Monday, January 31, 2011

PPE Types and Uses

Protection from Head Injuries
Hard hats can protect your workers from head impact, penetration injuries, and electrical injuries such as those caused by falling or flying objects, fixed objects, or contact with electrical conductors. Also, OSHA regulations require employers to ensure that workers cover and protect long hair to prevent it from getting caught in machine parts such as belts and chains.

Protection from Foot and Leg Injuries
In addition to foot guards and safety shoes, leggings (e.g., leather, aluminized rayon, or other appropriate material) can help prevent injuries by protecting workers from hazards such as falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, wet and slippery surfaces, molten metals, hot surfaces, and electrical hazards.

Protection from Eye and Face Injuries
Besides safety glasses and goggles, personal protective equipment such as special helmets or shields, spectacles with side shields, and face shields can protect workers from the hazards of flying fragments, large chips, hot sparks, optical radiation, splashes from molten metals, as well as objects, particles, sand, dirt, mists, dusts, and glare.

Protection from Hearing Loss
Wearing earplugs or earmuffs can help prevent damage to hearing. Exposure to high noise levels can cause irreversible hearing loss or impairment as well as physical and psychological stress. Earplugs made from foam, waxed cotton, or fiberglass wool are self-forming and usually fit well. A professional should fit your workers individually for molded or preformed earplugs. Clean earplugs regularly, and replace those you cannot clean.

Protection from Hand Injuries
Workers exposed to harmful substances through skin absorption, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, chemical burns, thermal burns, and harmful temperature extremes will benefit from hand protection.

Protection from Body Injury
In some cases workers must shield most or all of their bodies against hazards in the workplace, such as exposure to heat and radiation as well as hot metals, scalding liquids, body fluids, hazardous materials or waste, and other hazards. In addition to fire-retardant wool and fire retardant cotton, materials used in whole-body personal protective equipment include rubber, leather, synthetics, and plastic.

When to Wear Respiratory Protection
When engineering controls are not feasible, workers must use appropriate respirators to protect against adverse health effects caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors. Respirators generally cover the nose and mouth or the entire face or head and help prevent illness and injury. A proper fit is essential, however, for respirators to be effective. Required respirators must be NIOSH-approved and medical evaluation and respirator training must be provided before use.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA. OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up. Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace.

  1. 1926.451 – Scaffolding - Employee Scaffolding Safety Training

  2. 1926.501 – Fall Protection - Employee Fall Protection Safety Training

  3. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication - Hazard Communication Safety Training

  4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection - Respiratory Protection Safety Training

  5. 1926.1053 – Ladders - Ladder Safety Training

  6. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout - Lockout/Tagout Safety Training

  7. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods - Electrical Safety Training

  8. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks - Forklift Safety Training

  9. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements - Electrical Safety Training

  10. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding - Machine Guarding Safety Training

Friday, January 14, 2011

Driving Safety

Distracted driving has become an epidemic in the United States, and its often fatal consequences are a threat to your workers, your business and the public.

Because millions of workers’ jobs require them to spend part or all of their work day driving ― visiting clients and customers, making site visits, or delivering goods and services ― the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Transportation (DOT) are joining forces in a campaign to stop distracted driving and save lives.

Year after year, the leading cause of worker fatalities is motor vehicle crashes. There’s no question that new communications technologies are helping business work smarter and faster. But getting work done faster does not justify the dramatically increased risk of injury and death that comes with texting while driving.

The human toll is tragic. DOT reports that in 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes linked to distraction and thousands more were injured. “Texting while driving” has become such a prominent hazard that 30 states now ban text messaging for all drivers.

OSHA is partnering with others across government, industry and the public to bring together important information and tools to attack texting while driving and other distracted driver hazards. We invite you to learn more about combating this problem at www.osha.gov and at DOT’s distracted driving website, www.distraction.gov.

Most employers want to do the right thing and protect their workers, and some have already taken action to prohibit texting while driving. It is your responsibility and legal obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace, and that would include having a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving. Companies are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.

To combat the threat of distracted driving, we are prepared to act quickly. When OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving or who organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, we will investigate and where necessary issue citations and penalties to end this practice.

National Safety Compliance has developed a workplace Driving Safety program to train employees. For more information about this program, please visit this link:
Driving Safety Training for the Workplace

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

English / Spanish Speaking Employees

Re: English language proficiency at construction sites.

Question: Is there an OSHA requirement that obligates employers to ensure that their employees can communicate with supervisors and co-workers in English at construction sites so that they can understand safety training and instructions and coordinate safely with co-workers?

