As an employer, you understand the importance of providing a safe environment for your employee’s well-being. According to OSHA, employers are required to provide a safe workplace void of any potential hazards that can cause harm to employees.
This includes preventing employees from overheating and causing heat illness.
Being in the midst of the summer months, heat illness is a real risk, and as an employer, you should ensure your employees are educated on the symptoms of heat illness as well as how their health and activities can cause or prevent overheating.
How to Recognize the Symptoms
There are different types of heat illnesses and symptoms. An uncomfortable and painful heat rash can cause severe itching. Heat Cramps and heat exhaustion occur with too much perspiration; the loss of body salt and water causes severe muscle cramps or spasms in the back, stomach, arms and legs. With heat exhaustion, an individual will have cool or pale skin, nausea, headache, weakness, vomiting and a fast pulse.
Probably the most dangerous heat illness is heatstroke. A heat stroke causes:
- High body temperature
- Sweat stops
- Red, dry skin
- Rapid breathing and pulse
Employees can take the right steps to treat heat illness when they recognize the symptoms and severity of what it can cause.
How to Identify Personal Risk Factors
Educating employees on personal risk factors can help them understand their limitations as well as how to take precautionary measures when working in hot workplace environments.
It’s important to note some health factors, like age or pre-existing medical conditions, really can’t be changed. Medical history can cause employees to be less tolerant to heat including:
- Short-term disorders and minor illnesses
- Chronic skin disorders
- Previous heatstroke
But, some factors are choices. As an example, the use of alcohol or drugs or taking prescription medication can affect an employee’s tolerance to heat. Being in good health is important in combating heat illnesses. Cornerstone Insurance Group works with employers to help educate employees on avoiding heat illness.
How to Acclimate & Hydrate
People respond to heat differently. Acclimating to the heat is important. According to OSHA, adjusting to heat usually takes five to seven days, but it can take a few weeks. Employers should train employees on how to acclimate as well as how to stay properly hydrated.
Your employees should be aware of what heat illness looks like and how your worksite procedures address it.
How to Treat Heat Illness Symptoms
Educate your employees on what to do if one of their peers is showing signs of heat illness. If heat illness is suspected, employees should act quickly to get the individual out of the sun and provide cool water or an electrolyte-replacement beverage.
When it comes to the more serious heat-induced illnesses, it’s important employees know how to seek medical attention immediately and try to cool the individual with cold water, compresses, ice and ice packs, or by fanning them. If an employee has heatstroke, an ambulance should be called quickly; heatstroke requires emergency treatment.
Ultimately, the best way to prevent heat illness from occurring in a workplace environment is to identify the risks and be proactive.
Conduct a Heat Assessment
Heat illness assessments evaluate a wide range of risk factors including:
- Workplace temperature
- Heat radiation
- Air movement
- Employee workload
Cornerstone Insurance Group can help employers with a Heat Illness Assessment Checklist as part of our risk management program. Even if your employees have to work in a heated environment, there are still steps you can take to limit the risk of heat illness.
Scheduling the most difficult or physically taxing jobs for the coolest part of the day and allowing employees to work more slowly during the hottest periods of the day help reduce the risk of heat illness. Schedule routine maintenance or tasks during cooler seasons. For indoor work, these routine tasks can be completed when hot operations are shut down.
Supervising your employees in high-risk environments will allow you to oversee and manage work and rest cycles. Managers should monitor workers closely or require work to be done in pairs or groups. Instill a buddy system to help spot signs of heat illnesses and try to reduce activity levels during the peak periods of potential risk and be ready with the appropriate treatment.
Employees need to be able to recognize, treat and practice safe ways to prevent heat illness from the onset. The best way you can protect your employees from heat illness is by establishing a proactive plan to create a safe work environment.
Do you have a plan and procedures in place to protect and prepare your employees to combat heat illness and reduce potential long-term health risks?
Cornerstone Insurance Group is your workplace safety and risk management partner. We care about the well-being of your employees and your business. We can help you assess and address any potential risks for heat illness in your workplace.
Contact Cornerstone Insurance Group today for more tools and resources to ensure the health and safety of your workforce.
At the end of May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed updates to its stair rail system requirements related to walking-working surfaces and protective equipment.
As is often the case with new safety standards, many employers have asked for clarification. At Cornerstone Insurance Group, we want you to have peace of mind about your risk management strategies. Here is what you need to know about the latest in walking-working surfaces and general fall prevention standards.
