that can rapidly release gasses, heat, and energy, causing an explosion. This class is subdivided into six divisions, including mass explosion hazards, projection hazards, and minor blast or fire hazards. All fireworks and ammunition fall under Class 1.
Class 2: Gasses –This class includes all gasses, including those that are compressed, liquefied, or dissolved. Within this class, there are three divisions: flammable gasses, non-flammable gasses, and toxic gasses. Nitrogen, chlorine, and methane all fall under Class 2.
Class 3: Flammable Liquids –Class 3 covers all flammable liquids, which are defined as liquids with a flashpoint below 100°F (or 140°F for construction materials). Gasoline, diesel fuel, paints, and certain solvents all fall under Class 3.
Class 4: Flammable Solids –Class 4 covers solids that can easily ignite. This class is composed of three divisions: flammable solids, spontaneously combustible materials, and materials that emit flammable gasses when in contact with water. Matches, safety flares, magnesium, and white phosphorus are all Class 4.
Class 5: Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides –Oxidizers and organic peroxides make up Class 5 of DOT’s hazardous materials classification. Oxidizers are substances that facilitate or support combustion, while organic peroxides are thermally unstable and can decompose. Hydrogen peroxide and ammonium nitrate fall under Class 5.
Class 6: Toxic and Infectious Substances –This wide-ranging class includes materials that are toxic or pose a risk of infection. They are divided up into two types: toxic substances and infectious substances. Pesticides and herbicides, lead compounds, and biological samples are all considered Class 6.
Class 7: Radioactive Materials –Perhaps the least likely to be encountered on a daily basis, Class 7 includes radioactive materials that emit ionizing radiation and require special handling and transport precautions. It’s divided into three types, based on levels of radioactivity and associated risks. Uranium, plutonium, and other radioactive materials all fall under Class 7.
Class 8: Corrosive Materials –Corrosive materials are substances that can cause damage to people and materials they come into contact with through chemical reactions. Common examples include acids, bases, and certain cleaning agents. Many household cleaners are Class 8.
Class 9: Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods –This catch-all category includes a variety of different materials, from lithium batteries and asbestos to other environmentally hazardous substances. Officially, all materials that have anesthetic, noxious, or other similar properties that could cause discomfort are Class 9.
Be Informed of Proper Identification
With nine different classifications and numerous subdivisions within each, it’s difficult for workers to fully understand every type of hazardous material and their unique regulations and requirements.
While certain workplaces that regularly encounter a variety of hazardous materials require more robust identification training across all DOT classes – locations that employ first responders, truck drivers, and shipping personnel, for example – most workers do not encounter many unfamiliar hazardous materials on a day-to-day basis.
Employers at workplaces like these should focus on providing employees with training and quick-reference information on hazardous materials specific to the job site. Being able to quickly identify a hazardous material will help keep employees safe. It can be the difference between maintaining a safe work environment and creating a perilous, and possibly deadly, situation.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are the best way to keep employees informed about known hazardous materials that are kept on site. SDS provide quick reference information for each chemical at a workplace, their hazards, and the best guidelines for managing each chemical or material. National Safety Compliance (NSC) offers a training course video to help organizations align with best practices for creating, maintaining, and interpreting SDS. Of course, SDS information is only as useful as it is available. Worksite management and leadership should ensure these sheets are easily accessible at all times.
It’s important to have SDS on-site, so employees know about hazardous materials, but it’s difficult for every employee to memorize them. Furthermore, employees may also encounter new materials from time to time. This is why it’s critical to provide training on how to read chemical labels.
All hazardous materials are required to be properly labeled based on their DOT classifications, and in some cases, their subcategories. These labels include standardized symbols, pictograms, or codes. To the trained eye, this information explains everything a worker needs to know about a particular material. They explain the possible dangers and also provide information on how to manage accidents involving materials, such as an accidental discharge or release. Finally, they also explain the requirements for storage and disposal.
