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“Confined Spaces in Construction” – “What Employers Need To Know”

OSHA recently issued a final rule requiring construction employers to take steps to protect workers from confined space hazards. (Previously, confined space rules only applied to general industry.) Check out the infographic to learn the essentials of the new rule and what you need to do to comply.

Confined Spaces in Construction

Confined Spaces in Construction: What Employers Need to Know by Safety.BLR.com

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“OSHA Emergency Lighting & Exit Sign Infographic”

OSHA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) give the general requirements for means of egress. 29 CFR 1910.35 defines a means of egress in this way: “A means of egress is a continuous and unobstructed way of exit travel from any point in a building or structure to a public way and consists of three separate and distinct parts.” They are:
Exit access—that portion which leads to the entrance of an exit.
Exit—that portion which is separated from all other spaces of a building or structure by construction or equipment to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
Exit discharge—that portion between the termination of an exit and a public way.
OSHA requires that “each exit route be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route”. 1910.37(b)(1).

OSHA also requires that “each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit”. 1910.37(b)(2). “Each exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of the exit route door.” 1910.37(b)(3). “Each doorway or passage along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit must be marked “Not An ” or similar designation, or be identifed by a sign indicating its actual use (e.g., closet).” 1910.37(b)(5).

Exit Sign Requirements
Every sign must have the word “Exit” in plainly legible letters not less than six inches high, with the principal stroke of the letter .75 inches wide (29 CFR 1910.37(b)(7)). (See NFPA 101 7.10 for further specifications.) Where the direction of travel to the nearest exit is not immediately apparent, an exit sign or similar designation with an arrow indicating the direction to the exit is required (29 CFR 1910.37(b)(4)).

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Infographic provided by emedco, see more here: http://www.emedco.com

OSHA Exit information can be found by downloading this informative PDF file

https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/emergency-exit-routes-factsheet.pdf

 

 

“St. Anne, Illinois Couple Markets “#Krusepak”, A New Firefighter’s Air Pack Aid As Seen On NBC’s Chicago Fire TV Series” #NBCChicagoFire

   

  
Trevor Allen and battalion chief Dave Ciarrocchi chief listen as Tiffany and Dave Kruse demonstrate the capabilities of the ‘Krusepak’. Dave Kruse, a Kankakee Fire Department lieutenant, developed the invention to assist his fellow firefighters.

By:Dennis Yohnka
dyohnka@daily-journal.com
815-937-3384 | 4/20/2015

You can’t draw a straight line from a firefighter’s death in North Carolina to a St. Anne family that can’t afford a vacation, and onto the set of the TV show “Chicago Fire.”

Those unlikely scenes, though, are part of the personal history David and Tiffany Kruse, of St. Anne, are offering as they explain the evolution of an idea. It’s a brainstorm that might become one of the firefighting industry’s most unexpected success stories.

“I first had this idea back in 2011, but I thought it was just a pipe dream,” David said. He was referring to his plan for a specially-designed strap that would allow firefighters to carry extra air tanks as they entered a smokey building. Under physical stress, a single tank will last only 12 to 17 minutes. Having a handy spare, while keeping the firefighters’ hands free, could be the difference between life and death.

“I read the report of that fire captain in North Carolina. He died in a fire in a five-story medical building,” he said. “The smoke got heavy on the third floor. They had to get to the fifth floor. He ran out of air.”

After two prototypes, the Kruses found a concept they could market. They started the expensive process to obtain a patent, and began the painfully sluggish journey to firehouse acceptance.

“The slowness discourages him,” Tiffany said. “In some cases we have to get approved vendor status, and that takes time. In other cases things can move faster than we imagine.”

For example, the Chicago Fire Department has yet to approve purchases of what has been labeled the Krusepak. Meanwhile, on the set of Chicago Fire, the new gear has made its way into three episodes, with a fourth coming out in May.

“They were even going to use the name, Krusepak, in the script,” Tiffany added. “But there’s a character on the show named ‘Cruz,’ so they thought it might be confusing.”

Maybe the TV appearance sparked extra interest, but the Kruses are getting calls now from as far away as Japan. Departments — including those in Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles County — are checking out demo units. Several area departments and South Suburban stations are already using the Krusepaks, including Kankakee City, where David has worked for the past 13 years.

