Posted on Leave a comment

OSHA is Switching From Traditional Hard Hats to Safety Helmets

OSHA announces switch from traditional hard hats to safety helmets. The goal is to better protect agency employees from head injuries.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that the agency is replacing traditional hard hats used by its employees with more modern safety helmets to protect them better when they are on inspection sites.

In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports head injuries accounted for nearly 6 percent of non-fatal occupational injuries involving days away from work. Almost half of those injuries occurred when workers were struck by an object or equipment and about 20 percent were caused by slips, trips and falls.

Traditional Hard Hats Need an Upgrade

Dating back to the 1960s, traditional hard hats protect the top of a worker’s head but have minimal side impact protection and do not have chin straps. Without the straps, traditional hard hats can easily fall off a worker’s head if they slip or trip, leaving them unprotected. In addition, traditional hard hats lack vents and trap heat inside.

Along with this announcement, OSHA published a Safety and Health Information Bulletin detailing key differences between traditional hard hats and more modern safety helmets. The bulletin highlights advancements in design, materials, and other features that help protect workers’ entire heads better. Additionally, today’s safety helmets may also offer face shields or goggles to protect against projectiles, dust, and chemical splashes. In fact, some more advanced helmets even offer built-in hearing protection and/or communication systems to enable clear communication in noisy environments.

The agency recommends safety helmets be used by people working in the construction industry and the oil and gas industry; in high-temperature, specialized work and low-risk environments; performing tasks involving electrical work and working from heights; and when required by regulations or industry standards.

Recommended Uses for Safety Helmets Instead of Hard Hats

  • Construction Sites: Especially those with high risks of falling objects and debris, impacts from equipment, or slips, trips, and falls.
  • Oil and Gas Industry: In these sectors where workers face multiple hazards, including potential exposure to chemicals and severe impacts.
  • Working from Heights: For tasks or jobs that involve working from heights.
  • Electrical Work: For tasks involving electrical work or proximity to electrical hazards.
  • High-Temperature Environments: In high temperatures or where there is exposure to molten materials.
  • Specialized Work Environments: Jobs that require integrated face shields, hearing protection or communication devices benefit from safety helmets designed with these features or the ability to add them on.
  • Specific Regulatory Requirements: Where safety helmets are mandated by regulations or industry standards, employers must comply with these requirements to ensure worker safety compliance.
  • Low-Risk Environments: Even in settings with no overhead hazards, safety helmets provide comprehensive protection.

In OSHA’s Safety and Health Information Bulletin they present the key differences between safety helmets and traditional hard hats. Including the advancements in design, materials, and protective features that help to protect the worker’s entire head. As well as providing instructions for properly inspecting and storing both safety helmets and traditional hard hats.

Properly storing head protection is crucial to maintain its structural integrity and to prevent damage. It is important to inspect head protection before each use. This will identify signs of wear, damage, or expiration. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for care, use, and storage.

Recommendations on How to Properly Care for Head Protection:

  • Clean and dry head protection before storing.
  • Inspect shell and suspension system for cracks, dents, or other signs of damage. Examine the headband and chin strap for wear and tear ensuring it is free from any signs of damage.
  • Check for labels and certification marks. Make sure that the labels are legible and not tampered with.
  • Verify date of manufacture and refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended lifespan of your specific head protection model.
  • Examine accessories and attachments. If your head protection has additional accessories or attachments inspect them for damage or signs of wear. Make sure they are securely fastened to the head protection and functioning correctly.
  • Check for proper fit. Adjust the suspension system to achieve a snug fit without excessive pressure points. Head protection should not be too loose or too tight.
  • Evaluate for damaged or loose parts by gently shaking your head (with the head gear on) to check for any loose or rattling components.
  • Inspect interior cushioning for wear or compression. If it shows signs of deterioration, contact the manufacturer for replacement options.
  • Assess previous impact damage. If your head protection has experienced an impact or has been subjected to a significant force, retire it immediately. Head protection is designed for single-use impact protection and may not retain its full effectiveness after an incident.
  • Keep records: Maintain a record of each inspection, noting the date, any findings, and actions taken. Regularly document the date of purchase and any relevant information about the head protection to track its lifespan accurately.

