In the thick of the holiday season, with distractions on every side, it's more important than ever to stay focused on the job and be mindful of safety. That's where the "four seconds to safety" rule comes into play: pause for four seconds to look around, identify potential hazards, and focus on the task at hand. It's a mental reset, a mindfulness practice that can help to ensure a safe season, both at work and at home.
Falls from ladders can be as painful as a fall from a roof; about a third of all reported falls are falls from ladders. Many of the fall related injuries result from the improper use or the use of a defective ladder. Step/extension ladders are made to access/egress upper levels, not to be used as work platforms. There are specifically designed ladders for use as work platforms such as order pickers. These ladders are constructed with a small platform and guardrail. The following safe work rules should be observed when working with ladders:
Heat Illness Hazards
Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for inducing heat stress. When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, several heat-induced illnesses such as heat exhaustion and the more severe heat stroke can occur.
When it comes to compliance, you can learn a lot by reviewing the requirements that OSHA most frequently finds to be in violation. This enables you to review your own operations for similar compliance issues and implement corrective action before OSHA comes calling.
Unsafe acts cause four times as many accidents and injuries as unsafe conditions. Accidents occur for many reasons, and in most industries people tend to look for “things” to blame when an accident happens, instead of considering worker behavior. Have you been guilty of any of the behaviors listed below? You may not have been injured, but next time you may not be so lucky.
Everyday we make decisions we hope will make the job faster and more efficient, but do time savers ever risk your own safety, or that of other workers? Shortcuts that reduce your safety on the job are not shortcuts. They are increased chance for injury.
Confidence is a good thing. Overconfidence is too much of a good thing. “It’ll never happen to me” is an attitude that can lead to improper procedures, tools, or methods in your work. Safe work relies on a system, and disregarding that system by thinking it doesn’t apply to you can lead to an injury.
Starting a Task with Incomplete Instructions:
To do the job the safe way (and the right way) you need complete information. Have you ever seen a worker sent to do a job with only part of the job’s instructions? Don’t be shy about asking for explanations about work procedures and safety protocol. Remember the only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask.
Housekeeping is an accurate indicator of everyone’s attitude about quality, production, and safety. Poor housekeeping creates hazards of all types. A well maintained area sets a standard for others to follow. Good housekeeping involves both diligence and time management.
Ignoring Safety Procedures:
Failing to observe safety procedures can endanger you and your workers. You are being paid to follow the company safety policies. Not to make your own rules. Being “casual” about safety can lead to a casualty!
Mental Distractions from Work:
Having a bad day at home and worrying about it at work is a hazardous combination. Dropping your “mental” guard can pull your focus away from safe work procedures. You can also be distracted when you’re busy working and a friend comes by to talk while you are trying to work. Don’t become a statistic because you took your eyes of the task “for just a second.”
Failure to Pre-Plan the Work:
There is a lot of talk about Job Safe Analysis (JSAs), Risk Exposure Assessment, general Work permits, LOTO Procedures, et. All of these are effective tools to figure out the smartest ways to work safely and effectively. Being hasty in starting a task or not thinking through the process can put you in harm’s way. Plan Your Work and then Work Your Plan!
Last month, Cal/OSHA sited two Los Angeles construction companies $352,570 for multiple workplace safety and health violations, including ten serious and three willful category violations, following a fatal incident in a confined space. Neither company followed permit-required confined space procedures and a worker lost his life while attempting to clear mud and debris from a drainage shaft. (https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2017/2017-35.pdf) This is a tragic reminder that confined space work presents a unique set of hazards, and specific procedures must be developed and followed for every entry.
What is a confined space?
A space must meet all of the following criteria to be considered a confined space:
When is a Confined Space Entry Permit Needed?
If any of the hazards listed below are present, a permit is required for entry. Remember that certain work activities in a confined space can also necessitate a permit.
Internal configurations that could entrap or asphyxiate an entrant by inwardly converging walls, or floors that taper to a smaller cross-section, i.e. hoppers, bins and tanks
Where there is a potential for a liquid or solid material to drown, capture or asphyxiate an entrant, i.e. water, grains and soils
Other hazards may include electrical hazards, chemical hazards, extreme temperatures, slippery floors and noise.
Working Safely in Confined Spaces
First, avoid entry into confined spaces whenever possible. If they must be entered, Cal/OSHA has regulations for working safely in confined spaces. Please refer to the specific standard for your industry and operations. For general industries such as manufacturing facilities, T8CCR 5157, “Permit-Required Confined Spaces” requirements apply. For employers and employees in Construction, Agriculture, Marine Terminals, Grain Handling, Telecommunications, Natural Gas and Electric Utilities, and Shipyard Operations, the regulations in T8CCR 5158, “Other Confined Space Operations” and other regulations apply.
In general, confined space regulations require all employers to have:
Sources and further information:
Like most emergency preparedness training, fire extinguisher training is one of those things you hope you never have to use--but if you do, you'll be very grateful you are prepared. In the face of an emergency, you don't have time to stop and read the directions; they must to be second nature. Take time to review the use of fire extinguishers regularly with your team.