“I’m working full time there, and I have some shifts in Monee,” said David, 37. “So, I see the family just about every day, but I don’t have a lot of time to get out and market this.”

“And I feel like a single mom, sometimes, but I’m working on getting the demos out and filling orders, and planning our booth,” Tiffany said, referring to a major firefighters conference coming up in Indianapolis.

With legal costs for the patent now exceeding $25,000, and a $5,000 check needed to reserve the booth at Indy, the Kruses are hoping for some financial rewards down the road.

“Right now, I’m sure the mortgage company is worried about their payment,” she said. “We’ve put our life savings into this. This is getting a little stressful.”

“Really, though, this [product development] ride has been fantastic. It’s something most people will never do,” David said. “I’m lucky: I really enjoy working with my wife on this. And I totally believe that we’re going to succeed, if we keep working on it.”

That workload includes expanding the uses for the Krusepak. While it was initially thought of as a tool for working high-rise fires, it’s being used by rural departments, too. It facilitates bringing extra equipment to a fire that requires a long walk to the site. The Krusepak also adapts for use in auto and truck extrications, scuba rescues and other circumstances.

“I remember thinking this whole idea is too easy. It’s too simple,” David said. “But I’ve done a lot of research and there’s nothing out there like this out there.”

Read the rest of the story here: http://www.daily-journal.com/news/local/st-anne-couple-markets-new-firefighters-aid/article_0ff3951b-052a-5e9d-9515-5f3097fb5b18.html?mode=jqm

Source: The Daily Journal, Kankakee, Illinois. 

“New NFPA 70E – 2015 Standard Explained”

The 2015 edition of NFPA 70E introduces a major change in how stakeholders evaluate electrical risk, so that owners, managers, and employees can work together to ensure an electrically safe working area and comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.
• Key changes throughout the Standard replace the phrase “hazard analysis” with “risk assessment” to enable a shift in awareness about the potential for failure.
• Change in naming from “Hazard Risk Category” to “Arc Flash PPE Category.”
• Elimination of Hazard Risk Category 0.
• Requirement added for proper maintenance of electrical equipment for both energized and de-energized maintenance.
• Updated tables add clarity to requirements, such as the restricted approach boundary dimensions in Table 130.4 (D)(a).
• New requirement 320.3 (A)(1) covers risk assessment associated with battery work.
• New subsection in 130.2 (A)(4) provides requirements where normal operation of electric equipment is permitted.
• Informative Annex E has updated text to correlate with the redefined terminology associated with hazard and risk. This annex provides clarity and consistency about definitions as well as risk management principles vital to electrical safety.

In short, the above changes noted are a bit easier explained as follows:

There are many changes that you should be aware of in the new NFPA 70E 2015 edition. Changes in the boundaries will certainly have an effect on the type and rating of the electrical personal protective equipment that qualified electrical workers will be wearing.

Although the prohibited approach boundary has been deleted, there are still shock hazards and arc flash boundaries remaining that must be understood.

First, the restricted approach boundary is closest to the energized equipment and may only be crossed by qualified workers with the proper PPE. Next, you have the limited approach boundary that unqualified workers can cross only if they are in the proper PPE and accompanied by a qualified worker. Finally, the arc flash boundary is the boundary that requires any person that crosses it to be in the appropriate arc flash PPE.

This may be one of the most important boundaries to be aware of in your facility, as it affects not only electrical workers but all personnel. It is critical that all are aware of this boundary because there are no requirements on who can cross this boundary unless your company has an internal policy in place written in its electrical safety program.

Another change in the NFPA 70E 2015 edition to be aware of involves work permits. Any time the restricted approach boundary is crossed, a work permit will now be required.

Please work through your internal electrical safety program team to ensure this process is followed prior to any work taking place within the restricted approach boundary. Keep in mind that a work permit may not be required when troubleshooting, testing or voltage measuring is taking place.

Another change to consider is what electrical PPE is needed when working energized. Since the prohibited approach boundary for shock protection has been deleted, there are some updates in NFPA 70E 2015 around this.

