Even in the safest workplaces, accidents happen. Slips, trips, and falls account for over one-third of all workplace injuries across all industries. Fortunately, these types of injuries are also some of the most preventable — if you have the right procedures and fall protection gear in place.
Fall protection is mandated when workers are exposed to different heights, which vary by industry:
General workplaces: Four feet
Shipyards: Five feet
Construction: Six feet
Longshoring operations: Eight feet
When working above dangerous machinery: Always, regardless of potential fall distance
And this isn’t just in reference to people working above ground: even workers at ground level are at risk when floor openings are present.
There are many different types of fall protection equipment, both temporary and permanent, that can keep workers safe in these scenarios. Here’s a rundown of the main types of fall protection used today, along with some resources for learning more about each.
Workers use scaffolding to temporarily get access to buildings or machines for construction, repair, or maintenance. These temporary platforms feature planks of different lengths and widths designed to hold both workers and materials.
There are a number of OSHA regulations for scaffolds to help ensure they’re strong and stable enough to support workers and materials. Here are the highlights:
Scaffolds must support their own weight and at least 4 times the maximum load that will be applied to it.
Platforms must be at least 18 inches wide, and they must include guardrails or fall arrest systems for workers.
Space between platforms and uprights can’t be more than one inch wide
Both supported and suspended scaffolds have their own unique requirements.
Shore and lean-to scaffolds are prohibited.
For scaffolds 10 feet or higher, workers are required to use fall protection equipment like a personal fall arrest system or a guardrail system.
Other Types of Fall Protection
For some jobs, like window washing or HVAC repair, it would be unreasonable to build scaffolding to protect workers at elevation. There are a number of other types of fall protection gear, including:
Guardrails. Guardrails can be temporary or permanent, but both keep workers away from dangerous edges or holes.
Fall arrest system. A fall arrest system stops a fall, and consists of a body harness, anchor, and a lifeline connecting the two. A fall restriction system is similar, but often includes another component, like a bosun’s chair, that serves as a work positioning system.
Travel-restraint system. These systems keep workers from getting too close to an unprotected edge. In a travel-restraint system, a worker is attached to a body harness, which connects to a lanyard that may move freely along an anchored line — keeping the worker in the safe zone.
Best Practices for Keeping Workers Safe
Regardless of your industry, there are a number of measures you can take to prevent slips and trips — whether your workers are routinely high above the ground (or not). They are:
Keep work areas clean, dry, and free of debris.
Use railings, floor covers, and toe boards to prevent workers from falling into holes.
Install guardrails and toe boards against open-sided platforms.
Ensure rooftop safety by using temporary or permanent guardrails and anchors for personal fall protection.
It’s Injury Prevention Month, so we thought it would be helpful to put together a list of ways you can keep your employees safer in the workplace.
There were 4,764 workplace injuries that resulted in death in 2020. Nearly half of these occurred in the transportation, material moving, and construction and extraction occupations. Beyond that, there were 2.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries in the United States during 2020. While these numbers have decreased over the past few years, workplace safety is still a prominent concern.
To focus on injury and fatality prevention in your workplace, there are several different categories of solutions you should have in place. Here are the ones we believe are the most important.
Provide General Safety Orientation
What your employees don’t know can hurt them. Your safety orientation program will look different depending on your industry, regulations in your locale, and your workers’ roles, but it’s a must-have for companies that want to remain compliant, reduce turnover, and foster the kind of workplace culture that leads to both a strong reputation and bottom line.
While some workplaces inherently present more dangerous hazards than others (think heavy machinery inside a manufacturing facility, or on a construction site), no workplace is exempt from the hazards of slips, trips, and falls — not even a seemingly benign office environment. Get your team up to speed on these common hazards by having them participate in a Slips, Trips and Falls Training Course.
Use Posters and Visuals
There’s no better way to keep safety top-of-mind than to provide visuals around your workplace. Safety posters can serve a variety of purposes, from helping employees recall a specific process or steps, to helping to motivate or inspire changes in behavior. Some posters or safety signs are required by law in certain workplaces. Signage in your workplace can dramatically help with knowledge retention after your employees complete a training course, as well — serving as a valuable way to protect your investment in employee safety education.
