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How prepared is your organization in the event of an emergency or disaster?

What might seem like a simple, straightforward question is often a very complex issue to answer.

September 2015 marks the twelfth annual National Preparedness Month. A central goal of the observance is educating the public on how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters. This year’s theme is “Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”

Much of the focus of each year’s observance is on being ready to deal with emergencies and disasters at home, but the observance also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies at work. In 2004, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unveiled Ready Business, an extension of the national Ready campaign that focuses on business preparedness. The business preparedness section of the website Ready.gov recommends that the planning process take an “all hazards” approach. That is, taking into account different types of threats and hazards and their likelihood of occurring.

As part of the planning process, the website recommends developing strategies for prevention/deterrence and risk mitigation. This should include threats or hazards that can be classified as probable as well as hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact.

Developing an all hazards preparedness plan includes identifying potential hazards, assessing vulnerabilities and considering potential impacts. A risk assessment identifies threats or hazards and opportunities for hazard prevention, deterrence, and risk mitigation. Human injuries should be the consideration of highest priority in a risk assessment, of course, but other assets in the assessment could range from buildings and machinery to raw materials and finished products.

In conducting a risk assessment, the Ready.gov recommends looking for vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that would make an asset more susceptible to (and contribute to the severity of) damage from a hazard. Such vulnerabilities could range from deficiencies in the way a structure is built to its security or protection system. A simple example of such a deficiency is not having a working sprinkler system in place to limit damage in the event of a fire.

For more information on putting together emergency plans for the workplace, visit http://www.ready.gov/business

As part of National Safety Month in June, the National Safety Council updated its annual list of the Odds of Dying from various causes.

Some key comparisons of lifetime odds of dying from common activities are:
-Motor vehicle crash (1-in-112) vs. commercial airplane crash (1-in-96,566)
-Overdosing on opioid prescription painkillers (1-in-234) vs. being electrocuted (1-in-12,200)
-Falling (1-in-144) vs. a catastrophic storm (1-in-6,780)
-Being a passenger in a car (1-in-470) vs. a lightning strike (1-in-164,968)
-Walking along or crossing the street (1-in-704) vs. a bee, wasp or hornet sting (1-in-55,764), and
-Complications from surgical or medical are (1-in-1,532) vs. an earthquake (1-in-179,965).

http://www.nsc.org/act/events/Pages/Odds-of-Dying-2015.aspx

When making sure first aids kits are properly stocked, it’s also a good idea to make sure they are up to date. As part of a revision to the 2014 edition, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has received American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval for ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015, American National Standard-Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies.

The standard was put together by members of ISEA’s First Aid Group and industry stakeholders and was approved by a consensus review panel of health and safety experts, unions, construction industry and other user groups, test labs, and government agencies. According to ISEA, the 2015 revision corrects a minor measurement conversion error with respect to the U.S. measurement for minimum application for antibiotic and antiseptic supplies that appeared in the 2014 edition.The effective date of the new standard is June 2016.

A major change from previous editions is the introduction of a multi-tiered approach to kit designations. According to ISEA, the new designations were based on a review of workplace injuries in which first aid was administered and a consideration of current practices in treating them. The revision introduces two classes of first aid kits, further divided into four types.

The classes are based on the assortment and quantity of the supplies the kits contain. Class A kits are aimed at dealing with most common workplace injuries, including minor cuts, abrasions and sprains. Class B kits are designed with a broader range and quantity of supplies to deal with injuries in more complex or high-risk environments.

First aid kits are further designated by Type (I, II, III or IV) depending on the work environment in which they are to be used. A Type I kit is meant for indoor use and for and permanent mounting to a wall or other structure. In contrast, Type IV kits are suitable for outdoor use and required to pass corrosion-, moisture- and impact-resistance tests.

Many of the first aid supplies previously identified as being recommendations in the 2009 standard are now required for both of the newly-designated kit types. In addition, scissors are to be included in both classes of kits and a splint and a tourniquet are both required for a Class B first aid kit.

For more information, visit www.safetyequipment.org

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in late May that it will continue its partnership with Health Canada to align United States and Canadian regulatory approaches to labeling and classification requirements for workplace chemicals.

OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the GHS in March 2012 to provide a common, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Canada published a similar regulation in February 2015.

The goal of the partnership is to implement a system allowing the use of one label and one safety data sheet (SDS) that would be acceptable in both countries. In 2013, OSHA and Health Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in their respective jurisdictions.

https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/trade-20150528.html

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA recently published a new document in its Fatal Facts series. Titled Asphyxiation in a Sewer Line, the document emphasizes employers’ responsibilities to protect workers from confined space hazards while working in sewer line manholes. The document includes references to the new Confined Spaces in Construction Standard that takes effect on Aug. 3, 2015.

OSHA uses the term “fatal facts” to describe cases that are representative of employers who failed to identify and correct hazardous working conditions leading to fatalities at their worksites. The fact sheets offer ideas on how to correct these hazards and educate workers about safe work practices. The Asphyxiation in a Sewer Line fact document is based on a case in which a construction worker suffocated after entering a manhole. OSHA says the worker died from asphyxiation after entering a manhole with an uncontrolled hazardous atmosphere.
According to OSHA, although the manhole was newly constructed and was not yet connected to an active sewer system at the time of the incident, it contained a hazardous atmosphere that led to asphyxiation. The employer had not ensured that atmospheric hazards were identified and precautions for safe operations implemented before starting work at the site.

Additionally, OSHA says that:
-Workers were not trained to recognize confined space hazards and to take appropriate protective measures.
-The atmosphere in the manhole was not assessed to determine if conditions were acceptable before or during entry.
-Proper ventilation was not used to control atmospheric hazards in the manhole.
-Protective and emergency equipment was not provided at the worksite.
-An attendant was not stationed outside the manhole to monitor the situation and call for emergency services.
To prevent similar occurrences, OSHA advises that employers whose workers who will enter one or more permit-required confined space (PRCS) must implement a PRCS program for safe permit space entry operations (29 CFR 1926.1203(d), 29 CFR 1926.1204). Such programs include the following requirements:
-Provide training to workers at no cost to them in a language and vocabulary they understand, as required in 29 CFR 1926.1207, on how to safely perform permit space duties before their first assignment and as necessary.
-Prohibit entry into permit spaces until hazardous conditions (atmospheric and physical) present are identified, evaluated, and addressed (29 CFR 1926.1204(b)&(c)).
-Eliminate or control atmospheric hazards by ventilating, purging, inerting or flushing the permit space as necessary (29 CFR 1926.1204(c)(4)).
-Perform pre-entry testing for oxygen content, flammable gases and vapors, and potential toxic air contaminants (29 CFR 1926.1204(e)(3).
-Continuously monitor the permit space to verify that atmospheric conditions remain acceptable during entry (29 CFR 1926.1204(e)(1)(ii)).
-Provide essential equipment to workers with training on proper use, including: •Personal protective equipment when necessary (29 CFR 1926.1204(d)(4)).
-Rescue and emergency equipment to authorized workers, or implement procedures for rescue and emergency services (29 CFR 1926.1204(d)(8)&(i), 29 CFR 1926.1211).
-Station at least one trained attendant outside a permit space to perform all attendant’s duties (29 CFR 1926.1204(f); 29 CFR 1926.1209).

The full Fatal Facts document is available (along with other fact sheets on oil and gas, agriculture, construction, and engulfment) at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/fatalfacts.html

Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help you understand the definition of a confined space and a permit-required confined space and how it might apply to your workplace.

Tagged in: OSHA

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