Answer: while there are construction standards that require training and instructions, there are no OSHA construction standards that specifically require that such information be conveyed and understood in English. For example, OSHA 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) states:
The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.

Certain OSHA construction standards supplement the requirement of 1926.21(b)(2) by requiring that employees receive training in specific topics. One example is 29 CFR 1926.503(a)(1), which provides:

The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.

The employer's duty under the construction standards to train and instruct employees in how to comply with OSHA standards and to avoid hazards in the work environment necessarily means that employers must present information in a manner that employees are able to understand. As OSHA stated in the OSHA Training Standards Policy Statement, dated 04/28/2010:1

Regardless of the precise regulatory language, the terms "train" and "instruct," as well as other synonyms, mean to present information in a manner that employees receiving it are capable of understanding.2

In addition, it is common that, for safety reasons, construction employees need to be able to communicate with supervisors and co-workers. However, an OSHA obligation in that regard would be met by any system in which that communication could reliably occur; there is no OSHA requirement that the communication system be based on the English language.

For workplace safety training materials in English or in Spanish, please visit this site established by National Safety Compliance: OSHA Safety Training

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

OSHA Ladder Safety

Question (1): Do OSHA construction regulations prohibit an employee from working from a portable stepladder?

Answer (1): Title 29 CFR 1926.1053(b), Use, provides:
* * *
(3) Ladders shall not be loaded beyond the maximum intended load for which they were built, nor beyond their manufacturer's rated capacity.
(4) Ladders shall be used only for the purpose for which they were designed.
* * *
(13) The top or top step of a stepladder shall not be used as a step.
* * *
There are no OSHA construction standards that specifically prohibit an employee from working from a portable stepladder. However, the use of a portable ladder must comply with the Use requirements quoted above. If working from a portable stepladder was inconsistent with any of these provisions, such use would be prohibited. Because of the wide variety of circumstances and ladder designs, it is not possible for us to state, as a general matter, whether working from a portable ladder would be consistent or inconsistent with any of these provisions.

Question (2): Is fall protection required while working from a portable stepladder?

Answer (2): In 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M (Fall protection), Section 1926.500(a)(2)(vii) provides:
Requirements relating to fall protection for employees working on stairways and ladders are provided in Subpart X . . .
* * *
There is no provision in Subpart X that requires fall protection for an employee while working from a portable stepladder. However, if the employee will be on a surface prior to ascending or upon exiting the ladder for which another Subpart in 1926 requires fall protection, then fall protection would be required at such times. General requirements for fall protection can be found at Subpart M of 29 CFR Part 1926, while requirements specific to a particular activity or equipment can be found at its applicable Subpart in 29 CFR Part 1926.

National Safety Compliance has developed construction safety training programs for both Ladder Safety and Fall Protection. For more information about these training programs, please visit this link: Construction Safety Training to meet OSHA Regulations

Monday, January 10, 2011

OSHA Reports on State Approved Plans

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced that it has concluded a special evaluation of state-run occupational safety and health programs under its jurisdiction. Enhanced Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation reports provide detailed findings and recommendations on the operations of state-run OSHA programs in 25 states and territories. The enhanced review was initiated after a 2009 special OSHA report on Nevada's program, prompted by numerous construction-related fatalities in Las Vegas, identified serious operational deficiencies in that state.

"Our goal is to identify problems in state-run programs before they result in serious injuries or fatalities," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "While we found many positives in the state programs, we also found deficiencies including concerns about identification of hazards, proper classification of violations, proposed penalty levels, and failure to follow up on violations to ensure that workplace safety and health problems are corrected."

The EFAME report and appendices for each of the 25 states, as well as each state's comment and fiscal year 2009 self-evaluation report, are now available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/efame/index.html.

States will have 30 days to provide a formal response, including a detailed corrective action plan for addressing findings and recommendations. Each state's formal response will be public information and available online as soon as it is received.

The EFAME review also identified areas where states have adopted standards and procedures exceeding federal OSHA's requirements, such as injury and illness prevention programs in California, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and other states; the adoption of a cranes and derricks rule prior to OSHA's in North Carolina, Washington and Maryland; and Oregon's requirement that employers abate serious workplace violations during the contest period, a legal tool under consideration in Congress but still lacking in federal OSHA.

The review of the Hawaii program highlights significant performance problems resulting from staffing and funding cutbacks. OSHA is addressing these problems directly with the governor's office and has offered to provide supplemental federal enforcement assistance until the state can address its problems. If Hawaii is unable to present a reasonable strategy for expeditiously improving its worker safety and health oversight, consideration will be given to the state's current authority to operate its own program independently and could result in a federal takeover.

