All posts by admin

How to Reduce Workplace Injury With Machine Guarding

What is Machine Guarding? 

Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as fractures, lacerations, burns, crushing, or even amputation and hands are especially vulnerable. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries.  

Machine guarding is a measure used to prevent body parts and unwanted objects from coming into contact with moving or dangerous parts of machinery and it protects the operator and other employees in the work area from hazards created during the machine’s normal operation.  

According to OSHA, machine guarding is the first line of defense to protect workers from machine-related injury. OSHA requires guarding for any part of a machine, function, or process that has the potential of causing an injury. This measure differs for every machine due to the varying physical characteristics and how the user operates the equipment. 

What are Common Types of Machine Guarding?

There are four main types of machine guarding:

  • Fixed
  • Interlocked
  • Adjustable
  • Self-adjusting

Fixed machine guards are permanently attached to the machine, don’t have any moving parts, and can’t be moved while the equipment is in use. These guards are commonly used to enclose the point of operation, or other hazards that the operator doesn’t need to interact with, like fan blades or flywheels.

Interlocked machine guards, also known as barrier guards, are built into the moving parts or power system of the machine and automatically disengage the power when the guard is open or removed. Barrier guards are particularly helpful in situations where operators need to open the guard or access the guarded parts of the equipment.

Adjustable and self-adjusting machine guards adjust to the size of the material or stock. Adjustable guards must be manually adjusted and locked into place, so employees who operate these guards must be trained to use them.

Machine guard barriers help guide operators in the safe use of all kinds of industrial equipment. Typically, a machine guard barrier consists of safety trip controls, presence- sensing devices, and electromechanical sensing devices.

Assess Machine Functions and Risks

To determine whether equipment requires machine guarding, managers should go around the workplace and assess them for specific risks. These can include moving parts that could result in workers being struck or crushed. They can also make note of what is considered a safe distance to prevent someone being pulled in or struck by machinery.

What Parts Should be Guarded?

With machine guarding, managers should determine whether they should guard against components such as rotating equipment like belts or gears, as well as parts that could impact or draw workers in. These include abrasive wheels that should be guarded based on the type of the wheel and work being performed.

What is the Purpose of Machine Guarding? 

There are pieces of equipment unique to the oil and gas industry that need proper machine guarding. Workers in the sector are at risk for crushing injuries and amputations that could be caused by moving parts or malfunctions. 

The Importance of Machine Guarding 

In 2020, the rate of job-related injuries and illnesses for the oil and gas industry in the United States was 1.4 per 100 workers.  Oil and gas staff may be at risk of losing their fingers, limbs or other incidents if companies do not protect employees by using machine guards and training them to be aware of workplace hazards.  

“Companies should inspect machines for any signs of damage that could indicate that machines are not safe to operate.” 

Inspect Machine for Damage   While some pieces of large equipment are inherently dangerous, machines that have been ill-maintained or not inspected in a long period of time may put workers’ safety at risk. Companies should inspect machines for any signs of damage that could indicate they are not safe to operate. Operate the e and see whether they are defective or malfunctioning to see whether they need maintenance or should be pulled out of the workplace.  

Train Workers on Machine Guarding and Recognizing Hazards

Workplaces with machine guards should also make sure workers understand the importance of these safety devices as well as how they work, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Managers should train employees to recognize specific hazards with machines and educate them on the right way to operate machinery. Employees should be reminded to avoid equipment that do not have guards. They should also know to alert managers to any problems with the guards or the machines themselves to address the issue quickly and safely.

How Total Safety Can Help

At Total Safety, our professional EHS team is ready to help with compliance inspections, recommendations and training services for a broad range of workplace requirements to help safeguard your workforce. For more information, fill out our contact us form or call our office to talk to one of our experts at 888-328-6825 today. 

How Does Stress Impact Workplace Safety?

Many people experience stress on the job at some point in their careers. However, the problem may be more pervasive and dangerous than some employers realize.

Causes of Stress in the Workplace

According to a survey from the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. Forbes reports that overall employee stress levels have risen nearly 20% in three decades. Forbes also found that excessive workplace stress, including 10 specific workplace stressors, cause a staggering 120,000 deaths and results in nearly $190 billion in health care costs each year.

