Workplace Safety News Roundup

November 21, 2014 by

Six Challenges Facing Modern Manufacturing Companies

Manufacturing is an ever-changing industry, where manufacturers face new issues and concerns every year. Since this year is no exception, here are a few of the top concerns that manufacturers are grappling with.

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Luxury automaker hit with $3.5m fine for failing to report manufacturing safety standards

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fined a luxury automaker $3.5 million as part of a civil penalty for failing to submit the required safety information for its vehicles. The NHTSA has also issued the luxury automaker with an order to comply with its oversight requirements.

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Machine operator fatally crushed at an Ohio business
US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites company for 7 serious safety violations

A 45-year-old machine operator was fatally crushed while he adjusted a set screw on a rolling mill at an Ohio business. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found workers were exposed to dangerous rotating machinery parts at the facility that rolls steel for railroad industry use. Seven serious violations have been issued as a result of the investigation. OSHA’s inspection found that the lead rolling mill operator, who had been employed for 16 years, came in contact with a spinning shaft. He suffered fatal blunt force trauma and injuries related to crushing as a result.

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Effects of Contact With Electricity

November 20, 2014 by


Electricity travels in closed circuits, normally through a conductor. But sometimes a person’s body — an efficient conductor of electricity — mistakenly becomes part of the electric circuit. This can cause an electrical shock. Burns are the most common shock-related injury. An electrical accident can result in an electrical burn, arc burn, thermal contact burn or a combination of burns.

Electrical burns are among the most serious injuries and require immediate medical attention. They occur when electric current flows through tissues or bone, generating heat that causes tissue damage. It is important to keep in mind when treating a person for electrical burns to first make sure that they are no longer in contact with the electrical source that caused them harm because touching them may then pass the current through to you. Turn off the source of electricity and then  after securing your own safety, check for signs of circulation, pulse, coughing, breathing, or movement, if none can be found begin to perform CPR.  If the person is breathing, cover any burned areas with a sterile gauze bandage, if available, or a clean cloth. Don’t use a blanket or towel, because loose fibers can stick to the burns.

Arc or flash burns result from high temperatures caused by an electric arc or explosion near the body. These burns should be promptly treated. Once an arc flash injury has occurred de-energize the electricity source. If the victim is on fire smother or douse the flames to extinguish them.  Tell the victim not to move as this could make injuries worse. If person is unconscious perform CPR. Run cool, not cold water over the burns. Do not apply creams, ointments or ice. After the burn has been cooled, cover it with a clean dry cloth. Keep the victim warm. Do not give the victim any food or water and ALWAYS have them see a doctor even if they seem fine, they may have suffered from internal injuries that wont be apparent until later.

Thermal contact burns are caused when the skin touches hot surfaces of overheated electric conductors, conduits or other energized equipment. Thermal burns can also be caused when clothing catches on fire, as can occur when an electric arc is produced. The treatment for this type of burn will depend on the severity of it. In most cases it is important to cool the burn area by running it under cool not cold water, then protect the burn by covering it loosely with sterile non-adhesive bandage. For those who have suffered more severe burns monitor them for shock by covering them with a coat or blanket and elevating the burn area above the heart until emergency responders arrive.

In addition to shock and burn hazards, electricity poses other dangers. For example, arcs that result from short circuits can cause injury or start a fire. Extremely high-energy arcs can damage equipment, causing fragmented metal to fly in all directions. Even low-energy arcs can cause violent explosions in atmospheres that contain flammable gases, vapors or combustible dusts.

As always it is important to note to only help in treating a victim if you have been properly trained. Always call 911 when an accident occurs and follow their directions.

The ‘Freezing’ Effect

When a person receives an electrical shock, sometimes the electrical stimulation causes the muscles to contract. This “freezing” effect makes the person unable to pull free of the circuit. This is extremely dangerous because it increases the length of exposure to electricity and the current can cause blisters, which reduces the body’s resistance and increases the current. The longer the exposure, the greater the risk of serious injury. Longer exposures at even relatively low voltages can be just as dangerous as short exposures at higher voltages. Low voltage does not imply low hazard. In addition to muscle contractions that cause freezing, electrical shocks can also cause involuntary muscle reactions. These reactions can result in a wide range of injuries such as collisions, falls, bruises, bone fractures and even death.

