“Reminder: Are You In Compliance With OSHA’s New Construction Confined Space Standard?”

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Most employers in the construction industry already know that OSHA issued a new confined space standard for construction that became effective on August 3, 2015. Companies with employees who enter confined spaces at construction sites must be sure to understand the new regulation and adjust their processes in order to remain in compliance. Although the new standard has been in effect for six months, this blog provides a reminder on some of the key provisions of which employers should be aware.

As background, OSHA used to just have a confined space standard for general industry employers (29 CFR 1910.146). However, in recognition that construction sites often host multiple employers and are continually changing, with the number and nature of confined spaces changing as work progresses, OSHA promulgated a new standard, available at 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200, tailored to the unique characteristics of construction sites.

While the general industry standard and the construction standard have many similarities, some key differences are:

The construction standard requires coordination when there are multiple employers at the worksite. Specifically, the construction standard imposes duties on three types of employers because of the recognition that different workers may perform different activities in the same space, which can result in hidden dangers:

Entry employers. This is defined as an employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit space. Entry employers have a duty to inform controlling contractors (defined below) of any hazards encountered in a permit space. Entry employers also have to develop safe entry procedures.

Host employers. This is defined as the employer who owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place. If the host employer has information about permit space hazards, it must share that information with the controlling contractor (defined below) and then the controlling contractor is responsible for sharing that information with the entry employers.

Controlling contractor. This is defined as the employer with overall responsibility for construction at the worksite. The controlling contractor is responsible for coordinating entry operations when there is more than one entry employer. Controlling contractors must provide any information they have about any permit space hazards to all entry employers.

The controlling contractor is also responsible for coordinating work in and around confined spaces so that no contractor working at the site will create a hazard inside the confined space. After the entry employer performs entry operations, the controlling contractor must debrief the entry employer to gather information that the controlling contractor then must share with the host employer and other contractors who enter the space later.

Continuous atmospheric monitoring is required under the construction standard “whenever possible.” In contrast, the general industry standard merely encourages continuous atmospheric monitoring where possible and only requires periodic monitoring as necessary.

The construction standard requires that a “competent person” evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces including permit-required confined spaces.

Notably, the general industry standard does not require that a “competent person” complete this task. A “competent person” is defined under the new standard as someone who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards associated with working conditions, including, of course, whether a workspace is permit-required.

Employers who perform construction-related activities need to make sure they understand the requirements of the new confined space construction standard. For more information, download : Confined Space in Construction: OSHA 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200 here: https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/1926_subpart_aa.pdf or consult with your Seyfarth attorney.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw : Evironmental Safety Update / Law Blog

http://www.environmentalsafetyupdate.com/osha-compliance/are-you-in-compliance-with-oshas-new-confined-space-standard-for-the-construction-industry/

 

 

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“Excavation & Trenching Safety” #ConstructionSafety @StopThinkPrevnt

Trenching and Excavation Safety

Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Dangers of Trenching and Excavation
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.

Protect Yourself
Do not enter an unprotected trench! Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be de-signed by a registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/ or approved by a registered professional engineer.

Protective Systems
There are different types of protective systems. Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation. Shoring requires installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave ins. Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins. Designing a protective system can be complex because you must consider many factors: soil classification, depth of cut, water content of soil, changes due to weather or climate, surcharge loads (eg., spoil, other materials to be used in the trench) and other operations in the vicinity.

Competent Person

OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.

Access and Egress
OSHA requires safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. These devices must be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of all workers.

General Trenching and Excavation Rules

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Keep surcharge loads at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
  • Know where underground utilities are located.
  • Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases.
  • Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
  • Inspect trenches following a rainstorm.
  • Do not work under raised loads.

Additional Information
Visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics web page on trenching and excavation at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/ index.html

Highlights

“The OSHA Information Void: Former Official Steps Up”

Why is the former second in command at OSHA publishing news about serious OSHA enforcement cases? Keep reading to learn more.

Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA from 2009 to 2017, has rekindled Confined Space, A Newsletter of Workplace Safety and Labor Issues, which he started in the early 2000s. In an introductory post, he noted that motivations for restarting the online publication included “repeals of recently issued OSHA regulations and ‘regulatory reform’ initiatives in the White House and Congress that would remove protections from workers.”

One of Barab’s concerns is that under the Trump administration, OSHA appears to no longer be issuing press releases for significant enforcement cases, as was common during the Obama years.

“OSHA is a very small agency and has to leverage its resources because it can only get to a tiny number of workplaces each year,” says Barab. Issuing a “good press release” not only impacts the company that was cited, but also gets the attention of businesses in the same geographic area or industry, he claims.

He notes that the Trump administration is continuing to cite and fine employers that run afoul of OSHA regulations. But at the moment, the agency seems to have succumbed to industry pressure to issue fewer press releases that describe enforcement actions. Barab attributes that problem in part to “political paralysis” and notes that Secretary of Labor nominee Alexander Acosta has not yet been confirmed, and there is currently no Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, the post formerly held by David Michaels, PhD.

According to Barab, OSHA was issuing press releases about enforcement cases when proposed penalties reached $70,000 or above when Obama took office in 2008. That figure was then lowered to $40,000. Also, Barab recalls, “We tried to increase the impact by adding more descriptive wording in plain English about what standards were violated.” Press releases from OSHA and other regulatory agencies are read by employers, employees, and serve to inform the media.

Barab says his online newsletter will focus on transparency in an effort to provide the public with information about worker safety that may not be available from other sources.

– See more at: http://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/04/osha-information-void-former-official-steps/#sthash.QucW4fsa.dpuf

Source: BLR

“National Trench Safety Releases Mobile App for the Excavation Industry”

National Trench Safety announced its new NTS Mobile App for the Excavation Construction Industry.

National Trench Safety, LLC (NTS), a Houston-based company specializing in the rental and sales of trench and traffic safety equipment, trench and traffic safety engineering, and OSHA-compliant training classes, officially announced the release of the NTS Mobile App designed specifically for anyone working with Trench and Traffic Safety equipment.

“We’re really pleased to be announcing the rollout of the new NTS Mobile App,” commented Ron Chilton, President of NTS. “We believe we have created a tool with a lot of unique functionality built into this app that will make it a must have item for contractors and their crews. This app is a total handheld resource that contractors should find highly valuable. Our app is not an advertising tool, but rather this app puts all of the specific tools a contractor needs and is required to have on any job site in the palm of his or her hand. One of the features we’re most excited about is the app’s ability to allow a contractor’s Competent Person to complete an electronic excavation daily checklist, to log that checklist for future reference and the ability to print, text and or email those logs.” The NTS Mobile app will also provide real-time access to and the ability to print, text and or email manufacturer’s tabulated data, product depth ratings and weights, OSHA sloping and benching tables, and all relevant OSHA excavation, confined space, and fall protection standards.

“As technology has permeated our industry and culture, it’s made some really unique things possible that weren’t feasible as little as a decade ago,” remarked Chilton. “The NTS Mobile app is the first of a series of technology related services we’ll be introducing over the next year. We also remained committed to bringing new products to the market and have a couple planned product launches for later in the year.”

The NTS Mobile App is currently available on the AppleTM Store for both the iPad and iPhone and will be available for download for Android phones on the GoogleTM Play Store in late February. The app is offered free of charge to users. NTS has several updates planned for the app over the next few months to further enhance the functionality of the app and will be actively seeking feedback from the app’s user community to enhance its value to the construction industry. To learn more about the NTS Mobile App, its features and how to download it please visit us at http://www.ntsafety.com/ntsmobileapp.

National Trench Safety currently has 30 branch locations within the United States. This large national foot print allows NTS to provide its national, regional and local market customers a fully integrated, national branch network delivering unique engineered solutions, the highest level of customer service and the most cost-effective shoring solutions in the industry.

