The National Association of Safety Professionals is proud to be part of the Wilmington Regional Safety & Health School this year.  Each year, safety professionals from around the area organize this excellent event which brings nationally recognized speakers to the Port City to focus on the latest in safety-related topics for two packed days of presentations, tasty food, and a lot of fun.  Topics include:

  • Intro to Safety Management Systems
  • Fall Protection Standard Update
  • Fall Protection for Tools
  • Confined Space Rescue
  • Managing Worker Injuries to the Spine
  • “Safegagment”
  • Electrical Safety
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Active Shooter
  • Silica
  • Ergonomics

We highly recommend attending this school and the early bird special ends soon, so don’t miss out. Click here to find out more and to register now.

What Makes our CSM So Special?

We just completed our CSM course in Wilmington, NC and what a diverse crowd we had attend from around the world.  I met with several of the students after the class for a nice, cold beverage and enjoyed some of the feedback I received. We had ‘newbies’ and veterans alike that mentioned it was one of the best safety classes they had attended.  While I would like to take full credit for this and pat myself on the back, I know that the success of the CSM designation goes well beyond the instructor and is rooted in the concepts and philosophies of what NASP is all about.  (Insert class pic)

One of the principal goals established at NASP’s inception was to find a new way to present workplace safety training that would help employees to remember what they were taught and then teach that training methodology to those trained employees. It was a time (the early 90s) when almost all safety training came in the form of a relentless and tiresome lecture or a series of videos both of which lose the attention of the adult learner very quickly. Employees simply did not remember much of what they heard in those classes. NASP was founded with a deeply-held desire to help reduce deaths and injuries in the workplace. It was obvious that one way to do that was to make safety training more effective by finding a way to help employees remember what they were taught.

NASP decided training must be different. The result was the first use of modern adult training methodology in workplace safety training in the United States. There was some trial and error and a great deal of help and advice from our students before we finally reached a true, cutting-edge course on workplace safety training. Word spread quickly, and we soon had representatives of other safety training organizations attending our courses which included a “how to train” component and utilizing adult training methods. Soon, a number of OSHA employees attended our courses and before long, OSHA began to incorporate this training methodology into their training. We were thrilled to see this innovative approach take root and grow in the United States.

Fast forward twenty plus years and we continue to make our mark in the arena of workplace safety training. We have many other competitors with similar names, but there will always be only one Certified Safety Manager Course. Our last CSM in 2018 will be held in New Orleans on October 1-5, 2018. Click here to register now.

Workers Thought, ‘It won’t happen to us’: 5 dead, 14 injured

When things have been going well for a period of time, workers can develop a false sense of security. “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years,” they may say. “Nothing will ever happen to me.” The problem with this line of complacent thinking: The majority of people who have been injured on the job probably thought that – until the unthinkable happens.

The Calm Before the Storm

A recent fatal explosion at a mill in Wisconsin highlights why complacency is dangerous. Only 19 people were working at the mill that night and, from all appearances, it was just another regular shift. The facility had a dry corn milling process, which is inherently a dust-producing operation. The corn dust is combustible and known to be capable of generating overpressures under the right conditions. At approximately 11 p.m. that night, an explosion killed five workers and injured the remaining 14 people. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is investigating, and what they discovered so far and released to the public is startling. In interviews with workers, they told the CSB they believed conditions at the mill that night were “normal.” Up until just moments before the explosions, workers were either unaware of any problems or assumed their troubleshooting efforts would reveal a manageable situation. One of the workers even noted that before the explosion, it was a “really quiet, really calm night.” Other workers noted they smelled smoke. But the superintendent said based on his previous experience, the worst he’d seen when someone reported smoke in the mill was a burning belt or motor.

Combating Complacency

The CSB hasn’t determined the cause of the explosions yet. But the agency noted there were dust clouds before the incident, and that the stirring up of combustible dust on the floors, overhead piping and other surfaces inside the mill may have triggered the fatal blast. Either way, the interviews with workers reveal they were in a lull of complacency – thinking nothing bad would ever happen, until it did. Let your employees know that complacency can be a killer. Generating interest in safety and getting workers involved in your program is one of the best ways to stamp out complacency – before it leads to big trouble. To learn more about dealing with HAZMAT Emergency Responses such as dust explosions, plan on attending our HAZWOPER Train-the-Trainer in Wilmington, NC November 5-9, 2018. Click here for details.

What’s New with OSHA Under Trump?

President Trump’s first year-plus in office has been anything but quiet. But his influence on OSHA and workplace safety hasn’t made too many headlines. Jordan Barab, a former OSHA official under Obama, reviewed the biggest changes OSHA has made in the first 17 months of the Trump administration during a session at the AIHce conference in Philadelphia. It’s no secret the president has moved to trim back regulations. Barab noted that one of Trump’s first actions as president was to issue executive orders dealing with the regulatory process.

