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Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace Part 1

What Employees Should Know About COVID-19 Protections in the Workplace

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads mostly among unvaccinated people who are in close proximity to each other. The virus spreads particularly indoors and especially in poorly ventilated areas.

Vaccination is an essential element in a multifaceted approach to protect workers. If your employer offers opportunities to take time off in order to get vaccinated, take advantage of the time offered. Vaccines authorized by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are effective at protecting those vaccinated against symptomatic and severe cases of COVID-19 and death. A growing body of evidence suggests that those fully vaccinated are less likely to have symptomatic infection or transmit the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many employers have created COVID-19 prevention programs that include precautions to keep unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees safe. Created prevention programs might include:

  • Telework
  • Flexible schedules
  • Engineering controls (especially ventilation)
  • Administration policies (e.g. vaccination policies)
  • PPE
  • Face coverings
  • Physical distancing
  • Enhanced cleaning programs, focusing on high-touch surfaces

The recommended precautions and policies of your workplace should be followed. These multi-layered controls are specific to your workplace and are particularly important to unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk employees.

In addition to these guidelines, the CDC now recommends those that are fully vaccinated wear a mask in public indoor settings where there is a potential of substantial or high transmission. Still, those fully vaccinated might choose to mask, regardless the level of transmission. This choice might depend on if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at an increased risk of severe disease, or if others in their household are unvaccinated.

Ask your employer about prevention policies and plans for your workplace. Additionally, employees with disabilities who are at risk may request reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If your employer does not have a COVID-19 prevention plan and you are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk, you can help protect yourself and others by following the steps below:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Check with your employer about paid leave opportunities, if necessary, to get vaccinated and for recovery time from any side effects.
  • Wear a face covering. When properly worn, face coverings are simple barriers worn over the mouth, nose, and chin. These coverings help prevent your respiratory droplets or large particles from reaching others. Higher quality masks are encouraged, as they provide a greater measure of protection. When working outdoors, you may opt to not wear a face covering; however, should you choose to, your employer should support you in safely wearing a face covering continuously, especially if you work closely with others.
  • Social Distance. Unless fully vaccinated or not otherwise at-risk, stay far enough away from others that you are not breathing in respiratory particles produced by them. This distance is generally 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths). Please note that this is not a guarantee that you will avoid infection, especially if you are in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas.
  • Take advantage of telework or flexible schedule policies, if offered by your employer.
  • Perform work tasks, hold meetings, and take breaks outdoors when possible.
  • Participate in any training offered by your employer to learn how rooms in your workplace are ventilated effectively, if offered. Encourage your employer to provide such training if it does not already exist. If you see any vents that are clogged, dirty, or blocked by furniture or equipment, notify your building manager.
  • Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands often. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Do not spit. Monitor your health daily and check for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.)
  • Get tested regularly, especially if you live in areas of substantial or high community transmission.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing you from getting COVID-19. If you are not yet fully vaccinated or otherwise at-risk, these multi-layered controls provide optimum protections that prevent exposure and infection.

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A Quick Guide to HIPAA Compliance Training Requirements for Employers

A quick guide to HIPAA Complianc

 

To most, HIPAA compliance boils down to a simple concept: the security of patient medical information and data. With these guidelines in place, patients expect their medical data will remain private and protected from prying eyes or theft. It is your responsibility, if your company works with protected patient information, to ensure that your employees are properly implementing HIPAA compliant procedures.

A lot goes into designing HIPAA compliance training. While training should be tailored to the individual jobs at hand, there is plenty about HIPAA that every relevant worker should know. If you’re planning a class and need a simple to use HIPAA training kit with an instruction video, lesson plan, PowerPoint Presentation and certification test: we’ve got you covered.

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a federal law designed to protect patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. HIPAA encompasses not only the original act but several subsequent legislative acts and together they form a vast number of regulatory requirements for a variety of entities.

What industries require HIPAA training?

The simple answer is that HIPAA regulations will apply to Covered Entities and their Business Associates. Basically, anyone who could possibly come in contact with protected health information should receive HIPAA training. This includes more obvious healthcare roles like doctors, nurses, medical receptionists and hospital recordkeepers. However, there are roles outside of the traditional healthcare system who also should be trained in HIPAA regulations.

What is a covered entity?

  • Healthcare providers, including but not limited to clinics, hospitals, and private practices for medical, dental, psychological, chiropractic, etc.
  • Health insurance providers, including but not limited to health insurance companies, HMOs, company healthcare plans, Medicare and Medicaid.
    • This section also includes the staff that handles the sign-up process for employees or students at their company for health plans—oftentimes, these are human resources professionals.
  • Healthcare Clearing House

What is a business associate?

Covered entities often work with vendors or subcontractors to handle important tasks like data storage, networking or other information technology services. Other vendors or subcontractors could include companies that provide shredding services of sensitive documents, lawyers, translation services, medical equipment professionals, answering or reception services, consultants.

With those definitions in place, let’s look at what HIPAA says about required training in the regulatory code text. The training section in the Privacy Rule states a covered entity must train all member of its workforce on the policies and procedures as necessary and appropriate. Any covered entity or business associate employee, with potential access to protected health information (PHI), must be provided regular training. The Security Rule states covered entities and business associates must implement a security awareness and training program for all members of its workforce.