"We recognize that some of the problems we identified could stem from significant budget constraints in many of the states and may also be the result of less intensive federal oversight in recent years," Michaels added. "OSHA, through its regional offices, intends to provide assistance in the implementation of corrective actions and will work closely with state officials to review progress. We are confident that by working together to address identified problems, we can improve state operations and provide more consistent protection to all of America's workers."

The 25 states and territories evaluated are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. No reports are being issued on the Nevada and Illinois state plans; a special study was issued on the Nevada state plan in October 2009, and the Illinois state plan was not approved until September 2009. The status of each state's efforts to improve its plans will be reflected in the fiscal year 2010 Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation report expected in 2011. For more information about those states operating their own plans, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html.

When Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, it created an opportunity for federal-state partnerships to promote safety and health. Section 18 of the law allows states to develop and enforce occupational safety and health standards in the context of an OSHA-approved state plan. Twenty-seven states and territories have sought and obtained approval. Twenty-one states and Puerto Rico have complete programs covering both the private sector and state and local governments. Four states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have programs limited in coverage to public sector employees. Currently, state plans deliver the OSHA program to 40 percent of the nation's workplaces, with federal OSHA responsible for the other 60 percent.

State plan standards and enforcement must be at least as effective as federal OSHA in providing safe and healthful employment to workers. In addition, state plans operate under authority of state law, not delegated federal authority. Thus, in order to operate its own plan, a state must enact an equivalent of the federal OSH Act and must use administrative and regulatory procedures to adopt its own standards, regulations and operating procedures, all of which must be updated within six months of any change in the federal program.

Friday, January 7, 2011

OSHA Targets Federal Employers

WASHINGTON — OSHA recently updated its Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program (FEDTARG) directive for fiscal year 2011. FEDTARG directs programmed inspections of federal agency establishments that experienced high numbers of lost time injuries during FY 2010.

The directive outlines the procedures for carrying out programmed inspections at some of the most hazardous federal workplaces. OSHA will inspect all establishments reporting 100 or more lost time cases (LTCs) during FY 2010; 50 percent of those establishments reporting 50 to 99 LTCs; and 10 percent of those reporting 20 to 49 LTCs.

Changes to this directive include defining lost time case to mean a worker who loses time from work beyond the date of the injury. Other changes include updates to OSHA's recordkeeping violation policy, and guidance for the inspection of a federal worksite with multiple operations.

FEDTARG11 continues OSHA's nationwide inspection targeting program for federal worksites. This program began in 2008 in response to a Government Accountability Office audit report that recommended the agency develop a targeted inspection program for federal worksites. Executive Order 12196, Occupational Safety and Health Programs for Federal Employees, Paragraph 1-401(i) requires Federal OSHA to “conduct unannounced inspections of agency workplaces when the Secretary determines necessary if an agency does not have occupational safety and health committees; or in response to reports of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.”

