Tag Archive | "Safety"

Mobile Apps Help Make Workplaces Safe

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Mobile Apps Help Make Workplaces Safe

Posted on 21 December 2016 by CRadmin2

app-for-thatHealth and Safety specialists in the U.S. and Canada are increasingly turning to new technologies to help them keep workplaces safe and in compliance with all OSHA regulations. Among the most widely used technologies now are mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices.

Not so long ago, you would have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to purchase the meters or books required to make sure your business complies with all health and safety regulations. This expense was often diminished by renting the necessary equipment or hiring specialist consultants, but today, you can find literally thousands of mobile apps that get extremely close to professional measurement devices.

Many of the apps also serve as handy reference guides for all types of safety and compliance issues. Following is a brief list of some of the apps most helpful for the countertop fabrication industry:

LiftRight (Apple and Android) – This free mobile app from EMC Insurance Companies helps you calculate the NIOSH Lifting Equation for lifting tasks.

Respiratory Protection Resource (Apple and Android) – This free app from 3M Safety acts as a quick reference guide for the appropriate respiratory protection to use for difference chemicals and airborne substances.

Hearing Solutions Selector (Apple and Android) – Another free app from 3M Safety, the Hearing Solution Selector helps you find the right protection for your workers based on a few simple questions.

First Aid (Apple and Android) – Although there are dozens of first aid apps out there, this free one from the American Red Cross is the most comprehensive and easiest to use.

iAuditor (Apple and Android) – The iAuditor Safety Audit and Checklist app includes a library of more than 20,000 inspection forms and checklists used by a wide range of authorities, including government agencies, fire departments and trade associations.

Job Safety Analysis (Apple and Android) – Perform a better job safety analysis (JSA) with this app from Team Solutions Training. Use pre-filled options or create your JSAs with the simple menu selections.

Toolbox Meetings (Apple and Android) – The Toolbox Meetings app can help you document your required meetings that identify and clarify safety issues. The app is a full-featured software platform that takes all the assumptions and guesswork out of meetings and organizes factual evidence.

Incident Prevention Magazine (Apple and Android) – The final entry in our list of health and safety apps is Incident Prevention Magazine. It is written for the utility industry but provides a wealth of information for the construction and countertop fabrication industries. It is free of charge and all articles are written by authoritative safety experts.

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A Sad Reminder Why Slab Handling Safety Is Critical

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A Sad Reminder Why Slab Handling Safety Is Critical

Posted on 11 November 2016 by cradmin

This video put forth by the Marble Institute of America (now MIA+BSI) is a sad reminder of just why following the correct slab handling techniques with granite, marble, quartz or other heavy stones is extremely critical to the safety and health of fabricators and countertop fabrication businesses everywhere.

This is just the introduction to a much larger video offered by the association.

You may also be interested in this article on aerial lift safety.

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First Impressions in the Countertop Industry

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First Impressions in the Countertop Industry

Posted on 27 October 2016 by CRadmin3

This video created by Paxton Countertops in Michigan is both amusing and makes a good point about the importance of first impressions, customer service and safety in a countertop business. It shows both the don’ts and do’s for a fabrication business (and many businesses in general) when it comes to customers.

Any employee of any countertop fabrication business could benefit from the reminder issued here (and the humor helps make an impression).

You may also be interested in this article about ensuring customer satisfaction.

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The Total Worker Health Approach

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The Total Worker Health Approach

Posted on 24 October 2016 by CRadmin2

ship-brandIt is widely known that the West Coast states (California, Oregon and Washington) have some of the strictest rules regarding the health and safety of workers, but these states also provide an assortment of publications and tools that are useful for any business anywhere in the nation. The latest of these tools is the Safety & Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which was developed in Oregon under the Total Worker Health (TWH) initiative established by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH).

About Total Worker Health

For decades, NIOSH has been attempting to deal with the 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries that occur in the U.S. each year, costing more than $1 billion per week in workers’ compensation claims. In 2011, NIOSH launched the TWH Program in an effort to advance the health and well-being of workers in the United States, which benefits not only workers but also employers in a variety of ways, including increased productivity.

As part of the TWH Program, NIOSH established six Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health across the country. These centers, located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado and Oregon, have been conducting research and publishing new materials for employers for the past five years, and this work has culminated in the development of the Toolkit Kiosk by the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.

