Summer is finally starting to rev up, and with the holiday weekend approaching it is important to keep in mind how to celebrate safely. From fun in the sun, grilling and chilling, and ending the night with a big bang, test your knowledge on how to make your festivities as safe and exciting as possible without the added hassle of an accident.
Keeping track of new OSHA regulations and taking advantage of supplemental safety training and reading materials makes a big difference in the success of the programs you implement in your workplace. Seeing what others are doing both for the better and worse help mold an all encompassing safety initiative. Here is a sampling of some of the news buzzing around workplace safety this month.
Machine Safety Survey Results from the NSC
The Business and Industry Division of the National Safety Council recently conducted a survey of safety professionals regarding issues of machine safety, safety interlocks and used equipment safety. The results indicate that safety compliance still relies heavily on experience and workplace tradition.
OSHA: Proper Protection Could Have Saved DuPont Workers Killed by Gas
Four workers killed by a lethal gas in November 2014 would be alive today had their employer, DuPont, taken steps to protect them, say OSHA investigators. OSHA cited DuPont for 11 safety violations and identified scores of safety upgrades the company must undertake to prevent future accidents at its Lannate/API manufacturing building in La Porte, Tex. The company employs 313 workers who manufacture crop protection materials and chemicals there.
Company held in contempt after barring OSHA inspectors
A foundry, its owner and three members of its safety consultant company have been found in criminal contempt by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips after disobeying a court order to allow federal inspectors to investigate a report of an employee at the foundry with an elevated blood lead.
Safety Culture – It’s About the People
Many companies tend to ignore a weak safety culture for years for a variety of reasons, and then decide some action needs to be taken as a result of an unplanned or unexpected event. Often, some attempt is made to improve the culture by arbitrarily directing funds and resources into training, staff and equipment. By doing this, companies expect a reduction in the frequency and severity of incidents and an overall increase in commitment from their employees. Long-term, this typically leads to disappointment and falling short of the goal.
Contractor: My competitors have waged an OSHA war
A roofing contractor says competing companies have started an “OSHA war” by reporting violations of their competitors. He says he now has no choice but to “stoop to their level.” How do you fight an OSHA war? Here’s one potential solution: Don’t have any OSHA violations. Up to one in four OSHA inspections are categorized as “no violations.” So even if your competitors are out to get you by calling OSHA, it doesn’t mean you have to get fined.
Interim policy allows limited use of pre-2012 compliant hazcom labels
An OSHA interim policy issued May 29 allows limited continued use of hazard communication labels that are not yet in compliance with the revised Hazard Communication Standard released in 2012. The compliance date for use of updated labels was June 1. However, some manufacturers, importers and distributors say they are still waiting to receive classification and Safety Data Sheet information from upstream suppliers.
Sewage worker, hazmat diver, port-o-potty inspector. While these jobs top the list of the dirtiest occupations in America, could you image what they would be like without all of the necessary protective gear and safety procedures (shudder); direct contact with some pretty suspect substances to say the very least.
Not only in these positions but across the board, the presence of safety helps everyone do their job better and enjoy doing it… well at least more than if the rules weren’t there to protect them! Safety rules and regulations give workers a voice even when they don’t speak up for themselves. They put their well being at the forefront and provide consequences to owners who choose not to comply.
When workers feel that their safety is being considered important, they are more likely to perform and make the well being and prosperity of their facility important to them.
Here’s a couple of tips for engaging your workers and making a safe workplace:
- Develop an open line of communication that breeds a positive health and safety culture in the workplace
- Form a safety committee that meets monthly to discuss safety matters, propose changes, and follow up on issue
- Prioritize safety updates fairly, perform hazard analysis and risk assessment if need be, but do not neglect quick fixes that will have a big impact
- Stay up to date on trending compliance issues, regulatory news and changing standards
- Create clear work procedures and job descriptions for every member of your team and check in regularly to let them know how they are doing
A safety mind set doesn’t change overnight but that is no reason to let a bad culture continue when there are ways to start turning the tide. What role does safety currently play in your facility?
