Month: February 2017
Stat-X fire suppression systems are an extremely effective method for protecting your valuable assets from fire. Due to their fast response time, compact size, low fire extinguishing concentration, and environmental safety, Stat-X fire suppression systems may be used in critical applications across a wide range of industries — especially in areas where weight and space savings are important.
Benefits of Stat-X Systems
Stat-X uses an aerosol suppression agent disbursed directly from the Stat-X generators; this means there is no piping to run and maintain. In addition, the generators are designed to be mounted onto walls at ceiling height, saving valuable floor space in your facility.
Your Life Safety Partner must be trained, certified and authorized to design and install a Stat-X system. Installation design includes data on dimensions, areas of leakage and location of uncloseable openings, and fire class among other factors.
Maintenance & Inspections of Stat-X Systems
Inspections are an important, and required, part of any Life Safety system. You should have your Stat-X systems inspected twice a year. Your Life Safety Partner will examine the generators and protected space to ensure that the generators and mounting brackets, straps, and associated hardware have not been damaged.
It is also important that the system installation and space remain in the same configuration as that originally designed, so that the Stat-X generator can function properly and distribute the aerosol efficiently in the event of a fire. If the generators have been bumped by maintenance or other workers, they will be re-aligned to the correct position for effective discharge. In addition, your Inspector will check the protected space to ensure access to the hazard areas, lines of egress, and manual pull stations are unobstructed.
Electrically activated systems will have the detection and control system, including all ancillary devices, at the same time your generators are inspected. All Stat-X generators have been UL approved for a service life of 10 years.
Overall, Stat-X systems are extremely cost-effective due to the small amount of agent required to suppress a fire, and reduced installation costs from traditional systems. Ask your Life Safety Partner about using Stat-X in your facility’s data room or on other high value equipment.
To learn about the differences between Stat-X and Clean Agent Systems, you can read a comparison in A1’s blog on Server Room Fire Protection Options.
A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.
Increased OSHA fines are now active for all safety violations
OSHA has new enforcement and penalty policies that became effective August 1st, 2016. Due to these new policies, companies with more than 250 employees can expect increased scrutiny and fines. Companies with fewer than 250 employees can receive a fine reduction of 20% from the OSHA area director.
The new fine structure for incidents increased by 80%, this sets a new maximum fine of $124,709 for each citation. This max fine can be applied to every employee involved in a citation if OSHA deems the violation egregious, including willful and repeat violations. Violations can be classified as willful or repeat violations for up to 5 years, increased from the previous 3 years. The new fine amount for serious violations, which are not classified as willful or repeat violations, is $12,470.
OSHA has also instituted a new rating system for inspectors to use when classifying violations. The inspectors use a points system to rank violations, due to this system it is expected that the number of violations ranked as egregious will increase.
Preparing for an OSHA audit is extremely important for your organization. In advance of an audit, you should determine who the point of contact will be for the OSHO inspector, if there is any classified or sensitive information or processes at your facility, and policies for handling records release and employee interviews with the inspector. Read more on OSHA Audits: Why and How to Prepare.
The most basic steps that companies can take to mitigate risk and prevent an OSHA inspection are regular inspections and maintaining detailed inspection reports. In order to create effective safety plans, you first need to be able to use reliable data to identify safety hazards. If an accident does occur, these records can demonstrate due diligence and proof of compliance to OSHA inspectors. Your records should include inspections, code references, and logs of actions taken to address deficiencies or hazards.
If you need help instituting an active safety management plan, read more here and speak to your Life Safety Partner.
What are Drum Drips?
Drum drips are drains on dry sprinkler systems, which are used to empty the dry sprinkler pipe of any water that has collected due to condensation or water draining within the system. Since dry pipe systems are utilized in areas where water may freeze, it is important to regularly remove any condensed water to prevent freezing and damage to the pipes.
Drum drips can also be called auxiliary drains, drip legs, and condensate drains. No matter what they are called, a drum drip consists of two, 1-inch valves with a short section of two-inch pipe between them. These are normally located at the lower points of the system or where piping elevation changes may occur.