Benefits of SHIP

The latest addition to the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s Toolkit Kiosk is SHIP, and its primary goal is “to promote employee health, safety, work-life balance and team effectiveness.” When used properly, the program can reduce stress and work-life conflicts experienced by employees, improve company health and safety practices and increase job performance and team effectiveness.

Research shows that when employees have conflicts between their work and personal lives, they experience higher levels of work stress, burnout, health problems and turnover. These conflicts also decrease job satisfaction, commitment to the company and performance.

SHIP has been extensively tested in labs, workshops and the real world. The program was first validated in the construction industry, and it has been adapted to for use in several others. It made available through online manuals, printable materials and software downloads, and it was designed to implemented without external support.

Work-Life Support

SHIP tackles the problem of work-life conflicts by getting owners, managers and supervisors involved in the safety and health of employees. First, supervisors must recognize that the demands of the job can affect personal and family responsibilities, but showing genuine concern about the conflicts, being knowledgeable about TWH programs, resources and policies and sharing techniques for managing responsibilities can help to reduce the impact on the business.

In order for the program to work, supervisors must demonstrate a commitment to safety – which includes all of the following points:

  • Understand and communicate the company’s safety expectations
  • Train employees on safe practices and how to recognize risks
  • Ask for suggestions and encourage creativity in coming up with solutions
  • Ensure duties are safe and demonstrate concern for employees
  • Reinforce safety procedures and practices
  • Take action against unsafe behavior and conditions

Supervisors are helped through this process with the four components of SHIP:

  1. Supervisor computer-based training
  2. Supervisor behavior tracking
  3. Team Effectiveness Process (TEP)
  4. Regular check-ins and follow-up

For further information about SHIP and the TWH approach, check out the Safety & Health Improvement Program website, download the SHIP Start Guide or go through the SHIP Leadership Briefing Slides for Power Point.

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MIA+BSI Releases Video On Installation Safety

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MIA+BSI Releases Video On Installation Safety

Posted on 25 August 2016 by CRadmin3

mia-bsi-natural-stone-institute-best practices videoMIA+BSI released a new video, Natural Stone Installation: Best Practices for Safety and Success. This video is the Institute’s first collection of video modules focusing solely on installation safety. The video highlights the fact that there is a significant difference between shop safety, where the environment is familiar, to being on location, where each setting is different and requires a clear plan of action. Completed as part of the 2016 Safety Initiative set forth by the Institute’s safety committee, eight modules are included in the video, addressing the following topics:

  • Overview of installation safety
  • Identifying safety concerns early in the process
  • Requirements for personal protective equipment
  • Installation case studies
  • Best practices for material loading and unloading
  • Manpower and equipment
  • Large-scale commercial installations
  • Tile-setting best practices

Modules are self-contained and arranged so that they can be watched individually or as part of an overall installation safety program. MIA+BSI Vice President Jon Lancto commented, “This is a great training resource for anyone sending installers into the field. Training our installers to be safe and professional can only enhance the value of our products and help retain great employees.”

Physical DVDs of Natural Stone Installation: Best Practices for Safety and Success are available for purchase at www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/2016safetyvideo. The video will also be made available free of charge as part of the soon-to-be-launched Natural Stone University.

You may also be interested in this video from MIA that reviews slab clamp safety.

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Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2015

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Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2015

Posted on 18 July 2016 by cradmin

Safety-SignsWorking in a countertop fabrication shop can be dangerous if safety precautions are not followed. Many of the most hazardous situations are very specific to the industry, but employees may also become injured or killed by general hazards that are common in all types businesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) makes its data available to the public, and the latest release is for 2015.

In 2015, federal compliance officers conducted 35,820 inspections and state officers conducted 43,471 inspections, and following are the top 10 most frequently cited violations for the year:

