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How to Teach Safety Measures to Your Employees and Make Them Listen

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

Education is important.  We all know that.  But in the workplace, proper education can mean the difference between safety and serious injury.  As we’ve said before, the workplace can house a lot of hidden dangers for employees.  A link to our previous blog on this subject can be found here.  A proper education plan is essential to eliminating unnecessary risks and protecting employees’ well-being.  To make it a little easier, we’ve put together a short list of tips to help employers better educate their employees.

Find mentors for new employees – Employees should never be asked to perform a task they haven’t witnessed firsthand.  Consider mentors for new employees, or host safety trainings where employees can be shown how to properly perform hazardous tasks.  Books and work sheets have their place, but paperwork can never replace hands-on learning.

Teach them why – Teaching employees how to perform a task is great, but teaching them why is almost equally important.  Employees might know how they should perform an activity, but if they don’t understand the repercussions of not doing it, they may be tempted to cut corners or stray from prescribed safety protocols.

Create “what if” scenarios – Accidents don’t always happen when and how we would expect.  When an employee is caught off guard, even the best training can fall flat.   Prepare employees to practice safety in unusual circumstances by creating “what if” scenarios.

Provide constructive feedback – Even the best employees need feedback from time to time, even if it’s just to let them know what they’re doing right.  Make sure to provide specific examples so employees have a concrete understanding of what they’re doing well and what should be avoided.

Incorporate online tools – Technology provides employees an opportunity to learn in a safe, interactive environment.  Computer programs can also make better use of visual activities by utilizing animations and other “in the moment” features.  Tests and quizzes can be incorporated at the end of modules to assess the employee’s retention of information.

Engage employees – We all remember sitting in certain classes.  The boring lectures, the mindless busywork.  Before a workplace safety education program can be successful, employees have to pay attention.  Don’t be afraid to include a little humor or ask a senior employee with public speaking experience to lead training sessions.  It might even be helpful to provide incentives for successful performance or higher test scores.

Refresh training periodically – When it comes to safety training, once is never enough.  It’s important to refresh employee knowledge periodically to ensure maximum retention.  The more an employee is reintroduced to information, the more he or she will be able to recall it when needed.  This doesn’t have to be formal training, but should be introduced whenever it seems appropriate.

And that’s it! Keep checking back regularly for more great tips to keep employees safe!

 

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The Dangers of Loading Docks

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

Loading docks can be dangerous places for forklifts and pedestrians. Falls from a loading dock in a forklift can be fatal. Every year, injuries and fatalities in the U.S. occur as a result of not taking safety precautions around loading/unloading docks. By adhering to the following safety tips, the risk of an injury or fatality can be reduced significantly. Periodic (at minimum annually) training should be completed and documented for any employer who has loading dock exposure.

Definitions

Gaining a thorough understanding of key terms related to loading dock safety is very important in order to maintain a safe work environment and properly train employees on potential hazards.

Dock Lock – A safety device that hooks to a trailer’s bumper when the truck is backed into a loading dock. The device is controlled from inside the loading dock area and prevents the trailer from being able to pull away from the dock.

Dock Plate – A movable metal plate that is placed between the warehouse dock and a trailer.

Live Loading – Live loading is occurring any time the driver of the truck is sitting in
the driver seat while a trailer is being loaded or unloaded, regardless of whether the keys are in the ignition or not.

Loading Dock – A platform where trucks are loaded and unloaded in addition to the area immediately inside the platform and the surrounding area outside the platform.

Mandatory Personnel – Personnel who are required to be in the warehouse and loading dock area to complete their job function, or any person who has supervisory responsibility for mandatory personnel.

Wheel Chocks – Wedges of sturdy material placed behind a vehicle’s wheels to prevent accidental movement.

Key Loading Dock Hazards and Safety Tips

Slips and Trips

  • Clean up any spills or rain/snow tracked into the area immediately.
  • Ensure that loading dock areas stay cleaned up and dry, and also ensure the application of ice melt outdoors when necessary.
  • Place containers, trash, packing, tools, and other materials safely out of walking and driving areas.
  • Maintain floors to keep them free from cracks and uneven surfaces.
  • Require employees to clean out dock areas periodically to remove accumulated debris, and ensure that the dock areas are covered under the facility housekeeping plan.

Falls from Hazards

  • Paint the edges of the loading dock (for example, yellow) to improve visibility.
  • Periodically audit and verify that the dock ladders/stairs are secure and kept clear of debris.
  • Ensure that there is adequate illumination for exit doors, docks, handrails, and steps, as well as inside the trucks.
  • Prohibit employees and truck drivers from jumping from the dock level to the ground.
  • Ensure that dock plates are used and that they are designed for the loads they will support (do not overload dock plates).