What is New in the Walking-Working Surfaces Standard?
The biggest change in the Walking-Working Surfaces requirements is related to new handrails and stair rail systems with a width of less than 44 inches (found in Table D of this standard). The previous stair rail provision was unclear, stating:
“One stair rail system each open side”
But OSHA intended it to say:
“One stair rail system with handrail on each open side”
They hope that the new language clarifies any confusion in this particular safety standard. In addition, OSHA has eased restrictions on previously installed stair rail systems by allowing the top rail of those systems to act as a handrail if it’s as low as 30 inches.
What Do I Do if I’ve Abided by the Old Wording?
OSHA does recognize that many employers may have implemented stair rail safety standards that follow the previous language (i.e. stair width that’s less than 44 inches and open on both sides).
However, there’s no need to worry. You do not have to modify your stair rail system if it was installed before the effective date of the new final rule as long as it was in compliance with OSHA standards at the time of installation.
OSHA now has two separate provisions for stairs with two open sides and a width of less than 44 inches. Flights of stairs that have two open sides, are less than 44 inches and installed before the effective date of a final rule would be required to have a stair rail system on each open side but do not need to have a handrail.
Are There Other Revised Standards I Should Know About?
OSHA is also proposing provisions to Section 1910.29 called “Fall Protection Systems and Falling Object Protection-Criteria and Practices.” Many have expressed confusion over whether or not the top rail of a stair rail system can also serve as a handrail.
The new proposed standard states that the top rail of stair rail systems installed prior to January 17, 2017 (the date of the final rule) can serve as a handrail if the top rail is 30 to 38 inches tall and meets OSHA’s other handrail requirements. Employers are not required to modify their stair rail systems if they complied with the previous ruling.
Cornerstone’s Risk Management team wants to ensure your workplace is as protected as possible from falls and other injuries. If you’re looking for a specialist to walk you through OSHA’s standards or want to create a risk management plan that works for you, contact Cornerstone today.
Workplace safety will always be a trending and important topic, but many companies fall short of achieving a hazard-free workplace. Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases its 10 most frequently cited standards from the year before.
At Cornerstone Insurance Group, our loss control team wants to keep clients informed on how to maintain the safest and most efficient workplace possible.
Take a look at what your company can learn from these common OSHA citations.
1. Fall Protection – General Requirements
Falls are the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. In 2020, there were 5,424 violations in this category. It’s imperative that your workplace is set up to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes in the floor and walls.
Make sure you review OSHA’s guidelines on fall protection to know the specific requirements your company must follow.
2. Hazard Communication
With 3,199 violations, hazard communication — which looks at chemical safety — is an often-cited category for OSHA. The Hazard Communication Standard outlines how businesses must disseminate chemical safety-related information to its employees.
Read OSHA’s hazard communication standard to make sure your workplace is compliant.
3. Respiratory Protection
There are millions of workers in the U.S. who are required to wear respirators at work to protect themselves from harmful dust, smoke, vapors and other respiratory hazards. However, when employers fail to provide their employees with sufficient respirator equipment, they’ll receive a citation. This category increased in ranking from 5 to 3 from 2019 to 2020, with 2,649 violations last year.
Take a look at OSHA’s respiratory protection page for resources such as standards and training videos.
With an estimated 65 percent of construction workers utilizing scaffolding, it’s vital that companies protect their employees from injuries and deaths. There were 2,538 scaffolding violations in 2020. Injuries often occur when the structure’s support gives way or an employee loses their footing. The most common causes of accidents involving scaffolds involve the planking or support giving way, or the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object
Consult with OSHA’s scaffolding standards to check that your worksites meet these requirements.
Working on or around ladders presents many potential hazards for employees. While in the top 10 in 2019, this citation climbed to the top 5 last year. There were 2,129 violations in this category.
If your workplace requires the use of ladders, it’s vital that they are properly inspected, set up and used as intended. You can find guidelines under OSHA’s ladder safety requirements.
Lockout/tagout is commonly known as the control of hazardous energy. Energy sources may include electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, chemical and even gravity. While servicing and maintaining machines and equipment, the unexpected startup of stored energy can be dangerous to workers. There were 2,065 total violations in 2020.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks
Commonly called forklifts or lift trucks, powered industrial trucks are used in many industries to move, raise and lower materials. There are many hazards associated with these trucks, and in 2020 there were 1,932 total violations related to their operation.
