OSHA Electrical Shock
May is National Electrical Safety Month

National Electrical Code infographic

Here are three new acronyms for you to keep in mind during the month of May. There is NEC which is for the National Electric Code.  Next is ESFI an acronym representing the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Finally, there is NESM used for National Electrical Safety Month which just so happens to be in May.  Now that we know what they stand for, let’s talk about what they do or mean.

The NEC is a standard used for safely installing wiring and equipment. Many people know it as NFPA 70 – a part of the National Fire Protection Association. While not a legally binding standard it is used by many to set safe practices for those using or working with electricity. The NEC is updated every 3 years and is usually adopted by a state or city.

ESFI is a foundation that was created in 1994 to promote electrical safety in all areas of life including the home and workplace.  They work with corporations and the public to prevent electrical fires and injuries.  This is done by providing educational tools, materials and resources.  They have information on general electrical safety, electric shock drowning and overhead power lines.

Check out their website at https://www.esfi.org/.
There is even a kid’s page at http://kids.esfi.org/

National Electrical Safety Month – NESM is observed every year in May. This year’s theme is “Understanding the Code that Keeps Us Continue Reading…

Countdown to WHMIS 2015 Deadline: Training Requirements

WHMIS 2015 update man working at oil refinery

WHMIS 2015 Training Requirements

Next in our WHMIS 2015 countdown series, we will discuss training requirements under the new regulation.

With the WHMIS deadline fast approaching and workplaces updating their labels and safety data sheets, one must not forget that employees will need to understand what the changes all mean.

In Canada, if a workplace uses hazardous products, then the worker must be educated and trained on the hazards of those products. This would apply to workers who are exposed to the products during their day to day work routine, anyone who stores, handles or disposes of hazardous products, supervisors or managers who meet the above criteria, and anyone involved with emergency response.

Education vs Training

What is the difference between education and training? Let’s look at the definitions, courtesy of CCOHS:

Education
Refers to general or portable information such as how WHMIS works and the hazards of the products. For example, you will learn about the hazard classes (e.g., why a product is called a corrosive, and what information you can find on labels and SDSs).
Training
Refers to the site- and job-specific information to employees that will cover your workplace’s procedures for storage, handling, use, disposal, emergencies, spills, and what to do in unusual situations.

Suggested topics for education and training include:

  • Information on the supplier label, such as the signal word, hazard and precautionary phrases and pictograms; what do they mean?
  • Information on the workplace Continue Reading…
PHMSA
PHMSA & OSHA Make a Video Together – an Oxymoron?

Warehouse with chemicals

PHMSA vs OSHA

George Carlin will always be a favorite comedian for people of a certain age. One of his best-known bits is on oxymorons. An oxymoron, is basically a set of contradictory terms that work together. While not the greatest of explanations, let’s have George give you some examples to make the point.

This concept came to mind on the heels of the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) joint video on labeling. Those two organizations are just that, 2 different organizations, yet they released a joint video? It sounded like a setup to a bad joke. Turns out I was wrong.

The video does a great job of explaining the focus of each organization and goes a long way to clearing the air. There are references to the regulations used by each, but not a lot of time is spent on “regulatory language” or the details of either one. 

Comparing PHMSA vs OSHA

Here is my version of the comparisons between the two and how closely the align based on the video.

PHMSA OSHA Take Away
Regulates hazardous materials in transport Regulates hazardous chemicals in the workplace Both want people to be safe.
Uses the Hazardous Materials Regulation Uses the Hazard Communication Standard Both have a set of “rules”.
Defines Hazardous Material as those that pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce Defines Hazardous Chemical as Continue Reading…
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 Continue Reading…

OSHA Labeling
Disney, Dwarfs and Workplace Labels

It was recently announced that Disney was re-releasing the classic animated movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The commercial started with the dwarfs singing their classic song “Heigh-Ho”. In this tune, the cute characters of Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy and Doc all sing about coming home from working all day digging in the mine. To remember these characters, watch and listen here.

As the scene starts, I can’t help but notice there are no OSHA workplace labels anywhere. In the new OSHA Hazard Communications Standard 1910.1200 there isn’t much guidance on how to handle workplace labeling. The regulation states “the employer shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked”. The regulation goes on to say use the same information that is found on the shipped containers or use a “Product identifier and words, pictures, symbols, or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals, and which, in conjunction with the other information immediately available to employees under the hazard communication program, will provide employees with the specific information regarding the physical and health hazards of the hazardous chemical.”

Many Employers may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what to have in a workplace after reading the regulation. Let us help. We offer the GHS Workplace Labels (Orange System).

Orange System GHS Workplace Labels Available Continue Reading…

Safety
Clark Griswold and Portable Ladder Safety

As it is the time of year to begin taking down holiday decorations, the topic of portable ladder safety should be addressed. There are various ways to teach and model proper safety techniques in the use of these types of ladders. One of the best is by using humor and my personal favorite is Chevy Chase playing Clark Griswold in the National Lampoon’s movies. Chase’s use of slapstick or physical comedy often has the desired effect of teaching people the best ways to NOT do a task.