Offer Industry-Specific Information
While generic safety education will certainly help prevent injuries in the workplace, there’s no substitute for expert, industry-focused training. This is especially true for construction, manufacturing & warehousing, and healthcare, since these are the main industries where workers suffer the highest number of injuries and fatalities on the job. They’re also some of the most highly regulated industries, meaning you could face hefty fines if you aren’t up to speed on compliance requirements.
Have an Emergency Plan
No matter the type of business you operate, emergencies happen. These include natural disasters, chemical and HAZMAT accidents, and even workplace violence. Do your employees know what to do in the event of any of these disasters? Are you aware of which types of emergencies are most likely to occur at your place of work? Outline an emergency action plan that states the steps your team members should take in the event of each type of emergency. Ready to prevent injuries within your workplace? NSC makes training easy.
Both OSHA and ANSI have standards in place for protecting workers who operate dangerous machinery — and if your industry is impacted by such regulations, you’re likely well-aware of the statistics about amputations, lacerations, and other injuries that come from improper machine guarding. Still, it’s worth noting that improper machine guarding was one of the top OSHA citations of 2021, and has held a place on this list every year for the past decade.
So if machine guard safety isn’t on your list of priorities, it should be. Let’s take a look at some of the safety standards surrounding machine guarding, then we’ll follow up with some actionable steps you can take today to improve compliance and avoid mistakes in the future.
OSHA Standards for Machine Guards
OSHA Standard 1910.212 covers general machine guarding requirements for all machines. The standard defines machine guarding and gives examples (including barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, and electronic safety devices).
While you can read the full standard at the link above, here are the main points:
Affixing guards to machines. Whenever possible, a guard should be affixed to the machine, and the guard should never cause a hazard in itself.
Point of operation guarding. The “point of operation” is the area where someone processes a material. For example, the point of operation on a table saw would be the table area around the exposed blade. Points of operation must be guarded so that the operator doesn’t have any of their body parts exposed to hazards while operating. While not all machines require point of operation guarding, here are a few that do:
Portable power tools
Forming rolls and calendars
Barrels, containers and drums have specific guidelines for enclosures, as well as exposed blades on fans. Fixed machinery also should be anchored for added safety.
How to Avoid Mistakes with Machine Guarding
There are a number of steps you can take to avoid mistakes with machine guarding and keep your workplace safe and incident-free. Here are the top tips for setting your work environment and machinery up to ensure worker safety.
Check all of your equipment.
Every machine, from the years-old hydraulic press in the back of the shop to the brand new plastic injection molding machine you just purchased, needs to be checked against OSHA machine guarding standards. It’s surprisingly common for even brand-new machinery to lack proper guards and shields — so run a complete audit of all of the machines in your work area and make a plan for updating or upgrading those that don’t include proper guards.
Replace faulty or outdated machine guards.
After you’ve audited your workplace machinery for safety, replace or add guards to machines that didn’t meet the standard. If you’re unsure of how to do this, check out OSHA’s machine guarding resource. While it’s not comprehensive, this tool does cover some of the most common hazardous machines (saws, presses, and plastics machinery) and ways to employ guards to protect the people who operate them.
When replacing guards, be very careful to use the right materials. One of the most common mistakes is failing to use the right materials, which can render the guard ineffective or make it even more dangerous.
Know the types of machine guarding, and which applies to each machine.
Not all machines need the same types of guarding, and some require unique considerations. Here are some of the main types of machine guarding and what they’re used for:
Fixed guards. Fixed guards are permanent parts of a machine that are usually very simple, like a barrier guard or a screen. These guards provide maximum protection without requiring much maintenance, although they can inhibit visibility in some cases.
Interlocked guards. An interlocked guard is a mechanical device that automatically turns a machine off when the guard is removed or opened — like the door of a microwave. Interlocked guards are very effective but can present hazards when they’re removed for maintenance.
Adjustable guards. Adjustable guards are exactly what they sound like: guards that expand or contract to accommodate different shapes and sizes of materials. Because they require manual adjustment, however, workers must be specifically trained on how to use these guards in order for them to be effective.
Self-adjusting guards. A self-adjusting guard begins in a “rest” position and only moves out of the way to allow a material to pass through the danger zone before returning to a guarded position. A retractable plastic guard on a circular saw is an example of a self-adjusting guard.
