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Space Heaters

November Safety Tip

Space Heaters

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters.

To reduce the risk of a fire or injury, consider the following:

  • Make sure the heater you buy carries a certification label from an independent testing organization, like UL or CSA International
  • Ensure there is a smart sensor that shuts the heater off when it overheats and a tip over switch that does the same if the heater is knocked over
  • Avoid placing heaters too close to curtains, bedding, and upholstered furniture, papers, boxes
  • Be aware that most space heaters do not come with a GFCI plug which prevents electric shock, and should not be used around water.
  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
  • Do not use an extension cord. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is marked #14 or #12 AWG. AWG stands for American Wire Gauge. A higher AWG indicates that there more bundled sheathed wires and stronger insulation.
  • Don’t use heaters in basements or workshops. Proximity to furnaces, paint cans, gas cans, matches, or other combustible materials is a major hazard. Basements and workshops also do not provide an ideal place for a heater.

November 2018 Safety Tip:  Space Heaters

 

Fire Safety Tips

October Safety Tip

Fire Safety Tips 

How can I protect against fire?

Fire is a deadly threat to any household. It can strike anywhere, at any time. You must be prepared by using the tools for fire protection.

Smoke alarms provide a warning of fire. Smoke alarms are the easiest, most cost-efficient way to alert your family of a developing fire. The more smoke alarms you have installed in your home, the more your chances increase that you will be alerted to a fire.

Fire extinguishers provide a tool to fight small fires. Having a fire extinguisher in your home can increase your chances of keeping a small fire from getting out of control and becoming a deadly rage.

Using both smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home, along with knowing what to do in case of fire, can help save your life!

I have one smoke alarm in my home. Is that enough protection against fire?

No, several smoke alarms and fire extinguishers must be installed and maintained for proper fire protection. The NFPA recommends smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home, and inside every bedroom and sleeping area. Smoke alarms should also be installed in the main corridor outside each bedroom area. Fire extinguishers should be installed on each living level, as well as in rooms that pose potential fire hazards (i.e., kitchen, garage, and workshop).

Installing and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers dramatically increases your family’s chances of surviving a fire.

Other important considerations include:

  • Mount smoke alarms in the middle of the ceiling when ceiling mounted. If that is not possible, mount detectors on the wall at least three feet away from a corner and 4 – 6 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Keep smoke alarms away from drafts created by fans or air ducts. The moving air can blow smoke away from the sensor.
  • Avoid placing smoke alarms too near the kitchen stove and bathroom shower, as cooking smoke and shower steam can cause nuisance alarms.
  • Mount fire extinguishers on a wall 3 1/2 to 5 feet above the floor. The location should be near an exit or an escape route from the room.

What types of smoke alarms are there?

There are two basic types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Both are effective at detecting smoke, yet each has a unique detecting system.

  • Ionization technology is generally more sensitive than photoelectric technology at detecting small particles which tend to be produced in greater amounts by flaming fires, which consume combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources of these fires may include paper burning in a wastebasket, or a grease fire in the kitchen.
  • Photoelectric technology is generally more sensitive than ionization technology at detecting large particles, which tend to be produced in greater amounts by smoldering fires, which may smolder for hours before bursting into flame. Sources of these fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding. Each type of detector also comes as AC-operated smoke alarms or battery-operated smoke alarms. Some AC alarms even come with a battery back-up system. Additional options can include an escape light, silencing button, or remote control mute feature.

What types of fire extinguishers are there?

Fire extinguishers are categorized by ratings. These ratings determine the size and type of fire that the extinguisher can successfully put out. Fire can be divided into three categories: A, B, or C. An “A” type fire is primarily wood, paper and fabric. “B” type fires are primarily flammable liquids (such as gasoline) and oil based. Finally, “C” type fires are electrical in nature.

The number preceding the A, B, or C rating determines how big of a professionally set fire the extinguisher can put out. For example, a 10-B:C extinguisher would be able to handle a 25 foot square fire of either flammable liquid or electrical origin. A 5-B:C extinguisher could handle a 12.5 square foot fire that is flammable liquid or electrical based.

What should I do if I hear the smoke alarms sound?