These 10 identified stressors include:

  1.  No health insurance
  2.  Organizational injustice
  3.  High job demands
  4.  Shift work
  5.  Unemployment
  6.  Secondhand smoke exposure
  7.  Low job control
  8.  Low social support
  9.  Long work hours
  10.   Job insecurity

Many workers experience higher levels of stress due to being overworked. This may include working long shifts, overtime and not taking vacation or paid time off even when available. Many workers also work when feeling ill even when they have sick days available.

 

Impact of Stress in the Workplace

Productivity depends on employees’ time management skills and ability to focus on the job at hand. When job stress comes into play, workers may find it difficult to focus and meet deadlines. More significantly, stress can trigger other mental health concerns that impact job productivity— including conflict, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Stress can also contribute to an increase in workplace accidents. Some of this can be related to stress coping mechanisms – such as alcohol or medication, which even when not consumed during work hours, can impact worker health or reaction time. However, stress can also contribute to distraction. A stressed worker is more likely to be thinking about his or her stress source and be less focused on the task at hand, the magazine noted. Poor attention can lead to accidents and injury.

Other job stressors that can lead to fatigue and inattention, and correspondingly accidents and injury, include excessive workload, fear of being laid off, unreasonable performance demands and infrequent breaks.

 

How Employers Can Address Workplace Stress

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers training resources for employers to help them recognize worker stress and address the issue. When analyzing the work site for common stress sources, NIOSH advises employers to look to:

  • The design of tasks: Including heavy workload, infrequent breaks, hectic routines or long hours
  • Management style: Such as poor communication, unrealistic expectation and disrespect for workers’ families or personal lives
  • Interpersonal relationships: Workers should not experience harassment or isolation in the workplace
  • Work roles: Including conflicting, unclear or unrealistic job expectations or responsibilities
  • Career concerns: Job insecurity, poor training, and lack of career growth can all contribute to stress

NIOSH added there are many warning signs of work stress on the job that employers should not ignore

 

How Employers Can Identify Stress in the Workplace

  • Fatigue
  • Low morale
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Changes in appetite
  • Frequent headaches
  • Fighting in the workplace
  • Difficulty concentrating

Not addressing stress early can be costly for both employer and employees. NIOSH found the long-term impacts of stress can lead to increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, and impaired immune systems. For employers, stress even in the short term can affect health care cost and employee retention and absenteeism. NIOSH noted workers who had to take leave for stress-related issues needed an average of 20 days off before returning to the job.

NIOSH encourages employers to reduce workplace stress by creating recognition systems to reward employees for good work performance. Opportunities for career development and advancement and managerial actions that are consistent with organizational values also help to lower workplace stress.

Employers can also enact administrative controls such as reducing shift length or physical demands of tasks. Stress management and other wellness programs can also be introduced to help workers cope with stress sources. NIOSH also advised employers to be flexible in work hours and tasks when workers have responsibilities or other factors in their personal lives that are creating stress.

 

How Total Safety Can Help Promote a Safe Workplace

At Total Safety, our mission is to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide®. Our training solutions create a workplace culture of safety and help promote stress management for your workforce. We go beyond the basics with employee training programs that help address both the mental wellbeing and the overall physical safety of your workforce.

We’re ready to help. Visit our website or talk to a Total Safety expert today at 888-328-6825.

August Hiring Events – Gonzales, Louisiana

We’re hiring Turnaround Technicians in the Gonzales area for turnaround season.  We invite you to come out and meet the team at one of our hiring events this month.  See below for locations and dates.

  • Come in person to interview
  • Active TWIC Card Required
  • Valid Driver License
  • Excellent Driving Record & Insurable
  • Refinery Experience a plus
  • Must be able to work 12 hour shifts
  • Must be willing to travel

LOCATION 1:

Holiday Inn Express |2806 West Hwy 30 | Gonzales,  LA – Get Directions here.

DATES:

  1.  Tuesday 8/9
  2.  Wednesday 8/10
  3.  Tuesday 8/16
  4.  Wednesday 8/17

TIME:  9:00AM – 4:00PM

LOCATION 2 :

Geaux Jobs of Ascension 1060 East Worthey St. Gonzales, LA   – Get Directions here.

DATES:

  1.  Thursday  8/11
  2.  Thursday 8/18

TIME:  9:00AM – 4:00PM

About Us:

Total Safety is the world’s premier provider of integrated safety and compliance services and the products necessary to support them, including gas detection, respiratory protection, safety training, fire protection, compliance and inspection, comprehensive flare services, industrial hygiene, onsite emergency medical treatment/paramedics, communications systems, engineered systems design, and materials management.

