3 Pillars Of Construction Site Safety

safety clothing companyThe construction site is one of the safest dangerous places one can be. Meaning that the hazards are definitely there, but the precautions taken to keep people out of harm’s way are also much higher than many other places. A safety clothing company deals with the personal aspect of this, but there is much more to be aware of.

The precepts of construction site safety have been carefully tailored over a long time. While young people ages 16 to 19 average four missed days of work per injury on average, and people over 65 sustain the fewest injuries, the hazards are still there, lurking around every corner. There are three pillars of safety that tackle the dangers of the construction site at the base level. Let’s take a look at them.

General site safety

A site itself is fraught with danger. Proper fencing off, signage, equipment storage, material disposal, etc. are all parts of having a safe site setting. When project managers focus solely on particular safety aspects, yet neglect to realize that poorly stored supplies or ill-disposed of scraps can be just as inadvertently harmful, they’ve not encompassed the whole picture.

Personal bodily safety

Once a site as a whole is managed safely, the focus should turn to the human beings on the site on a daily basis. Here is where high visibility workwear like orange safety vests, reflective work safety shirts, and all manner of safety uniforms come into play. Workers can wear all the safety clothing in the world, but without consistent training and safety brush-ups on-site awareness, they’re not quite as useful. Keep professional development relevant and regular.

Equipment hazards

Finally, the heavy and light machinery that populates any construction site requires training for safe usage. Only qualified, trained personnel should be working with such equipment. Don’t slack on operational hazards when site, and personal, safety is a risk factor.

Don’t stop with the safety clothing company, really analyze the site of your project and take every factor into account. Because of the differences between sites, there is no safety blueprint transferrable between all construction sites, but beginning with these three pillars will have you starting on the right foot.

Hands Up! Keeping Your Hands Safe From Harm Is More Work Than You Think

reflective pants

In the safety world, we hear a lot of scary statistics like the 4,836 workers killed on the job in 2015. From there, the focus of safety discussions largely keys in on bigger issues in preventing workplace fatalities and other serious, non-fatal injuries.

In the ever-so-stylish wardrobe of safety workwear, we talk of helmets, ear protection, and high visibility reflective pants, jackets, fluorescent vests, and other accessories. It turns out we don’t talk much about a tool we use more than any: our hands. Your reflective pants and orange safety vest aren’t doing much to protect your hands, so let’s look into some hand hazards that’ll give you ample reason to glove up and take care of your digits.

The usual suspects
Cuts, bruises, nicks, scratches, scrapes, and any number of the little pains your hands bear on a daily basis. What these seemingly minor bumps cause is steadily weakened hands, which, over time, will begin to lose the power they once had. Untreated, these minor mishaps can develop into serious injuries and infections that can be altogether avoided by proper hand protection.

Burns
An offshoot of the usual suspects, burns have to be treated with a special level of respect. Thermal, electrical, and chemical burns have devastating power and often cause permanent damage. Both superficial harm and internal nerve damage from burns isn’t something to risk when your gloves can withstand the brunt of a burn.

Repetitive strain
Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are a fact of many jobs. Jobs with both high and low physical intensity are prone to repetitive strain. People in offices develop carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritic wrists/fingers from excessive typing. People using their hands, say, chainsawing develop arm and hand injuries from constant vibration and grip. Hands are some of the most commonly afflicted body parts in RSIs. It’s important that if you’re part of a job that does repetitive motions to take breaks to stretch and relieve that strain.

Keep your whole body safe while working and future you will thank present you. Your hands are used for so many things that they can often go under the radar when it comes to consistent care and safety. Don’t neglect them and it’ll be one of the best body choices you’ll make, hands down.

You’re Hired! Common Sensical Safety Philosophies for New Employees

safety shirts

It’s not shocking to know that injuries happen most under unfamiliar conditions. The last blog post looked into avoidable injuries caused by being too comfortable with your work environment and growing complacent. We’re going to look at what causes the most problems when you’ve just gotten that new job.

A study in Canada showed that freshly hired employees have over three times the risk of sustaining an injury in their first month on the job. Why is this risk so high? We’ve got some ideas that’ll help keep you sharp and safe from the get-go.

You’ve just been hired and are about to start your first day. Now isn’t the time to be prideful, but to watch, listen, and learn. There’s a training period because you don’t know what you’re doing yet. Yes, you were hired for your experience and skill set, but you didn’t have that experience in this new environment, so you must learn new terrain both conceptually and literally. Pride has no place in the learning process.