Don’t remove machine guards.
Some workers may be inclined to remove guards to speed up their work or make it easier to clean or service the machine. If this is the case at your workplace, you may need to set new expectations for your employees — and consistently apply discipline to those who don’t follow them. Employees should be required to:
Keep machine guards on while machines are in use
Promptly replace guards on machines after cleaning or performing routine maintenance
Notify a supervisor if a guard is broken or missing
Sign an agreement stating that they understand your organization’s rules and regulations around machine guarding, and that they are aware of the consequences of breaking these rules
Training is one of the best preventative measures you can take to ensure your employees’ safety when using machines. If you don’t already have a machine guarding program, consider implementing one like the Machine Safeguarding Training Course available here. Having a standardized training program levels the playing field for your team, and helps you rest assured that everyone has undergone the latest machine guarding training.
Hazardous materials are ubiquitous in a variety of workplaces and industries. From common household chemicals like cleaning products and antifreeze to industry-specific chemicals like muriatic acid, dangerous substances are a part of everyday life and work.
Unfortunately, when employees aren’t properly trained on handling hazardous materials (or these materials aren’t labelled or stored properly), workers can become injured, hospitalized, and can even potentially die from burns, cuts, explosions, and more.
While some workplaces are replacing harmful chemicals with more eco-friendly ones, this isn’t always an option for every industry. So here are 10 steps to help your employees take the initiative and keep safe when interacting with hazardous materials at your workplace.
1: Ensure all hazardous materials are labelled and stored properly
Have you taken inventory of all hazardous materials in your workplace? Identify all potentially hazardous materials and verify that they’re labelled and stored correctly. Keep hazardous materials in dry, cool areas with proper ventilation — and possibly behind locked doors, when applicable. Ensure incompatible chemicals aren’t stored close together, either, as these can cause dangerous chemical reactions and result in fires or explosions.
OSHA requires hazardous materials to be labelled and accompanied by safety data sheets (SDS). Don’t remove or change these container labels. If a label is missing, don’t use the material or chemical — and instruct your employees to notify a supervisor if they come across an unlabeled substance.
2: Keep Safety Data Sheets accessible to employees
Safety Data Sheets are valuable resources for you and your employees when it comes to identifying and handling hazardous materials. They share the properties of each chemical at your workplace, their hazards, and guidelines for managing each chemical or material. Whether you keep them in an electronic database or store paper copies, SDS should be readily available to all employees — not locked up or kept in a password-protected location.
3: Train employees on reading chemical labels & SDS
You can’t expect every team member to be an expert on every chemical you keep in the workplace, which is why chemical labels and SDS are so useful. Chemical labels and SDS tell your employees everything they need to know about a substance: from the types of dangers it poses (whether it’s flammable, causes cancer, is poisonous, etc.) to instructions for how to manage leaks, spills, or accidents involving the material. They state how a material should be stored and used, and how it should be disposed of.
However, labels and SDS aren’t much help if your team doesn’t use them! To ensure everyone has access to accurate information about your hazardous materials, require your team to take a safety training course on reading chemical labels. Not only is a course a great way to verify your team’s knowledge is up to date, but it will help you cover your bases with OSHA, which requires that workers are able to understand chemical labels and SDS.
4: Control hazardous energy using proper lockout/tagout procedures
If your work environment involves potential hazardous energy releases from equipment or machines, a lockout/tagout process is essential to keeping your workers safe from accidents like burns, amputation, fractures, and more.
5: Ensure employees understand OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard
If you’re a chemical manufacturer, you’ll want your employees to be up-to-date on OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. To start, here’s a booklet that summarizes the OSHA Standard and provides important details about chemicals, safety data sheets, handling leaks and spills, PPE, and more.
6: Have PPE and emergency equipment ready and available
Your PPE and emergency equipment will vary depending on your workplace, but here are some examples:
Face masks, gloves, and goggles
Hand washing stations
Eye wash stations
Replace PPE if it becomes damaged or worn, and don’t reuse disposable PPE. Cleaning areas should be clutter-free and regularly inspected.
7: Store hazardous materials in their proper containers
Chemicals and other hazardous materials must stay in their original containers. Don’t mix them with other substances or put them into food containers.
