It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s an OSHA drone? That’s right, believe it or not, OSHA is now employing the use of drones for enforcement purposes in areas that would otherwise be deemed as inaccessible or unsafe for OSHA inspectors.
After publishing a memo in May of 2018 formalizing the use of drones during inspections, OSHA has reportedly completed nine inspections of facilities after dangerous incidents, such as a combustible dust blast, occurred. A key point of the memo – employer permission – has some employers uncomfortable with the situation as it has the potential to unearth violations that may not have been found by traditional methods. Also included in the memo, OSHA revealed their exploration in obtaining a Blanket Public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA to operate drones on a national scale.
Do the Risks Outweigh the Rewards?
While the benefits of quicker inspections for OSHA may be positive for both the inspector and the employers involved, the latter should take time to weigh out the pros and cons of giving consent moving forward. During a conventional inspection, authorized employer representatives are allowed to accompany an inspector to essentially mimic the investigation and gather the same data as the inspector during the walkaround. By using a drone, this process becomes extremely difficult for employers to mirror. Also, of noteworthy consideration, businesses’ trade secrets may be exposed to OSHA drone cameras, so it will be of vital importance to address the issue before giving consent to a drone inspection.
Bottom line, the use of drones by OSHA will only continue to expand, and as such, employers should take the time to ensure they have the proper policies and procedures in place for their protection. Want to find out what else OSHA is up to in 2019? Click here now.
An annual review pinpoints OSHA’s biggest challenges as it strives to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. A law passed in 2000 requires the Office of Inspector General to identify the most serious management and performance challenges facing the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA’s parent agency. The OIG report says OSHA and its mining industry equivalent, MSHA, face challenges in determining how to best use their limited resources to protect workers’ safety and health, particularly in high-risk industries such as construction, forestry, fishing and mining.
“These challenges are exacerbated by the under-reporting of injuries by employers,” the report stated. Without reliable data regarding workplace injuries, OSHA and MSHA lack the information needed to effectively focus inspection and compliance efforts on the most hazardous workplaces.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Numerous reports have shown through the years that occupational injuries and illnesses are significantly under-reported. Verifying abatement of construction hazards also remains a challenge for OSHA, according to the report. The reason? Before verification is possible, OSHA has to close many citations for safety violations because the construction project has ended. OSHA winds up with no assurances that employers with alleged safety violations will use improved practices at subsequent construction sites. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized construction firms.
Even in the midst of a mild winter season, it is important for businesses to address the inevitable increase in health issues as temperatures begin to drop. The major issues of the winter season are: how to reduce risks associated with cold-weather exposure, battling this year’s flu season, and how to properly compensate employees during weather-related closures.
Cold weather creates its own challenges when it comes to employee safety, and it is imperative to take proper precautions for those who work outside for prolonged periods. Extended exposure to cold or freezing temperatures can lead to serious health problems such as frostbite, hypothermia, and trench foot. It is because of these serious health problems that employers should advocate and enforce the use of protective clothing, engineering controls, and common safe work practices.
While it is not uncommon for employees to begin displaying signs of the flu during the holidays, flu season typically peaks in January. It is important to prepare for flu outbreaks now by taking preventative steps to ensure employee wellness.
Most measures are common sense and easily implemented such as focusing awareness on employee cleanliness by urging them to wash their hands and use proper sneeze and cough etiquette. Employers can also increase their stock of antibacterial soaps and cleaning supplies to limit the spread of germs. More aggressive approaches to limiting the spread of the disease would be to consider sending sick employees home and altering attendance policies to prevent sick employees from rushing back to work while they remain contagious. Some employers have even offered incentives to their employees who receive the flu shot.
Especially in colder climates, companies should ensure their policies include how employee schedules may be changed due to winter weather, what they should do if they are unable to safely navigate the roads to work, as well as how to report time rules for compensation that may apply under state laws.
If your organization already has these policies and procedures in place, now is the time to review them to ensure their accuracy and that they are still compliant with federal and state wage and hour laws.
In the world of safety, it’s always nice to know that the people who have your back have the best training possible. NASP understands which is why we’re offering a buy one, get one half off promotion for our upcoming Las Vegas class.
Space is extremely limited, so don’t miss your opportunity to get the expert training you need, from the professionals you know. Sign up now by clicking here. You will be directed to our website where you can complete your registration online. Once complete, call and register a second person for 50% off!
We are proud to announce the completion of our SAC course into the Learning Management System (LMS). Do you conduct audits in-house? Are you required to perform Incident Investigations? Do you write JHAs? Then the SAC is for you!