See all job openings here: https://www.totalsafety.com/careers/

How to Choose the Right Hard Hat in Summer

Excessive heat is a threat to the safety of workers — especially those working outside in construction, oil and gas, agriculture and similar industries. If their bodies cannot release heat as quickly as it accumulates, workers can face numerous health risks, such as fatigue, fainting, cardiovascular issues, impaired judgment and other symptoms of heat related illness.

One critical consideration for outdoor workers in the summer is head protection. In fact, according to recent Honeywell studies, the color of a plastic hard hat is directly related to the heat affecting the body. This guide explains three key steps to help safety managers choose the right hard hats to protect outdoor workers in the hottest months of the year.  (Information from Honeywell)

1.  ASSESS THE HEAT RISK

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), temperatures as low as 71° F can still be dangerous for workers engaged in heavy exertion. That’s because ambient air temperature — the reading on a thermometer — does not tell the entire story of heat risk. Other contributing factors include direct sunlight, relative humidity, and radiant heat reflected from water, windows or metal structures.

Therefore, in assessing the heat danger for outdoor workers, keep in mind that even though the ambient temperature may seem comfortable, workers could still be at risk.

How does it really feel outside? The answer is reflected in the Heat Index, which combines relative humidity with the actual air temperature. Consider this guide from the National Weather Service. Download the NIOSH/OSHA Heat App [iOS | Android] to access a simple heat calculator on your device.

 

2.  CHOOSE LIGHT-COLORED HARD HATS
All hard hats reflect, absorb and transmit some infrared rays from the sun.The rays that are absorbed through the shell become trapped, increasing the temperature of the air gap surrounding the worker’s head. There are a variety of factors increasing the temperature of the air gap, including the angle of the sun, the amount of wind, the ambient temperature and the color of the hard hat.

Honeywell tested the impact of color on the temperature that the worker is subjected to. We put identical hard hats of different colors on head forms inside a controlled environment that was tuned to resemble a warm summer day. The hard hats were then exposed to an infrared heat lamp to simulate the sun. Thermocouples were placed on the outside of the hard hat shell and inside the shell, just above the head form. Honeywell found that in a 90° F environment, the temperature of the air gap beneath the hard hat shell (the air that the worker is actually exposed to) ranged from 111.6° F to 122.3° F.

In fact, Honeywell found that depending on the color, the outer shell of a hardhat can become 60 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature, while the temperature inside the hard hat can become more than 30 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. Clearly, selecting light-colored hard hat in warm temperature conditions can make an enormous difference in a worker’s health and safety.

How does the color of a hard hat contribute to heat risk? Honeywell studies show that in a 90° F environment, the temperature surrounding a worker’s head is lowest with hard hats that are white and highest with hard hats that are orange or high-visibility yellow.

Honeywell replicated these results by setting up several hard hats on head forms in warm, sunny environments across the globe. The sunlight-powered experiments provided data that was consistent with our controlled tests.

In summary, the head form under the light-colored hard hats was significantly cooler than under darker colored hard hats. Interestingly, the orange color performed the worst, allowing infrared rays to penetrate the shell and creating the highest temperature in the air gap surrounding the worker’s head. White compared favorably to all other colors, making it the ideal hard-hat color to help mitigate heat risk. Across the spectrum, a good way to improve worker safety in the heat is to swap out darker hard hats for lighter colors.

3.  CHOOSE UNVENTED HATS
Adding vents to hard hats should lower the temperature underneath, right? Not so. Venting creates a window for sunlight to seep into the hat, which means higher temperatures for the worker’s head. Moreover, vented hats do not have enough room to allow air to flow properly, unless the air enters the vent on a strong wind — and even then, the cooling effect is only momentary. Therefore, vented hard hats generally do more harm than good.

How to select the right hard hat for hot conditions. Hard hats of different colors can be important indicators of job roles on a worksite, enabling quick identification of key people. But for jobs in direct sunlight, lighter-colored hard hats can significantly reduce the risk of heat stress and improve workers’ safety.  Download full article from Honeywell

To select hard hats for hot conditions, please contact your Total Safety sales representative. Total Safety helps organizations achieve higher safety standards and create a workplace culture of safety. Go beyond the basics with  our VMI solutions,  high-quality safety equipment, PPE, and  MRO solutions. We are committed to helping you meet compliance, reduce injury, and help to protect the safe well-being of your workforce. 