What topics should be covered in HIPAA training?

HIPAA takes a somewhat vague approach to training. The law does not give specifics about required training. So, the implementation of specifics of HIPAA requirements are considered “addressable,” which simply means they must be followed but provide covered entities a level of flexibility in how they comply with the standard.

Covered entities must decide whether a given addressable implementation specification is reasonable and appropriate security measures apply within their framework. Their decisions must be documented in writing and the written documentation should include factors considered as well as the results of the risk assessment on which the decision was based.

With that documentation in place, training can be conducted with a “custom-fit” approach. It is important to train employees on many aspects of the HIPAA regulations, but the training does not have to be comprehensive on all topics. Ideally, training should be more about the company policies and procedures to ensure compliance with HIPAA law. Even so, there are some basic HIPAA components which should be covered including the following:

Important HIPAA training topics

  • The HIPAA Privacy Rule
  • The HIPAA Security Rule
  • Patients’ Rights
  • Rules on PHI disclosures
  • Safeguarding electronic PHI or ePHI
  • Preventing HIPAA Violations
  • Breach Notifications
  • Compliance and Enforcement

There are additional areas on which employees might need training. Ultimately it is up to the covered entity to determine the topics covered and make sure their employees are trained, and compliance with HIPAA is happening.

When should employees receive HIPAA training?

The Privacy Rule states that HIPAA training is required for “each new member of the workforce within a reasonable period of time after the person joins the Covered Entity’s workforce” and also when “functions are affected by a material change in policies or procedures” – again within a reasonable period of time. This implies training should occur the first few days and not months later.

How often is HIPAA training required?

According to the Security Rule, HIPAA training is required periodically. Most covered entities meet this requirement by holding annual training sessions. Annual training helps to protect the employer and employees by ensuring employees are:

  • “Refreshed” on HIPAA regulations
  • Aware of any policy changes that may have occurred since their last training session
  • Knowledgeable about cybercrime and ways to protect against it

While annual training is sufficient to meet HIPAA’s periodic requirements, holding additional training sessions throughout the year is not a bad idea. These other sessions can be shorter and provide quick info to reinforce employee’s knowledge and compliance with HIPAA.

Tips for HIPAA compliance training

An effective HIPAA training program allows employees to participate in the training process and to practice their skills or knowledge. This will help to ensure they are learning the required knowledge or skills. Employees can become involved in the training process by participating in discussions, asking questions, contributing their knowledge and expertise, learning through hands-on experiences, and through role-playing exercises.

 Steps can be taken to help ensure employees are attentive and engaged during HIPAA training.

  • Keep training sessions under an hour in length. Long training sessions lose the attention of the trainees.
  • Keep the employees engaged. Asking questions and encouraging conversation helps to keep employees plugged-in to the training session.
  • Keep handouts to a minimum and make sure the ones you hand out are meaningful. Too many handouts will draw the employee’s attention away from what is currently being discussed.
  • Include various media for different learning types, including videos, classroom presentations, quizzes and discussion.
  • Make HIPAA compliance training simple

HIPAA compliance requires frequent and effective training that gives your employees the tools and knowledge they need to implement these critical guidelines in their everyday work. The best HIPAA training courses will combine interactive elements with classroom lecture and discussion to help your employees learn and implement these crucial guidelines.

Ready to train your employees? NSC makes HIPAA compliance easy. Our all-in-one HIPAA Compliance training course contains everything you need to run a successful class, including a training video developed by industry experts, classroom presentation, supplemental handouts and printable certificates. This course is available on DVD, digital access, or in a self-guided online training course.

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Major Changes to 29 CFR 1910 General Industry & 29 CFR 1926 Construction in 2021

Published hard copies of CFR (Code of Federal Regulation) are useful to have in the field or on the floor. They work well as a quick reference to identify and cite potential OSHA violations or as a guide to spot areas where worker protections could be improved while crafting updated safety plans and avoiding costly fines.

A published CFR is only as useful as its contents remain relevant. Edits are made to the codification of rules in the Federal Register frequently. Some of the changes are small—clarifications, small tweaks to tables, editing for conciseness—but ultimately do not modify the rule in a significant way.

However, critical updates and major changes to rules do occur with relative frequency. If your print copy of 29 CFR 1910 or 20 CFR 1926 hasn’t been updated in a while, you may be missing crucial information.

We know that comparing everything that has changed can be a challenge. That’s why we’re here to make checking this round of CFR updates simple. This guide will cover and summarize only major changes from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020.

Changes to 29 CFR 1910 Occupational Health and Safety Standards for General Industry in 2018 – 2020

§1910.134 Respiratory protection

Several key changes were made to the Respiratory Protection Standard that applies not only to general industry but also shipyards, marine terminals, long shoring, and construction. These changes add new sections C.4 and C.5, as well as Appendix A on Fit Testing Procedures.

