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Updated OSHA regulations that went into effect in January 2017 stand to have a pervasive impact on all fall protection programs going forward.

In November 2016, OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (29 CFR 1910 Subparts D & I). The 500-plus page document sets compliance dates that go out as far as 2036, but many are much more pressing. In one example, workers exposed to fall hazards or who use fall protection equipment must receive training by May 2017.

Some of the key features of the new rule are discussed below.

Roof Work
A common concern with respect to roof work involves distance, specifically, what is considered to be a safe distance from the edge of an unprotected roof.

Although OSHA's previous position is that there is no safe distance, the new rule does provide some clarification on this point. The regulation states that work at less than 6 feet from the roof edge requires conventional means of protection (such as a guardrail, personal fall arrest systems, etc.). From a distance of 6-15 feet, the new rule allows for a designated area for infrequent or temporary work. These areas are defined in more detail in the rule’s commentary section.

Some of the new features clearly reflect an alignment with regulations on construction. One is that a warning line is required beginning at 6 feet from the edge.

Under the new rule, work at a distance greater than 15 feet from an unprotected edge does not require an employer to provide any fall protection – but only if the work is both infrequent and temporary. In this situation, the rule allows for an administrative control to be used in order to keep workers from being closer than 15 feet from an unprotected edge.

Guardrails, Ladders and Stairs
The new rule contains new information on common features such as guardrails, ladders and stairs.

One key feature of the new rule with respect to these devices is a number of additional approved types: They include alternating tread-type stairs, combination ladders and mobile ladder stand platforms. The rule also now includes specific requirements for spiral stairs and ship stairs. For falls of greater than 24 feet, the new rule requires the use of ladder safety systems. Enforcement of the requirements for new ladders is set to start in November 2018, and every ladder will be required to comply with this by 2036.

General industry regulations for guardrails are now aligned with construction rules and require a height of 42 inches (plus or minus 3 inches). Under the new rule, openings are required to be no larger than 19 inches. No longer allowed is the use of chains to close off access to openings or the use of a "parapet alternative" option that involved a shorter (30-inch) barrier, provided as it was of sufficient width (18 inches).

Competent and Qualified Persons
The new regulations address more than just hardware requirements, and one subset speaks more specifically than in the previous version to the roles of “Competent and Qualified” persons.

That includes distinct training and responsibilities for personnel who have those designations. There are specific references on the need for a Qualified Person for the following job functions:
-Worker training, which in the past was linked to the Competent Person
-Instances in which correction or repair involves structural integrity of a walking-working surface
-Inspection of knots in a lanyard or vertical lifeline
-Annual inspection of rope descent anchorages
-Anchorage certification

Workplace Assessments
One of the most significant features of the new rule is the need for fall hazard assessments. 29 CFR 1910.132(d) now requires workplace assessment. That means employers must ensure the following to be in compliance:
-Determine whether hazards are present and, if so, communicate that information to employees, select types of personal protective equipment for employees, and ensure its proper fit.
-Coordinate with other entities to assess hazards for multi-employer sites.
-Document the completion of assessments, including what workplaces were evaluated, who certifies that an evaluation was performed, and the date of the assessment.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

The use of branding to communicate an organization’s values to its customers and potential job candidates has become an important marketing tool, one that seems here to stay.

Yet, when we think of the many benefits that result from efforts to ensure a safe workplace, chances are that their ability to add value to an organization’s brand isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.

In a business climate in which having a recognizable brand on website and social media platforms has taken a strong hold, present employees are perhaps the foremost ambassadors of an organization’s brand with respect to safety culture.

In the previous installments of this series (Safety Culture, Safety is a Team Win), we discussed the importance of employee perceptions of a safety culture at work and how this can benefit everyone in the organization. The value of cultivating a team mentality in which everyone is enthused about the work the organization is doing and their role in it cannot be overstated.

Employees with a positive perception of safety culture not only deliver high quality products and services, their attentiveness to safety can manifest itself in fewer accidents and injuries. And team members showing their enthusiasm and support on social media both formally and informally can go a long way to sharing an organization’s safety message.

It’s also important to consider the potential impact apparent lapses in safety (or employees’ perceptions of them) can have when posted to social media and job boards.

A fundamental part of establishing and keeping a brand identity is by ensuring a sense of consistency of communications.

For instance, it may be possible to share a corporate mission with a core audience through various media, but the messages should be aligned to reflect a consistent personality, or voice.