W³…to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide. ®

Full article by Honeywell and re-posted by Total Safety. Download study here. 

How to Better Manage Emergencies With Industrial Communication Systems

Whether you need to send a quick email or notify employees of a major safety issue, a reliable communication system is necessary for industrial job sites such as petrochemical plants. While communication is already a top priority for energy firms, there are certain scenarios that companies should be prepared for and test that their current communications systems are up to the challenge.

“Employers should determine whether their existing industrial communications equipment and services can fully handle the demands of their facilities and ensure the safety of the staff on site.”

Being prepared for a natural disaster or emergency incident requires employers to have an emergency communication plan in place. During a sitewide emergency, employers need to be able to reach all workers quickly to describe the danger and give them further instructions on what to do next. In communicating to a large number of people at the same time, EHS Today recommends that companies implement a mass notification system that will give employers the ability to alert employees to risks in real-time that will get people’s attention and take notice. Employers should determine whether their existing industrial communications equipment and services can fully handle the demands of their facilities and ensure the safety of the staff on site. Mass communication systems can deliver real-time messages to specific groups of people. It can also handle two-way communication which can help save lives in an emergency.

Importance of an Emergency Communications Plan

It’s the job of managers on site to inform all employees about an emergency and communicate proper protocol for response. Responses can vary by type of disaster or whether an employee should evacuate or shelter in place, for example. New workers may not be familiar with recognizing specific dangers or protocols, making it critical that they are in communication with their supervisor.

Five Emergency Preparedness Tips:

  1.  Have a Plan. In case of an emergency or disaster knowing how you should respond is key. Several types of emergencies require different responses.
  2.  Know your emergency chain of command. When an emergency happens, it is critical to know who you should take direction from.
  3.   Regularly test.  Test your two-way radio equipment to ensure they are functioning properly, batteries are charged, and you are receiving messages.
  4.  Know radio etiquette. It’s easier to get your message through if you use proper terminology for radio communication and repeat back messages to confirm you heard correctly.
  5.  Practice. Participate in emergency drills to become comfortable using your radio, know your frequency, and the codes your team uses.

Why Two-Way Radios are the Best Choice in a Crisis

While cell phones are a part of our everyday life, during emergencies two-way radios are the more reliable choice. Cellular networks are vulnerable to outages during storms and power disruptions. Two-way radio devices on the other hand can send and receive audio signals and messages without the use of cellular towers and networks. The infrastructure for a two-way radio system is resilient to downtime and more dependable by design.

Two-way radios are more rugged and durable than cellular phones. They are designed to sustain drops, extreme weather conditions, and even water submersion unlike cellular phones. Radios have long battery life, and convenient push-to- talk functionality. Today’s digital two-way radios boast features like text messaging, alarms, and gps location. Most importantly, radios are easy to use. Just push a button and start talking.

How Total Safety Can Help

When seconds count, you can count on Total Safety. Our industrial communication solutions include technologies, people, and equipment that enable real-time communication in mission-critical situations.

SafeTek Communications™ technology helps save lives. We use mission-critical Motorola two-way radios because they are engineered for reliability in the toughest conditions and situations. From our advanced alarm system to immediate emergency assistance notifications, our SafeTek Communications™ helps keep your workers safe when they need it most.

 

Staying Hydrated Happy workers

How to Prevent Heat-Stress in High Temperatures

Staying Hydrated Happy workers

Heat-related illnesses are a serious hazard on industrial work sites, especially those that are outdoors during summer months. With temperatures in some locales soaring past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the need for workers to stay hydrated is a constant concern.

Because industrial workers are also exposed to operational hazards, many are required to wear personal protection equipment (PPE). However, multiple layers of stifling equipment combined with high-heat environments can create potentially fatal situations. Under these circumstances, the risk of dehydration increases dramatically, which can negatively impact workers’ ability to maintain focus, posture and operational functionality on the job.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted the human body has roughly 2.6 million sweat glands, and for workers to appropriately replace lost fluids, they should drink water every 15 minutes.

So what should managers and employers do to keep their employees protected from dehydration?