2021 additions to 29 CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection Standard include:

  • Updates to fit test exercises. Now, it is required for employers to perform fit tests for all methods listed in the appendix, except for the two modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol, CNP quantitative fit testing protocol and the CNP redon quantitative fit testing protocol. In regards to the two modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing, they have their own exercises listed in Part I.C(4)b, Part I.C.5(b), or Part I.C.(6) for full or half-mask elastomeric respirators or for filtering facepiece respirators.
  • A full protocol for Modified Ambient Aerosol CNC Quantitative Fit Testing Protocols for Full-Facepiece and Half-Mask Elastomeric Respirators is now included in Table A-1.
  •  A full protocol for Modified Ambient Aerosol CNC Quantitative Fit Testing has been added to Table A-2.

§1910.1024 Beryllium

The beryllium standard for general industry was updated to better align the regulations with industry needs and the rules outlined in other beryllium standards like 1926.1124. The most recent updates are effective as of September 14, 2020.

Recent additions to 29 CFR 1910.1024 Beryllium Standard include:

  • Defines beryllium sensitization, an immune response found in people who have been exposed to airborne beryllium that can lead to CBD (chronic beryllium disease).
  • Updates the method of compliance to state more broadly “exposure” instead of “airborne exposure or dermal contact.”
  • Personal protective equipment must now be removed once the worker has completed their beryllium-related task, not at the end of their shift.
  • If employees have skin exposed to beryllium, they must wash the exposed skin at designated times.
  • Personal protective equipment must have beryllium cleaned off as much as possible before entering or using an area where workers will be eating or drinking

Changes to 29 CFR 1926 General Industry in 2018 – 2020

§1926.1427 Cranes and Derricks in Construction Operator Qualifications

This major change was released in two parts with the qualifications and certifications going into effect December 10, 2018, and amendments (a) and (f) on evaluation and documentation requirements went into effect on February 7, 2019.

Updates for 2021 to 29 CFR 1926.1427 Cranes and Derricks in Construction Operator Qualifications Standard include:

  • Crane certification is no longer by capacity, instead, it must be by type as defined by the accredited certifying organization.
  • Employers must have all operators certified under new rules by December 10, 2018, at the employers’ expense.
  • Certified operators must then be qualified on the equipment they use in their workplace, otherwise, they are considered an operator-in-training and cannot work without direct supervision from a qualified trainer.
  • A qualified person must be either an employee or an agent of the employer with the knowledge and experience necessary to direct in-training operators.
  • A qualified person must be in the field of vision and watch the operator-in-training closely.
  • Evaluations are conducted to ensure the operator can perform work safely on their assigned equipment.
  • Evaluations are conducted to ensure the operator has mastered all necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to avert risks and safely perform work duties using their assigned equipment.

§1926.1124 Beryllium in Construction and Shipyards

The most recent changes to the rules for Beryllium in Construction went into effect on 9/30/2020, however, the standard has been updated several times since 2018, mostly for clarity and to better align with adjacent rules in 29 CFR 1910 General Industry.

Leading up to these rule changes, in 2017 OSHA published a rule about occupational exposure to beryllium and its compounds in the Federal Register that conclude it posed a significant risk to the health of workers with the potential to lead to lung disease or cancer when exposures went beyond permissible exposure limits (PELs). Contact with this material happens often in shipyards and during welding. The new rules set out to fit the needs of construction and shipyard workers specifically and align their standards to the general industry standards, as well as provide clarification.

Modifications to the 29 CFR 1926.1124 Beryllium in Construction and Shipyards Standard include:

  • Specified definition of Beryllium sensitization, which is an immune response in people exposed to beryllium. While it is often symptomless it is the first step to developing CBD (chronic beryllium disease).
  • Pulmonologists in CBD medical diagnostic centers are no longer required to be on-site, but simply on staff.
  • The written exposure control plan for beryllium now must contain a list of operations and job titles who are expected to work with beryllium, engineering controls, means of protection from exposure, a list of PPE (personal protective equipment) used, as well as procedures for restricting access during work exposures, procedures to contain exposure and procedures for cleanup.
  • Engineering rules have been simplified to state that engineers must be used by employers to reduce and maintain beryllium exposure below the TWA PEL and STEL unless provably unfeasible.
  • In-writing notification of airborne exposure of beryllium to housekeeping staff is no longer required. Instead, in any operation that could result in airborne dust, the workers must be provided with personal protective equipment if it will result in airborne exposure above TWA PEL or STEL levels.
  • When beryllium is disposed of or transported to another entity, written warnings are no longer required.
  • Physician evaluations at CBD diagnostic centers must include tests for pulmonary function, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and transbronchial biopsy if deemed necessary.
  • Warning labels on containers contaminated with beryllium are no longer required.
  • Employees now are only required to be trained in beryllium safety if they are reasonably thought to have airborne exposure—skin exposure is now excluded.

§1926.1400 Scope

This standard was updated with the new paragraph (18) which clarifies that flash-butt welding trucks that are not equipped with hoisting devices are defined as roadway maintenance machines and are used for railroad track work, as defined in 49 CFR 214.7.

Benefits and features of CFR books

Government agencies like OSHA must remain nimble to continue to improve processes that protect workers’ health and safety while balancing the needs of employers. So, when it comes to construction and general industry, the Code of Federal Regulations are known to change frequently.

Published CFR books from National Safety Compliance can help you stay informed on industry changes, within your work floor, construction site, or office and keeping your employees safe. These current publications are also an excellent guide for developing or updating your facility’s safety plan.

