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Category Archives: Occupational Health and Safety

Ensuring Safety On Our Watch: How We Provide Customized Compliance Solutions to Every Client

In a government-regulation free world, do you think that your company would provide a safe and healthy workplace for its employees? If the opposite were true and every possible rule and regulation imaginable were imposed, do you think that there would never be a workplace accident again? Either side could be easily argued, but political ideologies aside, workers do need a safe and healthy workplace, not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the company.

Total Safety provides integrated safety services and solutions designed to keep workers, the environment, the community and assets safe and in compliance, fulfilling our mission — to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide (W3). We strategically design our line of safety services by taking into account our clients’ needs and various market factors, allowing us to adapt to changing regulations and various requirements. With that said, no matter the regulations, no matter the market factors, there will always be a basic need for risk mitigation and worker and facility protection that assesses, sometimes evolving, needs.

So, how does Total Safety ensure the safety of workers and facilities around the world? Each customer and location is different, so there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Our experts have created a health, safety, environment and security (HSES) life-cycle that:

  • Assesses the needs of the client for that particular location, which, at its core, is to maintain a safe and healthy work environment
  • Examines current processes, if any, and recommends opportunities for improvement
  • Implements improved safety and compliance processes, navigating sometimes complex and demanding regulatory requirements, as well as the requirements of the client
  • Monitors implementation and measures outcomes, and
  • Enhances the existing implemented program with continual re-assessment of client’s needs.

We approach our business with the aforementioned “life-cycle” because each can evolve both directly because of or independently of the other; therefore, all steps must be taken to ensure safety. Yet despite the increasing focus on safety and compliance services, these functions are still not viewed as core competencies by most businesses. There is the recognition that safety and compliance is an area that needs to be addressed, while minimizing human and economic costs. Recognizing the importance of safety and compliance is important is only the first step. The unyielding recognition that only a true safety culture, accepted by all, will make a difference. Developing a sustaining safety culture within your company is a life-style of sorts. It must be lived, day-in and day-out, by every member of your team, and that is where Total Safety comes in.

Total Safety has this unique ability to integrate safety services, equipment, training, technical expertise and so much more to provide a cohesive and comprehensive solution that is critical to addressing the safety and compliance needs of the client. With this customized solution, our clients, in fact, have improved workplace efficiencies, lower total costs and a reduction in workplace incidents.

Assess the Needs of the Client
This is an important step for both Total Safety team members and the client. By assessing the client’s needs, we can help the client anticipate, recognize, evaluate, control and prevent potential occupational hazard, illness and disease exposure, ensuring that all parties involved are informed and concur. By assessing the client’s potential exposure, we can then begin to provide a road map to prevention, protection and compliance through a process of evaluating and prioritizing the monitoring and control of hazards in the workplace.

It should be noted that, with Total Safety, this is a relationship. We do not intend to “swoop in” to our client’s location and begin listing areas in which we feel safety and compliance can be improved. We strongly feel that no one knows their company better than them, and that most personnel are aware of major areas of safety concern at their facility.

Examine Current Processes and Recommend Opportunities for Improvement
Certain countries and states require employers to implement and maintain an injury and illness protection program (I2P2). These countries include Canada; Australia; European Union member states; Norway; 15 U.S. states and more. If a program is currently in place, we examine current processes and protocols, determine and “holes” that might exist within the program and provide detailed, actionable recommendations for enhancing safety performance and outcomes.

This “front-end” consultative approach is a powerful tool for the client. It helps clients better understand where its strengths and weaknesses are, but most importantly, it exposes opportunities for improvement with actual recommendations and suggestions for improvement. It gives the client not only a goal, but steps on how to attain that goal, supported by an objective third-party opinion.

Total Safety performs efficient, in-depth audits of the client’s facility. Our auditors examine the programs that currently exist at a facility, evaluate its implementation and determine the level of compliance through interviews with a cross-section of facility staff, reviews of records and documentation, and field observation of work practices and equipment.

The typical audit report provided by Total Safety documents the strengths and weaknesses and provides auditor recommendations as necessary for achieving compliance and/or improving current programs. Our auditors supply objectivity, benchmarking capabilities, and the dedicated time necessary for completing the audit and issuing the report in a timely manner.