Let’s put together one of the classic scenes from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and apply OSHA’s Ladder Safety Requirements in 29 CFR 1926.1053 to it to see just how bad Clark Griswold is at safety. To view the scene, click here. To view OSHA’s Portable Ladder Safety Quick Card™, click here.

So, here is the comparison. Below is the requirement as listed on the Portable Ladder Safety Quick Card™ followed by how Clark is in violation of it.  See if you can find any I missed in my assessment.

  1. Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.

VIOLATION: This one is questionable, but given Clark’s way of working it is doubtful the yellow safety sticker on the side of the ladder was checked before it was removed from the garage and set into place.

  1. Avoid electrical hazards! – Look for overhead power lines before Continue Reading…
HAZCOM 2012
More Hazard Communication Issues

An inquiry was made by the American Coatings Association, which they asked OSHA to clearly outline the import of materials and the export of materials in sealed containers for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) responded with a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) on November 23rd, 2015 which further clarified the responsibilities of US companies when importing or exporting materials that require attention under the 29 CFR 1910.1200

In regard to import OSHA’s guidance in the LOI states the responsibility falls on the importers to assure compliant labeling when the material becomes under their control. Once in their control, importers must follow the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(4) where applicable. Importers must also assure compliance with HCS 2012 prior to shipping within the United States. In this LOI, OSHA encourages the review of their CPL-02-02-079 Section X.F.2h compliance directive which entails information for materials packaged for shipment prior to June 1st, 2015.

OSHA’s guidance for export in this LOI for sealed containers is that if prepared for direct shipment outside the US and are inside a USDOT approved shipping container, the manufacturer can label the container for the destination country. A HCS compliant label must be affixed to the outside package or be attached to the shipping papers as well. The container would also have to be labeled according the appropriate regulation for Continue Reading…

OSHA, Newspapers, & Pictures – Electrical Safety

A few weeks ago I posted a blog regarding Fall Prevention. In it there was a reference to Arthur Brisbane, a reporter who in 1911 used the expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” As a follow-up to that blog, here is another one where a picture is worth a thousand words.

Last weekend allowed me the chance to see the musical “Matilda” at The Fox Theatre in downtown St. Louis. As I walked to the main doors I could hear water splashing against the ground. Upon closer inspection the source of the sound was found. Take a look at the following picture.

exposed wires - electrical safety

Again, you can imagine the conversation held after seeing this. There were lots of shocking comments, and stories about the stupid things we did as children in regards to electrical sockets. There were even a few regarding “the show must go on” but, it got me thinking. Just how is electrical safety handled in the workplace or in construction areas?

Upon arrival to work on Monday, I did some checking. The Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2015 is out and two of the top ten for 2015 include electrical issues. One is for “Electrical – Wiring Methods” and the other is for “Electrical – General Requirements”. If you look back over the past five years, some aspect of electricity is listed on every one.

Per the Continue Reading…

Right to Know
Has Right to Know Gone Too Far?

Right to know regulations are great for employees. They help educate the employees to understand all of the hazards they may be exposed to. OSHA’s philosophy behind their hazard communication standard is based around the “right to know” concept. One key to the system is the training of employees to not only know about a hazard, but to understand the hazard. Some states have implemented individual right to know requirements to provide information to workers above and beyond the federal level.

One state in particular has gone way beyond and branched the right to know into the consumer sector. Yes, I’m talking about California and their Prop 65 legislation. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) website (click here), Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The proposition was intended to protect California citizens and the State’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.

The list of chemicals covered by Prop 65 can be found on OEHHA’s website (click here). Note that they specify coverage to citizens, not just workers. This means that Prop 65 applies everywhere in California, not just workplaces where employees are trained to understand what the information really means. Continue Reading…

OSHA Video Game Controler
OSHA Plays Video Games for Safety

In 1983 the science fiction film “War Games” was released. The film is set in America at the height of the Cold War where the threat of nuclear war is a topic of much speculation. The plot surrounds a hacker named David, his access to the supercomputer with artificial intelligence called War Operation Plan Response (WOPR) and a friendly game of “Global Thermonuclear War”. This game among others on WOPR was designed to teach the artificial intelligence strategy and planning. A classic line from this movie is, “Shall we play a game?” which is uttered by WOPR.

Apparently, OSHA is following in these same footsteps. OSHA has released a game. (Note: Unity Player required to play)

Per OSHA:

“OSHA’s Hazard Identification Training Tool is an interactive, online, game-based training tool for small business owners, workers and others interested in learning the core concepts of hazard identification. After using this tool, users will better understand the process to identify hazards in their own workplace.”

The point of the game/tool is to find and name various workplace hazards. The goal is for managers and workers to be proactive in preventing injury and illnesses on while on the job. There are four scenarios including Manufacturing, Construction, OSHA Visual Inspection, and Emergency Room. It is recommended start with OSHA Visual Inspection Training. To keep the game/tool from getting “stale”, OSHA had it designed to alter the scenario Continue Reading…