NEVER IGNORE THE SOUND OF A SMOKE ALARM.  If the smoke alarm is sounding its alarm, there is a reason. You and your family must be able to escape quickly and safely. Here are several steps your family can learn and rehearse for an emergency:

  1. Have an escape plan. Discuss and practice your escape plans. Know two exits from any room in the house.
  2. Feel if the door is hot. Always feel the door to see if it is hot before opening It to escape. If the doorknob or door is hot, do not use that exit. Use your alternate exit to escape.
  3. Crawl on the floor. Smoke from a fire rises and so does the temperature. If you crawl on the floor there will be less smoke and the heat from the fire will be less severe.
  4. Meet at a prearranged spot outside the home. If you clearly show where everyone is supposed to meet outside the home when there is a fire, it will be easier to know who is safe.
  5. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home. Be prepared to give your full name and address to the operator at the other end of the line. Stay on the line until the operator has all of the information needed.
  6. Never go inside a burning building. Never return inside the house for any reason. The firefighters will be there soon.

If you follow these basic fire safety tips, you will increase your family’s chances for survival in a fire.

Are there other ways I can protect my family from fires?

The following is a fire safety checklist to lower the chances that a fire may start in your home:

  • Keep the furnace in working order.
  • Use a fireplace screen.
  • Have proper ventilation for heaters and other small appliances.
  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Use the correct size fuses.
  • Don’t use worn out electrical wiring or run it under rugs or out windows or doors.
  • Clear refuse away-the less clutter, the less fuel a fire has to feed on.

Tips for testing and maintaining smoke alarms

  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends testing your smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of a smoke alarm and how to respond.
  • Follow the user manual instructions for cleaning and maintaining smoke alarms for proper functionality.
  • Smoke alarms require a new battery at least once a year or if a low battery chirp occurs.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10-years.
  • Smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed battery should be replaced once it exceeds its life expectancy or if a low battery chirp occurs.
  • When replacing a battery, follow the user manual which includes a full list of approved batteries.
  • Smoke alarms should be maintained according to the user manual.
  • All First Alert user manuals are located on www.firstalert.com within each product page.
  • The NFPA recommends smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Plan and practice an escape route with your family. If there is an emergency, everyone will know how to exit the home safely and where to meet.

 

October 2018 Safety Tip:  Fire Safety Tips

 

Arc Flash PPE

September Safety Tip

Arc Flash PPE 

Electricity is dangerous, as we all know.  Working with live electrical wires poses an additional risk that all employers need to be aware of.  The risk of arc flash is quite substantial for employees who work on live electrical wires.  An arc flash is when a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to the ground.  The temperature on arc flashes can reach, and in some cases exceed, 35,000°F at the arc terminals.  When a human is in close proximity to an arc flash, serious injury or death can occur.

Arc flash can be caused by many things, including:

  • Dust
  • Dropping tools
  • Accidental touching
  • Condensation
  • Material failure
  • Corrosion
  • Faulty installation

Three factors can determine the severity of an arc flash injury:

  • Proximity of the worker to the hazard
  • Temperature
  • Time for circuit to break

Facilities are responsible for assessing their own facility for arc flash hazards because there are environmental factors that go into the arc flash calculation.  The most important thing to determine is the “cal level” you are at.  A hazard analysis will help you determine the flash protection boundary distance and in turn, the hazard/risk category (HRC) number.  You will need to know both of these numbers before you begin shopping for PPE.  Without an incident energy analysis, the table method will be nec­essary.  An aspect of the new table method that enhances worker safety is the fact that if any of the specified conditions for normal operating conditions are not met, arc-rated clothing and PPE are mandated.

Of course the best way to protect workers from arc flash hazards is to de-energize the circuit.  However, this may not always be possible, therefore the appropriate personal protective equipment must be used.

In order to determine the PPE you should use when working with live electrical wiring, you can take a look at the hazard classification table shown below from the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®.  This table shows you the hazard risk category associated with various tasks according to voltage level, and whether or not V-rated gloves or tools should be provided and used.