Implement Improved Safety and Compliance Processes
We structure our line of services to proactively address safety concerns, meeting or exceeding the requirements of applicable regulations and codes, as well as the requirements of the client. The brilliance of Total Safety’s integratable safety services and equipment is that as much or as little as needed can be utilized to achieve the safety and compliance needs of the client. We pull from a full gamut of service and equipment offerings to deliver a solution to, sometimes unique, needs.

By implementing this customized solution, we manage a comprehensive range of safety hazards facing the client’s personnel and facility and function as an extension of the client’s complete safety organization. In addition, we capture the demand for additional, complementary safety solutions based on our unique ability to integrate our full range of services and onsite delivery model, thereby, saving the client money, time and effort.

Monitor Implementation and Measure Outcomes
To ensure that the implemented safety and compliance processes are achieving the stated safety objectives, our team monitors the program, measures outcomes and captures extensive data, as well as proper documentation, to support analysis of the safety performance and compliance with regulatory and internal standards. Once the data is captured, we then compare to industry standards and peer performance to determine relative safety performance.

Compliance monitoring from Total Safety can also include regulatory compliance inspections. Our exclusive Smart Inspections program utilizes highly-sophisticated, handheld computing technology to efficiently manage ongoing regulatory compliance inspections. Once our Smart Inspection is complete, our trained service technician downloads the resulting information, providing all of the necessary regulatory paperwork and other reports on the spot. This process takes just a few seconds and can save hours in completing manual paperwork. The reports created will detail all inspection information, including each asset type inspected, a listing of the points of inspection and a pass/fail response that is clearly listed.

Enhance with Continual Re-assessment of the Client’s Needs
An imperative “step” in the overall life-cycle is the re-assessment of the client’s needs and the implemented safety and compliance program. This step allows for a true safety culture, as it fosters continuous internal reflection and company-improvement, as well as forces the company and its safety culture to avoid complacency and to only get better and better.

By re-assessing the safety and compliance program, we identify areas for improvement, determine the root cause of systematic safety deficits and develop specific recommendations for necessary updates to the safety program, leveraging safety data and documentation to drive improved safety outcomes. We again provide a road map of detailed and specific recommendations, reinforcing our value proposition, and re-engage in the assessment of the safety and compliance program. This further allows for the inherent evolution of safety regulations and processes. As regulations and requirements change, so do the client’s needs, and this life-cycle allows for the continual revitalization of the safety program, if needed.

Why Choose Total Safety for Your Safety and Compliance Needs
Hazardous environments are expensive. The high costs associated with failure, maintenance and equipment pose significant incremental capital outlay for companies. As a result, companies choose to outsource its safety and compliance needs to third-party companies to lower its overall costs and improve overall compliance, allowing for a more direct focus on its core business. Once the decision has been made to outsource, companies prefer to build a relationship with Total Safety because we are a single-source safety solutions provider.

Utilizing a single source for safety services and equipment eliminates the added cost and logistical challenges of managing multiple vendors, allowing for better accountability for the reliable and responsive delivery of safety solutions. Total Safety maintains an attractive leadership position as a global, comprehensive safety service source that provides the needed depth of technical expertise and resources to address the full spectrum of your safety needs.

Look to Total Safety to provide a customized solution with:

  • Respiratory protection
  • Gas detection and monitoring, including H2S
  • Fire protection, including engineering, design, installation, inspection, testing and maintenance
  • Communications, including design, installation, maintenance and repair
  • Environment, health and safety, including industrial hygiene, process safety management (PSM), professional safety and environmental safety
  • Specialized safety personnel, including safety technicians and attendants
  • Medical management, including onsite emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
  • Safety training, in-house or onsite
  • Rescue and emergency response
  • Materials management

On our watch, our goal is to provide high-quality safety and compliance solutions and equipment in a measurable, cost-effective manner, without compromise. We stand behind the promise we make to each of our clients — providing safety services that work, while helping our clients protect lives, property and the environment.

Safety is not optional as global compliance requirements evolve

By Stenning Schueppert, VP of Strategy & Corporate Development

Safety is becoming the nucleus within forward-thinking organizations and encouraging many reactive-based companies to evolve.Safety is an imperative, recurring requirement for every company in the world but none more so than those participating in energy and industrial markets, which are dominated by mission-critical, hazardous environments in which they operate. Risk mitigation involves workers, infrastructure, the company’s assets, and, ultimately, the safety and security of the company as a whole. The pace of the “safety evolution” has only accelerated in recent years as an increasing number of industrial incidents and the global visibility of their human and economic impact are driving more stringent regulations, highlighting the emphasis on enhanced risk mitigation and worker protection.