  1. Fall protectionFalls are, by far, the most common type of accidents in the construction industry, accounting for nearly 40 percent of worker injuries in the construction industry. In most cases, citations can be avoided by simply keeping floors clean, dry and unobstructed, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for falls and training employees about known dangers.
  2. Hazard communication standard – The hazard communication standard (HCS) requires businesses to label and provide safety data sheets for all hazardous chemicals used while on the job. All employees who are exposed to these chemicals must also be appropriately trained to handle them.
  3. General scaffolding requirements – Approximately 50 people each year are killed in scaffolding accidents while on the job. Injuries often occur when the planks or supports are not used properly. It is also common for workers to slip and fall or be struck by fallen objects while on scaffolding.
  4. Respiratory protection – About 5 million workers in the U.S. are required to wear respirators while working in environments with insufficient oxygen or harmful substances are in the air. For most countertop fabricators, the respirators are primarily used to reduce exposure to silica dust.
  5. Control of hazardous energy – Hazardous energy can from a variety of sources, including electrical, mechanical, thermal, chemical and hydraulic and pneumatic. Injuries can easily occur when employees are cleaning or maintaining heavy machinery. Examples include burns while repairing steam valves, getting crushed by a faulty conveyer-belt system and getting shocked while working on electrical equipment. The most effective way to prevent or reduce these types of injuries is to implement an approved lockout/tagout (LOTO) practice.
  6. Powered industrial trucks – Powered industrial trucks, more commonly known as forklifts, present several dangers, such as overloading, collisions with objects or people and falling off loading docks or trucks. Specialized training is recommended for all workers operating forklifts.
  7. Ladders – While ladders are common household tools, but they can be extremely deadly when care is not taken and proper procedures are not followed.
  8. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment – Because electricity is so deadly, federal and state safety precautions are very strict, very specific and designed to prevent several types of injuries, including shock, fire and explosions.
  9. Machinery and machine guarding – Heavy machines with moving parts are responsible for a great many workplace injuries and deaths. While many of these machines cannot be tamed, they can be sufficiently guarded to lower risk.
  10. Electrical systems design – In addition to components, wiring methods and equipment, you entire electrical system design could be a hazard.

Fabrication shops of all types are inherently dangerous, but injuries can be prevented by following all health and safety regulations. Even though compliance usually carries a high upfront cost, the cost of paying your workers’ compensation premiums is even more costly. For further information on common workplace injuries, contact the nearest OSHA office, a trade organization such as the Natural Stone Institute or a private compliance consultation firm.

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Aerial Lift Safety

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Aerial Lift Safety

Posted on 27 June 2016 by cradmin

guidance_fig31Although many countertop fabricators do not use aerial lifts in the shop or during the course of a job, those who do should be aware of the dangers and hazards involved these large pieces of machinery. Aerial lifts, often called boom lifts, are highly regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Related lifts, such as vertical-platform lifts and scissors lifts are actually much more common in the countertop industry and are classified separately from aerial lifts as mobile scaffolds, many of the same safety rules and recommendations should be applied.

Aerial Lift Hazards

Statistics show that about 26 people die every year in accidents involving aerial lifts, and most of these deaths are for boom lifts operated from motor vehicles. Some of these deaths, however, involved scissor lifts. The leading causes of aerial lift deaths are as follows:

  • Electrocutions
  • Falls
  • Collapses or tip-overs
  • Caught in or between the lift
  • Being struck or crushed by other objects
  • Ejected out of the lift

Training Recommendations

OSHA requires anyone operating an aerial lift on the job to be fully trained in its operation and in how to prevent, reduce and react to accidents that may lead to injuries or death. All training must cover the following topics:

  • Explanations of common hazards
  • Dealing with hazards
  • Recognizing unsafe conditions
  • Proper operating procedures
  • Demonstration of knowledge and skills for safe operation
  • Performing safety inspections
  • Understanding manufacturer’s

Any time an accident occurs, new workplace hazards are discovered or a different type of aerial lift is used, employers must retrain all workers who are observed making mistakes while operating the lift.

Pre-Operation Inspection

To avoid injuries and death while using aerial lifts, it is important to conduct two separate inspections: an inspection of lift components and work zone inspection.

A full aerial lift prestart inspection includes all of the following checks:

  • Vehicle components, such as fluid levels, wheels, battery, lights, horn, steering and brakes.
  • Lift operating controls
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability and condition
  • Hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems
  • Insulating components
  • Hazard signs in place
  • Fasteners and locking pins
  • Integral and mobile harnesses
  • Stabilizers and other outriggers
  • Guardrails

The objective of a thorough work zone inspection is to detect possible hazards present in the area, and it includes the following checks:

  • Holes, drop-offs and other unstable surface conditions
  • Ceiling height
  • Debris and other obstructive objects
  • Overhead electrical or communications lines and other obstructions
  • High wind and severe weather
  • People or animals

Safely Operating Aerial Lifts

Before anyone operates an aerial lift, he or she must do everything possible to prevent falls and minimize the risk should falls occur. First, it is important to ensure the gates on the lift are closed, and the operator is standing firmly on the floor of the lift bucket or platform.

