Core Safety Group

Safety Flash: Fall Through Hole

Recently an apprentice electrician was helping install lightning protection at a construction project. It was the employee’s first day on the project. While preparing to install electrical equipment, the apprentice was clearing the area of debris to make room for the operation. The employee lifted a piece of plywood that was covering approximately a 36″ by 36″ hole. The employee stepped forward into the uncovered hole and fell approximately 42 feet to the bottom of a concrete tank.

Recently an apprentice electrician was helping install lightning protection at a construction project. It was the employee’s first day on the project. While preparing to install electrical equipment, the apprentice was clearing the area of debris to make room for the operation. The employee lifted a piece of plywood that was covering approximately a 36″ by 36″ hole. The employee stepped forward into the uncovered hole and fell approximately 42 feet to the bottom of a concrete tank. Emergency services were called to perform rescue operations. After more than an hour, the employee was removed from the tank and airlifted to the hospital for medical treatment. The accident investigation discovered that the general contractor had removed the grating to perform work inside the tank, creating the hole the plywood was covering. The plywood was not marked and secured as required. The employee is now in physical rehabilitation.Hazards Include: serious injury and death from falls to a lower level, and same-level fallsOSHA Regulation: covers for holes in floors, roofs, and other walking/working surfaces (1926.502)

OSHA Requirements:

  • Covers shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the weight of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time;
  • All covers shall be secured when installed to prevent accidental displacement by the wind, equipment, or employees;
  • All covers shall be marked with the word “Hole” or “Cover” to provide warning of the hazard;
  • Roadways and vehicular aisles shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least twice the maximum axle load of the largest vehicle expected to cross over the cover.

General Practice:

  • Use extreme caution when carrying a load on a work site, or when walking on paper, plastic or cardboard, as you might not be able to see holes beneath you.
  • Even shallow holes can cause serious injuries. If you find a hole, expose it immediately for others to see, barricade it or post someone to warn others of the danger, and notify your supervisor.
  • Construct hard barricades to mitigate the hazard of holes when the use of a cover is not possible.
  • Inspect the work area for holes prior to beginning each work shift, as conditions change quickly on a construction site.
  • If you are going to cut or make a hole, barricade the area before beginning work to keep others out. If you are exposed to a fall greater than six (6) feet, then you must wear fall protection and be properly tied off.

Everyone is responsible for their own personal safety. Do NOT assume the work crew before you did everything by the book. Be your brother’s keeper!

Lone Worker Safety: Protect Your Greatest Asset

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous in the world. Construction workers are exposed to chemicals, electricity, heavy equipment and machinery, heights, and extreme heat on a regular basis. As a result, 20% of occupational fatalities and injuries are construction-related, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous in the world. Construction workers are exposed to chemicals, electricity, heavy equipment and machinery, heights, and extreme heat on a regular basis. As a result, 20% of occupational fatalities and injuries are construction-related, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Because of the exposure to these drastic conditions, the likelihood of injury or death on a job site increases dramatically when workers are alone, either by themselves on a job site or out of the sight of other employees.

Here are three quick tips to help protect your company’s lone workers.

1. Establish safety policies.

Whether in a warehouse, sewer system, factory or construction site, supervisors should walk the job site to evaluate and identify potential risks and hazards. They can then customize safety policies for that site to accompany current company policies.

For example, a policy could be implemented in which workers are not allowed to work onsite alone or out of the sight of other workers. On other sites, some activities could be allowed when working alone, while certain tasks, such as dealing with exposed wires, must be completed when others are present.

2. Keep lines of communication open.

Communication between supervisors and lone workers is essential. A lone worker must always inform his/her supervisor when he/she will be onsite and what task will be performed. The supervisor should then check in frequently until the worker has finished and safely leaves the job site.

Supervisors should also train workers how to respond in emergencies—to first call 911 and then inform the supervisor about what has happened. This knowledge can be the difference between a minor incident and a severe injury or fatality.

3. Know the location of workers at all times.

With today’s technology, managers can keep an eye on workers, even if they are alone on the job site. Warehouses and factories may have security cameras to protect against burglars or trespassers, which can also be used to watch lone workers.

In addition, most phones are GPS-enabled and provide an additional way for supervisors to know exactly where their workers are. Companies can also issue GPS tracking devices or lone worker alarm devices, such as the one described in this video, which can track location in real time and show workers that their safety is valued by their organization.

