Safety Training, Equipment, Supplies & Rentals

With the weather beginning to turn cold and winter right around the corner, now is the time of year where homes and businesses start firing up their heaters to keep warm. However, something a lot of people forget when they are burning fuels to create heat is the fact that carbon monoxide gas is produced and emitted. In fact, any time a combustion process occurs, whether it be fuel burning furnaces, vehicle exhausts, coal burning power plants, gasoline engines, gasoline powered generators, power washers, fire places, charcoal grills, forklifts, marine engines, gas water heaters, propane powered heaters, or kerosene heaters, there is a chance of a deadly carbon monoxide leak. Carbon monoxide becomes even more dangerous when you consider that it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, so our natural defenses, sight, smell, and taste, become useless to us. Knowing that there is such a deadly gas that could spring a leak at any moment, it is important to be aware of your surroundings when in the workplace and identify and recognize where possible carbon monoxide hazards are. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to combat carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace. To help you with this, we’ve compiled a few carbon monoxide safety tips that you can use to protect yourself and your coworkers from this deadly gas.

First, let us identify exactly why carbon monoxide is so dangerous. Carbon monoxide, or CO, decreases the body’s ability to carry oxygen to various parts of the body. CO attaches to your red blood cells and deprives the body of oxygen, which results in organ damage, or even worse, death. Remember that it does not matter how much CO you inhale, even small amounts can be extremely dangerous. It it odorless, tasteless, and invisible, thus why it is sometimes called “The Invisible Killer”. People who work the following jobs are at an increased risk of CO exposure:

  • Forklift operators. 
  • Garage mechanics.
  • Firefighters.
  • Organic chemical synthesizers.
  • Metal oxide reducers.
  • Taxi drivers.
  • Construction workers.
  • Diesel engine operators.
  • Welders.
  • Toll booth and tunnel booth attendants.
  • Customs inspectors.
  • Police officers.

carbon monoxide safety

If you work one of the above occupations, or work a job where you work with combustion processes, you will want to heed the following CO safety tips:

  • Make sure that your entire workplace is OSHA compliant and everyone is aware of mandated carbon monoxide permissible exposure limits.
  • Read and follow all instructions and pay attention to warning labels on ALL fuel powered tools. This includes power washers and generators.
  • DO NOT use fuel powered tools (power washers, heaters, forklifts, etc,) in enclosed spaces where gas levels can build up quickly. This includes homes under construction and tented off areas.
  • Pay very close attention to flu-like symptoms. If more than one person has them, then you should become especially alarmed. Headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, and feeling sick are all common symptoms of CO exposure and should be treated with utmost importance and urgency. CO poisoning can become deadly in a matter of minutes, so any symptoms should be dealt with immediately.
  • If a carbon monoxide leak is suspected or has been recognized, move everyone out of the area IMMEDIATELY and report the situation promptly to authorities.
  • If there’s ANY situation you think could create a CO leak, report it to authorities.
  • Be aware of ventilation issues, especially in enclosed spaces where gases from burning fuels can be emitted.
  • If you at any time feel sick when working, get to the emergency room or call 911 IMMEDIATELY. If you are able, alert everyone that you suspect CO poisoning and have a blood test done as soon as possible. If you are able to identify CO poisoning quick enough after exposure, then your chances of recovery are much greater. DO NOT ignore symptoms!

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real and very deadly threat in the workplace that should not be treated lightly. You and your coworkers can literally die within minutes if symptoms are not dealt with swiftly and decisively. Always be aware of the common symptoms of CO poisoning and know that emergency help is required immediately once they are recognized. Know your carbon monoxide safety, don’t shortchange yourself. Yours and your coworkers’ lives could depend on it.

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We published an article on the new globally harmonized system ruling on July 31st that stated that any company dealing with job site safety, on-site safety, or safety in the workplace must be trained on it before December 1, 2013, or they will not be in compliance with OSHA. In light of the new ruling, a lot of employees, supervisors, and companies are worried and concerned about what this new ruling means to them and what they need to do to get in line with regulations and be fully compliant with OSHA standards. To help more of you understand the ruling and how it will affect you, we’ve  compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the globally harmonized system ruling and answered them for you.

What is the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?

The GHS is the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The system establishes rules and regulations for hazardous chemicals in transportation, use in the workplace, consumer use, and special rules and regulations for pesticides. The GHS also contains new Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) requirements and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements along with new hazard symbols. These set the standards for:

  • Classifying chemicals. 
  • Hazard symbols.
  • Requirements for labeling.
  • MSDS requirements.

All of this is published by the UN in its “Purple Book” which you can purchase here.

The GHS was put in place to harmonize the inconsistencies between various national and regional systems that control the classification of chemicals. The GHS aims to establish a system that everyone uses for classifying hazardous materials and give warnings to employees. All of this is meant to improve safety, lower supplier costs, and make it much easier to internationally ship and sell chemical materials and products. The GHS also wants to ensure employees worldwide receive the same level of protection while using these materials and products.

globally harmonized system

Who is affected by GHS and who has to comply?

GHS deals with any company or business that uses or has chemicals within the workplace. All employers who have hazardous materials or chemicals are required to have labels and safety data sheets for any employees who could possibly be exposed. They are also required to train their employees on the proper handling and care of these chemicals.

What specifically does the new GHS ruling affect?

The new GHS ruling directly affects 3 things:

  • Labeling-GHS will establish new labeling requirements, standardized pictograms, signal words, and hazard statements. 
  • Classification-GHS will establish a single, common system of chemical classification that everyone can follow.
  • MSDS-MSDS will become Safety Data Sheets (SDS). There are 16 sections in the new SDS with a set order along with information requirements.

Does the new GHS ruling affect the Transportation of Dangerous Goods or Hazardous Materials?

Despite the fact that some of the changes in classifications for flammables, toxic materials, and environmental hazards have been somewhat aligned in regulations (i.e IMDG), the new GHS DOES NOT apply to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods or Hazardous Materials.

What is the deadlines apply to employees for the adoption of the new GHS ruling?

The effective deadline date for the training of employees is December 1, 2013. You are required to have all employees who will be exposed to hazardous chemical trained on the new labeling and SDS formats.

Are ALL employees required to be trained?

Yes. Any employee that will be exposed to hazardous materials or chemicals MUST be trained by December 1, 2013.

Does Safety Partners offer GHS training? 

Yes, Safety Partners offers two classes depending on the level of experience of the employee. You can view the two classes we offer in our Global Harmonization Training blog.

globally harmonized system

What other deadlines should companies and employees be aware of in regards to the adoption of the new GHS regulations for Systems and Processes?

  • December 1, 2013-All employees trained on new label elements and SDS format. 
  • June 1, 2015-Be in compliance with ALL modified provisions of the final rule.
  • December 1, 2015-Distributors may transport materials labeled by manufacturers under the old system until this date.
  • June 1, 2016-Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs where necessary while providing added employee training for newly recognized physical and health hazards. 
  • Transition Period-During the transitional period, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the new ruling), the current standard, or both.

How will the new GHS impact my MSDSs?

The new GHS system has a newly updated SDS that will replace the old MSDS. The GHS system is made up of 16 sections that read:

  1. Identification.
  2. Hazard(s) Identification.
  3. Composition/Information on Ingredients.
  4. First aid measures.
  5. Fire fighting measures.
  6. Accidental release measures.
  7. Handling and storage.
  8. Exposure controls/Person protection.
  9. Physical and chemical properties.
  10. Stability and reactivity.
  11. Toxicological information.
  12. Ecological information.
  13. Disposal considerations.
  14. Transport information.
  15. Regulatory information.
  16. Other information.

Do I need to update my MSDS? 

Yes, your product will have to be reclassified under the new GHS system.

globally harmonized system

How can we be compliant if we only have a black and white printer?