Table 130.4 (D)(a) defines the approach boundaries and there have been some changes as it pertains to voltages. For example, the old NFPA 70E version from 2012 had shock boundaries built around 50V-300V and 301V-750V. However, this has now changed and the shock protection boundaries for 2015 are 50V-150V and 151V-750V. What this means is that shock hazard equipment will be required when inside the restricted approach boundary.

There are many changes you will want to familiarize yourself with in the NFPA 70E 2015 edition that could affect your overall facility, as well as your processes on working in or around energized electrical equipment.

This new edition is available for purchase at NFPA.org and other technical book stores.

 

“New! ” NFPA 70E – 2015 Standard Released”

NFPA 70E
The 2015 edition of NFPA 70E introduces a major change in how stakeholders evaluate electrical risk — so that owners, managers, and employees can work together to ensure an electrically safe working area and comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.
• Key changes throughout the Standard replace the phrase “hazard analysis” with “risk assessment” to enable a shift in awareness about the potential for failure.
• Change in naming from “Hazard Risk Category” to “Arc Flash PPE Category.”
• Elimination of Hazard Risk Category 0.
• Requirement added for proper maintenance of electrical equipment for both energized and de-energized maintenance.
• Updated tables add clarity to requirements, such as the restricted approach boundary dimensions in Table 130.4 (D)(a).
• New requirement 320.3 (A)(1) covers risk assessment associated with battery work.
• New subsection in 130.2 (A)(4) provides requirements where normal operation of electric equipment is permitted.
• Informative Annex E has updated text to correlate with the redefined terminology associated with hazard and risk. This annex provides clarity and consistency about definitions as well as risk management principles vital to electrical safety.

In short, the above changes noted are a bit easier explained as follows:

There are many changes that you should be aware of in the new NFPA 70E 2015 edition. Changes in the boundaries will certainly have an effect on the type and rating of the electrical personal protective equipment that qualified electrical workers will be wearing.

Although the prohibited approach boundary has been deleted, there are still shock hazards and arc flash boundaries remaining that must be understood.

First, the restricted approach boundary is closest to the energized equipment and may only be crossed by qualified workers with the proper PPE. Next, you have the limited approach boundary that unqualified workers can cross only if they are in the proper PPE and accompanied by a qualified worker. Finally, the arc flash boundary is the boundary that requires any person that crosses it to be in the appropriate arc flash PPE.

This may be one of the most important boundaries to be aware of in your facility, as it affects not only electrical workers but all personnel. It is critical that all are aware of this boundary because there are no requirements on who can cross this boundary unless your company has an internal policy in place written in its electrical safety program.

Another change in the NFPA 70E 2015 edition to be aware of involves work permits. Any time the restricted approach boundary is crossed, a work permit will now be required.

Please work through your internal electrical safety program team to ensure this process is followed prior to any work taking place within the restricted approach boundary. Keep in mind that a work permit may not be required when troubleshooting, testing or voltage measuring is taking place.

Another change to consider is what electrical PPE is needed when working energized. Since the prohibited approach boundary for shock protection has been deleted, there are some updates in NFPA 70E 2015 around this.

Table 130.4 (D)(a) defines the approach boundaries and there have been some changes as it pertains to voltages. For example, the old NFPA 70E version from 2012 had shock boundaries built around 50V-300V and 301V-750V. However, this has now changed and the shock protection boundaries for 2015 are 50V-150V and 151V-750V. What this means is that shock hazard equipment will be required when inside the restricted approach boundary.

There are many changes you will want to familiarize yourself with in the NFPA 70E 2015 edition that could affect your overall facility, as well as your processes on working in or around energized electrical equipment.

This new edition is available for purchase at NFPA.org and other technical book stores.

 

103 Years Ago, March 25, 1911, 123 Young Women Working In A Factory Never Came Home. It Changed Our Country.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire – March 25, 1911

It may not seem that the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, which happened over a century ago in New York City, would be relevant today — but it is. It was a tragedy that opened the nation’s eyes to poor working conditions in garment factories and other workplaces, and set in motion a historic era of labor reforms. Unfortunately, we haven’t built enough on these gains. Today, too many employers are failing to obey the labor and workplace safety laws that were enacted in the years following the tragedy. And in part because our government is not adequately enforcing these laws, workers are still needlessly losing their lives on the job. There is a lot that we can and must do to ensure that the well being of workers is put above profits.