New Regulations Not Likely

The most well-known executive order established that for every new federal regulation passed (including by OSHA), two regulations must be repealed. Barab said the executive order hasn’t been used yet by OSHA or any other federal agency. He added that developing a new rule takes several years, and it would take just as long to repeal one. OSHA’s recent regulatory agenda showed movement on new safety regs. But given Trump’s executive orders and Republicans’ general dislike of regulations, Barab predicted that no major new OSHA standards will likely be finalized while Trump is in office.

OSHA in Holding Pattern

Peg Seminario of the AFL-CIO also spoke during the conference. Seminario noted that Trump has nominated Scott Mugno, a former safety director for FedEx Ground, to be the leader of OSHA, but he still hasn’t been confirmed yet. It’s unclear when Mugno will be confirmed as OSHA’s new leader, Seminario said. Until OSHA does have a leader, Seminario said it’s unlikely there will be any major changes made by the safety agency.

Recent OSHA Citations from Around the Country

Steel plate falls on, kills worker: $162K OSHA fine

A struck-by incident killed an employee of this company. OSHA visited after having fined the company just last year in a separate incident. Douglas N. Higgins Inc., a utility company, faces $162,596 in proposed penalties following an incident in which an employee suffered fatal injuries when a steel plate fell on him as he installed sewer lines.

Fine: $162,596

Company: Douglas N. Higgins Inc., Naples, FL

Business: Utility company

Reasons for fine:

Two willful, one repeat, one serious and one other-than-serious violations, including failure to:

  • require adequate cave-in protection for employees working in trenches
  • provide safe entry and exit from a trench
  • perform atmospheric testing


Deadly explosion leads to fines for manufacturer

A New York cosmetics factory is looking at $281,000 in fines after multiple explosions in November 2017 killed one worker and injured 125 others. OSHA cited Verla International for multiple safety violations leading to the deadly fires, including failure to properly dispose of flammable materials and failure to develop an emergency response plan.

Fine: $281,220

Company: Verla International LTD, New Windsor, NY

Business: Cosmetics manufacturer

Reasons for fine:

Nine serious and two repeat safety violations, including failure to:

  • take adequate precautions to prevent the ignition of flammable vapors
  • familiarize employees with fire extinguisher use
  • properly store combustible waste material


2 workers burned to death after pipeline ignited

An energy company and a pipeline operator both failed to protect workers from potential fires at a gas pipeline, and the businesses are facing serious OSHA fines after two workers were fatally burned. The employees were clearing a blockage in a gas pipeline when flammable vapors and gases from a vacuum truck leaked, igniting the pipeline and starting a fire.

Fine: $79,004

Companies: DCP Midstream LP, Denver; Complete Energy Services Inc., Houston

Business: Pipeline operator; energy supplier

Reasons for fine:

Three safety violations, including failure to:

  • control potential ignition sources in a work area
  • isolate hazardous energy sources using lockout/tagout procedures


Workers repeatedly exposed to lead hazards

A Midwest company faces $147,822 in OSHA fines for exposing employees to lead and other hazards. OSHA says 14 employees were exposed to airborne lead at levels 11 times the permissible exposure limit.

Fine: $147,822

Company: C & D Technologies Inc., Milwaukee

Business: Battery manufacturer

Reasons for fine:

Two repeat and six serious violations, including failure to:

  • implement sufficient controls to prevent lead exposure
  • monitor ventilation for the presence of lead
  • provide respiratory protection
  • install machine guarding

Vape Pen Explosion Pierces Florida Man’s Cranium, Killing Him

Vape pen explosion pierces Florida man’s cranium killing him:

Two pieces of the vape pen were in Tallmadge D’Elia’s cranium

A US man died when a vape pen blew up and projected fragments into his skull, a post-mortem examination has found. Tallmadge D’Elia also suffered burns over 80% of his body in a fire on 5 May caused by the exploding e-cigarette, according to forensic officials.

The 38-year-old’s body was discovered by firefighters in the burning bedroom of his family home in the beach resort of St Petersburg, Florida. It is believed to be the first US death from a vape pen explosion. The television producer’s death has been ruled an accident.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner said the official cause of death was “projectile wound of head”, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Two pieces of the vape pen were found in his cranium, according to the autopsy.

The report said emergency crews encountered “extensive” fire damage to the bedroom where the body was found, but minimal smoke. The electronic cigarette was manufactured by Smok-E Mountain, said the medical examiner.

Christopher D’Elia, the dead man’s father, told ABC Action News it was a “terrible shock”. “Anybody who has lost a son doesn’t want anybody else to lose a child to something like this,” he said.

How did the device explode?
It’s not entirely clear and is not written in the post-mortem examination report.

The vape pen that Mr D’Elia was using was a so-called mechanical mod, meaning it drew power directly from the battery and did not regulate the voltage in the same way as other e-cigarettes.

The president of the American Vaping Association told the New York Times that most other e-cigarettes have more safety features than mechanical mods. Such safety features can include computer chips.

