The Occupational Safety and Health Administration implemented a final rule which updated its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards (29 CFR 1910, subparts D and I). The rule also included a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements using personal fall protection systems (29 CFR 1910, subpart I). Most of these new standards had professionals scratching their head asking, “What does all of this mean?”
The Long and Short of It
The new ruling applies to ALL general industry workplaces and covers ALL walking-working surfaces, including surfaces such as floors, stairs, roofs, ladders, ramps, scaffolds, elevated walkways, and fall protection systems.
Changes in the regulations allow employers to choose from a vast array of accepted fall protection systems. This change allows the elimination of guardrails as the primary fall protection method and empowers employers to be flexible with determining which method works best under their specific work conditions. The refreshed provisions now dictate the requirements for performance, inspection, use and maintenance for personal fall protection systems. Gone are the days that general industry has to refer to the outdated GI Scaffolding standards. Under the more relevant construction scaffolding standards, employers can now choose from a variety of fall protection options.
The Clock is Ticking
When released, some regulations were implemented immediately, while others were given a more relaxed timeline. The compliance date is looming for the implementation of fall protection on existing and newly installed fixed ladders. On November 19th of this year, all new or existing fixed ladders of more than 24 feet must have some sort of fall protection installed, which may include cages or wells. However, the costs associated with implementing cages or wells may be frivolous, as all cages and wells must be replaced with personal fall protection systems by 2036, so it is important to weigh all available options when retrofitting existing ladders.
Anyone involved in environmental clean-up or HAZMAT emergency response will benefit from this intensive, week-long Train-the-Trainer Course held on the Battleship USS North Carolina on November 5th through the 9th. In addition to covering the various elements of the HAZWOPER standard, you will experience hands-on, practical simulations to meet the experiential requirements of the regulation. Click here to register for the last of these courses held in 2018.
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 this link for details.
Families are urged to put together an emergency supply kit and develop an emergency plan
As Hurricane Florence intensifies, the National Safety Council (NSC) is urging those on the East Coast to monitor the storm’s path and heed government warnings.
Florence is expected to hit the East Coast as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Council says those impacted by Tropical Depression Gordon need to be especially aware of potential flash flooding.
Nearly 60,000 weather events resulted in almost 600 deaths and more than 4,200 injuries, the Council said. Flash floods, tropical storms, and heat waves were the cause of most deaths.
Ahead of the impending storm, the NSC is urging families to develop emergency plans and safety kits. Emergency plans should include several methods of evacuation and places to shelter, while supply kits should contain the necessary supplies to sustain a family for at least 72 hours.
Severe weather safety tips
The Council offers the following tips for staying safe in hurricanes:
Board up windows and tie down loose items like patio furniture.
Establishing a meeting point for family members in the event that you become separated and pick one person everyone can contact their whereabouts.
Shelter in sturdy buildings. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures, open areas, hilltops, the beach, or boats.
If you are driving in heavy rain, try to exit the road, stay in the car and turn on the emergency flashers.
Don’t drive into flooded areas. If flood waters surround your car, abandon the car and go to higher ground.
Avoid touching electrical equipment, cords, metal, and water.
Listen for sirens, stay away from windows and outside doors, and seek shelter in a bathroom or basement.
Stay indoors until authorities say it’s safe to go outside.
To stay safe during flash flooding, the NSC offers the following tips:
Know your distance to rivers, streams, and dams.
In heavy rain, stay away from underpasses, underground parking garages, and basements.
Never walk in water above your ankles — you could be swept off your feet in as little as 6 inches of rushing water.
Flame resistant (formerly known as flame retardant) clothing is a piece of specialized personal protective clothing required in many workplaces.
FR clothing is used in occupations that involve inherent risks of fire or explosion or contact with energized electrical equipment. Industries and occupations that use FR clothing as a final method of control these hazards include:
Electric utility repair and maintenance
Pharmaceutical and chemical work
Paper and pulp manufacturing
If you or your employees require FR clothing to carry out work safely, here are some key things that are worth knowing.
Flame Resistant Clothing Works by Being Self-Extinguishing
Flame resistant material is, by definition, self-extinguishing material. Unlike conventional fabrics, it will not fuel a fire. Rather, it will starve a fire by preventing the entrance of oxygen through the material.
Some Materials Are Naturally Flame Resistant
Some manufacturers make products that are naturally flame resistant and do not need to be chemically treated to be classified under the FR standard.