There are additional communication requirements for workplaces that regularly handle hazardous materials. For example, chemical manufacturers need to understand and comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. Organizations in these situations should use training materials specific to these requirements.
Careful Handling, Storage, and Disposal
When it comes to handling hazardous materials, the utmost caution should be used every time these materials are on the worksite – even if they aren’t being actively used.
Storage and Labeling
Hazardous materials should be stored in their original containers. Materials like corrosives can breach containers that aren’t designed for them, such as recycled food containers. Do not combine hazardous materials, including for storage.
While the specific storage precautions should be taken based on each classification, most hazardous materials should be stored in dry, cool areas with good ventilation. Incompatible chemicals should not be stored near one another. Many hazardous materials can cause dangerous reactions when combined.
Hazardous materials should be properly labeled. In fact, OSHA requires it: hazardous materials must be properly labeled based on their classification with SDS. Chemicals that are improperly marked or have missing labels should never be used. Workers should alert their manager if any potentially hazardous material is not properly labeled. If a material cannot be identified, it’s best to assume it’s hazardous. It’s a wise idea to take regular inventory of hazardous materials to ensure they are properly stored and labeled.
Every hazardous material has its own requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) when being directly handled. Read labels carefully and follow all handling requirements.
Always have PPE like face masks, gloves, and goggles, ready and available for use. These materials should be inspected regularly to ensure they are in proper working order. Any old or defective PPE should be immediately replaced. Replace PPE if it becomes damaged or worn, and do not reuse disposable PPE. Cleaning areas should be clutter-free and regularly inspected. In addition, it’s recommended that workplaces have hand-washing and eye-wash stations installed, in the case of an emergency. For full PPE training, check out NSC’s video kit.
While each hazardous material has its own disposal requirements, many have a special disposal process. It’s a safe bet that the hazardous materials at a worksite cannot be simply sent to the landfill.
Certain chemicals must be treated as part of the disposal process. Many cannot be poured down the drain or into the sewer system. Some hazardous materials may even need to be sealed into special containers, whereas others need to be sent to special facilities for disposal.
Hazardous materials should be disposed of according to their specific label instructions and their classification. In some circumstances, there are also local regulations that apply. Before taking steps to discard any material, it’s critical to fully understand the disposal requirements based on the DOT classification and, if applicable, local, state, and federal regulations. To ensure compliance, keep records of all disposals.
There’s no time like the present to ensure a workplace is up-to-date with safety training, particularly when it comes to hazardous materials.
NSC can serve as a partner for organizations looking to establish safety and compliance on all hazardous materials in the workplace. The HAZWOPER: Handling Hazardous Materials DVD outlines critical information regarding such materials, as well as what to do in the case of a spill, emergency or injury.
Summer and warm weather usually means vacations, barbecues, and time at the beach. But when it comes to work, too much heat, with too little protection, can be dangerous. This is especially true for those who work outdoors.
There are many different risks, including heat illness, that come with increased heat and humidity. While some jobs carry more risk than others, all outdoor workers face some danger from hot and humid weather. Heat illness can also impact those who spend hours outdoors for gardening, athletics, or other outside activities.
Who is at Risk?
Those who work primarily or exclusively outdoors. Agricultural workers, landscapers, utility workers, and those in the construction industry are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses. Even event staff, delivery drivers, and workers or others who are outside for shorter periods of time face risks from the heat – especially because they may not be as aware of the risks or take precautions. As the CDC notes, even short-term exposure to hot and humid weather can have an impact.
At the same time, the risks (and preventative measures) depend on your environment, both from a geographic and workplace standpoint. For example, while a roofing team in an urban setting may not need insect repellent, they should bring plenty of water. Due to the urban heat-island effect and the reflection of heat from roadways and concrete surfaces, temperatures in these types of workplaces can be much higher, and can exacerbate air pollution, which is
generally worse in urban settings. This can inflame existing conditions and cause long-term respiratory issues over time.