Un-chocked Trailer Wheels

  • Utilize wheel chocks on trucks to prevent movement during loading and unloading.
  • Designate an employee to verify chocks are being used at all times.
  • Ensure dock lock systems (if applicable) are being used to lock semi-truck trailers in place BEFORE loading/unloading begins. Verify the dock lock system is functioning properly before each use.

Carbon Monoxide

  • Truck drivers must turn off their engines during loading and unloading activities to prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide.
  • Carbon monoxide exposure can lead to fainting, asphyxiation, and even death.

Back Injuries

  • Manual lifting hazards may exist while loading/unloading trucks.
  • Prior to permitting employees to lift, conduct an ergonomic assessment to determine the risk of injury.
  • Provide mechanical lifting devices and forklifts and require team lifts to mitigate the risk of back or related lifting injuries.
  • Pedestrian Traffic

    • Limit pedestrian traffic in the loading dock area to mandatory personnel only.
    • Require high-visibility clothing for mandatory personnel (and visitors) in the loading dock areas at all times.
    • Use temporary barricades to keep pedestrians from walking in the path of a forklift while loading or unloading trailers.
    • Always check the exterior of the trailer before exiting and keep line-of-sight with any pedestrians in the area.

    General Loading Dock Safety Tips

    • Identify and mark overhead hazards, pipes, doors, electrical wires, etc.
    • If dock locks are used, verify that the dock lock has fully disengaged before the driver pulls away from the dock. This verification will reduce the risk of property damage and/or injury.
    • If manual dock levelers are used, never place your hands or feet under the dock leveling plate.
    • Equip motorized lift trucks with spotlights to increase visibility during loading/unloading.
    • Never stand between a trailer and the loading dock.
    • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment while loading/unloading trucks. Minimum requirements may include steel-toed shoes, safety glasses, high-visibility clothing, and leather work gloves.
    • Ensure that adequate signage exists at the entrance points to the loading dock areas to keep unauthorized employees from entering.
    • Prohibit live loading. Live loading can lead to poor communication and may lead to the driver pulling away before employees are completed with loading/unloading.

    In summary, many hazards may lead to employees getting injured or killed on the job as a result of an unsafe work environment. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure a safe working environment, and employees should follow safe work practices at all times. Periodic training on loading dock hazards, maintaining good housekeeping, and being aware of your surroundings could prevent an injury and even save your life!

    Source: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/workplacehazards/docks.html#loading

    Jeremy
    Senior Loss Control Representative

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    The Fatal Four

    Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

    Controlling Safety Risks on the Construction Jobsites

    When people think of dangerous jobs, they often think of things like crocodile wrangling or professional base-jumping. But it’s not just exotic jobs that can be dangerous. You might be surprised to learn that construction contributes to almost 20% of work-related deaths in the U.S. every year—that’s about 1 in 5. Of that 20%, more than half are caused by “the Fatal Four” —falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, or being caught in or between two objects.

    Because of that, controlling safety risks on the jobsite is an important responsibility. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss these four major risks more deeply, as well as some things you can do to help control them.

    1. Falls – A century ago, a fall in construction meant almost certain death. These days, through improved work standards and advances in safety equipment, that risk has been drastically reduced. But reduced doesn’t mean eliminated. Falls still contribute to about 30% of construction-related deaths each year, as well as plenty of broken bones and other injuries. To reduce the risk of dangerous falls, make sure proper safety equipment is available and used by any worker on a leading edge 6 feet or higher. Proper safety equipment can include anything from harnesses and guardrails to safety nets. Visit OSHA.gov for complete fall protection guidelines.
    2. Falling Objects – Objects falling from the sky are pretty rare in our day-to-day lives. But on a jobsite where workers spend a fair portion of their day divorced from the ground, falling objects are certainly not out of the realm of possibilities. Falling and flying objects can result in serious injuries, including concussions, blindness, and death. To prevent this risk, workers should wear appropriate protective gear, including hard hats and safety glasses, and items should be properly secured to prevent falling or collapsing. Guardrails or debris nets should be considered to catch falling objects before they reach the ground. And whenever possible, workers should avoid working under moving loads on cranes or other hoists.
    3. Electrocution – Electrocution might appear to be the most avoidable risk, but as the fourth leading cause of construction fatalities, it definitely still requires some attention. Most accidents seem to arise from a lack of basic electrical knowledge. There are a few key things that workers can do to reduce their risk of electrocution. First, if not completely sure of the inactivity of a power line or energized object, keep your distance. OSHA requires a distance of 10 feet for power lines up to 50,000 volts and an extra 4 inches for every 10,000 volts thereafter. Second, double check equipment. Make sure that everything is properly grounded, and if maintenance is being performed, unplug first. Lastly, workers should always wear appropriate gear for the task being performed.
    4. Caught In or Between – In this category, types of risks include being caught in machinery, trench/excavation collapse, and being pinned between equipment and a solid object or any derivative thereof. Perhaps the most horrifying of the Fatal Four, any iteration can mean maiming, complete amputation, or death. Fortunately, there are some basic precautions jobsites can take to reduce this risk. Installing guards on moving parts can prevent employees from getting too close to potentially risky machinery. Bracing sides appropriately in trenches and providing a means of escape will protect against collapse. Seatbelts with rollover protection in heavy machinery can prevent being pinned underneath, while instructing workers on the dangers of passing in between machinery and solid structures can make workers more aware of their surroundings. Risk areas such as trenches and scaffolding should also be inspected daily for vulnerability. And finally, persons not involved in demolition or other specific tasks should be prohibited from entering the worksite without authorization.