Our publications are released often and are designed to be user-friendly, with additional features to help you answer questions quickly and effectively.

Annual Updates and Corrections

Every change made to the CFR in the past few years is included in the front of the book, even if it is a minor grammatical change. This will help you quickly identify any standards that may need a refresher, retraining, or trigger a safety plan update.

Most Frequently Cited Standards

Our CFR books contain the most frequently cited standards from OSHA from the previous year. This can help you see where your industry peers may have gaps in their safety plans and check the standards against your facility’s practices.

This information is found prior to the start of each subpart.

Letters of Interpretation

Letters of Interpretation are an excellent resource that you may not normally be aware of. These letters are responses from OSHA to public questions about important topics like terminology, interpretation, and enforcement of particular laws. If there are Letters of Interpretation available to help clarify a standard, we include an icon in our book so you know to look it up on osha.gov

Additional Parts of Title 29 & General Duty

We include additional parts of Title 29 outside of 1910 and 1926 that are relevant to our users, such as Inspections, Citations, and Proposed Penalties from 29 CFR 1903 and CFR 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

Also included for quick reference is the General Duty clause, which is OSHA’s catch-all for hazardous or dangerous situations in a workplace. If there isn’t a specific standard the violation falls under, it goes under General Duty.

The 2021 Edition of 29 CFR 1910 General Industry and 29 CFR 1926 Construction books from National Safety Compliance are available in print or digital PDF formats. To ensure your facility is always in compliance, protect your workers, and avoid costly fines, make sure safety management, supervisors, and human resources directors have easy access to the right training, materials, and resources to protect your workers and business.

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LOTO: Lockout Tagout Safety Standards at Work

Worker disables machine using lockout tagout procedures

Lockout and tagout, also known as LOTO, is the OSHA standard for the control of hazardous energy. This exists to protect employees by addressing the necessary steps to disable machinery or equipment that could release hazardous energy or unexpectedly start. These hazardous energies, including electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or mechanical could seriously harm or kill workers if released during machinery work or maintenance.

Lockouts and tagouts put specific practices and procedures into place to isolate machinery energy hazards by de-energizing and locking out the ability to power on the equipment.

Failure to properly follow lockout tagout regulations are one of OSHA’s top 10 most frequent citations. Not only are there fines involved when you choose not to follow regulations but there are many dangerous situations you will create for your employees and anyone in your work environment.

Lockout/tagout procedures must be taken seriously. If procedures and requirements are not met employees can be gravely injured or killed by machinery and equipment. OSHA estimates that compliance with the lockout/tagout standards can prevent 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries every year.

Training on Proper Lockout and Tagout Procedures  

Employees working on machinery are at high risk of bodily harm if someone removes lockout/tagout devices and reenergizes the equipment without their knowledge. It is extremely important that all employees respect lock out and tag out devices and that only the person who applied them may remove them.

According to OSHA’s guidelines, your lockout/tagout program must include energy control procedures, devices to lockout, inspections of lockout/tagout devices and mandated training for all employees. This training should be specific to each employee’s position and be relevant to their individual duties.

Proper training will give employees a better understanding of the types of energies that can cause danger and teach them how to implement procedures to ensure these energies are controlled during maintenance and service.

Training, and retraining regularly to maintain proficiency and protocol adherence, is crucial to the success of your Hazardous Energy Control Program.

Difference Between Lockout and Tagouts 

Although the terms lockout and tagout have similar desired effects, the two devices are quite different. Lock out devices hold hazardous energy in isolation and prevent machines from being energized with physical restraints that cannot be removed without a key.

On the other end of the spectrum, tag out devices simply warn employees against reenergizing devices while it is being serviced. These are much easier to remove, and as a result, they do not provide the same level of protection as lockouts.

Lock out and tag out kits provide bundles of both that can be used for multiple procedures. They contain tags, padlocks, and all other devices to isolate energy release. These allow companies to manage all their operations from a centralized box, which makes implementing a lockout tagout program easier. Lockout programs can be tricky and having all the effective tools makes all the difference.

Standards for Lockout Tagout

The OSHA standards for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147 and 1910.333 layout the requirements for disabling machinery during maintenance work and protecting workers from electrical circuits or equipment.

You must use a lockout program (or tagout program that provides protection levels equal to that achieved through lockout) whenever your employees engage in service or maintenance.  This system normally involves taking dangerous equipment completely offline and removing its ability to energize by locking it into an “off” position, then tagging it to the individual who placed the lock and who is the only person able to remove it.

The basic requirements as stated in the standards are as follows:

  • Employers must draft, implement, and enforce an energy control program and procedures.
  • A lockout device, which temporarily disables machinery so that hazardous energy cannot be released, must be used if the machinery supports it. Otherwise, tagout devices, which are warnings to indicate that the machinery is under maintenance and cannot be energized until the tag is removed, can be used if the employee protection program provides equal protection to a lockout program.
  • Lockout/Tagout devices must be protective, substantial, and authorized for the machinery.
  • All-new, refurbished, or overhauled equipment must be capable of being locked out.
  • Lockout/tagout devices must identify each user and only the employee who initiated the lockout can remove it.
  • Effective training must be provided to all employees who work on, around, and with heavy machinery and equipment to ensure understanding of hazardous energy control procedures including their workplace’s energy control plan, their specific position’s role and duties within that plan, and OSHA requirements for lockout/tagout.
  • Training must be repeated once a year
  • Inspections must be performed of energy control procedures and initiatives.