5 Ways to Better Protect Workers

November 18, 2014 by


Your employees are the most valuable asset in your company and you should be doing everything you can to keep them protected.

It CAN happen anywhere

  • Ignorance isn’t bliss and is the worst strategy for safety. If you aren’t prepared for and making an active effort to protect your employees against hazards within your workplace you are inviting injury and illness into your facility, and showing your employees how little their safety matters to you.
  • Be aware of physical surroundings within your facility and the obstacles and hazards that are present.
  • Know your points of improvement. No workplace is perfect, knowing and verbalizing areas in need of special attention will make everyone aware and help all of your workers focus on improving them.

Make sure ALL employees know their feedback is important

  • Schedule safety meetings to jumpstart an open dialog between workers and management. Creating an open forum where workers feel comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas of how production could be smoother shows that your employees are interested in making their workplace better and your management is interested in hearing their point of view
  • Create an anonymous comment box. If you do not feel like your workers are at a point where they feel comfortable proposing change or voicing concern, create an alternative where employees can freely express their opinions anonymously until this changes.

Create a Safety Committee

  • Find leaders within your team. A safety committee can help share the responsibilities of implementing and monitoring safety throughout your workplace. Forming this committee will help in making health and safety initiatives an integral part of the organization and help get everyone involved.

Speak with Actions not just words

  • How long is it taking you to make changes when problems are being brought to your attention? The lack of acknowledgement and response may be sending the wrong message to your employees and may prevent them from coming forward in the future. Let your employees know when you have received their message and follow up with them on timelines and suggested outcomes to show that you are taking the necessary actions to investigate their concerns and find a viable solution that makes everyone happy.

Acknowledge the achievements within your workplace big and small

  • Creating a positive workplace environment in turn makes workers want to do better, focus more on their job, and not cut corners. Even if an individual is not meeting their personal goal, a good productive day on the job should not go unnoticed. A simple “job well done” could turn productivity and workplace morale around.


Workplace safety isn’t all about following OSHA regulations and supplying your workers with the correct PPE. Protecting your employees takes an active safety manager that is in tune with his workforce, constantly listening and looking for ways to improve his work environment and satisfy his workers needs. What more could you be doing around your facility?

Winter Workplace Safety Tips

November 13, 2014 by


Hazards caused by the change in season are no less dangerous than those present all year round. Winter can cause especially large headaches throughout your business if you are not prepared for it. Inclement weather brings with it a variety of hazards to be mindful of, impacting everyday tasks and productivity at a moment’s notice.


Ice and cold temperatures are the most obvious hazards that affect everyone. Whether you are on a loading dock, working inside or on the road, ice is deadly. A slip and fall may not seem like much but it could bring with it lasting pain and costly bills. A patch of black ice may mean trouble for those on the road, a slippery loading dock that hasn’t been cleared is just asking for trouble. All of these hazards are visible and can be prevented with simple solutions. Make sure that your parking lots, sidewalks, and loading docks are properly sanded and salted before, during and after snowstorms. For commuters and off site workers, be sure to pay close attention to your local news station and delay travel until roads have been cleared for safe travel.

Cold Stress/bulky clothing

Just like heat stress fatigue and exhaustion, cold stress also endangers outdoor employees that are exposed to the elements for extended periods of time and aren’t taking precautions. Once temperatures drop and wind speeds increase the threat of cold stress in present. Add to it any sort of wetness (even body sweat) and your internal body temperature will begin to drop. If the body isn’t able to warm itself back up in time serious injuries could occur. Where working outside is unavoidable schedule short breaks in warm dry areas, and try to get work completed during the warmest part of the day. When performing more tedious jobs in the cold take account of how bulky clothing will affect one’s ability to perform their job. Be cautious of added caught-in hazards and pain points that may arise because of a new lessened or awkward range of motion.