Online media can be an effective tool for engaging readers and have them coming back for more. Those messages can include a mix of everything from testimonials to tips and hints. Just remember what has become a touchstone of social media: Always be of service. A typical recommendation is for education to outweigh self-promotion by a ratio of at least 3 to 1.

It’s important to view such communications as an ongoing conversation rather than as something to be set on auto-pilot and adjusted occasionally. The watchword here is “integrity.” Numerous studies, not to mention conventional wisdom, suggest that organizations that hold to their own values are likely to attract – and keep – like-minded employees.

Tagged in: safety culture

The EPA has proposed three new rules to create a new process of prioritizing and evaluating chemicals under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The new law requires the agency to evaluate chemicals grandfathered into that act. The recently proposed rules are aimed at helping the agency evaluate quickly those chemicals currently in the marketplace.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/EPA-Proposes-Rules-for-Prioritizing,-Evaluating-Chemicals.aspx

Tagged in: chemicals EPA

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In this second installment in a three part series on safety culture in the workplace, we look at the concept of encouraging safe behaviors through employee engagement. Read Part One - Safety Culture: Who Is Getting Your Safety Message 

Safety is a Team Win

What message is your organization sending to employees about its commitment to safety?

Let’s begin with the familiar “days without an injury” statistic. The numbers speak for themselves. They may even be posted in the form of a sign for everyone at work to see. But they only tell part of the story.

We know workplace safety education and training programs positively affect employee safety. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, more than 13 people in the United States died each day as result of performing their jobs. The National Safety Council goes a step further by claiming that each of those deaths was preventable. So where do things go off track?

All the safety measures in the world are of little benefit if they are not followed. Motivating employees to use the safety protocols they've learned is therefore essential. That’s where engagement comes in. A standard dictionary definition of “engagement” is “an emotional involvement or commitment.”

The “Four Pillars of Safety,” a white paper from the Performance Improvement Council, offers a number of suggestions for recognizing employee contributions to safety and doing so in engaging ways. (“Engagement,” incidentally, is one of those four pillars, along with” recognition,” “communications” and “measurement.”)

One of those is to offer employee wellness programs. These can be as simple as encouraging employees to improve their health together and offering incentives and rewards for top achievers. Such programs have been a feature of the corporate landscape for over a decade, and according to a recent State of the Industry Survey conducted by Virgin Pulse, they are among the top priorities for responding employers in 2017. That survey, which gathered data from 600 human resources and benefits officers at global organizations, also found that those companies that invest in wellness and engagement can realize measurable improvements in business performance. Seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated employee well-being is a critical part of their business plans, while 74 percent of those with comprehensive wellness programs said their employee satisfaction has increased.

According to the NSC, employers who demonstrate that they care about the safety of their employees can see fewer injuries along with better morale, increased productivity and lower costs.

Now, back to the “days without an injury” sign. While signs and placards are good visual reminders, they tend to be passive, impersonal and monolithic. Most people tend to appreciate at least occasional face-to-face feedback and "tangible" rewards. According to the Performance Improvement Council, surveys that seek to determine why employees left a job consistently find "lack of recognition" and "compensation” as the top two reasons. Recognizing achievements and safe behaviors as they happen or soon after tells employees they are appreciated for being safe and for ensuring they keep a safe work environment.

And when all employees take ownership of their roles in safety at work, it becomes, as it should be, a team effort. Go team!

References:
1. Every Worker Deserves to Make it Home Safe from Work—Every Day, http://www.nsc.org/learn/pages/safety-at-work.aspx?var=mnd
2. Performance Improvement Council, “The Four Pillars of Safety,” white paper March 2014, http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.incentivemarketing.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Pillar-of-Safety_Mar2014_wMb.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22Four+and+Pillars+and+Safety+and+-+and+Performance+and+Improveme%22
3. State of the Industry Survey Report 2017, http://community.virginpulse.com/state-of-the-industry-2017-wc

Nearly half of all adult asthma cases – 48 percent – might be related to work – and therefore could be preventable. That’s according to a study published in December in the CDC’s MMWR, which found that as many as 2.7 million U.S. workers might have asthma caused by or exacerbated by workplace conditions.

The study used data from the 2006–2007 adult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Asthma Call-back Survey (ACBS) to quantify potential occupationally-associated asthma cases and to identify the workers most at risk, by industry and state. Among the five occupations with the highest current asthma prevalence, office and administrative support was identified in 16 of the 21 states, health care practitioners and technical in 15 states, and sales and related in 13 states.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6547a1.htm?s_cid=mm6547a1_w

 

Tagged in: CDC MMWR

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