Beer, bacon, and… more beer, it’s time to get our priorities in order, quick fast and in a hurry, summer shutdown is right around the corner! With some companies cutting the usual minimum of two weeks down to one this year for facility maintenance, to keep up with demands, getting plans straight ahead of time is critical. So while we try to cram in 2 weeks’ worth of day dream about bacon into 1, what will companies that are “shutting down”, be doing? Not as exciting as our plans, but perhaps just as important (we’ll let you be the judge), this is the time companies take to make the necessary updates to their facility management to keep productivity on track going into the back end of the year.
Some of the questions companies find themselves asking as they walk and assess their facilities should be:
- Are facility maintenance tools and machines in working order? Are they in need of replacement due to outdated processes? Have they been inspected for wear and leaks? Do they have the necessary guards in place and/or are safety features operational?
- Are there concerns that employees have brought to management’s attention that can be improved upon during this time?
- Are there new facility maintenance safety protocols that need to be implemented?
- Has there been deterioration to the facilities walking and working surfaces that can be fixed to reduce slip, trip, and fall hazards or ergonomic pain points?
- Will there be a need for the hiring of new or temp workers for the rest of the year, if so what will the plans be for adequately training them? Do they need to be updated in workplace housekeeping based on changes being made for the second half of the year?
In any workplace there is the constant need to update and adapt to the necessary changes in order to keep at the forefront of your industry and to keep your workers safe and productive. Your facility workplace can either choose to be predictive and proactive at making these changes or reactive but it may just be the difference between meeting and far exceeding goals.
What does your facility do during summer shutdown?
Someone stealing your lunch at the office or maybe a pesky neighbor keeps coming over unannounced? What do these have to do with lockout? Well besides that fact that it sounds like you’re off to a pretty rough start to the day if the first 2 apply, but they can be solved with proper “lockout” procedures. Safety locks and tags do that on a larger scale, with much more costly problems when not used. Leaving your workers unprotected against accidental start ups lead to serious consequences. Just because someone is not in sight working on a machine, does not mean that it is okay to re-energize a machine that has been brought to complete zero.
The question is how is someone supposed to know whether work is being performed without some sort of indicator? Making sure that the proper procedures are in place to protect workers, carrying out their maintenance responsibilities, falls in the lap of business management. When the ball is dropped OSHA takes notice and steps in. Just recently a Newark gas company was fined over 50K for repeat and serious violations regarding lock-out tag-out. If given the option, most companies would probably choose not to have 50k worth of avoidable fines eating into their profits.
Although at first glance creating lock-out tag-out procedures feels like a daunting task, most companies should at least have the shell of some, especially if the work of their facility would require a program. However, if time has gotten the best of you as it does with everyone sometimes, blow the dust off of what you have and get down to business. Lock out tag out OSHA procedures make it very easy to comply with helpful resource to walk a facility through what the need to have. They provide an example of what typical, minimal procedures should look like. In Addition, they have an interactive lock-out tag-out training program, case studies, and frequently asked questions.
When you begin to look at your procedures keep these questions in mind:
- How many workers need to be briefed on lock-out tag-out procedures?
- Where is the pain-point or downfalls in your current system? This is a great way to get workers involved and hear their feedback.
- Is your equipment able to be completely de-energized and locked out? If now how will you ensure that your tag-out procedures are just as effective as locks?
- How does the communication process flow to ensure all of the necessary parties are notified when a machine is locked out?
- Do you have proper lockout tagout devices and signage posted in plain sight to act as a first line of notification to all entering into a hazardous area?
- What are employees required to do before, during, and after a machine is locked out, as the person carrying out the maintenance, and as the workers working around the locked out machine?
Do you think there are holes in your lockout tagout program that should be addressed? Make it a point to start improving your procedures and the safety of your employees this National Safety Month. Start Using LoTo safety locks and tags today!