A work crew in San Antonio has a different degree of risk for heat-related illness than a team in Seattle. But that doesn’t mean those in Seattle are not at risk for heat illness, especially if they spend many hours in the sun or particularly hot weather.
Additionally, those with preexisting conditions or other diseases face increased risks of heat illness. Those over 65 and individuals with obesity, heart disease, or high blood pressure are more susceptible to heat-related illness. Inexperience should also be a consideration; workers, tourists, athletes, or others who are new to a job or activity, or not acclimated to a particular environment, are more prone to heat illness.
What are the Signs?
Dehydration and sunburn are well-known risk, but heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the primary danger of working outdoors during the summer. Each year, thousands of Americans are hospitalized for heat-related illness, and there are more than a thousand heat-related deaths annually. While the impact from summer weather can often be mild — dehydration, muscle cramps, and excessive sweating — the more serious conditions can be deadly.
Types of Heat-Related Illness
As the Occupational Health and Safety Administration explains, outdoor workers face many different types of heat-related illness. For the most part, heat illnesses fit onto a scale of severity. At the less significant end are dehydration and heat cramps. While these may cause discomfort, alone they are not life-threatening. They can, however, increase the risk of workplace accidents.
On the more serious side is heat exhaustion, and ultimately, heat stroke. These should not be taken lightly: on average, more than 1,300 Americans die from heat stroke every year.
Heat Stroke: The most serious heat-related illness, heat stroke is caused when the body’s ability to regulate temperature is overwhelmed and unable to cool down. This causes the temperature to rapidly rise.If left untreated, heat stroke can result in death. Dial 911 immediately if you see symptoms of heat stroke.
Symptoms – High body temperature (104 degrees F and up) is the key symptom. In addition, there may be a rapid pulse and breathing, hot and dry skin, and dizziness or confusion. In some cases, a loss of consciousness can occur.
Treatment –Heat stroke should be treated by medical professionals. But there are a few important steps you can take to lower the body temperature until help arrives. Move impacted individuals indoors or to a shaded area, and cool the Treatment –Heat stroke should be treated by medical professionals. But there are a few important steps you can take to lower the body temperature until help arrives. Move impacted individuals indoors or to a shaded area, and cool the body with wet towels or water. Do not use ice packs or ice water, as this can have an adverse effect.
Heat Exhaustion: Less severe but still serious, heat exhaustion occurs when the temperature regulation system is strained but not overwhelmed. If untreated, it can escalate to heat stroke.
Symptoms – The symptoms for heat exhaustion are similar to heat stroke: heavy sweating, dizziness and fainting, headaches and nausea. Any of these symptoms should immediately warrant concern, and immediate steps should be taken to cool down.
Treatment–The primary treatments include hydration and lowering the body temperature. Move to a cool environment, and remove excess clothing. Lie down with legs elevated to improve blood flow, and hydrate with cold water or sports drinks. Individuals experiencing heat exhaustion symptoms should rest for at least 24 hours.
Related Illnesses: While heat stroke and heat exhaustion are the greatest concerns, there are other types of heat-related illnesses that are less severe but still serious.
Heat Syncope– Otherwise known as heat collapse or fainting, heat syncope is a loss of consciousness. To cool the body in hot temperatures, the blood vessels in the skin dilate, which leads to a temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain. Quick movement can trigger an episode. Those who stand for long periods outside, or those who have sudden changes in body position while outdoors, are more susceptible.
Heat Cramps — A manifestation of dehydration, heat cramps are a type of muscle cramp. Instead of occurring because of exertion, they’re caused by an electrolyte imbalance. The large muscle groups like the calves, thighs, and abdomen, are particularly susceptible to cramps.
