Safety Training, Equipment, Supplies & Rentals

If you are a small company, or any company that deals with job site safety, on-site safety, or safety in the workplace, this could be one of the most important articles you will ever read! It has just come to our attention that any company that has not taken Global Harmonization Training by December 1, 2013 will not be compliant with OSHA standards! That leaves you 4 months to get ALL of your employees and outside contractors trained on Global Harmonization before OSHA penalizes your company for not being compliant with current regulations. The new GHS standard is an update to the already existing Hazard Communication Standard. Here at Safety Partners, we offer two classes you can take to fulfill the GHS requirements depending on the level of experience and expertise of the individual with Hazard Communication. We will discuss these classes and what they cover in a moment.

The new GHS rule is a result of over two decades of international negotiation and national discussion directed towards establishing a single worldwide standard for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The deceptive thing about this is that OSHA passed this ruling back in March of 2012, but they buried the actual requirement between pages 17,574 and 17, 896 of the Federal Register. The rule reads: “Employers shall train employees regarding the new label elements and safety data sheets format by December 1, 2013.” So it’s there, you just need a magnifying glass to find it.

global harmonization training

Luckily, Safety Partners will be offering two different classes for Global Harmonization Training depending on the level of experience and expertise of the individual with Hazard Communication. The two classes are:

  • Half-Day Training (4 Hours)-This class is aimed at workers or handlers of hazardous materials/chemicals who have NO PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE of Hazard Communication. The course will introduce the general HazCom requirements under OSHA regulations as it relates to the Global Harmonization System. This is the most basic class you can take to become compliant with OSHA’s new standards.
  • Full Day Training (8 Hours)-This class is designed for anyone who HAS PRIOR KNOWLEDGE WITH HAZCOM REGULATIONS prior to the GHS implementation. It’s directed towards workers who have been working with the Hazard Communication Standard or have a Hazard Communication program in place. The course will help employees understand what has happened under the new GHS HazCom Standard.

Fortunately, full compliance with the new standard isn’t required until December 1, 2015. However, any companies that are not trained by December 1st of THIS YEAR could be subjected to penalties and citations for not meeting the deadline. This applies to not only workers and employees of your own company, but also to any outside contractors who will be working with your company. Don’t waste time getting your employees to a Global Harmonization Training class. Not only will it help get your company compliant with OSHA, HazCom, and GHS standards, but it will also contribute to a greater sense of security for your employees within the workplace.

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You would think electrical safety in the workplace would be common sense for a majority of people who work in high risk areas while on the job, yet statistics have shown otherwise. The National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) conducted a study in 1998 on all electrocutions that happened between 1982 and 1994. They investigated 224 electrocutions which resulted in 244 fatalities in the workplace. That is 7% of all workplace deaths during that period. Admittedly, this is sad news, but it paints a stark picture of the value of electrical safety in the workplace. Fortunately, we can learn important lessons from the discoveries of the NIOSH researchers, the most notable revelations of their investigations being:

  • Young males died the most often. Of all the victims ranging from 17-70 years of age, 99% of them were men, 64% died prior to age 35, and 99% of the incidents were associated with alternating current (AC).
  • New hires were noticeably more prevalent in electrical incidents, making up 41% of all electrocution victims. A new hire was considered someone who had been working with the company for less than a year.
  • Construction workers were the most affected, making up 40% of all electrocutions. Transportation/communication/public utility workers made up 16%, manufacturing made up 12%, and agriculture/forestry/fishing made up 11% of electrocutions.

Ironically, utility workers, or linemen, usually receive the most extensive training in electrical safety, yet they accounted for more fatal injuries than any other occupation. The sad fact is that those fatalities could have been prevented with the proper protective gear. 55% of fatalities were utility workers because they failed to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves, sleeves, mats, and blankets.

electrical safety in the workplace

NIOSH also classified 5 different situations for the 244 fatalities:

  1. Direct worker contact with an energized power line (28%).
  2. Direct worker contact with energized equipment (21%).
  3. Boomed vehicle contact with an energized power line (18%).
  4. Incorrectly installed or damaged equipment (17%).
  5. Conductive equipment contact with an energized power line (16%).

It should be obvious that electrical safety in the workplace is definitely no laughing matter, and one of the worst things that can happen to a company is having someone die on the job. Not to mention the effect it has on friends of the victim, families of the victim, and co-workers who were unfortunate enough to be present when the incident occurred. We don’t want ANYONE to suffer through and ordeal like this, so we think it’s important for EVERYONE to brush up on their basic electrical safety practices to prevent occupational electrocution. We’ve already mentioned how even the most skilled and most trained workers have fallen victim to electrocution, so don’t take these tips lightly!!!

Basic Safe Electrical Practices to Prevent Occupational Electrocution

These are the questions EVERY supervisor and employee should ask themselves before working with electricity in the workplace.