It’s tough to check pride at the door, but it’s not your job to impress people. Yes, it’s a natural human drive to want to look good for others, but it’s even better to do a job well than with a watch what I can do attitude. Focus your energy on the work, not on observing peoples’ reactions to your work. Remember that you work with a team, so fight the temptation to do things alone. Ask for help. Injury most commonly happens when individuals try to be a one-person team when jobs are meant to be done together.

On top of seeking validation is the penchant to overwork yourself with the goal of looking highly productive. Strain, burnout, and diminished work quality are all results of this perceived image booster. Speaking of image, safety shirts, reflective vests, workwear, and the many different types of safety clothing are there to keep you safe, seen, warm, etc. Start on the right foot by not neglecting these items, they serve an important purpose.

Starting a new job can be intimidating. When you’re joining a new team, make a concerted effort to banish pride, listen and learn, and actively be a part of your workplace microcosm, from wearing your safety shirts to training to happy hour. A threefold cord is not easily broken, so it is concerning keeping safe in a new job. Many hands make light and safe work.

The Rise Of Smart Technology Within The Construction Industry

Keep Reading To Discover Six Pieces Of Tech Enhancing The Construction Industry

Construction is an ever-relevant industry that is constantly evolving. As market demands change, construction professionals adjust their best practices and tools to best meet the needs of their clients. But sometimes technology itself leads the way.

“There’s a lot of buzz these days about drones, 3D printing and robots,” Mike Kavis writes in Forbes. “It’s easy to brush these technologies off as fads or luxuries until you understand some of the use cases that are being applied by integrating these emerging technologies. As each one matures, we are getting much closer to a world where structures can be built completely automated and unmanned.”

While these smart technologies may seem like the works of SciFi movies and futuristic daydreams, we are closer than ever to full implementation of these tools. And for good reason. Much of the latest construction technology is aimed at safety and efficiency. Some of the best industry trends will eventually turn into best practices, building a more sustainable and efficient construction industry for the future.

Construction Safety: A Driver Of Technology

For nearly all of contemporary history, construction has remained one of the most deadly professions in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found in their Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report that there were 937 construction worker deaths in 2015.

And many of these fatalities could have been prevented.

The latest construction inventions can help reduce these dangers. With smart technology, crews can reduce human participation in dangerous inspection and other tasks. This could ensure that the human workers are entering a site only when it is safe to do so, reducing the likelihood of accidents. And then the technology can record this for future reference.

“Inspection recording has always been a good way of helping with the safety of construction sites,” according to Construction Review Online. “Being sure that everything is up to par is key to safety. Technology can specifically help out the inspection recording process in a few different ways. It improves inspectors’ reports through mobile access to project information and provides the full project team instant access to the most up-to-date project data.”

This streamlining of data collection can also save companies money. In fact, the World Economic Forum reports that these new technologies could reduce lifecycle costs of a project by 20%. They will also improve completion time and quality, adding to the prospects of this industry disruption.

“The construction industry is being disrupted and we are still in the very early stages,” Kavis writes. “The rates of innovation in a number of technologies have enabled pioneers in the construction industry to leverage technology to radically change business models for erecting large buildings and structures.”

As these machines go through development, testing, and implementation, we could see a massive shift in the way we view construction safety and efficiency.

6 Pieces Of Tech Enhancing The Construction Industry

So, what exactly are these groundbreaking technologies? While each sector of the industry is developing its own set of impressive gadgets, big and small, there are some that stand out. The following are some of the most significant pieces of tech currently emerging in the construction field.

1.Backup Cameras


As construction vehicles and other pieces of heavy equipment move around a site, it can be difficult for the operator to spot crew members in harm’s way. This makes being struck by vehicles, heavy equipment, and other objects the second leading cause of death among construction workers.
Backup cameras can dramatically reduce this risk. In fact, these small additions provide a 115-degree view behind the vehicle. And as the vehicle moves, the camera records. This provides a concrete piece of evidence in the event of an accident, increasing driver accountability and eliminating reliance on eyewitness accounts.

2. Drones
These flying pieces of tech have taken several industries by storm, offering a bird’s eye view while humans remain safely on the ground. While drones offer stunning images and interesting news footage, they also have useful construction applications. Construction managers can implement this technology to inspect a job site from above, spotting potential hazards and monitoring workers.