In maintaining its objective of building a nationwide network of trench and traffic safety branches, NTS plans to open several additional branch locations in 2017. For more information about NTS, visit the National Trench Safety website at http://www.ntsafety.com.

“OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Final Rule Requirement Implementation Dates “

On November 18, 2016, OSHA finally published a final rule updating the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards for general industry. Percolating since 1990 (55 FR 13360), reopened in 2003 (68 FR 23528) and again in 2010 (75 FR 28862), revisions to the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards were long overdue. OSHA’s 500+ final rule gives employers new options to combat slip, trip and fall hazards (Subpart D) while adding employer requirements to ensure those new options provide for enhanced safety.

It adds a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standard (Subpart I) that specifies employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems and clarifies obligations for several specific industries, including telecommunications, pulp, paper and paperboard mills, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, textiles and sawmills.

The final rule addresses fall protection options (including personal fall protection systems), codifies guidance on rope descent systems, revises requirements for fixed and portable ladders, prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and establishes training requirements on fall hazards and fall protection equipment. OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels stated, “The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries.” OSHA notes the final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which it believes will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

The rule is effective January 17, 2017, but some of the requirements are phased in over time. Phased-in or delayed compliance dates include:

• May 17, 2017

  • Training exposed workers on fall and equipment hazards

• November 20, 2017

  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages

• November 19, 2018

  • Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structure
  • Equipping existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, with a cage, ell, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system

• November 18, 2036

  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet

OSHA estimates the rule will affect 112 million workers at nearly 7 million worksites and will prevent 29 fatalities and over 5800 injuries annually.

Many employers that have been operating under the cover of OSHA interpretive letters and statements in the preambles of the proposed rules because the standards in place were so outdated and/or ill-suited to particular work environments. For them, the final rule offers an opportunity to confirm that their policies are compliant. However, those employers should scrutinize the final rule to ensure the interpretations they were relying on were incorporated and that no additional actions are required.

Some have suggested that Congress may seek to overrule these changes using the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) (5 U.S.C. §§801-808), but that action is risky because the CRA is such a blunt instrument. The CRA can only be used to repeal a regulatory act in its entirety; it cannot be used to amend the regulation. Moreover, repudiation by Congress of a final rule prohibits the agency from issuing a substantially similar rule in the future.

Congress has only used the CRA once—to overrule the ergonomics regulation OSHA adopted at the end of the Clinton Administration. Congress should recognize that the provisions of this final rule are too important to too many employers for it to act reflexively by disapproving the entire rule and prohibiting further action on these issues.

A copy of the final rule is found here. More on the final rule, including OSHA’s Fact Sheet, can be found on OSHA’s website here.

“No Injury, No Accident”……..Right??” #Safety #NearMiss

Discover how near misses can add up to major accidents. “No Injury, No Accident?” dramatically shows employees how to recognize and prevent serious injuries or fatal accidents before they occur. Based on the pioneering work of W. H. Heinrich and his renowned “Heinrich Triangle,” the program demonstrates how the odds of a serious or fatal accident occurring emerges from a series of typical injury-fee accidents. “No Injury, No Accidents?” also shows employees the importance of reporting the accident, investigating how it happened, and eliminating the cause. It’s an essential message for every safety program.

Note: The first 23 seconds of this 18 Minute video are a little garbled.

What Are Near Misses?

Near misses happen every day in the workplace. Regardless of their potential for personal injury and property damage, all near misses should be taken seriously and consistently reported.

There are many terms which essentially mean the same thing – accident avoidance, close call, mishap or even narrow escape. It doesn’t matter exactly what terminology your business chooses to use when referring to a near miss. What matters is whether everyone understands exactly what constitutes a near miss and why it’s essential to make a record of it so it can be investigated and addressed.