However, it’s important that cellular devices be vetted to ensure that reliable coverage is available in all locations. In cases where workers are traveling remotely, back-up satellite modems can be used to alert management when workers are at risk. Lastly, make sure your team is trained with a fail-proof plan when technology is unavailable.

Working alone may be part of the job, but it should not compromise safety. Implementing safety policies, communicating with workers, and knowing where they are at all times can provide extra layers of protection and lower risks for the team.

Protect Your Team from the Summer Heat

When does the summer heat transition from fun to dangerous? With sun exposure and heat radiating off the concrete, is it really a good idea to be outside?Working outdoors is part of many jobs, but there are ways to protect your team from the heat.

When does the summer heat transition from fun to dangerous? With sun exposure and heat radiating off the concrete, is it really a good idea to be outside?

Working outdoors is part of many jobs, but there are ways to protect your team from the heat. Here are OSHA’s tips to help you stay safe and ‘beat the heat’ this summer

  • Be informed and stay up-to-date on the weather. Heat is one of the highest risk factors for construction workers’ health, mental endurance and productivity. High heat indexes increase job site accidents, slow progress and endanger workers. Workers should pay attention to the heat index, but leadership is responsible for protecting team members with high-heat and weather warnings each day.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep cool drinking water onsite and facilitate frequent water breaks. When working outdoors, staff should drink four cups of water per hour. Site leaders should provide water with disposable cups and make sure workers stop every hour to drink water, lower their body temperature and rest for a few moments.
  • Wear sunscreen.Sun exposure can quickly lead to sunburn, which takes away the body’s natural cooling abilities. Leaders should encourage employees to wear sunscreen to work and provide sunscreen for application around lunchtime. Sunscreen, hats and working in the shade can all decrease sun exposure and help protect against heat risks.
  • Rotate stations. Workers should limit direct sun exposure and heavy lifting to a maximum of one hour at a time. Employers should schedule staff to rotate stations throughout the day to reduce overall sun exposure.
  • Educate workers about heat illness.Extreme heat and sun exposure can quickly lead to dehydration and heat-related illnesses such as lower heart rate, heat stroke and physiological side effects. Keeping workers, particularly job site leaders, informed about the warning signs of heat illness, such as dizziness, disorientation and sluggishness, can prevent more serious injuries.
  • Use additional cooling measures. Set up fans to circulate the air as employees work in the heat. Workers should wear hard hats with sun protection and have cooling cloths that can be soaked with cool water—both of which lower body temperature and defend against heat illness. In addition, as soon as a worksite has a working air conditioner, run the AC to keep workers cool and increase productivity.

The extreme summer temperatures can quickly squash productivity, make workers sick and decrease morale. Beat the heat! Protect your workers and keep your job site safe this summer.

OSHA’s Firework Safety Tips for Businesses

As our clients, partners and colleagues celebrate Independence Day this week, please remember OSHA’s fireworks safety tips for businesses. Whether storing large amounts of fireworks, transporting fireworks or even training people to use fireworks, safety should be every company’s primary concern when handling explosives.

As our clients, partners and colleagues celebrate Independence Day this week, please remember OSHA’s firework safety tips for businesses. Whether storing large amounts of fireworks, transporting fireworks or even training people to use fireworks, safety should be every company’s primary concern when handling explosives.

Below are CORE Safety’s top 7 fireworks safety tips to keep your business safe this summer:

1. Train staff in exit routes, extinguisher locations and procedures.

Employees should know where fire extinguishers are located within your business and be trained in the proper procedures for extinguishing a fire. In addition, employees should know the shortest route to the nearest exit from any point within your store or venue, and exits should be clearly labeled.

2. Remove and dispose of damaged fireworks.
When damaged, fireworks can be dangerous and must be disposed of immediately. Train your employees to spot damaged fireworks and have a designated container where they can soak in water until they can be disposed of properly.

3. Remove loose pyrotechnic powder promptly.

Pyrotechnic powder reacts to heat and causes fireworks to explode. These dangerous chemicals come out of broken or damaged fireworks or can be on firework packaging. Since the powder reacts quickly to heat, the loose powder must be swept up and disposed of immediately to prevent dangerous accidents.

4. Use only nonsparking tools and no vacuum cleaners.

Some tools and vacuum cleaners generate sparks and heat that can ignite fireworks. Be sure to train employees to sweep up loose powder instead of vacuuming and use tools that will not generate sparks.

5. Do not allow smoking.

No smoking should be allowed within 50 feet of a fireworks warehouse. Cigarettes, cigars and other substances create sparks that can set off fireworks and put employees and guests in danger.