The Triangle Shirtwaist incident is remembered for its shocking brutality: On March 25, 1911, a ferocious fire broke out at a factory on the ninth floor of a building in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Some of the exits and stairwells had been locked to prevent workers from taking breaks or stealing, leaving many unable to get out. As a result, 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, died within 20 minutes. They were burned alive, asphyxiated by smoke or died trying to escape out of the windows and balcony.

The horrific event generated a nationwide outcry about working conditions and spurred efforts to improve standards. Activists and labor unions like the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) — which lost members in the fire — were at the forefront of this push for reforms. Honoring the memory of those who died is particularly important to me and others at Amalgamated Bank, which was founded by a garment worker’s union in 1923, and is now majority-owned by Workers United, the successor to all major garment worker unions, including the ILGWU.

Thanks to the efforts of the ILGWU and all who fought for workplace reforms, real changes got underway immediately; in 1911, New York State initiated the most comprehensive investigation of factory conditions in U.S. history. Their conclusions informed new standards that other states across the country replicated and built upon in subsequent years.

We’ve come a long way since the fire happened — but it’s clear we still have a long way to go.

After all, workplace safety issues are hardly a thing of the past. It seems like nearly every year, another workplace disaster happens somewhere in the United States. Like last year, when a fertilizer plant in Texas exploded, killing 14 and injuring over 160. Or in 2010, when an explosion at a West Virginia coal mine run by Massey Energy killed 29 miners and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion left 11 workers dead and caused an enormous environmental disaster.

Thankfully, none of these events matched the human cost of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire — or the devastating factory collapse in Bangladesh last year where 1,129 people died — but they should send a similar message. No one should lose his or her life because companies are putting profit making ahead of worker protections, and because our government is not performing its critical watchdog role. Experts say that in each of the cases cited above, proper safety precautions could have prevented the devastating accidents.

But companies are not consistent in their practices of adhering to worker safety precautions. So it’s up to us — through pressure on our government and strategically exercising our rights as consumers and shareholders — to ensure that the right rules are in place and that companies play by them.

This issue of worker safety is of particular concern for undocumented workers who often receive the worst treatment of all. While working in some of our most physically demanding and low-paying jobs — from construction to landscaping, and from housekeeping to daycare and nursing — many of their employers also cut corners when it comes to their safety, knowing they are less likely than other workers to stand up for their rights. Immigrants have been crucial contributors to our economy since our nation’s founding. Teenagers from Russia, Italy and Germany worked side-by-side at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory — just as immigrants from all over the world do in today’s workplaces — and it’s time we treated them with the fairness and respect they deserve.

How can we avoid these kinds of safety problems and exploitation to begin with? We can start by reinvigorating the role of unions. While unions continue to do everything they can to curb these abuses, the proportion of the workforce that is unionized has eroded dramatically since its peak in the 1950s. To ensure both safety and fairness on the job, workers need to join together on the job to improve their working conditions.

Institutional investors and other shareholders of publicly traded companies also have an important role to play. By pursuing corporate governance reforms when needed and lawsuits when companies commit serious wrongdoing, investors can spur changes from the inside out. Corporate governance actions can’t erase the tragedy, but they can help make sure companies — and their competitors — are looking out for workers going forward.

Government also needs to step up. In so many cases of workplace safety problems or worker mistreatment, there are laws on the books that just aren’t being enforced. Our elected officials need to fight for resources for workplace inspections through agencies like OSHA — which has consistently faced cuts in recent years — and ensure thorough investigations when problems are brought to their attention. For citizens, that means making our voices heard about the importance of workplace safety, and voting for elected officials who represent those views.

We can’t undo history and bring back those we’ve lost. But we can prevent others from suffering similar fates — and work to ensure both safety and fairness in the workplace — now and in the future.

Source: Keith Mestrich

Follow Keith Mestrich on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AmalgamatedBank

Change Batteries in Smoke and CO Alarms When Moving Clocks One Hour Forward! (Daylight Savings Time!)

MANY People Don’t Do This! Don’t Be a Statistic! Change Those Batteries!

Do you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home? Are they working? Sunday, March 9, marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to take the time to replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when turning clocks forward this weekend.  Make it an annual habit. This habit could save your life.

