Sanitizer Storage: March 2021 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: I have a lot of alcohol-based hand sanitizer on hand, due to the pandemic. Is there anything special about storage or placement of dispensers that I should know?

Answer: Yes, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is greater than 20% alcohol falls under a Class 1B flammable liquid according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Here are some requirements to consider:

  • Individual dispensers located in a hallway must be 0.5 gallons or less (no gallon jugs).
  • Dispensers must be installed at least 1 inch away from electrical receptacles and light switches and must be separated from another dispenser by at least 4 feet horizontally.
  • Dispensers must not be installed above carpeted floors, unless the area is sprinklered.
  • Automatic dispensers (touch free) are required to be tested each time they are refilled, can only activate when the object is within 4 inches of the dispenser and will only dispense the amount required as determined by the United States FDA.
  • The Ohio Fire Code requires the storage of more than 10 gallons in a flammable liquid cabinet or flammable liquid storage room. The NFPA 30 code dictates storage considerations starting at 5 gallons. No storage is permitted in basements.

If you have specific questions about safe storage and handling, consult the Safety Data Sheet for the product or call your local Authority Having Jurisdiction for fire code enforcement. 

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Documenting Training: November Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: We have made changes to our training programs, what things should be considered for the documentation and proof of training?

Answer: Whether the training is virtual or in person, the need for documentation is the same.  We have heard “if it’s not documented it wasn’t done, so document, document, document…

Here is a list of things you can include in your documentation:

  • Topic – such as Hazcom, LOTO, Emergency Preparedness
  • Agenda – what did you cover – keep details so you don’t forget
  • Format-online, webinar, in-person, hybrid
  • Date(s)
  • Name of trainer and/or company
  • Assessments– These are great to gauge understanding of a topic.  You can create simple few questions prior to the training and feel free to review as part of the training.
  • Post survey on training effectiveness

Additionally, make sure there is a chance for employees to easily pose questions and give feedback.

Times are challenging but this is a good time to think outside the box and try some hybrid trainings or virtual options. Draw from your staff and keep contact during these times. You just may find some things that can improve your training programs for the future.  Always feel free to contact your BWC safety staff for additional information.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

WFH Ergonomics: October Safety & Hygiene Corner

QUESTION: Since we have employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, do I need to be concerned about their computer workstation set-up?

ANSWER: Yes, it is important to include home-based employees into your office ergonomic program.   Employees can experience discomfort from improper computer workstation set-up both in the workplace and at home.   If employees are experiencing discomfort such as neck, back, shoulder, or wrist pain during the workday, adjustments need to be made before it becomes chronic and develops into a Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD).   According to 2020 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, tasks that cause workplace MSDs are in the top 10 causes of disabling workplace injuries costing U.S. businesses $20 billion dollars.  To help prevent MSD injuries for the home-based office employee, BWC published a YouTube video to improve employee’s comfort utilizing common household items.   Click on the following link to view, BWC home office set-up

If you would like additional resources or to request a virtual office ergonomic assessment, please contact your local BWC Ergonomist or request their service on-line at BWC Safety and Health Consulting Request.  Essentially, their consultations are free to use since your BWC premiums include their services.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Pathways Lighting Requirements: August 2020 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What are the requirements for Pathways Lighting and maintenance of Emergency Lights?

Answer: Many folks are aware of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.37 Exit Routes and Emergency Planning requirements for Exit signs and routes.  However, for the requirements for pathway lighting to exits and maintenance, you must refer to  Ohio Fire Code.   

Section 1008 Means of egress illumination 1008.3 Emergency power for illumination. The power supply for means of egress illumination shall normally be provided by the premises’ electrical supply and 1008.3.1 General. In the event of power supply failure in rooms and spaces that require two or more means of egress an emergency electrical system shall automatically illuminate all of the following areas: aisles, corridors and exit access stairways and ramps.

For Testing and Maintenance look at Ohio Fire Code 604.6 Emergency lighting equipment.

604.6.1 An Activation test – shall be completed monthly. The activation test shall ensure the emergency lighting activates automatically upon normal electrical disconnect and stays sufficiently illuminated for not less than 30 seconds.  604.6.1.1 Activation test record-  Records of tests shall be maintained and shall include the location of the emergency lighting tested, whether the unit passed or failed, the date of the test and the person completing the test.

604.6.2 Power test – For battery-powered emergency lighting, a power test of the emergency lighting equipment shall be completed annually. The power test shall operate the emergency lighting for not less than 90 minutes and shall remain sufficiently illuminated for the duration of the test. 604.6.2.1 Power test records shall be maintained. The record shall include the location of the emergency lighting tested, whether the unit passed or failed, the date of the test and the person completing the test.

Now is a great time to incorporate your monthly test with your other inspections.  You can add them to your Fire Extinguisher check list.  You can also add the yearly testing to your preventative Maintenance program to ensure annual testing is completed.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Powered Industrial Trucks Training Requirements: June’s Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What training is required when an operator is to operate different types of powered industrial trucks?

Answer: OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks Standard 1910.178(l)(i) states that “The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l).” 1910.178(l)(3) requires that operators receive training in the topics which are applicable to the safe operation of the truck in the employer’s workplace.

Therefore, an operator must be trained and evaluated in the safe operation for the type of truck that the operator will be assigned to operate in the employer’s workplace. For example, if an operator is assigned to operate a sit-down counterbalanced rider truck, then the operator must be trained and evaluated in the safe operation for that type of truck. If an operator is assigned to operate an operator-up counterbalanced front/side loader truck, or a rough terrain forklift, then the operator must be trained and evaluated in the safe operation for those types of trucks.