8: Handle hazardous materials with care
Each material or substance has its own requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE), handling, use with other substances, and cleanup — so read labels carefully. Only use chemicals for their intended purpose, and take care to follow procedures when transporting hazmat from one location to another.
9: Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures
Accidents happen, so your familiarity with emergency protocol can potentially mean the difference between serious injury and safety. What happens if there’s a chemical fire, spill, or a worker is injured from handling a dangerous substance? When should your team evacuate the premises? Have an emergency plan written and posted for your team to reference.
10: Dispose of hazardous materials properly
Different hazardous materials require different disposal methods. Some chemicals can never be poured down the drain, in the sewer, or even disposed of in the trash. Further, some materials require special sealed containers for disposal, while others may need to be transported to a special facility for disposal.
When it comes to workplace safety, don’t delay. Reinforce the need for vigilance around hazardous materials by checking out our affordable and ready-to-use hazard communication training kits.
While great trainers are important to the success of any organization, safety trainers carry a huge responsibility: the lives of their trainees. With over 4,500 fatal work injuries recorded by the BLS in 2020, there’s no room for B-players on your safety training team.
So how do you identify employees who have the potential to be great safety trainers? And how do you structure your safety training program to ensure compliance across your team of trainers, and by extension, your employees?
Here’s what research shows us about what makes a good safety trainer, along with the knowledge we’ve gleaned from our own decades of experience in safety training. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to identify which of your employees will make the best safety trainers — setting your workplace up for health and success in 2022.
Safety Trainer Characteristics
While diversity and a range of personality types is great to have among your team of trainers, there are a few specific traits that will increase their likelihood of thriving in a trainer role. If you’re evaluating potential trainers from your group of employees, keep an eye out for those that exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:
Thirst for knowledge.
Effective trainers in any setting often have to memorize a dizzying array of information, but for safety trainers, this is even more true. With OSHA and other regulations changing frequently (and the risks of non-compliance being dangerous, expensive, and even deadly), safety trainers will be the most successful when they have a natural thirst for knowledge.
Which of your employees seems to soak up knowledge like a sponge? Is there anyone who has a near-encyclopedic memory when it comes to rules and regulations? These could be your next all-star safety trainers.
Your trainers set the tone, and the standard, for anyone they’re training. According to program safety manager Jason Townsell, CSP, “A positive, helpful and cooperative attitude can be the difference between a student learning and a student mentally checking out of a safety training class.”
While it’s great for your employees to have fun, safety training is, ultimately, a serious matter — so your best trainers should embody professionalism. What does that entail? Beyond the basics, like showing up on time and knowing the material, professionalism is about staying organized, keeping on-track, and following lesson plans methodically and consistently.
A desire to lead and teach. This might be the most important characteristic of all. While you can teach nearly anyone to execute a specific task, no amount of skill-based training can create passion. Either a trainer has it, or they don’t. Keep an eye out for the “helpers”, those employees who regularly lend a hand to their coworkers and go beyond their role to assist others. These are most likely your future A-list trainers.
Safety Trainer Skills
Beyond soft skills, your potential trainers will need to have some specific hard skills and knowledge in order to be effective safety trainers.
Experience in your workplace. While you’ll likely want your trainers to have spent a good amount of time in your industry, keep in mind that seniority isn’t always synonymous with skill. Conduct hands-on tests, interviews, and written exams to compare your trainers’ different skill levels. The more systematically (and objectively) you can measure your potential trainers’ knowledge, the better.
Subject-matter expertise. Are your potential trainers specialists in the areas they’ll be expected to train others? It’s essential that your trainers are subject-matter experts, themselves, so they can answer complex questions and give real-world examples during training sessions.
Train the Trainer: Creating a Safety Training Lesson Plan
Now that you’ve (hopefully!) identified a few employees who would make great trainers, it’s time to optimize your existing training program. Even if you pick the best possible trainers to get your team up to speed on safety and hazards in your workplace, it’s not worth much if your training program and materials don’t cover the right information.
So before you jump in, take inventory of your training checklists, manuals, and other media. Ask yourself:
Do I have an existing safety training program?
