Top 20 Workplace Safety Blogs and Websites

With 4,405 fatal occupational injuries occurring in 2013 alone according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), safety in the workplace is important now more than ever. There hundreds of workplace related blogs and websites, but how will you know which ones to follow and trust? Fortunately, we’ve reviewed many of these sites and highlighted the best resources on the web for safety in the workplace. The list below contains the 20 best workplace safety blogs to follow for reliable information on health and safety at work.
Continue reading “Top 20 Workplace Safety Blogs and Websites”

Guide to Workplace Safety for Construction Workers

Workplace safety must be a top priority for anyone who walks onto a jobsite, especially those who spend their time in proximity to hazardous substances

According to OSHA – the leading government authority in workplace safety, construction workers face significant risks each and every time they visit a jobsite. Whether they’re involved in demolition work, trim carpentry, new home framing, or large-scale commercial jobs, there are a variety of risks that construction workers must be aware of in order to minimize the risk of injury or even death. Read on for a general workplace safety guide for construction workers – based on five dangerous situations a worker may face:

  1. Be “fall conscious” – As the leading cause of injury and death among construction workers – and the single biggest source of OSHA penalties in the industry, lack of adequate fall protection is simply unacceptable. Whether using a fall protection device with an integral decelerative cable or simply safer scaffolding materials, it is crucial that falls be avoided at all costs. OSHA levied more than $20 million in fines in the year 2014 alone for fall-prevention equipment deficiencies. The basic OSHA 10 or 30 hour class will discuss this topic in-depth.
  2. Recognize the dangers of asbestos – Construction workers face asbestos all too often. Whether they’re demolishing an old building, rehabbing a boiler or furnace in a commercial establishment, or simply working in an attic of an older home, asbestos fibers can cause severe and irreparable damage to a worker’s pulmonary and respiratory system. Taking a training course from an accredited workplace safety organization will go a long way to enhancing job site safety and minimizing asbestos exposure.
  3. Be safe in the “trenches” – Working in and around trenches is a fact of life for construction workers – especially those who work on large municipal projects or on commercial builds. There are a host of safety regulations that must be followed to keep workers safe when operating within a subterranean trench. Escape ladders, specific rules regarding materials kept near the edge of the trench, reinforcing plates, and more are important to consider when striving for total safety in the trenches.
  4. Use machinery with caution – Significant and lasting injuries – even deaths, can be attributed to improper use of heavy equipment and machinery. Serious injuries occur simply by slipping while climbing into or out of a machine’s cab or operating platform, while other injuries have occurred when machine operators are struck by falling debris or interfere with overhead power lines. Making sure that machine operators are 100% comfortable with their equipment and understand how to safely work within an area that might contain construction workers on foot is vital to ensuring a safe and compliant jobsite.
  5. Get trained! – One of the biggest safety concerns today is simply a lack of training. Construction workers should take, at a minimum, the OSHA 10 hour class before ever swinging a hammer. Those who want additional instruction can opt for the 30 hour class. This longer series of instruction modules is also well-suited for construction managers, foreman, and other supervisors. The Asbestos Institute has a track record of delivering top-quality training at affordable prices.

Workplace safety should be the first priority for those who frequent the jobsite. By completing the requisite training and by using common sense, there is no reason why construction site injuries can’t be significantly reduced.

 

OSHA Safety and Health Regulations for Construction

Since 1970, OSHA safety and health regulations have aimed to make the jobsite safer for construction workers everywhere

There are more OSHA regulations than the average construction worker, foreman, or owner could ever possibly memorize, but here are several that stand out due to their everyday-relevance, their importance, and their impact on the health and wellness of the worker. From this list, keep in mind that there are countless other regulations that are important and should be understood fully to ensure employee safety on the job.