Implementing a safe and effective lockout/tagout system is ultimately a task of the employer. It is the business’ responsibility to protect their employees from injury or death by providing them the tools, standards, procedures, and training to avoid hazardous workplace accidents.

Who Needs to Utilize Lockout Tagout PROCEDURES?

Lockout tagout procedures and training are necessary for all companies with equipment and facilities with hazardous energy. These are necessary both to meet OSHA guidelines and keep your employees safe.  

Some examples of workplaces that would require both LOTO procedures and training include:

  • A distribution center that utilizes equipment like forklifts and palletizers would need a lockout/tagout procedure set in place.
  • A bakery food manufacturer would need a lockout/tagout procedure for maintenance on their industrial oven and conveyor belts.
  • In the printing industry, if cleaning or maintenance duties on a press must be performed under machinery guards or in hazardous points.

When moving forward with building your lockout tagout procedures, keep in mind that not all employees will use the lockouts and tagouts. Only authorized personnel, meaning those trained on a company’s lockout tagout procedure can properly understand, apply, and follow procedure.

Regardless of whether or not they are considered authorized personnel and are using the lockout/tagouts, employees will still need to be trained. Any employees who operate the machines that will be serviced under lockout tagout or work in the area where lockout tagout is used will need to understand the purpose and seriousness of lockout tagout procedures.

Steps of Lockout Tagout

The general steps of lockout/tagout application require authorized personnel to perform a sequence of shutdown and inspection procedures. To initiate the LOTO and prepare for maintenance, you must:

Step 1: Inform the Workers

Before the machinery is shut down, all employees that work on or around the machine must be informed that the energy control procedures will be applied at a specific time. If anything changes, including the maintenance time or expected downtime, inform these employees.

Step 2: Power down the machine

Based on manufacturer guidance and your shutdown procedures, have an authorized employee turn off the machine.

Step 3: Isolate energy sources

Most equipment will have more than one source of energy. Any area of the machine that could be energized by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or mechanical power must be shut down by powering down switches or shutting valves.

Step 4: Add the lock and tag

At all of the previously identified energy sources that can be used to re-energize the machine, apply locks and tags with identification of the authorized employee who placed them. Only the employee who placed them is allowed to remove these tags.

Step 5: Release any stored energy and prepare the area

Some machines can retain stored energy even after a shutdown. Look for hazards like spring tension or venting gases and release them appropriately. Moving parts must be safely secured to protect maintenance workers and remain stable throughout the cleaning or repairs.

Step 6: Verify that energy is isolated

Authorized personnel must now double-check and verify all previous steps were completed successfully.

Once the maintenance is complete, the LOTO must be removed. The following steps must be followed to remove the tags safely:

Step 1: Inform the workers

Communicate to all area workers that the machinery will be re-energized at a specific time. Ensure that all equipment brought in for repairs is removed before turning the machine back on and all maintenance personnel are accounted for.

Step 2: Remove the locks and tags

Authorized personnel will now remove the tags they placed earlier. Each tag can only be removed by the person who placed it.

Step 3: Re-energize the machinery

At the appointed time, re-energize the machinery.

Lockout/tagout procedures are not only important for OSHA compliance, they are vital to employee safety. To ensure your program is working as intended, annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures are required by OSHA. While employees aren’t required to have annual refresher training, all employees must be well-trained and able to follow protocol at all times. If knowledge gaps are found, employees change work positions or if new machinery is added to the workplace, refresher training is required.

At National Safety Compliance, we offer a number of different ways to train your employees on lockout tagout safety, lockout tagout devices, and online training modules here on Online OSHA Training, as well as more traditional employer-led training programs available on DVD, USB, or Digital Access on OSHA-Safety-Training.net.

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OSHA-Compliant Forklift Safety Training Standards

Powered industrial trucks, commonly known as forklifts, are used in a variety of industries. From manufacturing plants to warehouses to construction sites, forklifts are critical pieces of workplace equipment used to raise, lower, and move materials. With their presence being so commonplace it is no surprise how many employers are interested in understanding and providing compliant, effective training for their employees. 

Forklift safety training is not only essential for a safe working environment but required under the most recent OSHA regulations. Forklifts are an exceptional tool for efficiency, but they can also be dangerous, damaging, or even deadly. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 600 workers perished in forklift accidents from 2011 to 2017, and a further 7,000 suffered injuries that required time away from work.  

To start on the path towards developing forklift safety training for your team, you must first understand the OSHA regulations and how to put these rules into action.

Most Recent OSHA Regulations for Forklift Operators

The most recent OSHA regulations for forklift operators were officially published on December 1, 1998. In response to a rise in workplace safety concerns, the new standard was designed to lower workplace injuries and fatalities through quality operator training. 

These new regulations went into effect on March 1, 1999 and apply to all industries except for agriculture.

The new regulations are as follows:

  • Operator performance must be evaluated before operating an industrial truck, except for when in training
  • The employer can designate any employee who is qualified as a Trainer or Evaluator. There are no special requirements for training.
  • OSHA does not certify, accredit, or approve any trainers or training programs for powered industrial trucks. The responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the OSHA standard rests with the employer.