This potential has increased the demand for drones in construction and other industries. In fact, a new global report predicts that the demand for these flying wonders in real estate and construction will reach $20.5 billion between 2017 and 2025.

3. Wearables

When it comes to worker safety, clothing plays a significant role. With effective safety clothing and wearables, a worker can be as visible and protected as possible. OSHA identifies the most common causes of injuries and fatalities as four categories: falls, struck-by, electrocution, and caught-in/between.

As industry professionals develop more effective wearables, workers can avoid these accidents. These can include more durable safety vests, custom reflective jackets, hard hats with sensor integration, and wearable GPS systems. These pieces of wearable tech can help workers avoid accidents and can help managers react quickly to remove an employee from a situation.

4. Mobile Apps
Construction? There’s an app for that. Mobile technology has made construction communication and record keeping much simpler than ever before. Tablets and WiFi are becoming more popular on construction sites. Cloud computing also has a growing role in keeping track of important documents.Construction logistics include estimates, invoices, equipment purchasing, design, and data collection from some of the new technologies mentioned above. Mobile apps create an organized place where construction staff and managers can access essential information quickly.

5. Autonomous Tech

Autonomous vehicles and heavy machinery can perform dangerous work without workers being on the ground, as would remote controlled machinery. Companies such as Komatsu and Caterpillar have already developed these technologies, keeping workers out of harm’s way while still getting these dangerous jobs done. Shipping ports around the world are already investing heavily in this tech.

One team in Australia is currently putting these tools into practice. They have 69 autonomous dump trucks on the ground that use GPS technology. A human driver controls the trucks, which reach their destinations more quickly and use less fuel than trucks with human drivers.

6. Virtual Reality
Imagine stepping inside your own design to truly explore its flaws and potential. This takes 3D modeling to a whole new level, allowing architects, engineers, and developers to create their vision on a computer before putting on VR glasses to truly investigate the design.

This technique can be especially useful for highly complex projects, as it allows teams to find errors in the design before construction even begins. This can increase safety and make the building process more efficient. And for construction crews on site, they can use virtual reality helmets to see what they are building as they go.

Yes, the future is here. With the implementation of the above technology, in addition to those that have not even been invented yet, we will see a complete revolution of a time-old industry. From wearable tech to virtual reality, these technologies have the potential to open up a multi-industry solution.

“It’s probably going to take people from outside the construction community, who think completely different than ones who’ve been doing it, and look at the process without any of the hardwired thinking that people who’ve been in the sector can’t help but revert to, and imagine ways of solving problems very differently and generating greater value,” AOL founder and venture capitalist Steve Case said, according to Builder.

This development will involve web developers, construction managers, designers, inventors, and more to create useful and compelling products for a better future. But it will need to be a collaborative process for these technologies to truly take hold in the long run.

By taking this innovation seriously and recruiting the right talent, construction can become a safer and more productive industry with high growth potential. And as with many groundbreaking inventions, it all starts with brilliant ideas that fill a genuine need. From there, construction can continue to drive development for future generations.

Workplace Safety: Choosing the Best Approach for Your Business

According to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 4,836 employees were killed on the job in 2015. And if workplace safety isn’t prioritized, that number can only grow. Safety and health programs are designed to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Additionally, they avert financial hardships that can be caused by these incidents for employees, their families, and the company.

Many safety programs begin very basic and grow along with the company. According to OSHA, when an employer implements a workplace safety program, it can help their business:

  • Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  • Reduce costs, including workers’ compensation premiums
  • Engage workers
  • Enhance social responsibility goals
  • Increase productivity and enhance overall business performance
  • Improve compliance with workplace laws and regulations

The Four Approaches to Workplace Safety

No two businesses are exactly alike, meaning no two workplace safety programs should be exactly alike either. While there is a higher concern for safety in fields like construction and manufacturing due to a higher rate of work-related injuries and illnesses, creating and maintaining a safe work environment should always be on the mind of all employers.

Employers need to use their best judgment when it comes to creating a workplace safety program. A safety program should factor in considerations like the type of work and the number of employers. Luckily, there are a number of ways different approaches that employers can choose from when developing a workplace safety program.