  • OSHA 1926.0501 – Duty to have fall protection: When looking at the construction industry as a whole, this is the most common citation issued by OSHA. More than 7,000 citations were issued during 2014 – representing over $20 million in fines levied on construction companies across the US. This is an incredibly high number when you consider that the entire construction industry received $61 million in OSHA-related fines for the year. Of the 794 total deaths in the construction field in 2014, 294 of them were from falls. This accounts for nearly 37% of the total death rate, and is an indicator that this regulation is absolutely crucial to abide by.
  • OSHA 1926.1053 – Ladder safety: It is no surprise that ladders are one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment that can be used on the job site today. Improper ladder use can result in dangerous or deadly falls, and ladders that are placed within reach of electrical wires or power lines can pose a deadly electrocution risk for construction workers who fail to use a ladder properly. More than $4 million in fines was delivered to construction companies during the year 2014 – representing about 7% of the total penalties issued by OSHA. Ladder safety is of paramount importance for any type of construction company.
  • OSHA 1926.0503 – Training Requirements: The requirements are simple – construction industry employees must be trained on how to properly use the entire range of equipment they may encounter. They must also understand and execute proper activities when it comes to the management and handling of dangerous or hazardous materials. Employees must use proper safety equipment, keep ladder safety in mind, and abide by the general job site safety guidelines as imposed by OSHA. Ten and thirty hour courses are available that will help new or existing employees understand these important safety requirements.
  • OSHA 1926.1101 – Asbestos Safety: Though the incidence of violation is much lower than say, ladder safety or fall protection concerns, workers who are exposed to asbestos may place themselves in harm’s way without ever knowing it. This important OSHA regulation must be fully understood – and the only way to truly do so is to enact the services of a reputable asbestos-related organization to provide training services. While the violations are fewer than other major construction-related concerns, the penalties are severe. More than $2 million in fines was levied last year alone for asbestos related violations.

To keep your employees safe, healthy, and productive on the job site, make sure that you partner with a leader in the construction-safety field to provide sufficient training for your valued employees. You’ll take pride in knowing that your team members are safe and happy at work, and you’ll protect your business from the devastating financial consequences of non-compliance with OSHA regulations.

 

OSHA must-have certifications for construction companies

Construction companies must comply with OSHA regulations – but which certifications are the most vital to obtain today?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded in 1970 and was constructed around a framework of accountability, conformity, rigorous standards, and educational requirements for licensed contractors and other industry types. A massive book of codes, regulations, and laws help drive OSHA’s mission forward and keep workers – throughout a variety of industries, safe and protected. Construction companies today must abide by OSHA regulations, and should obtain several key certifications to ensure that the business is operating in full compliance with all necessary safety protocols. The following five certifications are considered vital for any construction company today:

  • OSHA 1926.1101 – This certification delivers a comprehensive overview of the safe methods of handling and working around asbestos-laden products or materials. Even if the construction company isn’t in the business of asbestos abatement or encapsulation, the odds of interacting with potentially dangerous asbestos is quite high during the course of the workday. This course will teach company employees how to safely demolish existing buildings that may contain asbestos, to encapsulate existing asbestos-containing materials, and how to install new components that may contain asbestos. The rules and regulations – as well as best practices, for cleaning up asbestos spills and contaminations is also reinforced. This certification is absolutely vital for any construction company today and will help protect workers who will inevitably interact with asbestos fibers at some point in their careers.
  • OSHA 1926.62 – Occupational exposure to lead is a real concern for construction workers today, and classes that help train and guide those who work in the construction field should focus on how to minimize the potentially dangerous effects of lead exposure. This includes irritation or injury related to exposure to lead arsenate, lead azide, and more. A competent training authority will help instill best practices that will help keep workers safe and minimize any dangers of lead poisoning or irritation.
  • OSHA 1910.10 – This OSHA regulation covers the safe identification, handling, and disposition of a variety of hazardous materials. The concern for safety of construction workers is real – and OSHA compliance in this area is crucial. A reputable training authority will help deliver the proper information and real-world examples of how to gauge the level of hazmat exposure at the job site, as well as how to effectively and safely clean up hazardous materials when given contracts to do so. The course will also cover how to safely store hazardous materials and how to react appropriately if a hazmat spill occurs.
  • OSHA 10 and 30 hour certifications – The ten hour course is ideally suited to construction workers across a variety of trades, as it delivers a comprehensive and broad-reaching overview of basic safety guidelines and best practices. The thirty hour course is tailored to those who may find themselves in a supervisory role within a construction company and delivers a more in-depth look at OSHA-regulated safety concerns within the industry. Both of these courses should be a mandatory part of any construction firm’s basic educational requirements for new or existing workers.