Keeping cool in high-heat environments
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggested workers who are exposed to temperatures between 103 and 115 degrees drink four cups of water per hour. Water is the preferred choice of beverage over soft drinks or coffee because caffeine actually depletes electrolytes more quickly and causes dehydration to worsen.

Furthermore, if workers are exposed to direct sunlight, the heat index can actually rise another 15 degrees, OSHA noted, making it even more important for them to remain hydrated.

It’s also advised that workers take more frequent breaks from high-temperature and stressful situations. Employers should provide necessary shade or cooling facilities on-site so workers are able to cool down before re-entering the work environment.

Noticing the warning signs
Employers and on-site managers should be capable of spotting dehydration before it becomes a serious health issue.

According to OSHA, those most at risk of dehydration are employees who are

  • Working directly under the sun
  • Working continuous hours at a time
  • Wearing PPE

Some of the more prominent warnings that workers are dehydrated are:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Trouble focusing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Darkly colored urine

One of the best ways to identify just how much water is needed to replenish dehydrated workers’ fluids is to assess the color of their urine to evaluate the dehydration level.

There are five stages of dehydration based on color, ranging from clear to dark yellow. On the low end of the spectrum, workers should consume 8-12 glasses of water per day, while those who are severely dehydrated should promptly start drinking water and seek medical attention to protect against heat stroke.

How Total Safety Can Help

Did you know that Total Safety can help you with hydration solutions and  cooling trailers and tents, delivered on your schedule? Our experts are here to evaluate your specific needs and provide solutions that will help you keep your workers safe in the heat.

Contact us today!

 

SafeTek eDistribution Vending Machine

How Using Total Safety’s VMI Solution Resulted In 38% Cost Savings

SafeTek eDistribution Vending Machine

A large utility company in California was facing challenges with controlling inventory costs and preventing waste. They required certain items to be available 24/7 and accessible near specific work zones in the plant. They also needed to keep track of the inventory that was issued by the department and the employees for billing purposes.

The Solution

Total Safety’s vendor-managed inventory (VMI) program uses the latest automatic vending technology to help businesses to have an automated point-of-use dispensing solution. Our vending machines are highly customizable to hold tiny items like nuts and bolts to large items like an engine. Our software is easily programmed to set up employee allowances, and automatically restock orders. Our team designs a custom program to fit the customers exact needs and provide 24-hour support.

For this customer, Total Safety evaluated the company’s needs and set them up with eight different machines throughout the plant. The machines were stocked with 80 unique critical point-of-use items. We went a step further and added quality restrictions on products like batteries and flashlights. Certain items were designated as secure check in / check out items, and restrictions and time stamps were applied.  For popular consumables, we set the customer up with inventory alerts, and automatic refills.

This level of inventory management service helps to ensure that the workforce always has the PPE, tools, and MRO supplies required to perform their work and eliminates downtime. Workers have access to items they need right in their work zone, without having to walk to a manned tool crib.

The Result

After just one year of using Total Safety’s vending program, the company reported that a multitude of challenges from inventory tracking to cutting spending, to storing odd-shaped items was solved! We were able to reduce their overall inventory spend by 39%! They reported increased activity and time on tools,  because employees had exactly what they needed to do their job readily available.

8

80

39%

Vending Machines Unique Items Cost Savings

 

Total Safety helps organizations achieve higher safety standards and create a workplace culture of safety. Go beyond the basics with  our VMI solutions,  high-quality safety equipment, PPE, and  MRO solutions. We are committed to helping you meet compliance, reduce injury, and help to protect the safe well-being of your workforce. 

W³…to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide. ®

 

two men and two women in an industrial warehouse, smiling and talking while reviewing information on a tablet. All are wearing hard hats, and hearing protection that reflects that they have access to proper PPE and are working safely

How to Increase Employee Engagement to Improve Workplace Safety

two men and two women in an industrial warehouse, smiling and talking while reviewing information on a tablet. All are wearing hard hats, and hearing protection that reflects that they have access to proper PPE and are working safely

Occupational health and safety is a practical matter, where the major goals are commonly shared by the business and its staff. Companies have a vested interest in both keeping workers safe and staying on the right side of relevant regulations. 

This common desire for a safe workplace doesn’t mean problems won’t arise, however. Employees may become complacent or view certain safety requirements as too tedious to follow while safety managers and business leaders may not notice these issues or work to resolve them quickly. 

How can organizations encourage a better overall climate for workplace health and safety for both frontline employees and managers? The answer is effective employee engagement. 