Locating and Labeling Drum Drips
Systems may have multiple drum drips and it is important that each be drained on a regular basis to prevent costly damage from freezing water. NFPA standards require that drum drips within buildings be identified so that they are easier to maintain. You must also have an informational sign at the system’s control riser that includes the location of all drum drips.
When to Perform Drum Drip Maintenance
All drum drips should be operated weekly during the fall and winter months, even if no water is found on a regular basis. When preparing for cold weather, you should operate the drum drips daily and may decrease the operation based on the amount of water discharged.
After a dry sprinkler system operation, you should perform drum drip maintenance on a daily basis until several days pass with no discharge of water from the drain valve. At that time, you can decrease the frequency to weekly or longer intervals depending on the volume of water discharged.
In many cases, frequency of drum drip maintenance can decrease if the system is shown to be dry.
How to Perform Drum Drip Maintenance
- Locate all drum drips throughout the property.
- If a quick opening device is installed, temporarily remove it from service.
- At the drum drip, ensure both valves on the drum drip are closed.
- To catch any water that may discharge from the drum drip, place a container underneath the bottom valve. For interior locations, remove the plug from the bottom valve. (Exterior locations may not have a plug.)
- Slowly open the top valve to full open position and maintain this position for 10 seconds.
- Close the top valve. **You should never open both the top and bottom valve at the same time as this may activate your system.**
- Slowly open the bottom valve to discharge any water. If you cannot see the discharge point, allow water to drain for 10 seconds.
- Close the bottom valve.
- If water discharged when you opened the bottom valve, repeat steps 5 through 8 until no water appears when you open the bottom valve. This will ensure you have removed all water from the system.
- When the system has been completely drained, meaning no water appears when the bottom valve is opened, close the bottom valve. Then slowly open the top valve and, if applicable, replace the plug. This will return the drum drip to service.
- If you removed a quick opening device from service before beginning drum drip maintenance, re-install it at this time.
If your drum drip discharges to a location you cannot see, you can use a second person to watch the drain and notify you when there is no more water draining from the system. Another option to identify when all water has been removed from the system is to place a bucket under the drain and empty the bucket after each discharge.
If you are discharging water without using a bucket to collect it, be sure the water will not cause a safety hazard in traffic areas, or damage any surrounding areas or equipment.
Need more help? Check out A1’s video on how to perform drum drip maintenance.
Health & Safety Training will increase safety awareness and provide safety skills to your employees so they can react appropriately during an emergency. Safety training courses include education on fire extinguisher use, first aid, CPR, bloodborne pathogens, communicable diseases, oxygen administration, and child abuse and neglect recognition.
You may think that your workplace does not need safety training. After all, you may work in a low-risk office environment – not around heavy equipment or with children. Accidents and medical emergencies can happen anywhere though. If your staff is not prepared to respond, these incidents can have tragic consequences.
There is a reason why fire extinguishers are required in all workplaces – fire hazards are present in all workplaces. Fire Extinguisher training will provide your employee with hands-on practice with a fire extinguisher. This training gives them both the knowledge and confidence to use an extinguisher should a fire occur at your workplace. If you have employees designated to use fire extinguishers during an emergency, they are required by OSHA to be trained in using them. If you do not have anyone designated, then your full staff must participate in fire extinguisher education (which is the training without hands-on practice). You can read more about these requirements here.
Other popular safety training courses include CPR and First Aid. The CPR class includes training in using an AED. Both of these life-saving techniques are valuable knowledge for any workplace. CPR training is available at various levels, from basic to medical professional, allowing you to select the best fit for your employees and environment. First Aid training covers the basics of responding to a medical emergency. Students learn skills such as how to treat bleeding, sprains, broken bones, shock, and other first aid emergencies.
Bloodborne Pathogens, Communicable Diseases, and Oxygen Administration are all Safety Training courses that are complementary to the first aid training. If your workplace has any safety hazards that could cause major injuries, such as a shop, large machinery, forklift, etc. then these courses are especially important for your employees. They are required for many healthcare and childcare institutions.
