Thursday, December 24, 2009

Identify Your Hazards!

A "hazard" is defined as a condition or changing set of circumstances that presents a potential for injury, illness, or property damage. The potential or inherent characteristics of an activity, condition, or circumstance which can produce adverse or harmful consequences.

An "accident" is defined as an unfortunate event often the result of carelessness or ignorance. An unforeseen & unplanned event or circumstance resulting in an unfavorable outcome.

Questions should be asked, to help predict what could go wrong on jobs & how risks might be controlled:

• Is the site & job the same as described?
• Are the necessary materials available to perform the work?
• Does everyone have the proper tools to perform tasks at hand?
• Are there enough workers to handle the job? Have they all had safety training?
• Are environmental conditions (light, noise, weather) a factor?
• Are there too many people in the area to work safely?
• Have other sub's on the job been notified about hazardous tasks or materials? • Anticipate, Evaluate & control Hazards!

Save time to think ahead...Save all your workers & colleagues from accidents!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fall Protection

What are the two basic types of FALL PROTECTION?
• Fall restraint systems, like guardrails. These keep you from falling.
• Fall arrest systems, like safety nets. These break your fall.

When should you tie off with a harness & lines if there are no guardrails?
• Cal/OSHA’s main rule is to tie off when the drop is 7½ feet or more.
• There are exceptions to the 7½ ft rule for some trades, e.g. ironworkers & roofers.

Safety nets-When & where should I use them?
• If it is not practical to tie off.
• Should be placed no more than 30-ft below the work area.
• Should extend from 8-13 ft beyond the structure you’re working on and no work proceeds unless the net is placed.

What do you check with fall protection equipment.
• Equipment is installed & used according to the mfr’s instructions.
• Equipment is safety-approved. Look for (ANSI) label
• Everything is in good condition. Remove from service any lanyard or drop line that broke someone’s fall, is frayed & worn.
• You have the right equipment for the job. e.g safety belts are not allowed in fall arrest systems.

Where should you place the anchor end of a lanyard?
• Anchor it at a level no lower than your waist. Limit any fall to a max of 4-ft.
• Anchor it to a substantial structural member, or to a securely rigged catenary or pendant line.
• Don’t anchor to a pipe.

If it’s not practical to tie off or use a safety net what then?
• If usual protection measures are impractical or create a greater hazard, Cal/OSHA allows an employer to develop a fall protection plan.
• The plan allows work to be done in a designated area without normal fall protection. But, alternate measures must be used to reduce falls including special training for workers, & constant observation by a safety monitor.
• Areas without fall protection are called “controlled access zones” -- that only certain trained workers can enter.
• Avoid a fall...Save yourself the pain!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ladders in the Fall (and Winter too)

To reach the box he stood on the top step…with no support, he lost his balance…the fall from 6-feet broke a hand, injured his back, and oh that shoulder break. What are some safe tips with ladders?

Never stand on the top rung of the ladder, or on boxes or chairs (especially with wheels). There should never be more than one person on a ladder. Keep a 3-point contact on a ladder – both feet & at least 1-hand. Never lean away from the centerline of the ladder. “The belt buckle rule” – keep your buckle within the ladder. You lean out farther than your belt buckle from ladders edge – you displace your balance making it likely to tip over.

Face the ladder and make sure you hold the ladder with at least one hand while climbing up and down. Make sure your ladder is tall enough for the job you plan to perform. But, do not lean a step ladder against a wall as you would an extension ladder. An extension ladder must be long enough to extend 3-feet above the point of contact. The ladder must sit upon even, solid, non-slip surfaces (sand does shift).

Avoid the fall...Save yourself for a nice winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

UV Light & Our Eyes

MOST people know the harmful effects that ultraviolet (UV) rays can have on the skin. But many are not aware of the damage that they can cause to the eyes. Possibly the most frightening aspect of UV damage is that it is cumulative, meaning the negative effects may not present themselves until years later.

A recent survey, by Transitions Optical Inc. found that although 82% of respondents knew that extended exposure to the sun could cause skin cancer, only 9% knew it could damage vision. Additionally, only 1 in 6 respondents said they wear sunglasses when they prepare for extended exposure to the sun and only approximately 1/3 said they wear a hat.

