OSHA recently released a reminder of the importance of crane safety.
“The most common crane hazards leading to serious injuries and fatalities include crane tip-overs, being struck by a crane, electrocutions, being caught in between a crane and other equipment or objects, falls from the equipment, and unqualified operators,” the agency says.
Do you operate a crane on your jobsite? Here are some tips on safe use from OSHA:
Don’t operate a damaged crane or one you suspect may malfunction.
Don’t attempt to lengthen wire rope or repair damaged wire rope.
Don’t use the wire rope or any part of the crane, hoist, or the load block and hook as a ground for welding.
Never allow a welding electrode to touch the wire rope.
Refrain from removing or obscuring warning labels on the crane or hoist.
Never walk under a suspended load or allow anyone else to.
Ensure no work is performed on a suspended load that requires a worker to be positioned under it.
Always wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, a hard hat, hearing protection, foot protection and eye protection.
Tumwater, WA — The Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program has published three new narratives in Spanish.
FACE narratives summarize work-related incidents and list recommendations and requirements that could have prevented them from occurring. In addition, they provide preliminary information about the incident, similar to OSHA’s Fatal Facts and the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Fatalgrams.
An accompanying slideshow for each is available on the WA FACE website, along with a full library of narratives. The narratives are designed to be used as formal or informal educational opportunities so similar incidents can be prevented.
Rounding out the top five on OSHA’s Top 10 list of most cited violations for fiscal year 2022 is scaffolding (1926.451), with 2,285 violations. Violations of this standard are a mainstay on the list year after year.
Use these tips from the Texas Department of Insurance to help your workers safely use scaffolding: Use proper safety equipment. Is your employee working on a scaffold more than 10 feet off the ground? If so, they need to use personal fall arrest systems or guardrails. “Employees on single-point and two-point adjustable scaffolds must be protected using guardrails and personal fall arrest systems.” Also: “Many scaffold-related injuries involve falling objects or slips. Wear a hard hat and nonslip footwear to prevent serious injuries.” Be aware of load limits. Scaffolds need to support four times the maximum intended load without failure, OSHA says. Build properly. First, make sure workers are following the manufacturer’s instructions when constructing the scaffold. Then, they should avoid power lines by leaving at least 10 feet of clearance between electrical hazards and the construction. Next, a competent person must supervise the building, moving and dismantling of scaffolding, as well as inspect it before each shift and when work is done. Keep the area organized and clear. Clutter can lead to trips and falls or cause hazards for workers on lower levels, so workers need to keep their tools and equipment organized and put away after they’re done using it. Train all employees. Workers who use scaffolds should be trained to recognize, control and reduce hazards. Your training should include proper setup, use and handling of materials – “taking into account the intended load and type of scaffold used.”
Washington — Alarmed by a recent surge of events involving the incidental release of chemicals during cold weather, the Chemical Safety Board is reminding facility operators of process safety management best practices for wintertime operations.
Freezing and expansion of water can crack or break pipes, damage equipment, or lead to instrumentation failure. Additionally, cold temperatures can trigger the formation of a hydrate, a chemical combination of water and a compound that may expand or block process piping.
CSB recommendations for winterization include:
Effectively identify and address the risk of freeze-related hazards to piping and process equipment through process hazard analyses, management of change evaluations, pre-startup safety reviews and operating procedures.
Create and implement a winterization checklist to ensure plant and process systems are ready for cold weather.
Establish a formal, written freeze protection program.
Survey piping systems for dead-legs (sections that have no flow) and ensure they’re properly isolated, removed or winterized.
Systematically review process units, including infrequently used piping and equipment, to identify and mitigate freezing hazards.
CSB data shows that 36 incidents related to the agency’s accidental release reporting rule were recorded during the first three months of fiscal year 2023, including eight during a Christmas holiday weekend that saw record-low temperatures across much of the nation.
The agency notes that 30 combined reportable events – incidental chemical releases resulting in a fatality, a serious injury and/or significant property damage – were observed during the first quarter of FY 2021 and FY 2022.
“Companies need to heighten their focus on safe operations and recognize that taking important precautionary actions, like winterization, can help prevent major chemical accidents,” CSB Chair Steve Owens said in a press release.
Does your workplace have a safety committee? If not, the new year is the perfect time to get one started. Here’s how CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training outlines setting up a committee.
First, determine who the members will be. Will it be volunteer-based, or will workers be elected by their co-workers? Will company leaders have a spot at the table?
Next, plan to meet once a month to “discuss hazards and the ways of preventing those hazards.” Safety regulations and training are two other topics for your meeting agenda.
Examples from CPWR of questions to ask:
Are workers protected against falls by guardrails or fall arrest systems?
Are workers wearing safety glasses to protect against flying objects?
Are all workers trained to respond appropriately if there’s a risk of contamination from hazardous chemicals?
The center also suggests committees meet every three months to complete a “workplace inspection to identify hazardous conditions.”
Part of this discussion should include a strategy for how you’ll get workers to cooperate and help the committee identify hazards.
During all meetings and inspections, make sure someone is taking notes. Afterward, give copies to your employer and committee members, and post the notes in a spot where all workers can see and read them.