Arc-Flash PPE Category
1. Arc-Rated Clothing, Minimum Arc Rating of 4 cal/cm2 (16.75 J/ cm2)a

Arc-rated long-sleeve shirt and pants or arc-rated coverall

Arc-rated face shieldb or arc flash suit hood

Arc-rated jacket, parka, rainwear, or hard hat liner (AN)

Protective Equipment

Hard hat

Safety glasses or safety goggles (SR)

Hearing protection (ear canal inserts)c

Heavy-duty leather glovesd

Leather footwear (AN)

2. Arc-Rated Clothing, Minimum arc Rating of 8 cal/cm(33.5 J/ cm2) a

Arc-rated long-sleeve shirt and pants or arc-rated coverall

Arc-rated flash suit hood or arc-rated face shieldb and arc-rated balaclava

Arc-rated jacket, parka, rainwear, or hard had liner (AN)

Protective Equipment

Hard hat

Safety glasses or safety goggles (SR)

Hearing protection (ear canal inserts) c

Heavy-duty leather glovesd

Leather footwear

3.Arc-Rated Clothing Selected so That the System Arc Rating Meets the Required Minimum Arc Rating of 25 cal/ cm2 (104.7 J/ cm2) a

Arc-rated long-sleeved shirt (AR)

Arc-rated pants (AR)

Arc-rated coverall (AR)

Arc-rated arc flash suit jacket (AR)

Arc-rated arc flash suit pants (AR)

Arc-rated glovesd

Arc-rated jacket, parka, rainwear, or hard had liner (AN)

Protective Equipment

Hard hat

Safety glasses or safety goggles (SR)

Hearing protection (ear canal inserts) c

Leather footwear

4. Arc-Rated Clothing Selected so That the System Arc Rating Meets the Required Minimum Arc Rating of 40 cal/ cm2 (167.5 J/ cm2) a

Arc-rated long-sleeved shirt (AR)

Arc-rated pants (AR)

Arc-rated coverall (AR)

Arc-rated arc flash suit jacket (AR)

Arc-rated arc flash suit pants (AR)

Arc-rated arc flash suit hood

Arc-rated gloves c

Arc-rated jacket, parka, rainwear, or hard hat liner (AN)

Protective Equipment

Hard hat

Safety glasses or safety goggles (SR)

Hearing protection (ear canal inserts) c

Leather footwear

AN: As needed (optional). AR: As required.  SR: Selection required.

aArc rating is defined in Article 100.

bFace shields are to have wrap-around guarding to protect not only the face but also the forehead, ears, and neck, or, alternatively, an arc-rated arc flash suit hood is required to be worn.

cOther types of hearing protection are permitted to be used in lieu of or in addition to ear canal inserts provided they are worn under an arc-rated arc flash suit hood.

dIf rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors are used, additional leather or arc-rated gloves are not required. The combination of rubber insulating gloves with leather protectors satisfies the arc flash protection requirement.

September 2018 Safety Tip:  Arc Flash

 

Complacency

August Safety Tip

COMPLACENCY 

August 2018 Safety Tip:  Complacency

Complacency can be defined as self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. Complacency is extremely dangerous in the workplace. We get so used to things being done the same way that we do not always look at the hazards in our surroundings. We may also underestimate the risk of tasks that we perform regularly, or fail to notice a change in our environment when we become complacent in our daily routines.

When working on the job, there is danger when a person goes on auto-pilot. All too often we don’t realize how complacent we are until we have a near miss or incident. When something like this happens, it jumpstarts our heart and then we refocus our attention.

Most incidents are caused by unsafe acts.  Companies and employees work hard to create a safe workplace and eliminate unsafe acts. But what happens to one’s own unsafe behavior? When workers begin to work in auto-pilot mode, and stop paying attention to what they are doing, that can lead to taking short cuts and taking risks.

If employees aren’t thinking about what could go wrong every day, all day while they work, they are not completing the task safely.

Battling Complacency

Employers:

  • Encourage employees to examine equipment, procedures and the hazards that may exist. They need to focus physically and mentally on their work, no matter how many times they may have done the same job in the past.
  • Train workers to think ahead as they approach each task and consider:
    • What they are working with
    • What they will be doing
    • Where they will be going
    • What could go wrong

Employees: 

  • Recognize work tasks that you may be so used to doing that you no longer take the same precautions when performing them. Think back to when you first got this job or the first time you did a specific task; were you more cautious or did you follow more safety procedures?
  • Audit yourself or even have a coworker audit your work to see what your shortcomings may be when completing work tasks. Having someone else give you constructive feedback can help give you an honest look at where you can improve.
  • Fight the urge to take the easy way out or make the easier decision when it comes to following safety rules or procedures. Rationalizing why you should allow yourself to cut corners leaves you open to more risk. Hold yourself and others around you accountable to do what needs to be done.
  • Once you realize what risks you are leaving yourself exposed to begin to make it a habit to take the steps that mitigate or eliminate that hazard. Once an action is repeated over and over and has become a habit, it becomes automatic and it is much less likely you will have to face complacency to get yourself to do it.