The Reactive Approach

The reactive approach is popular among small, localized companies or those employers who are just getting their business up and running. This approach is often used when employers are unsure of any laws and regulations they need to follow. Because of this, the employer is often only able to respond to a workplace safety incident after it occurs. Companies who practice this approach typically exhibit the following features:

  • Minimally established or nonexistent safety programs
  • Insufficient management participation, which leads employees to thinking they don’t have to follow safety regulations either
  • Lack of value in the program leads to limited funding for an effective safety program

The Static Approach

After the reactive approach, most companies usually move up to the static approach. This approach is used by employers who understand the value of safety in the workplace, but don’t consider it a necessary part of their overall business plan. While they have a workplace safety program in place, it’s often used inconsistently and not fully understood by everybody within the business. The static approach usually includes the following characteristics:

  • Informal safety process, with issues only being discussed regarding a recent accident
  • Management focuses on handling safety incidents as they come up, allocating funds only when necessary
  • Lack of efficiency when it comes to addressing safety concerns

The Active Approach

Unfortunately, it usually takes a history of accidents or surprise OSHA inspections for a company to take a more active approach regarding workplace safety. However, once an employer is invested in workplace safety, it’s usually much easier for them to remain invested and continue to grow their accident prevention program. Employers who take an active approach to workplace safety typically show the following:

  • Expectations that employees will address safety concerns in the workplace
  • Management understands and respects the role of safety and allocates the company budget accordingly
  • Employees are given documentation of safety procedures and are expected to follow the rules and regulations according to the company’s process

The Dynamic Approach

The last, and seemingly most effective, approach exists among companies who are fully invested in creating a safe and productive environment for their employees. Not only do companies who practice the dynamic approach take proper steps to prevent workplace incidents, but also they make workplace safety a priority. These businesses show the following qualities:

  • Safety and accident prevention are considered an essential part of the business, as the employer understands that a safe work environment impacts the overall culture of the company
  • Management makes the discussion of safety issues a regular business practice, along with employee training regarding safety hazards
  • Sufficient funds are allocated to safety initiatives, taking into consideration any needs for safety improvements

What Should My Workplace Safety Program Include?

The effectiveness of workplace safety programs and procedures is indisputable. No matter the approach, any sort of workplace safety program is better than none. But what really makes a health and safety program effective?

Well for starters, the program should show that executive management is truly invested in the program. If employees see management taking proper steps to ensure safety, they’ll be motivated to do the same. Additionally, employees should be involved in the development and growth of workplace safety procedures. Another step to implementing a great safety program is conducting regular, thorough safety inspections of worksites and facilities. Once any hazards or concerns have been identified, it’s important to address them as soon as possible. With that in mind, ongoing monitoring of any hazardous situations is a crucial aspect of safety programs as well. And lastly, continuing to train and educate employees on safety is instrumental in having an effective workplace safety program. In order to have a safe environment, everyone within the company must be committed to creating a hazard-free environment.

So whether you’re just beginning to develop a workplace safety program, or looking to update your current program, it’s important to remember that it all starts with employers. Employers who take action to engage employees and regularly address unsafe conditions will see immense benefits when it comes to decreasing workplace incidents as well as an improvement in the overall culture of the company.

Solving Business Challenges with Safety Software

The benefits of using safety software in your business can go far beyond your EHS department. In a time where paper records and spreadsheets are no longer considered efficient tools, companies of all sizes and industries are leaning toward comprehensive solutions that can boost every area of their company.

Take a look at how safety software is helping organizations overcome challenges throughout their day-to-day operations:

Conquering Big Data Challenges
Whether you know it or not, your business collects a wealth of data that can be used to make improvements to how you operate. But many companies find themselves struggling to tap into their data in a streamlined, efficient way. Without this, you risk overlooking crucial pieces to your data puzzle that could mislead the rest of your findings.

Combing through mounds of paper records or poring through spreadsheets for data nuggets is hardly time or cost efficient, not to mention the extra time it takes to transform that data into actionable insights.

Having the right safety software on your back end can help tremendously with the data efficiency on your front end. By using one central management system to collect and store reports—like workplace incidents—users are better able to find correlations between various data pieces.

As a result, you get enhanced searchability that helps you find what you need when you need it, as well as an effective way to crunch your data into bite-sized nuggets that mean something. The time savings alone could more than justify the initial cost of getting started.

Promoting a Safety Culture
A safety culture doesn’t just happen. It’s not a priority for most people unless you make it a priority and show others why they should, too. Your employees are busy working and may not always be conscious of the hazards surrounding them.

