Accidents Can Happen at the Office!

The risk of accidents in an office are negligible … it usually results in very minor injuries and it’s not really worth it to be concerned …

If this is really what you think, there is an important perception problem. We would like to show here some dangerous situations where you will see that using common sense, will help to avoid injury and accidents. Security measures are to be respected both in the offices, on construction sites, or in plants.

Tripping Over a Cable

In addition to being dangerous, it can also be annoying … And all there is to do, is to simply fix the wire or the cable on the floor using adhesive tape or a wire floor guard.

Bumping or Tripping Over an Open Drawer

Often, we leave a file cabinet drawer opened mainly because we only need to use the document for a few seconds before putting it back. This is enough time to create a hazard. A very simple way to avoid this scenario is to close the drawer immediately after you get what you need from the file cabinet.

Hurting Your Back While Carrying a Heavy Object

Weight handling techniques should be used by both office and plant workers. In addition, the use of a dolly would be appropriate or ask help from a colleague.

Objects Landing on Your Head

Top of the cabinets are often used as a storage area. This reflects the image of a messy office area and it’s certainly not safe. Moreover, to reach items that are that high, why not use a stool or a bench that meets the safety standards?

Hitting Furniture

A better furniture arrangement could certainly help to avoid many bruises.

Electrocution or Burns

Occasionally, papers get stuck in the copier. There is risk of electric shock, burns, and cuts when you try to remove the paper sheets without following the proper safety instructions. By the way, have you read them?

Hazmat Personal Protection Equipment
Drywall and Dust Exposure

Being a Home Owner Working in Safety

A part of being a homeowner is maintaining the structure and surrounding area. We do this to keep the city and neighbors happy, but also to keep the house in good working order. If you look around your neighborhood, yards are mowed and houses are painted. You will even see the occasional furniture delivery or roofer in the area. Another part of home ownership is keeping the inside up to date. After all indoor plumbing is nice and there is always the chance that the house will be sold in the future.

Our home is currently 16 years old and we’ve been in it for 8 years. It has not been updated much beyond some interior paint and a new roof thanks to St. Louis hail storms. We decided to update a bathroom. Easy enough given how small they are, right? It turns out we needed to gut the bathroom down to the studs since it was covered in wallpaper. During the demolition there was a ton of dust generated. Now that new drywall is up it has to be “mudded and sanded” which created even more dust. What was fascinating was the fact none of the folks working wore masks or respirators during any of this. Remember I work in safety so this bothered me greatly and sent me on a hunt for what exactly is out there regarding dry wall.

Drywall and Dust Exposure

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) actually issued a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) about dust exposures resulting from drywall sanding in 1999. A link to the document can be found here.

What exactly are the hazards of drywall dust? NIOSH reports that some drywall joint compounds are made from ingredients including talc, silica, and gypsum which in dust form can irritate a person’s eyes, nose and respiratory airways. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can cause various health problems including persistent irritation, coughing, asthma-like symptoms and even lung cancer. Because of these hazards there are Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) in place for worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists an 8-hour time weighted average exposure limit of 15 mg/m3 for total dust exposure to Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated (PNOR) and a respirable dust exposure limit of 5 mg/m3. From the study NIOSH did to compile their HHE, it was found that some workers’ exposure equates to more than ten times those limits.

Manufacturers are warning workers on their safety data sheets of the hazards of drywall dust and list appropriate personal protective equipment and ventilation on their safety data sheets. Some even suggested alternatives to dry sanding to cut down on the dust produced including wet sanding and portable vacuum systems. However, these are not followed or used as noticed by my own experience. According to the HHE, “When respiratory protection is worn, it is often used incorrectly with little thought to training, proper selection, or fit.” As a safety person this baffles me.

Given the work on my bathroom is not complete and with the knowledge I now have, guess who will have the gift of dust masks when work begins again? Yep, if the folks in my home won’t bring the necessary items to be safe, I’ll be supplying them along with a note to the “Big Boss” about my concerns.

As always, ICC is here for all of your safety needs. Contact us today for a plant audit or our 10 and 30-Hour General Industrial Trainings.

Safety Star Wars
May the (Safety) Force Be with You

Even a universe long ago and far, far away isn’t immune to problems with worker safety. And it’s not just those Storm Troopers eternally hitting their heads on the ceiling, or rebels getting trapped in garbage disposals.

