The True Cost Of Work Related Injuries – An infographic by the team at SafetyVideos.com
The True Cost Of Work Related Injuries – An infographic by the team at SafetyVideos.com
With the growing list of states legalizing marijuana, are workplace drug policies up in smoke? As the new year begins, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota join the growing list of states that have legalized medical marijuana. Currently, 28 states* and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana use for certain medicinal purposes, and eight states** and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes to some extent. The rules and regulations implementing these changes won’t be finalized and put into effect immediately – for instance, the Florida Department of Health has until July 3, 2017 to promulgate regulations for licensing and distribution and until October 3, 2017 to begin issuing medical marijuana identification cards. Even so, it’s best to analyze the impact of the changing marijuana landscape now and prepare for the future.
The 2016 Election and Marijuana Policy
To be clear, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. As recently as August 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration restated that marijuana has no acceptable recreational or medicinal purpose, and should remain a Schedule I substance on the Controlled Substances Act. For perspective, heroin and ecstasy are also classified as Schedule I substances.
President-elect Donald J. Trump did not make marijuana policy a priority during his election campaign, and it’s uncertain how his administration will address this issue. On many other issues, Trump indicates a willingness to defer to states. But, certain of President-elect Trump’s picks, including Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Rep. Tom Price for Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, suggest the new administration will be less tolerant of marijuana use. As Attorney General, Senator Sessions could renounce the Cole and Ogden Memos issued under the Obama administration, which, in part, state that the Department of Justice will not interfere with businesses and individuals operating legally under state cannabis laws, as long as organized crime and sales to minors are not implicated. Given Sessions’ comments as a U.S. Attorney in Alabama in the 1980s that he thought the KKK “were OK until I found out they smoked pot,” his criticism of FBI Director James Comey and Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch for not vigorously enforcing the federal prohibition, and his floor speech last year stating that marijuana “is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal,” a change in federal enforcement may be in store.
Workplace Safety Remains a Priority
Employers continue to be required to provide employees with a safe workplace and should not compromise safety due to an employee’s use of any legal prescription medication, including medical marijuana. Under OSHA regulations, employers can continue to have drug-free workplace policies, and should prohibit the use of or being under the influence of controlled substances while at work. An article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from May 2015 noted that there is a “likely statistical association between illicit drug use (including marijuana) and workplace accidents.” Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that marijuana’s effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days, or even weeks, after use. Companies with employees who work in the public sector, such as in transportation, or employees who work in safety-sensitive positions, or operate heavy machinery, should be especially cautious of safety concerns.
Can an employer continue to enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy with regards to pre-employment screening and random drug testing?
Particularly in the three states where medical marijuana is newly legal (Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota), employers are left wondering what to do about pre-employment screening and random drug testing.
Employers in states that explicitly say employers have no duty to accommodate medical marijuana users can probably rely on such language when screening or discharging applicants or employees for marijuana-positive drug tests results. In Florida, for example, Amendment 2 provides that the law shall not “require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana” in any place of employment. This presumably means that in Florida, an employer may prohibit an employee from using and/or being under the influence of medical marijuana at the workplace. Similarly, in 2015, in Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, the Supreme Court of Colorado affirmed the termination of employment of an employee who tested positive for marijuana despite having used the drug off-duty for a medicinal purpose, because such use violated federal law and the employer’s drug policy.
In some states, the medical marijuana laws expressly prohibit employment discrimination against medical marijuana users. There may be a potential risk of a claim (such as for disability discrimination under a state equivalent of the federal ADA) in these states by individuals who use marijuana for a medical purpose and are subjected to adverse employment actions. Where state law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for medical marijuana users, or makes it unlawful for an employer to take an adverse action against an applicant or employee based on medical marijuana use, employers there must be particularly cautious and may need to modify screening and testing policies in order to remain compliant with state law.
What about post-accident testing?
How do employers reconcile automatic drug-testing required by workers’ compensation laws with the new state laws legalizing medical marijuana? Can an employer still require employees to undergo post-accident testing?