Truthfully, they should always know what’s happening around them, regardless of how engaged they are in their work. And the more you promote a safety culture of accountability, the better chance you have of ensuring your team will take safety as seriously as you do.

Safety software plays a key role in fostering a safety culture. For example, if a worker spots a hazard, they may not know how to fix it or report to someone who can help, which means they might ignore it or forget about it. However, if you’ve taken care to implement safety observation reporting, your team members will know immediately how to handle every safety issue, even if they don’t have the skills or know-how to fix it themselves.

Dispersing Information
If you’re still relying on office memos or bulletin boards to communicate important safety information, you’re missing a huge opportunity to boost your safety culture. Granted, at one time these forms of communication served their purposes, but that was back when there was no other way. And even then, unless you collected a signed acknowledgment that everyone read and understood your memo, you had no way of knowing if and how your message was received. As previously mentioned, a strong safety culture takes careful, ongoing efforts to establish.

Rather, using your safety software to share important information and updates can ensure you’re getting through to the right people. Continuous communication, automated alerts, follow-ups, and feedback are what will take your safety culture to the top. Managing these from one main platform not only makes it streamlined for your leadership, but can also help you hold your people accountable.

Visit EHS Insight to discover how software can help you accomplish your health and safety challenges.

Byline:

EHS Insight Staff

EHS Insight, a StarTex Software brand, is the world’s most flexible, powerful, easy to use environmental, health and safety software. Since 2009, the team at EHS Insight have been on a mission to make the world a better place. Today, more than a hundred thousand users in more than 45 countries rely on EHS Insight software, services and support to transform the way they work and to lower the environmental impact of their operations.

Designing and Implementing a Workplace Safety Program

A well-thought out and implemented workplace safety training program has benefits far beyond a reduction in workplace injuries. With fewer injuries comes fewer worker’s compensation claims, meaning less paperwork and lower insurance premiums. Worker morale improves in a safe environment and workplace productive increases.

These are all excellent reasons for establishing your own training program, even without the many legal reasons for doing so. Building a program from scratch, however, can seem overwhelming. While it requires a significant time commitment, creating a safety training program follows the same simple steps whether you’re work environment is a small manufacturing plant, a software developing company, or a large construction site.

Determine Your Needs
Safety training doesn’t negate all workplace hazards. If fact, some safety threats cannot be addressed with training. Your first task, then, is to determine the cause of your workplace safety issues.

Training is the best solution when accidents can be traced to employees lacking knowledge of safety procedures and equipment usage. If accidents occur due to a physical flaw in the work environment, training is less likely make a difference. Instead, alterations to the physical environment may solve your problem.

Lack of motivation and employee attitudes can also contribute to accidents. To combat these issues, a shift in workplace culture is needed. Training can be part of that shift, but the larger issues causing your employees’ negative outlooks will need to be addressed.

The Job Hazard Analysis
Training must accurately address the specific threats your employees face. A job hazard analysis is the best method of determining these threats and any gaps in employee knowledge employees have related to specific tasks.

Job hazard analysis documents every step in every task your employees complete, identifying all possible hazards at each step towards task completion. The resulting document or spreadsheet provides a valuable foundation for safety training, clearly showing where employees have safety issues or knowledge gaps—gaps you can prioritize in your safety training.

Completing a job hazard analysis has another advantage: it introduces your employees to your new culture of safety. Involve workers in the process. Ask them questions, and listen to their safety concerns. Keeping employees motivated and interested is a vital part of any safety training program.

Developing Training Materials
How you present training materials—and indeed the form such training takes—depends on your workplace, your employees, and the type of safety issues you face. If you’re training a construction crew on the proper use of fall protection, your training materials might assume a large audience. Reviewing the proper steps for use of a highly specific piece of equipment, in contrast, may require one-on-one training.

Who presents the training is also an issue. For relatively simple procedures, you or your company’s supervisors may be perfectly capable instructors. In other cases, outside instructors may be a better choice.

No matter what type of material and presentation methods you choose, training should apply to specific jobs or circumstances, using lessons that mirror the step-by-step nature of the job process being reviewed.

The best training includes opportunity for employers to demonstrate and practice safety skills during and after training. Providing an overview at the end of training helps employees retain information.