  • Are employees given and REQUIRED to use PPE and tools when working near or around electrical threats and hazards?
  • Is there an effective tag/lockout procedure intended for work on electrical circuits and equipment?
  • Have all employees been notified of the locations of threats and hazards and have they been advised on the correct protective measures needed to avoid contact with energized circuits?
  • Are safe practices used to prevent electrical shock and other injuries? These can include de-energizing live parts, discharging capacitors, lockout, etc.
  • Are all portable electric tools and equipment double insulated or grounded?
  • Are all electrical boxes and equipment fitted with approved covers?
  • Are all damaged, frayed, or defective electrical cords immediately replaced?
  • Are you using ground fault circuit interrupters and/or assured equipment ground programs on the construction site?
  • Have electrical installations in hazardous areas been approved for those specific locations?
  • Does someone from the National Electric Code regularly come and inspect your electrical system?

Below is a PPE category level chart to reference when determining which type of PPE you should be wearing when dealing with different categories of electricity.

Electrical PPE Chart

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, electrical safety in the workplace is NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY! A majority of electrical incidents in the workplace happen due to ignorance, laziness, or failure to adhere to the rules, regulations, or requirements set forth by regulatory committees as well as on-site rules and industry best practices. Failure to take electrical safety seriously could result in a consequence that is definitive and irreversible. Yes, following a bunch of rules can be a hassle and tiresome, but it is a small price to pay when your life is what is at stake.

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Whenever workers are on the site moving heavy objects, heavy machinery, operating under objects overhead, or simply anywhere where there’s a risk of objects falling, flying, or exploding, there is a significant risk of someone getting hurt, injured, or even killed if they do not have the proper protective headwear. A single blow to the head can permanently brain damage even the healthiest of individuals. Best case scenario after receiving a blow to the head is a massive headache. Neither of these are things you want for obvious reasons. Because of these inherent risks, it is important to protect your workers from the inevitable falling objects, painful bumps, and sometimes, high-voltage electric shocks that can be received in the workplace. Anytime there is “a potential for head injury from falling or moving objects” or where workers’ heads could be exposed to electricity, it is required that these workers wear ANSI approved head protection. To help you better protect your workers’ heads and peace of mind in the workplace, we’ve compiled this list of protective headwear your employees should be wearing when working in dangerous areas.

Hard Hats

ANSI has established regulations and guidelines for protective headwear, the latest being ANSI Z9.1-1986. Standard regulations require the manufacturer’s name to be on the inside of the headwear along with one of the following designations:

  • Class A: These hard hats are designed to protect heads from falling objects as well as from electric shock from LOW VOLTAGE conductors. 
  • Class B: These function the same as Class A hard hats except for the fact that they prevent electric when exposed to HIGH VOLTAGE conductors.
  • Class C: These protect heads from all falling objects, but offer no protection whatsoever from any type of electrical conductor.

protective headwear

Primarily, hard hats are meant to protect the tops of your workers’ heads, so any penetration from the top of the shell will not harm the wearer. It should also provide some protection from lateral threats as well. The most important thing to remember is the wearer MUST WEAR THE HARD HAT PROPERLY FOR IT TO WORK. Sometimes workers get in the habit of wearing their hats backwards. This limits the amount of protection they give. If they wear their hats tilted on their heads, then they are basically not getting any protection at all. All you are doing is wasting your time and money when your employees wear their hard hats incorrectly.

Care of Hard Hats

Your hard hats will only protect you and your employees as well as you take care of and maintain them. To do this, you’ll want to do the following:

  • On a daily basis, inspect hard hats for cracks, signs of wear and tear, and deterioration to make sure that they are still providing the same amount of protection as when you first bought them.
  • If any hard hats show signs of cracking, chalking, or are losing surface gloss, get rid of them.
  • You can use decals or tape to mark hard hats for identification purposes. DON’T paint or engrave your hard hats.
  • NEVER keep hard hats on window shelves of vehicles. Extreme temperatures can affect the degree of protection the helmet provides. The hat can also become a dangerous projectile if a vehicle accident should happen.
  • Internal suspension systems of hard hats should be replaced at least once a year. You’ll have to replace it immediately if it were to become detached from the shell for some reason. Hair oils and dirt can also weaken the helmet’s shock absorption system.
  • Hard hats and any sweatbands that go along with them should be washed in warm, soapy water and rinsed carefully at least once a month.

protective headwear

Bump Caps

Bump caps do NOT offer the same type of protection that hard hats do. They don’t protect against major blows to the head or from falling objects, so NEVER use a bump cap in place of a hard hat. However, bump caps can be very useful when workers are working in tight, cramped places where they could easily absorb painful bumps, scrapes, cuts, or bruises to the head. Keep this in mind when deciding which type of cap or helmet you need.

Protecting your workers’ heads is one of the most important things you can do as a supervisor. Not only that, it’s REQUIRED by law that all of your employees be wearing protective headwear when operating in dangerous areas where a blow to the head could easily happen, or there is a threat of objects falling from overhead. Don’t be short-sighted when thinking about employee safety, use your head!

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