Generally, federal law permits employers to test for drugs during accident investigations. In 2016, in a final rule and subsequent clarifying Memorandum, OSHA stated it does not prohibit employers from drug testing employees who report work-related injuries and illnesses as long as the employer has an objectively reasonable basis for conducting the testing, i.e., that the employer can show a reasonable basis for believing that drug use could have contributed to the reported injury or illness. OSHA prohibits the use of drug testing by employers as a form of discipline against employees who report workplace related injuries or illnesses.
The trend towards legalizing marijuana, at least for medical purposes, has continued at the state level. It remains to be seen how the courts and federal agencies will interpret and enforce the laws in 2017. The bottom line is that employers who have not yet determined how they will deal with workplace issues relating to marijuana should do soon.
* Medical: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
** Recreational: California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine
Source: JD Supra
First, I want to start off with the “scissor lift” dilemma and confusion. If you talk to two different people, you’ll get two differing opinions. Here are my thoughts on this:
I have watched while the battle has raged over whether the use of personal fall arrest harnesses by scissor lift operators is appropriate. The rationale on each side of the issue; pro and con, is intelligent, compelling, and complete with opinions from well informed, knowledgeable people.
The core argument from the pro-harness side stems from the assertion that scissor lift operators are more or less subject to the same falling hazards as anyone else working at height, so why not wear a harness?
On the con-harness side of things, some of the many the arguments follow the logic that if a scissor lift operator who is tethered to the unit goes over the guardrail, the resulting force(s) exerted on the machine when his/her weight jerks to a stop at the end of the lanyard’s travel could be enough to cause the unit to topple, sending it and the operator down. In addition, so I’m told, as the unit plummets down with the operator in tow, the lanyard serves to worsen things by “slingshotting” the operator into the ground and possibly under the machine, resulting in even greater injury than if he/she were able to free fall or jump clear.
If that’s not enough, neither OSHA regulations or ANSI/SIA standards require the use of personal fall protection harnesses for operators of scissor lifts. In fact, in many cases manufacturers do not provide an anchor point to connect the snap hook of a lanyard to and, OSHA prohibits tying off to a guard rail as per 29CFR 1926.502(d)(23)); “Personal fall arrest systems shall not be attached to guardrail systems.”
Some other issues that I have heard from the con side have to do with things like how wearing a harness restricts the movement of the operator or that wearing a harness may actually lull the operator into a false sense of security. I could go on, but I won’t.
I am going to go on record here and state that I believe scissor lift operators should be required to wear a personal fall restraint system (PFRS) consisting of a full body harness and non-shock absorbing lanyard provided there is an approved anchor point to connect it to. (In fact, if you dig into the OSHA regulations, you’ll find that “If the scissor lift manufacturer provides tie off anchor points at the base of the guardrail system, and the manufacturer’s user instructions require them to be used, then you need to be tied off with a PFRS”.)
Allow me approach each point of the “con” argument and, for what it’s worth, chip in my two cents.
First of all, take note of the suggestion for using a fall restraint harness rather than a fall arrest harness. Fall arrest systems are designed to stop a fall in progress while fall restraint systems prevent a fall from occurring… big difference. No fall means no excessive force on the unit, therefore no tip-over. The operator stays on the platform and the lift stays upright. Granted, a fall restraint harness may restrict the operator’s motion depending on the type of anchor point and how much mobility is actually required, but this is a fair trade in exchange for preventing a fall and possible fatality.
As for the “slingshot” effect, well, the laws of physics do not support that theory. A few centuries ago, Galileo discovered something we know today as, the law of falling bodies. Without going into great detail here, it basically states that everything that falls accelerates toward the earth at a rate of 32 feet per second/per second, until reaching peak terminal velocity (top speed), which is about 120 mph. So, if a scissor lift tips over, the operator and the platform are going to travel toward the ground at approximately the same speed; there will be no “slingshot” effect and certainly no need to jump from the platform. In addition, an operator wearing a PFRS will not sustain further injury because of multiple impacts with the ground from bouncing after the initial impact with the ground.