Gravitating to the core
As the world flattens, instant global communication becomes standard, and as the cost — both financial and reputational — of industrial accidents increases, the importance of safety compliance and global programs continues to rise. Global companies face global safety risks: a lesson first taught to Union Carbide after the 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India, and reiterated countless times since — most recently on a scale basis with the Macondo spill. For safety professionals, the value of the workers’ health and well-being has always been more than enough to make it their dedicated core mission; the interesting evolution in recent years has been the migration from HSE department to, in many cases, the leading agenda item in executive offices and board rooms of the largest multinational companies in the world.

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar chairman and CEO, has called safety “the most important order of business” at the company. Energy companies have long-since focused on safety but are making earnest attempts to improve their safety cultures. Chevron’s “Do it safely or not at all … There is always time to do it right” slogan or ExxonMobil’s “Nobody Gets Hurt” vision that, per ExxonMobil, “is internalized in the company’s culture, [and is] positively influencing behavior of each employee and contractor,” are just a few such examples.

Increasing attention and cost of compliance
Ever-more publicized and scrutinized industrial incidents including recent oil spills and pipeline explosions have placed a more public spotlight on safety and compliance across energy and industrial markets. These and the thousands of other small-scale incidents are driving greater public inquiry of safety cultures and creating increased demand for dedicated expert safety solutions. The combination of these large and small “recurring nonrecurring” incidents highlights the need for inspection, maintenance, repair and timely replacement of safety equipment and continuous improvement of safety programs.

Furthermore, the cost of noncompliance decreases productivity and can lead to significant reputational damage. How much can this cost? According to often-cited statistics from Liberty Mutual’s “Workplace Safety Index” for 2010, workplace incidents cost U.S.-based companies more than $1 billion a week in workers compensation claims alone. How much production is lost from a single shutdown to treat an injured worker? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted 3.1 million nonfatal occupational injuries occurred during 2010 — an astounding incidence rate of three-and-one-half cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. The total impact of these incidents would be difficult to compute, but one thing is clear — whether large or small, these incidents can and are catalyzing permanent regulatory changes and revised procedures requiring substantial levels of compliance activities across entire industries.

Regulations becoming increasingly stringent
Countless standard setting bodies domestically and abroad play a fundamental role that reinforces demand for safety solutions by issuing, and then enforcing, minimum safety standard regulations. From OSHA to the EPA, from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health or the International Code Council to the National Fire Protection Association, regulations and guidelines are likely to tighten in the future given the demanding operating requirements and increasing oversight for the reasons discussed herein. Compliance standards disseminated by regulatory bodies are continuously made more exacting, and in some cases enigmatic, fostering a growing demand for truly dedicated experts. Remaining versed in these intricate and changing regulations can be challenging, and penalties for noncompliance can be substantial in terms of fines or forced downtime.

Going global: No more excuses
The global community is waking up to the fact that to play and succeed in a worldwide market, bringing standards up to the best-in-class is a must. Local compliance and local standards are starting to fade as both multinational corporations and even governmental regulatory agencies are breaking down political borders when implementing or judging safety programs and requirements. The Fukushima Nuclear Plant Explosion last year in Japan is no exception. Just recently, Nuclear Safety Commission Chairman Haruki Madarame told an inquiry, “The root of the problem lies in the fact that, when other countries implement changes, Japan spends time making excuses as to why we don’t have to follow.” Hopefully, the tides of change won’t require another tsunami to drive the point home. Earlier examples, such as the Chilean Copíapo Mining Accident in August 2010 (that thankfully had a positive outcome), continue to highlight varying degrees of safety standards that must align — by bringing standards up to the leaders, not by mitigating to the mean.

Globalization is driving more consistent standards
As business becomes increasingly global, multinationals working across geographies and continents are focused on maintaining the same safety standards relevant to their home country in all geographies in which they operate — even if that exceeds the safety and compliance standards of the countries in which they operate. In addition to the needs of clients, competitive and dynamic market forces drive further demand for safety and compliance solutions, enforcing an effective “highest common denominator” concept. The developing countries that need the most help are also those countries consuming greater amounts of petroleum products, the same countries that are looking to these multinationals for help. That help is starting to come with a stipulation — improve your safety standards or we will.