Never climb or lean on the guardrails, and never work from a plank, ladder or other object that does not allow you to keep your feet on the floor. In addition, anyone on the lift must be wearing a body harness or a restraining belt and lanyard attachment. However, be sure not to anchor to or tie-off on adjacent structures that are not part of the lift, such as poles or walls.

You will also want to ensure to protect the overhead area from becoming a hazard by being aware of the clearance and any objects that may be in the way. If overhead hazards do exist, try to reposition the lift to avoid them completely, and always stay clear of power lines. Electrocution is the leading cause of aerial lift deaths.

Now that the lift and the area have been analyzed for hazards, it is necessary to ensure that the lift is stable and has enough support. If the lift has outriggers, use them, but be sure to set the brakes if you are on a vehicle-based lift. In addition, wheel chocks should be used on sloped surfaces, and work-zone signs and cones or fencing should block access to the worksite and make others aware of the dangers.

The following safety tips are recommended whenever anyone is using an aerial lift:

  • Do not exceed load capacity.
  • Stay at least 10 feet from all electrical wires. If possible, power lines should be insulated or deactivated.
  • Use an insulated bucket to help prevent electrical shock.
  • To prevent falls, use a harness or another OSHA-approved support device.
  • Never move the base while the platform is elevated.
  • Obey the vertical limits for the lift.
  • Do not carry objects larger than the platform

For further information on aerial lift safety, contact the nearest OSHA office or call the national number toll free at (800) 321-6742

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Controlling Exposure to Methylene Chloride

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Controlling Exposure to Methylene Chloride

Posted on 26 May 2016 by cradmin

methylene-chloride-chemical-label-lb-1584-86Several chemicals that are commonly found in countertop fabrication shops and used by countertop installers pose a potential health risk to employees and others who are exposed, and one of the most dangerous is methylene chloride. Methylene chloride exposure in the workplace is strictly controlled by federal OSHA standards and 28 OSHA-approved state standards.

Methylene chloride is a colorless liquid with an odor similar to that of chloroform, and it is used in several industrial and commercial processes, including paint stripping, sealer stripping, resin production, metal cleaning/degreasing and adhesives manufacturing and use.

Federal Exposure Limits

The most common routes of overexposure for employees are through inhalation and skin contact. The federal action level for airborne methylene chloride is 12.5 ppm over an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA). This means that businesses with this level of exposure are mandated to comply with controls, including exposure monitoring and medical surveillance.

The short-term exposure limit (STEL) to methylene chloride for employees is 125 ppm over 15 minutes, and the permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 25 ppm over eight hours. These limits were set in 1997, and a regularity review conducted in 2010 determined that these levels are justified in protecting the health of U.S. workers.

Remember, however, that these are the federal exposure limits. You may live in one of the 28 states that override the federal standard, and the limits in your state could be more stringent.

Dangers of Methylene Chloride

Methylene chloride has been declared a potential occupational carcinogen by OSHA, a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It has been banned altogether from paint strippers in the European Union (EU), and it is prohibited from being used in 13 product categories in California.

From 2000 to 2016, a total of 14 people have died in the U.S. from acute overexposure to methylene chloride. Thirteen of these fatalities were bathtub refinishers, and the other worked in a paint-manufacturing facility. However, furniture strippers and anyone else coming into contact with airborne or liquid methylene chloride are susceptible to adverse health effects.

Short-term exposure to high concentrations of methylene chloride can produce the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting

Skin exposure to liquid methylene chloride can cause irritation, redness, swelling and burns, and it can be equally irritating to the eyes, mouth and upper digestive system. In addition, long-term exposure may produce the following adverse health effects:

  • Dry, cracked and inflamed skin
  • Liver damage
  • Central nervous system (CNS) damage
  • Aggravation of existing angina and heart conditions
  • Increased risk of cancer

Hazard Controls for Methylene Chloride

A number of controls are mandated and recommended by OSHA and other chemical-hazard experts. The first of which is communicating the hazard to employees and other employers at multi-employer worksites. Workers must be trained about the hazard and how to reduce exposure. The best course of action to take is to replace all products with methylene chloride, but if this is not possible, other measures must be taken.

Products containing methylene chloride should not be used in confined or unventilated spaces, and additional exhaust ventilation should be in place when used indoors. Simply opening windows and using household room fans are not sufficient for ventilation. Full-face, supplied-air respirators should be provided to employees in areas with high concentrations of methylene chloride, and protective gloves and clothing should be worn at all times.

Areas where methylene chloride is used must be marked as regulated areas, and restrictions should on access to these areas should be implemented. In addition, employers are required to begin an exposure-monitoring program in regulated areas in some situations.