On the topic of jumping clear of the unit, there are serious concerns about the practicality of that notion. Even a conditioned athlete that is prepared and ready for the unit to tip would have difficulty picking the right moment to leap clear. When an aerial lift goes over it typically happens unexpectedly and quickly. The average operator is unlikely to have the physical prowess or presence of mind to do the right thing at the right time and even if he/she did, they would still have the actual fall to the ground with which to contend.
That brings us to OSHA regulations which, after all, are the law and the law says you don’t have to wear a harness to operate a scissor lift. I am going to avoid getting wrapped up in reg’s here the same way I do when I train operators, suffice to say that we are not attempting to determine if we have to wear it, but whether we should. Allow me to share a bit of wisdom that I usually impart to operators when they get a bit carried away with the law, which is; when you operate aerial lift devices, the only law you need to concern yourself with is the law of gravity. Respect for occupational safety and health laws will affect your relationship with OSHA while respect for gravity will affect your relationship with the ground!
As far as harnesses giving operators a false sense of security, it shouldn’t. It should give them a real sense of security. It is a simple fact that an operator wearing a PFRS is less likely to be killed by falling from the platform, which in itself is reassuring. It is also a fact that more scissor lift operators are killed by falling from the platform than by tipping the unit over and besides, if the unit goes over for any reason, the effect on the operator will be ugly with or without a PFRS.
The bottom line here is that every situation, or in this case, each use of the scissor lift has to be looked at from a different approach, so good judgment and the use of best practices are imperative.
9-23-2016 – Here is a link to a Scissor Lift Manufacturers letter, requiring the use of Fall Protection while using their product. https://goo.gl/hi2mvw
Caution: Somewhat Graphic Photo – Note: This Photo is the property of Jack Benton, and may not be used without written consent!
Note: The photo above is not intended for page views or shock value as I don’t believe that those methods truly teach you anything in and of themselves. I don’t know the particulars of the above accident, but I do know that the lack of a proper lock out – tag out (control of hazardous energy) policy and procedure contributed to the accident.
This is always on OSHA’s Top 10 Violations list on a yearly basis, typically coming in at number 2 each year in the total number of times cited. Please use the training information below to keep your employees safe and involved in this process at your workplace.
Remember to AUDIT your procedures more than once per year. LOTO can be a difficult procedure especially when your job or facility has large manufacturing equipment such as a multi-employee operated mile long paper mill versus many single employee operated machines.
Hopefully, the Temp Worker Without LOTO Training who lost his life on the first day of his new job and the LOTO Webinar below, as well as the other resources further down the page will help you to put together an appropriate LOTO policy and procedure for your company.
Ninety minutes into his first day on the first job of his life, Day Davis was called over to help at Palletizer No. 4 at the Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla. What happened next is an all-too-common story for temp workers working in blue-collar industries. Read the investigation: http://www.propublica.org/article/tem..
The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) Full Webinar 2016
Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious injury or death to workers.
Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal! Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and others.
Craft workers, electricians, machine operators, and laborers are among the 3 million workers who service equipment routinely and face the greatest risk of injury. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries. Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases. OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Fact Sheet* describes the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent hazardous energy release. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry outlines measures for controlling different types of hazardous energy. The LOTO standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures:
OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Fact Sheet* describes the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy.
The control of hazardous energy is also addressed in a number of other OSHA standards, including Marine Terminals (1917 Subpart C), Safety and Health Regulations for Longshoring (1918 Subpart G), Safety and Health Regulations for Construction; Electrical (1926 Subpart K), Concrete and Masonry Construction (1926 Subpart Q), Electric Power Transmission and Distribution (1926 Subpart V), and General Industry; Electrical (1910 Subpart S), Special Industries (1910 Subpart R), and Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution (1910.269).
Example elements of a lockout/tagout (LOTO) program are described in the OSHA standard for the control of hazardous energy (29 CFR 1910.147), along with these additional references.