At National Safety Compliance we offer everything you need for safety training compliance. A thorough understanding of both types of head protection options allows employers and workers to make informed decisions on which type to use. OSHA wants employers to make safety and health a core value in their workplaces and is committed to doing the same by leading by example and embracing the evolution of head protection.

Posted on Leave a comment

Safeguarding Compliance: The Importance of Keeping Labor Law Posters Up-to-Date 

In the fast-paced world of business, compliance with labor laws is not just an ethical responsibility; it’s a legal necessity. One often-overlooked aspect of this compliance is the role of labor law posters. These seemingly simple displays serve as crucial tools for businesses to inform employees about their rights and ensure adherence to labor regulations. In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve into the significance of labor law posters and why keeping them up-to-date is paramount for businesses. 

The Basics: Labor Law Posters 

Labor law posters are not mere office decorations; they are a legal mandate. These posters consolidate essential information about federal, state and local labor laws, presenting it in a clear and accessible manner for employees. For instance, they may cover minimum wage requirements, workplace safety guidelines and anti-discrimination laws, offering a comprehensive guide for both employers and employees. 

Key Elements Covered by Labor Law Posters 

Minimum Wage Requirements 

  • State-specific minimum wage rates 
  • Any recent changes or upcoming adjustments 
  • Information on tipped employees and applicable wage rates 

Workplace Safety Guidelines 

  • Emergency contact information and procedures 
  • Safety protocols for specific job roles or hazardous conditions 
  • OSHA regulations pertinent to the industry 

Anti-Discrimination Laws 

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies 
  • Guidelines against workplace discrimination based on gender, race or disability 
  • Contact information for relevant agencies to report discrimination 

Customization Based on Locale is Critical 

  • Different states have unique labor laws, and posters must reflect these distinctions. 
  • Tailoring posters to the specific industry helps employees understand regulations relevant to their work. 
  • Regular updates ensure that any changes in laws are accurately communicated to employees. 
     

Why Up-to-Date Posters Matter 

Labor laws are dynamic and subject to change. Businesses must adapt swiftly to remain compliant. Outdated posters not only pose legal risks but also compromise employee awareness and protection. Changes in minimum wage, safety protocols or other regulations may occur, and businesses need to reflect these adjustments promptly. 

Consider a scenario where there’s an update to a workplace safety regulation. Without a timely update to the corresponding labor law poster, employees might remain unaware of critical safety procedures, exposing both the workforce and the business to unnecessary risks. This underlines the urgency of ensuring that posters are consistently up-to-date. 

Expanding on the consequences of non-compliance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a pivotal role in enforcing workplace safety standards. OSHA mandates that certain businesses display specific posters to inform employees of their rights and ensure a safe working environment. Failure to comply with OSHA requirements can result in significant penalties, including fines that could potentially cripple a business financially. 

In the Trenches: Understanding the True Cost of Non-Compliance 

There are many reasons not to let non-compliance happen, particularly when it comes to labor law posters. Penalties for not displaying the required workplace posters can include hefty fines, which often vary based on the size of a business and whether the violation is a repeated offense. 

Broader Implications of Non-Compliance 

Beyond financial penalties, the repercussions of non-compliance extend to the very fabric of a business. An unsafe or non-compliant workplace can also lead to: 

Employee Dissatisfaction 

  • Employees may feel unprotected or undervalued when workplace regulations are not prioritized. 
  • Dissatisfaction can result in decreased morale and productivity. 

High Turnover Rates 

  • Non-compliance contributes to an unfavorable work environment, prompting valuable employees to seek alternative employment. 
  • High turnover rates disrupt business continuity and strain resources. 

Negative Public Image 

  • The public perceives businesses as stewards of ethical practices. 
  • A negative image due to non-compliance can impact customer trust and loyalty. 

 
By emphasizing these broader implications, businesses gain a more comprehensive understanding of the holistic importance of labor law poster compliance. It transcends avoiding fines – it’s about fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being and contributes to long-term organizational success. 

NSC: Your Convenient Compliance Partner 

National Safety Compliance recognizes the challenges businesses face in staying abreast of labor law poster compliance. With a pre-order option for 2024 posters and a convenient yearly subscription, NSC simplifies the often cumbersome task of poster management. An NSC subscription not only guarantees up-to-date posters but also provides an added layer of security through poster “insurance.” 