6. Keep facilities secure.

Trespassers can be seriously harmed if they enter your fireworks facility after hours—leaving you with property damage and an expensive bill. Be sure to keep doors locked and maintain other safety measures such as security cameras or night shift employees.

7. Keep exits clear and accessible.

If an accident happens, employees and customers will need to evacuate the area quickly. Make sure that all exits are clear of debris or clutter with lit paths or labels.

Remember these fireworks safety tips this Independence Day, and enjoy a happy and safe holiday!

For more information, visit OSHA.gov.

Photo by Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Case Study: SWPPP Compliance Documentation Integrity

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. partnered with a general contractor to build a store in Washington, IN. Under the contract, representatives were required to perform daily SWPPP inspections of the job site and complete inspection reports, and once every two weeks, a compliance officer was to perform an inspection and complete a report.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., partnered with a general contractor to build a store in Washington, Ind. Under the contract, representatives were required to perform daily stormwater pollution prevention program (SWPPP) inspections of the job site and complete inspection reports, and once every two weeks, a compliance officer was to perform an inspection and complete a report.

On September 12, 2005, the contractor’s project manager, performing the role of compliance officer, signed a daily inspection report without having actually visited the job site on that date.

Wal-Mart was already operating under two consent decrees with the EPA related to stormwater violations. When the company discovered that the daily inspection submission was “false or misleading,” they terminated the contract and filed suit against the contractor.

The Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart. It was determined that the contractor breached the agreement, and as a result, Wal-Mart was awarded damages in excess of $3 million.

THE LESSONS:

  • The lack of integrity in the inspection documentation prompted Wal-Mart to terminate the contract rather than issuing a penalty. Wal-Mart’s strict stance on SWPPP compliance is a result of previous consent decrees. The company has zero tolerance for failure to fulfill contract obligations related to SWPPP implementation.
  • The contractor failed to operate in accordance with the compliance environment that Wal-Mart desired, they did not fully embrace the specific needs of their client.
  • When working with a client whose SWPPP requirements are more stringent than those imposed by the governing agency, the client’s requirements become the compliance standard, from a contract performance standpoint.
  • A single act by one person can jeopardize the contract status of a very large project as well as the compliance status.
  • Falsifying compliance inspection reports can result in agency enforcement action against the company and the individual. You can be held personally responsible for knowingly violating legal requirements.

 

For counsel on compliance documentation, contact us.

Ladder 101: Back to the Basics

Sometimes, the most dangerous errors can be traced back to basic safety protocol. The American Ladder Institute has declared March “National Ladder Safety Month,” and CORE Safety Group is dedicated to ensuring that our team holds and shares the most ­up-to-date and relevant tactics for effective safety training.

Sometimes, the most dangerous errors can be traced back to basic safety protocol.

The American Ladder Institute has declared March “National Ladder Safety Month,” and CORE Safety Group is dedicated to ensuring that our team holds and shares the most ­up-to-date and relevant tactics for effective safety training.

Below are key points to remember when using a ladder:

1. Choose the right fit. When choosing a ladder, you should know two things: your total weight and the project’s height.

To figure out the total amount of weight your ladder will need to support, add the following weights: You + your clothing and protective equipment + tools and supplies you are carrying or storing on ladder

This weight calculation will tell you what Duty Rating your ladder will need, Type IAA, IA, I, II or III. The Duty Rating is found on the specification label on the side of your ladder.

Once your know your project’s height, a sticker on the side of the ladder will indicate the highest standing level, which will tell you whether you need a larger or smaller ladder. When an extension ladder is in use, it should extend 3 feet above the working surface. Remember, there is no relationship between ladder length and weight capacity.

2. Use the “three-point” rule when working with extension ladders.

While you are working on, ascending, or descending the ladder, always face the ladder, and have either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder to minimize the likelihood of a fall.

3. 4:1 Ratio

A straight ladder should be placed against the wall so that the base of the ladder is one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. So a 16 foot extension ladder should be 4 feet out from the wall at the base.

4. Ensure safe ladder use with “ISSUE”

  • Inspect the ladder before using.
  • Stabilize the ladder on firm, level ground.
  • Stay off the ladder during inclement weather.
  • Use slip-resistant shoes and follow the three-point rule.
  • Educate yourself with reading materials before using new equipment.

