It has been a busy past month for CIS onsite. We have had the privilege of meeting many safety professionals at the Wisconsin Safety Conference, Iowa-Illinois Safety Conference and Minnesota Safety & Health Conference. Thank you for the great conversation about protecting your most valuable asset, Your Employees.
We are looking to seeing all you Safety Professionals at the ASSP Safety 2023 Conference & Expo in San Antonio, TX June 5-7, Booth # 456.
CIS onsite is a National company that provides local customized onsite services to meet your sites specific needs.
CIS onsite services directly reduce claims, injuries (OSHA recordable/Dart rate) and costs (workers compensation MOD rate) through our proactive services of:
Onsite Injury Prevention – which addresses pain (strains/sprains) before they become recordables or lost time injuries.
Onsite Therapy – brings your injured workers rehabilitation to your facility.
Case Management– to assist you in getting a handle on your outstanding claims.
We combine individual one on one interaction alone with job site interaction for all our onsite services.
We provide all of our onsite services 24/7 (covering all shifts) because if your company doesn’t shut down, your injury prevention and rehabilitation services shouldn’t either. We offer a one-stop-shop for all your injury prevention and rehabilitation needs, except you don’t even have to make one stop, we come to you.
National Safety Council consultants identify what they see repeatedly when auditing worksites
The National Safety Council has a team of consultants who travel across the country – and the world – to visit worksites and conduct safety audits. But no matter where each team member is, chances are good that he or she will spot one or more of seven common safety hazards. Here, NSC consultants JoAnn Dankert, Namir George and Rachel Harrington identify for Safety+Health the workplace trouble spots they see over and over again.
Working at height
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Dankert, Harrington and George frequently spot hazards associated with working at height. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that falls to a lower level accounted for 14 percent of all fatalities in 2014, and OSHA standards related to scaffolding and ladders are regularly among the most frequently cited violations.
Dankert, an NSC senior consultant based in Arizona, said hazards associated with working at height can originate from a lack of understanding. Employers may not know they have to provide fall protection, or the fall protection gear may not be worn properly or not hooked up to anything. Some employers don’t even have a written fall protection procedure or process.
Employers need to identify all locations where fall protection is necessary – as well as where the engineered anchor points are – and train employees and regularly audit the fall protection program, she said.
Watch an interview with National Safety Council Senior Consultant JoAnn Dankert about common safety problems she finds on jobsites.
Some of those locations may be surprising. Dankert recently visited a manufacturing facility that was expanding and had added to its roof a new 12-foot-tall chiller next to three existing ones. But something was missing. The old equipment had proper fall protection, including swing gates and a railing for when maintenance work is needed, but the new chiller didn’t.
“The fall hazard was not about doing work and falling off the roof – it was the equipment on top of that roof,” Dankert said. “These are hidden places you don’t go to very often, and you just don’t think about it.”
Dankert cites this case as an example of the need for safety professionals to have a seat at the table when decisions on design or purchases are made. Their input, she said, can save employers time and money.
More advice: Buy the correct-sized gear for workers, and keep in mind that although some work environments may have anchor points readily available, other locations may need an engineer to install them. Remind employees to hook to the anchor point when working at height, and keep a close eye on how well personal protective equipment is holding up. Environments with sharp edges, chemicals or welding, for example, can weaken a harness. Regularly inspect gear, and remove damaged PPE from service.
“Fall protection is like other PPE – it’s not good forever and ever,” Dankert said.
In some situations, it may be beneficial to forgo using personal fall protection equipment and instead build a platform with standard railings and a swing gate in front of a fixed ladder. Although such a platform costs money, Dankert said, it may be less costly than creating a fall protection plan, buying the PPE, and training and re-training employees.
Clutter blocking fire exits, aisles and emergency exits is a housekeeping problem that George, who is based in the United Kingdom as NSC’s manager of international consulting services, sees often.
Another common problem? Over-stacking loads on racks in a warehouse that bring them too close to a sprinkler head, which can limit the sprinkler’s efficiency in an emergency. Clutter, leaks or standing water also can contribute to slips, trips and falls.