In the event of any mandatory labor law changes, NSC takes a proactive approach, promptly shipping a new, updated poster for free. This not only saves businesses the effort of monitoring legislative changes but also ensures that compliance is maintained without any additional financial burden. 

With the pre-order option for 2024 posters, businesses can plan ahead and seamlessly integrate compliance efforts into their operational strategies. This forward-thinking approach aligns with OSHA’s emphasis on preventive measures, reinforcing NSC’s commitment to helping businesses avoid penalties and legal issues. 

Don’t just meet the minimum requirements; exceed them with NSC’s commitment to accuracy, convenience and proactive support. 

Choose NSC for your labor law poster needs. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here, and safety hazards don’t take a vacation. Keeping workers safe is everyone’s responsibility all year long. In a helpful video the US Department of Labor offers nine tips for protecting workers during the holidays. Additionally, OSHA provides resources on their website to help with holiday workplace safety.

Employers must ensure that all workers are trained to recognize and prevent job hazards and implement safe work practices. Making safety a priority begins with excellent training and education. These elements of a strong injury prevention program help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers get hurt. During the holidays, when the number of temporary workers is typically higher, it is important to ensure that new workers have the required skills and knowledge to safely do their work. Evidence shows that those who are new on the job have a higher rate of injuries than more experienced workers.

9 tips to protect workers this holiday season:

provided by the DOL
  • Train workers in a language they speak and understand.
  • Provide hands-on training on properly using equipment.
  • Wear bright, visible clothing for delivery and warehousing workers.
  • Proper stack materials and making sure workers stand clear when doors are opened.
  • Create a staffing plan that reduces workplace stress.
  • Have an emergency plan for crowds.
  • Mark entrance and exit locations clearly.
  • Encourage workers to report safety and health concerns.
  • Remember that seasonal workers have the same rights as full-time workers.

OSHA’s website features guidance for specific industries as well as resources that are applicable to any industry. These include warehousing safety, forklift safety, package delivery, trucking, crowd management, and temporary or seasonal workers. The most important thing to remember is that all employees have the right to a safe workplace and as employers, it is our responsibility to provide that safe workplace.

Proper training is the starting place and at National Safety Compliance, we offer many training courses and resources to help you provide the training needed.

Posted on Leave a comment

OSHA’s 2023 Top 10 Released

During the 2023 NSC Safety Congress & Expo in New Orleans, Eric Harbin, OSHA’s Region 6 administrator, announced for the 13th consecutive fiscal year, Fall Protection – General Requirements is OSHA’s most frequently cited standard. Fall Protection was followed by Hazard Communication and Ladders.

As a whole, the Top 10 cited standards remain unaltered from 2022. While the number one spot remains firmly in place, the other spots saw some shifting this year. Notably, Powered Industrial Trucks moved into the top five and Respiratory Protection, which had previously been fourth, fell to seventh.

Top 10 Most Cited Standards for 2023

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 7,271 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,213
  3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,978
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,859
  5. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,561
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,554
  7. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,481
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 2,112
  9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 2,074
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,644

While progress is constantly being made to keep workers safe there continues to be the same type of citations year after year. Understanding these violations and the associated risks is essential for preventing accidents and creating safer workplaces. Lorraine M. Martin, NSC President and CEO, challenged industry leaders at the 2023 NSC Safety Congress & Expo, “As a safety community, we must come together to acknowledge these persistent trends and identify solutions to better protect workers.” Paying attention to this list of violations can highlight areas that workplaces can improve safety and prevent future accidents. These are key areas in need of improvement.

Interestingly, the overall quantity of violations for the top 10 increased in 2023. Since OSHA’s out there and busier than ever employers and employees need to focus on making safety a top priority. All companies should seek to prevent worker injuries and as a bonus avoid OSHA fines. Whatever the safety training need, at National Safety Compliance we offer training for all of your staff from industrial worksites to office personnel with our easy and comprehensive training programs.

Posted on Leave a comment

Equipping New Employees to Embrace Safety

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

  1. Integrate Safety into the Hiring Process
  2. Onboard and Continuously Train Employees
  3. Conduct a Job Safety Analysis
  4. Implement an Accident Analysis Program
  5. 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:

  1. Employees to receive prompt, quality medical care.
  2. Keep employees at work, allowing the company to get meaningful, productive work done while the employee recovers.
  3. 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.