To learn more about ladder safety training, or other trainings that CORE offers, call 888.250.1830 or visit us at coresafety.com

EPA Finalizes 2017 Construction General Permit

The U.S. EPA published its final 2017 Construction General Permit (CGP), which takes effect on February 16, 2017, the same date as the expiration of the 2012 CGP. The 2017 permit includes several new or modified requirements, summarized below, which will impact affected construction projects located in portions of the U.S. where EPA is the permitting authority. These changes may also be reflected in state-level permit programs as they come up for renewal.

The U.S. EPA published its final 2017 Construction General Permit (CGP), which takes effect on February 16, 2017, the same date as the expiration of the 2012 CGP. The 2017 permit includes several new or modified requirements, summarized below, which will impact affected construction projects located in portions of the U.S. where EPA is the permitting authority. These changes may also be reflected in state-level permit programs as they come up for renewal.

1. NOI & NOT Submittals: Site operators are now required to electronically prepare and submit NOIs and NOTs to start and stop permit coverage. Some states (GA, NE, OR and RI) have announced that they will require the use of EPA’s eReporting Tool when they reissue their construction stormwater permits. Other states are expected to follow suit. EPA also added 3 questions to the NOI form that will aid in the determination of new requirements.
 
2. Authorized Discharges: The 2017 CGP contains an explicit prohibition of non-stormwater discharges of external building washdown waters containing hazardous substances such as paint or caulk containing PCBs.
 
3. Notice of Permit Coverage: An additional requirement has been added to the existing Notice of Permit Coverage that must be posted at a safe, publicly accessible location in close proximity to the construction site. This notice must also include information informing the public of how to contact the EPA to obtain a copy of the SWPPP or if stormwater pollution is observed in the discharge.
 
4. Stockpiles & Land Clearing Debris Piles: EPA changed the requirement for temporary stabilization for stockpiles or land clearing debris piles from “where practicable” to requiring cover or appropriate temporary stabilization for all inactive piles that will be unused for 14 or more days.
 
5. Construction and Domestic Waste: EPA now requires operators to keep waste container lids closed when not in use and at the end of the business day for containers that are actively used throughout the day, and to provide effective cover for waste containers without lids.
 
6. Stabilization Deadlines: EPA modified the approach to stabilization deadlines based on the concept of phasing construction disturbances. Deadlines are based on total amount of land disturbance occurring at any one time.
  • Five acres or less – Immediately stabilize any area of exposed soil where construction activities have permanently ceased or will be temporarily inactive for 14 or more calendar days. Complete installation of stabilization measures as soon aspracticable, but no later than 14 days after initiated.
  • More than 5 acres – Follow the same initiation schedule. However, complete installation of stabilization measures as soon as practicable, but no later than 7 calendar days after initiation.

IMPACTS of these CHANGES:

1. Is my project located in an area where EPA is the permitting authority?
 

The following states and territories fall under EPA authority:

  • Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia;
  • Indian country lands within Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming;
  • Areas within Colorado, Delaware, Vermont, and Washington are subject to construction by a federal operator
 
2. What does it mean if my project is not located in one of these areas?

States in which EPA has delegated authority to manage their own NPDES permitting programs must ensure their programs are at least as stringent as the federal program. Like EPA, states reissue their CGPs periodically, but not necessarily on the same schedule. Therefore, it is important to recognize that states will likely update their requirements in subsequent CGP revisions to reflect the new standards issued in EPA’s 2017 CGP.

3. What do I need to do as a result of the CGP updates?
  • Most importantly, review and understand the SWPPP developed for your project. The purpose of the SWPPP is to assure the federal, state, or local CGP requirements are properly addressed and fit the unique conditions of each project.
  • Pay attention to SWPPP conditions that dictate frequencies for taking specific actions, such as stabilization, inspections, waste container management, etc.
 
4. How can CORE Safety help project teams manage changes to EPA’s CGP?
  • CORE can assist companies with stormwater manual revisions to bring company compliance procedures into alignment with the revised CGP.

Fire Prevention Checklist

Take a look at our checklist to help promote fire prevention at your job.

  • Check your fire extinguishers monthly and document your inspections.
  • Schedule a yearly inspection with a fire protection company.
  • Conduct live fire extinguisher training- (We would be happy to help with this!)
  • Make sure to keep fire extinguishers:
    • Within 50 feet, when storing 5 or more gallons of flammable/combustible liquid or solids.
    • Between 25 and 75 feet away from above ground storage units.
    • At every landing on multi-story building stairwells.
    • One for every 3,000 square feet of indoor building space. (You should not travel more than 100 feet to reach an extinguisher)
  • Have EXITS clearly marked and free of debris, trash, or materials.
  • Run a mock fire incident to make sure your policies are known to employees.

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