When we launched our new LMS (Learning Management System) platform earlier this year, we were excited and loved all of the positive comments regarding the new look and dynamic approach to our online safety courses. However, some of the feedback was not exactly what I expected – and it allows me to make a point to all of our students, prospective students and members throughout the world.
Some of the individuals who were taking the courses were not happy that they could not simply click through the material, go straight to the test and take it. They were not interested in reading the content; they simply wished to take the test. I want to make this point, and, to be very clear, our certifications are not an exam – they are a course that you must take that INCLUDES an exam to show competence. There are other organizations that provide exams only, but NASP/IASP is not one of them. We are a company that specializes in continuing education for safety and environmental professionals.
Honestly, I do not understand why one would want to invest money in a course and not wish to read the material that is provided. I’ve been in safety for almost 30 years, and I am constantly learning new things. Even if the material is nothing more than a thorough review, it is ideal to reinforce this information even for a seasoned professional. My point is this: if you purchase a course from us, you must view each page. We cannot force you to read it, but it is in your best interest to do so. It would be difficult, at best, to pass the test without doing so, and besides, you are missing such a great opportunity to keep yourself educated and up-to-date on the various regulations and standards affecting our industry.
If you are old school (like me), perhaps the classroom version of the CSM is a better option. Our last CSM Classroom Course for 2018 will be in New Orleans on October 1-5. Click here for details and to register.
This year, NASP employees will be attending the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Houston, TX October 22nd-24th. This is the world’s largest gathering of safety professionals, and expected attendance is anticipated to be over 15,000. We are excited about the variety of excellent speakers, the diverse topics to be discussed and the hundreds of exhibitors that will be on hand, including NASP. This will be the first year that NASP has set up an exhibitor booth, and we encourage you to come by and say “hi.” We are located at booth #5043 so you may meet with some of our staff and discuss any of your safety-related needs. We urge you not to miss this event. Click on the following link for details.
MAJORITY OF WORKERS DON’T SPEAK UP WHEN THEY SEE A HAZARD
Silence may be golden in some cases, but not when it comes to workplace
safety. Workers need to speak up. Conversations between supervisors
and employees about safety should happen frequently, but research cited
by OSHA in its new Better Safety Conversations pamphlet shows that’s
not always the case. Ninety-three percent of employees said their work group is currently at risk from a safety issue that’s not being discussed.
It’s crucial that workers feel safe sharing their opinions and expressing their worries about certain tasks. Promoting a culture of openness and accountability goes a long way in creating a safe workplace.
Bringing up safety in a way that will ensure workers listen and don’t feel attacked is easier said than done. When you notice an employee participating in potentially unsafe behavior, consider using one of these three starting phrases:
“I’d like to talk to you about something important. Let’s review the safest way to do this task, so you and your team are not at risk of getting hurt.”
“I respect your experience and want to make sure nobody is injured, so I’d like to work with you to address this issue.“
“Can we talk about what I’m seeing and figure out a better way to do it?”
Walking the Talk
Another way to improve safety conversations is telling short,
compelling stories to reinforce the message you want to get across. Stories don’t have to be longwinded and may in fact work better when limited to 20 or 30 seconds. Most importantly, supervisors need to lead by example. Paying lip service to safety doesn’t work if they’re also not wearing PPE or not following safety procedures – so make sure they’re not just talking a good game but also staying safe.
Pete Nemmers is a Safety Specialist at NASP, where he develops new training content for our Learning Management System and aids in technical support for our customers. He will also begin training for NASP in the upcoming year.
Pete spent 8 years in the Army serving as a Military Police Officer which included a tour in Iraq. After serving, Pete obtained his degree in Criminal Justice. Before joining us at NASP, Pete was an accomplished Safety and Hazmat Manager for a large retail establishment.