Posted on Leave a comment

New for 2023: Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training

Providing food safety training helps employees handle food responsibly. Food safety incidents put customer’s health in jeopardy, damages a company’s reputation, and costs your business money. This can threaten the long-term health of a business. National Safety Compliance has just released a new Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training ProgramThis training is designed to give your staff a clear understanding of proper food handling and personal hygiene techniques to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Topics covered in the course include:

  • Health Codes
  • Your Personal Hygiene
  • The Steps to Handling Food Safely
  • Other Safety Rules When Handling and Preparing Food


Some benefits of proper food safety and personal hygiene training include, cutting down on waste, reducing the risk of food poisoning, employees gaining a better understanding of their job. This understanding will lead to improvements in work habits and practices. Our Food Safety & Personal Hygiene Training Course is versatile. It includes everything you need to train new employees or to use as a refresher course for current employees. The training video and documentation are available in several formats to meet your ever changing training needs.

Included in the training course:

  • 22 Minute Training Video
  • Employee Quiz & Answer Key
  • Training Certificate
  • Wallet Cards
  • Power Point® Presentation and more.

Formats available:

In order to uphold high standards of personal hygiene and cleanliness, businesses must provide adequate food safety training to every employee who handles food. Proper training will ensure that everyone is aware of what they need to do, and how they need to do it. Food safety and personal hygiene training should not be one and done, it needs to be ongoing.

Our course is suitable for:

  • New hire orientation
  • Refresher / annual training
  • Train the Trainer
  • Class sizes from 1-100+

The World Health Organization estimates that illness from unsafe food causes 420,000 deaths per year. Safe food handling saves lives. Additional benefits of following proper food safety protocols include reduced economic loss, increased uptake of nutritious foods, and reduced environmental impact from food loss and waste. At NSC we offer affordable, reliable food safety & personal hygiene training.

Posted on Leave a comment

Don’t Fall for an Unsafe Work Environment: Why Fall Protection Systems Are Essential for Worker Safety

Worker using fall protection system

While it might appear obvious that any elevated surface with unprotected edges poses a fall risk if not properly secured with fall prevention systems (fall arrest systems), there are many factors that need to be considered when ensuring a workplace is safe from fall risk.

These factors include:

  • What causes the risk?
  • Where is the risk and/or are the multiple places that pose a fall risk?
  • Is there currently fall prevention in place?
  • Is that fall prevention compliant with current local, state and federal regulations?
  • Are there materials being used that increase the risk of fall?

While this is not an exhaustive list, it demonstrates the many details that go into properly preventing falls from an elevated surface in the workplace. And with the increasing risk of severe—or even fatal—injuries resulting from falls in the workplace, it is imperative that fall prevention is not left to chance or to an outdated or unregulated system.

Falls Are Costly in More Ways than One
The greatest cost from falls is undoubtedly the injury or even death of workers. The mental and physical toll a severe fall can take on an employee and their coworkers can be incredibly steep and lead to more far-reaching consequences, including feeling unsafe at, or distrusting of, the workplace. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased employee turnover.

In addition to the mental and emotional costs of a fall is the financial cost, which can add up quickly for employers. In fact, according to the CDC, workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with occupational falls in the U.S. have been estimated at $70 billion annually. For any workplace, the cost to compensate a worker for a fall—plus pay any potential fines for unsafe or lacking fall prevention—is reason enough to invest in proper fall prevention education and systems.

Industries Most at Risk for Falls
Certain industries have a much higher risk of fall from elevated surfaces than others, including construction and extraction, agriculture, electrical/utility trades, transportation, materials moving and cleaning and maintenance. In fact, according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014, 261,930 workers in these industries (both government and private sector) missed one or more days of work due to a fall injury.

For example, electricians scaling an electric pole to repair damage caused by a lightning strike needs proper equipment to keep themselves safe for the duration of their work. Similarly, a janitorial staff person who is going to climb onto a ledge to clean a window needs proper equipment and to follow the appropriate safety measures to prevent a fall.

Ultimately, all workplaces that have employees working on elevated surfaces need to be aware of the risk of fall and how to prevent it. This is key to ensuring worker safety and business regulatory compliance.

What is most important, though, is not thinking of fall prevention from elevated surfaces with unprotected edges as a problem with a one-size-fits-all solution. No two workplaces are exactly alike, which means that their fall prevention systems need to be tailored to their specific needs and causes of risk. Without proper educational tools, creating and maintaining fall prevention is no simple task.