Benefits to centralized globalization
As the multinational companies develop standard and/or centralized approaches to safety, experts emphasize taking a global approach isn’t simply about avoiding problems, yet also fosters a wealth of opportunity to improve company performance. Another advantage lies in the fact it is easier to manage a universal set of standards for all markets, as opposed to a separate standard for every regional location around the world. In addition, it is easier to use safety observations, track leading indicators and conduct training with a single global set of standards. Also, as reporter James Nash has reported, “Companies often transfer safety and operations managers from country to country; having a global system reduces training costs and the confusion that can result from having to learn a new way of doing things after each move.” Caterpillar’s environment, health and safety programs, while standardized, have still accommodated for the necessary flexibility that is required to participate in a global community. The programs are designed to allow each facility, no matter where it may be located worldwide, to implement programs and processes in a way that makes sense for the local culture, language and regulatory environment.

The end result
Safety has never been optional, but it is nonetheless becoming the nucleus within forward-thinking organizations and encouraging many reactive-based companies to evolve. Executive leadership teams must design and execute safety programs that ensure compliance with a wide range of complex, stringent and mandatory regulations to protect the lives of their employees and their infrastructure. The severe nonmarket and economic costs of noncompliance render demand for safety solutions inelastic — domestic companies, as well as those that are servicing U.S.-based multinationals are unable to elect their compliance regimes and global companies themselves are forced to participate in an ever-complex and ever-evolving set of global compliance requirements. As these requirements progress, it will take dedicated experts to respond to these needs and, hopefully, stay one step ahead to protect everyone’s greatest assets — their people.

Reduce Safety Risks and Remain Compliant with an I2P2

By Mandy Sunderland, Sr. Industrial Hygienist, Total Safety

For years, OSHA has been developing a rule to require employers to establish and maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2). While the actual rule is still in the works,  OSHA released a white paper in January 2012 concerning I2P2 and a potential new rule that would require employers to proactively find and fix hazards in their workplace.

What is an I2P2?

Typically created by experienced safety and health professionals, an I2P2 defines minimum acceptable work practices at a given work site and lays out a structure of responsibility and authority to systematically address workplace safety and health hazards on an ongoing basis to reduce the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses. Basically, an I2P2 takes a proactive approach to controlling incidents as it focuses on finding hazards in the workplace before an accident occurs and developing a plan for preventing and controlling them.

The key elements common to successful I2P2s are:

  • Management leadership
  • Worker participation
  • Hazard identification and assessment
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Education and training
  • Program evaluation and improvement

In addition, it’s critical to periodically evaluate your I2P2 to determine whether improvements need to be made.

For readers who participate in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), you are already familiar with these core elements of your organization’s safety and health program. Readers whose organizations have incorporated either one of the two voluntary consensus standards, ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 or OHSAS 18001-2007 on Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems should be well-prepared for I2P2.

OSHA’s 1998 Draft of a Proposed Rule on Safety and Health Management Programs allowed the “grandfathering” of employers who have implemented a program that included the core elements mentioned above, or demonstrated the effectiveness of any provision that differs. Although there is no guarantee that any future proposed rule would include a grandfather clause, the benefits to be gained in finding and fixing safety and health hazards in an organized and documented manner are worth the time and effort.

Why do we need an I2P2?

Every day, more than 12 workers die on the job, which equates to over 4,500 a year. In addition, more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness each year. The actual cost of a fatality or lost workday injury is substantial, not to mention to the anguish these incidents impose on the workforce. For every dollar spent on direct costs, up to ten times more is spent on indirect and hidden costs. These indirect costs include:

  • Lost productivity by the injured employee and their co-workers
  • Time spent on investigations completing paperwork
  • Clean up and re-start of operations interrupted by the accident
  • Time to hire or train replacement workers
  • Time and cost for repair or replacement of damaged equipment or materials

However, we are not powerless when it comes to preventing serious injuries. We can and should have a handy tool in our EHS arsenal to help prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place – a solid, effective I2P2. As stated by OSHA in their January 2012 white paper:

‘Thirty-four states and many nations around the world already require or encourage employers to implement [I2P2s]. …These countries include Canada, Australia, all 27 European Union member states, Norway, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. This initiative also follows the lead of 15 U.S. states that have already implemented regulations requiring such programs.”

Whether you need to develop a comprehensive program tailored to your facility for the first time or simply need to update your existing I2P2, you will help reduce the risk of work-related incidents and remain in compliance with current and future legal requirements.