You’re doing everything right when it comes to ridding your facility of snow and ice, but now all of the sand and salt is all over your facility. Workers are tracking it inside on shoes, forklifts, and new shipments. Unfortunately it isn’t preventable; however, to cut down on the excess amount of dirt throughout your facility consider placing scraper mats in high traffic areas, this paired with frequent sweeping of the areas should drastically cut down on dirt around the facility.


Electricity and standing water do not mix. Be sure to perform regular walkthroughs of your facility to make sure that all equipment is properly connected to its power source and there are no downed wires.   During the dry weather months it is also important to be mindful of static which could become an issue if your workers interact with elements or equipment that is not properly grounded. If it is not possible to regulate the temperature and or humidity level within your facility, provide your employees with a protocol to follow in order to maintain safety.

When preparing your facility for the months ahead be sure to not only account for the obvious and unavoidable such as snow and ice but also the parallel issues that may arise as a result of electrical hazards and ergonomics of the job.


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Top Safety Concerns in Manufacturing “On the Floor”

November 6, 2014 by


The manufacturing industry has many hazards both obvious and unique to each facility. Managing an operation with a broad range of responsibilities is daunting if you aren’t well versed in what you should be paying close attention to. While each environment is different there are areas of the job that have safety managers worried across the board.

Restricted Access:

With so many people circling in and out of a large facility on a daily basis it is hard to keep track of who is in the building, what they are doing there, and if they are following the correct protocol required throughout different areas of the building. Restricting access to those who do not need to be in all areas of your facility will go a long way instantaneously in curbing workplace injury. Those who are not aware of the hazards they are walking into are more often than not ill prepare in protecting themselves or unaware in how to properly do so. If employees require training before they start their job, restrict access to all of those who do not have proper training as much as possible.

Mechanical Hazards:

Machines that have many moving parts such as gears, pulleys, sprockets, rotating shafts etc. pose an immediate threat to employees. Any machines that have sharp edges put workers in harm’s way when it comes to cuts, punctures or severe decapitation. The potential for trip and fall accidents is also present around cables and hoses. To reduce the risks always have proper machine guarding in place in addition to proper signage to alert workers of the hazard and proper procedures to be adhered to.

Chemical Exposures:

Depending on the chemical and the amount of exposure, breathing in toxic fumes can lead to many long lasting illnesses and diseases including respiratory problems, reproductive problems, physical disabilities, seizures, cancer, coma or even death. While chemical exposure limits are getting a lot of attention from OSHA and changes are being debated to the current regulations, make it a priority to make sure that you are properly protecting your employees from both known and potentially toxic fumes. In some cases just because it is compliant doesn’t mean it is enough.


61 percent of eye injuries occur in the manufacturing, trade and construction industries. Machines can throw dust, metal, concrete and other particles that injure the eyes. Machines can also produce loud noise well over the allowable threshold of 80 decibels per 8 hours of work. Having the correct PPE program in place is only half of the battle. Making sure that your workers have protective gear that properly fits them, that is in useable condition and is being worn when it should be are all common areas where lapses can occur. Make sure that top managers are setting a proper example throughout the facility so that application becomes second nature.


Ergonomics is becoming a more talked about issue as of late. While effects might not be instant, over a prolonged period of time your workers will start to feel the lasting effects. If they are performing repetitive movements or those unusual to the regular body motion, the slightest workplace improvement or engineering fix could make the world of difference. These small changes can have significant impacts on the reduction of workplace injuries, increased workplace morale and even higher workplace productivity.

Training/Closing the Skills Gap

Manufacturing is highly technical and requires understanding and proficiency in a wide variety of competencies. The current demand for highly skilled workers comes at a time when the industry is facing the retirement of a large percentage of its workforce and an incoming generation of workers who lack the skills and technical knowledge needed for U.S. manufacturing.  Make sure that your workers both new and old are all properly trained in the intricacies necessary to perform their tasks..

Some of these areas may be a quicker fix while others may require more time and outside resources. While a perfect safety culture doesn’t happen overnight you can start taking the necessary step for improvement today. One little change could make all the difference in your workplace.

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