If you’re starting from scratch, consider purchasing a general safety orientation training course that your trainers can use immediately to get up to speed on best practices — and to impart that knowledge to their trainees.
Does my training program cover all the potential risks in my workplace?
Conduct a job hazard analysis of your surroundings. Consider physical, ergonomic, chemical, biological, environmental, and other hazards that your workers could encounter — and ensure you have a part of your training program dedicated to each of them. Here are some examples of each:
Physical. Slips, trips and falls; loud noises, machinery, vibrations, and working from heights.
Ergonomic. These tend to be less severe, but still problematic, hazards that build over time — like poor posture, improperly structured workstations and desks, and frequent lifting.
Chemical. Acids, paint, glues, pesticides, and any substances that could result in damage if mishandled.
Biological. This includes naturally occurring hazards like mold, bodily fluids, airborne pathogens, and sewage.
Environmental. Natural disasters like fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
Do you have a written emergency plan that your trainers understand and can communicate clearly to trainees? An emergency plan is another foundational aspect of workplace safety that can mean the difference between life and death. If you don’t have a plan written up, use this comprehensive emergency plan kit to create one.
Is your current safety training lesson plan up-to-date with the latest OSHA and other compliance regulations? If you have an existing training program, have some of your top current trainers and potential trainers audit your training materials for compliance and report back to you with ideas for potential changes and improvements.
Am I delivering my training in a format that my trainers like and understand? Consider the range of learning styles across your team. While some learners may prefer written materials that they can absorb on their own time, others may learn better by watching a video and discussing with a group. Offer a range of opportunities to read, listen, watch, and “do”, in order to cover all possible learning styles in your workplace.
Are there clear objectives, assessments, and milestones in my training program? Your trainers will have a much easier time gauging the effectiveness of their training if the program is organized and includes assessments to show if learners are retaining knowledge.
How do I gauge when a trainer is ready and fully qualified to train my employees? How do I measure success? It’s a given that your trainers should be able to complete your existing safety training or compliance programs first, but is there any additional training they should undergo before becoming certified trainers?
There’s a lot to juggle when you’re putting together (or improving) your safety training programs. The good news is you don’t need to start from scratch or hire an expensive production team to create a custom program for your workplace. Check out our library of affordable safety training courses, videos, and other materials to customize a program that reflects your unique environment and rest assured that your trainers have access to the latest in workplace safety.
Most of us have at least a rudimentary understanding of what to do if we find ourselves face-to-face with a flame in our daily lives. At least, we assume we do. So we run for the fire extinguisher, right?
The fact is, depending on the setting, the intensity of the fire, and its source, the proper method for handling a fire is different. At what point do you call emergency services? When do you pull the fire alarm? Should you use the fire extinguisher? Is there a fire suppression system? Is it working? Do you need to disable any equipment?
A well-laid fire safety plan, along with proper and frequent training, can give your workers the answers to these important questions before an emergency where their judgment could be clouded.
Fire preparedness is an important topic and falls under the responsibility of the employer. According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.38, your Emergency Action Plan must give your employees designated actions to follow if a fire breaks out.
These actions and general guidance for fire prevention will vary widely depending on the industry and workplace area. After all, the challenges a kitchen faces to manage grease fires are far removed from safety precautions taken in an office.
Workplace Fire Safety for Offices
Offices are typically thought of as relatively risk-free workplaces. However, offices are full of electronics, power cables, equipment, and kitchen appliances that can cause a fire seemingly out of the blue.
Office Fire Prevention
In your workplace, make a safety plan to regularly ensure that:
The wiring and condition of computers, copiers, paper shredders, power cables, and other electronic devices are in good working order. If any damaged wiring or electrical components are found, take them out of service and replace them immediately.
Power strips, extension cables, and outlets are in good working order and not overloaded.
Space heaters, large printers, or other energy-heavy equipment are plugged directly into a grounded wall outlet.
Office spaces are free of clutter for easy evacuation and avoid paper, fabric, or other flammable materials coming in close contact with electrical outlets and cables.
Kitchen appliances are regularly cleaned and unplugged when not in use.
Store kitchen rags, paper towels, and other flammable materials away from stoves, toasters, ovens, or other heat-generating devices.