An Accident on Set

During the filming of 2015’s blockbuster “Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens,” star Harrison Ford was struck by a piece of the set, resulting in a broken leg and several weeks’ delay in filming. The lost production time wasn’t the film company’s only problem, though. Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, a Disney subsidiary, was charged with four criminal violations to the United Kingdom’s workplace safety laws. This week, the company pleaded guilty to two counts, with the remaining two counts being withdrawn by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (The charges were laid in Britain because the accident occurred at the famous Pinewood set near London.)

Ironically, what endangered the 74-year-old star was a piece of modern technology. While working on set, he was struck by an automatic hydraulic-powered door that was reportedly triggered by someone unaware that Harrison was nearby. The force produced by this door was likened by the prosecution to “a small car.” When Harrison starred in the first Star Wars film, such a door would have been more likely to be powered by a stage-hand pulling a rope.

The Film Industry’s History of Risk

That doesn’t mean that film sets have a reputation for safety– far from it. Silent movies were made long before workplace safety was a significant issue for employers, and it was routine for actors, and particularly stuntmen and women, to be put at serious risk. When pouring millions of gallons of water on set during a filming of “Noah’s Ark,” director Michael Curtiz supposedly told a protesting staffer that the hundreds of extras “would have to take their chances” on drowning. According to a article on the filming of “Ben Hur” (the 1959 movie had no fatalities, but a stuntman died during the filming of the chariot race in the 1926 silent version) “[t]he early days of the film industry was particularly hard on stunt people. Baxter lists 55 deaths, mostly stunt people, as occurring in California film productions during the years 1925-1930.”

While the passage of time brought improved safety regulations for film sets, it also brought more emphasis on spectacular stunts and explosions. In 1982, actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed in an on-set helicopter crash. Director John Landis and others in the production were charged with manslaughter, but acquitted. Since then, government and industry have both worked to improve the safety of workers on sets. Many innovative programs have been set up – for example, in Californian centers near major movie studios, firefighters are given special training in recognizing hazards they may encounter on movie sets. Still, stage and screen work continues to be risky to its practitioners.

Lessons Learned

Like any good epic, the tale of Han Solo and the Door of Doom teaches us an important lesson. All workplaces must make safety a priority. It’s easy to see safety as an issue in heavy industry, such as construction or manufacturing. But all workplaces can pose hazards, even those dedicated to providing us with entertainment. Fortunately, in most areas, the regulations protect those who work on screen, in offices or in laboratories just as much as workers on the shop floor. The HSE said in their announcement of the guilty pleas:

“Every employer in every industry has a legal duty to manage risks in the workplace. Risks are part and parcel of everyday life, and this is acknowledged by health and safety law – but they still need to be identified and managed in a proportionate way.”

The veteran Ford took the accident in stride. He returned to his signature role in the movie that would become the top-grossing film in North American history, and posted a tweet holding a sign that read “Can do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Can’t use a door.”

If you have regulatory questions about workplace health and safety, contact us here at ICC Compliance Center at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-44834 (Canada).

Pokémon Go pokéball
Pokémon Go: Gotta Catch ‘Em All – Safely

Until recently, if you saw someone wandering down the street, eyes fixed to their smart phone, you might assume they were absorbed by texting “Sup?” to all their friends. But there’s a new craze this summer, a game called Pokémon Go. While the game has been praised for getting couch potatoes out into the streets searching for digital creatures (the “pocket monsters” or Pokémon) to collect, questions about player safety (as well as bad behaviour) have been a hot topic in the news.

Let’s look at how you can enjoy hunting adorable imaginary monsters without getting hurt or becoming a nuisance to others.

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is available in Canada and the U.S. as a free download for both Android and iOS phones. Once you download it, you discover the game has two main parts – hunting and fighting

Your first task is to locate and catch Pokémon. There are 142 types (Currently available in North America) that may be generated around the landscape. The game provides you with a map of your location, which will indicate, in a frustratingly vague manner, the Pokémon available for capture in your general area. When one comes into range, your smartphone will vibrate and an adorable cartoon monster will appear on your phone screen. To catch it, flick a trap called a “pokéball” at the creature (the thumb-flick, though easy, is not as accurate as the preferred forefinger-flick). Since Pokémon have different strengths, the higher-ranked ones will be harder to catch. Once caught, they can be strengthened by feeding them candy and stardust. Sounds unhealthy, but they’re like vegetables and whole grains to Pokémon.