Julia Smith is the new national account executive for NASP, where she works with new and current students to provide assistance with various safety development courses. Julia moved to North Carolina a little over a year ago from Pennsylvania, but she is originally from Texas where she has worked in the Oil and Gas industry in operations and business development. She attended Texas A&M receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Business and is currently studying to obtain her Masters in Engineering at George Washington University.
Brooke Scott is our new Graphic Designer. She went to college at the Art Institute of Charleston and graduated with a double major in Graphic and Web design. Prior to working at NASP, she finished her education and was a freelance artist in the Charleston area. She creates new content on the LMS for our safety courses as well as development of our marketing material, including various pamphlets and brochures.
Companies that are in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) are supposed to be some of the safest facilities in the nation. So, what happens when there’s a workplace fatality at a VPP site? The question has been raised after a fatality at a Louisiana refinery. A contract worker fell into the 15-foot water basin of the primary cooling tower at the facility. The company is an OSHA VPP participant.
The rules for what happens to VPP sites after on-site fatalities are contained in OSHA’s “Memorandum 7,” which was issued in 2013. The memo says the status of a VPP site must be changed to “Inactive Pending Fatality/Catastrophe Inspection” following a fatality. An Intent to Terminate (ITT) Letter is automatically sent to the VPP site if it’s determined the fatality was work-related, the site is placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), and/or willful violation(s) are issued.
OSHA push to expand VPP
The facility has the option of appealing the ITT. OSHA then decides if the site is removed from VPP. Memo 7 was revised on May 30. OSHA removed references to willful violations and the SVEP. OSHA has said it wants to expand the VPP program – and this is the first time there’s been a fatality at a VPP site since Memo 7 was revised. The agency has six months to issue citations. Then it’ll determine if the site should remain in the program. Interested in becoming a VPP site or simply need a mock OSHA inspection at your facility? Click here and fill out our on-site training/consulting form to get a quote for this service today.
Hand arm vibration syndrome is a group of symptoms which accompanies prolong exposure to vibration from the use of hand-held vibrating tools. It is commonly known as HAVS and it affects the fingers, hands and arms – hence the name. The hand arm vibration syndrome is believed to be caused by damage to nerves, muscles and blood vessels in the fingers, hands and arms.
These vibration injuries are divided into three (3) groups depending on the area it affects; it could be neurological, vascular or musculoskeletal. Some of the hand-held vibrating tools which could cause HAVS are: Power drills, Chainsaws, Pneumatic drills, Jumping jack, Jack hammers, Chipping tools, Concrete vibrator, Power jig saw, Sander, Angle grinder, Polisher, Needle gun and scabblers, etc.
According to an expert, Hand arm vibration can take six months to six years to develop, and after the fingers blanch, the condition is irreversible.
Key point about hand arm vibration syndrome
About 2 million U.S. workers are exposed to hand arm vibration and as many as half will develop HAVS – Says an experts.
Hand arm vibration affects various industries including construction, mining and forestry.
Preventive measures can help workers limit the development of hand arm vibration syndrome.
HAVS group injuries
Neurological injuries: This is caused by neurological damage to the nerve cells in the fingers, hand and arms. This damage is irreversible. The early signs are numbness and tingling; the latter sign is severely reduced hand functionality which could result to dropping things easily. A common example of neurological injury is the Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Muscular injuries: This is caused by damage to the muscle structure. This may result to reduced grip strength.
Vascular injuries: This is caused by its effect on the capillaries in the hand and fingers causing vasospasm. This reduce blood flow to the hand results to numbness and blanching (Whiteness of the hand)
General Symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome
Loss of sensitivity in those areas
Whiteness of fingers
Loss of strength to the finger diminishing the grip strength
The hand arm vibration syndrome is irreversible after it is fully developed. The development of vibration injuries is individual specific. It takes few months to years to develop in some individuals, whereas some individuals may get exposed to this risk for so long without developing the syndrome.
Since we may not know the category you belong, our best option is to prevent it.
Prevention of HAVS
Aside from using anti or low vibration tools, Wasserman and colleagues had highlighted safe practices for HAVS prevention:
Keep the hand warm
Refrain from smoking
Grip the tool lightly as possible while in use in order not to increase the vibration coupling.