A representative of the manufacturer, Smok-E Mountain, blamed the device’s battery for the explosion when speaking to ABC Action News. They also said it might have been down to the mouthpiece.

Vape pens use lithium-ion batteries, favoured in smartphones and other portable electronic devices because they can provide high amounts of electricity using little space.
They are used throughout the world with few incidents, but in 2016 Samsung halted sales of the Galaxy Note 7 phone because some were catching fire when the batteries short-circuited.

Why do lithium batteries explode? Are vape pens safe?
According to the US Fire Administration, between 2009-16 there were 195 separate incidents of explosions and fires involving an e-cigarette, resulting in 133 acute injuries, 38 of them severe.

In 2015, an e-cigarette exploded in the face of a 29-year-old Colorado man, breaking his neck and shattering his teeth.
A fire in January this year at Denver International Airport was blamed on a vape pen’s lithium-ion battery.

For safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US recommends:

-using vapes with safety features, like protection against overcharging
-keeping your vape covered and away from loose coins and batteries
-using only the approved charger that came with the vape pen to charge it
-replacing batteries if they get damaged or wet
-not charging your vape overnight.

Source: BBC News



When we teach our Certified Safety Manager course, we discuss the issue of taking what you learn in a class such as this and transferring it to the actual workplace.  This is not easy to accomplish. We leave the course brimming with new ideas, embracing the challenge to develop and implement required safety programs and create a dynamic safety culture. However, all-too-often, we tend not to take what we have learned in these courses and apply it to our work establishment.  We quickly go back to our routine – sometimes this includes reactive instead of proactive safety – and our goals for continuous improvement are never realized.

Developing SMART goals is critical to managing your safety program performance. Each year you should ask management as well as your employees (e.g., production, safety committee members) to set goals for the upcoming year/evaluation period. A SMART goal is defined as one that is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant (sometimes replaced with Realistic or Results-based)
  • Timebound

Following is a definition of each of the SMART goal criteria:

  • Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
    • Example: By December 31, 2018, ACME Co. will develop a fall protection plan which reduces falls in our workplace by ___% (whatever you consider achievable) as falls constitute the majority of our workplace hazards. Included in this plan will be work orders to fix slip/trip/fall hazards, purchasing new equipment and training on fall hazards at our facility. This answers the What, Why and How of this goal.
  • Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Usually, the entire goal statement is a measure for the project, but there are usually several short-term or smaller measurements built into the goal.
    • Example: By August 1, 2018, repair the 15 identified potholes in our walkways (or stairwells, or scaffolds, or ladders, or whatever other physical hazards you have identified at your facility).
    • Example: By October 1, 2018, standardize all fall protection equipment and drill anchor bolts into areas that we have determined need permanent tie-off points.
  • Achievable: Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough so that you can achieve them. You must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the goal. You can meet most any goal when you plan your steps wisely and establish a timeframe that allows you to carry out those steps. As you carry out the steps, you can achieve goals that may have seemed impossible when you started. On the other hand, if a goal is impossible to achieve, you may not even try to accomplish it. Achievable goals motivate employees. Impossible goals demotivate them.
    • Example: This is a follow-up from Example One. Setting a goal for reducing the rate of fall incidents by 100% is probably not realistic.  Set the goal to 50%, as an example, and if you hit or exceed the target, then you re-evaluate the following year and continue to reduce the injuries.  This is all part of the continuous improvement cycle (Plan/Do/Check/Act) that we have discussed in previous articles.
  • Relevant: Make sure a goal is practical in terms of how applicable it is to a workplace, scope of desired change, and timeframes – or management or employees may not try to achieve them.
    • Example: The relevance of attacking slip/trip/fall hazards in your facility if it is the #1 cause of injuries is obvious. Make certain that the goal is realistic as well. To determine if the goal is realistic, ask: Is the goal possible to achieve? What forces help or hinder accomplishment? Be specific with your questions:
      • Has management allocated a budget to buy new fall protection equipment?
      • Are there enough maintenance personnel to complete the various safety work orders as it pertains to falls in the workplace?
      • Are you on a production deadline that will interfere with retraining employees in a timely manner?

These are the types of questions that will need to be answered to decide whether your goal is relevant and realistic or not.

  • Time-bound: Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal. Without such tension, the goal is unlikely to produce a relevant outcome. Set long-term and short-term goals; review frequently and modify your plan if it is not producing the desired results.

The concept of writing SMART goals is very important for accomplishing individual goals, (safety team members) as well as plant-specific and ultimately, corporate-wide goals. It is also critical for ensuring good communication between you and the production team (Plant Manager, Quality, Maintenance) so there are no surprises during annual evaluations. In fact, these goals should be visited monthly to determine if you, as a team, are on track to meet or exceed the goal and to change the course accordingly. For more information on SMART goals, attend one of our CSM Courses found here.