Workers shouldn’t wait for housekeeping or sanitation crews to take care of these issues, Dankert said. Instead, they should clean as they go. “Just because it’s a dirty process doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean up spills,” she said.
If the clutter or spill requires specialized training to clean up, then employees need to alert their supervisor, who can send in the appropriate staff. Additionally, Dankert recommends setting aside a few minutes at the end of each shift, or on a Friday afternoon, to clean up before leaving for the day.
When it comes to storage, employers need to make sure appropriate areas are made available, notes Harrington, an NSC senior consultant based in Illinois. Harrington said she often sees electrical rooms used inappropriately for storage, with supplies blocking electrical installations.
Even if clearance between the stored supplies and the circuit breakers is appropriate, Harrington pointed out, employers need to consider situations that could arise in which someone would need easy access to that room.
“Think about an emergency where lights are out, something has gone wrong, and it’s full of chairs,” she said. “I wouldn’t recommend storing anything in an electrical room beyond what’s in the use of that room. I wouldn’t recommend it at all.”
Electrical – Extension cords
Blocked breakers aren’t the only electrical hazard NSC consultants frequently see. Many electrical risks are related to inappropriate use of extension cords.
Dankert often witnesses “daisy-chaining” – using multiple extension cords or power strips for a device. At one manufacturing facility Dankert visited, she saw as many as five extension cords chained together.
“It was almost like Christmas tree lights,” she said. “All you really saw were all these electrical cords everywhere.”
Because the employer is a developer of prototype equipment, the layout of the manufacturing floor was regularly being changed. And in most other aspects, the employer was conscientious about safety – the extension cords being used were new and heavy-gauge, and the facility was very clean.
“They were trying to do the right thing, but it also made me think it’s not really temporary,” Dankert said.
And that’s the point: Although extension cords can be useful for temporarily supplying power for certain operations, the key word is “temporarily.” When a cord is used for several weeks or months, Dankert said, OSHA doesn’t consider the use temporary. This opens the door for a violation.
Beyond that, extension cords lying on the ground for extended periods of time are a trip hazard. They also can be subject to traffic abuse if run over by forklifts or feet, which can wear down insulation and create shock hazards. When cords are daisy-chained, they can easily overdraw electricity from the circuits, causing the wires to heat up and potentially result in a fire.
Employers should assess whether extension cords are truly being used for temporary measures – perhaps to power a fan on an especially hot day. In such an event, Dankert said, the cord should be gathered up at the end of the shift and stored. She recommends establishing a system to periodically inspect extension cords, and training employees on that system to ensure the cords stay in good working condition and worn-out cords are placed out of service.
Workers need to ensure they’re using the right extension cord for the job. Typically, a more expensive cord has a heavier gauge, which allows it to take more power without getting hot. The same applies for using a single power strip to plug in several different devices – the power strip may not be rated for the combined wattage needed for all the high-draw appliances being plugged in.
If the extension cords are not being used for a temporary fix, employers should consider bringing in an electrician to drop in a line and outlet.
What’s a leading cause of forklift-related hazards in the workplace? In George’s experience, it’s when workers feel compelled to work quickly.
“What dictates their activity is production,” he said. “They’re all under pressure, and when you’re under pressure, they start taking shortcuts.”
Shortcuts include driving with too large of a load or driving distracted. The end result may be hitting a rack, damaging a wall or product, or even injuring a co-worker.
How employers react to these occurrences is critical, but their responses often miss the mark, NSC consultants say. George said a common attitude after an incident is to blame the individual and instill discipline. The forklift driver is re-trained, re-tested and then put back into the system. But employers fail to identify the root cause, which often is not enough staff or trucks to manage the current workload.
Compounding these problems is a lack of maintenance and daily checks of trucks, and failing to segregate vehicles from pedestrians, George said. Trucks should be regularly inspected to ensure they are in proper working order, and employers should create designated walkways.
Proper lockout/tagout procedures can help prevent serious injuries, but only if those procedures are followed.
“A lot of organizations, they’ve got the best procedures in place, but it’s the implementation of the procedures that fails,” George said.