"Most of us wouldn't dream of staying outside in the sun without putting on sunscreen lotion," said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America. "But we also have to remember to wear both UV-blocking lenses and a brimmed hat to protect our eyes as well."

Save your eyes from the sun...Save your vision.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What can Employers Do to Prevent Amputations?

Work practices, training, and administrative controls all help prevent & control amputation hazards. Engineering the hazard out is the top solution, and safeguarding is the best way to control amputations caused by stationary machinery:

Guards – provide physical barriers to access to hazardous areas. They should be secure & strong. Workers should not be able to bypass, remove, or tamper with them.

Devices – help prevent contact with points of operation & may replace or supplement guards. Machine devices can interrupt the normal cycle when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation, and prevent the operator from reaching into the point, or withdraw the operator’s hands when a machine cycles. They must allow safe lubrication & maintenance, and not create hazards or interfere with operation.

Safeguarding machines is a serious point to consider when purchasing machinery. Newer machinery usually is already available with safeguards. You can also purchase safeguards separately, or build them in-house. Safe work procedures & training specific to a machine in question are imperative issues, but are secondary control methods.

Safeguard risky machines…Save a finger & your company too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Amount that Safety Effort Pays Off

Typically, companies view their SH&E and economic performance as separate lines of attack operations. In a cover story of Professional Safety: the Journal of the American Society of Safety Engineers, (Sept 2009) some interesting points were made.

Most often SH&E specialists have not incorporated economic analysis to show how investments in safety practices contribute to economic performance. Financial modeling tools need to be developed to consider the economic benefit of SH&E efforts that will help management make decisions.

A compliance-only focus should not be expected to yield fully positive financial returns. Alternatively, what economic analysis attempts is go beyond compliance to provide pertinent quantitative and qualitative economic information about how a company’s organizational activities (e.g., products, technologies, processes, services) and strategic SH& E investments will address issues that might offer real financial opportunities.

SH&E costing systems tend to suffer from imprecise cost collection, analysis and interpretation procedures and distorted cost reporting, have little transparency regarding what comprises their costs. They fail to consider the financial returns that can be expected later from the investment and thus, lose their decision relevance.

So, the real dilemma facing decision makers is how to make investment decisions to address SH&E issues in the absence of sound quantitative economic information. They propose economic analysis techniques described in the article including life cycle costs, net present value analysis, as well as determining hurdle rate, impact assessments, and more. This is a great area for quantitative data to improve upon.

Measure & decide in favor of safety and health…Save the company in turn!

adapted from
Anthony Veltri and Jim Ramsay (Sept 2009) Economic Analysis, Make the Business Case for SH&E, Professional Safety, pp 22-30 (

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Need for Safety Administration at Your Firm

Creating a Safety Manager position or keeping safety managed by top staff – both are key administrative functions that build a solid foundation of self discipline for safety at your workplace.

From my experience, inclusion of safety functions in the corporate culture, and their continuation with some evaluations that look back, is a winning edge.  An edge held by any company today wanting to win business and stay profitable at this economic moment.

Save the tasks of Safety at work...Save your profit margin!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Assessing the Potential for Workers' Comp Losses

When assessing the potential for loss in any enterprise, one must evaluate all factors impacting the ergonomics, hazardous materials, processes, and machinery, in relation to how it could negatively impact the employee.

Pro-active steps must be taken to minimize the hazards which can injure both the employee and the company's bottom line. Mitigating risk to avoid unnecessary expense is an important component of corporate profitability which is all too often overlooked.

From my experience, a heightened emphasis on stronger safety programs with the appropriate controls in place to ensure their success, and with a commitment to meet or exceed statutory guidelines, provides a framework for overall loss prevention and the resultant increase in profitability. Equally important is the continual monitoring of such programs to guarantee that they are both effective and properly used.

Measuring risk levels and maintaining accurate, comprehensive records keeps safety programs relevant to your required level of risk control. For example, a restaurant would not have all the same inherent risks as a manufacturer of aerospace products that utilized exotic metals and chemicals in its processes.

Save the employee....Save the company!