In this course, you will discover:
A comprehensive review of the most recent OSHA violations through an interactive lesson plan,
An in-depth view of the OSHA inspection process and how to best prepare your company,
How to conduct Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) in great detail with emphasis on risk assessments and control measures,
An introduction to conducting accident investigations with a look into the incident investigation process,
How to use a multitude of root cause analysis techniques to bolster your investigation arsenal, and
A step-by-step guide on writing investigation reports.
To show you how excited we are about this new course, we are offering a 30% discount on our normally $795 course! Click here now and type in SAC30OFF in the coupon code for this savings.
Not familiar with our new and improved Learning Management System? Click here to sign up for our free demo.
I recently read this article regarding why we fail at New Year resolutions. I think this could apply to our safety goals in the New Year as well. Would love to hear feedback from our customers.
Setting a New Year’s resolution isn’t just socially accepted; it’s culturally encouraged. During the process your brain places more subjective value on completing a new goal, and you want it more in the moment, says Spencer Gerrol, CEO of a leading neuroscience consulting agency.
It also sets off lots of activity in your brain. “When setting a highly desired resolution, your dopaminergic reward systems—the orbitofrontal cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex—become more active,” he says. “The issue then becomes keeping that brain activity directed toward the new goal over the long haul.”
Unfortunately, a lot of things get in the way, which is why most of us fail. “Behavior change doesn’t happen in the setting of a goal,” says Gerrol. “You have to execute activities over a course of time, and that’s where you run into issues. For example, how much do you like the new behaviors? How hard are they? Is the goal intrinsically motivated? Or did somebody else impose it? These compete with each other.”
In addition, our brains have been conditioned to seek out quick dopamine hits, especially things you’ve already experienced that were pleasurable or rewarding, like binging Netflix or browsing social media.
“Maybe you want to go to the gym, but your brain wants to see if someone liked your Facebook post,” says Gerrol. “These activities compete for same resources. What happens is that the goals people want to achieve are disconnected by what they want in the short term.”
If you know the challenge exists when you set your goal, you have to be ready to tackle the things that will cause you to lose momentum. “You need a whole new strategy,” says Gerrol.
Here are eight things you can do to override your brain’s tendencies and stick to your New Year’s resolution:
1 MAKE SURE YOU WANT THE GOAL
The first thing is to make sure your goal is intrinsic instead of extrinsic, says Gerrol. “Wanting the goal for yourself instead of doing it for someone else or feeling like you should is a key thing to make a goal successful.”
2 MAKE SURE IT’S CHALLENGING BUT NOT TOO HARD
Make sure the goal is at the optimal level of challenge. “If the goal is not challenging enough, then you may lose your motivation because it’s too easy and less fun,” says Gerrol. “People set the bar at the wrong place. What they think is easy is harder than they realize. If it’s too challenging, it’s not realistic.”
3 DON’T RELY ON WILLPOWER
Too often we set a goal and rely on determination and grit to achieve it. “Willpower takes an incredible amount of cognitive effort,” says Gerrol. “You have to remind yourself every day and be strong to make it happen. Without the right level of reward, it becomes unsustainable.”
4 BREAK THE GOAL INTO SMALL CHUNKS
When setting a big goal, you need to break it into small steps to get a release of dopamine in the brain when you accomplish them. Keep a journal, maintain a checklist, or graph your results.
“When a goal is so far away, you don’t get that burst of pleasure,” says Gerrol. “Pause at each smaller goal and celebrate success at each stage. You need to measure your progress as a way of tracking success.”
5 LOOK AT HISTORICAL PROGRESS
Another element is to look back at your progress over time. “It’s important to look at how far you’ve come,” says Gerrol. “You accomplish two things by doing this. You get dopamine every time you check a milestone. And you get another release when you look at your total progress.”
6 CREATE A REWARD SYSTEM
The brain reacts positively to rewards, both tangible and intangible. Gerrol suggests setting up a system where you recognize your work. One way is to get positive reinforcement from your social circle.
“A pat on the back matters,” he says. “It can be from your social circle on an online community chasing the same goal.”
Another way to stick to your resolution is to give yourself a real reward. “Create an external milestone attached to a gift,” says Gerrol. “It shouldn’t be just one big one, but small ones along the way.”
7 ATTACH YOUR GOAL TO YOUR IDENTITY
Frame your goal in terms of your value system; who you are as a person, suggests Gerrol. For example, if you want to spend less time on your phone and more time present with the people around you, saying out loud, “I’m someone who values my family over my phone,” can help keep you aligned to your goal.