Summary

We all have to face and fight off complacency from time to time. It is important to monitor yourself when it comes to complacency on the job. What corners are you cutting? Why are you cutting those corners? What do you need to address in order to resist complacency with the hazards of your work?

Heat Stress

July Safety Tip

HEAT STRESS 

Many people are exposed to heat on the job, outdoors or in hot indoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness. Workplaces with these conditions may include iron and steel foundries, nonferrous foundries, brick-firing and ceramic plants, glass products facilities, rubber products factories, electrical utilities (particularly boiler rooms), bakeries, confectioneries, commercial kitchens, laundries, food canneries, chemical plants, mining sites, smelters, and steam tunnels.

What is Heat Stress?

Your body is constantly working to maintain a normal body temperature but environmental conditions can overwhelm your body’s regulating abilities.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Disorders

Heat rash is very common; sometimes it’s just moderate discomfort.  Heat cramps can be painful muscle spasms caused by lack of salt in the body.  Heavy sweating will cause this to happen.  Heat exhaustion can cause some of the following: fainting or dizziness, nausea or vomiting, weak, rapid pulse, pale or flushed face, muscle cramps, headache, no longer sweating, etc.  Heat stroke is the most serious problem and very dangerous.  Heat stroke will be incredibly hot skin, hot to the touch with internal body temperature of 105 degrees or higher.

Treatment for Disorders

For heat cramps ease up on your work pace.  Drink plenty of fluids and possibly a drink with salt/potassium in it such as Gatorade.  For heat exhaustion move the person to a cool environment and encourage them to drink plenty of fluids.  Consider using cold compresses if exhaustion continues.  For heat stroke call 911 immediately, medical attentions is needed.  Heat stroke is very serious and even cold compresses will not stop the problem from getting worse.

More Information and Details:  See the June 2017 Risk Reminder.

Every year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable.

Acclimatization is adaptation of the body’s system to heat.

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

How can heat-related illness be prevented?

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness include engineering controls, such as air conditioning and ventilation, that make the work environment cooler, and work practices such as work/rest cycles, drinking water often, and providing an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance to working in the heat. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do — acting quickly can save lives!

Hand and Portable Power Tools

June Safety Tip

HAND AND PORTABLE POWER TOOLS 

Employees can avoid injuries and fatalities by using hand, power and powder-actuated tools properly.  This includes using properly adjusted guards on grinders, grinding wheels rated for the grinder’s speed, and tools equipped with protection from rotating parts.

OSHA requires that employers maintain all tools in the workplace in a safe condition, including those furnished by employees.  Employers must also perform regular maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.  It is a good practice to add these tools to your preventive maintenance schedule.

Using Hand Tools

  • Use the right tool for the job.
  • Don’t use wrenches when jaws are sprung to the point that slippage occurs.
  • Make sure impact tools do not have mushroomed heads.
  • Keep tools’ wooden handles free of splinters and cracks and don’t use tools with loose handles. (Duct tape is not the solution)

Using Power Tools

Electric Tools

  • Only use electric tools that are double-insulated indicated by this symbol on the label or grounded with a grounding plug.
  • Never use the cord for hoisting or lowering.
  • Replace the cord if insulation is damaged, don’t tape over it.

Pneumatic Tools

  • Secure all pneumatic tools to the air supply hose or whip to prevent disconnecting.
  • Never carry tools by the hose.
  • Use clips or retainers to secure all attachments used on pneumatic tools.
  • Never use compressed air above 30 psi for cleaning purposes – and then, only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment.

Hydraulic Tools

  • Use only fire-resistant fluids in hydraulic tools.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s operating procedures.

Abrasive Wheel Tools

  • Make sure proper guards are in place and correctly adjusted. Adjust tool work rests so that the maximum clearance between the rest and the wheel does not exceed 1/8 inch.
  • Wear the correct eye protection for the job; a faceshield over safety glasses is recommended.
  • Make sure the wheel is rated for the speed of the motor.
  • Inspect wheels for defects using the ring test.