Once you’ve established a stable of Pokémon and reached the rank of “trainer”, you can battle against players at “Pokémon gyms,” as you strive for pre-eminence over local trainers. There’s no money involved in winning, but pride and glory await the trainer who can catch and raise the most powerful minions.

The game, created by Niantic, Inc., is free to play, but extra pokéballs and other supplies are available as in-app purchases. Caches of free supplies may be found at “Pokéstops,” located at local attractions such as parks, churches, museums, and public artworks. This encourages players to discover details about their local community that even long-time residents may have missed.

So, Why the Concern?

Wild Pokémon are generated relatively randomly, sometimes in places where it may be dangerous for players to go. These include private property, dangerous environments such as cliffs and waterways, and areas with high crime levels. Although most current reports of trainers being hurt or attacked are urban legends, enough incidents have occurred to make safety a concern. One player was stabbed while hunting down an elusive specimen and another searching along a riverbank came across a real-life corpse. A Toronto player is now in trouble with transit authorities for filming himself searching for targets on the subway tracks.

Additional complaints have arisen from the location of the Pokéstops and gyms. While clusters of eager players may be welcomed at many spots (particularly in commercial areas), players have been seen behaving inappropriately at areas where respectful decorum is required, such as the Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. While Niantic has a system for requesting the addition or deletion of a stop or gym, the massive response to the game has made it unlikely that such changes can be made quickly. It’s up to the players themselves to behave responsibly.

Steps for Safe Play

Pokémon Go Safety

If you decide to join the hordes of prospective Pokémon trainers, keep in mind that although the Pokémon live in a virtual world, you don’t. That means that the laws of society and nature still apply to your activities. Even the opening screen of the game reminds you to stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Here are some suggestions to increase the fun and minimize the danger of your poképursuit.

  • Keep your head up. Fortunately, your phone will alert you if you’ve approached a target, so you don’t have to keep your eyes glued to it. Enjoy your rambles, and don’t look like a noob by concentrating excessively on your screen. If you’re trying to track a distant Pokémon, stop walking when you check your map.
  • Plan your course and pick a safe route. You don’t want to end up in the wrong part of town or knee-deep in a bog. Take the time of day into consideration. While some rare Pokémon prefer to come out at night, so do muggers. It may be safe to wander around a park during the daytime, but it might not be a good idea in the middle of the night.
  • Traffic is your enemy. Don’t jaywalk or try to cross busy highways. Don’t stop in the middle of an intersection to throw pokéballs. Don’t walk down active railway lines. Especially don’t walk down railway lines while listening to headphones.
  • Speaking of which, don’t hunt and drive. While the programmers claim that they’ve deliberately kept spawning points away from major highways, Pokémon can still make tantalizing appearances as you drive city streets. Don’t slam on the brakes just because you spotted a Vaporeon (as many people did in Central Park recently, creating a massive traffic jam in downtown Manhattan). If you plan on using a car to get around, park before going on the hunt. Remember, many jurisdictions ban using hand-held electronics while behind the wheel, and that covers gameplay as well as texting. Even if it’s legal in your area, it’s still not a good idea. If you want to search a wide zone, get a partner to drive while you scan.
  • Prepare for the conditions of your search. It’s a hot summer – if you’ll be walking around during the day, wear sunscreen and take plenty of water with you. Your Pokémon skills won’t save you if you get heatstroke. Wear good walking or hiking shoes. If you’re going into natural areas such as parks, beware of ticks and other insects who are not as easily subdued as Caterpie.
  • Respect private property and areas such as churches and memorials. This is common sense as much as common decency. The game’s sensors allow you a relatively wide circle where you can nab your prey, so in most cases you can get that Pikachu in someone’s backyard just by standing on the sidewalk. But if you can’t, be nice and don’t pester the inhabitants. You might end up facing charges for trespassing, and the judge may not find completing your Pokédex adequate justification.
  • As all fads, Pokémon Go has attracted scammers and worse to prey on the unwary. One report tells of enterprising thieves who set up a lure (which attracts large numbers of Pokémon to one area), and robbed players who showed up at gunpoint. Scam websites have tried to convince players to pay them a monthly fee, despite Niantic’s declaration that the game will stay free to play. Avoid going into isolated areas alone, and always check out internet rumours at reliable sources.
  • Above all, keep in mind that Pokémon Go is a game. A fun one, yes. But it’s not worth risking your safety or breaking the law for.