Overcoming barriers to reporting

Many obstacles stand in the way of operating and utilizing an efficient and effective near-miss reporting program:

Fear of blame: Many employees are afraid to report near misses because either they don’t want to admit that they didn’t follow safety procedures or they will be mistakenly accused of doing something wrong. To create a truly effective near-miss reporting program, this stigma must be eliminated.

For near-miss reporting to work well, employers need to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere. The goal is to make employees so comfortable about the process that they report them as easily and freely as they would report a garbage can is full or a light bulb is burned out. Blame cannot be part of the equation – period.

Incoherent indifference: Another enemy of effective reporting is indifference. When a near miss occurs, some employees may question whether the situation was substantial enough to be recorded. When this happens, employees often simply disregard the event. This mindset can be lethal to a near-miss reporting program.

Hazards that are overlooked or dismissed as minor are lost opportunities for valuable insight. Employees should be trained on the importance of reporting each and every near miss. A clear definition should be provided on what constitutes a near miss, including any situation that appears to be “unsafe.” Once employees understand the importance of reporting and are clear on the definition of what defines a near miss, they will feel confident about their judgment and empowered to report.

Lack of supervisor support: Employees usually follow their direct supervisor’s instructions in most job-related situations. If a supervisor does not treat near-miss reporting as a priority, there is a good chance their personnel won’t either. Supervisors need to encourage this type of reporting and set an example by reporting near misses themselves. When employees know that their supervisors are completely on board with near-miss reporting, it is easier for them to feel comfortable to report, as well.

Near-miss reporting is a critical component of any well-organized and effective safety program. Over time, near-miss programs have been shown to save millions of dollars in medical care and equipment replacement costs. More importantly, they save lives.

Reporting near misses should not just be considered an “extra” thing or something the employee is ashamed or embarrassed to do. Instead, employees should feel proud that they are part of an effective process of prevention and incident management and thanked for their proactive safety behaviors.

 

“CSB Releases New Safety Video Detailing Investigation into 2013 Fatal Fire and Explosion at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, LA”

January 25, 2017, Washington, DC –

Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a safety video of its investigation of the June 13, 2013 explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana, which killed two workers and injured an additional 167.  The deadly explosion and fire occurred when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Blocked In,” includes a 3D animation of the explosion and fire as well as interviews with CSB investigator Lauren Grim and Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. The video is based on the CSB’s case study on the Williams incident and can be viewed on the CSB’s website and YouTube.

Chairperson Sutherland said, “Our investigation on the explosion at Williams describes an ineffective process safety management program at the plant at the time of the incident. We urge other companies to incorporate our recommendations at their facilities and to assess the state of their cultures to promote safety at all organizational levels to prevent a similar accident. ”

The CSB’s investigation found many process safety management program deficiencies at Williams, which set the stage for the incident. In particular, the CSB found that the heat exchanger that failed was completely isolated from its pressure relief valve.

In the video, Investigator Lauren Grim said, “When evaluating overpressure protection requirements for heat exchangers, engineers must think about how to manage potential scenarios, including unintentional hazards. In this case, simply having a pressure relief valve available could have prevented the explosion.”

The CSB investigation concluded that in the twelve years leading to the incident, a series of process safety management program deficiencies caused the heat exchanger to be unprotected from overpressure.  As revealed in the investigation, during that time Management of Change Reviews, Pre-Startup Safety Reviews, and Process Hazard Analyses all failed to effectively identify and control the hazard.

In addition, the CSB found that Williams failed to develop a written procedure for activities performed on the day of the incident, nor did the company have a routine maintenance schedule to prevent the operational heat exchanger from needing to be shut down for cleaning.

Finally, the video describes CSB’s recommendations made to the Williams Geismar plant which  encourages similar companies to review and incorporate into their own facilities. These include:

– Conduct safety culture assessments that involve workforce participation, and communicate the results in reports that recommend specific actions to address safety culture weaknesses

– Develop a robust safety indicators tracking program that uses the data identified to drive continual safety improvement

– And perform comprehensive process safety program assessments to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of the facility’s process safety programs.