A sit-down counterbalanced rider truck, an operator-up counterbalanced front/side loader truck, and a rough terrain forklift are different types of trucks. Operators who have successfully completed training and evaluation as specified in 1910.178(l) (in a specific type of truck) would not need additional training when they are assigned to operate the same type of truck made by a different manufacturer. However, operators would need additional training if the applicable truck-related and workplace-related topics listed in 1910.178(l)(3) are different for that truck.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

First Aid Response Times: May’s Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What is OSHA’s current interpretation of the response times for first aid in response to life-threatening bleeding, including active shooter incidents?

Answer: OSHA’s current interpretations of the response times for first aid in response to life-threatening bleeding are addressed in letters of interpretation. These letters state in part:

In workplaces where serious accidents such as those involving falls, suffocation, electrocution, or amputation are possible, emergency medical services must be available within 3-4 minutes, if there is no employee on the site who is trained to render first aid…While the standards do not prescribe a number of minutes, OSHA has long interpreted the term “near proximity” to mean that emergency care must be available within no more than 3-4 minutes from the workplace, an interpretation that has been upheld by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and by federal courts…The basic purpose of these [first aid] standards is to assure that adequate first aid is available in the critical minutes between the occurrence of an injury and the availability of physician or hospital care for the injured employee… Medical literature establishes that, for serious injuries such as those involving stopped breathing, cardiac arrest, or uncontrolled bleeding, first aid treatment must be provided within the first few minutes to avoid permanent medical impairment or death…

These time limits are maximums. OSHA does not prohibit but encourages shorter response times when feasible. In order for OSHA standards to more comprehensively address response times to uncontrolled bleeding, it would entail a notice of proposed rulemaking and comment effort.

These recommendations are consistent with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard 1710, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments. This standard requires that emergency medical services ideally respond within one minute of turnout, that first responders take 4 minutes to get to the scene, and that other units should arrive within 8 minutes.

*Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Respirator Fit-Testing Guidelines: April’s Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: Can you explain the Temporary Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing in Healthcare from OSHA?

Answer: OSHA has issued temporary enforcement guidance for respirator fit-testing in healthcare during COVID-19 outbreak

This guidance is aimed at ensuring healthcare workers have full access to needed N95 respiratory protection in light of anticipated shortages.

OSHA recommends that employers supply healthcare personnel who provide direct care to patients with known or suspected coronavirus with other respirators that provide equal or higher protection, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators.

This temporary enforcement guidance recommends that healthcare employers change from a quantitative fit testing method to a qualitative testing method to preserve integrity of N95 respirators. Additionally, OSHA field offices have the discretion to not cite an employer for violations of the annual fit testing requirement as long as employers:

  • Make a good faith effort to comply with the respiratory protection standard;
  • Use only NIOSH-certified respirators;
  • Implement strategies recommended by OSHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for optimizing and prioritizing N95 respirators;
  • Perform initial fit tests for each healthcare employee with the same model, style, and size respirator that the employee will be required to wear for protection from coronavirus;
  • Tell employees that the employer is temporarily suspending the annual fit testing of N95 respirators to preserve the supply for use in situations where they are required to be worn;
  • Explain to employees the importance of conducting a fit check after putting on the respirator to make sure they are getting an adequate seal;
  • Conduct a fit test if they observe visual changes in an employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit; and
  • Remind employees to notify management if the integrity or fit of their N95 respirator is compromised.

The temporary enforcement guidance is in effect beginning March 14, 2020 and will remain in effect until further notice.   Appropriate respiratory protection is required for all healthcare personnel providing direct care of these patients. For additional guidance, see COVID-19 Hospital Preparedness Assessment Tool,


Trenching Hazards: March’s Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: I am hearing a lot about trench & excavation hazards recently.  Besides cave-ins, is there any other hazards I should be aware of?

Answer: Many construction workers are injured and killed in trench and excavation collapses each year.  Although collapsing is the major hazard with trenches and excavations, there are others that you should be aware of, as well.

  1. Trenches and excavations can be deficient of oxygen or could contain hazardous concentrations of gases like carbon monoxide. Stay out of the trench or excavation and report to your supervisor if either hazard is a possibility.
  2. Watch out for buried electrical cables that could cause injuries or electrocutions. Excavators are supposed to call local utilities before they dig, but its safest to assume that they haven’t.  If you see a cable, assume it is hot.  Get out immediately without coming into contact with it and report to your supervisor.
  3. Watch for water lines and avoid breaking them. Broken lines will cause trenches and excavations to cave in quickly.  If you see water inside a trench or excavation, get out immediately and contact your supervisor.
  4. Watch for buried gas lines and other buried hazards. They could cause injuries.  For example, a broken natural gas line could be ignited by a welding spark, torch, cigarette or other source.
  5. Be aware of falling and moving objects while working, especially when an equipment operator is lowering pipe, shoring materials or other objects into the trench or excavation. Keep well away from the process.
  6. Remember that changing weather conditions may affect the stability of the soil in a trench or excavation. When changes in weather occur, such as rain, snow, ice storms, heavy winds or extended periods of hot, dry, weather.  Stay out of the trench until it is inspected by someone with the knowledge and experience to know whether entering could be hazardous.
  7. Always maintain an accessible means of exiting the trench or excavation such as a ladder or ramp. There should be an accessible exit within 25 feet of every worker inside the trench or excavation.

Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.