The NEW NIOSH Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator, which is intended to help aerial lift operators familiarize themselves with hazards they may encounter on the job is now available for download to use as a training tool at your workplace. In this instance, NIOSH uses the term “aerial lifts” to describe multiple types of lifts, including scissor lifts and boom lifts, which are commonly used on construction sites for elevating workers to various heights.
The simulator is intended to provide a safe, controlled environment in which users—employers, trainers, safety and health professionals, and aerial lift operators—can navigate a realistic workplace with different types of hazards such as potholes, ramps, crushing hazards, and tip-over hazards. The simulator notifies users when they encounter a hazard so that they can identify and avoid hazards on actual work sites.
According to NIOSH, the simulator is designed to help potential or new aerial lift operators acclimate to aerial lift operation and help experienced operators refresh their knowledge on the associated hazards. The agency stresses that the simulator is not a substitute for the required training to operate an aerial lift.
Instructions on downloading and launching the simulator can be found on the NIOSH website, along with additional information on aerial lifts.
Aerial lifts are powered and mobile platforms that are used for elevating workers to various heights, which exposes workers to fall hazards.
Training is necessary for anyone using aerial work platforms and equipment. In an effort to create awareness about common workplace hazards when using aerial lifts, NIOSH has developed educational tools and products. Employers, trainers, safety and health professionals and aerial lift operators can use the following information to prevent work-related falls.
Note: NIOSH uses the term ‘aerial lifts’ as an overarching term to capture multiple types of lifts, such as scissor lifts and boom lifts. It is important to note that both OSHA and ANSI standards vary for different types of lifts.
The Simulator, available at no cost, provides a realistic workplace with multiple, dangerous hazard types that users must navigate. Experienced aerial lift operators can refresh their knowledge, and new operators can familiarize themselves with hazards they may encounter on the job. Using the Simulator is not a substitute for required training to operate an aerial lift.
Aerial lifts, commonly used on construction sites, expose workers to falls. To prevent these falls and other aerial lift-related injuries and deaths, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed the Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator. This flyer gives employers, trainers, safety professionals, and aerial lift operators information on the Simulator and how to access it.
PDF File About the program is downloadable here : Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator[PDF – 979 KB]
Download the software here: NIOSH Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator today! Note that the software download is a ZIP file and can be used on any Windows based PC!
Earlier this year the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) published a new rule that attempts to shame employers into lowering workplace injuries and gives OSHA much broader discretion to regulate retaliation by employers. The rule’s new requirements take effect in the coming months.
Changes to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Requirements Require Employers to Air Their Dirty Laundry
Beginning in 2017, OSHA will require certain employers to electronically submit portions of the workplace injury and illness data that they are currently required to keep to OSHA. Even worse, parts of these submissions, including the identity of the employer and the amount and types of injuries sustained by the employees, can be publically posted to the OSHA website. Under the current rule (at 29 CFR 1904), there was no requirement for automatic submissions to OSHA or for establishment-specific public disclosure, electronic or otherwise.
Employers who currently do not have any obligation to maintain records on workplace injuries can breathe easy—nothing has changed for them and there is nothing for them to report. Nor does the new rule change or add to an employer’s existing obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records. Specifically, under the new rule:
Although the rule takes effect on January 1, 2017, compliance is phased. For establishments with 250 or more employees, only Form 300A (from 2016) must be submitted in the first year by July 1, 2017. In the following year, this group of establishments must submit all three of their 2017 forms (Form 300, 300A, and 301) by July 1, 2018. The smaller establishments with between 20 and 249 employees, which are only required to submit Form 300A, have a submission deadline of July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, respectively, for the first two years of compliance. Beginning in 2019, the submission deadline for all regulated establishments will be March 2, not July 1.