“Managers must implement and then monitor safety programs and encourage a strong culture of safety to protect workers and the environment,” Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said,

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. CSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at public@csb.gov or by phone at 202.446.8095.

 

“Confined Spaces – Supervisor Safety Tip Series” #ConfinedSpace #Safety

Developed by Vivid’s Chief Safety Officer Jill James, a former OSHA inspector, this series examines real hazards in real work environments. This safety tip video explains ways to stay safe while working with Confined Spaces.

Confined spaces are enclosed or partially enclosed spaces of a size such that a worker can squeeze entry for performing assigned work through a narrow opening—they’re tough to get in and out of, tight spaces. These spaces are normally only entered to perform specific tasks and then barricaded to prevent unauthorized access.

As an example, think of a large tank used for holding liquid. Sometimes, these storage units or big containers need to be cleaned out, so you send a worker to get inside and they’re completely surrounded by walls of the structure, with only a small entry/exit hatch for escape if things go awry. Confined spaces create the ideal conditions for the onset of claustrophobia. Confined spaces can be large or small and above or below ground.

This video covers:

Source: Vivid Learning Systems

“Is Your Safety Incentive Program In Compliance With OSHA’s Interpretation?”

Video Courtesy of Comedy Central®

Safety incentive programs have long been used by organizations worldwide to promote safe working conditions and encourage safety at the workplace. But a recent memorandum by David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), states that “Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because the employee reports an injury or illness. Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11(c).”

This has raised a big question in the minds of Safety Managers whether to continue, modify or abandon their Safety Incentive Programs. After this memo, OSHA will be closely monitoring the safety programs that reward the lowest number of accidents reported. In a 2013 news article a former TVA Engineering Safety Manager was sentenced to 78 months in prison for deliberately falsifying workplace injury records to collect safety bonuses of over $2.5 million from the (TVA) Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. government corporation. There is a thin line between an effective incentive program and a misleading reward program which encourages workers to hide injuries.

Consider the following 10 tips to make your safety program OSHA compliant and more effective.

  1. First, a safety program should be behavior-based rather than being injury-rate-based. It means employers should provide incentives to workers practicing safe operating procedures and practices instead of incentivizing schemes based on a number of accidents.
  2. Reporting near miss, hazardous behavior should be focused which will prevent future occurrences of accidents. (Leading vs. Lagging Indicators)
  3. Praise and recognize employees through top management in a timely manner and in front of others to acknowledge their safe behavior and encourage others to follow suit.
  4. Avoid monetary reward for safety programs and use other awarding methods such as gift cards or certificates, days off, safety pins and recognition boards.
  5. Reward employees for a wide variety of safety activities such as providing safety suggestions, guiding a co-worker with a safe operating procedure or identifying hazards or participating in Safety committees.
  6. Involve employees in a dynamic safety program which encourages them to take part in periodic activities such as presenting tool box talks, teaching training classes and participating or performing safety audits.
  7. Include workers in safety committees and meetings, and encourage them to think of ways to prevent accidents and perform root cause analysis. Open communication between managers and workers will ensure a safety conscious work environment.
  8. Ensure management commitment by demonstrating that the organization’s leaders care about safety, by having leaders give presentations.
  9. Establish safety as a core value of the company. Believe that all injuries are preventable, and near misses should be reported.
  10. Allow employees to set safety goals for themselves. This will motivate them to ensure their own safety and work towards achieving them.

Adopting these suggestions will surely empower your safety program, minimizing incidents and at the same time prevent OSHA violations.

Just be sure to remain aware of the changing OSHA regulatory status under the new administration. Things may be changing rapidly soon.

“The 2017 Workplace Safety Puzzle” #OSHA #Safety

From 2015 to 2017, OSHA fines increased almost 80%, making the cost of noncompliance too expensive for most organizations to ignore.

This new infographic, created for the 2017 Safety Summit, aims to help safety pros, like you, strengthen compliance, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency.

 

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