Ensure good equipment maintenance
Take intermittent breaks when working with hand-held vibration tools.
Use appropriate hand gloves
Seek medical attention if you notice signs of HAVS. Early detection is paramount for full recovery.
Other recommendations are:
Train the workers on the hazards of working with hand-held vibration tools and safety measures necessary to control the risks.
Keep your hand dry and warm before using the hand-held vibration tools.
The company for our pipe line management of change (MOC) case study has over 2,000 employees, multiple business units, areas, and facilities crossing several provincial and local jurisdictions.
They do have an existing MOC process, which was good on paper, but not in practice.
During an external regulatory audit numerous shortcomings were identified that reuired addressing. Upon further investigation, it was identified that a majority of prior incidents were attributed to lack of an effective MOC process. Leadership created a mandate to improve the MOC process to address the shortcomings. This project would be done in 3 phases extending over three years.
MOC process was ineffective.
Too many changes being introduced across all areas resulting in increased risk exposure.
Different definitions of what MOC should include resulting in inconsistent practices
Some parts of the business avoided using the MOC process.
Risk was not properly managed.
Reduce the number of changes.
Establish a consistent and sustainable. program (system, processes, technology).
Establish metrics to monitor and improve process over time.
Establish continuous improvement process.
Define the scope and desired outcomes for each phase of the project.
Establish a cross-functional team and use an iterative process.
Start with Asset MOCs first, to be followed later by procedures, organizational and regulatory changes.
Leverage technology that supports best practices, risk-based strategies, and adaptive workflows.
Project:Phase 1 – 12 months
3 months to develop new process
6 months to configure, implement, and refine application
3 months to train and roll-out phased across areas
Simplified process using stage-gate approach and removing bottlenecks.
introduced missing best practices: replacement in kind (RIK), risk screening, PHAs, PSSRs, etc.
Streamlined approval process from 18 to 3 approvals based on risk.
Increased engagement of affected stakeholders and clarified roles using RACI model.
Implemented logic to identify who needed to be involved, and what work needed to be performed based on the assets being changed.
Identified key performance indicators to monitor and control risk.
Each area follows the same process independent of the type of change.
Risk is assessed for each change and monitored across all areas.
MOCs are better aligned with both corporate and area priorities.
Overall risk is visible and used as a leading indicator to drive further risk reduction.
Fire Extinguisher Inspection is important to ensure that the extinguishers are active and ready for operation.
Fire Extinguisher Inspection – Legal Obligation
Federal OSHA standard 1910.157(e)(2), requires a visual inspection of all portable extinguishers be performed at least monthly. It also stipulates that mandatory annual inspections and periodic maintenance inspections be performed and documented.
How often should we inspect the fire extinguisher
Normally, it should be inspected monthly and serviced every six months; but it is recommended that anytime a walk-around is being performed, fire extinguisher should be looked into because it may have been tampered with.
During fire extinguisher inspection, here are some questions you should ask:
Is the extinguisher in the correct location?
Is it visible and accessible?
Does the gauge or pressure indicator show the correct pressure?
POINTS TO NOTE:
The monthly checks should be documented.
Fire extinguisher should be inspected and certified annually by a certified fire protection equipment company.
A complete breakdown and internal inspection must be done every 6 years.
You may not need a specialist to carry out the monthly fire extinguisher operation. With adequate information and a checklist, monthly fire extinguisher inspection can be done successfully.
Annual inspection and complete servicing of the extinguisher must be done by a certified professional.
How do you inspect a fire extinguisher?
Performing fire extinguisher inspection appropriately, here are the areas you will need to pay attention to:
Visual Inspection: gauges, dates, cylinder, etc.
Physical Inspection: weight, hose, seals, etc.
Verify and Tag Unit: Location and date.