Test and maintain smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire suppression systems regularly and document the results. Perform maintenance immediately if needed.
Fire Safety for Construction Sites
A fire prevention plan for construction sites should be thorough and detailed. After all, a typical worksite will have on-the-job hazards like flammable chemicals, electrical wiring, and welding torches and sometimes overlooked risks like heaters or cigarettes from smoke breaks.
Construction Site Fire Prevention
Your construction site fire prevention protocols should include essential guidance, such as:
Good housekeeping practices to keep flammable chemicals and materials away from ignition sources.
Combustible waste, like rags soaked in flammable chemicals, should be disposed of in proper metal bins
Stacked building materials and supplies should be stored so that they do not impede the effectiveness of any installed sprinkler or fire suppression systems.
All flammable chemicals, paints, and materials should be stored and labeled away from any risk of ignition.
All electrical wiring, temporary or permanent, should be kept in good working order without fraying or cracks. Workers should take care to minimize load on circuits as well.
Portable heaters should be kept away from flammable materials or sides of worker tents. To avoid ignition from tipping the heater over, they should also be appropriately guarded and secured,
Smoking should be kept in designated areas with smoke butts managed in specially-designed receptacles.
Fire Prevention in Manufacturing and Warehouses
Manufacturing and warehouse guidance varies widely depending on the types of products you store or manufacture. After all, a facility that produces baked goods would have different concerns than manufacturing or storing flammable chemical plants.
With that thought in mind, the first step to fire prevention in this industry is to evaluate your unique needs and circumstances. If you work with dangerous or flammable chemicals, you should inform the local fire department and collaborate with them to develop your fire safety plan.
Beyond these special requirements, there are still plenty of important protocols to implement to keep your workers safe from a fire igniting in their workplace. In fact, in warehouses and manufacturing facilities, most fires are caused by electrical mishaps, hot engines from major equipment, chemical reactions, or arson.
To keep your facility safe, your fire prevention plans should include:
A regular check of facility security procedures to prevent intentional fires from petty crime.
Ensure that flammable materials are stored in proper containers, away from ignition sources.
Check all wiring, circuit breakers, and transformers for overloads, faulty wires, or equipment.
Ensure that all smoke detectors and fire suppression devices are in good working order
Keep fire extinguishers visible and in easy to access areas. Ensure that you have the proper fire extinguisher types for each facility area’s risk. For example, you would want to make sure that the hazardous chemicals keep an extinguisher designed for chemical fires.
Ensure that exit signs and evacuation lights properly illuminate and are easily visible.
Make sure that all discarded trash and flammable items are not blocking exits and are correctly disposed of away from ignition sources.
How to Develop a Fire Safety Plan for Work
Your fire safety plan, just like any safety regulation at work, should be a living document. However, even if you have a plan in place, your organization should regularly revisit your safety protocols to make sure they are still relevant and consider any changes in workspace, products, or other factors.
As you develop your safety plan, it’s best to collaborate with local fire officials and check OSHA’s guidance on Fire Safety in 29 CFR Subpart E – Exit Routes and Emergency Planning. Depending on your industry and materials present, you may also find relevant fire safety information in:
OSHA 29 CFR 1910 – General Industry
Subpart G – Occupational Health and Environmental Control
Subpart H – Hazardous Materials
Subpart L – Fire Protection
Subpart N – Materials Handling and Storage
Subpart Q – Welding, Cutting and Brazing
Subpart R – Special Industries
Subpart Z – Toxic and Hazardous Substances
OSHA 29 CFR 1926 – Construction
Subpart C – General Safety and Health Provisions
Subpart F – Fire Protection and Prevention
Subpart H – Materials Handling, Storage, Use, and Disposal
Subpart J – Welding and Cutting
Subpart K – Electrical
Every facility or workplace’s fire safety plan should be unique to that facility. It should be detailed enough to cover critical information during a fire emergency, yet simple enough that your workers will be able to recall what to do in a crisis. Most plans will cover:
Maps and evacuation routes, which are also posted clearly throughout the facility, that include meetup points for personnel from each area
Map of building layout that shows each fire exit clearly
Locations of critical emergency equipment including fire extinguishers, fire alarm levers, and first aid kits
Locations of main electrical and water controls for the facility
Scheduled frequency of facility-wide fire drills
Regular training and refresher training on fire emergency protocols and fire extinguisher use for all employees
Clear guidance on what to do when fires break out, even if they are small
Clear advice on who to contact in the event of a fire emergency and the roles each employee will play during a fire
Implementing a fire safety program involves a lot of moving parts. It’s essential to collaborate with local officials and your workplace team to ensure your plan is practical and simple to enact. Even with regular training and drills, you’ll want to make sure that your employees continue to follow good safety habits through workplace supervision and educational posters on important topics like the fire extinguisher “PASS” system.
