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NIOSH has published a new recommendation that says attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw can provide a low-cost solution in order to reduce exposure to hazardous dust produced when construction workers cut fiber-cement siding.

According to a press release, the research that led to this finding was conducted in two phases. In one, researchers looked at three dust-collecting circular saws connected to an external vacuum in a laboratory setting. Further studies were conducted at construction sites where workers were cutting fiber-cement siding. Results of the field studies showed that a regular shop vacuum controlled the amount of silica-containing dust in the air to well below the NIOSH-recommended exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-06-18-15.html

Tagged in: CDC NIOSH

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Air quality is important for everyone, but it is of special concern for those who must work in confined spaces.

A total of four farmer deaths in hog manure pits in July in the Midwest show how even a routine job in a confined space can turn tragic. In the first in incident, in Wisconsin, a father and son were killed from exposure to toxic gases while trying to retrieve something dropped into a manure pit. In the more recent case, in Iowa, another father and son died from exposure to toxic gases when one attempted to rescue the other. Although the incidents occurred in agricultural operations, they illustrate the potential for the rescuers of the initial victim overcome by toxic gases in a confined space to become victims also.

Such pits can release methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide as well as hydrogen sulfide when disturbed, risking exposure that can lead to unconsciousness and death. Farm safety experts commonly recommend the use of some form of breathing apparatus when working in that environment for those reasons.

Some other examples of confined spaces include storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, and trenches. A permit-required confined space has to have one or more specific characteristics, one being that it contains a hazardous atmosphere. These are classified into three categories: toxic; asphyxiating; and flammable or explosive atmospheres. Depending on the chemicals present and their concentration, such environments can present multiple atmospheric hazards.

For those reasons, it is recommended that employers in a number of industries test and monitor their confined spaces at multiple levels with instruments that will detect aspects of hazardous atmospheres encountered by anyone who plans to enter. The ability to perform non-entry rescue is also critical to prevent the loss of would-be rescuers. This involves the entrant wearing a full body harness connected to a confined space-applicable retrieval device mounted outside the space, so that the attendant can remove an unconscious entrant without having to enter the confined space.

The practice of atmospheric testing in confined spaces to determine potential hazards is not new – bringing a caged canary into a coalmine is perhaps the best known example from history. Today’s testing equipment and procedures skip the canary, but they serve a similar purpose. Modern sensor and battery technology has improved the reliability of these instruments and has made them easier to use at a lower price point. For the occasional user, they can be rented from a number of safety equipment rental companies. This approach is sound since the rental companies will maintain and calibrate the instruments as recommended by the manufacturer. Using an unreliable and out-of-calibration toxic and combustible gas meter can almost be worse than using none at all since a faulty meter may provide a false sense of security.

Workplace Safety & Health Co. is equipped to identify and assess the hazards of suspected confined spaces in your facility, determine whether each meets the OSHA criteria for a confined space, and if so, whether it should be permit-required. Workplace Safety & Health Co. can also pre-test the atmosphere in accessible spaces to provide advanced warning that additional precautions may be needed prior to entering a confined space.

With our experience in assessing thousands of confined spaces in a wide range of industries, Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help your organization attain a “best practice” level of compliance. Give us a call or visit our website today to learn more.

Tagged in: air quality OSHA

OSHA announced in July it will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with a new Construction Confined Space Rule until Oct. 2.

"The agency is postponing full enforcement of the new standard to Oct. 2, 2015, in response to requests for additional time to train and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard," an OSHA announcement stated. "During this 60-day temporary enforcement period, OSHA will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the new standard. Employers must be in compliance with either the training requirements of the new standard or the previous standard. Employers who fail to train their employees consistent with either of these two standards will be cited."

The announcement also spells out what factors OSHA will accept as indicating employers are making good-faith efforts to comply, stating that these factors "include: scheduling training for employees as required by the new standard; ordering the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard; and taking alternative measures to educate and protect employees from confined space hazards."

The final rule – issued May 4 – is similar to the OSHA general industry standard. A major difference is that the construction standard will require employers on multi-employer sites to share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28236

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

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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

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