Temporary Workers: October 2019 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What are the employer responsibilities to protect temporary workers?

Answer: There is a joint responsibility of the host employers and the staffing agency.

While the extent of responsibility under the law of staffing agencies and host employers is dependent on the specific facts of each case, staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers – including, for example, ensuring that OSHA’s training, hazard communication, and recordkeeping requirements are fulfilled.

OSHA could hold both the host and temporary employers responsible for the volatile condition(s) – and that can include lack of adequate training regarding workplace hazards. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the worker, and are therefore jointly responsible for temporary workers’ safety and health.

OSHA has concerns that some employers may use temporary workers to avoid meeting all their compliance obligations under the OSH Act. Therefore, it is essential that both employers comply with all relevant OSHA requirements.

A key concept is that each employer should consider the hazards it is in a position to prevent and correct, and in a position to comply with OSHA standards. For example: staffing agencies might provide general safety and health training, and host employers provide specific training tailored to the particular workplace equipment/hazards.

  • The key is communication
  • Staffing agencies must ensure that they are sending workers to a safe workplace. They also must verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace.
  • Ignorance of hazards is not an excuse.
  • And, just as important: Host employers must treat temporary workers like any other workers in terms of training and safety and health protections.

OSHA has updated their page on responsibilities and temp workers

https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/communication.html

https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/

*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Push & Pull Motions: September 2019 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: Our company frequently moves materials on carts and manual pallet jacks.  Should we be concerned with the amount of force that an employee must exert to push or pull these items?

Answer:  Yes, pushing and pulling tasks do present a risk of a workplace injury to the low back and shoulders.  OSU published an objective set of guidelines for pushing and pulling that was funded by BWC.  These guidelines set limits of push and pull forces and are expected to be protective of both the low back and shoulders.  BWC published this information on our website and contains a web interface to estimate biomechanical risk of a push/pull task.

All you need is a force gauge and a tape measure to get started.  If you need help, contact your BWC Ergonomist.  They will come to your worksite to measure the push/pull forces and determine if the biomechanical risk is within the guidelines to protect your workforce from a low back or shoulder injury.

To learn more and to use the web interface, go to https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/employer/programs/safety/PushPullGuide/PushPullGuide.aspx.

 

Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Tick Bite First Aid: June 2019 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question: What is the first aid for a tick bite?

Answer:   Most tick bites are painless and cause only minor signs and symptoms, such as redness, swelling or a sore on the skin. But some ticks transmit bacteria that cause illnesses, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In general, to transmit Lyme disease a tick needs to be attached for at least 36 hours. Other infections can be transferred in a few hours or even a few minutes says the Mayo Clinic.

First Aid:

  • Remove the tick promptly and carefully.Use fine-tipped forceps or tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Gently pull out the tick using a slow and steady upward motion. Avoid twisting or squeezing the tick. Don’t handle the tick with bare hands. Experts don’t recommend using petroleum jelly, fingernail polish or a hot match to remove a tick.
  • If possible, seal the tick in a container.Put the container in a freezer. Your doctor may want to see the tick if you develop new symptoms.
  • Wash your hands and the bite site.Use warm water and soap, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub.

When to seek emergency care: Call 911 or your local emergency number if you develop:

  • A severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Paralysis
  • Heart palpitations

When to contact your doctor

  • If you can’t completely remove the tick.
  • The rash gets bigger.
  • You develop flu-like signs and symptoms. You think the bite site is infected.  You think you were bitten by a deer tick.

 

Brought to you by Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Why Workplace Wellness: December 2018 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Question: Why should I bother with a Wellness Program at my Company?

Answer: There is a lot of talk recently about wellness programs in the safety world.  Especially in Ohio,since the BWC has rolled out the Better You, Better Ohio free wellness program for Ohio Employees that work in high risk industries. 

 So, a big question is: Why should a company want a wellness program?  Employees are your most important asset – so you want them healthy! Let’s review just a few other reasons you want healthier employees: 

  1. Fewer injuries and if injured they recover quicker
  2. Less absenteeism and more presenteeism – Boost Productivity!
  3. Boost morale, reduce stress, create a sense of accomplishment, reduce depression and build community at work
  4. Lower healthcare costs and good return on investment.  Studies show for every $1 spent on health intervention employees recoup $1.40 to $4.60 in avoided medical cost and productivity losses.

 These are just a few reasons and they sound pretty good!  If you are eligible, consider promoting the BWC Better You, Better Ohio free wellness program. If you are a larger company, it still makes sense.  You can also talk with your insurance carrier, they may have programs to assist you as well. 

 

Fire Extinguisher Inspection: November 2018 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Question: How do I correctly perform a monthly fire extinguisher inspection?

Answer: First, know this monthly inspection is mandatory via OSHA and National Fire Codes.  This inspection is commonly done inhouse by an employee.  There are a variety of items you want to inspect monthly on fire extinguishers:

  • The extinguisher is properly mounted and not blocked or covered from view.
  • The extinguisher is charged (in the green) and ready for use.
  • The tamper seal is on and is holding the pin in.
  • There isn’t any physical damage to the extinguisher.
  • Nothing is blocking the nozzle (look in it)
  • The extinguisher is full by weighing it. (mandatory for CO2)
  • The nameplate is visible when you remount the extinguisher.
  • There is a valid maintenance tag on the extinguisher that the inspector signs and dates.

