Month: May 2017
Your fire safety system depends on the accurate detection of smoke by your smoke detectors. In order to ensure your smoke detectors are working properly, and able to protect your people and assets, you must have sensitivity testing completed on a regular basis.
Smoke detectors are designed to function effectively within a specific range of sensitivity to smoke. This range is set by the manufacturer and the devices are required by NFPA to be tested regularly to ensure they remain within it. If a smoke detector is not as sensitive as it should be, then it may not react as quickly as it should to a fire. However, if the smoke detector is too sensitive, then you could have recurring nuisance alarms.
There are several options for performing sensitivity tests on smoke detectors. Sensitivity tests can be conducted by a recognized, calibrated test method with smoke or listed aerosol, or with equipment specifically designed for calibrating sensitivity in smoke detectors. There are listed control equipment arranged to perform sensitivity ranges and calibrated sensitivity test instruments designed by the smoke detector manufacturers. You can also use a combination smoke detector/control unit where the detector causes a signal at the control panel unit when its sensitivity is outside its listed sensitivity ranges.
During sensitivity testing, if a detector fails, it will need to be cleaned and retested. Cleaning smoke detectors should be left to your Life Safety Partner, as they will clean the smoke detector screen and chamber using a non-electrostatic vacuum specifically designed to prevent damage to the detector. After cleaning, the detector will be retested, if it fails again then it needs to be removed from service.
Sensitivity testing must be completed within one year of installation and every other year after that. After the second test, if the detector is within its listed sensitivity range for two consecutive tests, then the next sensitivity test is required in five years.
Many injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace are preventable. To assist employers in identifying and correcting hazards, OSHA publishes the list of the top 10 standards most frequently cited after an OSHA worksite inspection from the previous year.
The most recent list published is from Fiscal year 2015, which was October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. The following standards comprised the most violations found during inspections in that time frame. You should use this list in your next facility safety inspection to ensure you have a thorough safety plan and remove all potential hazards.
- Fall Protection (501)
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
- Scaffolding (1926.451)
- Respiratory Protection (134 – Respiratory Protection)
- Lockout/Tagout (147 – Lockout/Tagout)
- Powered Industrial Trucks (178 – Powered Industrial Trucks)
- Ladders (1053 – Ladders)
- Electrical, Wiring Methods (305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods)
- Machine Guarding (212 – Machine Guarding)
- Electrical, General Requirements (303 – Electrical, General Requirements)
Each standard covers a broad subject and must be reviewed thoroughly to ensure the hazards covered are not found at your facility or, if they are found, that they are addressed. This is also a good time to review your safety manual, as you find standards or hazards during your review, and make sure they are included in your customized safety manual.
Every business is required by OSHA to have a written safety manual. This safety manual must cover every aspect of OSHA standards that apply to your business and operations.
Because incomplete or outdated manuals can result in a fine from OSHA, it is best to have a manual customized for your business. There are a plethora of template safety manuals available online either for free or a small fee. However, these templates cannot be relied on to be up-to-date with the latest OSHA standards. In addition, using an online template leaves you with little direction in selecting the standards and requirements that apply to your business and specific processes employed by your workers.
OSHA provides a quick start feature online for businesses to learn more about the standards that apply to their facilities. However, even OSHA warns that this outline is not comprehensive to what may apply to each business. This guide is a good place to start though, as it outlines specific hazards that commonly apply in general industry, construction, and healthcare industries.
Employers must review the processes, equipment, and potential hazards at the facility to ensure all applicable OSHA standards are included in the manual. You will need to check for state occupational safety standards that would apply to your business and include those in your safety manual as well. An added benefit of carrying out a thorough review of your facility and work performed there is that, in addition to a complete safety manual, you can outline and take preventative measures for found hazards. This will substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries, and alleviate the associated financial burden.
Most successful safety manuals are based on a common set of key elements. Those include: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. You can read more on these topics in A1’s blogs, on Core Elements for a Safety & Health Management Program.
Simplify Emergency Communications from School Districts to Classrooms
Security and effective communications for K-12 schools is critical for all school systems. Schools need technology that can simplify this complex issue, create immediate emergency communication channels for administrators, staff, students, and visitors. School’s communication systems should be efficient for all school buildings, even those that are not staffed 24/7, cover large geographic areas, and during times when cellular networks are at their limits.
The Alertus System is one such tool for K-12 schools. There is no need to update your equipment or purchase equipment specific to Alertus, as this system utilizes your existing communication equipment to provide comprehensive emergency notification.
There are multiple options to choose from when setting up your emergency notification system. Will you need a district-wide or school-based notification system? Which communication devices will you want to integrate, such as computers, public address systems, and sounders and strobes? Can your local emergency services interact with the system – receiving and posting emergency notices?
Emergency Alert Grants/Donations for Schools
Some emergency communication systems offer special pricing for school systems. Alertus has a grant application for K-12 schools, colleges, universities and certain nonprofits to apply for their Desktop Donation Initiative. This initiative assists schools with severe budget challenges to address emergency communications. Recipients of the grant receive a perpetual license of Alertus Desktop Notification including the software, activation console, and unlimited utilization of notification on desktops and laptops throughout the school’s facilities. For more information, or to apply, check out Alertus.com/donation.