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement describes those who are committed to their work and the goals of their company. They understand the organization’s safety objectives and are dedicated to achieving those goals. Engaged employees are motivated, committed, and give their best effort at work…not only because they’re paid to be, but because they’re invested emotionally or have exacting standards. 

Why is Employee Engagement Important? 

“Employees and workplaces with high levels of engagement are safer, too.” 

Employee engagement can help operations execute safety procedures much easier and with more cooperation from your employees. An engaged employee will go out of his or her way to ensure things are done right and actively offer their opinions, suggestions, and feedback. More importantly, highly engaged employees are less likely to have an accident on the job than those who are less engaged. 

Highly engaged employees: 

  • are more productive 
  • stay with the company longer 
  • practice safe work behaviors 
  • encourage others to work safely 
  • comply with safety instructions 

Employee engagement can also have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Engaged workers are more efficient, accountable, and able to produce better. Consequently, companies are able to post higher profits and shareholders see better returns. 

How to Improve Employee Engagement

The importance of effective engagement is clear in terms of improving workplace health and safety concerns. There are many tactics for improving engagement, including:

  • Regularly involving staff in health and safety concerns: All businesses need to train employees on a variety of relevant safety issues, but businesses with high levels of engagement go further. Open, two-way communication about why and how the company deals with safety issues is important, as giving employees a voice makes them feel involved and heard. Addressing potential concerns proactively and transparently helps convince workers that their employer is doing more than the bare minimum and can inspire a similar sense of participation.

 

  • Recognizing employee achievements: Simple actions, like thanking workers for continued periods of safe operation and informal praise for following safety rules, can have a positive effect on employees. Expressing support and recognizing good behaviors is an easy (and effective) way to reinforce positive actions amongst your staff.

 

  • Give feedback: Studies show a correlation between regular feedback and employee engagement. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, compared to 18% of employees with low engagement. Also, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were appreciated more.

 

  • Supporting ongoing employee development: Employers can cultivate engagement by providing ongoing opportunities for professional development. When employees are empowered to work safely and confidently, companies will have fewer accidents and more satisfied workers. Businesses that give employees resources to grow in their roles and move into new ones show they value their staff in the long term.

 

  • Supplying excellent PPE and other safety equipment: Providing proper PPE, uniforms, and quality life-safety equipment is a clear indication that the employer is invested in keeping their workers safe.  

Total Safety helps organizations achieve higher safety standards and create a workplace culture of safety. Go beyond the basics with  high-quality safety equipment, PPE, and safety training. We are committed to helping you meet compliance, reduce injury, and help to protect the safe well-being of your workforce. 

Know the Importance of Heat Awareness

Heat illness is a serious medical condition that can result in muscle cramping, loss of consciousness and even death in some extreme cases. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has estimated that thousands of workers become sick due to exposure to heat every year.

Heat awareness is especially crucial this year as a number of states are already experiencing historically high temperatures. Early spring saw parts of that state experiencing mid-80 and low-90 degree Fahrenheit temperature ranges, which is usually not seen until later in the summer. Now is the time to review the symptoms of heat stress and understand best practices for protecting workers from heat exposure.

With the latest news that OSHA  has launched a National Emphasis Program with the goal of protecting millions of workers from heat illness and injuries, companies must get ready for inspections that focus on heat-related hazards for both indoor and outdoor workers.

OSHA states that the NEP is necessary because the dangers of extreme heat increase each year, citing that 18 of the past 19 summers have broken historic records. Over the past 5 years, there have been an elevated number of fatalities or hospitalizations reported by employers.

Help Keep your Workers Safe in High Temperatures:

  • Providing plenty of water: Each employee should have access to at least a quart of water per hour and employers should encourage workers to stay hydrated.
  • Ensuring shade: Work sites should include areas of shade where workers can rest. If there is no natural shade, employers can put up tents or other coverings.
  • Safety training: All workers should be taught to recognize the signs of heat illness in themselves and others.
  • Monitoring: All workers should watch for signs of heat illness when temperatures are high, and employees reporting heat-related sickness should not be left alone.

In addition to following these guidelines as best practices, employers need to be in compliance with specific standards that govern their industry or state.

Workers in outdoor environments are at higher risk for heat-related illness, especially during their first days on the jobsite. Workers in outdoor environments are at higher risk for heat-related illness, especially during their first days on the job site.