The National Transportation Safety Board released this photo of the derailment that killed a Union Pacific conductor in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 29, 2022. Photo: National Transportation Safety Board and Union Pacific
Washington — In response to a recent fatal derailment at a Texas train yard, the Federal Railroad Administration has issued a safety advisory on the use of portable derails.
According to notice published in the Oct. 28 Federal Register, a 61-car Union Pacific Railroad train was traveling 9 mph when it struck a derailing device at 9:14 p.m. on Aug. 29 in El Paso, TX. The crew didn’t see the portable derail, which was placed on the track earlier in day to protect maintenance workers installing a switch in the yard. The conductor, who was riding in the lead car, was fatally injured when the car rolled over.
FRA emphasizes the importance of ensuring portable derails are visible in low-light conditions and that processes are in place to ensure the removal of these devices when they’re no longer necessary for on-track safety.
Some railroads, the agency notes, require workers to place a tag on the steering wheel of hi-rail vehicles when placing shunts on the track, adding that a similar process for placing portable derails would guard against workers unintentionally leaving portable derails on a track.
The agency recommends that railroad operators and contractors:
Review details of the El Paso incident with workers.
Ensure their safety manuals properly address the use of portable derails.
Equip any portable derails with a light or reflectors.
Include procedures that call for portable derails to be removed when no longer necessary.
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Portland, OR — A recent study of residential construction supervisors in Oregon who received toolbox talks via text messages showed that their compliance with Oregon OSHA’s standard on safety meetings increased – and the delivery method was welcomed.
Researchers sent seven different toolbox talks, based on Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation reports, to 56 supervisors via text every two weeks for three months. Results show that adherence to the agency’s standard, which requires at least one safety meeting a month and a meeting before the start of each job that lasts more than a week, rose 19.4% among the participants.
“We were able to see that using mobile phone technology to disseminate these toolbox talks was feasible and desirable among supervisors,” study co-author Sean Rice, a biostatistician with the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health and Sciences University, told Safety+Health. “We were able to do it, and people seemed to like it.”
Topics of the toolbox talks included falls from a scaffold, a ladder, through a skylight and down an elevator shaft. The supervisors also received a link to access the online toolbox talk libraries of Oregon FACE and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. The supervisors were asked to use the featured toolbox talk when it was appropriate for their jobsite’s safety concerns and work phase, or find one from one of the libraries that better suited their needs.
The researchers also asked the supervisors about how they communicated the toolbox talks to their workers. While 54% either read the talk or printed documents to share, 41% said they preferred toolbox talks in a video or audio format.
Skid-steer loaders, often used on construction sites for excavating and other tasks, have features that expose workers to many injury risks, including caught-between incidents and rollovers. Although these machines are equipped with protective systems such as seat belts and rollover protection, injuries continue to occur.
Help keep workers safe with these tips from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health:
Stay seated when operating the loader controls.
Wear the seat belt.
Keep your hands, arms, legs and head inside the operator’s compartment while operating the loader.
Load, unload and turn on level ground, when possible.
Travel and turn with the bucket in the lowest position possible.
Don’t exceed the manufacturer’s recommended load capacity.
Operate on stable surfaces only.
Travel straight up or down slopes with the heavy end of the machine pointed uphill.
Always look in the direction the loader is traveling.
Keep other workers away from the loader’s work area.
Jobs that require frequent standing can lead to a number of health-related problems, including sore feet, leg swelling, muscle fatigue, low back pain, and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
One possible fix for some workstations? Make them adjustable. “Being able to adjust the working height is particularly important to match the workstation to the worker’s individual body size and to the worker’s particular task,” the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety says. “If the workstation cannot be adjusted, platforms to raise the shorter worker or pedestals on top of workstations for the tall worker should be considered.”
Other tips to reduce the negative effects of standing work:
Change working positions often.
Avoid extreme bending, stretching and twisting.
Give workers breaks to relax.
Organize work so materials are within easy reach.
Use a foot rail or portable footrest to shift body weight from both legs to one or the other.
Avoid reaching above or behind the shoulder line. Instead, shift feet to face the object.
Source: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training
Silver Spring, MD — Nearly 4 out of 5 construction employers, supervisors and workers say their organization needs training on identifying and preventing struck-by hazards, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.
Researchers surveyed 208 individuals, 88% of whom have more than 10 years of experience in the construction industry. Most respondents – 77.9% and 72.7%, respectively – believe their organization needs to institute training to identify and prevent struck-by hazards, as well as conduct job hazard analyses before work or new tasks begin.
Further, the results show that the leading causes of struck-by injuries are working around heavy equipment or vehicles (35.6%) and falling or flying objects from work performed at height (29.8%). The employers identified three primary barriers to engaging in practices to prevent struck-by injuries: lack of understanding or information to address hazards (26.9%), scheduling pressure (25.5%), and lack of training in hazard identification and prevention (23.1%).
“Developing a training program for those involved in the planning process, which covers struck-by hazard identification, how to conduct job hazard analyses and best practices for prevention, would address the biggest barriers and support more effective planning and decision-making,” CPWR says.
Still, “filling knowledge and training gaps does not guarantee that companies and their employees will engage in safe practices,” CPWR cautions. The organization says the results show that employees with stop-work authority often enforce safe practices, and suggests “further exploration of stop-work authority’s use in the construction industry and how it could be used to reduce struck-by incidents may be warranted.”