Trenching and Excavation Hazards

walters-bodyCave-ins are perhaps the most feared trenching hazard. But other potentially fatal hazards exist, including asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen in a confined space, inhalation of toxic fumes, drowning, etc. Electrocution or explosions can occur when workers contact underground utilities.

OSHA requires that workers in trenches and excavations be protected, and that safety and health programs address the variety of hazards they face. The following hazards cause the most trenching and excavation injuries:

  • No Protective System
  • Failure to Inspect Trench and Protective Systems
  • Unsafe Spoil-Pile Placement
  • Unsafe Access/Egress

via OSHA Construction eTool: Trenching and Excavation.

Emergency Action Plan Required by OSHA

AZJrBrAn emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular OSHA standards [29 CFR 1910.38(a)]. The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. Well developed emergency plans and proper employee training (such that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the plan) will result in fewer and less severe employee injuries and less structural damage to the facility during emergencies. A poorly prepared plan, likely will lead to a disorganized evacuation or emergency response, resulting in confusion, injury, and property damage.

via Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool | What is an Emergency Action Plan?.

Indirect Costs of Accidents

vNdEnSKOmdAStudies show that the ratio of indirect costs to direct costs varies widely, from a high of 20:1 to a low of 1:1. OSHA has shown that the lower the direct costs of an accident, the higher the ratio of indirect to direct costs (ranging from 4.1/1.0 to 1.1/1.0). Examples of indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.

via Indirect Costs of Accidents.

What are the major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard?

GHS-HeaderThe three major areas of change are in hazard classification, labels, and safety data sheets.

  • Hazard classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures. These specific criteria will help to ensure that evaluations of hazardous effects are consistent across manufacturers, and that labels and safety data sheets are more accurate as a result.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.

The GHS does not include harmonized training provisions, but recognizes that training is essential to an effective hazard communication approach. The revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires that workers be re- trained within two years of the publication of the final rule to facilitate recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data sheets.

via Hazard Communication.

What Can Be Done to Control Hazardous Energy?

lockout-tagoutFailure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries. Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry outlines measures for controlling different types of hazardous energy. The LOTO standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures:

  • Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry, outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
  • All employees who work in the area where the energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s) and about the prohibition against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or equipment that is locked or tagged out.
  • All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace, the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace, and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
  • Specific procedures and limitations relating to tagout systems where they are allowed.
  • Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.

via Safety and Health Topics | Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout).

What is the application of HAZCOM to an office environment?

23Office workers who encounter hazardous chemicals only in isolated instances are not covered by the rule. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers most office products (such as pens, pencils, adhesive tape) to be exempt under the provisions of the rule, either as articles or as consumer products. For example with copy toner OSHA has previously stated that intermittent or occasional use of a copying machine does not result in coverage under the rule. However, if an employee handles the chemicals to service the machine, or operates it for long periods of time, then the program would have to be applied.

via Frequently Asked Questions: HAZCOM.

Powered Industrial Trucks Safety

Forklift Safety_DVDPowered industrial trucks, commonly called forklifts or lift trucks, are used in many industries, primarily to move materials. They can be used to move, raise, lower, or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects on pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers.

The hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks vary depending on the vehicle type and the workplace where the truck is used. Each type of truck presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident, because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace conditions also present different hazards. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety.

The best way to protect employees from injury also depends on the type of truck operated and worksite where it is being used.

via Powered Industrial Trucks eTool.

Exposure to Bloodborne Infectious Diseases

bloodborne-pathogenExposures to blood and other body fluids occur across a wide variety of occupations. Health care workers, emergency response and public safety personnel, and other workers can be exposed to blood through needlestick and other sharps injuries, mucous membrane, and skin exposures. The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Workers and employers are urged to take advantage of available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids.

via CDC – Bloodborne Infectious Diseases – HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic.

Lock-out Tag-out to Avoid Serious Accidents

lockoutMany serious accidents have happened when someone thought a machine or the power to it was safely off. “Lock-out tag-out” is a way to protect yourself and others by ensuring that machines remain completely, temporarily off. Without a lock-out tag-out system there is the possibility that a machine will unexpectedly start up, either because of stored energy which was not correctly released or through the actions of someone starting the process without realizing that it isn’t safe to do so.

The lock-out tag-out standard requires that hazardous energy sources be “isolated and rendered inoperative” before maintenance or servicing work can begin. These energy sources include electrical (either active current or stored as in a capacitor), pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, thermal, chemical, and the force of gravity. It is important to remember all of the energy sources must be “isolated and rendered inoperative.” Overlooking an energy source has proved fatal on several occasions.

via Lock-out Tag-out.

OSHA – What is a General Duty Clause Violation?

OSHA-inspector.99125913_stdSeveral conditions must be met for OSHA to issue a General Duty Clause violation:

  • The hazard was recognized.
  • The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which his or her employees were exposed.
  • A feasible and useful method was available to correct the hazard.
  • The hazard was causing or likely to cause death or serious injury.

Recognition of a hazard  can be established if the employer knew about the hazard. This can be ascertained through the employer’s previous inspection history. For instance, a compliance officer suggesting a particular situation may constitute a hazard could, given the right conditions, cite the employer on a second inspection for the hazard under the General Duty Clause.

OSHA also can use employee complaints or the employer’s own statements to determine if the hazard was recognized. In addition, the hazard can be recognized by the employer’s industry.

“OSHA does not necessarily need to show that a cited employer recognized the hazard,” Tucker said. “For purposes of the General Duty Clause, a recognized hazard exists if the hazard is recognized either by the employer or by the employer’s industry.” The existence of consensus standards or industry practices also can provide evidence that the hazard was recognizable, Tucker added.

Employees must be exposed to the hazard, and they must be the employees of the cited employer. An employer who creates, contributes to or controls a hazard that would otherwise be a General Duty Clause violation cannot be cited as such if his or her own employees are not exposed to the hazard, according to OSHA’s Field Operations Manual, an agency reference document that identifies inspection duty responsibilities.

Situations such as a multi-employer worksite can be more complicated. OSHA would have to establish that the workers exposed to the hazard were employed by the employer.

A feasible means of abating the hazard also is necessary, and that requirement places a burden on OSHA, Hammock said. In the rulemaking of a typical standard, OSHA has to demonstrate a feasible means of abatement. When a violation of a standard is issued and the employer contests, the burden falls to the employer to provide evidence as to why the abatement methods outlined in the standard are not feasible.

However, with the General Duty Clause, that burden shifts to OSHA, according to Hammock. Similar to establishing hazard recognition, OSHA said it can rely on consensus standards to show how a hazard cited under the General Duty Clause may be abated.

When OSHA issues a General Duty Clause violation, it is for the hazard, not for a particular incident or lack of a particular abatement method.

The hazard must be serious, meaning it could cause death or substantial physical harm. Establishing whether a hazard is serious is similar to how OSHA classifies a serious violation for its standards, the Field Operations Manual states. A serious hazard presents a “substantial probability” of death or serious physical harm.

As an example, the Field Operations Manual offers an employee standing at the edge of an unguarded floor 25 feet high. A fall likely would result in death or serious injury.

via The General Duty Clause.