Portable Fans

May Safety Tip

PORTABLE FANS 

As the summer season comes upon us, let’s look at fans and fan safety. Fans help move the air around us and help keep us cooler. However, there are some important safety items we need to look at as the summer approaches.

Today as you are around your machine, look at each of the fans located by your machine

Is the guard in place?
Fans that are less than 7 feet off the ground must have a guard on them to prevent injury. The opening needs to be ½” or less. Look at your fans. Ensure the guards are in place and secure. Several years ago, we had an injury where an employee jumped up to adjust a fan and the guard came loose and they hit the blades.

Is the fan clean?
Fan blades that are clean and free of dust and dirt build-up move more air than a dirty blade and will keep you cooler. Take a moment and blow out your fans today and get as much of the dust and dirt off the blades and guarding.

Is the plug in good condition?
Check the plug and cord and make sure all the electrical prongs are in place and the cord isn’t frayed. Make sure the motor cover is in place securely.

Is it grounded?

Do not use household fans with a two-prong plug as they are not allowed in work sites.  Make sure your fans are industrial, and have a ground pin in the plug.

If you find a problem with a fan in your area, report it as soon as possible. Let’s get these taken care of early in the season rather than waiting until it gets extremely hot.

 

 

 

 

Abrasive Wheel Grinders

April Safety Tip

THE “RING TEST” FOR ABRASIVE WHEEL GRINDERS

One of the most common and useful tools used both at work and at home is the bench or pedestal grinder. Everyone should be reminded never to take this tool for granted. People have been killed and hundreds seriously injured when a cracked or defective grinding wheel has “exploded.”

In addition to a visual inspection of grinding wheels, a “ring test” must be performed. OSHA says that you must “ring-test” grinding wheels before mounting them to prevent the inadvertent mounting of a cracked grinding wheel.   A disintegrating wheel can cause solid wheel fragments to fly off at speeds exceeding 125 miles an hour. This is capable of causing serious injury or even death. The ring test helps identify defective grinding wheels.

A ring test is conducted by tapping the wheel gently with a light, nonmetallic implement, such as the handle of a screwdriver for light wheels or a wooden mallet for heavier wheels. The wheels should be “tapped” about 45 degrees on each side of the vertical centerline, and about 1or 2 inches from the outer edge of the wheel. Rotate the wheel 45-degrees and repeat the test. An undamaged wheel will give a clear metallic tone. If it is cracked, there will be a hollow, “dead” sound and you will not hear a clear “ring.” In this case do not use the wheel!

Wheels must be dry and free from sawdust when conducting the ring test, otherwise the sound will be deadened. It should also be noted that organic bonded wheels do not emit the same clear metallic ring as do vitrified and silicate wheels.

Always wear your personal protective equipment, adjust the equipment guards properly and work safely while using abrasive wheel grinders. Yet these steps will offer little protection if the abrasive wheel itself is not in good condition. After heavy use and whenever changing the wheel, conduct the ring test. This is an important step that will minimize your exposure to serious injury.

For larger grinders, grinding wheels are laid flat on a vibration-table, with sand evenly spread over the wheel. If the wheel is cracked, the sand moves away from the crack.

To prevent cracking a wheel during the mounting procedure, employees must be very carefully trained in those procedures. This starts with making sure the wheel is properly matched to that particular grinder, using proper blotters and spacers, and knowing exactly how much pressure to exert with a torque-wrench.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Housekeeping

March Safety Tip

Housekeeping & Hazards

Housekeeping in a work setting is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors.  It also can help a company avoid potential fines for non-compliance.

The practice extends in every setting and experts agree that all workplace safety programs should incorporate housekeeping, and every worker should play a part. Here are tips for effective workplace housekeeping.

Prevent slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work.  OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard (1910.22(a)) states that all workplaces should be “kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.” The rule includes passageways, storerooms and service rooms. Floors should be clean and dry. Drainage should be present where “wet processes are used.”

Develop and implement housekeeping procedures using appropriate cleaners especially areas with oils and grease.  The wrong kind of cleaning protocol will spread the slipperiness around rather than getting it up and off the floor.

Tips to help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents:

  • Report and clean up spills and leaks.
  • Keep aisles and exits clear of items.
  • Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots.
  • Replace worn, ripped or damage flooring.
  • Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.
  • Use drip pans and guards.

In addition, provide mats, platforms, false floors or “other dry standing places” where useful, according to OSHA. Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards.