Typically, natural fibers like wool and silk do not melt and are difficult to ignite, which makes them good candidates for FR gear. The tighter and heavier the wool, the more fire resistant it is.
Some synthetic fibers, like polyester and nylon, are also more difficult to ignite. However, once they catch on fire, they tend to melt. As with wool, the tighter the weave, the more flame resistant the fabric.
One advantage to inherently flame resistant fabrics is that they are engineered to be flame resistant for eternity. Since their FR properties are incorporated at the molecular level, they offer fire protection that doesn’t wash out or wear out. The clothing remains flame resistant regardless of its length of use.
Other Fabrics Can Still Be Made Flame Resistant
Other natural fabrics, like linen and cotton, can ignite easily and result in a rapid spread of flame. But they can be treated with chemicals that will extinguish the flame.
Alternative manufacturers make clothing that is treated with a compound at the final stage of production. This compound will chemically extinguish fire or flame by depriving it of the oxygen it requires to keep burning.
One downside to these treated fabrics is that their FR properties will degrade over time and offer less and less protection as UV exposure, abrasions, and washing erode their performance.
Another concern is that the chemical FR treatments applied to fabrics like cotton can have negative environmental effects. For example, the effluents produced in the process could find their way into and contaminate the natural environment.
Flame Resistant Material Can Be Toxic
A common question about flame resistant clothing is “Is it toxic?”
The answer isn’t always straightforward, but chemical FR treatments applied to fabrics such as cotton regularly present serious environmental concerns.
Currently, the largest marketed FR group is brominated flame retardants (BFR). BFRs are the largest distributed products worldwide due to their combination of high effectiveness and low cost.
Approximately 75 BFRs are presently recognized; however, some of these have been removed from the marketplace since the 1970s following incidental poisoning due to ingestion, which demonstrates the toxicity of those specific BFR classes. Tris-BP, for instance, was originally included in the manufacturing of children’s clothing but was quickly removed following discovery of its mutagenic and nephrotoxic effects.
Today, you can still find diphenyl ethers, cyclooctane’s, and brominated bisphenols representing the largest major BFR classes. In day-to-day living, these classes are also widely used as additives or reactive components in polymers such as epoxy resins and foam, as well as products like electrical equipment, computers, and electronics.
Lots of Considerations Go into Picking the Right FR Clothing for a Job
There are several considerations that come into play when purchasing or using FR clothing. After assessing the risks and becoming familiar with the job tasks the user will be performing, start by considering the following:
Which style and weight of FR garment is more suitable and practical for the worker?
What arc thermal performance value (ATPV) is required? This value outlines the performance of FR material when it is exposed to electrical discharged. It is expressed in cal/cm2, with a larger number representing a greater degree of protection.
Does the FR product meet safety standards and regulatory requirements?
What is the life expectancy of the garment? How soon will it have to be replaced?
This information will help you make an educated choice when it comes to FR clothing, but it’s not the end of your search. Investing the time and money required to do the research and select the right products will ensure durability, comfort, and (most importantly) confidence that you’re getting the protection needed.
Your hands are used in just about every facet of your work and daily life. But they’re also one of the most exposed and vulnerable parts of your body.
Whether you spend all day writing reports and e-mails or whether you handle materials and use construction tools after punching the clock, keeping your hands safe should be a priority.
The most obvious way to protect your hands is with the right PPE. Every worker engaged in hazardous work should wear safety gloves suitable for the job. But gloves are your last line of defense and a lot of other measures should be in place to keep your hands safe (for advice on selecting the right hand protection PPE, see 12 Types of Hand Protection Gloves).
In this article, we’ll go over seven important things you can do to keep your hands safe at work.
1. Conduct a Hazard Assessment and Job Safety Analysis
Conducting a hazard assessment is the first step in identifying tasks that put our hands in danger. It allows us to take the time to review equipment for pinch points, note material that may be jagged or become splintered, identify extremely hot and cold surfaces, and list potential sources of chemical exposure
Once it’s completed, the hazard assessment should be communicated to the exposed workers on an annual and intermittent basis in order to spread awareness and help cultivate safety culture.
A job safety analysis (JSA) is the next step in communicating hazards to workers. These are often conducted by a foreman or supervisor, who lists each task and provides a step-by-step process to safely execute it. The JSA should provide a methodical means to eliminate or mitigate exposure to hazards and identify when, which, and where proper safety gloves shall be worn (learn 4 Steps to Conducting Effective Job Safety Analyses).