Fortunately, there are some foundational fall prevention systems that businesses can customize to their unique needs to instill more safety and risk mitigation in their workplaces.

Common Sources of Fall Risk in Workplaces: Elevated Surfaces and Scaffolding
As previously mentioned, elevated work surfaces pose a major threat to worker safety due to the risk of falls.

Examples of these surfaces can include:

  • Roofs
  • Scaffolding/Ladders
  • Stairs/Stairwells
  • Ship Decks
  • Utility Poles
  • Warehouse Mezzanines
  • Elevator Shafts
  • Grain Silos
  • Floor Holes/Pits

This list does not touch on all elevated work scenarios that create a fall risk for workers, but it helps give a general idea of just how prevalent this risk is. According to OSHA standards, fall risk is present in any situation where someone is working in a location more than six feet off the ground. However, this does vary by industry, and some industries or workplaces need to have fall protection in place when workers are four feet off the ground or more.

Out of the list above, scaffolding is one of the greatest sources of fall risk, particularly in construction, maintenance or warehouse work. Scaffolding is a temporary, elevated work surface that holds people, materials or both. Scaffolding is most commonly used in construction and maintenance work but provides worker assistance in several industries.

There are two general types of scaffolding:

  • Suspended scaffolding: one or more platforms suspended overhead by rope or other non-rigid supports
  • Supported scaffolding: one or more platforms suspended from the ground by rigid support frames made from materials such as metal or wood

While it may seem odd that a tool meant to help workers accomplish tasks safely off the ground is actually the source of many workplace falls, it makes sense when one understands the intricacies of building sound scaffolding and realizes they vary by industry like construction, general workplace, so forth.

For a general idea of requirements for fall-safe scaffolding, here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Has the scaffolding been constructed according to manufacturer instructions?
  2. Are guardrails properly placed on unprotected edges?
  3. Are the platform bases sufficiently strong enough to support the workers and materials that will be on them?
    1. Keep in mind that this is in addition to the scaffolding being able to support its own weight.
    1. Weight-bearing requirements for supported and suspended scaffolding types differ, so one must make sure they understand the requirements for their specific scaffolding type.
  4. Is the scaffolding regularly maintained between uses?
    1. Proper take-down and set-up procedures must be followed every time.
  5. Is the person selecting and constructing the scaffolding appropriate for the task?

This is only scratching the surface of scaffolding use. To ensure proper protocols are being followed and maintained, it is important to have the proper tools and education at your disposal to get the job done correctly and safely to mitigate fall risk.

Common Fall Prevention Tactics
There are several measures one can take to help prevent falls in the workplace. To determine the best measures to take for any given work environment, there must first be a thorough review of the potential fall hazard (like an elevated work surface with unprotected edges) to make a fall prevention plan best tailored to that specific situation, project and work zone.

While completing this review, it’s important to consider:

  • How far off the ground will someone be working?
  • Will there be more than one person working simultaneously?
  • What materials will be used (if any) and need to be accounted for?
  • Will there be potential for increased slip risk due to environmental factors, such as outdoor work or the types of material being used?
  • Will any dangerous machinery be used?
  • Will this be a workspace that requires scaffolding or ladders for support?

Once a review is complete, planning for fall prevention can begin. Some simple, yet effective, fall prevention tactics are:

  1. Keep the workspace clear and free from clutter: This is especially important while working on elevated surfaces, as a trip and fall could result in much more severe injury than from the ground.
  2. Properly secure all unprotected edges: For any height more than four to six feet from the ground, if a worker trips and falls, there must be something in place to stop that person from falling off that location.
  3. Utilize safety harnesses and lines: When unable to use a ladder or scaffolding for support, a properly fitting harness and line are needed.
  4. Incorporate fall hazard warning signage: Keep workers on alert with signs indicating fall risk. This can help reduce the chance of accidental falls from workers simply not paying attention.
  5. Inspect fall prevention equipment before each use: Like any equipment, fall prevention equipment can lose effectiveness over time. Regular and thorough inspections can help ensure its efficacy or if it needs to be replaced.