    These four are just a portion of the risks facing those on a typical jobsite. Managing or taking part in construction work is a big responsibility. Workers should use caution and common sense in every situation and always be sure to report any irresponsible behavior or weaknesses in protective equipment. With proper awareness and the right precautions, we can see worksite fatalities decrease dramatically over the coming years. For more information about jobsite safety, visit OSHA.gov.

    Sources:
    https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html
    http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/avoiding-falling-objects-2
    http://www.equipmentworld.com/safety-step-3-wear-the-right-ppe/
    https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2007/06/OSHAs-Big-Four.aspx?Page=2

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    Businessowners: Use Past Performance to Avoid Future Accidents

    Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

    Your favorite sports team spends hours reviewing game film so they can improve their performance. It’s important for business owners to review their company’s past performances the same way a sports team does because in any business, things don’t always go according to plan. Does your company have an accident investigation program that can provide you with information so your company can avoid future accidents?

    Workers and management will be more competent in dealing with the effects of an accident or emergency if you have effective plans in place to review and evaluate accidents and incidents. By reviewing accidents and incidents, your company can identify ways to prevent accidents from occurring in the future. The goal of a good accident investigation program is to uncover the basic causes of the accident or incident. A basic cause is the action or condition that resulted in an undesired event. A good accident investigation program also reviews near misses. An incident is a near miss and should also be investigated as it may prevent a future injury to an employee or damage to your property.

    Make sure the accident investigation is used as fact finding and not fault finding. Eliminating one or more potential causes of loss can prevent most accidents from happening. Your accident investigation will not only determine what happened, but also why and how.

    When conducting the accident investigation, it helps to have created an accident investigation kit. Some items needed in the kit might include:

    • Guidelines and forms on how to conduct an accident investigation
    • Clipboard
    • Pens and pencils
    • Protective gloves
    • Safety goggles
    • Barricade tape
    • Flashlight
    • Tape measure

    The benefits of accident investigation include the following:

    • Investigating your accidents and reported cases of occupational ill health will help you uncover and correct any breaches in health and safety legal compliance you may have been unaware of.
    • The fact that you thoroughly investigated an incident and took remedial action to prevent further occurrences would help demonstrate to a court that your company has a positive behavior toward safety.
    • Your investigation findings will also provide essential information for your insurers in the event of a claim.

    All it takes is a little thought and planning to create an accident investigation plan that will keep your business prepared for the unexpected!

    James
    Loss Control Manager

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    Wild, Untamed Workplace

    Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Small Business Safety, Uncategorized

    10 Most Common Workplace Hazards

    Strap in your seatbelts and grab your helmets; it’s a dangerous world out there. No, we’re not talking about jungles or the outback. This blog is about somewhere much closer to home—your workplace.

    Did you know the average company receives more than two fines per inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with the average fine costing about $1,000? That’s a lot of unplanned dough rolling out the door. But what’s even more significant is every day an average 6,000 people die as a result of work-related injuries. That’s over 2 million workplace deaths per year!

    When it comes to workplace safety, there’s quite a bit at stake. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Most Common Workplace Hazards, as cited by OSHA.