Training and safety awareness are two critical pieces to ensuring overall occupation safety for construction workers today. From asbestos awareness to lead exposure guidelines, hazardous materials handling to general safety regulations – make sure that you partner with an organization experienced with OSHA training that can help guide your employees to make the safe choice, every time!

 

Asbestos Management and Removal

Managing asbestos at home or at the workplace involves more than simply hiring a company to “scrape out the bad stuff”

Those who have ever had to manage asbestos-related concerns at the workplace or at home know one thing for certain – it is best to leave the entire process to the professionals. While the majority of Americans will go their entire lives without having to concern themselves with the removal or mitigation of asbestos, there is a percentage of the population who will have to confront this toxic substance at some point. The safety and wellness risks are far too great to simply ignore this dangerous compound, and the symptoms of mesothelioma, lung cancer, pulmonary issues, and more can take decades to surface. Once they do, though, it is an extremely difficult battle to fight. Asbestos management and removal must involve a professional organization – one that has been trained and certified to complete the work safely and effectively.

To begin with, hire an experienced company that can help diagnose any potential asbestos-related concerns at work or at home. Unless you have received dedicated training on the subject, there are few visible ways to verify safety when it comes to asbestos. These professionals will be able to identify more than just asbestos-infused building components – they’ll also be able to ascertain the existing condition of the structure and make a determination as to whether or not airborne asbestos fibers are present. Your building might receive a clean bill of health, or it might require abatement or mitigation procedures to minimize the health risks associated with asbestos. An important side note is to hire a company that specializes in inspections, then call upon a different company to complete the actual work – if any is needed. This helps to eliminate any conflicts of interest when it comes to the severity of the asbestos contamination.

If a determination is made that asbestos is a problem, your contractor will typically recommend one of the following courses of action:

  • Removal – this is the most invasive and expensive option, so your hired professional must exhaust all other options before recommending total asbestos removal. If it is necessary, removal must always be conducted by a professional organization that is licensed and trained to complete this dangerous work. One bright side to spending the money on full removal of asbestos – the risk is completely eliminated!
  • Encapsulation – Asbestos is only dangerous when the fibers are inhaled. Therefore, asbestos that is sealed away presents virtually zero risk unless it is disturbed. If fraying asbestos-laden insulation is found by an inspector, he or she may suggest simply encapsulating it to prevent the fibers from escaping and potentially causing harm. A special resin is often used to keep the asbestos locked together.
  • Enclosed – If encapsulation isn’t going to be effective, and total asbestos removal isn’t feasible, a dedicated enclosure can be built that will keep any and all dangerous contents safely locked away. This is an economical and effective alternative to removing the asbestos, and can be completed quickly by an appropriately trained team of technicians.

Managing asbestos and making the proper determination as to whether to remove, encapsulate, or enclose potentially harmful asbestos fibers, is an important consideration to make. Leave it up to a professional organization that has the reputation and experience to get the job done right.

 

Where is Asbestos Found?

Asbestos is used in more than 3,000 products available on the market today – but what are the most common applications?

Asbestos is harmful to humans. Basic scientific research over the past century has uncovered the fact that asbestos is a highly toxic, naturally occurring substance that should be avoided – or mitigated, at all costs. It has been linked to thousands of deaths, many of them due to mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis, or other respiratory concerns. Asbestos has been used for thousands of years to reinforce, strengthen, and improve a variety of tools and implements and has literally been poisoning human-kind for generations. It is important to recognize the most common historical applications for asbestos and to clarify where asbestos can be found – all to help minimize the risks to the general public.
While asbestos is a substance that is found in abundance throughout the world, it is incredibly dangerous. Most asbestos mines around the world have been shuttered due to contemporary evidence that points to asbestos as a leading cause of mesothelioma and other health concerns. While China, Russia, and Brazil still mine asbestos with abandon, the majority of nations have passed legislation and building codes that prohibit any unregulated interaction with asbestos. Simply put, asbestos is still prevalent in many structures across the US (and the rest of the world), and the removal of it requires specialized training and a cautious approach to this deadly substance.