Child Abuse and Neglect Recognition is also training required for healthcare and childcare providers. While it may seem to be unrelated to traditional offices, protecting our children and learning skills to do so is beneficial for all communities.
Complete Monitoring of your Life Safety Systems
Remote monitoring provides complete protection of your people and asset. Whether you have a fire, break-in, or a medical emergency your alarm monitoring staff will know immediately and can dispatch the appropriate agencies – police, fire, ambulance or any necessary support services.
In addition to alerting the authorities, your designated contact is notified of the situation ensuring that management stays abreast of all events. All within minutes of any alarm. This quick response and communication is a critical part of your safety management program.
Most companies have remote monitoring for a security system and fire protection system. While this is now commonplace, it should also be standard to have your Life Safety Partner monitoring all systems for alerts about emerging or immediate system problems. Your system can be monitored for issues such as failing batteries, electrical issues, or other problems that may interfere with the proper function of your life safety systems.
You can also have alerts monitored for health and safety items such as your AED cabinet and carbon monoxide detector. This all-inclusive monitoring ensures that the proper authorities are notified during an emergency, and that system issues are addressed quickly in order to provide continued protection.
When selecting or reviewing your Monitoring partner, understand that your security relies on the staff of the monitoring station. This means it is important that your Monitoring station have highly trained staff, capable of responding to all situations appropriately and effectively. Your Monitoring station should be staffed 24/7/365 to ensure continuous monitoring of your systems.
Customized responses from your Monitoring partner are also important. With a variety of systems being monitored for maintenance alerts and emergency alarms, there is no one response that will work for all of them. Being able to customize the responses for your different systems will allow the correct person to be notified every time.
The leading causes of worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry are falls, electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” are responsible for more than 60% of construction worker deaths in 2014.
Training employees, having an active safety management program, and taking safety precautions with your work site are all effective in decreasing injuries, illnesses and death. If an accident does occur, chances are you will be audited by OSHA to evaluate your safety methods and be penalized for anything that is out of compliance.
OSHA Inspectors can visit any worksite without warning. You need to be prepared to accommodate an inspection, including having someone selected and trained as the point of contact for the Inspector. This person should know where safety documents are located, and how to respond to any hazards that are pointed out during the walk-through as well as questions from the Inspector.
The best way to prepare for this possibility is to conduct an on-site audit of your facility to simulate an OSHA audit. Not only will this prepare your entire team and serve as training for the person selected to work with an OSHA Inspector, it is a good opportunity to identify and correct safety hazards that could occasion such an audit.
You should include general areas in your self-audit such as means of egress, medical and first aid supplies, fire protection equipment, all potential electrical hazards, material handling and storage, and powered platforms, man lifts, etc. In addition, you should review and asses any hazards particular to your company or industry. One benefit of having a partnering company perform your simulated OSHA audit is that they can walk you through the entire process – starting with the opening conference, reviewing documents, performing an actual site walk-through, and finishing with a review of the findings.
Your OSHA Inspector will take into account all the precautions you have in place to prevent accidents, including the extensiveness of your safety management program and employee training records. Being able to show OSHA that your company takes safety seriously, and works pro-actively to keep its employees safe, will only work in your favor.
In 2014, there were an average of more than 92 worker deaths every week – that’s 13 workers dying on the job every day. To help keep your company out of this statistic, make sure you are promoting safety as a part of your company’s culture and a priority in your workplace.
A thorough Safety Management program includes OSHA compliance, providing safety training for all employees, and inspecting and maintaining your Life Safety devices. The goal of this program is to keep your employees safe, your facility in compliance, and provide sleep insurance through risk mitigation.
Life Safety Inspections are required for safety devices such as sprinklers, fire alarms, pumps, fire extinguishers, kitchen suppression systems and much more. The law requires regular inspections of life safety devices as a precaution to ensure they will function properly during an emergency.