It is important to note this list only just scratches the surface of all the detailed regulations around fall prevention for worker safety. For example, installing a guardrail on a surface with unprotected edges might appear straightforward, but many factors need to be considered, and standards met, to ensure it will truly protect workers from a fall. Additionally, there are different regulations for different industries, which brings in another layer of complexity to the task of preventing falls.

What’s Next in Fall Prevention?
Seeking expert, professional help—instead of trying to piece together a fall prevention system—is the safest choice for workers in any industry. National Safety Compliance (NSC) is a great partner for all things related to safe working environments, offering many resources to help businesses stay up-to-date on the latest in fall prevention tactics and regulations.

NSC’s Fall Protection Bundle includes everything a business needs to understand and implement proper fall prevention protocols. Utilizing a video kit, training booklets and an in-depth manual, this bundle will help businesses keep their workers safe, while helping to reduce time and money lost due to worker accidents and injuries.

Posted on Leave a comment

Beat the Heat with “Water.Rest.Shade.”

Every day, millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year, thousands become sick from occupational heat exposure. Sadly, some cases are fatal. Hazardous heat exposure can occur indoors or outdoors. As a result, OSHA is sponsoring a “Beat the Heat Contest” to raise awareness of the dangers and hazards of heat exposure in both indoor and outdoor workplaces.

OSHA’s Beat the Heat Contest has four main goals:

  1. Educate stakeholders, especially workers and employers, about heat hazards in the workplace.
  2. Prevent heat illness by creating an awareness campaign that increases the public’s knowledge about this issue.
  3. Highlight the dangers of heat; and
  4. Motivate employers and workers to take action to prevent heat illness.

Tragically, every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in hot or humid conditions. To combat this, OSHA created a Heat Illness Prevention campaign in 2022 to educate employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat. Whether you work outside, or inside in a hot and humid environment, you’re at risk of enduring a heat illness. “Our goal is to make it safe for workers in hot indoor and outdoor environments, so that they can return home safe and healthy at the end of each day,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Working together, we can ensure workers know their rights and employers meet their obligations in order to protect workers from the growing dangers of extreme heat.”

Some industries where workers have suffered heat-related illnesses:

  • Agriculture         
  • Bakeries, kitchens, and laundries
  • Construction – especially, road, roofing, and other outdoor work
  • Electrical utilities, boiler rooms  
  • Fire Service
  • Landscaping       
  • Iron and steel mills and foundries
  • Mail and package delivery           
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas well operations          
  • Warehousing

What are heat illnesses? A heat illness is one caused by high temperatures and humidity. In a warm environment, the human body relies on its ability to get rid of excess heat to maintain a healthy internal body temperature. Heat dissipation happens naturally through sweating and increased blood flow to the skin. If heat dissipation does not happen quickly enough, the internal body temperature keeps rising and the worker may experience symptoms that include thirst, irritability, a rash, cramping, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.

The four most common heat illnesses include:

  • Heat rash, which is a stinging skin irritation that turns your skin red.
  • Heat cramps, which are painful spasms in your muscles.
  • Heat exhaustion, which is caused by too few fluids and long hours in high temperatures, causes heavy sweating, a fast and weak pulse and rapid breathing.
  • Heat stroke happens when your temperatures rise above 106 degrees very quickly -within minutes. This is a life-threatening illness.

Heat illness is serious, but we can work together to prevent it.

Employer’s Responsibility

Employers can keep workers safe in the heat. Employers should create plans to protect workers from developing heat-related illnesses. Keeping workers cool and well-hydrated are the best ways to protect them when working in hot environments. If you or your employees are working in a hot work environment, it is vital to understand how to address heat-related illnesses to keep everyone safe.

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. The first step in prevention is for employers and workers to recognize heat hazards. Management should commit to:

  • Protect new workers.
  • Train all employees to recognize heat hazards.
  • Determine whether total heat stress is too high.
  • Implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce heat stress.
  • Provide sufficient rest, shade, and fluids.

Unfortunately, most outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to build a tolerance (acclimatization) to the heat gradually over time. Lack of acclimatization is a major risk factor for fatal outcomes. Our bodies sweat to cool ourselves. Sometimes, sweating isn’t effective enough.