Excessive Sweating: Sweating helps the body regulate temperature, but it also makes many jobs or tasks more challenging. Sweaty hands reduce grip strength and dexterity, making it more difficult to handle tools. Sweaty skin can also lead to slips, trips, and falls. In addition, sweat can be a conductor of electricity. Those working around electrical currents or with power tools could be at risk of electric shock. Fogging Glasses: Many outdoor jobs require the use of safety goggles, which can fog up due to the temperature difference between the goggles and the skin. The greater the heat and humidity, the more likely this is to occur. Fogging can happen in a matter of seconds and create a dangerous situation. Applying anti-fogging agents to lenses minimizes this risk.
Reduced Cognitive Function: For a variety of reasons, summer’s heat and humidity can impact cognitive function. Outdoor workers can experience reduced cognitive function due to blood flow being routed to the skin’s surface, rather than to the brain. Dehydration, discomfort, and fatigue can also impair decision-making and other cognitive processes.
Skin Damage: It’s common knowledge that sun exposure can lead to sunburn. In the short-term, sunburn can cause pain, discomfort, blistering and even infections. While sunburn isn’t always taken seriously, it can have deadly long-term impacts. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, even a few instances of sunburn can double your risk of developing skin cancer.
Staying Safe in the Sun: The dangers and challenges associated with working outdoors during the summer are numerous. But there are a number of preventative measures workers can take. While these vary between workplaces, they all have the same goals: to limit sun exposure and maintain healthy body temperature and hydration. Below are some of the steps all outdoor workers should consider:
Clothing – Wear clothing that combines sun protection and breathability. While the general public may be wearing shorts and sandals, that’s not a viable option for many outdoor workers. Lightweight, breathable fabrics minimize water loss and maintain proper body temperature. Clothing with SPF can help with sun protection, as well.
Hydration– Most of us could benefit from drinking more water to stay hydrated. But when it comes to outdoor work, proper hydration is critical in preventing heat-related illness. There’s no “one-size fits all” approach when it comes to how much water one should drink when working, playing or engaging in other outdoor activities. Simply put, the best way to stay hydrated is to always have water on hand. Sports drinks or waters that include electrolytes can be beneficial, as well.
Frequent Breaks – The risks for heat-related illnesses and accidents multiply the longer people are exposed to sunny, hot, or humid conditions. To lower the risk of heat-related illness, workers and those spending time outside should take frequent breaks, ideally in the shade or in air conditioning. One common standard is to take a break of at least ten minutes every two hours.
Cooling Measures – Nearly every kind of heat-related issue stems from high body temperature. While on the worksite or spending time outdoors, it’s important to take extra steps to keep the body temperature stable. Use wet towels, cooling vests, portable fans or cooling neck wraps to bring one’s temperature down, as long as it’s safe to do so.
Ultimately, the best way to stay safe when working or spending time in the heat is to be prepared, understand the risks unique to your environment — and if working or participating in
outdoor activities in a group — be aware of your peers and any potential heat-illness warning signs.
Food safety is important for many reasons, the number one reason? Everyone eats. Food that is handled improperly can make you sick. As a matter of fact, statistically 1 in 6 Americans experience some type of foodborne illness each year. The FDA states, “While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, the Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.”
However, the numbers may realistically be much higher, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that in the United States alone, food poisoning causes about 76 million illnesses, 300,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that foodborne illnesses can cause long-lasting disability and even death. Clearly, proper food handling is vital. According to DATA USA, 12.1 million Americans work in the restaurant industry, and an additional 140 thousand work in the food processing industry. Having a food safety training course is the starting place to ensuring food is handled in the safest way possible.
Four safe food handling steps include:
Clean: proper handwashing, keeping tools and surfaces clean and dry
Separate: keep meat and other ingredients apart from each other
Cook: properly check internal food temperature
Chill: monitor refrigerator and freezer temperatures
Following the food safety guidelines when handling and preparing food is a must. This includes washing your hands often, keeping meat separate from other foods, cooking food to the proper temperature, and appropriate food storage. All foodservice employees must be educated in the best practices for handling food.