If you have questions about Pokémon Go, Barbara Foster will field them after she catches the Eevee lurking behind her desk. For regulatory questions, contact us here at ICC The Compliance Center at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-4834 (Canada).

OSHA Update
2 Million Plus Workers Get Protection From Deadly Dust! (Part 2)

Silicosis and OSHA Standards

As you may recall in my last blog, I spoke of a tragic story out of West Virginia. It was the Hawk’s Nest Industrial Incident and the repercussions on the people of that time in the 1930s. Up to date each year illness continues takes the lives of thousands of workers. One of these illness still present is caused by a deadly dust – crystalline silica which can cause Silicosis. It is approximated that 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work. Over time workers have come to count on OSHA to adopt standards to be enforced in the workplace. These standards aid in the reduction of the risks to workers from contracting illness or injury in the workplace.

Let’s review what crystalline silica is. Crystalline silica is an important industrial material found largely in the earth’s crust and is commonly found in the likes of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. It is found in materials that we see every day in the construction of roads, buildings, and sidewalks. Silica dust occurs in the workplace when operations involve cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock, and stone. It can also be found among operations that use sand products, such as glass manufacturing, foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing.

Crystalline silica (respirable) is hazardous to workers who inhale small particles, which puts a worker at risk of developing silica-related diseases that can be serious. Even deadly. Tiny as these particles are they can be easily inhaled and get deep into workers lungs, which then causes silicosis, an irreversible, incurable, and fatal lung disease. There are other repercussions from exposure to silica, workers are at risk for lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and kidney disease.

Silica Exposure Limits

OSHA and the workforce has known about the dangers of silica for a long time. As a matter of fact more than 80 years ago, U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins brought experts and stakeholders together to figure out ways to safeguard labors from silica. OSHA’s current PEL’s (permissible exposure limits) for silica are over 40 years old. There has been proof that shows the current exposure limits do not protect workers. For instance silica exposure has been proven to cause lung cancer and kidney disease at the current PEL’s.

In efforts to protect workers from the dangers of crystalline silica, OSHA has finalized a ruling and put in place standards for silica. One for general industry and maritime, and the other for construction. OSHA has taken the time to gather information through many venues getting them to the point of establishing the final rule for silica. They have accomplished this through extensive review of scientific evidence from current industry standards, public outreach efforts, weeks of public hearings, and a period in which they took comments from the public. By doing this the ruling provides reasonable, inexpensive and flexible strategies for employers to implement protection for their workers. It is estimated that this ruling will save the lives of 600 or more workers each year and once fully implemented prevent more than 900 cases of Silicosis each year.

Just how will the rule protect workers? The rule reduces the volume of silica dust that a worker can be exposed to (PEL equation can be found here). Employers will have to implement controls and practices that reduce workers’ exposure to the silica dust. Employers will also have to safeguard that silica dust is wetted down or vacuumed up in dust collectors to prevent workers from breathing it in. Many employers have already been implementing measures to protect their workers from silica.

In brief under the new rule employers are required to:

  • limit access to high exposure areas
  • provide training
  • provide respiratory protection (if controls are not enough to limit exposure)
  • provide written exposure control plans
  • measure exposures

Employers are also required under this ruling to offer medical examinations to workers that are considered to be highly exposed to silica dust.

OSHA Compliance

OSHA will help employers comply with the rule to protect their workers by providing flexibility to help employers protect workers from silica exposure. They have given from one to five years to get the correct protections in place. OSHA has staggered compliance dates to give sufficient time to meet the requirements of this rule.

There are many industries affected by this new rule, are you one of them?

Here are the industries projected to be affected according to OSHA:

  • Construction
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Pottery products
  • Structural clay products
  • Concrete products
  • Foundries
  • Dental laboratories
  • Paintings and coatings
  • Jewelry production
  • Refractory products
  • Ready-mix concrete
  • Cut stone and stone products
  • Abrasive blasting
  • Refractory furnace installation and repair
  • Railroad transportation
  • Oil and gas operations

If specifications are followed correctly employers can be confident that they are providing workers with the necessary level of protection. What are these specifications? Stay tuned for part 3 of this silica blog series where I will detail the Crystalline Silica Rule.