Asbestos is found in a variety of places today – but the top ten most common applications for asbestos are listed below:

1. Pipe insulation
2. Wall insulation
3. Wall or ceiling panels
4. Roofing materials
5. Spackling or joint compound materials
6. Brake pads
7. Cement
8. Floor tiles
9. Household items that required heat-resistance
10. Fire doors or furnaces

Asbestos, in a variety of forms, has been used in both civilian and military applications over the years as an insulator, a strengthening material, and as sound deadening. More mundane applications have been in automotive parts – like brake pads (ever heard of Raybestos?), brake shoes, and filters. Today, asbestos may be found in older buildings, where it was likely used in a variety of applications from floor to ceiling. Asbestos was used in the manufacture of vinyl floor tiles, vinyl sheeting, and related adhesives, and as an insulator for under floor pipes and ductwork. Moving higher up the building, asbestos is commonly found in old drywall and joint compound, where it added significant strength and the ideal combination of flexibility and rigidity to withstand shifting foundations. Old residential buildings or commercial locations may contain asbestos-laden countertops or room siding, as the additive dramatically increased heat tolerance in these areas. Looking up to the roof, asbestos was often integrated into roofing shingles, roof felt, sealing tar, and home or building siding. Many electrical wires and hard metal pipes were wrapped or sprayed with asbestos-based insulation, meaning that it is nearly impossible to avoid asbestos in older buildings.

Professionals with High Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can injure a wide range of working professionals – and it’s more than just asbestos abatement specialists who must remain vigilant.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, more than 75 different groups or trades have actively exposed workers to unsafe levels of asbestos over the past century. While great pains have been taken to limit the dangers of asbestos exposure, there are still those today who are afflicted with mesothelioma, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and other ailments as a direct result of asbestos exposure. There are several basic groups to consider when determining which professionals may be at a high risk for asbestos exposure. Those who actively mitigate old asbestos on a daily basis are susceptible to exposure, while those who simply work in buildings that are older than normal may find themselves at risk. Not surprisingly, older areas tend to find higher levels of asbestos exposure, as the majority of buildings may contain dangerous levels of uncontained asbestos. The chart below shows how malignant mesothelioma fatality levels (often an indicator of unsafe asbestos exposure) vary across the US:

The following trades today tend to present a higher than average risk of asbestos exposure than other lines of work:
Airplane mechanics – Though most modern airplanes use mainly asbestos-free components, modern brake pads may still contain asbestos fibers that can be quite harmful if ingested. Mechanics should wear respirators if replacing brake pads or working on brake-related components.

  • Construction workers – While you might think that those in the construction field would have advanced training and an intimate working knowledge of asbestos-related safety practices and protocols, the majority simply do not. That, coupled with the fact that only a small percentage of construction workers actually want to become asbestos-removal techs or experts, and you have a recipe for disaster unless regimented training is introduced. Asbestos can be found in hundreds of products and locations that construction workers face on a daily basis – so these workers must be trained to identify and interact effectively with asbestos.
  • Electricians – One group that is most often affected (usually unknowingly) today is electricians. These hard-working individuals work tirelessly to ensure that we have safe and compliant electrical services whenever we want. In order to maintain and repair existing electrical components, though, electricians often have to work among old, asbestos-laden parts and materials. The exposure is often severe, and the symptoms can take years to present.
  • Firefighters – Though you may think that firefighters approach nearly any dangerous situation with the appropriate protective gear at all times, there are countless instances when our fire-battling heroes find themselves in situations where asbestos-packed buildings are literally falling down around them. Asbestos that is exposed to heat may rapidly release harmful fibers and firefighters don’t always wear respirators.
  • HVAC repair technicians – While modern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning components are largely asbestos-free, most HVAC repair personnel must work within close proximity to old sources of asbestos. Disturbing existing insulation or HVAC components can release incredibly toxic levels of asbestos fibers – yet symptoms may take ten or more years to present themselves. The 270,000+ HVAC techs across the US must take special precautions when working in tight spaces and within old structures.
  • Teachers – How can it be that teachers are at a great risk of asbestos exposure? The answer lies within the aging network of schools across the US. According to the US Department of Education, the average age of a public school in the United States is more than 42 years old. In the Northeast region of the US the average age is over 50 years. This corresponds to the increase in building during the end of the Baby Boomer Generation, and it also means that many schools were built when asbestos was prevalent. Teachers may be at risk when simply interacting with the normal facilities at the school.

