Workplace Safety News Roundup

March 26, 2015 by


Manufacturers showing ‘good faith’ on GHS may avoid citations, OSHA says

Some manufacturers of chemical mixtures will not be cited for failing to immediately comply with new Safety Data Sheet and chemical labeling requirements if they exercise “good faith,” a Feb. 9 OSHA enforcement memorandum states. Manufacturers and importers face a June 1 deadline for using SDSs and labels that are compliant with OSHA’s updated Hazard Communication Standard. But because the classification of chemical mixtures depends on SDSs and labels from raw-material providers, some manufacturers or importers may not have the most up-to-date or accurate information.

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2015 Green Cross for Safety® medal is being presented to CB&I.

The 2015 Green Cross for Safety® medal is being presented to CB&I. Since 2000, the National Safety Council has awarded the Green Cross for Safety® medal to an organization and its CEO that “have distinguished themselves through outstanding safety leadership and have showcased their commitment to safety by building successful partnerships to save lives and prevent injuries. Safety+Health recently sat down with CB&I President and CEO Philip Asherman for a Q&A on the importance of safety in his company.

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OSHA Whistleblower Investigator Blows Whistle on Own Agency

The federal government established the Whistleblower Protection Program in the 1970s to shield employees from retaliation when they report wrongdoing or safety hazards in their industry. But insiders say the program is failing the very people it is supposed to protect, and jeopardizing public health and safety in the process.

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OSHA Violations:

Company fined more than $272,000 for willfully ignoring safety hazards following worker death

A 58-year-old maintenance worker was killed after he was pinned between a motorized scrap metal table and a railing at the company’s Bridgeton, Mo., facility. An OSHA investigation found that the company failed to prevent the table from starting unintentionally.

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OSHA cites kitchenware plant for hazards

After receiving complaints from plant employees, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Syracuse visited the plant in September. The investigation found that employees faced dangers from fire, laceration, amputation, crushing, electric shock, falling and hearing loss because of absent or deficient safeguards.

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OSHA cites W.Va. company, proposes $109,450 fine

A Martinsburg contractor faces a $109,450 fine for alleged workplace violations at a Morgantown construction site. OSHA said it found three alleged willful violations and one serious violation. The willful violations involved safety precautions for workers exposed to falls of 25 feet or more. OSHA inspectors said workers also were using a pneumatic nail gun while not wearing eye protection.

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The FAQ’s of Lock-out/Tag-out

March 24, 2015 by


Lock-out/Tag-out is one of the most detailed OSHA standards that there is. With a lot of moving parts it is easy to get confused, lost in what seems to be endless compliance jargon. Still remaining on of the top ten most cited OSHA violations here are 6 of the most frequently asked questions circling around Lock-out/Tag-out.

What do employees need to know about lockout/tagout programs?

Training must ensure that employees understand the purpose, function, and restrictions of the energy-control program. Employers must provide training specific to the needs of “authorized,” “affected,” and “other” employees.

“Authorized” employees are those responsible for implementing the energy-control procedures or performing the service or maintenance activities. They need the knowledge and skills necessary for the safe application, use, and removal of energy-isolating devices. They also need training in the following:

Hazardous energy source recognition; The type and magnitude of the hazardous energy sources in the workplace; and Energy-control procedures, including the methods and means to isolate and control those energy sources.

“Affected” employees (usually machine operators or users) are employees who operate the relevant machinery or whose jobs require them to be in the area where service or maintenance is performed. These employees do not service or maintain machinery or perform lockout/tagout activities. Affected employees must receive training in the purpose and use of energy-control procedures. They also need to be able to do the following: Recognize when the energy-control procedure is being used, understand the purpose of the procedure, and understand the importance of not tampering with lockout or tagout devices and not starting or using equipment that has been locked or tagged out.