More information can be found here:

Other Articles in the Silica Blog Series

Crystalline Silica Rule (Part 3)

Silica Dust Just One Account in History (Part 1)

Hazmat Personal Protection Equipment
Safety Supplies Can Save The Lives of Employees In The Workplace

The Best Safety

The best safety at work is something that every employer wants for all of their employees, because health and safety are two of the most precious and important of all things. Therefore each employer out there should make sure that there are certain things in place to ensure workplace safety on all fronts for workers, management, and everyone concerned. Providing total safety and a safe environment is often not easy, but it is doable, if you have all of the right things in place to make it so. Employers do need to make sure that they have proper safety supplies for their employees. The best way that current personal protection equipment can be assured of being the right equipment is by making sure it is what employees do require most for personal protection. Personal protection equipment for employees must always be updated and meet certain regulations overall. If it doesn’t, then it will not ensure the right level of safety, which must be in place on all fronts at all times.

There is nothing more important in the workplace, as in the home front, then making sure that everyone who is a part of the working environment is safe and sound in every way. One of these ways is via personal protection equipment that should be high quality in every way and able to keep one shielded adequately as well. These safety supplies make their own statement and this statement is to promote the finest of all safety and safety prevention of the best grade too.

What is Personal Protection Equipment and Why is it Required?

First of all, what is personal protection equipment and why it is required? Personal protection equipment, or PPE for short, as it known is special equipment that is worn by employees to lessen the chances of any exposure to forms of serious workplace injuries and types of illnesses. These serious injuries and illnesses can happen as the result of coming into contact with dangers that can exist in a workplace. Some of these dangers can include harmful chemicals, any form of radiological contact, and many other hazards. Some of the other hazards can be physical, electrical, or mechanical in nature. Making sure to have the right kind, as well as, high grade of personal protection equipment gear for employees exposed to these workplace dangers is crucial. Personal protection equipment workplace gear can take on many forms. Some of these forms do include gloves, full body type suits, masks, safety glasses and or goggles, coveralls, respirators, earplugs, the list goes on. Any personal protective equipment is something that should be designed to be safe and constructed properly for the very same purpose.

Companies do need to make sure to always have the most current of all personal protection equipment stocked and on hand for all employees to use in the work environment. This is the one way to make sure, as well as, to ensure their overall safety in the best manner possible. Employers should also make sure to train every employee on what they need to know about personal protection equipment and how to use it properly to keep themselves safe in the workplace. They need to know when it is necessary to use it for themselves, the type of personal protection equipment that is necessary, and how to put it on in the best manner possible. They also need to know what specific limitations that the personal protection gear does have and how to properly maintain it for usage on a regular basis. These safety supplies will help to save an employee’s life in the event of possible danger to them.

No Smoking
Up in Smoke – Transport Bans on E-Cigarettes

On almost every corner in St. Louis recently are signs for “vapor rooms” or “vaping” locations. Curious, I did some research. These are locations where the newly popular electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are sold and used. We now have electronic devices that are alternatives to real cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Some of these devices are called an e-cigarette, e-pen or even an e-hookah. They work by using a lithium battery to heat an internal coil which vaporizes a mixture of various chemicals and flavorings, including nicotine which is then inhaled.

Last week one of our local news stations, Fox 2 Now, aired a story about injuries received from electronic smoking devices exploding or catching fire while in the hands or pockets of some users. The full story can be found here. Please be warned some of the images are graphic in nature.

As someone in the “safety business,” I was curious in regards to what regulations are currently in place for these items. Back in January of 2015 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an alert that air carriers require these devices only in the cabin of the aircraft. This was followed by a June 2015 ICAO addendum that “prohibits the carriage of e-cigarettes in checked baggage and restricts the charging of these devices while on board the aircraft.” In May of this year, the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued their final rule on this topic. The final rule “prohibits passengers and crew members from carrying battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices (e.g., e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-cigars, e-pipes, personal vaporizers, and electronic nicotine delivery systems) in checked baggage and prohibits passengers and crew members from charging the devices and/or batteries on board an aircraft.” This final rule follows the interim one published in October 2015. As for using these devices during flight, it is prohibited. PHMSA’s previous policy prohibited their use, but to avoid confusion the Department is amending the rule to clearly state the ban. Also note that the charging devices and/or batteries for these devices are included in this ban.

What is interesting to note, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate e-cigarettes. This means there are no set of standards to determine what can be in the mixture that is vaporized and then inhaled. Another scary thought is that without some regulation, middle and high school students have easy access to these devices. In an article from the American Lung Association in August of 2014, a startling statistic was noted from a 2011 – 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The number of youth who used e-cigarettes but never used conventional cigarettes increased from 79,000 in 2011 to 263,000 in 2013. Among these youth, the study found 43.9 percent “intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year.” This is compared to only 21.5 percent who said they intended to smoke a cigarette but had never used an e-cigarette.

