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When we think of accidental falls, we often think of work at-height. But fall accidents can happen anywhere there is a change in level – and that includes confined spaces.

Many industries have tight spaces that are considered by OSHA to be "confined" because they are configured in such a way as to hinder the activities of anyone who is called upon to enter, work in, and exit them.

Obviously, not only do confined spaces vary in size, shape and location, but they can come with their own set of challenging conditions, including limited movement, hazardous air, and risk of engulfment.

OSHA identifies a broad range of confined spaces, including that ubiquitous example: the manhole. As soon as the cover from a manhole is removed, any lack of proper safety equipment puts anyone at an increased risk of falling through an unguarded opening. Once within that particular type of confined space, there exists the risk of falling still deeper. Outdated ladders or stairs, inadequate lighting, and the physical challenges posed by restricted movement are all potential contributing factors to fall injuries within confined spaces. Fumes – a major safety consideration for any kind of confined space – have the potential to overwhelm anyone working near the area, leading to a loss of consciousness and the likelihood of a fall.

Other types of confined spaces defined as such by OSHA include ducts, tanks, vessels, storage bins, vaults, tunnels, and silos, to name a few. What is consistent for all of them is a need to consider the same level of fall protection as for any above-ground work involving changes in level. Even in confined spaces, having an effective fall protection system can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Depending on the situation, safeguards such as barriers, guardrails, and devices such as self-retracting lifelines or lanyards can prevent or halt accidental falls. In determining whether a confined space calls for the use of such equipment, it is necessary to evaluate both the area within the confined space and its access point.

Workplace Safety & Health can help.

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

Read entire article - http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3735.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

An Ohio company has been cited for four repeat and nine serious safety and health violations after OSHA received a complaint alleging unsafe handling of hazardous chemicals at an Avon Lake facility that manufactures fiberglass pipes and tanks. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Perry Fiberglass Products Inc. there on Feb. 5, 2014. Proposed penalties total $53,130.

The investigation found repeat violations of OSHA's hazard communication standard, which requires employers to provide an effective training program with understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. Perry Fiberglass Products failed to label containers to identify and warn of the hazardous chemicals contained inside, use self-closing valves on containers with flammable liquids and ensure a bonding system was used when dispensing flammable chemicals into secondary containers. The company failed to provide and maintain suitable eyewash stations.

The company was cited for similar violations in 2010.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26547

A new document from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014, is the most recent version of the hazardous drug list first published by NIOSH in 2004 as an appendix to the document, NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. Hazardous drugs on the list include those used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, some bioengineered drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs.

Healthcare workers who prepare or give hazardous drugs to patients, such as those used for cancer therapy, as well as support staff may face individual health risks when exposed to these drugs. The institute estimates 8 million U.S. healthcare workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs in the workplace.

Read entire article - www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2014-138/

Citing initial findings from a fatal explosion in July, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) – a federal safety agency – has issued a warning to companies with storage tanks.

CSB investigators sent water samples from an exploded tank at the Omega Protein facility in Moss Point, Miss., to a lab for testing. Those tests revealed microbial activity in the samples and off-gassing of flammable methane and hydrogen sulfide.
The explosion at the Omega facility occurred during hot work and resulted in the death of one contract worker and severe injuries to another contract worker. The water inside of the tank had been thought to be nonhazardous, but no combustible gas testing was done on the contents before the hot work started.

The CSB says has now investigated three fatal hot work incidents since 2008 involving biological or organic matter in storage tanks. The Board says companies, contract firms and maintenance personnel should know that inside a storage tank, what might seem to be non-hazardous organic material can release gases that cause the vapor space to rise above the lower flammability limit. When that occurs, a small spark or even heat from hot work can be enough to cause an explosion.

Read entire article - http://www.csb.gov/csb-chairperson-moure-eraso-warns-about-danger-of-hot-work-on-tanks-containing-biological-or-organic-material/

Tagged in: OSHA Storage tanks

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