In addition to the obvious risks involved with foodservice, there are less evident risks that employers and employees should take into account. Safety training that highlights these hazards is also an important consideration. For example, some common risks in the kitchen include slips, burns, fire, electrical issues, improper handling of kitchen equipment. Accidents happen; however, excellent safety training can prepare workers with good hazard management skills. In addition to the Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training we offer a Food Service Safety Orientation Training Program that covers many kitchen hazards that workers need to navigate safely on a day-to-day basis.
The importance of food and kitchen safety cannot be overstated. Of course, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, elderly people, and the very young are at greatest risk of the most serious consequences from most foodborne illnesses. However, some organisms that cause illnesses actually pose serious threats to everyone. Additionally, accidents caused by a lack of training or awareness can be prevented. It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that their employees have the resources they need to protect themselves and others.
Machine guards aren’t just nice to have – they’re specified for employers within OSHA standards.
How can you create a safe employee work environment around all machines? From nip points and rotating parts to flying chips and sparks, machines have high-hazard elements that can injure and even kill unprotected workers.
Here are the most common types of machine guards, their respective OSHA standards, and more information on keeping your employees safe.
Common Machines that Require Guards
There are a vast number of machines that require guards, but some are more commonly used than others. Here are some of the most frequently used machines that require guarding per OSHA standards.
General Industry Machinery
This category includes woodworking machinery, abrasive wheels, mills, calenders, power presses, forging machines, and mechanical power transmission apparatuses. It also includes machinery specific to the textiles, telecommunications, and baking industries.
For small or hand-held machinery, barrier guards are standard protective devices that keep workers safe. For heavier machinery, guard rails can help keep workers safe while protecting expensive equipment like forklifts in a warehouse, manufacturing facility, or distribution center.
Maritime Industry Machinery
Longshoring operations require specific requirements for machine guarding of “danger zones” on machines. This includes any machinery on waterborne craft, from engines and motors to generators and propulsors.
Construction Industry Machinery
The construction industry uses various large and small tools to complete residential and commercial building projects. Hand-held tools, abrasive wheels, woodworking tools, hydraulic equipment, and air receivers are just a few examples of machines that need guarding.
Agriculture Industry Machinery
The agriculture industry often employs heavy machinery to carry out repetitive tasks on farmland. Cotton gins and tractors are machines that require guards to protect workers.
Types of Machine Guards
OSHA identifies three main categories of machine guards that apply across various machines: barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, and electronic safety devices. Here’s a bit more about each and their corresponding OSHA standards for further reading.
Barrier Guards are protective devices used in full-revolution and part-revolution mechanical power presses. These guards keep the operator’s hands and arms away from the “danger zone” set by the machine. Because of their ease of use, they’re often the go-to safety measure for most machines.
What does OSHA have to say about barrier guards? There are a few regulations outlined in standard 29 CFR 1910.217(c)(2)(i):
On a power press, a barrier guard must keep hands or fingers from touching the point of operation.
Openings can’t exceed the limits in inches outlined in Table O-10.
The barrier guard can’t create pinch points between the guard and moving parts. A pinch point is any area where a body part could be caught.
The guard must be secure and not easy to remove.
Machines should still be able to be inspected regularly without damaging the guard.
The point of operation on the machine must still be as visible as possible to the operator.
Two-Hand Tripping Devices
Two-hand trips are safety devices used on full-revolution clutch power presses. These devices require simultaneous operation of two trigger buttons outside the press’s “danger zone.” Triggering a machine stroke requires only one action with a trip control, while a two-hand control requires continuous pressure. This device also ensures the operator’s hands are away from the point of operation.
Here are the OSHA standards for two-hand tripping devices, from 29 CFR 1910.217(c)(3)(viii):
If more than one operator uses a press, each operator should have a two-hand trip. The trip must require both operators to work the slide simultaneously too.
Two-hand trips must follow specific construction requirements. Learn more about these by checking out 29 CFR 1910.217(b)(6).
You must use the safety distance formula to determine the correct distance between the two-hand trip and the point of operation.