Plant Outage Safety: Make a List and Check it Twice!

By Mandy Sunderland, Senior Industrial Hygienist

It is recognized that well-planned and executed outages are far less expensive and much safer than taking a reactive approach and responding to unplanned failures as they occur.

Tremendous effort typically goes into planning and coordinating the various aspects of a major outage to maximize repairs and preventive maintenance that can only be conducted in “shut down” mode. It is critical that all issues, like industrial hygiene, rescue and safety personnel, are fully addressed in the early phases of outage planning. Playing catch-up in these areas can have a negative impact on worker safety, project budget and schedule.

Industrial Hygiene Management

Assessing risks of chemical and physical exposure for the myriad activities involved in major industrial outages can be daunting for even the most seasoned Industrial Hygiene professional. But a comprehensive IH assessment is an essential part of outage management to assure IH resources are allocated properly, controls are provided and exposures are monitored.  Creating a comprehensive list of activities and potential exposures will protect workers, improve safety and reduce costs during the outage process.

From the assessment, the information should then be compiled and prioritized for controls and monitoring.  Priorities should be established based on:

  • Toxicity and immediate risk to workers
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Understanding of the work activity
    (are exposures related to the activity well understood and documented, or is
    this a new or unique potential exposure that is not well understood?)

Emergency and Rescue

Having highly skilled safety personnel on standby to protect workers in emergency situations reduces liability and increases productivity by being able to respond quickly and appropriately. Rescue personnel should provide:

  • Self-rescue and rescue team training
  • High angle, hull entry and confined space rescues
  • Safety supervision and confined space assessment
  • Space or site rescue pre-planning and pre-entry equipment staging
  • Proper entry permit documentation
  • The writing of hull entry procedures and guidelines
  • Continuous atmospheric monitoring and ambient air testing

Specialized Industrial Safety Personnel

Industrial Safety Technicians and Safety Attendants (holewatch/firewatch/bottlewatch) increase safety and efficiency and reduce costs. By having Specialized Safety Personnel on an
outage provide excellent benefits, like:

  • More competitive billing rates
  • Craftsmen are not tied up performing attendant duties
  • Reducing the number of multiple contractor employees, thus reducing the total man-hour costs of the project
  • Immediately being able to provide time tickets and head count reports, as well as up-to-the-minute cost reporting

Due to the high cost and loss of production associated with outages, it is essential these are executed as efficiently and safely as possible.  Proper management of safety issues during outages can help your company increase profitability and decrease liability during crucial outage and shutdown periods. Outages are hectic, chaotic and stressful by nature. By making your safety list (and checking it twice), you can help ensure the success of your outage!

Emergency Response Industrial Hygiene Monitoring

Because of the unique challenges surrounding emergency response IH monitoring, choose a provider that is able to develop written protocols/procedures, to deploy teams and equipment quickly, to provide experienced/knowledgeable personnel, quality support staff, and can adapt to ever changing conditions.By Lisa Browning, Training Coordinator

The time is now! Plan for how your facility will conduct emergency response industrial hygiene (IH) monitoring. What should you be looking for in a provider of this service? Because of the unique challenges surrounding emergency response IH monitoring, choose a provider that is able to develop written protocols/procedures, to deploy teams and equipment  quickly, to provide experienced/knowledgeable personnel, quality support staff, and can adapt to ever changing conditions. Some of the more challenging issues arising specific to IH monitoring include but are not limited to mobility, flexibility, proper equipment, documentation, reporting, and site specific training.

Developing written protocols/procedures has to occur first. The protocols set the applicable exposure levels, alarm levels and actions including deployment of respiratory protection, establishment of safe zones, evacuation, shelter-in-place or other personal protective measures.  Reporting mechanisms, format and timing of data reports should also be included in the protocol.  It is important to remember that reports are often shared not only with the client but others as well including federal, state and local authorities. Therefore, a data management support team must be available 24/7 to provide quality assurance and create a database from which a variety of reports can be prepared quickly.  Certified industrial hygienists should be utilized to write the IH sampling protocol and be available to lead project management.  Summary reports that pull all of the information together at the end of the event should be prepared and retained just as any other industrial hygiene medical record.

Next comes deployment which includes both necessary equipment and a team of personnel to operate the equipment. Your provider has to have the equipment in inventory or else have connections already in place to get it. Equipment ranges from simple personal monitoring pumps to the more technologically advanced real time wireless monitoring systems with built in GPS and data management software. All of which must be rugged, portable, intrinsically safe and able to collect large quantities of data for the specific contaminant(s) of concern.