Then repeat that phrasing of the goal like a mantra regularly to keep the goal framed in terms of who you are and what you truly care about. This process makes an otherwise surface-level goal more deeply grounded.
“We suffer from cognitive dissonance,” says Gerrol. “Our behaviors contradict our values. What you’re doing and what you think is right may be different, but you rationalize it. Bringing it to your attention makes you less likely to go the route of rationalizing and change the behavior instead. It needs to come from a genuine place to work.”
8 FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY
Finally, your goal should be socially grounded; if your goal helps others, causes others to rely on you, or is reinforced and encouraged by others, you are more likely to stick to it.
“Yes, peer pressure has its place,” say Gerrol. “The more your resolution is consistently positively reinforced by your friends, the more you will stick to it.”
Hazardous materials (hazmat) are any material that has properties that may result in risk or injury to health and/or destruction of life or facilities. Many hazardous materials (hazmat) do not have a taste or an odor. Some can be detected because they cause physical reactions such as watering eyes or nausea. Some Hazardous Materials exist beneath the surface of the ground and have an oil or foam-like appearance. The substance can be identified from placards, labels or markings on the transporters.
Hazardous Material can be:
Corrosive Hazmat Materials:
are strong enough to eat away at steel drums or human skin. Because they can eat through the containers they are carried in, they are of special concern during transportation. Example: car battery acids
Ignitable Hazmat Materials:
present a fire hazard because they are flammable at relatively low temperatures. This causes a risk of explosion and the spreading of toxic gas over an area, as well as fire and smoke. Examples: paint removers, the chemical Benzene
can explode or release deadly fumes by mixing with water or reacting to heat or pressure. Examples: old weapons and ammunition, sodium metal, stannic chloride
include materials with both high and low radioactivity that can lead to dangerous side effects for thousands of years. Most of these materials are produced at nuclear power plants and by research facilities.
Toxic Hazardous Materials:
consist of poisonous chemicals. People and animals exposed to these types of materials can develop severe health problems. Examples: lead, arsenic, mercury
These materials are also toxic wastes, but are in a separate category. They consist of materials infected with some type of germ, bacteria, or virus that could cause disease in humans or animals. These types of materials often come from hospitals. Examples: hypodermic needles, human and animal waste.
Classification of Hazardous Materials:
The DOT has broad authority to regulate hazardous materials that are in transport, including the discretion to determine which materials shall be classified as “hazardous”. These materials are placed in one of nine categories, based on their chemical and physical properties. Based on the classification of the material, the DOT is also responsible for determining the appropriate packaging materials for shipping or transport. Finally, also based on the material classification, strict guidelines are furnished for proper labeling/marking of packages of hazardous materials offered for transport, and for placarding of transport vehicles.
Class 1: Explosives
Division 1.1 – Articles and substances having a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.2 – Articles and substances having a projection hazard, but not a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.3 – Articles and substances having a fire hazard, a minor blast hazard, and/or a minor projection hazard, but not a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.4 – Articles and substances presenting no significant hazard (explosion limited to package)
Division 1.5 – Very insensitive substances having a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.6 – Extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard
Class 2 Gas
Division 2.1 – Flammable Gas
Division 2.2 – Non-flammable, non-toxic gas (under pressure, inert, etc.)
Division 2.3 – Toxic Gas
Class 3 Flammable Liquids (100 Degrees F or less closed cup):
Class 4 Other Flammable Substances:
Division 4.1 – Flammable Solid
Division 4.2 – Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
Division 4.3 – Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
Class 5 Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides:
Division 5.1 – Oxidizers
Division 5.2 – Organic Peroxides
Class 6 Toxic (Poisonous) and Infectious Substances:
Flammable and combustible liquids are liquids that can burn. They are classified, or grouped, as either flammable or combustible by their flash points. Generally speaking, flammable liquids will ignite (catch on fire) and burn easily at normal working temperatures. Combustible liquids have the ability to burn at temperatures that are usually above working temperatures.
There are several specific technical criteria and test methods for identifying flammable and combustible liquids. Under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 1988, flammable liquids have a flash point below 37.8°C (100°F). Combustible liquids have a flash point at or above 37.8°C (100°F) and below 93.3°C (200°F).
Flammable and combustible liquids are present in almost every workplace. Fuels and many common products like solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes and polishes may be flammable or combustible liquids. Everyone who works with these liquids must be aware of their hazards and how to work safely with them.
the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapor within a test vessel in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid. The flash point is normally an indication of susceptibility to ignition.