One employee may go home for the day with his lock on, and the next worker on duty cuts the lock.
Workers may simply use a label on older equipment for which secure lockout is more difficult.
Instead of installing a chain to lock a valve in place, a wire that can easily be cut may be used.
Even if all lockout/tagout steps are followed, faulty equipment can still lead to failures. George recalled a case in which an electrician doing rewiring work was shocked. The equipment was locked out, but the instruments he was using to check the system were tampered with and failed to read that the system was live and not isolated. The worker touched a live cable, causing a third-degree burn.
Violation of lockout/tagout procedures often boils down to three reasons:
A rush to finish the work
Being unfamiliar with the equipment
Employers need to train employees on lockout/tagout and ensure they’re qualified to carry out the procedures, George stressed.
Chemicals can be expensive, and workers in some industries may never know when they’ll need to use a certain chemical again in the future. But according to Harrington, this kind of thinking can lead to serious hazards.
“Before you know it, you have all these chemicals no one wants or needs,” she said. “There’ll be literally hundreds of chemicals on the shelves.”
She added that although it may be easy to overlook a small, 5-gram bottle, those 5 grams can become unstable over time. For example, after a year or so, ether can degrade into explosive peroxide.
When an organization purchases and uses chemicals, it needs to have a control system, Harrington said. It needs to know what the chemicals are for and why they were ordered.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires facilities to keep an inventory of all products. Mark down the chemical’s expiration date, and use the chemical by that date or dispose of it properly. This is more than just a safety issue, Harrington said – stockpiling a huge cache of unwanted chemicals can be illegal. It also can be very expensive to dispose of large quantities of expired chemicals.
Another potential hazard is transferring chemicals from one container to another. Even if employees feel comfortable around the chemicals and have worked with them for years, the containers must be labeled as required under the hazcom standard.
Confined spaces can present a number of hazards. George said many tragedies involving confined spaces have occurred because an employer didn’t issue a permit or failed to carry out a risk assessment.
In one scenario George encountered, a confined space’s hazardous atmosphere wasn’t assessed properly because the equipment being used was out of date. A fire broke out.
“I’ve seen people go inside drains without a permit, and didn’t even know it was a confined space,” he said. “Someone’s gone inside to pick up something and he collapses because the standby person was distracted.”
If the risk assessment and permit process are done correctly, and all steps are followed, employers won’t have a problem, George said. “Everything is all planned,” he added. “If you don’t plan it correctly, you plan for a disaster.”
Learn how to have fun and stay safe as you enjoy the great outdoors this summer.
Every day, an average of 11 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning — and one in five of those are children 14 or younger according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Red Cross wants everyone to know critical safety knowledge and skills that could save your life in and around the water. We encourage families to build confidence in the water by learning to be safe, making good choices, learning to swim and how to handle emergencies.
Preventing unsupervised access to water, providing constant, active adult supervision and knowing how to swim are critical layers of protection to help prevent drowning.
Classes to learn how to swim are available for both children and adults. Check the map for Learn-to-Swim providers in your community. Everyone should learn first aid and CPR too, so they know what to do in an emergency.
Download the Red Cross Swim app, sponsored by The ZAC Foundation, for safety tips, kid-friendly videos and activities, and take the free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course in English or in Spanish.
It’s best to swim in a lifeguarded area. Always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over.
Drowning behavior is typically fast and silent. Unless rescued, a drowning person will last only 20 to 60 seconds before submerging. Reach or throw, don’t go! In the event of an emergency, reach or throw an object to the person in trouble. Don’t go in or you could become a victim yourself. Test your knowledge!
It only takes a moment. A child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line or apply sunscreen. For additional information about staying safe while swimming in larger bodies of water like oceans or lakes, review our beach safety tips below.
Learn how to reduce the risks so your family can enjoy swimming in open water, such as the ocean and large lakes:
Watch the weather and get out of the water at the first sign of lightning or the rumble of thunder. Stay indoors and away from water for 30 minutes after the last lightning flashes or thunder roars.
Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local condition
As when swimming or relaxing in a pool or hot tub, always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over
Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
Protect your neck – don’t dive in headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Then, turn and swim to shore. If you can’t swim to shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore. Draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
If a camping trip is in your plans, know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Plan accordingly.
Pack a first aid kit to handle insect stings, sprains, cuts and bruises and other injuries that could happen to someone in your group. Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR course and download the First Aid app so that you will know what to do in case help is delayed. You’ll learn how to treat severe wounds, broken bones, bites and stings and more.
Sprains and falls are some of the most common misfortunes travelers may face. Falls are the biggest threat, many due to poor decision-making, lack of skill or not being properly prepared. Dehydration is also a danger. Plan ahead for these dangers.
Share your travel plans and locations with a family member, neighbor or friend.
Bring nutritious food items and water, light-weight clothing to layer and supplies for any pets.
Summer is a great time to get outside for a picnic. Follow these tips to prevent illness and keep everyone safe:
Wash your hands, utensils and workstation before preparing the food.
Separate uncooked meats, poultry, and seafood from ready-to-eat foods like salads, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and desserts. Use separate plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination.
Bring hand sanitizer if your picnic site doesn’t have hand-washing facilities.
If you are going to cook on the grill, bring a food thermometer to be sure grilled foods are cooked enough. For more information about safe grilling, review the additional tips below!
Though more than three-quarters of U.S. adults have used a grill — yet, grilling sparks more than 10,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, the Red Cross offers these grilling safety tips:
Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
Never grill indoors — not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
Don’t leave perishable food out in the sun.
Mosquitoes and Ticks
Don’t let mosquitoes and ticks ruin your carefree summer fun. As we spend more time outdoors for activities like camping, hiking, swimming, picnicking and barbecuing, there is a greater chance of getting bitten by mosquitoes and ticks. According to the American Mosquito Control Association there are 176 known species of mosquito in the U.S.—putting Americans at risk from coast to coast. And while mosquitoes may be the most obvious detractor from summer fun – ticks are silent but dangerous. Most active during warmer months (April to September), it is especially important to be vigilant of blacklegged ticks, more commonly known as deer ticks, especially if you live in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, North-central or Northwest.
Mosquitoes and ticks are more than just itchy and annoying — if infected, these pests can pose a major health risk to people by possibly transmitting diseases. Follow these tips to prevent mosquito and tick bites this summer:
Use insect repellents containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when you are outdoors. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.
Consider staying indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots.
Use a rubber band or tape to hold pants against socks so that nothing can get under clothing.
Tuck your shirt into your pants. Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see tiny insects or ticks.
When hiking in woods and fields, stay in the middle of trails. Avoid underbrush and tall grass.
If you are outdoors for a long time, check yourself several times during the day. Especially check in hairy areas of the body like the back of the neck and the scalp line.
Inspect yourself carefully for insects or ticks after being outdoors or have someone else do it.
If you have pets that go outdoors, spray with repellent made for their breed/type. Apply the repellent according to the label and check your pet for ticks often.
Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying sources of standing water outside of the home, such as from flowerpots, buckets and barrels.
Summer and Pets
Summer’s heat can be dangerous for your family pets. Follow these steps to take to help ensure your pet stays safe this summer.
Don’t leave your pet in a hot vehicle, even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees even with the windows cracked open.
Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are especially prone to heat stroke, along with overweight pets, those with extremely thick fur coat or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea.
Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are heavy panting, being unable to calm down, even when lying down, brick red gum color, fast pulse rate and being unable to get up.
If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees
Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage. Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for instant access on how to treat heat stroke, other emergencies and general care for cats and dogs and take the Cat and Dog First Aid Online Training course.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals, at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks and it’s best to leave any area where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps to help keep your community safe:
Choose a location away from buildings and trees.
Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
Be sure your spectators, including children and pets, stay well back.
Keep a supply of water or fire extinguisher at hand. If you live in an area that’s experiencing a drought, consider canceling the show this year – a stray spark that lands on dry grass or leaves can lead to a wildfire.
Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.