The JSA should be communicated and reviewed before starting each new task and intermittently after that. Workers should be encouraged to assist and comment on the JSA as their feedback is invaluable in the creation and maintenance of this living document.
2. Engineering controls
Before donning safety gloves, we should ask ourselves if we can eliminate the hazards completely. If it’s not possible to eliminate all hazards, then we should consider whether engineering controls could be implemented. These controls help us reduce exposure by modifying the processes, equipment, and materials involved in the work (learn more about The Hierarchy of Hazard Controls).One example of this is machine guarding. A machine guard is a protective barrier to prevent workers from making contact with hazardous energies created by moving machinery.
3. Mitigate Ergonomic Risks
Ergonomic risks are often overlooked because their negative effects are not immediate. But ergonomic and repetitive strain injuries are far more common than many suspect.
Workers who regularly repeat tasks, use forceful exertion, or are exposed to vibration and sustained awkward positions are at risk to ergonomic injuries.
Enlist an ergonomic specialist to assess your workplace and help you implement a repetitive strain prevention program.
4. Proper Tool Use and Care
All tools should be inspected prior to use, serviced regularly, and the workers using them should receive formal training on their proper use. Refer to owner’s and operator’s manuals to determine maintenance and servicing intervals.
Generally, the responsibility for inspection lies with the supervisor. However, workers who use tools and equipment daily should also inspect them before starting their work. As soon as any problems are discovered, the tool must be removed from use and tagged. The tag should read something along the lines of “Defective – Do Not Use.”
The misuse of tools and equipment is a frequent cause of injuries. It’s often assumed that everyone knows how to use common hand tools, but this assumption can lead to injury.
Employers and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that all workers are trained and competent in the use of the tools and equipment in their workplace. Training programs can be created internally and reviewed periodically throughout the year (consider these 6 Ways a Permanent, In-House Safety Trainer Can Benefit Your Organization). They can also be communicated to new hires during orientation. Companies can also look to external training providers to assist then in delivering training to their employees.
The training program should pay close consideration to all equipment and tools, no matter how mundane the task. Every employee, no matter how much experience or seniority they have, should be required to participate. This training is an opportunity to make sure that fundamental safe practices are fresh in everyone’s minds.
5. Safety Data Sheets
To help protect against exposure, employers must inform workers of the specific chemicals used in the workplace and provide access to the corresponding safety data sheets.
Employers and safety committees should make a list of controlled products onsite available to employees. The list should be reviewed and updated as new products come in or old ones exit.
The safety committee and supervisor should review the safety data sheets and draft a list of PPE required to safely handle the products.
6. Foster a Safety Culture
A successful health and safety program starts with a positive safety culture. Every company should encourage and promote safety from the moment a worker starts their shift right until the moment they clock out at the end of the day.
Employees respond well to a positive safety culture and well communicated policies and programs. They are more apt to follow safe work procedures, use the PPE supplied, and report hazards to their supervisors.
With a positive safety culture, every employee – both new and seasoned – knows that safety in their workplace truly is number one. Supervisors and management should be encouraged to attend the same safety training as their workers in order to lead by example and communicate the value of these initiatives (see Workplace Safety Culture 101 to learn more).
7. Ensure Proper Housekeeping
Construction debris tends to be irregular in shape and hard to handle. It can also be full of sharp edges. Making sure it gets cleared away helps prevent injuries.
A low standard for housekeeping can wear down the morale of workers but it can also lead to cluttered pathways impeding material handling equipment and thus increasing the need for manual handling.
Employers should provide ample disposal systems for the various types of degree created over the course of a regular work day. Materials should have nails, screws, and sharp edges bent over or removed, and employers should promote daily post-work clean up tasks.
Wearing gloves that give your hands ample protection is essential to keeping them safe. But it’s not enough. By looking beyond the glove and implementing various other measures to mitigate risks, you can be confident that you or your employees will make it through the day with their hands unharmed.
Protective clothing is an essential piece of safety equipment meant to protect the wearer from various exposures. One subset of protective clothing, however, serves a second purpose. While cleanroom protective clothing guards the wearer against exposure to various hazards, it is also designed to prevent the cleanroom from becoming sullied by contaminants from the wearer’s clothing or person.
Protective clothing, then, is essential for keeping a cleanroom, well, clean. It helps contain the skin and hair we are constantly shedding, as well as bacteria, mucus, germs, and other things that may be inadvertently introduced in the cleanroom atmosphere.