For further information about methylene chloride, refer to OSHA Publication 3144-06R or contact the nearest state or federal OSHA office.

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MIA+BSI Introduces Spanish Safety Poster Set

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MIA+BSI Introduces Spanish Safety Poster Set

Posted on 20 May 2016 by CRadmin3

MIA+BSI Safety Poster Eng+SpanMIA+BSI: the Natural Stone Institute announced that the 2016 safety poster set is now available in Spanish. Both English and Spanish poster sets are available for purchase in the association bookstore. The release of the Spanish safety posters continues a yearlong safety initiative that has included increased education, advocacy, and resources for the natural stone industry.

Ted Skaff, chair of the MIA+BSI Safety Committee and VP of Marketing at Lackmond Products, Inc., said, “We are pleased to see the introduction of the Spanish safety posters. Our safety committee has worked long and hard on this project and it is nice to see it complete, allowing our safety message to reach more industry professionals. We are sure that this will help create a safer environment in both the short and long term by bringing awareness to safety. The safety committee will continue to strive forward, providing the industry new safety materials that will be beneficial to all. Remember—safety first!”

MIA+BSI would like to thank the following companies who assisted with translation: Lurvey Project Group, Dee Brown, Inc., Cosentino, and Laticrete.

You may also be interested in our Health & Safety Watch article series with tips on effective safety planning.

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Effective Safety Planning Part 6: Safety Meetings

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Effective Safety Planning Part 6: Safety Meetings

Posted on 21 April 2016 by cradmin

next-safety-meeting-date-time-location-topic-required-to-attendThe final edition of our six-part series on effective safety planning is aimed at helping you with the upkeep of all the hard work you put into your four-point safety plan: holding regular safety meetings. In a few states, such as Washington, Oregon and California, regular safety meetings are mandated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), but in most area, meetings are recommended but not required by law.

Keep Safety a Top Priority

If you talk to any organization or business specializing in OSHA-compliance training, they will all recommend that you hold safety meetings for several reasons. Some fabricators hold safety meetings every week while others prefer monthly, quarterly or even annually, the last of which is not recommended but better than having no meetings at all. A select few businesses go the extra mile and hold safety meetings daily or at the beginning of each shift to really hit home how important it is to effectively deal with workplace hazards. After all, taking five to 10 minutes each shift could end up saving you thousands of dollars in medical expenses and workers’ compensation premiums.

Safety meetings are one of the most effective ways to ensure that all employees know and remember all of the safety rules, and it encourages a culture of safety in your business. You will be able to discuss opinions and facts on what are acceptable work practices and clear up misunderstandings about how to use tools and equipment in a manner that is least likely to cause harm.

Set an Example as Team Leaders

Workplace safety meetings help management to get all employees to follow the safety standards you have put into place. Holding regular meetings also helps to reinforce the leadership role of management, but managers have also have to do their part by setting good examples for the others. When employees see management following all of the safety rules, they will be more inclined to do so themselves.

This is a vital part of safety meetings because it extends into everyday practices. In addition, you want your managers and supervisors to follow safety practices because when they get sick or injured, your liability is potentially higher than it would be for an entry-level worker.

Safety Meetings or Safety Committee?

Some OSHA jurisdictions allow regular safety meetings to be replaced with a full-time safety committee, but it is your job to discover which is more effective in your specific situation. For the most part, safety committees work best when you have more than 10 employees. When you have fewer than 10 employees, the time it takes to organize the committee and then have the members inspect each and every situation detracts from the work their regular work. In this case, safety meetings are a matter of dollars and cents.

What Is a Safety Meeting?

Safety meetings are usually led by one person who is in management or who has had extra training to learn all of the specific actions that must be taken to comply with OSHA regulations, or to go beyond compliance for even greater safety. The meetings may be overviews of new safety rules, or they may focus on a single situation. In Oregon, businesses that are involved in construction, manufacturing and utilities must keep written records of meetings for three years, but this is a good idea for all businesses no matter where they operate. When you have records of what was covered and who attended, it helps to reduce your liability should accidents occur in situations that were topics of one or more meetings.

If you have trouble thinking of topics for safety meetings, there is no need to try to discover them yourself. Of course, the most effective meetings are those that cover topics specific to your business and location. However, if you can’t think of anything to cover, the California State Compensation Insurance Fund and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries have both prepared lists of possible subjects that can either help you get started or save you when you are in a bind.

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