All other employees whose work operations are or may be in an area where energy-control procedures are used must receive instruction regarding the energy-control procedure and the prohibition against removing a lockout or tagout device and attempting to restart, reenergize, or operate the machinery. In addition, if tagout devices are used, all employees must receive training regarding the limitations of tags.

As long as there is a lock on the machine does it matter where it came from?

Whether lockout or tagout devices are used, they must be the only devices the employer uses in conjunction with energy-isolating devices to control hazardous energy. The employer must provide these devices and they must be singularly identified and not used for other purposes. In addition, they must have the following characteristics:

Durable enough to withstand workplace conditions. Tagout devices must not deteriorate or become illegible even when used with corrosive components such as acid or alkali chemicals or in wet environments.

Standardized according to color, shape, or size. Tagout devices also must be standardized according to print and format. Tags must be legible and understandable by all employees. They must warn employees about the hazards if the machine is energized, and offer employees clear instruction such as: “Do Not Start,” “Do Not Open,” “Do Not Close,” “Do Not Energize,” or “Do Not Operate.”

Substantial enough to minimize the likelihood of premature or accidental removal. Employees should be able to remove locks only by using excessive force with special tools such as bolt cutters or other metal-cutting tools. Tag attachments must be non-reusable, self-locking, and non-releasable, with a minimum unlocking strength of 50 pounds. Tags must be attachable by hand, and the device for attaching the tag should be a one-piece nylon cable tie or its equivalent so it can withstand all environments and conditions.

Labeled to identify the specific employees authorized to apply and remove them.

When can I use a tag-out solution instead of a lock-out solution?

If it is possible to lock out an energy-isolating device, employers must use lockout devices unless they develop, document, and use a tagout procedure that provides employees with a level of protection equal to that provided by a lockout device. When using a tagout system, the employer must comply with all tagout-related provisions of the standard and train employees in the limitations of tags, in addition to providing normal hazardous energy control training for all employees.

As long as my company has a lock-out/tag-out program in place we should be fine right?

Periodic inspection: The employer shall conduct periodic inspections of the energy control procedure at least annually, by authorized employees other than the ones utilizing the procedure being inspected, to ensure that the procedure and the requirements of this standard are being followed. The periodic inspection shall be designed to correct any deviation or inadequacies observed.

How often do I need to review my lockout/tagout procedures?

Employees are required to review their procedures at least once a year to ensure that they provide adequate worker protection. As part of the review, employers must correct any deviations and inadequacies identified in the energy-control procedure or its application.

What if I use outside contractors for service or maintenance procedures?

If an outside contractor services or maintains machinery, the onsite employer and the contractor must inform each other of their respective lockout or tagout procedures. The onsite employer also must ensure that employees understand and comply with all requirements of the contractor’s energy-control program(s).

Protect Your Workers Against Toxic Hazards around Your Workplace

March 19, 2015 by


Most think if they aren’t putting the substances that they are interacting with in their mouth than poison hazards don’t apply to them. While ingesting hazardous material is an obvious way to become compromised, there are many more discreet and undetectable ways poisonous materials can affect a workers’ health.

Within a facility it is difficult to keep track of all the work that is being done. Just because you aren’t directly in contact with a substance does not mean that it isn’t affecting your health. Some of the common substances to look out for include lead, other heavy metals, acids, pesticides, carbon monoxide, and disinfectants.

Whether it be by direct contact or inhalation, these substances can have debilitating effects. Some of the symptoms to look out for if you think you might be susceptible to poisoning include, prolonged tiredness, weakness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, aches or pains, rashes, nausea, cramping or involuntary twitching or convulsions. These symptoms are not something to be taken lightly and should be addressed by a medical professional as soon as possible. If left untreated they could result in lifelong disease, coma, or even death.