Following heat-exposure regulations
All employers in the U.S. will need to comply with the federal OSHA standards that relate to heat exposure. While there is not a specific standard for working in hot environments, there are several relevant regulations employers must consult. These include the Personal Protective Equipment standard, Sanitation standards, Medical Services and First Aid standards, and the Safety Training and Education standard for the construction industry. There are also 28 OSHA-approved state standards on heat exposure.

“Review standards on heat exposure, and consult relevant regulations.”

OSHA also provides guidelines to employers on how to better protect workers from heat illness, including a guide to understanding the heat index. As OSHA explained, the risk of heat-related illness becomes greater with both increased temperature and increased humidity. The heat index measures both these factors and is better than air temperature alone for predicting the risks workers face.

OSHA also provides clarification on how to adjust the use of personal protection equipment to maintain compliance while accounting for heat exposure, as some types of PPEs, such as hard hats, may contribute to heat exhaustion. The agency has provided industry specific resources as well.

It’s crucial to remember that workers in outdoor environments face the greatest risk, and the rate of heat-related illness is highest for new workers. A CAL/OSHA study found that around half the number of incidents related to heat-exposure happened on the employee’s first day on the site, and 80% happened within the first few days. It’s important to recognize that heat illness may manifest as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and both are serious medical conditions. OSHA also offers simple training materials that employers can utilize for training workers to recognize heat-related illnesses.

The importance of hydration
Proper hydration remains one of the best tools for preventing heat-related illness. Both heat and strenuous labor deplete the body’s hydration levels, leading to thirst, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness or confusion. All these conditions may contribute to accidents at the job site. If left unaddressed, dehydration can contribute to heat rash, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

General best practice suggests employers provide workers with one quart of water per hour, and some workers may need more. Certain factors can increase the risk of dehydration. These include:

  • Age
  • Underlying health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Medications
  • Higher levels of physical exertion
  • Air temperature
  • Radiant heat from machinery

Employers can encourage workers to drink more water by providing time for water breaks, during which water can be sipped slowly. Workers may also be outfitted in PPE that helps keep them cool. Employers may also consider supplying workers with hydration packs or reusable water bottles for water breaks.

Total Safety is here to help!
Our experienced EHS consultants can help evaluate and put into place a Heat Stress Management plan. Talk to us about recommended products to help keep your workers comfortable and hydrated.

Heat Management Products:

  • Cooling garments
  • Wide selection of light-weight garments
  • On-site hydration solutions
  • Cooling trailers
Night time, Male worker in uniform is tired and wiping his forehead

How to Manage Fatigue in the Workplace 

Night time, Male worker in uniform is tired and wiping his forehead

Workplace safety includes consideration of long work hours, swing shifts, and other rotating schedules that have an impact on worker fatigue. According to OSHA, almost 15 million American workers have full-time jobs that require evening, night, rotating or other irregular shifts that contributes to worker fatigue. 

It is the employer’s responsibility to provide employees who are working very long shifts adequate breaks and rest time between shifts. It is a manager’s responsibility to recognize when their workers are displaying symptoms of fatigue to avoid injuries and costly damage. Recent news about the prevalence of fatigue in the workplace makes now the right time to discuss how to recognize fatigue and what to do about it.  

“Fatigue causes 13% of accidents in the workplace”

The Dangers of Fatigue in the Workplace 

Fatigue has a direct effect on the workforce. Fatigue affects employees’ memory, balance, concentration, decision-making, and motor skills. Research shows 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, a dangerous byproduct of a society that operates 24 hours a day. In the long term, persistent fatigue and lack of proper sleep can lead to poor employee health, potentially increasing the incidence or severity of issues like diabetes and heart disease.  

Employees often feel the effects of a lack of rest when they commute back and forth to work. Reduced alertness and reaction time both negatively influence driver performance and put workers at risk as they travel to and from job sites each day. 

The frequency with which fatigue occurs in the workplace must be recognized to craft an effective solution. Businesses, alongside the managers, supervisors and EHS specialists that address safety issues, need to look at this as a broad-based problem that could lead to negative consequences at nearly any workplace. 

 Signs of Workplace Fatigue 

Fatigue presents unique challenges for companies, but recognizing the signs of fatigue can help managers to keep employees safe.  Here are seven signs of fatigue:   Continue reading