District-Wide or School-Based Notification
District-wide notification allows individual schools to communicate with the district office, local police and fire stations. K-12 schools can mount notification devices in the front offices, enabling administrators to respond to threats during a crisis. You can also tie in school’s existing voice public address system, enabling school administrators to share critical alert information to select schools or district wide.
School-based notification provides panic buttons within classrooms that communicate emergencies to other staff, the front office, or police/first responders. These panic buttons can also trigger a preset message over the school’s public address system, alerting everyone of an immediate lockdown during a safety incident.
Integrating Existing Systems to your Emergency Alert System
Each school will have existing systems in place, adding an emergency alert system should not mean costly upgrades or new equipment purchases. The Alertus System can be connected to desktops throughout your school’s facilities to provide on-screen notifications during an emergency. In addition, you can tie in the Alertus system with your public address system or outdoor notification system, fire alarm panel, digital signage, cable TV, and access control system as long as they utilize the CAP, Common Alert Protocol.
Connect your Local Emergency Services with your Emergency Alert System
Consider having your emergency notification system connected to your local dispatch for emergency responders. Some systems can automatically notify dispatch of emergency situations so that help can be sent right away. If you prefer not to have dispatch connected to your system, see if your system can store public safety numbers for easy access during an emergency.
Workplace injuries, illnesses, and death have far-reaching impacts to individuals’ lives. In addition to the consequences for the individual, and their family, the company for which they work will be negatively impacted. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone.
In addition to workers’ compensation costs, other direct costs to companies for workplace safety violations include medical expenses, and costs for legal services. The list of potential indirect costs for employers is much longer.
Indirect costs for workplace injuries include wages paid to injured workers for absences not covered by workers’ compensation and wage costs related to time lost through work stoppage associated with the worker injury. Employers may be required to pay overtime costs due to the injury, in addition to the administrative time spent by supervisors, safety personnel, and clerical workers after an injury. If an employee is unable to continue working, costs are incurred from training a replacement worker.
OSHA fines and any associated legal action can be extremely costly to employers. Lost productivity related to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and accommodation of injured employees can affect the company over an extended period of time; as well as loss of good will and profit from bad publicity.
The best way to mitigate these losses is to prevent workplace injuries. A Safety and Health Management Plan created specifically for your workplace will allow you to assess hazards, remove them if possible or, if not, develop safety procedures to decrease the potential for injury.
For a look at how your company could be affected by a worker injury, try out OSHA’s Safety Pays Program. This online tool allows employers to assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. The program uses the company’s profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need in order to cover those costs.
As we previously discussed in Increased OSHA Fines, OSHA has greatly increased the penalty levels for violations starting in 2017. The penalty amount depends on the type of violation. OSHA defines violations as Serious, Other-than-Serious, Posting Requirements, Failure to Abate, Willful, and Repeated.
Serious: A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.
Other-than-Serious: An Other-than-Serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious in nature.
Posting Requirements: If you receive an OSHA Notice, you must post it at or near the place where each violation occurred so that employees are made award of the hazards. The OSHA Notice must remain posted either for 3 working days or until the hazard is corrected, whichever is longer. Failure to comply with this posting requirement is a violation itself.
Failure to Abate: When a violation is cited, a date is set by which the hazard must be corrected. You must promptly notify the OSHA Area Director by letter that you have taken the appropriate corrective action within the time frame established. This letter is referred to as the Letter of Corrective Action, and must detail the specific action taken with regard to the violation and the date the action was taken. Failure to correct violations and notify OSHA of the correction within this time frame will incur another violation.
Willful: A willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.
Repeated: An employer may be cited for a repeated Serious violation if the workplace has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and OSHA’s region-wide inspection history for the agency lists a previous OSHA Notice issued within the past five years. An employer may be cited for a repeated Other-than-Serious violation if the workplace being inspected received a previous OSHA Notice issued within the past five years.
Serious, Other-than-Serious, and Posting Requirement violations incur a penalty of $12,675 per violation. Failure to Abate will incur a fine of $12,675 for each day you go past the date set in your notice. Willful and Repeated violations have a penalty of $126,749 for each violation.
Avoiding OSHA violations and fines is the best approach. To do so you must have an active Safety Management Plan. You can learn more about Safety Management plans, as well as OSHA Audits and how to prepare for them, with A1.
As we discussed in Part 1 of this topic, the main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Safety in the workplace will also the suffering and financial hardships that these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. To assist companies with developing a safety and health program, OSHA has outlined recommended practices which are built around six core elements of a successful program.
In this article, we will discuss the last 3 elements of a successful safety and health program: Hazard Prevention and Control, Education and Training, and Program Evaluation and Improvement.