Since the new GHS pictograms need to be printed in red and black, a simple black and white printer won’t do the trick. You can but pictogram labels to stick on your current labels, or you can buy preprinted stock that already has the red borders on them. If you’re having trouble, feel free to contact Safety Partners regarding this.

What printers ARE GHS compliant?

Two color CAB printers will give you the capability to print in black and red along. Color printers also will allow you to print what you need.

How are “articles” regulated by OSHA under the new revisions to HAZCOM 2012? 

Articles were not affected by the new GHS ruling.

Where can I go to ask additional questions regarding OSHA’s new GHS ruling? 

Feel free ton contact Safety Partners at 877-723-3021 or go to our contact page here. We will be more than willing to help you understand and comprehend the new Globally Harmonized System ruling. Also, remember that we offer two classes specifically designed for Global Harmonization Training.

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Oftentimes, workers, employees, and supervisors can be exposed to open flames, extreme heat, sparks, explosive materials, flammable materials, and combustible materials during the course of work. They can also experience something called “arc flash” or “arc fire” which can directly or indirectly cause a garment fire that could result in a serious injury or even death. During cases such as these, where worker safety should be first priority over any expenses or labor that could prevent such an event from happening, workers should be wearing FR clothing, or flame resistant clothing.  The most significant burns workers experience are usually not even caused by the original hazard itself, but by workers’ clothing igniting and continuing to burn while the fire is being put out. A majority of serious burns from industrial mishaps come from workers who were wearing normal work clothing and their clothes caught fire and burned the workers’ backs. Simply wearing FR clothing can prevent instances like this from happening. FR clothing does not ignite and it does not burn. Actually, even a SINGLE layer of FR clothing can significantly reduce the damage caused by any fire or explosion in the workplace.

In the event of a fire or explosion occurring, FR clothing acts as insurance for the wearer. Obviously, if you are caught in or near a fire, there is always the risk of burns or injuries, but by wearing FR clothes, the wearer will dramatically reduce the severity of their injuries. Also, because FR clothing doesn’t ignite or burn, the wearer will have more time than usual to escape the threat and save themselves from injury or even death. Many survivors of burns or explosions in the workplace consider the burn injury treatment to actually be worse than the burn itself. Treatment and recovery for burns is extremely painful and can take months and even years for a full recovery. Also, the costs of a serious burn can be staggering. Burn injury costs can include medical expenses, prolonged recovery and rehabilitation expenses, job retraining expenses, and possibly even disability expenses.

fr clothing

Unfortunately, some burn victims have been burned so badly that they will never live a normal life again. Don’t let one of your employees suffer such terrible consequences. The cost to implement an entire FR clothing program far outweighs the costs associated with burn victims and the effect it will have on your company’s morale and your company’s safety record. In fact, one SINGLE burn injury can cost more than a complete FR clothing program, so don’t skimp when it comes to protecting your employees. An electric utility company actually experienced this and found that one single burn injury WITHOUT FR clothing being worn can cost upwards of $2 million, while the same burn injury would only cost around $50,000 if the person had been wearing FR clothing. The same utility company actually had this happen to them with and without FR clothing. The employee who suffered burns without FR clothing never returned to work again. The employee that WAS wearing FR clothing missed minimal work time. So not only did the FR clothing save the company millions of dollars, but it also saved man labor.

Not only is FR clothing smart for both companies and employees alike, but it is also required by OSHA that workers be wearing flame resistant clothing when operating around identified threats such as arc flashes or flash fires. The OSHA general duty clause reads:

“Each employer (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

It should be noted that OSHA identifies arc flashes and flash fires as recognized hazards.

By now this should not even be a decision for you. FR clothing is imperative to the safety of your workers, employees, and supervisors. It is also extremely important in protecting your company’s safety record as well as its financial bottom line. Without an FR clothing program implemented, you are simply just asking for trouble. Not only that, just the fact that you would be putting the lives of your workers in danger without a FR clothing program is gross negligence of their safety. Don’t be one of those companies. Take action to protect your employees, the decision could prevent more injuries and save more lives than you realize.

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