One thing often overlooked is the need for an IH Mobile Command Center. It must communicate with both the site’s incident command center and also the outside world. A high speed Internet connection is needed for monitoring data management software. A standalone IH Mobile Command Center will not interfere with the incident command center  communication requirements but seamlessly integrate on site.

Training is a valuable component. Your provider should have the ability to train their own responding team and also be available to train other site workers. Monitoring personnel should have completed HAZWOPER, Incident Command, NIMS, respiratory protection and other standard courses. However, prior to deployment, training should occur on the incident IH monitoring protocol, site specific hazards, client’s procedures, reporting requirements, and equipment use.

Support away from the response is required. The provider needs to have a strong support staff  provide additional resources to handle issues that may arise during the sampling. Plan now and choose your emergency response IH monitoring provider with these criteria in mind to ensure that your facility is fully prepared for any emergency response.

ICU, a Total Safety Company, Has Relocated

ICU, Total Safety's Environment, Health and Safety Services Company, has relocated in Houston, Texas.ICU, A Total Safety Company will now offer environmental, health and safety services from a new location:

4100 N. Sam Houston Parkway W., Suite 290 Houston, TX 77086

Business: 281.363.9939
Fax: 281.363.4744

ICU’s professional experience and expertise provides customers with the resources necessary to complete  EHS projects successfully, within budget and on time, while reducing risk and liability. Continue to look to our experts for Occupational Health Services, Safety Services, Technical Training Services, Environmental Services and more, just from a new, centralized location.

Finding Safety Solutions that Work for the Midstream Industry

Total Safety provides a suite of safety services and equipment that can be mixed and matched to provide a customized solution for midstream projects that will improve worker safety, decrease project time and lower costs.With the growing energy demand, midstream infrastructure is under great pressure to be delivered on time and within budget. Such pressure allows for the temptation of shortcuts to be taken or inadequate processes to be implemented in order to meet that demand.

Having processes and controls in place specifically tailored for midstream operations, as opposed to relying on those used for upstream, will streamline projects and reduce costs overall.

Specialized Safety Personnel

Having a team of personnel experienced in midstream operations aids greatly in creating an environment of safety because the team is aware of what safety precautions should and need to be taken, and they will know how to respond in case of an injury or emergency.

Total Safety assigns safety consultants, field safety crews, medics and specialized safety staff to midstream projects, long- or short-term, with the goal of maintaining high standards of safety. With Total Safety’s Specialized Safety Personnel (SPP), the billing rates are more competitive than “craftsman” billing rates, and the number of multiple contractor employees is reduced by having a centralized pool of trained safety personnel that can be dispatched and assigned to all areas of the project, reducing the total man-hour costs of the project.

Fire Protection Engineering, Design and Installation

Fire monitoring and suppression systems are an integral part of any safety program, specifically in midstream operations, as the infrastructure is typically in a remote location, a good distance from any type of outside aide. Therefore, these systems are imperative to the safety of life, assets and the environment.

Total Safety specializes in fire protection services that include providing audits and design/engineering of water spray and foam systems, fire pumps, fire detection and alarm design packages for process units, and design and installation of fire protection systems, as well as the inspection testing and maintenance of those systems.

Industrial Hygiene

Potential occupational hazards may include exposures to acetone and alkylates, to benzene, butadiene, hydrogen sulfide and kerosene, depending on your operations. Exposures may be encountered during pipeline activities and by tanker, rail car, ship and barge operations.

A Work Place Exposure Assessment (WEA) is at the heart of any successful industrial hygiene program.  Total Safety’s comprehensive WEAs take a fresh look at tasks, materials, exposure potential and controls through a systematic approach and associated process. It results in a clearly prioritized list of actions that help ensure the well being of workers. Along with reducing incidents, benefits include reduced liability, increased productivity and safety awareness, and conformance with regulations and industry standards.

Communications

Pipeline operators constantly monitor pipelines for up-to-date measurements and leak detection and stay in touch with maintenance personnel spread over wide-areas. Operators monitoring storage tanks situated at the end of a pipeline, as well as in refineries and chemical plants, must be able to communicate around-the-clock with key personnel.

Total Safety’s communications solutions are designed to increase safety by providing immediate communication in emergency situations and maximizing productivity by allowing workers to communicate quickly.