Hazard Prevention and Control
Once you have identified potential hazards, you need an effective hazard control plan. This plan will help your workers to avoid injuries, illnesses, and incidents; minimize or eliminate safety and health risks; and help employers to provide workers with safe and healthful working conditions. To effectively control and prevent hazards, you should involve your workers. They often have the best understanding of the conditions that create hazards and insights into how they can be controlled. Identify and evaluate options for controlling hazards. Develop and use this hazard control plan to guide the selection and implementation of controls, and implement controls according to the plan. Be sure to keep in mind measure that will protect workers from hazards during emergencies and non-routine activities when developing your hazard control plan. Controls should be evaluated regularly for effectiveness to determine whether they continue to provide protection, or whether different controls may be more effective. New technologies should be reviewed periodically as well to determine if they could provide more thorough, more reliable protection or be less costly than your current measures.
Education and Training
Education and training provide two important benefits to your workers and managers. First, informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls allows them to work safely and be more productive. Second, providing them with a greater understanding of the safety and health program itself allows your workers to contribute to its development and implementation, which is critical for success.
Education and training provides employers, managers, and workers with the knowledge and skills needed to do their work safely and avoid creating hazards that could place themselves or others at risk. An increased awareness and understanding of workplace hazards, how to report the hazards and control them is a key element to a successful safety and health plan. When work involves unique hazards, specialized training may be necessary. You may also want to provide specialized training for those in leadership positions with the safety and health program, so they fully understand their roles and how to perform them. Consider training outside of a formal, classroom setting. Peer-to-peer training, on-the-job training, and worksite demonstrations can be effective in conveying safety concepts, ensuring hazards and controls are understood, and promoting good work practices.
Program Evaluation and Improvement
Once you have started your health and safety plan, evaluations should begin to verify that it is being implemented as intended. After this, you should perform a thorough evaluation annually to assess what is and is not working effectively, and whether the program is on track to achieve its goals. When your evaluations identify opportunities for improvement, work with your managers and workers to make adjustments to the plan and monitor the new results. Sharing the responsibility for plan management and changes, as well as evaluation and monitoring results, will increase participation and drive further improvement.
Your plan evaluations should include establishing, reporting, and tracking goals and targets to indicate whether the program is making progress. Ongoing evaluations and updates allow workers to participate in the program evaluation and improvement to further buy-in and improve results.
The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Safety in the workplace will also the suffering and financial hardships that these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. To assist companies with developing a safety and health program, OSHA has outlined recommended practices which are built around six core elements of a successful program.
In this article, we will discuss the first 3 elements of a successful safety and health program: Management Leadership, Worker Participation, and Hazard Identification and Assessment.
Having your leadership team actively involved in instituting a safety and health management program is vital to the success of the program. The support of your leadership team is needed to make worker safety and health a core value for your organization. They should also be fully committed to eliminating hazards, protecting workers, and continuously improving workplace safety and health. Your leadership team sets the example for everyone in your organization, both through demonstrating safety practices, and providing resources and support for all employees to do so.
An effective safety and health management program requires the active participation of your workers. Your workers are the ones most directly affected by a safety and health program, both in the benefit of one and in the work that must go into establishing and maintaining one. Getting buy-in, understanding, and support of your safety and health program from your workers is critical to success.
A few ways you can encourage this participation is to encourage input and reporting on safety and health issues. Ensure that when issues are raised, there is not sense of retaliation towards the worker bringing the issue to light. Provide easy access to information that workers will need to effectively participate in the program, and have opportunities to participate in all states of the program design and implementation.
Hazard Identification and Assessment
Anticipating and correcting potential hazards is the key to a proactive safety and health program. This is an ongoing process, to continually identify and remove potential hazards. Fixing hazards as they are identified emphasizes the importance of safety and health. Giving your employees the authority to identify and fix hazards will help to increase involvement.
To identify and assess hazards, employers and workers must collect and review information about the hazards present or likely to be present in the workplace. Initial and periodic inspections should be performed to identify new or recurring hazards. Your inspections should include potential hazards associated with emergency and non-routine situations, as well as ones associated with routine work. All injuries, illnesses, incidents, and close calls/near misses should be investigated to determine the underlying hazards and shortcomings of your safety and health program so that these can be corrected. Grouping similar incidents and identifying trends in injuries, illnesses, and hazards can help to identify the underlying cause. As hazards are identified, you should determine the severity and likelihood of incidents that could result from each in order to prioritize corrective actions. Any hazards such as housekeeping and tripping hazards can and should be fixed as they are found.
Continue reading on this topic in, Core Elements for a Safety & Health Management Program, Part 2.
For more detailed information, or to download the full guidelines, visit www.osha.gov. 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.
4,836 workers were killed on the job in 2015 — on average, that’s more than 93 a week or more than 13 deaths every day.
Out of 4,379 worker fatalities in the private industry in 2015, 937 or 21.4% were in construction — that is, one in five worker deaths last year were in construction. The leading causes of private sector worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for 64.2% of the construction worker deaths in 2015. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 602 workers’ lives in America every year.
The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. Recommended practices use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health. Traditional approaches are often reactive –that is, problems are addressed only after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed. Proactive practices recognize that finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness is a far more effective approach.
To build a safety and health management program, it is recommended to begin with a basic program and simple goals and grow from there. If you focus on achieving goals, monitoring performance, and evaluating outcomes, your workplace can progress along the path to higher levels of safety and health achievement.