What Is a Cleanroom?
A cleanroom is a space used for manufacturing or research that must be kept free of dust and other particles.
It is also typically temperature- and humidity-controlled to protect the sensitive equipment or manufactured components within it.
To access a cleanroom, workers need to walk through an air blast (or air shower) that will blow away the particles on their clothing. Items may be introduced to into the cleanroom by being passed through an airlock.
Cleanrooms are used in a number of applications, including:
Medical device manufacturing
Manufacturing electronic components
Laboratories and research facilities
Cleanroom Protective Clothing Standards
While OSHA does have guidelines for industrial cleaning that includes information on cleaning cleanrooms, it does not have a standard for cleanroom protective clothing.
The current international standard for cleanrooms is ISO 14664. It outlines 10 classes of cleanroom, along with the type of protective clothing required for each.
To give you a sense of what cleanroom clothing involves, here is what the ISO standard requires for the “most clean” (Class 1) protective clothing:
Intersuit (worn undreneath the coveralls)
The standard also recommends changing all of this protective clothing with every single entry to the cleanroom. Wearing the protective clothing outside the sterilized environment can cause particles to adhere to it, which compromises the cleanliness of the clothing.
Disposable Vs. Reusable Protective Clothing
Once you have conducted an analysis and determined the level of protective clothing required in your cleanroom, you will face a key decision: do you purchase reusable or disposable protective clothing?
Important considerations include:
Disposal procedure (and associated costs)
Laundering or sterilization requirements
Disposable Protective Clothing
While using protective clothing that can simply be discarded after each use is often the easiest solution, it’s important to take the disposal process into consideration.
Depending on the work being done, disposable cleanroom clothing might have to go into a different waste stream than ordinary waste. If that is the case, it may affect the cost and convenience of using this type of equipment.
When dealing with the strictest classes of cleanrooms (especially Class 1 cleanrooms), disposable, single-use clothing is usually the most effective (and cost-effective) option.
Reusable Protective Clothing
Non-disposable clothing also presents certain issues and inconveniences. If the laundering and cleaning of the equipment is handled by an offsite facility, you have to make ensure that there the cleaning and transporting of the equipment to the site does not introduce any contaminants.
In one case, an audit of a food processing facility uncovered that the protective clothing the company used in its cleanroom was transported to their facility from a local laundry facility by a driver who also picked up soiled laundry from three motels on his way. Further review revealed that the protective clothing was sometimes washed and dried together with the motel’s towels and sheets. The water and dryer temperature settings, moreover, did not meet the relevant standards or match the documented needs of the processing plant.
As this illustrates, ensuring that the clothing is properly laundered and handled should be factored in as one of the additional costs. It’s one corner that should definitely not be cut.
Combining Both Options
In some cases, it might be best to use a combination of both disposable and reusable protective clothing.
Faceshields, for instance, might be sanitized after use even if most of the protective clothing employed is disposable.
Tips for Purchasing Cleanroom Clothing
Make sure that the clothing you purchase matches the recommendations from your cleanroom risk and hazard analysis.
Cheaper options are not always better, even when it comes to disposable clothing. Some more expensive options are also sturdier and can prevent accidental rips and tears in the material.
Some disposable protective clothing can be used more than once. The manufacturer will inform you whether this is the case.
Buy sizes that meet or match your workers’ measurements. Keep enough large and extra-large protective clothing on hand to meet emergency or unforeseen circumstances.
The protective clothing should be individually sealed and packaged, or stored in a cleanroom until use. When it comes to cleanroom clothing, how you store it is just as important as how you use it.
Managing your cleanroom is not necessarily complex, but it is detailed and requires performance management and a proper audit.
Selecting protective clothing also doesn’t have to be complicated. But when it comes to cleanrooms, you must make sure that it performs both of its functions adequately: protecting the worker and containing contaminants.
If you’re new to safety, you may wonder what OSHA means by the phrase competent person.
Or even how one becomes an OSHA competent person.
In this article, we’re going to give you the straight skinny.
We’ll start by giving you the general definition of the phrase that OSHA provides in 1926.32(f). But that’s not the full story, because some standards make additional requirements about competent persons. And so we’ll provide some links to help you find those standards. And finally, we’ll give you some more links for related OSHA Fact Sheets, e-Tools, Quick Cards, and more.
This will give you any and all information you need about competent persons and the way OSHA refers to it in regulations.