Our top-of-the-line communications equipment, available for rent or purchase, is ideal for remote locations. Our fleet includes everything from two-way radios to mobile Internet hotspots and is backed by in-house certified technicians who maintain and upgrade the equipment.

Safety Equipment, For Rent or Purchase

Essential to any industrial operation, safety equipment is designed to protect workers and the environment; however, from personal protective equipment (PPE) to high-tech gas monitors, safety equipment only works when it is being used properly, in compliance with the manufacturer and other regulating bodies’ guidelines.

Total Safety offers a complete line of industrial safety equipment for rent or purchase. In fact, they house the world’s largest rental fleet of equipment manufactured by leaders in the industry. In addition, Total Safety employs in-house certified technicians to repair and maintain Total Safety or customer-owned equipment.

Emergency Response

What if the unthinkable were to happen, and a leak were to occur in the pipeline? A proactive plan should be in place that addresses the necessary steps and procurement channels that should be in place to streamline recovery and get the systems back online.

With quick response time, seasoned personnel and an integrated menu of support services, Total Safety aids companies when disaster strikes. Their start-to-finish solutions are designed to deliver on the high number of customer requests and respond to the customer’s needs by providing two-way radios, fall protection, fire extinguishers, gas detection instruments, as well as the calibration and bump testing of the monitors, respiratory equipment, fit-testing, PPE resale and management, and, most importantly, safety training.

There are many aspects of a midstream project that need to work together to make the project not only successful, but safe. To overcome undesirable project outcomes, ensure that key materials, labor and contractor capabilities are planned for and that the right processes and internal control support are delivered.

Industrial Hygiene is a Must in Pipeline Operations

Accidents involving pipelines have jumped from 9 in 2008 to 22 in 2010
Accidents involving pipelines have jumped from 9 in 2008 to 22 in 2010

By Mandy Sunderland, Senior Industrial Hygienist

Pipeline accidents and fatalities have been on the rise, jumping from nine in 2008 to 22 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  There is a growing recognition that America’s aging oil and gas infrastructure may be playing a part in this increase.

Major overhauls may be required to prevent events such as the September 9, 2010, natural-gas explosion that devastated a neighborhood in Northern California. In this case, a 50 year old pipeline ruptured at a defective seam weld and the ensuing explosion killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced in early April 2011 an initiative to repair and replace the nation’s pipelines. Texas alone has about 16% of the nation’s gas transmission lines and more than half of these lines were laid more than 40 years ago, which makes them more vulnerable to failure. In Texas, there are roughly 46,000 miles of gas transmission lines that pipeline employees must cover on a regular basis. The increased activity to support the anticipated pipeline repair and replacement initiative will require a large number of people working together to conduct repairs that present significant exposure potential to hazardous activities not encountered during normal operations.

Given the nature of the business, exposure monitoring in pipeline operations presents some real logistical challenges, and it may be hard to conduct monitoring in a cost effective manner. As these projects become more numerous, the regular work force may be unable to handle the increased load, and thus, less experienced workers may be used, which presents additional hazard potential.

Potential risks may include exposures to acetone, and alkylates, to benzene, butadiene, hydrogen sulfide and kerosene depending on your operations.  Exposures may be encountered during pipeline activities and by tanker, rail car, ship and barge operations.

As we all know, a Work Place Exposure Assessment (WEA) is at the heart of any successful industrial hygiene program.  A comprehensive WEA takes a fresh look at tasks, materials, exposure potential and controls through a systematic approach and associated process. It results in a clearly prioritized list of actions that help ensure the well being of workers. Along with reducing incidents, benefits include reduced liability, increased productivity and safety awareness, and conformance with regulations and industry standards.

A facility without a current WEA may sample unnecessary materials, bringing with it a false sense of security. This can occur when changes in operations, processes or materials are not recognized and evaluated. A well conducted WEA will identify the necessary medical surveillance and training, as well as the specific control equipment and personal protective equipment that are suited to the specific pipeline maintenance task and the non-routine exposures that might occur during replacement or renovation. Most companies recognize the benefits of conducting WEAs, but when it comes to pipeline operations, completing the process sometimes slips off the radar, partially due to the highly mobile and dispersed work force. While it is tempting to put WEAs on ‘the back burner’ during business planning and budgeting, this can be a costly and even a deadly mistake.