Remember, one of the most important aspects of sound fire prevention and safety at work is training. If you have a refresher course or new employee fire training on the books, National Safety Compliance can help. Our all-in-one training courses contain everything you need to hold a successful training session, including video lessons, presentations for your lecture, and printable handouts.
Falls are a dangerous work hazard, especially in construction. In fact, according to the CDC, in 2017 falls accounted for 366 out of 971 total construction fatalities! Fall protection for your workers is the responsibility of the employers. By understanding how falls occur, planning for your worker safety, as well as providing proper safety gear and training, you can take an active role in protecting your employees.
What is an elevated fall?
In general, a fall is defined as a slip or trip causing your body to collapse due to a quick shift in your center of gravity. There are two types of falls: same-level and elevated. Same-level falls occur when you trip and fall to the floor or against a wall but you don’t fall from one level to another. Elevated falls, however, are a fall from above or below the floor from an elevated place like a ladder, building rooftop, through a skylight, or off a scaffold.
This article will focus on preventing elevated falls in construction and will not go in-depth about single-level slips, trips, and falls.
Fall Prevention in Construction
Since falls and elevated falls are major hazards in construction, their rules on fall safety and protection are well-defined. Below is a general guide to the most frequently cited OSHA regulations for construction fall prevention.
Most Frequently Cited Fall Protection OSHA Standards
1926.501(b)(13) Fall Protection—Residential Construction
When employees are working in a residential construction environment higher than 6 feet above the ground or a lower level, they need to be protected by either a guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest system.
1926.501(b)(1) Fall Protection—Unprotected sides and edges
If an edge or side of a walking or working surface leads to a fall that is more than 6 feet above the ground or a lower level, you’ll need to prevent falling by using guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems.
1926.501 (b)(10) Fall Protection—Roofing work on low-slope roofs
Each employee on the roof needs fall protection if the ground or lower level is at least 6 feet down from the roof’s edge. Depending on the job’s needs, you can choose from a guardrail, safety net, personal fall arrest system. Also permitted are combinations of warning line systems and guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, or safety monitoring systems.
1926.501 (b)(11) Fall Protection—Steep Roof
Since a steep roof is more treacherous to work on, unprotected sides should be protected with a guardrail that features toeboards, plus a safety net or personal fall arrest system.
1926.501 (b)(4)(i) Fall Protection—Skylights
From 2011-2016, over 160 workers died after falling through a skylight or a hole in a roof. Because of this, workers should be protected by a personal fall arrest system and when possible, a cover or guardrail should be installed on the skylight.
Just like with unprotected roofs and other workspace edges, if scaffolding is more than six feet above the ground, guardrails should be installed. If an employee is using a float scaffold, needle beam scaffold, or ladder jack scaffold, they should also be protected by a personal fall arrest system. This is also true if they are using a single-point or two-point adjustable suspension scaffold.
Steel erection in construction often perches workers in precarious positions as they erect tall and narrow structures at various heights. This makes typical fall protection techniques impractical or impossible, as anchor points can be limited. In these scenarios, fall protection is required for unprotected edges more than 15 feet above a lower level.
Controlled decking zones (CDZ) are sometimes used instead of fall protection. These areas must be no more than 90 feet wide and deep from a leading edge and feature both clear boundaries and safety deck attachments. Within the CDZ, work can be performed without guardrails, fall restraints, or other safety systems but access to the area must be strictly controlled.
Stairs & Ladders
Fixed and portable ladders both must be well-constructed and frequently inspected for safety. Fixed ladders that are longer than 20 feet must feature either a fall protection system like a self-retracting lifeline, cage, or ladder safety device or they are required to feature a landing every 30 feet.