There are some trades, like mining or asbestos removal, that can be quite hazardous when under-trained individuals are involved. While most asbestos mining has ceased around the world (China, Russia, and Brazil are still actively involved), taconite and vermiculite mining is still going strong, and these mines can easily see contamination by asbestos. In fact, the town of Libby, Montana is one of the most prevalent examples of this phenomenon – more than 1,000 individuals have gotten sick or passed away due to asbestos contamination, all from vermiculite mining activities. If you feel like you are at risk of asbestos-related injury, contact an asbestos specialist today to investigate your options.

How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace

Managing asbestos in the workplace doesn’t have to be difficult – just rely on a reputable and certified firm to inspect or mitigate any problem areas.

Just when you feel like you have been given too much to handle as the leader of your place of business, remember – you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your staff when they are at work, too! While the majority of safety concerns at work revolve around sprains, strains, paper cuts, and neck-aches, one key element to ensuring that your team mates are safe on the job is the evaluation of the potential for asbestos exposure. Most buildings that were constructed in the past thirty years or so pose little risk of exposing occupants to dangerous levels of asbestos fibers, but the vast majority of commercial sites and public buildings can trace their construction back far more than thirty years. This means that asbestos exposure is a real concern at the workplace, and appropriate measures must be taken to keep employees and contractors safe.

First, there is no simple way for the average person to tell whether their workplace is asbestos-free, or poses no real asbestos risk. This is an area in which a trained expert must be called on to identify the tell-tale signs. Your inspector will establish the age of the building, the heating source installed (many heating units – furnaces, boilers, etc., used asbestos gaskets and insulators), and the general condition of the pipe and wire insulation. The roofing material will be inspected, as well as the current state of repair of drywall, floor tiles, and other critical building materials. An important consideration to make is to hire an asbestos inspector who will not be used to make any potential repairs. This eliminates the conflict of interest that may occur when hiring a contractor to both inspect and conduct repairs.
Keep in mind that asbestos is only really harmful when loose fibers are inhaled. Asbestos doesn’t emit any toxins, rather – the miniscule fibers themselves can get inhaled quite easily and can cause a host of serious health concerns. Asbestos mitigation experts can seal asbestos-laden materials to prevent future contamination, or they can remove the asbestos-based components and replace them with safer, more contemporary parts. Make sure that you do all that you can to keep your employees and visitors safe by contacting a company that is well-versed in analyzing the severity of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Then, contract for asbestos mitigation or removal if the levels are too high and you’ll feel good knowing that you’re protecting those around you.

What is Asbestos?

Commonly known as a dangerous substance, most individuals don’t realize that asbestos is found in nature.

Ask most individuals on the street today to describe asbestos or to provide insight into its characteristics, properties, or even what it simply looks like, and they’ll likely deliver a blank stare. Asbestos is a substance that is known worldwide to be harmful and hazardous to one’s health – and it is also known to be all too prevalent in older buildings, structures, and vessels around the globe. Asbestos, in its natural form, is a blend of six silicate minerals that present themselves in long, fibrous crystals. In fact, asbestos crystals are generally twenty times longer than they are wide, which lends incredible tensile strength and excellent insulating properties to a range of applications. Most asbestos is categorized according to its color – “white asbestos,” “blue asbestos,” and more.

Asbestos isn’t a new substance, though – there are records of the Ancient Romans using asbestos to reinforce pots, pans, and other cooking vessels, as well as for insulation and to create protective cloths for cooking and cleaning. There are several historical accounts of individuals throwing asbestos-fiber cloths into a roaring fire and then retrieving them after the fire was extinguished. The cloths survived – much to the amazement of everyone who witnessed the feat. So miraculous were these demonstrations that many thought that asbestos was actually the fur or hide of a mythical animal that was born of fire and could only be killed when exposed to water. Today, we know that asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance that has been mined throughout the world. We also understand that asbestos is incredibly hazardous to humans and has been banned for use in most developed countries.