Since 2002, the DOT has been required by law to identify the highest risk lines and mandate repairs.  So this might be you!  So hear it through the pipeline and complete your WEA ASAP to avoid potential risk, reduce your liability and increase employee safety and morale on the job!

If you would like additional information regarding Work Place Exposure Assessments or creating a custom industrial hygiene program, call us at 888.44.TOTAL or email us.

Total Safety – The Best Minds in the Business!

A Focus on Elevated Ladders, Platforms and Cages

By Mandy Sunderland – Total Safety, Industrial Hygienist

MSA Dynaglide Fall Protection
Of the most frequently cited OSHA Standards in the fiscal year 2010, ladders were in the top 10 percent.

When there is an article missing around the house that an initial cursory search doesn’t turn up, my husband, kids and I always challenge each other with the question, “Did you take the adult look?” As often, the person looking has walked right past the missing item in plain sight, or has failed to look in the most obvious places. All too often, this is the case with hazards in the work place. If we don’t understand the nature of hazards and where they are most likely to crop up, it is easy to walk right by and not see them. And if a hazard in the workplace goes unrecognized for an extended period of time, it tends to become “invisible” to operators.

This unconscious acceptance of risk is often the case with improperly designed and installed elevated ladders, platforms and cages.

Of the most frequently cited OSHA Standards in the fiscal year 2010, ladders were in the top 10 percent including standards for which OSHA assessed the highest financial penalties.

In 2009, a refrigeration repair company was cited by OSHA for work site safety violations with proposed penalties of $15,750. In this case, an employee fell 12 feet to the ground while using a fixed ladder to access the roof of a building to service refrigeration equipment. He died from injuries sustained in the fall 10 days later. The company received two serious violations relating to using a fixed ladder with less than 7 inches of perpendicular clearance between the rungs and any obstruction behind the ladder — as well as failure to train workers on fixed ladder hazards.

In 2001, a drilling company was cited by OSHA for work site safety violations with proposed penalties of $71,000. In this case, an employee at an oil and gas drilling site lost his balance and fell 85 feet from a service platform near the top of a derrick tower. The company received 11 serious violations related to lack of personal protective equipment, improper fall protection, improper rigging of wire rope lines that run to the ground for an emergency exit, and gaps between rungs, cleats or steps of fixed ladders that exceeded 12 inches.

Total Safety is an expert on ladder, platform and cage safety and has spent many years conducting field assessments and inspections. Here is what Total Safety considers to be the most common violations of standards related to ladders, platforms and cages: (a) Ladders that are not parallel to landings, leaving gaps in excess of 12 inches that can result in fatal falls, (b)  Inadequate landing sizes on elevated platforms, especially those with second ladders off to the rear, which can lead to potential side falls, (c)  Obstructions in the back of ladders, including conduit and piping not at least 7 inches away from the climbing surface, (d) Ladder bases that are not within 12 inches of the ground, or concrete landing pads that are not at least 24 inches by 30 inches, (e) Ladder rungs greater than 12 inches apart and not uniform in size, and (f) OSHA type inspections not being performed annually by qualified personnel and documented per asset including multisection ladders from the top down.

Focus inspections on older equipment that may not have been built with current safety design features in mind.

Working at height is an “elevated” risk activity. Routine inspections and maintenance remain key in substantially reducing the number of on the job, ladder-related injuries. Be sure to take the “adult look” when conducting inspections, because accidents waiting to happen are often right in plain sight!

Total Safety’s Valero Houston Refinery Location Achieves VPP Star Status

Total Safety's Valero Houston Refinery Location Receives OSHA'a VPP Star AwardNot only does Total Safety promote a culture of safety to their clients, we strive for safety excellence within our own company. As a result, Total Safety is proud to announce that our Valero Houston Refinery location has received OSHA’s Vomuntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status. Total Safety would not have been able to achieve this level of excellence without the commitment of our employees and the leadership of management.

We would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of our employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health in accordance with OSHA’s VPP and within our own mission to ensure the safe Wellbeing of Workers Worldwide (W3).

About OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)

The VPP recognizes employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. In VPP, management, labor and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses through a system focused on:

  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Worksite analysis
  • Training
  • Management commitment and worker involvement

To participate, employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals. Union support is required for applicants represented by a bargaining unit. VPP participants are re-evaluated every three to five years to remain in the programs. VPP participants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.

To learn more about OSHA’s VPP, please visit their website at: