13 Mar 2014
#7 Ladders - Part of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal 2013 Series
Workers who use ladders in construction risk permanent injury or death from falls and electrocutions. Ladders are one of the most commonly used and abused tools in the field and every year hundreds of people are hurt at work while using ladders. These hazards can be eliminated or substantially reduced by following good safety practices. This fact sheet examines some of the hazards workers may encounter while working on ladders and explains what employers and workers can do to reduce injuries and prevent possible citations for ladders.
Typically injuries occur when ladders are used for purposes other than those designated by the manufacturer—when the top step of a stepladder is used as a step, when ladders are not used on stable and level surfaces or when defective ladders are not withdrawn from service. Most employee injuries can be attributed to insufficient or inadequate training and a disregard for safe operating procedures.
Employers must train each worker to recognize and minimize ladder-related hazards. The most common ladder hazards in the field are:
- Using damaged ladders
- Placing ladders on slippery or unstable surface
- Not engaging the ladder spreaders in the full locked position
- Standing on the top step or top cap
- Loading ladder beyond rated load
- Ladders in high-traffic location
- Reaching outside ladder side rails
- Ladders in close proximity to electrical wiring/equipment
- Reaching or learning too far rather than moving the ladder.
- Placing the ladder on boxes or pallets to make it taller.
- Climbing the ladder while carrying items.
- Using the wrong ladder for the job, such as using a step ladder as a straight ladder.
Inspecting your ladder before each use can help detect hazards with the ladder itself. OSHA states that a ladder must be inspected regularly for visible defects by a competent person and after any incident that could affect its safe use. Check your ladder for damage before each use. If a ladder is damaged, label it, do not use, and take it away until it is fixed. Destroy it if it can’t be fixed.
Training is a key element to the safe use of ladders. Employers must ensure that employees are provided with training and information in relation to safe ladder use. Ladder users must be competent in their use. They must know how to check it, carry it, erect it, use it, and move it all in a safe manner.
With training you have to consider supervision, a lack of adequate supervision can lead to deterioration or misuse of equipment. Supervisors should ensure that inspection and maintenance regimes are implemented and recorded. Supervisors should ensure that misuse of ladders is not taking place and that all users have received the appropriate training in relation to safe use of ladders.
07 Mar 2014
#8 Lockout/Tagout - Part of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal 2013 Series
Most people immediately think of electricity as a potentially hazardous energy source. However, there are other sources of energy that can be just as hazardous. Energy sources can include thermal energy, chemical energy, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, and gravity. It is important to remember that all sources of energy that have the potential to unexpectedly start-up, energize, or release must be identified and locked, blocked, or released before servicing or maintenance is performed. The main method to control those hazards is the use of Lockout/Tagout. Lockout/Tagout is vital to ensure the safety of yourself or your employees.
An estimated 120 lives are saved and 50,000 injuries prevented each year by complying with OSHA lockout/tagout standards, according to the OSHA Fact Sheet on Lockout/Tagout, from the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2002. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 CFR, Part 1910.147, addresses the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment, thereby preventing the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities.
OSHA suggests the following steps for workplace safety:
- Develop, implement and enforce an energy control program.
- Ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users.
- Provide effective training.
The standards establish requirements that employers much follow when employees are exposed to hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining equipment and machinery. Some of the most critical requirements from the standards as outlined in OSHA’s Fact Sheet are:
- Develop, implement and enforce and energy control program.
- Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out. Tagout devices may be used in place of lockout devices only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.
- Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
- Develop, implement and enforce and effective tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.
- Develop, document, implement and enforce energy control procedures. [See the note to 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i) for an exception to the documentation requirements.]
- Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized and substantial.
- Ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users.
- Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a lockout/tagout device to remove it [See 29 CFR 1910.147(e)(3) for exception.]
- Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.
- Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.
- Comply with the additional energy control provision in OSHA standards when machines or equipment must be tested or repositioned, when outside contractors work at the site, in group lockout situations, and during shift or personnel changes.
The Lockout/Tagout Standard is a necessary provision, as it protects against the physical hazards that result in grave consequences due to the intense power of some machinery. Complying with OSHA’s lockout/tagout program not only protects employers from a violation citation but, more importantly, protects employees from serious physical hazards such as:
- Shock and electrocution
- Cuts and slices
Don’t forget that once Lockout/Tagout has been done to “tryout” your work to ensure that the energy source has dissipated from the system. If you ever have questions about Lockout/Tagout, get someone who is familiar with the system to help you understand it. There is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your safety or the safety of your employees.
#9 Electrical-Part of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal 2013 Series
General Industry regulation 29 CFR 1910.303, covers OSHA’s general electrical requirements. The Electrical, General requirements accounted for 2,745 citations in 2013 placing it in the ninth most violated regulation. The standard covers the examination, installation and use of electrical equipment, connections, arcing parts, markings, lockout/Tagout/tryout, and the space around electrical equipment.
Electricity has become essential to modern life. Perhaps because it is such a familiar part of our surroundings, it often is not treated with the respect it deserves at home or in the work place. Recognized as a serious workplace hazard, electricity can cause electric shock, electrocution, burns, fires, and explosions. Approximately 350 electrical-related fatalities occur each year. What makes these statistics more tragic is that most of these fatalities could have been easily avoided.
A common sense guide on the examination, installation of electrical equipment and a chart of the minimum working space required around electrical equipment was developed to help eliminate hazards and/or identify possible hazards in the workplace.
Examine electrical equipment to determine it is safe from hazards in regards to:
- Suitability for installation and use
- Mechanical strength and durability
- Wire bending and connection space
- Electrical insulation
- Heating effects
- Arcing effects
- Classification by type, size, voltage, current capacity, and specific use
- Practical safeguards for employees likely to contact electrical equipment
Install and use equipment according to the instructions on the label or listing. Completed wiring has to be free from short circuits and grounds.
Interrupting equipment must have an interrupting rating for the nominal circuit voltage and current available at the line terminals. Circuit protective devices must be able to clear a fault without extensive damage to the circuit’s electrical components.
Unless designed to be safe for the working condition, keep conductors and equipment away from “deteriorating agents”, which is simply: damp or wet locations; deteriorating gases, fumes, vapors, liquids or other agents; and excessive temperatures.
Install electric equipment in a neat and workmanlike manner. Close unused box openings, raceways, auxiliary gutters, cabinets, equipment cases and housings. Rack conductors to provide ready and safe access to underground and subsurface for installation and maintenance. Internal electrical components are not contaminated by foreign materials (paint, plaster, cleaners, abrasives, or corrosive residues). There also needs to be no damaged parts that will affect the safe operation or strength of the equipment.
Electrical equipment needs to be firmly secured to the surface it is mounted to. Wooden plugs drilled into material like concrete or plaster is not considered secure.
Air cooled electrical equipment must be installed so walls and adjacent equipment does not prevent the airflow. Do not obstruct ventilated openings. Floor mounted equipment must have clearance between top and adjacent surfaces to dissipate rising warm air.
The chart shows the minimum working spaces needed, but there needs to be sufficient space maintained – not used for storage – around electric equipment for safe operation and maintenance. Equipment doors and hinged panels must be able to open at least 90 degrees and the width of the working space must be at least 30 inches, or width of the equipment. The minimum headroom needs to be at least the height of the equipment. Use suitable guarding when exposing enclosed life parts.
1910.303 also include specifics on the following subjects that you may need to be aware of:
- Electrical connections
- Arcing parts
- Disconnecting means and circuits
- Guarding live parts
- Enclosures for electrical installations
For additional information in regards to Electrical Hazard Awareness visit OSHA’s site.