The flash point is determined by heating the liquid in test equipment and measuring the temperature at which a flash will be obtained when a small flame is introduced in the vapor zone above the surface of the liquid.
Combustible liquid: any liquid having a flash point at or above 100ºF (37.8ºC).
Combustible liquids shall be divided into two classes as follows:
Class II liquids shall include those with flash points at or above 100ºF (37.8ºC) and below 140ºF (60ºC), except any mixture having components with flash points of 200ºF (93.3ºC) or higher, the volume of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture.
Class III liquids shall include those with flash points at or above 140ºF (60ºC). Class III liquids are subdivided into two sub classes:
Class IIIA liquids shall include those with flash points at or above 140ºF (60ºC) and below 200ºF (93.3ºC), except any mixture having components with flash points of 200ºF (93.3ºC), or higher, the total volume of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture.
Class IIIB liquids shall include those with flash points at or above 200ºF (93.3ºC). This section does not regulate Class IIIB liquids. Where the term “Class III liquids” is used in this section, it shall mean only Class IIIA liquids.
When a combustible liquid is heated to within 30ºF (16.7ºC) of its flash point, it shall be handled in accordance with the requirements for the next lower class of liquids.
Flammable liquid: any liquid having a flash point below 100ºF (37.8ºC), except any mixture having components with flash points of 100ºF (37.8ºC) or higher, the total of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture. Flammable liquids shall be known as Class I liquids. Class I liquids are divided into three classes as follows:
Class IA shall include liquids having flash points below 73ºF (22.8ºC) and having a boiling point below 100ºF (37.8ºC).
Class IB shall include liquids having flash points below 73ºF (22.8ºC) and having a boiling point at or above 100ºF (37.8ºC).
Class IC shall include liquids having flash points at or above 73ºF (22.8ºC) and below 100ºF (37.8ºC).
It should be mentioned that flash point was selected as the basis for classification of flammable and combustible liquids because it is directly related to a liquid’s ability to generate vapor, i.e., its volatility. Since it is the vapor of the liquid, not the liquid itself that burns, vapor generation becomes the primary factor in determining the fire hazard. The expression “low flash – high hazard” applies. Liquids having flash points below ambient storage temperatures generally display a rapid rate of flame spread over the surface of the liquid, since it is not necessary for the heat of the fire to expend its energy in heating the liquid to generate more vapor.
The above definitions for classification of flammable and combustible liquids are quite complex. The diagram below should aid in their understanding.
Liquid itself burn:
Flammable and combustible liquids themselves do not burn. It is the mixture of their vapours and air that burns. Gasoline, with a flash point of -40°C (-40°F), is a flammable liquid. Even at temperatures as low as -40°C (-40°F), it gives off enough vapour to form a burnable mixture in air. Phenol is a combustible liquid. It has a flash point of 79°C (175°F), so it must be heated above that temperature before it can be ignited in air.
Flammable or explosive limits:
A material’s flammable or explosive limits also relate to its fire and explosion hazards. These limits give the range between the lowest and highest concentrations of vapour in air that will burn or explode.
The lower flammable limit or lower explosive limit (LFL or LEL) of gasoline is 1.4 percent; the upper flammable limit or upper explosive limit (UFL or UEL) is 7.6 percent. This means that gasoline can be ignited when it is in the air at levels between 1.4 and 7.6 percent. A concentration of gasoline vapor in air below 1.4 percent is too “lean” to burn. Gasoline vapor levels above 7.6 percent are too “rich” to burn. Flammable limits, like flash points however, are intended as guides not as fine lines between safe and unsafe.
Auto ignition Temperature:
A material’s auto ignition or ignition temperature is the temperature at which a material self-ignites without any obvious sources of ignition, such as a spark or flame.
Most common flammable and combustible liquids have auto ignition temperatures in the range of 300°C (572°F) to 550°C (1022°F). Some have very low auto ignition temperatures. For example, ethyl ether has an auto ignition temperature of 160°C (356°F) and its vaporous have been ignited by hot steam pipes. Serious accidents have resulted when solvent-evaporating ovens were heated to temperatures above the auto ignition temperature of the solvents used. Auto ignition temperatures, however, are intended as guides, not as fine lines between safe and unsafe. Use all precautions necessary.
For more information on chemical terms and concepts, enroll in our HAZMAT Train-the-Trainer Course. Click here for details (here will take them to calendar page.
Hazards exist in every workplace, but how do you know which ones have the most potential to harm workers? By identifying hazards at your workplace, you will be better prepared to control or eliminate them and prevent accidents, injuries, property damage and downtime.
Firstly, a key step in any safety protocol is to conduct a thorough hazard assessment of all work environments and equipment.
In a hazard assessment, it is important to be as thorough as possible because after all, you can’t protect your workers against hazards you are unaware of. Avoid blind spots in your workplace safety procedures by taking into consideration these six main categories of workplace hazards.
The meaning of the word hazard can be confusing. Often dictionaries do not give specific definitions or combine it with the term “risk”. For example, one dictionary defines hazard as “a danger or risk” which helps explain why many people use the terms interchangeably.
There are many definitions for hazard but the most common definition when talking about workplace health and safety is:
A hazard is any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on something or someone.
Harm – physical injury or damage to health.
Hazard – a potential source of harm to a worker.
Basically, a hazard is the potential for harm or an adverse effect (for example, to people as health effects, to organisations as property or equipment losses, or to the environment).
Sometimes the resulting harm is referred to as the hazard instead of the actual source of the hazard. For example, the disease tuberculosis (TB) might be called a “hazard” by some but, in general, the TB-causing bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) would be considered the “hazard” or “hazardous biological agent”.
Wastes from hospitals and research facilities may contain disease-causing organisms that could infect site personnel. Like chemical hazards, etiologic agents may be dispersed in the environment via water and wind. Other biologic hazards that may be present at a hazardous waste site include poisonous plants, insects, animals, and indigenous pathogens. Protective clothing and respiratory equipment can help reduce the chances of exposure. Thorough washing of any exposed body parts and equipment will help protect against infection.
Types of things you may be exposed to include:
Blood and other body fluids
Bacteria and viruses
Animal and bird droppings
Are factors within the environment that can harm the body without necessarily touching it.
Physical Hazards include:
Radiation: including ionising, nonionizing (EMF’s, microwaves, radio waves, etc.)
High exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays
Temperature extremes – hot and cold
Constant loud noise
Occur when the type of work, body positions and working conditions put strain on your body. They are the hardest to spot since you don’t always immediately notice the strain on your body or the harm that these hazards pose. Short term exposure may result in “sore muscles” the next day or in the days following exposure, but long-term exposure can result in serious long-term illnesses.
Ergonomic Hazards include:
Improperly adjusted workstations and chairs
Awkward movements, especially if they are repetitive
Repeating the same movements over and over
Having to use too much force, especially if you have to do it frequently
Are present when a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the workplace in any form (solid, liquid or gas). Some are safer than others, but to some workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can cause illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems.
Liquids like cleaning products, paints, acids, solvents – ESPECIALLY if chemicals are in an unlabelled container!
Vapours and fumes that come from welding or exposure to solvents
Gases like acetylene, propane, carbon monoxide and helium
Flammable materials like gasoline, solvents, and explosive chemicals.
These are the most common and will be present in most workplaces at one time or another. They include unsafe conditions that can cause injury, illness and death.
Safety Hazards include:
Spills on floors or tripping hazards, such as blocked aisles or cords running across the floor
Working from heights, including ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any raised work area
Unguarded machinery and moving machinery parts; guards removed or moving parts that a worker can accidentally touch
Electrical hazards like frayed cords, missing ground pins, improper wiring
Some safety hazards are a function of the work itself. For example, heavy equipment creates an additional hazard for workers in the vicinity of the operating equipment. Protective equipment can impair a worker’s agility, hearing, and vision, which can result in an increased risk of an accident. Accidents involving physical hazards can directly injure workers and can create additional hazards, for example, increased chemical exposure due to damaged protective equipment, or danger of explosion caused by the mixing of chemicals. Site personnel should constantly look out for potential safety hazards, and should immediately inform their supervisors of any new hazards so that mitigate action can be taken.
Like any decent regulatory agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT/PHMSA) issues monetary penalties for violations of its Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). And wouldn’t you know it, USDOT/PHMSA adjusts those penalties to keep pace with inflation. Below are the increased penalty amounts for 2019:
Note: all penalties are assessed per violation, per day.
Maximum civil penalty for a violation of the HMR: $78,976. An increase from $78,376 in 2018.
If the violation results in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property damage: $186,610. An increase from $182,887 in 2018.
The minimum penalty for a violation related to HazMat Employee training: $481. An increase of $10 from $471 in 2018.