The position of two-hand trips must be secured so that the controls can only be moved by a supervisor or safety engineer.
Electronic Safety Devices
Electronic safety devices include rubber-insulating blankets, matting, covers, gloves, and sleeves. These devices prevent unintended contact with live parts, particularly if the voltage exceeds 50 volts. One way to protect against electronic hazards is by securing the equipment in a room, vault, elevated platform, or site 8ft (or higher) from the floor, along with sturdy screens acting as guards.
Signs must be posted near entrances to alert people to electrical hazards and restricted access for unauthorized personnel. Grounding is an additional measure to reduce the risk of electric shocks. Circuit protection devices such as fuses, circuit breakers, ground-fault circuit interrupters, and arc-fault interrupters limit or stop current flow in case of overloads, ground faults, and short circuits.
Read the full standard, 1910.137(a)(2), to learn more about electronic safety devices.
Tips for Success
While machine guarding is a complex topic, a few rules of thumb can help employers remain compliant and keep employees safe from hazards. They are:
Machine guards shouldn’t create unnecessary complications. For example, if a machine guard creates a new hazard, makes it difficult to clean, lubricate, or inspect a machine, or requires extra steps to be used properly, there’s probably an alternative method for guarding that’s much safer.
When possible, a guard should completely prevent contact. Many of the OSHA standards (for example, the “maximum width” rule for openings) concern preventing human contact with a hazardous or moving part. If communication is possible, a guard is ineffective.
A guard shouldn’t hinder the operation of the machine. If a guard keeps a machine from functioning, it should be repaired or replaced.
New York now requires all employers to provide an electronic version of all mandatory labor law posters to their employees. Assembly Bill A7595 was signed by Governor Hochul of New York on December 16, 2022, and became effective immediately. While New York is the first state to require digital versions for all employees, it most likely will not be the last. Many states are likely to follow this trend. In fact, some states including New Jersey already allow certain of their required posters to be delivered electronically.
Labor laws play an important role in protecting employees. Both Federal and State laws mandate employer responsibilities to their employees. They are intended to protect both individuals and companies. The primary way employee rights and protections are communicated is through labor law posters which are required to be displayed in a clearly visible area within the workplace. These posters summarize important details of the laws intended to protect both employees and employers. The electronic versions of these posters do not replace the physical posters in the workplace, they are just one more way for employers to keep their employees informed of their rights.
Due to the recent shift to remote work for many employees, the typical workplace has seen significant changes. Many of those changes are here to stay. One seemingly permanent change includes the demand for offsite employees. With this increase of remote workers, the need for providing electronic versions of the required labor law posters must be addressed. Many businesses have already began providing electronic versions of required labor law posters to their remote employees and the next logical step is to provide digital copies to all employees.
Many companies realized the need for digital posters a couple of years ago and began asking questions about how best to meet the requirements for remote employees. The US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division created a Field Assistance Bulletin to provide guidance regarding the posting of required notices electronically. Many of the regulations for labor law posters require the posting of a notice “at all times,” or require employers to “post and keep posted, ” such notices. In order for digital posters to meet this standard, employers must insure that employees have easy access to the electronic posting at all times. Employers can accomplish this through an electronic database and regular notifications. The DOL bulletin makes it clear that the employer must take steps to inform employees of where and how to access the notices electronically. The standard being that the electronic notice must be as effective as a hard copy posting.
The guidance further explained, where an employer has both on-site and remote employees, the employer may supplement the hard copy posting requirement with an electronic posting. Employers should establish an easy-to-access location for these notices and inform workers where to find them. As physical labor law posters are updated for onsite workers, employers should also communicate any mandatory updates of notices on their electronic posting site.
The main way employee rights and protections are communicated is through labor law posters and now that so much of the workforce does their work remotely, it makes sense for posters to be readily available in a digital format to all employees. While New York is the first state to require employers to provide this to their employees it likely will not be the only state to do so, doubtlessly many others will see the benefits and follow suit.
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.
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.
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