Safety training for your staff can cover topics including fire extinguisher training, CPR, and First Aid. Depending on your work environment, you may also need to train your staff on communicable diseases, child abuse and neglect recognition, or oxygen administration. Safety training, like a fire drill, prepares your staff to react appropriately during an emergency, potentially saving lives.
OSHA compliance in safety management includes having a personalized safety manual, providing ongoing safety program oversite and improvements, and providing training in accordance with OSHA standards. This branch of the program will minimize your risk should an OSHA audit occur. If you already have a comprehensive safety and health management program, you should perform a self-audit to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and determine areas that need to be improved. A comprehensive plan will include a company policy statement, safe operating procedures, facility safety inspections, comprehensive safety training manual, safety policies and procedures, OSHA compliance guidelines, management and employee safety training (OSHA 10 and 30 training), safety incentive program, record keeping, and program evaluations. You should also have an emergency plan and communicate regularly to your staff about the plans procedures and any updates.
While a Safety Management program is critical to your company, having a Safety Management staff member is not always feasible for small to mid-sized companies. Talk to your Life Safety Partner about working together on your Program. The importance of safety in your workplace cannot be underestimated. Make safety a priority to protect lives.
Workplace safety training is more than just fulfilling a legal obligation. Providing your employees with safety training gives them the knowledge and skills necessary to protect each other, their equipment and facilities. Most importantly, safety training prevents workplace injuries.
As an additional incentive to employers, providing workplace training can mitigate the expenses associated with an injury – such as fines and insurance rates, lost man-hours and loss of production. OSHA has increased the fines that will be levied against companies for safety violations. The maximum penalty for Serious and Other than Serious Violations is now $12,600, up from $7,000 before 2016. Willful and Repeat Violations have increased from $70,000 before 2016 to now $126,000.
Safety Planning & Training from Day 1
Employers have a responsibility under the law to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for employees and visitors. A detailed risk assessment of all work areas and processes is necessary, and all findings should be recorded. As an employer, you must address any significant risks identified during the assessment with plans designed to reduce these risks. You must record these measures and communicate them to employees, so they are aware of both the risks and the procedures for safer work.
It is important to include a safety orientation for new hires. In this way, you are bringing to their attention from their first day that safety is an important part of your company’s culture. A simple checklist should be used as the new employee is shown through the workplace to discuss site evacuation procedures, risks associated with the employee’s working environment and duties, fire precautions, accident and near-miss reporting procedures, personal protective equipment that may be required for their job, and any safety programs carried out by the employer.
Each industry and company will have their own, personalized list of safety items that new employees should be made aware of on their first day. A health and safety checklist should be compiled with particular job responsibilities in mind. It is important that new employees review this information and sign the document to acknowledge they understand the safety guidelines provided. Employers are responsible for training their workers on specific hazards of their job, as noted in many OSHA standards.
Continue Safety Training
After introductory training, hazard recognition training should be provided for all employees. This training consists of 10 and 30-hour courses which cover important OSHA regulations and hazard identification techniques for the construction or general industry.
The 10-hour training program is for entry-level workers. All outreach training covers an overview of the hazards a worker may encounter on a job site. Training emphasizes hazard identification, avoidance, control and prevention, not OSHA standards. Classes also provide an overview of workers’ rights and employer responsibilities. There is a 30-hour training program for supervisors intended to provide a greater depth and variety of information. OSHA training classes are hands-on and can be tailored to the specific needs of an industry or company.
While these courses are voluntary, OSHA recommends outreach courses as an orientation to occupational safety and health for workers. Some States, employers, unions, organizations or other jurisdictions require this training as they have seen the value of continued safety training in reducing injury and deaths in the workplace.
Training in the safe way for workers to do their jobs well is an investment that will pay back repeatedly in fewer injuries and illnesses, better morale, lower insurance premiums and more. It is a good idea to keep a record of all safety and health training. Documentation can also supply an answer to one of the first questions an incident investigator will ask: “Did the employee receive adequate training to do the job?”