Employers should audit for trip hazards, and encourage workers to focus on the task at hand.

Eliminate fire hazards
Employees are responsible for keeping unnecessary combustible materials from accumulating in the work area. Combustible waste should be “stored in covered metal receptacles and disposed of daily,” according to OSHA’s Hazardous Materials Standard (1910.106).

Here are precautionary measures for fire safety from the National Safety Council:

  • Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are unneeded, move them to an assigned safe storage area.
  • Store quick-burning, flammable materials in designated locations away from ignition sources.
  • Avoid contaminating clothes with flammable liquids. Change clothes if contamination occurs.
  • Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells.
  • Keep materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls. The 18-inch distance is required, but 24 to 36 inches is recommended. Clearance of 3 feet is required between piled material and the ceiling. If stock is piled more than 15 feet high, clearance should be doubled. Check applicable codes, including Life Safety Code, ANSI/NFPA 101-2009.
  • Hazards in electrical areas should be reported, and work orders should be issued to fix them.

Prevent falling objects
Protections such as a toe board, toe rail or net can help prevent objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment.

  • Stack boxes and materials straight up and down to keep them from falling.
  • Place heavy objects on lower shelves, and keep equipment away from the edges of desks and tables.
  • Refrain from stacking objects in areas where workers walk, including aisles.
  • Keep layout in mind so workers are not exposed to hazards as they walk through areas.

Determine frequency
All workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.

  • Every worker has a role in housekeeping. If they see something is becoming a problem, they need to report it.
  • Before the end of a shift, workers should inspect and clean their workspaces and remove unused materials. This dedication can reduce time spent cleaning later, experts say.
  • How much debris or contaminants the workplace releases can help determine the frequency of housekeeping. A company should have a mixture of deep cleaning and more frequent, lighter cleaning that involves sweeping and responding to spills, Norton said.

For more tips on keeping a safe workplace, see the resources in the member’s section in www.wcti.info or contact your WCTI Loss Control Consultant.

Pallets

February Safety Tip

How to Properly Store a Stack of Empty Pallets

Stacking Pallets Can Be a Hazard – Learn How to Do it Safely!

Most distribution and many manufacturing operations must deal with empty pallets – sometimes it’s a lot of pallets.

They take space you could use for something else and clutter receiving areas. Sometimes they  have splinters or nails protruding from the sides.  Pallets are often reused and stored for a period of time until needed for an outbound shipment. But while they’re in your facility, they can eat space, potentially injure people, and generally present some risks.

 Never Stack Pallets on Their Sides

 Why would you ever stack empty pallets vertically? They don’t take up any more space than pallets stacked the right way.

But people wedge a couple of vertical pallets between stacks of horizontally stacked ones to get them out of the way.  Or they’ll lean them against a building column or the side of a rack upright. The problem? They’ve just set a trap that can injure someone. When the stacks start being pulled, those vertical pallets – sometimes with nails, sometimes with splinters, always heavy enough to injure – are in danger of tipping over.

This can result in serious injuries.

While there is no specific OSHA standard pertaining directly to vertical pallet stacking, inspectors can and do cite companies who engage in it. It may fall under OSHA 1926.25(a), under housekeeping. If a practice creates a potential safety hazard the rule can be applied to any operation.  It’s a generally acknowledged safety problem with an easily rectified situation.

Make it a company policy that pallets must never stack on their sides, and never leaned against anything. The safe way is flat on the bottom, every time.

 Never Stack Pallets Too High

According to OSHA standard 1917.14, “Cargo, pallets and other material stored in tiers shall be stacked in such a manner as to provide stability against sliding and collapse.”

This covers a lot of ground, including the way they are stacked (haphazardly, in mixed sizes, etc.). But the main focus here should be on height.  How high is too high? According to OSHA, for a freestanding stack, that comes to 15 feet. Even that can be too high in a busy traffic lane. When a standard GMA pallet is 48″ x 40″, and has a height (which varies) of 5″ to 7″ from floor to top of deck, this means 20-25 empty pallets in a stack. Each pallet can weigh 55 pounds, so by regulation, you could have an unsecured stack that weighs up to 1,375 pounds.

Generally a more modest six foot stack is preferred and works better if the pallets are handled manually. It’s also recommended that pallet stacks higher than six feet should be protected by automated sprinkler systems (per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.).