Some steps your workplace could take to reduce the risk and exposure of employees include:

  • Where possible, perform the task without using hazardous substances.
  • Where possible, substitute hazardous substances with less toxic alternatives.
  • Hazardous substances should be isolated from workers in separate storage areas.
  • Storage areas should be separately ventilated from the rest of the workplace.
  • Workers should be thoroughly trained in handling and safety procedures.
  • Personal protection equipment such as respirators, gloves and goggles should be worn.
  • The workplace should be regularly monitored with appropriate equipment to track the degree of hazardous substance in the air or environment.
  • Workers should be consulted regularly to maintain and improve existing safety and handling practices.

Not all toxic hazards are in plain sight or easily protected against. Some are often odorless and colorless. If you believe that the health of workers within your facility is at risk, speak with a supervisor immediately. If you feel like are not taking your concerns seriously, contact OSHA.

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Seeing Workplace Eye Safety through OSHA Lenses

March 17, 2015 by


OSHA’s eye and face protection requirements are relatively broad. OSHA designed the following questions and answers to clear up some of the gray areas:

When is eye and face protection required? OSHA’s eye and face protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.133, requires the use of eye and face protection when workers are exposed to eye or face hazards. These hazards include flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Employers must provide eye protection for employees who are exposed to potential eye injuries during their work if safe work practices or engineering controls do not eliminate the risk of injury.

Can any eye and face protection be used? No. Eye and face protection must be selected on the basis of hazards to which the worker is exposed (i.e., impact, penetration, heat).

What about Regular Eyeglasses? Eyeglasses designed for ordinary wear do not provide the level of protection necessary to guard against workplace hazards. Additionally, special care must be taken when choosing eye protectors for those who wear glasses with corrective lenses such as: 1) Prescription glasses with side shields and protective lenses that also correct the employee’s vision; 2) Goggles that can fit over corrective eyeglasses without disturbing the alignment of the eyeglasses; or 3) Goggles that incorporate corrective lenses mounted behind protective lenses.

Who certifies personal protective equipment (PPE)? The American National Standards Institute.

Is training required before eye and face protection is used? Yes. Training must be provided to employees who are required to use eye and face protection. The training must be comprehensive, understandable and recur at least annually. It should include:

  • Why the eye and face protection is necessary and how improper fit, use or maintenance can compromise its protective effect
  • Limitations and capabilities of the eye and face protection
  • Effective use in emergency situations
  • How to inspect, put on and remove the equipment
  • Recognition of medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent effective use
  • Maintenance and storage
  • General requirements of OSHA’s eye and face protection standard

Why is a formal eye and face protection program needed? A program increases the chances of using equipment correctly. Also, OSHA requires a number of written elements for all PPE protection programs.

What do employees need to know about the eye and face protection program? You must establish and implement a written eye and face protection program with work site-specific procedures. The provisions of the program include procedures for selection, medical evaluation, fit testing, training, use and care of eye and face protection.

What if an employee has a very small face and has trouble being fit tested? PPE may differ in size and fit depending on the manufacturer. Users may need to try a few different models to get the best fit. You must help employees find suitable protection.

What kind of maintenance and care is required for eye and face protection? It should be inspected, leaned and maintained at regular intervals so it provides the requisite protection. Also, make sure that contaminated equipment that can’t be decontaminated is disposed of in a safe and correct manner.

If employees work in shifts, is it OK for them to share protective eyewear? Yes, but you must disinfect it after each use.

What is the proper way to store protective devices that are used routinely? Goggles should be kept in a case when not in use. Safety glasses should be given the same care as one’s own glasses, since they can be damaged by rough usage.

Flood Warning: The Importance of Knowing What to Look Out For

March 13, 2015 by


Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. The spring thaw time of year is when flooding becomes a major danger for many parts of the country. Knowing the meaning of the information that is being given to you is the first step to being properly prepared. Are you aware of the difference between a warning or an advisory? What about the difference between a Flash Flood and a standard flood. Although these things may seem like common sense, without having a grasp on these simple definitions it is easy to find yourself caught in a storm.

Here is a rundown of flood types and their meaning:

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action: A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
  • Flood Warning: Take Action: A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware: A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.


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