In fact, OSHA encourages water, rest, & shade as prevention as well as treatment for heat-related illness. In addition, engineering controls such as air conditioning, can make the workplace safer. Other options include making changes to workload and schedules. For example, scheduling work for the morning or shorter shifts with frequent rest breaks in the shade. Encourage workers in warm, humid environments to drink hydrating fluids. At a minimum, all supervisors and workers should receive training about heat-related symptoms and first aid. The best scenario in workplaces at high risk of heat illnesses would be a formal Heat Illness Prevention Program.

Heat Illness Prevention Program key elements include:

  • A Person Designated to Oversee the Heat Illness Prevention Program
  • Hazard Identification
  • Water. Rest. Shade. Message
  • Acclimatization
  • Modified Work Schedules
  • Training
  • Monitoring for Signs and Symptoms
  • Emergency Planning and Response

Worker Information

It is important to understand workers’ rights and vital information about heat illness. Clearly, some workers are more susceptible to heat-related illness. Personal risk factors include medical conditions, lack of physical fitness, previous episodes of heat-related illness, alcohol consumption, drugs, and use of certain medication. Management should commit to preventing heat-related illness for all employees. In accordance with their heat tolerance levels. Measurement of heart rate, body weight, or body temperature can provide individualized data to aid decisions about heat controls.

Training workers before work in extreme heat begins is just the first step in keeping workers safe. Additionally, tailoring the training to worksite conditions is key. Employers should provide a heat stress training program for all workers and supervisors that include the following:

  • Causes of heat-related illnesses and steps to reduce the risk.
  • The importance of acclimatization.
  • Recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and administra­tion of first aid.
  • The importance of immediately reporting any symptoms or signs of heat-related illness.
  • Proper care and use of heat-protective clothing and equipment.
  • The added heat load caused by exertion, clothing, and per­sonal protective equipment.
  • Effects of other factors (drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc.) on tolerance to occupational heat stress.
  • Procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat-related illness.
  • Procedures for contacting emergency medical ser­vices.

While heat related illnesses are dangerous, they are also preventable with the right knowledge and plan in place. Employees can be prepared and protected while working in less than perfect environments. At NSC, we are here to help. Our Heat Stress Training Program encourages employees to have a positive attitude about heat fatigue safety, learn the symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to recognize if their body is overheating to prevent heat fatigue.

Posted on Leave a comment

The ABC’s of Hazardous Material Identification and Handling 

A person holding a pen and a clipboard. With safety sign graphics floating.

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.  

Careful Handling 

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. 

Proper Disposal 

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. 

Next Steps 

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. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Renewed Focus on Enforcement

In recent years, the Department of Labor, DOL for short, has renewed its commitment to enforce labor laws, promoting the safety and health of American workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA for short, was created in 1970 to ensure safe and healthy conditions for all workers. It is OSHA’s responsibility to set and enforce safety standards that employers must comply with in order to provide employees with the safest workplace possible. Just last month, OSHA issued two memorandums indicating that they are stepping up their focus on the enforcement of labor laws. In Fact, both memorandums were issued by OSHA’s Directorate for Enforcement Programs. 

According to the DOL, OSHA “has issued new enforcement guidance to make its penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.”

The first memorandum, Application of Instance-by-Instance Penalty Adjustment, gives OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors the authority to cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations.” This includes cases where the agency identifies “high-gravity” serious violations of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions. Specifically when the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. The purpose of this change is to encourage OSHA personnel to apply the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations will in fact discourage non-compliance. 

Conditions Where Instance-by-Instance Citations May Apply:

The second memorandum, Exercising Discretion When Not to Group Violations, states that it is “intended to reiterate existing policy that allows Regional Administrators and Area Directors discretion to not group violations in appropriate cases to achieve a deterrent effect.” Instead they should cite them separately, with the goal of effectively encouraging employers to comply with the the OSH Act.

This updated guidance covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023. Since the current policy has been in place for more than 30 years and applies only to egregious willful citations, these aggressive changes make it clear that OSHA is focused on deterring employers from ignoring their responsibilities to keep workers safe.

Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health explained the changes this way, “Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties. This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”

OSHA has delivered remarkable progress in improving the safety of America’s work force. Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities have fallen dramatically over the years. OSHA has tackled fatal safety hazards and health risks by establishing common sense standards and enforcing the law against those who put workers at risk. OSHA standards and enforcement actions have saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries and illnesses. Looking to the future, OSHA is renewing its commitment to protecting workers by promoting best practices that can save lives.