Training Sessions
At this stage, you can schedule training sessions. Whether you run training in-house or hire outside consultants, be clear about the following facts:

• Your workplace has a zero incident goal. Suggesting anything else leaves your workers with the belief you consider some accidents (and the pain they cause) “acceptable losses.”
• Safety is everyone’s concern. The more you get employees involved in the process, the more likely training will translate into a safer worksite.
• Employees are as responsible for safety as management. For instance, your responsibilities may include purchasing personal protective equipment and training employees in their use. It is the responsibility of the individual employee to wear that protection.

As noted above, present information in an organized manner clearly related to employee tasks. When possible, provide real-life examples. Encourage discussion and participation during and after training, and follow up in the coming days to reinforce new skills and information.

Evaluate Your Results
Determining how effective training was can be accomplished in a number of ways. In the days following training sessions, ask employees for feedback, either through discussions or a short survey.

Periodically check in with supervisors and ask if employee behavior changed after training. Supervisors are often the first to notice any positive outcome. The ultimate test of training success, however, can be found in long-term safety data. If incident rates or “near miss” reports drop, your training has been successful.

Continuous Improvement
Whether or not your initial training resulted in positive change, you’ll need to update and change your training program in response to new developments. Safety is not static—new employees, changes in equipment, and other variables can change how and when you train.

Revisit your safety program often. Was the training effective? Could you improve the program with changes to presentations or teaching techniques? Return to your job hazard analysis and look for gaps in the training, filling them in as you discover them. Your safety program will change over time, but once you have one in place, it’s only a matter of fine-tuning the process.

A culture of safety doesn’t develop overnight, but with careful analysis, employee involvement, and an eye to avoiding problems before they happen, you can keep your workplace as accident-free as possible.

Understanding Work-Related Hearing Loss

Understanding Work-Related Hearing Loss

Hearing is a gift most people accept without question. And because we take them for granted, we rarely realize how badly we abuse our eardrums. Until, that is, they no long work as well as they once did.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), twenty-two million American workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise levels every year. In 2007, approximately 23,000 new cases of noise-related workplace injuries resulted in hearing impairment. Eighty-two percent of such cases were in the manufacturing industry, but excessive noise is a common complaint across multiple industries.

Traumatic noise accounts for only a small number of hearing injuries. More often, the damage is a gradual event, developing over extended contact with high decibel levels. The most damage occurs in the first decade of exposure, so new workers are especially vulnerable to hearing loss.

How Much is too Much?

NIOSH recommends limiting work-related noise exposure no more than eighty-five decibels for eight hours. The louder the noise, the less time your workers should be exposed to it. As a general rule, for every three decibels over eighty-five, half the amount of maximum exposure time. The US Occupational Health and Safety Administration guidelines are given below:

Decibel Level Maximum Exposure, in Hours
90 dB 8 hrs.
92 dB 6 hrs.
95 dB 4 hrs.
97 dB 3 hrs.
100 dB 2 hrs.
102 dB 1.5 hrs.
110 dB 0.5 hrs.
115 dB or more 0.25 hrs. or less.

Decibel Examples

Simply listing decibel levels doesn’t provide much frame of reference for most people. The following are real-life work examples:

  • Normal Conversation: 55 dB
  • Newspaper press: 95 dB
  • Hand drill: 98 dB
  • Textile loom: 103 dB
  • Pneumatic chipper (at a distance of three feet): 115 dB
  • Hand-held circular saw (at a distance of three feet): 115 dB
  • Sandblasting: 115 dB
  • Pneumatic riveter (at a distance of four feet): 125 dB
  • Jet engine (at 100’): 140 dB.

Physical pain produced by noise begins at levels of 125 dB. At levels in excess of 140 dB, even short-term exposure causes permanent hearing impairment.

Preventing Hearing Loss

As with most safety issues, prevention is by far the most effective means of dealing with excessive noise levels. Ideally, the threat can be neutralized through engineering or administrative changes. This often proves impractical, however, so some type of hearing protection is usually required.

Once a noise source is identified, it’s important to measure the decibel level. You’ll need this information to determine which ear protection product is most appropriate for the environment. In terms of the type of ear protection, you have three basic choices:

  • Earplugs may be premolded or made from moldable foam, and block the ear canal. Cheap and economical, ear plugs are available in both disposable and reusable styles.
  • Semi-Insert Earplugs are made of two plugs held over the end of the ears by a rigid headband.
  • Ear Muffs are made of sound dampening materials. The inner material is a soft cushion fitted around the ear, supported by hard outer shells, and held together by a headband. Note: radio headsets are not a substitute for ear muffs.