Take a look at what your workplace needs to do to adhere to OSHA’s powered industrial trucks standards.
8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements
In addition to the general requirements for fall protection in the workplace, OSHA also sets guidelines for employers to provide a training program for employees who are at risk. In 2020, there were 1,621 total violations of this safety category.
Get familiar with OSHA’s fall protection training program standards if it’s relevant to your business.
9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection
Last year, there were 1,369 violations that could have been prevented with proper eye and face protective equipment. Workplaces that are frequently exposed to chemical, environmental, mechanical or radiological hazards should offer employees the right eye and face equipment.
Take a look at OSHA’s eye and face protection standards for resources to stay compliant.
10. Machine Guarding
Does your workplace rely on machinery to get tasks done? If so, your employees are at a higher risk of workplace injuries related to the point-of-operation and moving machine parts. There were 1,313 total violations of this safety standard in 2020.
Learn how to control and minimize hazards with OSHA’s machine guarding resources.
Are you unsure if your workplace’s safety practices are meeting OSHA’s standards? Cornerstone’s loss control services offer expertise related to:
- Safety program GAP analysis and benchmarking
- Safety training for employees and leadership
- OSHA compliance assistance
- Workplace safety audits
- … and more.
Let our specialists help your company provide a safe and effective work environment for your employees. Contact Cornerstone today.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list each year of the most frequently cited violations. Knowledge of these violations can assist you in identifying and correcting similar risks in your company.
In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. OSHA citation fees increased seven-fold in 2016 and will continue to go up with annual inflationary adjustments. The increase from 2019 to 2020 was 1.8%.
If you assess your safety program with an emphasis on correcting these commonly cited hazards, and you will be safer and save money in penalty fees!
Here are a few tips for mitigating some of the most frequently cited hazards associated with 3 of OSHA’s Top 10 citations. For the complete list, please watch my webinar presentation.
Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry accounting for over 33% of fatalities. Almost two-thirds of fall accidents are from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds.
The construction industry is a unique place to work, with job site conditions changing from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour. Fall exposures are frequent and varied. This safety challenge can be met with success if we pay attention to OSHA’s requirements under the “Fall Protection Standard (1926 Subpart M)”, “Scaffolds (1926 Subpart L),” and “Stairways and Ladders (1926 Subpart X)”.
Additional information and resources for Fall Protection can be found here:
Eye and Face Protection
Conduct a hazard assessment and identify those work tasks that require eye and face protection to guard employees from hazards like flying particles, chemicals, or optical radiation. Your assessment must include evaluation of exposures to both the employee performing the task or job, as well as other employees that might be working in the same area. These assessments will help you choose the correct eye and/or face protection to help prevent eye and face injuries. Keep in mind, normal prescription eyewear does not provide protection from impact or penetration hazards. To provide appropriate protection, prescription eyewear must be manufactured per the requirements of the “American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z87.1”. Otherwise, you could provide “wear-over” type eye protection.
Eye and face protection requirements are addressed in OSHA’s Construction Industry under the “Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment Standard, 1926 Subpart E“.
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) helps employers classify and identify chemical hazards and controls for safe use. It’s basically chemical safety in the workplace. Employers need to ensure that their employees understand the hazards presented by the chemicals they’re using, AND most importantly, what measures must be taken to prevent injury while using these chemicals.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each chemical must be readily available to all employees and updated as needed. SDS contain important information from the manufacturer regarding the chemical hazards and safeguards.
Watch for improperly labeled or unlabeled containers. Accurate and compliant labeling will contain the following information:
- The product identifier, i.e. the name of the chemical
- The manufacturers’ name and address
- A “Signal Word” to quickly ascertain the level of hazard, either “Danger” or “Warning.”
- A “Hazard Statement” that describes the nature of the hazard(s), e.g. “causes serious eye damage”
- A “Precautionary Statement(s)”, e.g. “wear appropriate eye protection”
- And a “Hazard Information” pictogram(s)
Here is a great resource for employers to ensure compliance with “OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.”
Hazard identification and control are key components of a successful safety program. Taking a closer look at OSHA’ s annual list of their Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations and appropriate measures to avoid them will help you in your ongoing safety efforts. For more information please click the links below to watch the webinar or download the slide presentation.
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