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National Preparedness Month— sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security each September since 2003 — encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their communities – whether they occur at home, at school, or at work.

Though much of the focus for National Preparedness Month is on being ready to deal with emergent situations at home, the observance also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies on the job. Safety at work is a year round priority, so it’s important to regularly review your company’s safety plans and policies and keep them up to date.

FEMA lists the steps in developing a preparedness program at work as:
-Program Management
-Planning
-Implementation
-Testing and Exercises
-Program Improvement

The business preparedness section of the Ready.gov website (www.ready.gov) from the DHS and FEMA recommends that the planning process take an “all hazards” approach. As the term suggests, that means taking into account different types of threats and hazards and their likelihood of happening.

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. Of course, human injuries should be highest priority consideration in a risk assessment, but other assets could include everything from buildings and equipment to raw materials and finished products.

In conducting a risk assessment, the Ready.gov site recommends looking for vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that would make an asset more susceptible to (and possibly contribute to the severity of) damage from a hazard. Such vulnerabilities could range from deficiencies in a building’s structural integrity to its security or protection system – having a working sprinkler system in place to limit damage in the event of a fire, for example.

More information on putting together emergency plans for the workplace is available at http://www.ready.gov/business.

NIOSH has helped a military facility develop a sampling strategy for aircraft hangars used to maintain, repair, and restore active and historic aircraft. The workers in the hangars use paint and paint removers on a variety of surfaces using low-pressure spray guns and rollers.

According to the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation report, this activity could cause polyurethanes, solvents, or metals to enter the atmosphere. Based on findings, the agency recommends the staff focus on areas of low airflow near exhaust fans in the hangars, as well as repairing and maintaining all fans connected to the ventilation system.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/NIOSH-Evaluation-of-Aircraft-Hangars-Identifies-Sampling-Strategy.aspx

Tagged in: NIOSH

Research into more than 1.5 million workers’ comp claims over a period of five years provided data for a report on workplace injuries published recently by The Travelers Companies.

According to the Travelers Injury Impact Report, the most frequent causes of workplace injuries for the period from 2010 to 2014 were material handling (32 percent); slips, trips and falls (16 percent); being struck by or colliding with an object (10 percent); incidents involving tools (7 percent) and traumas occurring over time such as when a body part is injured by overuse or strain (4 percent).

All other causes accounted for the remaining 31 percent of workplace injuries.

Read entire article - 
http://investor.travelers.com/Cache/1500085614.PDF?O=PDF&T=&Y=&D=&FID=1500085614&iid=4055530

Posted by on in Lockout/Tagout Programs

Just about every industry has some kind of tight space that can be termed "confined" due to its size and/or shape, thereby hindering the work of anyone called upon to enter, work in, and leave it. For the purpose of rulemaking, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration refers to such an area as a "confined space."

Take a gander underneath that umbrella term, and it’s easy to see that confined spaces come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and locations. They often present not just one but a combination of challenging conditions, such as limited movement, hazardous air and a risk of engulfment.

OSHA identifies more than 20 major sectors of industry and labor with various types of confined spaces. Such spaces include:
-Tanks
-Vessels
-Silos
-Storage bins
-Hoppers
-Vaults
-Pits
-Manholes
-Tunnels
-Equipment housings
-Ductwork
-Pipelines

Just because some confined spaces aren't necessarily designed for easy access doesn’t necessarily mean workers are not expected to enter them, periodically or routinely, in order to perform their jobs. Keeping a work site safe, in and around such conditions, means having correct and up-to-date information about each confined space.

Part of that process involves having a comprehensive plan to address the uncertainties of rescue in confined spaces. That means providing the proper training and equipment so personnel can perform the assigned rescue task for a safe and effective rescue.

A robust confined space safety program should focus on a central goal: protecting workers' safety and health. A written program should include the practices used to remove or control hazards and to ensure safe operations. In addition to preventative measures, the program should discuss air quality monitoring, exit and entry methods, and fall protection/rescue systems.

At Workplace Health & Safety Co., we can help with all those aspects and more. So if you find yourself with questions about confined spaces, reach out to us. We can help in a tight spot.

Tagged in: lockout OSHA tagout

A new survey from the National Safety Council (NSC) reveals many U.S. workers think their companies place productivity ahead of safety on the priorities list. The NSC surveyed 2,000 employees across the U.S. and found 33 percent believe their companies put production before safety. The percentage was higher among workers in high-risk industries.

Read entire article - http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=124

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