Instituting Stricter Anti-Retaliation Protocols, with Unfettered OSHA Oversight
The new rule also incorporates anti-retaliation provisions, enforcement of which has been delayed from November 1, 2016 to December 1, 2016 due to pending litigation in federal court that challenges the new provisions. See TEXO ABC/AGC Inc. v. Perez, No. 3:16-cv-01998-D (N.D. Tex.). This new rule contains three requirements. First, employers are required to inform their employees about their right to report workplace injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, as opposed to merely informing employees of the procedures for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses which was a requirement under the previous rule. Second, employers must adopt a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illness that does not deter employees from reporting. Procedures may be deemed unreasonable under the new rule if they require, for example, immediate reporting without accounting for exceptions for injuries or illnesses that build up over time, or post-incident drug testing where there is no reasonable possibility that drug use contributed to the injury.
Finally, the rule incorporates the statutory prohibition (at 29 U.S.C. § 660) on employer retaliation against employees for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. As OSHA directs in its commentary, this new provision provides OSHA an additional enforcement tool for ensuring accuracy of work-related injury and illness records. Under the old regime, OSHA had to rely on employees to file complaints on their own behalf before instituting action. Now, regardless of whether an employee has filed a complaint pursuant to the existing statutory directive, OSHA can take its own initiative to (a) issue citations to employers for retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries and illness and (b) require abatement of the violation (i.e., require the employer to eliminate the source of the retaliation and make whole the “retaliated-against” employee). Giving OSHA the total power to institute enforcement measures on its own accord takes any predictability out of the regulations and gives employers little leeway to develop its own workable and tailored protocols. Clearly, the outcome of the pending litigation over these anti-retaliation provisions will be something to look out for over the coming months.
OSHA is touting the rule as one which will “nudge” employers to take more safety precautions. OSHA believes the new rule will give employers the ability to compare their injury data with other businesses in their industry and provide researchers with access to data to further their research in workplace injury. Speculations aside, one thing is for certain—the new rule will create additional headaches for businesses dealing with workplace injuries. Businesses will now have to fear possible targeted investigation by OSHA if they have a higher injury rate and prepare for negative backlash from potential employees and potential investors.
Employers are encouraged to contact legal counsel to ensure their current compliance with OSHA and to put a plan in place to comply with the new rule.
Miller Fall Protection Webinar
When working at height, it is important to know your fall clearance and swing fall, whether using a shock-absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline. Calculating your fall clearance and swing fall is critical to your safety. The Miller Fall Clearance Calculator App gives workers who work at heights, the ability to quickly calculate the required fall clearance for Shock Absorbing Lanyards and Self-Retracting Lifelines, including swing fall.
Download the New Miller Fall Clearance Calculator App by Honeywell : Download link – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/miller-fall-clearance-calculator/id971198656?mt=8
Video From ABC TV Series “In An Instant”
1.) Maintain grain quality (e.g. moisture, heat, etc)
2.) Never enter a bin without a “bin entry permit”
3.) Never enter a grain bin unless it is really truly necessary
4.) Never enter a grain bin alone – have an outside observer who can both see and hear you
5.) Most young teens do not have the experience, training or qualifications to help you.
6.) Time is of the essence – if you’re engulfed, it takes only 90 seconds for you to die
7.) The outside observer needs to have a sure quick method to contact emergency responders in an emergency
8.) Always lockout unloading equipment before entering (so they can’t be turned on by mistake)
9.) Always check oxygen (min 19.5%) and toxic/inflammable gas levels (phosphine CO2 dust etc) before entry
10.) Always, always use secure a lifeline (harness/rope/ladder) for everyone inside
12.) The lifesaving tip of last resort = cross your arms in front of your chest if you’re sinking – so that you can breathe
13.) Even during the most frantic times, never every risk your or anyone else’s life with a 5-minute shortcut
14.) Have a written plan for training and rescue
15.) The most important safety tip – train-and-practice often
Grain bin safety is such an important task that no one should take lightly. In addition to the tips above we want to share a fantastic contest with you that is going on now. Nominate your local fire department to win an invaluable grain bin rescue training and the rescue tube, brought to you by Nationwide Agribusiness.
Other great resources:
Download the “Safe Grain Bin Entry” PowerPoint Presentation Below!