National Work Zone Awareness Week

April 3rd-7th, 2017 is National Work Zone Awareness Week. It is a partnership of the Federal Highway Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Traffic Safety Services and other organizations.

The week is dedicated to raising awareness to roadway work site safety. According to OSHA, “tragically 700 people, including 130 workers were killed at crashes at roadway work sites in 2015.”

As part of the event, different states will offer educational events to help spread awareness about roadway work site dangers and driving safely around construction zones.

To learn more, please visit the Federal Highway Administration website: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm

 

 

Preparing for Winter Weather

With the leaves beginning to change and fall arriving, comes the start of winter weather conditions in many parts of the country. As with all inclement weather, basic preparedness can go a long way towards keeping outdoor workers safe. According to an OSHA article, here are some steps employers should take to prepare employees for the upcoming wintry weather:

Outdoor workers should be trained on how to recognize the signs of cold stress, the importance of monitoring coworkers and themselves, basic cold weather first aid, and how to select clothing for cold weather. They should also be made aware of other outdoor winter hazards such as wind, icy roads, and downed power lines

As the cold weather begins, continue to visit our blog for tips on staying warm and protecting outdoor employees from the elements.

OSHA Penalties Increased in August

Last year, Congress passed legislation requiring that federal agencies increase their penalties based on inflation.  In response, penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have increased effective August 1, 2016.  The last time such an increase occurred was 1990.

Maximum penalties for Serious, Other-Than-Serious, Posting Requirements and Failure to Abate issues have increased from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation.  Maximum penalties for willful or repeated violations have increased from $70,000 per violation to $124,709.  OSHA will continue to adjust its penalties each year based on the Consumer Price Index.

Often times, OSHA will include multiple violations in its citations, thus it will likely not be uncommon for employers to experience $50,000 – $100,000 in fines resulting from costly mistakes made at the workplace.

With potential penalties nearly doubling, now is a great time to review your safety programs and ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

Proper Eye Protection at Work

 

Proper eye protection is essential for preventing eye injuries in the workplace. According to the American Optometric Association,

“Common eye injuries occurring at work can result from chemicals or foreign objects in the eye and cuts or scrapes on the cornea. Other causes of injuries include splashes with grease and oil, burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure, and flying wood or metal chips.”

A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey discovered that 3 out of 5 workers who suffered eye injuries while at a work site were not wearing proper eye protection. Many times this was due to the fact that the workers did not realize that there was a need to protect their eyes.

Some types of work that can lead to eye injuries according to OSHA include (but are not limited to): chopping wood, grinding, sanding, riveting, working close to extreme heat, chemicals, dust or optical radiation.

According to the American Optometric Association, the type of eye protection you wear depends on your job type:

“If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields)If you are working with chemicals, you must wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.”

Protecting something as important as vision, is not difficult when the proper equipment is used whenever there is a potentially hazardous situation.

Protecting Outdoor Workers from Cold Temperatures

With temperatures beginning to drop, here are some helpful tips from OSHA  to help protect yourself and outdoor workers from cold weather:

  • Avoid overworking and exhaustion
  • Drink warm sweet beverages
  • Know symptoms of cold stress
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Dress appropriately for the weather
  • Eat warm carb filled meals
  • Take breaks indoors

Working in cold weather has its risks, but with proper precautions those risks can be minimized.

 

Updates to OSHA’s Amputation Program

On August 13th, OSHA issued an update to their National Emphasis Program on Amputations.The NEP targets industries that have high amputation rates. OSHA uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ injury date in order to find the industries with the worst amputation rates.

According to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “Workers injured from unguarded machinery can suffer permanent disability or lose their lives. This directive will help ensure that employers identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards and provide safe workplaces for all workers.”

This update will apply to workplaces that have equipment and machinery that have the potential to cause amputations. To learn more you can view the directive’s PDF  here or visit OSHA’s website.

14 Year Old Worker Loses Hand in Work Accident

A company broke a law prohibiting workers under the age of 18 from operating power-driven wood working machinery and it resulted in the maiming of a teenage boy. The boy lost his and when he touched a part of a wood planer while manufacturing pallets.

OSHA issued the company 17 serious safety violations. They are also being investigated by the Wage and Hour division for “probable  violations of child labor laws.” To learn more about the safety violations issued visit the OSHA news release page.

Texas Company Faces More than $321,000 in Fines

A metal stamping plant in Texas is facing $321,000 in fines. The company has a 15 year history of safety violations according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

This most recent fine comes from an inspection that resulted in OSHA issuing 13 health and safety violations. The inspection was performed due to a formal complaint. During the inspection 13 violations were found that exposed workers to potentially serious injuries including amputation risks.

These risks were primarily from unsafe machinery. One of them was for “ignoring the danger of allowing employees to work with a defective 500-pound metal press that the company knew had dropped without warning” according to an OSHA press release.

Some of the other violations included not requiring workers to wear eye protection when there was a danger due to metal particles in the air and not ensuring proper hearing protection in areas with high noise levels.

In a statement regarding the violations, Diego Alvarado Jr., OSHA’s area director in El Paso, Texas said, “D&D is aware of the dangers at its production facility, but has done nothing to correct them. An employee could have been seriously injured. There is no reason, or excuse for a company to ignore basic safety requirements.”

Businesses can learn a lot from this company’s mistakes. OSHA takes worker safety seriously and so should employers.

For more information you can read the full OSHA press release.

Keeping Employees Safe in Inclement Weather

Spring has finally arrived. Although some states may still be experiencing snow, spring weather is coming. The snow and ice that comes with winter has many potential dangers for workers, but spring and summer brings with them their own unique risks. Tornadoes, thunderstorms, and floods put workers at risk.  Here are a few quick tips to help you protect your workers from hazardous weather.

  • Pay attention to all weather forecasts. Severe weather and strike suddenly and without any warning.
  • The safest place from lightning is inside a well constructed building. To be considered a well constructed building, it must be fully enclosed with a roof, walls, floors, and electric wiring, plumbing, etc to ground any lightning that might hit the building.
  • Have an emergency plan in place
  • Learn the warning sides of tornadoes and monitor all watches and warnings
  • If the worksite is in a flood zone, know places you can get to quickly to reach higher ground

Safety in poor weather is very important. A seemingly calm day and quickly turn into a dangerous situation. Fortunately , awareness and proper preparedness can go a long way towards keeping workers safe.

Protecting Workers from Silica Exposure

OSHA and NIOSH have jointly issued a hazard alert regarding the dangers of silica exposure during the manufacturing and installation of stone counter tops. The alert mentions a workers in Spain and Israel who developed a disease called silicosis.

Silicosis is an incurable disease that is often disabling and unfortunately can be fatal. According to the OSHA news release, “Symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath, cough, and fatigue. Workers exposed to airborne crystalline silica also are at increased risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease  ”

To learn more about how to protect workers from silica you can visit https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/index.html.