Performing a Monthly Fire Extinguisher Inspection, here are what you should do:
Make sure that the fire extinguisher pressure gauge is in the green zone, i.e., it is charged and ready for use.
For CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguisher, it does not have a pressure gauge since it is self expelling. All we want to do is make sure that the extinguisher is full. We can do this by weighing the extinguisher and making sure that the weight is the same as the weight that was recorded on the tag.
Ensure that the extinguisher is not blocked or obscured from visibility.
Ensure that the tamper seal on the extinguisher is not damaged, and it’s holding the pin in firmly.
Check for physical damage to the container, hose and nozzle.
Ensure that the hose or nozzle is not blocked.
The above is all you need to perform monthly fire extinguisher inspection.
Being proactive is preached constantly when discussing how to create a safe workplace. As a safety professional, you take countless proactive steps to prevent injuries in your workplace. You do everything from selecting the right tools to creating safety initiatives and establishing best practices.
But can you confidently say you are taking the same proactive approach with your career?
EHS Professions Are About to Face Massive Changes
It’s no secret that almost every single industry will be disrupted over the coming years. This really should be no surprise, given the massive changes that have already taken place in the workplace over the last few decades. Relatively recent technologies like email and smartphones alone have flipped most professions (and the economy as a whole) on their heads.
If you think being a safety professional will shelter you from massive change and joblessness I only half-heartedly agree with you. The saving grace for many safety jobs is the necessity of the human element. The problem-solving skills used in hazard mitigation and the face-to-face interaction with employees will not easily be replaced by technology or robots. New technology and robots can, however, completely change how the safety professional’s work is done, leaving some professionals without a position.
What Disruptions Are Looming Around the Corner
Below are some examples of technological advancements that could disrupt safety management in the foreseeable future.
Safety Training Using Holographic Telepresence
If you’re a safety consultant or training firm that depends on local businesses that want to use your onsite training services, you could be at risk of losing business to safety training companies that complete training remotely by using holographic telepresence or virtual reality. Sounds a little too sci-fi? It won’t for long: holographic telepresence is already being developed.
Virtual Reality for Location-Specific Training
Virtual reality and augmented reality will get to a point where trainees will be able to get experience on equipment, machines, and work stations without having to be in a given location. This will effectively put some training centers out of business.
Safety Inspections Completed Remotely
I have been giving more and more thought to the possibility of companies offering safety inspections remotely.
How can this be achieved? It’s simpler than you might think. Drones with mounted cameras is one obvious method and it’s already being used in various industries.
Another option is having an employee walk the site with live feed technology. Even that can be outsourced to technology by mounting cameras on a small wheeled vehicle or robot with live feed capabilities.
These developments could easily replace boots-on-the-ground safety management at some workplaces. Once this technology is available, can you imagine the cost and time it would save for companies that oversee various job sites?
What You Should Be Doing to Prepare
Change is inevitable, but there’s no reason to fear it unless you plan on doing absolutely nothing.
If you still have a chunk of your working life ahead of you, start adjusting to these new and coming realities. Begin planning out ways to stay ahead of what companies are looking for in job openings.
As a starting point, ask yourself these two basic questions: “What do I want to do?” and “What do I need to do?”.
What Do You Want to Do?
I am a big proponent of learning the skills or gaining knowledge about the topics that interest you and turning that into a career. it sure beats taking any job that comes your way just for the sake of a paycheck. If you don’t want to be a business owner then at least parlay what you’re interested in into a career working for a company you love.
I write a lot of content on different platforms and I have my own websites where I share information with other safety professionals. One of the main reasons I do this is because my interests are in content creation, online business, entrepreneurship, and marketing. While I am a full-time health and safety officer during the day, I use my free time to pursue those interests and have found ways in which they intersect with my full-time career.
Learning these skills outside of my day job and putting myself out there provides me with the opportunity to pursue careers or side jobs outside of safety – or outside of the traditional safety route, at least. By continually exploring and developing these skills, I could eventually develop my own safety-related business or work for a company in a completely different capacity than I am in now.