In summary: All employers with forklifts or powered industrial trucks outside of agricultural settings must provide OSHA-compliant training for their operators, evaluate operator performance before allowing them to operate the vehicle, and can designate any qualified employee to act as a trainer or evaluator.

Forklift Driver Safety Training

Training Requirements Under OSHA Regulations

Under the guidance of OSHA regulations, ensuring that your forklift operators are properly trained is ultimately the responsibility of the employer. This task can be outsourced to outside consultants or pre-developed courses for the classroom portion can be utilized. However, the training provided must adequately prepare your employees for not only general forklift operation, but the unique challenges present in your specific workplace.

Forklift Training Format

Training programs must consist of a combination of formal or classroom-type instruction, using tools such as:

  • Lecture formats
  • Video formats
  • Class discussions and games or activities
  • Written materials, worksheets, or training booklets
  • Online interactive training

Training must also include a practical, hands-on approach, such as:

  • Demonstrations performed by the trainer
  • Practical exercises performed, with supervision, by the trainees
  • Evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace

Trainees participating in hands-on activities can only operate the vehicle as long as it does not endanger them or other employees. This means during the practical portion of training, a safe location should be secured and designated as such to minimize the presence of others in the area. The trainee must also remain supervised at all times during operation until they are certified.

Training Content

The content of the training program must consist of several topics, such as location-specific hazards and truck-specific topics. If operators are going to use different types of forklifts, they must be trained on each vehicle class or type.

Workplace-specific training

Your training plan must include hands-on and written instruction about the vehicles or workplace hazards specific to your place of business.  If your business has multiple locations in which the operators will be using forklifts, they must be trained on the hazards that are unique to each of the locations.

Topics for this portion of the training must include:

  • Surface conditions where the vehicle will be operated
  • Composition of loads to be carried and load stability
  • Load manipulation, stacking, and unstacking
  • Pedestrian traffic in areas where the vehicle will be operated
  • Narrow aisles and other restricted places where the vehicle will be operated
  • Hazardous (classified) locations where the vehicle will be operated
  • Ramps and other sloped surfaces that could affect the vehicle’s stability
  • Closed environments and other areas where insufficient ventilation or poor vehicle maintenance could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide or diesel exhaust
  • Other unique or potentially hazardous environmental conditions in the workplace that could affect safe operation.

Truck-related topics

Training must go beyond the basic operation of the industrial powered truck and include comprehensive information about the vehicle’s controls, capacity, maintenance, and precautions.

Topics for this portion must include:

  • How to read and understand the forklift’s required name plate / data plate and find vital information such as  fuel type and capacity
  • Operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for the types of truck the operator will be authorized to operate
  • Differences between the truck and an automobile
  • Truck controls and instrumentation: where they are located, what they do, and how they work
  • Engine or motor operation
  • Steering and maneuvering
  • Visibility (including restrictions due to loading)
  • Fork and attachment adaptation, operation, and use limitations
  • Vehicle stability
  • Any vehicle inspection and maintenance that the operator will be required to perform
  • Refueling and/or charging and recharging of batteries
  • Operating limitations
  • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator’s manual for the types of vehicle that the employee is being trained to operate

Vehicle class-specific training

There are many types of forklifts used. If your business owns multiple types, operators do not need to be trained on each make and model. But, operators must receive truck-specific training on those types they will be expected to operate. Operators trained to use a sit-down type fork truck cannot operate a stand-up truck unless they have been trained to operate it. 

The vehicle classes for powered industrial trucks are as follows:

Class I: Electric motor rider truck
These general use vehicles are most often found indoors, though varieties with pneumatic tires are sometimes used outdoors in dry conditions. These vehicles are versatile and protect air quality by running on battery instead of gasoline, natural gas, or diesel fuel.

Class II: Electric motor narrow aisle trucks
These narrow vehicles are designed to operate in small spaces efficiently. Narrow forklifts allow for their companies to pack in shelving or aisles close together to maximize storage area.

Class III: Electric motor hand trucks or hand rider trucks
These small vehicles battery-powered vehicles are driven by an operator in front of the truck. Steering and controls are contained in the tiller.

Class IV: Internal combustion engine trucks with solid, cushion tires
These forklifts are often seen couriering pallets from the loading dock to indoor storage. They feature a low clearance thanks to their smaller profile tires and can be used indoors or outdoors on smooth surfaces.

Class V: Internal combustion engine trucks with pneumatic tires
These trucks feature an internal combustion engine that is powered by compressed, diesel or LP gas. They are versatile and seen in all kinds of warehouses, from large to small.

Class VI: Electric and internal combustion engine tractors
These electric and combustion-powered tractors are known for their pulling power and are commonly seen on the airport tarmac hauling luggage.

Class VII: Rough terrain forklift trucks
Popular in construction, these large forklifts are designed for heavy outdoor use at a job site to lift and transport large loads of lumber or building materials.

Vehicle Inspection Training

According to OSHA guidelines, forklifts need to be inspected either daily or at the end of every shift if they’re used continuously. Before any driver begins work for the day, they must perform both a walkaround inspection and a seated inspection. In order for employees to properly perform this inspection, they must be formally trained on hazards and where to look for them.