While it has been decades since asbestos was actively mined in the United States, some nations continue to use asbestos as an insulating and strengthening material. This means that active mines are in place across the world, and that miners are being exposed to this carcinogenic substance on a daily basis. Russia, China, and Brazil are three massive nations that continue to mine asbestos, while Canada just closed its last two asbestos mines in 2011. Workers who are exposed to asbestos – whether through mining operations or during the normal course of interacting with asbestos-laden products, tend to experience serious health concerns after just a few years of exposure. Mesothelioma and pulmonary fibrosis are two serious illnesses that have been linked to prolonged asbestos exposure, and asbestos-related cases have emerged as the most costly legal proceedings in US history.
Asbestos abatement is serious business, and those who are tasked with working near asbestos or removing it altogether must understand the key safety requirements that must be followed in order to mitigate the health risks. For more information on asbestos-related training, contact the leader in the field – TheAsbestosInstitute.com.

 

An Update on EPA and the Fibers Program

As many of you know, EPA has had to minimize many of their programs because of cuts to the 2013 budget. The TSCA Asbestos Program (AHERA, MAP and the asbestos ban) is one of the items that will no longer be maintained at the federal level. Below is their official announcement to this effect. This does not mean that the law or regulations will go away. It means that federal EPA will no longer be active in administrating the program.

However, even though EPA Headquarters is bowing out of the program, they have essentially left it up to the various regions on how it will be handled at the regional level. Region 9 has chosen to proceed with “business as usual”, at least for the time being (2013). Our Regional Asbestos Coordinator, Ron Tsuchiya, will remain in place and active. He has recently finished a canvas of schools in California’s central valley area, and is currently working on violations there. He has also planned an inspection trip to Arizona in the coming year to target AHERA compliance in schools here.

Please read the federal EPA announcement below. If you have questions, please feel free to call The Asbestos Institute at 602-864-6564.

Launch of the Asbestos Resource Directory

Lynn Vendinello to: Regional Asbestos Coordinators 11/14/2012 11:56 AM

New OSHA website provides Information on preventing backover incidents in construction

OSHA backover incidents charts

OSHA main page: http://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/backover/index.html

OSHA backover incidents chartsAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. These incidents can be prevented. OSHA has published a new Preventing Backovers webpage that provides information about the hazards of backovers; solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents; articles and resources; and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.

How do backover incidents occur?

Backover accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Drivers may not be able to see a worker in their blind spot. Workers may not hear backup alarms because of other worksite noises or because the alarms are not functioning. A spotter assisting one truck may not see another truck behind him. Workers riding on vehicles may fall off and get backed over. Drivers may assume that the area is clear and not look in the direction of travel. Sometimes, it is unclear why a worker was in the path of a backing vehicle. A combination of factors can also lead to backover incidents.

What can be done to prevent backover incidents?

Many solutions exist to prevent backover incidents. Drivers can use a spotter to help them back up their vehicles. Video cameras with in-vehicle display monitors can give drivers a view of what is behind them. Proximity detection devices, such as radar and sonar, can alert drivers to objects that are behind them. Tag-based systems can inform drivers when other employees are behind the vehicle and can alert employees when they walk near a vehicle equipped to communicate with the tag worn by the employee. On some work sites, employers can create internal traffic control plans, which tell the drivers where to drive and can reduce the need to back up. In some cases, internal traffic control plans can also be used to separate employees on foot from operating equipment.

Training is another tool to prevent backover incidents. Blind spots behind and around vehicles are not immediately obvious to employees on foot. By training employees on where those blind spots are and how to avoid being in them, employers can prevent some backover incidents. One component of this training can include putting employees who will be working around vehicles in the driver’s seat to get a feel for where the blind spots are and what, exactly, the drivers can see. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) several blind spot diagrams that can help explain what drivers of various large trucks can see.