Employees must be educated in the proper and consistent use of hearing protection. Ill-fitting protection, or protection only worn part-time, will be of greatly reduced effectiveness.

All hearing protection is given a noise reduction rating (NRR) by the manufacturer. An item’s NRR is determined under controlled lab conditions. When choosing hearing protection for real world applications, NIOSH recommends subtracting the following rates from NRRs:

  • Ear Muffs: subtract 25 percent
  • Formable earplugs: subtract 50 percent
  • All other earplugs: subtract 70 percent.

Working with these reduced NRRs gives you a more conservative notion of the product’s ability to protect hearing, which takes into account variations in noise levels throughout the work day.

Traffic Safety for Workers

Traffic Safety for Workers

According to the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, 87,606 vehicle crashes occurred in work zones in 2010. Of these crashes, 30 percent caused injury, and 0.6 percent were fatal.

If the number of fatalities due to work-related vehicle accidents is low, it’s due to stringent traffic safety requirements in the workplace. With adequate planning, proper safety gear, and high-visibility clothing, it’s possible to minimize your risk of on-site traffic crashes.

Traffic Control Plans

Worksites require traffic control plans so all workers—on foot, driving, or operating heavy machinery—understand established traffic patterns and the location of traffic lanes. The traffic control zone’s characteristics depend on the overseeing authority, whether federal, state-level, or local, but in general, certain safeguards are required:

  • Traffic lanes in the workplace must be wide enough to accommodate the widest piece of driven equipment and cargo.
  • Personnel safety zones must be provided on each side of the traffic lane.
  • Standard highway signs (yield, stop, etc.) make understanding of control routes easier for on-foot workers, drivers, and heavy equipment operators. This holds as true for internal worksites as for on-road work zones.
  • When hauling equipment, drivers should be able to deliver cargo without crossing traffic lanes, and be able to align cargo directly under cranes (when applicable).
  • All drivers, operators, and on-foot workers should know the location of traffic blind spots.
  • Should on-foot workers need to access traffic lanes, proper planning and precautions are essential.

High Visibility Clothing

On-foot workers working in close proximity to traffic lanes or heavy equipment must wear appropriate safety gear. Depending on the work environment this means the use of Class I, III, or III ANSI-approved high visibility clothing.

Class I clothing is intended for workers who can perform tasks while maintaining their awareness of approaching traffic in locations where the worker is separated from traffic and vehicles travel at speeds below 25 mph. Class I hi-vis safety gear is appropriate for warehouse workers, shopping cart retrievers, delivery truck drivers, and similar occupations.

Class II high visibility clothing offers increased visibility for employees working in inclement weather, in conditions where traffic travels at 25 mph or more, and where completion of assigned tasks may distract workers from oncoming traffic. Class II is required for roadway construction, utility workers, surveyors, and emergency responders.

Class III hi-vis safety gear provides the maximum visibility for workers in imminent danger from traffic, and required in any circumstance where the wear must be visible from at least 1,280 feet. Class III clothing may be used for the same type of jobs as Class II gear, and for flaggers.

Flaggers

One of the most dangerous jobs when dealing with oncoming traffic, flaggers must be trained in the signaling methods demanded by the worksite’s overseeing authority. As noted above, Class III high visibility safety gear is required for flaggers, and oncoming drivers should be alerted to the presence of flaggers in advance.

Lighting

Proper lighting greatly reduces the risk of traffic-related accidents on worksites. This is especially true at night. Flaggers and flagging stations must be adequately illuminated, as should workers on foot and equipment operators. In cases of insufficient lighting, flares, chemical lights, and similar safety gear must be used.

Workplace traffic safety is, ultimately, a matter of careful planning, training, and worker compliance. With adequate preparation, you can minimize your risk of on-site crashes.

Workplace Safety Terms Glossary

Workplace Safety Terms Glossary

Acute Toxicity: The negative effects of ingestion or skin contact with a single dose of a substance, or multiple doses over a period of twenty-four hours, or inhalation exposure of a period of four hours or more. All forms of acute toxicity are considered a health hazard by OSHA.

Aerosol: A solid or liquid particulate, such as paint spray, smoke, or chemical clouds which can remain suspended in air.

