Do you have a SAFETY goal? By David Wright, CSHO
People are always trying to kind, funny, and clever ways to promote safety and raise awareness. Here is my attempt – Do you have SAFETY (Safety Awareness For Everyone This Year)? I know, I can hear the groans. But the fact remains that one of the most effective ways to promote safety within any work place is to continually keep safety at the forefront by reminding employees that by working safely you can reduce their chances of being hurt on the job.
One such way that I find helpful is to use the tools available to us from outside sources. Depending on where you live and work you might be subject to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) Standards. If not, the OSHA Standards are a good place to start if you want your employees to work safe and to help reduce the costs associated with injuries and illnesses on the job.
In October/November of each year, OSHA publishes the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards
Here are the Top 10 for 2017
1. Fall Protection – General Requirements
2. Hazard Communication
4. Respiratory Protection
7. Powered Industrial Trucks
8. Machine Guarding
9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements
10. Electrical – Wiring Methods
I thought it might be helpful to you if I spent some time going through this list and giving you some of the easy thing to reduce injuries and to raise awareness:
OSHA cites employees under the Fall Protection Standard for lack of Fall Protection.
• Fall Protection is required for any employee working at a height of 4 feet from General Industry and 6 feet for Construction to be protected from falling
• For General Industry, this is typically done by hand and guardrails
• Construction the requirement is 6 feet and hand and guardrails can be used as well as fall protection systems involving safety nets, anchorage devices, lines, and/or full body harnesses.
Depending on the system to be employed the employer must instruct their employees on how to determine and safely use each type of equipment. Some types of hazards in our industry would include the tops of tanks, open hatches and covers, drain pits, and excavations.
Hazard Communication is often referred to as the Right to Know Standard and includes the Global Harmonization Standard (GHS). Hazard Communication is essentially how to work safely with the chemicals that we use to get work done. The most common mistakes found by OSHA here are:
• employers fail to have a written program on how they will comply with the standard,
• lack of training with employees, and
• not having all or old-outdated Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for chemicals on hand.
If your employees are required to work with hazardous chemicals, they must understand where to find the Safety Data Sheets, how to read them, what the pictograms mean on the containers, and how-to safety work with and handle the chemical. This is typically achieved by having a comprehensive Hazard Communication Program and annual employee training.
Scaffolding, supported or suspended scaffolding, is something I find in some form at every site I visit. The most common safety failures when working around scaffolding are:
• lack of fall protection at 10 feet – cross braces cannot be used for handrails or means of access
• lack of adequate foundation to properly support the scaffolding system
• not having a clear means of access or egress when platforms are above 2 feet – a ladder or stairway must be used.
• Each platform is not fully planked
• Some sort of adequate fall protection must be used such top-rails, mid-rails, toe boards, or other fall protection system
Each employer should also have a Trained Competent Person that evaluates and documents that the scaffolding is safe for their employees to work on prior to each shift.
In the next issue, we will discuss Respiratory Protection, Lockout/Tagout, and Ladder Safety.
David Wright, is the Health & Safety Manager for Weston & Sampson, Inc. and has been safety professional for over 20 years’ experience, managing the safety and human resources for some of the larger companies in the U.S. He is the Chair of the NEWEA Safety Committee, an OSHA Authorized Trainer, in both Construction and General Industry. He is recognized for developing and maintaining a “world class” safety culture in the water, wastewater, construction, transportation, mining, and municipal solid waste service industries, and is skilled in training both internal and external customers.