 Never Stack Pallets Crookedly, or in Varying Sizes

 Poor pallet stacking could be characterized as the world’s most dangerous Jenga game; if your pallets are in poor condition, if they aren’t uniform in size, and if they are stacked haphazardly, they can tumble or break. At 55 pounds a pallet, that’s an injury waiting to happen, even if the pallets are in great condition.

The point: stack pallets in very straight stacks, and stay at relatively low heights. It’s better to eat a bit of floor space than it is to create a safety hazard. You can also use pallet stacking frames or stacking racks to help stabilize them.

Pallet stacks should be separated by at least eight feet, and should be separated from general inventory by 25 feet.

One way to deal with a mass of pallets without covering your staging areas in stacks is to use dead space. While you typically don’t have the rack space to store idle pallets, many facilities have had success with over-dock-door pallet storage racking. This is often unused space, and can be converted to pallet storage with specialized racks.

Never keep or re-use damaged pallets

Damaged pallets are inherently unsafe.  They are also a factor in product damage incidents. When a pallet is splintered on its ends, it has a good chance of cutting or scraping workers who handle it. When it has protruding nails or fasteners, it’s even more unsafe. If it’s missing boards, stringers, or other components, it can break under a load, or while being transported by forklift. It can tilt or lean while stored in racks.  That’s unsafe for workers, and can result in a spilled pallet and lots of inventory damage.

 

Source:  Cisco-eagle.com

For more details also see:  http://repalletize.com/blog/26-pictures-analyzing-pallet-management-at-businesses

 

 

Safe Winter Walking

January Safety Tip

Safe Winter Walking
  • Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom – no high heel boots!
  • Plan ahead. While walking on snow or ice on sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards.
  • Use your eyes and ears. You want to be sure you can hear approaching traffic and other noises. Avoid listening to music or engaging in conversation that may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.
  • Anticipate ice. Be wary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night.
  • Walk stairs slowly. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.
  • Enter a building carefully. When you get to your destination, be sure to look at the floor as you enter the building. The floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.
  • Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall. Use 3-point contact when entering your vehicle make sure you two hands are holding you as you lift your foot.
  • Look up. Be careful about what you walk under.  Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.
  • Ask your employer to leave a bucket of salt at the door with small cups so you can salt the area as you walk to your car. You can carry a bag of kitty litter in your car and spread it as you get out and start to walk to the building.

Ergonomics

December Safety Tip

Arm positioning and grip are important aspects of lifting. Unless the parts are very small, you should lift with both hands and keep your hands underneath the part so your palms are facing up. This will engage the biceps and take pressure off of the forearm.  Pinch grips/precision grips using the thumb, index, and middle fingers are very stressful to the muscles. Instead of a pinch grip, lift the part with your whole hand or with two hands. As you handle materials and parts today, try to look for times where you normally use a pinch grip. Can you change the grip?

“For hand tool design, many factors should be considered before purchasing hand tools.  Consider the following recommended design features:

  • For handle design:
    • Preferable is 5” length with a 4” minimum
    • If gloves are worn add 0.5” for handle length
    • If a power grip (i.e., full grasp) is used then the diameter should be about 1.5”
    • For a precision grip (thumb and index and middle fingers) then  have a 0.5” diameter
    • If the tool has two handles, the inside width between the handles should be 2.5” to 3.5”
    • The handle should provide the greatest force-bearing area as possible (i.e., a good portion of the hand should be on the tool)
    • Avoid smooth or high polish surface (such as smooth wood, bare metal handles).  Textured, padded handles are preferred
    • Avoid form-fitting finger recesses (more than 1/8”)
    • The handle should have good electrical and heat insulation
    • Doesn’t absorb oil, solvents, etc.
    • There should be no sharp edges
    • The handle should extend beyond the palm (i.e., no handle ending in the palm causing contact stress)
    • The above can help the tool be balanced in the hand (helping to prevent awkward deviation postures)
    • For tools that insert/press parts together it should have a flange or thumb stop
    • Consider bent handles to control wrist deviations
    • For twisting or rotation movements have a shallow longitudinal groove
    • For pushing/pulling tasks along an axis a slight ripple texture is recommended
  • If a tool weighs more than 5 lbs., use a tool balancer device
  • The tool should provide sensory feedback
  • It should allow for right/left hand options

Another good guide is from NIOSH/CDC:  A Guide To Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools

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