ANSI: The American National Standards Institute coordinates the various voluntary standards established by trade, technical, consumer, and professional groups.

Autoignition Temperature: The lowest temperature at which a substance ignites and sustains combustion in the absence of an ignition source.

Blood Agents: Chemicals that can enter the blood and deprive the body of oxygen.

BLS: The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains databases on employee hazards and injuries as part of its larger mission to monitor national and international labor markets.

Boiling Point: The temperature needed for a liquid to become a gas.

Carcinogen: Any substance or combination of substances known to increase the risk of cancer.

Catalyst: Any chemical that changes the reaction between two chemicals without affecting the catalyst.

Ceiling: The concentration of a given chemical or substance that should not be exceeded for working exposure.

Chronic: A negative health effect with symptoms which either recur frequently or develop over time, usually due to long-term exposure.

Compliance: Meeting all requirements of the law for workplace safety.

CAS Number: An identification number used by the Chemical Abstracts Service of the American Chemical Society for chemical identification and information retrieval.

CFR: The Code of Federal Regulations is a collection of rules and regulations developed by government agencies. The CFR includes OSHA regulations (29 CFR), EPA regulations (40 R) and Department of Transportation regulations (49 CR).

CPC: Chemical Protective Clothing designed to protect against specific chemical actions. CPC items may resist chemical permeation, penetration, or degradation.

Corrosive: Any substance capable of destroying skin tissue.

Cutaneous Hazards: Any substance capable of causing rashes, irritation or defatting of the skin’s dermal layer.

Degradation: Damage caused to a piece of chemical protective clothing when exposed to chemicals. Includes softening, hardening, partial or full destruction of the item.

 Hazard Category: A measurement of a substance’s hazard potential and severity.

 Hazard Class: Describes the physical or health hazards associated with particulate substances.

 Hazard not otherwise classified: Any substance posing a health hazard that does not meet the criteria for other hazard classes.

 Hazard Statement: A description of the nature of a hazard assigned to its hazard class and category.

 HMIS: The Hazardous Materials Identification System provides a comprehensive overview for working with hazardous materials, including labeling, safety training, and assessing hazard risks.

Ingestion: When chemicals enter the body orally. May have effects throughout the gastrointestinal system or enter the bloodstream.

Inhalation: Exposure to chemicals through the respiratory system. May have effects in the lungs or be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Inhibitor: Any chemical added to a substance to prevent an unwanted chemical reaction.

 Irritant: Any chemical capable of causing reversible damage to the skin.

 Job Hazard Analysis: The assessment of a job to determine potential hazards and improve safety by establishing safety protocols and appropriate protective equipment.

LC50: Lethal concentration 50 data provides an assessment of a substance’s danger as an inhaled substance, and refers to the airborne concentration of a toxin necessary to kill 50 percent of test animals under controlled testing.

LD50: Lethal dose 50 is a measurement of the amount of a toxin that causes the death of half of a test animal population upon controlled exposure. LD50 data may evaluate ingestion or skin contact.

Medical Surveillance: Used when working with chemicals where OSHA requires regular medical checks to ensure employees are working within acceptable limits.

Mutagen: Any substance capable of causing genetic mutations.

Nephrotoxins: Any substance capable of damaging the kidneys.

Neurotoxins: Substances which have toxic effects on the central nervous system.

PEL: The Permissible Exposure Limit measures the maximum air contamination workers can be exposed to that does not cause adverse effects.

Penetration: The ability of a substances to pass through openings in protective material.

Permeation: The passage of chemicals through protective clothing at a molecular level, increasing the risk of skin contact.

Pyrophoric: An adjective used to describe a liquid, gas, or solid likely to ignite either spontaneously or within five minutes exposure to air.

RTECS: The Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances provides data on the toxicity of over 50,000 chemical hazards.

Reactive: Used to describe substances capable of undergoing chemical changes under specific conditions, either in a pure form, during production, or during transportation.

Reproductive Toxins: Chemicals with negative effects on fertility, sexual function, or fetal development.

Right to Know: An term applied to a variety of laws designed to ensure employees, emergency personnel, and the larger community understand the workplace’s hazards.

STEL: Short Term Exposure Limits measure the amount of exposure to a chemical which cannot be exceeded in a single work day.

TLV: Threshold Limit Values are recommended exposure values designed for worker protection.