First, remember that fire extinguishers are only effective on fire in its earliest stages. If the fire is well established or you're not confident in your ability to effectively handle it, walk to safety and then dial 9-1-1 to dispatch the fire department, or follow your established emergency protocol.
If you do catch the fire just as it's starting, remember to follow the following steps, using the acronym "P.A.S.S":
P: Pull the pin.
The pin in the handle of the fire extinguisher keeps it from discharging during normal handling. You must remove the pin to allow the extinguisher to function. There is usually a plastic tamper seal holding the pin in place. It should break easily when you pull the pin.
A: Aim at the base of the fire.
You must direct the fire extinguisher at the base or source of the fire. Spraying the flames will not work. Aim for the material that is burning.
S: Squeeze the handle.
Standing at least six feet from the flames, squeeze the handle of the extinguisher to discharge. If you are using a carbon dioxide extinguisher, avoid touching the horn-shaped nozzle; this can cause frostbite.
S: Sweep from side to side
As you squeeze the handle and extinguisher discharges, use a side-to-side sweeping motion to completely cover the burning material until the flames die out. Continue to monitor the area as hot spots can cause additional flare ups.
Remember the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” Hearing is one of those things. Exposure to loud noise on the job site can cause permanent hearing loss—sometimes instantly, but sometimes so gradually that you may not realize it’s happening. That’s why it’s critical to be aware of noise hazards on the job site and protect yourself from hearing loss.
How do you know if noise levels are hazardous on your job site? OSHA recommends hearing protection when you are exposed to noise levels of 85 decibels (dBA) over an 8-hour period. You can use a sound level meter to measure the decibels produced by your equipment, or a dosimeter to measure the average noise exposure over your workday. In the absence of these instruments, use the “two-to-three-foot” rule: if, when standing two to three feet (arm’s length) away from a coworker, you must raise your voice to be heard, the noise level is probably greater than 85 dBA.
Noise levels can be controlled by selecting the quietest equipment or tool available for the job; positioning equipment farther away when possible; erecting sound barriers around noisy equipment; or by adding mechanical controls such as mufflers to loud equipment. When noise reduction is not an option, ear protection must be worn.
Whether you choose earmuffs or one of the many varieties of ear plugs available, proper fit and use are key to preventing hearing loss.
Be sure to include noise hazards in your Job Hazard/ Job Safety Analysis and in your daily tailgate talks. For more on hearing protection, see the OSHA pocket guide at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3498noise-in-construction-pocket-guide.pdf.
Over 2000 on-the-job eye injuries occur every day in the United States. The construction industry has one of the highest eye injury rates compared to other lines of work. The good news is that 90% of eye injuries are preventable.
The most common cause of eye injury in construction workers is flying particles: dust, metal, wood, slag drywall, cement—any of these can cause an eye injury. Hammering on metal is particularly risky as it creates metal slivers, or even rebounding nails. Here are a few other examples of potential eye hazards:
No excuse is worth risking your vision. Keep eye safety top of mind and accept no excuses. For more information, visit the NIOSH topic on eye safety. You can also view OSHA’s guidelines for eye safety here.
Ever held a cup while pouring hot coffee into it? Or held a nail for someone else wielding a hammer? In both instances, you’re putting yourself in the line of fire. If something goes wrong, injury could result. We do lots of things in our daily lives that could result in injury, but don’t. So we can become complacent and not think twice about certain tasks. But being in the line of fire, especially in the lab, can add up to trouble. It can hurt, incapacitate or, in severe cases, kill you or your coworkers. Here are some ways to improve safety by removing or controlling dangers on the job.
1. Look for hazards before you start working. At its most basic level, the line of fire is the path of a moving object that could potentially injure you or the potential path of an object that may move. Ask yourself: What can hurt me while I’m doing this task? If you’re unsure, ask a co-worker or supervisor. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes review what you’re planning to do.
2. Eliminate the hazard when possible. Once line-of-fire hazards are identified, take steps to eliminate or control them. The best-case scenario is to remove the hazards completely. An example of this would be pipetting a chemical from one container to another instead of pouring the chemical out of the container.
3. If you can’t eliminate, then control. If it’s not possible to remove the hazards, neutralize them. For example, use a fume hood and proper personal protective equipment to avoid exposure. Consider the following questions: Where is my body located in relation to the hazard? What is the worst-case scenario of my task? How can I protect myself from the hazard?
4. Use best practices for minimizing hazards. There are many easy and effective methods to eliminate and control line-of-fire hazards. For example, organize the lab area to provide unobstructed and easy access to equipment, use signs and stickers for clear labeling, keep pathways clear, eliminate possible pinch points on doors or hand tools, and always use the correct tool for the job.
When planning your work, consider aspects of the job that put you in the line of fire and mitigate risks accordingly. For example:
Reprinted with permission from http://cenblog.org/the-safety-zone/2014/05/protecting-yourself-in-the-line-of-fire