Walkaround inspection

The walkaround inspection involves checking major areas of the vehicle, such as the tires, hoses & belts, fluids, forks, engine, and data plate for safety and good condition.

Seated inspection

The seated inspection is performed while the driver is in their seat. They must check that the controls, safety equipment, horn, brake, steering, seatbelt, and gauges are all in safe, operating condition.

Training the Trainers

OSHA’s regulation CFR 1910.178 (l) Operator Training spells out clearly what you need to do to correctly train employees to use forklifts. 

While OSHA does not require special training or certification for forklift trainers or evaluators, they must be qualified for the task. Ensure that your operator training is conducted by someone who has the knowledge and experience to educate powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence. 

In some cases, this may mean you will want to hire an outside training consultant. In many instances, however, this is not necessary. While outside trainers are certain to have the skill and expertise to train your employees, this does not mean you must hire an outside training consultant or company. Depending upon your circumstances it may be better if you do, but it is not required by OSHA. You simply must ensure that the person conducting the training “has the knowledge, training, and experience to train.” 

Timing of forklift training

New operators

Operators with no certification must complete the full training program before operating a forklift. Until they are certified, they can only operate the vehicle under direct supervision while participating in the training.

New employees

Experienced operators who are new to your company and bring with them an outside certification are not necessarily required to go through the full training course. Instead, if you have reason to believe their training is sufficient, you can simply evaluate their skills and train them on only workplace-specific tasks, hazards, and vehicles.

Deficient operators

Deficient operators must go through refresher training when the following occurs:

  • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident
  • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect the safe operation of the truck. 

To ensure that the workplace incident was not because of faulty guidance, an evaluation of the entire training program must be performed when refresher training is required.

Seasoned operators 

Current OSHA regulations require an evaluation of each forklift operator’s performance at least once every three years. If the operator continues to perform safely and within the guidelines set by your training, no further classwork is required at that time.

Temporary employees

Employees that join your company through a contractor or temporary agency must still be certified to operate a forklift. Since temporary agencies are the employer of your temporary employee, not the host organization, it is the responsibility of the agency or contractor to provide training to the required standard or there must be an agreed-upon plan for providing training between your business and the agency.

If the agency is the one to provide training, your business must still train temporary employees on workplace-specific vehicles and hazards.

Minors

Under no circumstances is a minor allowed to operate a forklift. This is a violation of federal law. All operators must be over the age of 18 before beginning training.

Certification document requirements

OSHA also requires that you certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated. Many folks misunderstand this and think that training must be OSHA-certified. OSHA does not certify your training. This simply means you must document that training was provided and that the training met the requirements laid out in section (l) of the CFR 1910.178. To certify the training, you must document:

  • The name of the operator
  • The date of the training
  • The date of the evaluation
  • The identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluating the training.

Employer training records

Records of training, performance, and certifications should be kept for at least the duration of employment.

Forklift training under OSHA guidance is one step towards creating a safer workplace for all employees. With some knowledge of OSHA’s requirements, thoughtful classroom planning, and seasoned workers with the skills to train, you will find this process is mostly straightforward. By the end of the training, you should be confident that your operators understand the training they have received and can safely operate the vehicle and have thorough documentation of the training provided.

For our Forklift Safety Training Kits on DVD, USB, or Digital Access visit: https://www.osha-safety-training.net/product-category/topic/subject-forklift-safety/

For our Forklift Safety Training via online LMS visit: https://www.onlineoshatraining.net/product/forklift-safety-training-general-industry/

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Preparing for Possible OSHA Inspections in 2020

Be Prepared for Your OSHA Inspection

OSHA can show up at your work site for an inspection at virtually any moment, without any notice in advance. This is why it is so important for employers to always be ready for the possibility of an inspection.  

The best way to prepare for an inspection is to ensure your worksite is up-to-date with current OSHA guidelines at all times. Worksites should be compliant for the type of industry and work that is performed. 

While in most instances these inspections are done by chance, many conditions can prompt an OSHA inspection. These include a workplace death or catastrophe, complaints from employees, referrals from other workplaces or government agencies and follow-up inspections.  

OSHA doesn’t target any one business or industry for inspections, but industries with high risk jobs are often prioritized for OSHA inspections based on reported fatalities and serious injuries.  

OSHA conducts these inspections with the purpose of determining whether or not employers are striving to comply with proper OSHA standards that ensure employees have a safe and healthy workplace.  

An OSHA inspection should not be a chore to prepare for. In reality, it is simply a way to further improve the safety of your workers in ways you should already be doing.  

Prepare for your OSHA inspection
Preparation and Organization are Vital Before and OSHA Inspection

There are a lot of potential dangers in the workplace and OSHA’s standards simply ensure that no one has to come to work fearful of getting hurt. Preparing for potential OSHA inspections, regardless of whether or not you are chosen for an inspection, has lots of benefits for both the employer and employees and makes a safer and healthier workplace.  

Many assume that it is important to be ready for OSHA inspections simply to save on any fines that may occur, but being ready for an inspection simply means that you are following the below steps to ensure the safety of your workplace 

What to Expect From an OSHA Inspection  

Setting your expectations for what will occur during an OSHA inspection and knowing what to do during an inspection will help ensure things run smoothly.  