Working smoke and CO alarms, which means having fresh batteries, adds an important layer of safety to your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. There are more than 362,000 home fires every year and more than 2,200 people die in them, according to CPSC’s latest Residential Fire Loss Estimates report.

Batteries in battery-powered alarms need to be replaced every year. In addition, CPSC recommends that consumers test their alarms every month to make sure they are working.  Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas.

Although more than 90 percent of U.S. homes report having at least one working smoke alarm, only 42 percent report having a working CO alarm, based on 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data.  CO alarms can alert you and your family to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inside your home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer, because you cannot see or smell it. This poisonous gas can come from many sources, including cars, furnaces and portable generators, and can quickly incapacitate and kill its victims.

Put CO alarms on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas.  Like smoke alarms, CO alarms need fresh batteries every year. CO alarms also should be tested once a month to make sure they are working.

Testimony of CSB at Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing – Chevron Fire, West Texas Explosion & West Va. Water Crisis

CSB

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso at March 6, 2014, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing Entitled “Preventing Potential Chemical Threats and Improving Safety: Oversight of the President’s Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security”

CLICK HERE to view the written statement

Chairman Boxer, Senator Vitter, and distinguished Committee members – thank you for inviting me today. I am Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, Chairperson of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

The Chevron refinery fire in California in 2012the West Texas explosion last year – the West Virginia water crisis in January:

All of these were preventable accidents. 

The United States is facing an industrial chemical safety crisis.

After all of these accidents, we hear frustration and heartbreak.  Workers, emergency responders, and the public continue to die and suffer injuries.

Estus Powell, a father who lost his daughter in the 2010 fire at the Tesoro refinery in Washington, recently told us, “My life was forever changed. All I want to know is, does anybody care?  It seems we can get nobody to have any teeth in anything, to get anything done.” 

Our investigations have concluded that certain fundamental changes are needed.  We have a regulatory system that sometimes encourages paper compliance over real risk reduction.

As an interim measure, I advocate that the EPA use its existing authority under the Clean Air Act to encourage chemical facilities to make their operations inherently safer where it is feasible to do so.

Then the EPA should follow up by adopting specific regulations with clear requirements.

The goal should be to drive chemical process risks “as low as reasonably practicable.”  In Europe, this is a cornerstone of the regulatory system.  Insurance statistics tell us European chemical sites have an accident rate at least three times lower than the U.S.

Time and again, as our reports show, we find examples where companies could have used available, feasible, safer technologies to prevent disastrous accidents, but chose not to do so.

I realize inherently safer technology, or IST, is a term that has drawn some controversy.  But it is really just a well-established concept, developed by industry and used by industry. 

It focuses on eliminating or minimizing hazards, instead of just trying to control hazards that already exist. Many accidents could be prevented using off-the-shelf technologies such as corrosion resistant materials, or reducing the storage of hazardous materials to the minimum necessary. 

In West Virginia, applying these principles could have prevented or reduced the consequences of the recent spill.  For example, the chemical storage tank could have been sited away from drinking water supplies and constructed of resistant materials.

I commend Senators Boxer, Manchin, and Rockefeller for promptly introducing legislation on this and encourage you to pass a strong bill.

I am also encouraged by the leadership of the White House on these issues – especially the executive order on chemical safety – and I hope that regulatory agencies respond in kind.  

The EPA has the authority today to require companies to apply IST in design, equipment, and processes. I call on industry to join in supporting this reform, which companies know will go a long way to stopping these catastrophes.

I must add that no regulatory system will work unless regulatory agencies like the EPA and OSHA receive more resources for more highly specialized, technical inspectors.

Madam Chairman, your own state of California has been leading the way in this.  Following the Chevron fire in 2012, the legislature has moved to triple the number of process safety inspectors, using fees collected from the refining industry.  And California is going to mandate using safer technologies and is looking at what’s called the “safety case” model.  Under the safety case, the burden is on companies to prove they can operate safely by following the most up to date safety standards.  It’s a condition of operating.

In conclusion, these major accidents don’t have to happen.  They kill and injure workers, harm communities, and destroy productive businesses.  The best companies in the U.S. and overseas know how to prevent these disasters – but we need a regulatory system here that ensures all companies are operating to the same high standards.

That concludes my testimony. Thank you. 

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