 

Air Monitoring: Oct 2018 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Industrial Hygiene Air Monitoring “Rule of Thumb”

Question:  Since my air monitoring results were all below the Occupational Exposure Limits, are there any further actions needed to be taken (other than recordkeeping requirements)?

Answer:  Just because air contaminant concentrations are below the current occupational health standards and guidelines, does not always mean they should be ignored. When evaluating the results of an Industrial Hygiene air survey, a general rule of thumb is often used when attempting to determine whether or not an exposure has exceeded an acceptable risk level.  This rule of thumb states that if a measured exposure level exceeds one-half of the value of the lowest current occupational health standard or guideline, an action level has been reached.  When an action level has been reached, it is time to begin investigating engineering, administrative or personal protective equipment measures to prevent workers’ exposures from reaching harmful concentrations.

Tornado Safety: May 2018 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Provided by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Q: What should I consider when selecting a Shelter-in-Place/ Tornado Shelter location at work?

We are entering tornado season which usually runs spring through summer.   Do you know where to shelter at work if there were a tornado right now?  Is the room large enough to accommodate your employees and any visitors?  What is a business required to do?

OSHA’s shelter in place guidance recommends the following:

  • Select interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents.
  • The room(s) should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
  • Large storage closets, utility rooms, pantries, copy and conference rooms without exterior windows will work well.
  • Avoid selecting a room with mechanical equipment like ventilation blowers or pipes, because this equipment may not be able to be sealed from the outdoors.

Many businesses will use rest rooms that are on interior walls.  Interior stair wells away from windows on the lowest level will also work.   If you need assistance with your shelter in place procedure you can review the document links below.

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/eap.html

https://www.fema.gov/fema-p-320-taking-shelter-storm-building-safe-room-your-home-or-small-business

https://www.ready.gov/shelter

Facial Hair & Respirators: January 2018 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question:

So, you want to grow out your beard, but wear a tight-fitting respirator at work?

Answer:

Ensuring the respirator seal is a vital part of respiratory protection practices. Facial hair that lies along the sealing area of a respirator, such as beards, sideburns, or some mustaches, will interfere with respirators that rely on a tight face piece seal to achieve maximum protection. Facial hair is a common reason that someone cannot be fit tested.

The reason for this is simple – gases, vapors, and particles in the air will take the path of least resistance and bypass the part of the respirator that captures or filters hazards out. So then, why can’t facial hair act as a crude filter to capture particles that pass between the respirator sealing area and the skin?  While human hair appears to be very thin to the naked eye, hair is much larger in size than the particles inhaled. Facial hair is just not dense enough and the individual hairs are too large to capture particles like an air filter does; nor will a beard trap gases and vapors like the carbon bed in a respirator cartridge.  Therefore, the vast majority of particles, gases, and vapors follow the air stream right through the facial hair and into respiratory tract of the wearer. In fact, some studies have shown that even a day or two of stubble can begin to reduce protection. Research tells us that the presence of facial hair under the sealing surface causes 20 to 1000 times more leakage compared to clean-shaven individuals.

The Respiratory Protection standard, paragraph 29 CFR 1910.134(g)(1)(i)(A), states that respirators shall not be worn when facial hair comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face or that interferes with valve function. Facial hair is allowed as long as it does not protrude under the respirator seal, or extend far enough to interfere with the device’s valve function. Short mustaches, sideburns, and small goatees that are neatly trimmed so that no hair compromises the seal of the respirator usually do not present a hazard and, therefore, do not violate paragraph 1910.134(g)(1)(i).

Provided by Ohio BWC staff.

Carbon Monoxide: December 2017 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question:

The cold season is around the corner—should we be concerned with carbon monoxide?

Answer:

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas which interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. CO is non-irritating and can overcome persons without warning. Many people die from CO poisoning, usually while using gasoline powered tools and generators in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.

Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Severe carbon monoxide poisoning causes neurological damage, illness, coma and death.

Symptoms of CO exposure

  • Headaches, dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Nausea, vomiting, tightness across the chest.

Some Sources of Exposure

  • Portable generators/generators in buildings.
  • Concrete cutting saws, compressors.
  • Power trowels, floor buffers, space heaters.
  • Welding, gasoline powered pumps.

Preventing CO Exposure

  • Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Opening windows and doors in an enclosed space may prevent CO buildup.
  • Make sure the generator has 3-4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Do not use a generator outdoors if placed near doors, windows or vents which could allow CO to enter and build up in occupied spaces.
  • When using space heaters and stoves ensure that they are in good working order to reduce CO buildup, and never use in enclosed spaces or indoors.
  • Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air, if available.
  • If you experience symptoms of CO poisoning get to fresh air right away and seek immediate medical attention.

U.S. Department of Labor

http://www.osha.gov (800) 321-OSHA

Brought to you by Ohio BWC safety consultants.

Walking-Working Surfaces: November 2017 Safety & Hygiene Corner

Question:

Do I need to inspect the walking -working surfaces in my facility?

Answer:

Yes, according to OSHA’s revised walking-working surfaces rule. OSHA’s definition of a walking-working surface is any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location. The employer must inspect the surfaces, regularly and as necessary, to ensure they are maintained in a safe condition. If a hazardous condition is recognized, the condition is to be corrected or repaired before an employee uses the surface again. If the correction or repair cannot be made immediately, the hazard must be guarded to prevent employees from using the surface. Hazardous conditions may include sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice. For more information on the revised rule, see Subpart D of 29 CFR 1910.

Brought to you by Ohio BWC safety consultants.