Stairs are a common site for accidental slips and falls, so whether they are temporary or not, they must feature handrails. If the stairs are temporary, they must be properly maintained and dismantled at the end of construction work.
In order for your workers to keep safety in mind and practice good fall prevention techniques, they need proper training. Employers need to train their workers to set up and utilize fall protection equipment safely and effectively, as well as how to recognize fall hazards and situations where fall protection would be required.
Fall Protection Systems
In each of the commonly cited OSHA standards and requirements, fall protection systems were heavily mentioned. These systems are crucial for protecting employees from dangerous and sometimes fatal falls when working from heights.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS)
Personal fall arrest utilizes a fall protection harness, anchor, and connector to catch an employee in the event of a fall and keep the forces of deceleration at a safe level. These systems are secured to a sturdy structure through the anchor, with the connectors commonly consisting of shock-absorbing lanyards or self-retracting lifelines attached to a body harness that distributes the fall forces throughout the body.
Fall Restraint Systems
These systems tend to be preferred by workers yet are barely mentioned in OSHA fall protection regulations. Fall restraint systems also often use a harness and connector setup, however, these systems are meant to entirely prevent a fall instead of simply catching a worker if they slip over an edge. A fall restraint system features a lead that simply does not extend far enough for a worker to be able to fall over an edge, allowing them to work safely without fear of drops.
Safety Net Systems
Safety net systems are a passive form of fall protection often installed to prevent falls by covering a potential hazard as a barrier or in a setup that will catch a worker in the event of a fall to protect them from hitting lower surfaces.
Safety nets can also be used to catch debris from construction, like bricks, wood, nails, or tools that could injure workers or bystanders below a construction site.
Guardrails can be either temporary or permanent and are highly regulated by OSHA both in construction and for general workplace safety. Guardrails are excellent forms of fall protection because they give a visual cue that a dangerous drop is over the edge they are featured on; they provide a physical barrier between people and the fall hazard; and they can act as fall protection in areas where a cover or wall are not feasible.
While they appear similar, guardrails should not be confused for handrails. Their difference is distinct. Guardrails are used for fall protection, while handrails are used for individuals to support themselves while navigating a stairway or surface.
To protect workers and other individuals from fall hazards, a guardrail must be strongly built with posts positioned evenly to avoid people from falling through the gaps. They must also be tall enough to avoid topples over the top and extend far enough to cover the entire edge. Finally, guardrails can be made from metal or wood, but they should be smooth and not splinter or cut skin or cause clothing snags.
How to Protect Your Workers from Elevated Falls
Elevated falls are a leading cause of death for construction employees. These deaths are almost always preventable with proper planning, equipment, and training.
Plan for safety
Before elevated work ever begins, it is the responsibility of the employer to plan for how it will be completed safely. This process should begin as early as the estimation phase, where safety equipment and tools should be considered and budgeted into the construction estimate.
Provide the right equipment
It is the employers’ responsibility to provide the right fall protection and other personal protection equipment to employees so that they can conduct their work safely. Not only must this equipment be provided, but it also must be regularly inspected for fit and quality.
Train your workers
Fall arrest systems and other protective gear are only effective if your workers understand when, how, and why to use them. Robust and frequent training in fall protection for various scenarios that your workers may encounter can help keep them safe and able to spot hazards competently while performing their duties.
Fall protection is an important part of construction site safety. Elevated falls are almost always preventable, so it’s crucial we put a spotlight on this safety topic to ensure workers can perform their duties without unnecessary risks.
Fall Protection Awareness
Consider getting involved with OSHA’s annual National Safety Stand-Down by hosting events to talk to your employees about fall hazards and reinforce safety policies. This event is also a great opportunity to allow your employees to speak directly to company management about their safety concerns in an open and constructive dialog.
If you’re interested in material for a National Safety Stand-Down refresher event or need resources to properly train your employees on the importance of fall hazard safety, NSC can help. We offer several different ways to train your employees on fall hazards and fall protection. Our training kits include everything you need to hold a successful training session, including video lessons, lecture presentations, and printable handouts.
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 musttrain 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
Rules on PHI disclosures
Safeguarding electronic PHI or ePHI
Preventing HIPAA Violations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.