    1. Inappropriate Fall Protection: We all know that heights can be dangerous, but at what point should you consider a height hazardous? It’s federally mandated that any employee on a leading edge 6 feet above a lower level must have appropriate fall safety systems in place. This can include safety nets, guardrail systems, or personal fall arrest systems such as harnesses or other approved tethering equipment.
    2. Poor Hazard Communication: Number 2 refers not to the hazard itself, but rather the lack of communication regarding hidden chemical hazards. For example, if an office manager stores bleach for cleaning purposes that employees might be exposed to, the employer is required by law to communicate this to employees, as well as the risks associated with exposure to bleach products. And rules are much stricter for workplaces that produce or import chemicals.
    3. Scaffolding: When you see the name, it’s no surprise that scaffolding would make the list. There are many rules and regulations that accompany the use of scaffolding in the workplace.
    4. Poor Respiratory Protection: Some workplaces produce dusts, fumes, and other atmospheric contaminants that can be harmful when inhaled. Employers are required to provide appropriate equipment and control processes to protect employees from coming to harm from these substances, including appropriate personal respirators where necessary.
    5. Powered Industrial Trucks: They may look like fun, but industrial vehicles can also be dangerous. Employers should know the rules and regulations associated with the use of industrial trucks including, but not limited to, fork trucks, tractors, lift trucks, and several other vehicles a seven-year-old boy might drool over.
    6. Lack of Control of Hazardous Energy: Electricity is dangerous. This hazard applies to heavy production machinery that contains some degree of volatility in its energy use.
    7. Ladders: There’s a reason your dad told you to be careful around ladders. When ladders are required in the workplace, it’s important to ensure that a ladder is of appropriate strength for its use, as well as inform employees about good ladder safety.
    8. Electrical Wiring Hazards: This one probably goes without saying, but devices should be wired properly. Anytime electricity is involved, care should be taken to ensure safety and protection. Wiring should be checked and rechecked to guarantee OSHA compliance.
    9. Machine Guarding: Use of machinery always carries a certain degree of hazard, from rotating parts to sparks and flying debris. Employers should provide appropriate guarding to protect employees, such as barrier guards, electronic safety devices, etc.
    10. General Electrical Risks: If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it … well, three times now. Electricity is dangerous. But it’s not just faulty wiring or big machines that create risks for employees. Outlets, office equipment, and even bundled cables can create hazards in the workplace. The entire workplace should be examined to ensure that all electrical risks receive adequate care and attention.

    And that’s just the top 10! Workplace hazards go far beyond this list, from workplace stress to emotional stimuli. Whether you’re the owner, the CEO, or a part-time employee, it takes a team to improve workplace safety. Every one of us has the responsibility to make our workplaces safe, positive environments for the people we encounter throughout our workdays. To learn more about these hazards and how you can make your workplace safer, visit the OSHA website.

    [Steps off soapbox] Now let’s go have some fun practicing workplace safety!

    Source:
    http://www.pomsassoc.com/6-sobering-facts-workplace-safety/

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    Safe Storage of Chemicals in the Workplace

    Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

    As a small business, you know what chemicals you need in the workplace to do your job. But do you know how to properly store them?

    Before storing any chemicals, please refer to our previous blog post entitled “Safe Handling of Chemicals in the Workplace” for information on identifying hazards and labeling of the chemicals.

    Improperly stored chemicals could result in fires, explosions, and other serious health hazards that could impact you, your business, or your employees. Therefore, it’s important to know how to store chemicals in your workplace.

    Remember, although tempting, don’t store chemicals in groups determined by container size or alphabetically. Alphabetizing your chemicals could mean that explosive chemical combinations end up next to each other on the shelf. That’s an accident waiting to happen.

    After you’ve consulted the Safety Data Sheets and grouped your chemicals according to their properties (i.e. flammables, oxidizers, corrosives), keep these guidelines in mind:

    • Flammables must be stored in a cabinet that complies with NFPA 30 guidelines. The doors should be kept closed at all times. This is for your, your employees’, and your property’s safety.
    • If you’re going to be dispensing flammables from the storage container, make sure it’s grounded and bonded to the receiving container.
    • Nitric acid must be stored away from other acids.
    • Never store chemicals above eye level or on the floor in a walkway.
    • Very toxic or controlled chemicals should be stored in a lockable cabinet.
    • Volatile chemicals should be stored in a vented area.
    • Chemical spill and first aid supplies should be readily available near the storage areas for easy access in an emergency. Personal protective equipment should be nearby, too.
    • Monitor your chemical storage areas for spills and leaks, missing labels, ignition hazards for flammables, extreme cold, and theft. An inventory inspection should be conducted on your chemicals at regular intervals so you can catch any problems.

    Following these guidelines should help make your small business safe from chemical storage danger.

    Dave
    Loss Control Representative

    Sources:
    http://www.ehso.com/ChemicalStorageGuidelines.htm
    http://www.grainger.com/content/qt-safety-bonding-grounding-255
    http://www.grainger.com/content/qt-health-chemical-compatibility-181

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