OSHA Recordkeeping

Highlights of OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule
OSHA’s rule addressing the recording and reporting of occupational injuries and illnesses affects approximately 1.4 million establishments. A number of specific industries in the retail, service, finance, insurance and real estate sectors that are classified as low hazard are exempt from most requirements of the rule as are small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. The revised rule took effect January 1, 2002, except for provisions covering hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders, which OSHA was delayed until January 1, 2003 — while the agency reconsidered these issues. The new rule improved employee involvement, called for greater employee privacy protection, created simpler forms, provided clearer regulatory requirements, and allowed employers more flexibility to use computers to meet OSHA regulatory requirements. Following is a brief summary of key provisions of the rule.
■ Updated three recordkeeping forms:
  • OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses); simplified and printed on
  • smaller, legal size paper.
  • OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report); includes more data about how the injury or illness occurred.
  • OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses); a new form created to make it easier to post and calculate incidence rates.
■ Provided a single set of recording criteria for both work-related injuries and work-related illnesses. (The former rule required employers to record all illnesses, regardless of severity.)
■ Required records to include a work-related injury or illness resulting in one of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness or diagnosis of a significant injury or illness by a physician or other licensed health care professional.
■ Included new definitions of medical treatment, first aid and restricted work to simplify recording decisions.
■ Required a significant degree of aggravation before a preexisting injury or illness is considered work related.
■ Added further exceptions to the definition of work-relatedness to limit recording of cases involving eating and drinking of food and beverages, common colds and flu, blood donations, exercise programs, mental illnesses, etc.
■ Clarified the recording of “light duty” or restricted work cases. Required employers to record cases when the injured or ill employee is restricted from “routine job functions,” which are defined as work activities the employee regularly performs at least once weekly.
■ Required employers to record all needlestick and sharps injuries involving contamination by another person’s blood or other potentially infectious materials.
■ Included separate provisions describing the recording criteria for cases involving the work-related transmission of tuberculosis.
■ Eliminated the term “lost workdays” and required recording of days away from work or days restricted or days transferred to another job. Calls for employers to count calendar days rather than workdays.
■ Required employers to establish a procedure for employees to report injuries and illnesses and tell their employees how to report. (Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who do report by Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.)
■ Employees and former employees are guaranteed access to their individual OSHA 301 forms. Employee representatives are provided access to the “information about the case” section of the OSHA 301 form in establishments where they represent employees.
■ Protected employee privacy by (1) prohibiting employers from entering an individual’s name on Form 300 for certain types of injuries or illnesses (e.g., sexual assaults, HIV infections, mental illnesses); (2) allowing employers not to describe the nature of sensitive injuries where the employee’s identity would be known; (3) giving employee representatives access only to the portion of Form 301 that contains no personal information; and (4) requiring employers to remove employees’ names before providing the data to persons not provided access rights under the rule.
■ Required the annual summary to be posted for 3 months instead of 1. Required certification of the summary by a company executive.
■ Excluded some public transportation and motor vehicle accidents from the reporting of fatalities and catastrophes.
■ States that operate their own job safety and health programs adopted comparable recordkeeping rules that were also effective January 1, 2002. States must have the same requirements for which injuries and illnesses are recordable and how they are recorded. However, other provisions, such as industry exemptions, may be different as long as they are as
stringent as the federal requirements.

For more information about OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, please visit this link:
OSHA Recordkeeping Training & Supplies

OSHA Fall Protection

Question: Employees at times perform various tasks on construction equipment being used at a construction site, such as checking fluid levels. At times this work is done while the employee is on the vehicle at heights over 6 feet. Do any OSHA construction standards require fall protection for employees who are on construction equipment, such as excavators, dump trucks, and bulldozers at heights in excess of 6 feet?

Answer: The OSHA standards for fall protection in 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M do not apply in this situation because Subpart M explicitly excludes vehicles. 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(1) states:
Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
The phrase "walking/working surface" is defined at 29 CFR 1926.500(b)(2) as:
Any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, formwork and concrete reinforcing steel but not including ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties. [Emphasis added].
Therefore, Subpart M does not require fall protection for an employee who is on a vehicle in order to perform his or her job duties because 1926.500(b)(2) expressly excludes vehicles from the definition of "walking/working surface."

Subpart M does not contain a definition of "vehicles." It is not our intention in this letter to comprehensively interpret that term. However, we have concluded that the types of construction equipment mentioned in your correspondence are "vehicles" as that term is used in Subpart M because each one is mobile, motorized, and would have been generally considered as a vehicle at the time of the promulgation of Subpart M.

National Safety Compliance has developed an employee training DVD specific to OSHA fall protection requirements. For more information about this program, please visit this link: OSHA Fall Protection Safety Training

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

OSHA Trenching & Excavating

Digging a trench is more than shoveling dirt. Any child who’s ever played on the beach knows what happens when you dig a big hole in unstable soil. It caves in. But when there’s a worker down in a trench, it’s not so much fun. In fact a trench can easily turn into a grave when OSHA regulations are ignored by an employer.

A cubic yard of soil weighs about 2,700 pounds, the weight of a mid-sized automobile. A trench collapse may contain three to five cubic feet of soil. Do the math. That’s why any trench over five feet deep has to be shored, sloped or supported in some way to keep workers from being killed in a collapse.

Recently, OSHA issued Gerardi Sewer & Water Co. in Norridge, Ill., a fine of $360,000 for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. OSHA implemented a Trenching and Excavation Special Emphasis Program in the 1980s, so the industry is well aware of the safety regulations for trenching operations. Gerardi Sewer & Water has been inspected and cited by OSHA numerous times. There is no excuse for noncompliance at its jobsites. Because the company is a repeat offender of OSHA safety regulations, it has been placed on OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP). Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Trenching is more than just digging a hole. Following OSHA regulations can save a life.

It is important that all employers understand and follow the OSHA regulations regarding excavating, trenching and shoring. Employers should ensure that a "competent person" is properly trained and is supervising all such jobsites. Workers in trenches should also be trined using programs such as this Excavation and Trenching Safety program offered by National Safety Compliance.