This will leave me with more career options down the road and, more importantly to me, options I am interested in pursuing – not just opportunities I have to take for the sake of a paycheck.
What Do You Need to Do?
Unfortunately, what we want to do might not happen for numerous reasons, at least not in a timely manner. If you are more just focused on job security or securing your career path over the long term, then you have to focus on what you need to do.
What skills, industries, and positions do you see becoming in demand over the foreseeable future? What experience, knowledge, and skills do you have right now that line up with those long-term, in demand ones?
The differences between the two are the gaps you need to address. If you see that a bachelor’s degree is the only way to land a job or advance in the career field or industry you want to work in, then you need to figure out a way to earn that.
Similarly, if you are an experienced, certified, and degreed professional but you see that the industry you have most of your experience in is dwindling down, you probably should be thinking of making the jump to a more promising industry as soon as possible.
What you need to do will depend where the profession as a whole is going, but it will depend even more on where you are currently at in your career and what gaps you need to address.
Safety professionals are constantly pushing the idea that we need to be proactive. You are probably the one pushing that message to employees so they get to go home safe and healthy at the end of every work day.
But are you taking your own advice? How proactive are you in your career?
Professionals in any field should be looking at what gaps they have when it comes to the skills, experience, and knowledge the job market is looking for. Taking a proactive approach to addressing the gaps can make the difference in whether you have a job or not in five years.
It is difficult to accurately predict changes and larger trends in entire professions over long periods of time. But unless you give it careful thought and take calculated action, it will be more difficult to make transitions when needed.
Working around energized equipment can be very hazardous, it is good to know these helpful tips to prevent yourself from becoming the path to ground electricity is always searching for.
One thing to pay attention to when you are at your job site is your location and proximity to overhead lines or utility poles. Electricity always tries to find the easiest path to ground. If you are operating tall equipment or removing trees that may be in contact with an overhead line you may become that easiest path to ground. We ask that you remain at least 10 feet away from all power lines and 30 feet away from larger transmission structures. The power lines do carry enough energy to hurt you and the electricity will attempt to travel through you or your equipment to the ground. Although the lines look like they may be insulated the coating you see is to protect them from weathering not insulation for human protection.
If you are about to start a project and may be working in the proximity of power lines use a spotter and warning flags. You may contact your local utility and they can correctly identify the nominal voltage and necessary clearances you need at no cost. If they need to, the utility can install protective barriers to avoid contact with the line. There are no repercussions for contacting your local utility for guidance, however, if you don’t contact them and you come in contact with their lines or equipment there may be repercussions. You can never assume lines are de-energized, always assume they are hot.
Anytime you may be digging or excavating underground you must call Miss Utility (811) two business days prior to your job. Cutting into an underground power line can have the same reaction as coming in contact with an overhead power line. A shovel or other piece of equipment could easily cut through the insulation jacket of the cable and the electricity will still try to find the easiest path to ground. All local utilities will mark their underground service lines. To avoid coming in contact with an underground line carefully hand dig within 18 inches on both sides of the marks, you could still come in contact if the line is damaged.
Collision with utility pole/equipment:
If one of your construction vehicles strike a utility pole and lines fall onto the vehicle, know that the lines are energized. The same applies if you are operating a piece of equipment and it comes in contact with energized lines (cranes, excavators, etc.). The vehicle or equipment has now become energized and as long as you do not touch the ground and your vehicle or equipment at the same time you will not become a path to ground. If you can drive away from the power lines, do so. If you cannot and there is no immediate danger to get out of the vehicle or machine, stay inside until emergency personnel arrives and the lines can be de-energized.
If you must get out of the vehicle or machine try to position yourself on a flat surface that you can easily leap from as far as possible. Land with both feet together without stumbling and shuffle your feet without lifting them from the surface until you are at least 30 feet from the vehicle or equipment. Remain far away and do not go back to the vehicle or piece of equipment until the local utility de-energizes the line.