Definition: Competent Person (OSHA)
In 1926.32(f),competent person is defined as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” As you probably know, 1926 is the set of OSHA regulations for the Construction industry. There is no equivalent definition for the phrase competent persons in 1910.2, the definitions at the beginning of the OSHA General Industry regulations, but OSHA seems to use the 1926 definition universally throughout their materials. Anyone have some thoughts or additional comments on that? I’d be curious.
On OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page dedicated to competent persons, OSHA includes the definition from 1926 above. But in addition, they add this description: “By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person.”
Standards With Additional Specific Requirements to Be Met By Competent Person
If you notice that definition just above, OSHA mentions that some standards include additional specific requirements a person has to meet as a competent person.
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.
In 2017, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes according to the National Safety Council, with the three biggest causes of fatalities on the road being alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving. And, as an employer, you play a big role in keeping roads safe. Millions of employees drive as part of their jobs. Some are professionally trained drivers, but many are not, and if a job does not primarily involve driving, the employee often does not receive the same driver safety management that professional drivers do.
As we recognize the final week of National Safety Month’s focus on driver safety, one way that we can help all employees be safer drivers is by understanding the (too well-known) external factors that can influence safety when on the road, like bad weather or that other driver swerving lanes during rush hour. But we’re probably less aware of the internal, psychological factors that impact each employee differently while driving and that impact tendencies to drive while impaired, speed, or allow distractions while driving.
Here are four internal factors that can impact employee driver safety:
There are some drivers who acknowledge and remember almost every detail they come across in their immediate surroundings and can react or respond to something in their field of vision, like traffic lights, road signs, pedestrians, oncoming traffic, while others may only focus on one aspect of driving, like their speed, but they won’t notice the cars in the other lane or may not be able to react quickly. The average human response time to visual stimuli is about 0.25 seconds. So, by definition, about half of the population will react more slowly. Considering that a vehicle traveling at 40 mph will travel about 120 feet (eight car lengths) before it can stop, you can see how even a very small interpersonal difference in the ability to perceive objects in your field of vision or in reaction time, can be the difference between a crash or a near miss.
Assessing whether or not employees have the tendency to be less aware in situations like driving can help key into where their potential for risks lie. Remind them that they may be less likely to notice details in their surroundings, so they should make the extra effort to focus on the task at hand and ignore distractions so that they can be prepared for unexpected external factors, like a fallen tree or a vehicle stopping suddenly in front of them.
2. Emotional Control
Some individuals get more frustrated, agitated, or stressed than others. Emotional control one of the most well-known personality traits in psychology. We know from research that people who are lower in this factor tend to be injured more often. When you think about road rage and its associated dangers, it’s not difficult to imagine that some individuals will be in an agitated mental state much more often and faster than others, leading them to engage in riskier driving behaviors.
So, if someone low in emotional control encounters an external factor like rainy rush hour traffic, a significantly higher risk of a crash could result. If one has the tendency to get easily frustrated or agitated, he or she can reduce risk by shifting schedules to avoid driving during rush hour or other high-stress times.
3. Following Rules
Rule following behavior is partly a function of personality traits like conscientiousness and need for structure. Thus, some individuals tend to naturally prefer rules and policies – a “set way to do things.” For this type of person, abiding by state and federal driving laws is a no-brainer. However, those who are less rule-bound tend to see policies or rules more as general guidelines.
Individuals who are naturally less likely to follow rules may have increased risk of a crash when faced with external factors like snowy conditions or a roadwork area. Helping employees who are low in rule-following to identify this tendency can lead to a stronger understanding of how, when faced with external factors and driving risks, following rules can mean the difference between life and death. Here are more coaching tips for leaders with employees who bend and break rules.
We all differ in terms of how much risk we are comfortable with in most situations, as well as how impulsive we are. One could argue that people who are more comfortable with risk are more likely to talk or text on the phone while driving, for example. But if they do decide to do that, it’s likely that the combination of comfort level with risk and cognitive distraction at the same time can spell potential disaster. If you find that your employees are comfortable taking risks, remind them that they’re not only putting themselves in danger, but other drivers and pedestrians.
Unfortunately, internal and external factors can occur together further impacting our safety on the road. Assessing your workforce to understand their safety profiles can help identify where higher risks lie. You can then set up driver safety training or you can restructure your workforce, shifting those who are likely to be more unsafe on the road into a role that don’t require driving. And, while there’s not much we can do about the external factors alone, learning about these internal psychological tendencies allows drivers to be more prepared to avoid the risks associated with external factors.