Isn’t it interesting that we have transportation regulations and bans in place for our safety on an aircraft but not for our overall health on the ground? While ICC Compliance Center won’t be able to help with that part, we can help with all of your lithium battery transportation needs including answering your questions and providing training.

OSHA Update
What is the Significance of June 1st?

What significance does June 1st have in the world of hazardous materials?

Hopefully this does not come as a surprise, but it is the deadline for the final implementation date for Hazcom 2012.

Effective Completion Date Requirements Who
December 1, 2013 Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. Employers
June 1, 2015 or December 1,2015 Compliance with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:The Distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a HCS Compliant label Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
June 1, 2016 Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Employers

In March 2012, OSHA aligned the HCS (Hazard Communication Standard) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This kicked off a four-year phase-in period which is now officially over.

By now, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers in the USA should have switched from OSHA 1994 to Hazcom 2012. This includes training all employees, classifying all products to the Hazcom 2012 criteria, creating Hazcom 2012 Safety Data Sheets (SDS), creating compliant shipped container labels, and finally updating workplace labeling and written safety programs to Hazcom 2012 standards.

Our handy checklist can help ensure that you have completed each important step. Use it as part of your internal auditing practice to ensure compliance.

If you still need help complying with the updated standard, give us a call. We can assist with consulting and training, safety data sheet and label development, and finally providing printing services to ensure those shipped container labels and workplace labels are in place.

June is National Safety Month

When you work in the field of safety, and so does your husband, it makes for interesting living situations. I no longer stand on a chair or stool to reach something on the top shelf. There are now ear plugs and safety goggles beside the lawn mower and weed eater in the garage. We have two fire extinguishers – one by the stove and one in the pantry. Our smoke detectors are checked twice a year from a ladder where three points of contact are maintained at all times. There is even an old Emergency Response Guidebook in my car for looking up UN numbers when I travel. Having lived this way for several years now, it surprises me when friends and family talk about near misses they have. Take heart other safety professionals, there is a month dedicated to our cause. June is National Safety Month.

The National Safety Council has outlined topics for each week of the month and even provides free downloadable resources in English and Spanish for each topic upon signup. I encourage you to do so as the resources are great. The link to the National Safety Council site can be found here. To sign up for the free materials, look to the right side of the website. Let’s take a look at each week and expand on the ideas.

This year the topics are as follows:

  • Week 1: Stand Ready to Respond
  • Week 2: Be Healthy
  • Week 3: Watch Out for Dangers
  • Week 4: Share Roads Safely

Stand Ready to Respond

For “Stand Ready to Respond” the focus is first aid and emergency response. Be aware and know how to respond appropriately in an emergency. The first step in many emergency situations is recognizing how you can best be of help. Have all emergency numbers, aside from 911, close to you or put them in your mobile phone for easy access. If and when you have to make that emergency call, be ready to answer some basic questions about the situation. Consider getting trained in CPR and First Aid.

Be Healthy

For “Be Healthy” the focus is on our overall health and the medicine we take. Almost everyone I know is at an age where eating healthy and exercising is important. I’m not ashamed to admit that turning 30 and 40 impacted my metabolism and not in a good way. In terms of medications we all have them around the house.  Some are needed daily while others are just for occasional use. What is important is if they truly are out of reach of children as every bottle states.

Watch Out for Dangers

For “Watch Out for Dangers” the focus is awareness. We should all be watching for possible places or situations that could be hazardous to ourselves, children and even the elderly. I constantly see people walking around a store or parking lot using their mobile phones. Can you truly be aware of your surroundings, other people or yourself when you are trying to have a conversation with another person at the same time? Think about your home. Consider if there are locations that could be unsafe for a young child or an elderly person should they visit.

Share Roads Safely

For “Share Roads Safely” the focus is pretty straightforward. Share the roads with other drivers including new teen-aged ones, road side work crews, bicyclists and motorcyclist. As a driver you are constantly making decisions. To do that well, driving should be the only thing you do with no distractions.

We should all be focused on being safe and avoiding injury. This goes for not just our work lives but our home lives as well. ICC Compliance Center is ready to help with all of your safety needs. We can provide you with signs, labels, packaging and many other “safety” services. Check us out today!