3 Phases of an OSHA Inspection: Opening Conference, Walk Through Facility, Closing Conference
The 3 Phases of an OSHA Inspection

OSHA Inspector Arrival 

When the inspector arrives, you should first confirm their identification. An OSHA ID includes the inspector’s photo, name and office. If you are unsure of whether the inspector is truly from the government, you can also call your local OSHA office to check.  

The length of the inspection will depend on the size of your workplace as well as the focus of the review. Throughout the inspection you should conduct yourself in a professional manner. While OSHA inspectors will not accept any bribes, behaving in a friendly and calm way can help the progression of the inspection.  

The inspection itself will be broken up into three phases; an opening conference, a walk-through of the facility and a closing conference.  

Your Pre-Inspection Meeting 

Select a meeting place for the opening conference, this should include the owner or safety manager along with an employee representative. The opening conference will allow the inspector to go over the specifics of the inspection to explain the parameters of the inspection, what will be inspected and if the inspection was prompted by any complaints.  

At this time, the inspector will also ask for information on the work your worksite performs, the number of employees, names of those in leadership positions and contact information. They may also request files on injury and illness logs and record keeping.  

The Walkthrough 

The next step of the inspection is the walkthrough. During this phase of the inspection, they are simply looking for any potential hazards that could lead to the death, illness or injury of an employee.  

During the walk-through, the officer will point out any violations that need to be immediately corrected and check to ensure that all required OSHA posters and signs are properly posted. The inspector will try to minimize any interruptions to your work schedule and that of your employees throughout the walk-through.  

The Closing Conference 

Finally, the last phase of the inspection is the closing conference. This gives the inspector the opportunity to discuss any changes or courses of action that need to take place afterward and provide the employer with information on refuting citations and penalties.  

How to Always be Prepared for an OSHA Inspection 

Going through the process of preparing your workplace will not only ensure you are ready for any unforeseen inspections, but also reduce accident rates. 

One of the biggest aspects of being prepared for an OSHA inspection is being organized and methodical in your recordkeeping. There should be a log of all illnesses, injuries and fatalities that occur while on the job including any documentation of emergency preparedness plans, evacuation procedures, lockout/tagout programs, exposure and medical records and material safety data sheets.  

Beyond this, employers should also take steps forward in preparing for an inspection by assigning responsibilities. Delegating different roles to ensure there are specific employees educated on different aspects of the inspection such as preparing the proper paperwork and escorting the inspector around the building will be very beneficial in the case of an actual inspection.  

Having a designated employee escort the inspector through the inspection also allows them to document everything the inspector does. This includes taking note of any conversations and observations as well as taking pictures of anything the inspector also photographs.  

It is also helpful for this employee representative to bring a small dry erase board and marker to identify any objects that are hard to recognize in photos. This is helpful for your own recordkeeping and with the process of appealing any wrongful citations. 

Top 5 Most Cited OSHA Regulations: Fall Protection, Hazcom, Scaffolding, Lockout/Tagout, Respiratory
Top 5 Most Cited OSHA Regulations

Most Cited Osha Regulations For 2019 

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements 6,010 
  1. Hazard Communication 3,671 
  1. Scaffolding 2,813 
  1. Lockout/Tagout 2,606 
  1. Respiratory 2,450 
  1. Ladders 2,345 
  1. Powered Industrial Trucks / Forklifts 2,093 
  1. Fall Protection — Training Requirements 1,773 
  1. Machine Guarding 1,743 
  1. Eye and Face Protection / PPE 1,411 

Source: nsc.org 

Understanding the Results  

Any citations and penalties from the results of your inspection must be received within 6 months of the violation. If you have taken all of the above steps in advance and receive a citation you feel is not consistent with your workplace you can appeal it depending on the category it is listed under.  

Citations are listed as either willful, serious, other-than-serious, de minimis, failure to abate and repeated. These different categories determine the likelihood of receiving adjustments to the penalty. For example, any willful citation will not receive an in good faith adjustment, whereas serious violations may have the penalty reduced based on the gravity of the penalty.  

You’ll have the opportunity to appeal your claim in a conference with the OSHA Area Director and discuss any penalties and abatement dates. This gives you a chance to come to an agreement on how to eliminate the hazard moving forward. OSHA is very willing to work with you on this stage because their main priority is always eliminating hazards rather than giving penalties.  

To avoid having to appeal any violations, be proactive and periodically check that you are compliant to eliminate any potential citations if you are inspected. There are a wide variety of resources that employers can utilize as they work towards preparing for an inspection. These include training software and supportive products and services.  

 Remember the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”? The same is true for your OSHA inspection. Taking proper precautions from the beginning, especially when safety is involved can save you from future problems. At National Safety Compliance, we feature easy and affordable solutions for your safety training. We offer complete training kits in DVD, USB, and via Instant Digital Access, as well as on-demand LMS. All of our training kits are available in English or Spanish, and include Program Outlines, Quizzes, Certificates, Training Logs, Wallet/ID Cards, Compliance Guides, PowerPoint Presentations, and a manual. You can use them as many times as you like, because all of the materials are easily printable.