Pool Maintenance – Use Chlorine and Keep It Clean

Chlorine gas is a scary material. This yellowish gas can kill people at very low concentrations in air. Travelling wherever the wind takes it, leaking chlorine gas is an emergency situation. A mere 10 parts per million in air is classified as Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH). The whole city of Mississauga, Ontario, was evacuated for a week in 1979 due to the threatened release of chlorine from one damaged railway tankcar.

And yet, people clean their swimming pools on a regular basis using products called “pool chlorine”. How is this possible?

It turns out that the chlorine we use in swimming pools isn’t actually chlorine gas. Instead, pool chlorine is composed of chemicals that react with water to give off chlorine gas, slowly and safely. Typical chemicals used for pool disinfectants may be inorganic (such as calcium hypochlorite or lithium hypochlorite), or organic (such as trichloroisocyanuric acid and sodium dichloroisocyanurate).

When these chemicals are mixed with water, they break down to generate chlorine gas in small amounts. However, chlorine is a highly reactive material. It reacts with water molecules themselves to form a substance known as hypochlorous acid. This acidic compound will destroy the cell membranes of harmful organisms such as bacteria and algae, killing them and disinfecting the pool.

Hypochlorous acid, however, is quite reactive itself. Therefore, stabilizers may be added to the chlorinating product, or may be added to the pool separately. Ironically, if you can smell a strong odour from a chlorinated pool, this may mean that the pool is not properly chlorinated – the strong smell is usually from reaction of the acid with organic materials to form chemicals called chloramines, which are highly irritating to the respiratory system. Proper monitoring of water quality, including chlorine level and pH is essential to keeping your pool healthy for swimming.

Beach Hotel Pool

Still A Hazard . . .

Although pool chemicals aren’t as dangerous as pure chlorine gas, they still pose hazards for transportation, use and storage. Many pool chemicals are classified as oxidizers (that is, chemicals that will react with combustibles to cause ignition) as well as corrosives (chemicals that will attack metal or burn human skin tissue).

Due to their oxidizing properties, chlorinated pool chemicals should be kept away from any flammable material (such as gasoline) or combustible items such as cardboard boxes. Never allow pool chemicals to become contaminated with organic material, such as sawdust or oil. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) advises:

  • Do not store pool chemicals near gasoline, fertilizers, herbicides, grease, paints, tile cleaners, turpentine, or flammable materials. This tip is especially important when pool chemicals are stored in sheds or small storage rooms.
  • If a fire breaks out, do not use a “dry chemical” fire extinguisher. Only use large amounts of water. If you cannot extinguish the flame immediately, leave the area and call the fire department.

Since the chemicals may also be corrosive or at least highly irritating, always wear proper protective equipment when handling. Work gloves and eye protection, such as goggles, will protect against accidental splashes or contamination. If concentrated product lands on your skin or eyes, immediately flush with large quantities of water, and get medical attention when necessary. Of course, make sure to keep these chemicals away from children and pets, and never store leftovers in containers labelled as food or drink.

Since chlorinated chemicals are highly reactive, do not allow them to become contaminated by other chemicals. Especially important is keeping them away from acids – contamination with acid will result in rapid generation of chlorine. In 2012, a maintenance worker in St Catharines, Ontario, accidentally mixed about 90 litres of chlorine with 900 litres of muriatic acid (another common pool chemical). The resultant release of chlorine gas sent a dozen people to hospital with difficulty breathing and other respiratory symptoms.

Even mixing these chemicals with water can generate heat, which can cause the corrosive mixture to boil and splash back at you. Follow the rule from your high school chemistry teacher to always add your chemical to the water, not the water to the chemical, so that the heat can be dissipated by a larger amount of water.

CCOHS has a webpage dedicated to safe handling of pool chemicals at Users should also see if Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are available from the supplier. SDSs are not mandatory for consumer products, but are usually provided upon request as a customer service. And, of course, always read the label before using or storing chemicals.

Pool chemicals that are oxidizers or corrosives will also be regulated for transportation. While both U.S. and Canadian regulations usually exempt transport by a retail purchaser of consumer products, these exemptions will not apply to third party carriers.

Do you have any further questions about the regulations involving pool maintenance chemicals? Contact ICC Compliance Center here at 888-442-9628 (U.S.) or 888-977-4834 (Canada), and ask for one of our regulatory specialists.