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Hazard Recognition for Turnarounds

By John Baker, Total Safety Certified Industrial Hygienist

These are the “Top Ten” most frequently cited OSHA standards for the past year:

  1. Scaffolding
  2. Fall Protection
  3. Hazard Communication
  4. Respiratory Protection
  5. Lock Out/Tag Out
  6. Electrical, wiring
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks
  8. Ladders
  9. Electrical, general
  10. Machine Guarding

Let’s take this list of OSHA standards and translate it into the actual hazards and how to recognize them in the workplace to prevent accidents and ensure compliance. What should you look for to prevent the top ten OSHA citations during turnarounds?

Scaffolding is the most frequently cited standard, followed by fall protection. We must be sure that each scaffold has a current, daily inspection tag, proper handrails and toe boards, and is erected on a level, firm surface. If a scaffold is more than four times taller than it is wide, is it secured to keep it from tipping over? Fall protection for construction is required for working six feet or more above ground level. Are your anchor points strong enough? They must hold 5,000 pounds for each person attached to them. Are your harnesses inspected prior to every use to be sure that they are free of defects? Where are floor and wall openings – are they guarded? Where are holes that tools, parts, aerosol cans or hot material could fall through? Are they covered and marked?

Do you have all the Material Safety Data Sheets for the welding rods, paints, adhesives, abrasive media, catalysts, and are they reviewed in everyday language by the supervisor before the craft people use them? Are containers labeled with the name of the contents and all warnings?

Has a lock out/tag out system been set up for each area where energy must be neutralized to allow safe work? Are there alternative pathways for electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic or any other sort of “stored energy” to activate equipment?  Can you confirm that all these alternative energy sources been locked out?

Electrical wiring must be inspected to be sure it is free of nicks, kinks, frayed insulation and that the plugs ensure a good ground connection. OSHA requires 3 wire cord sets, not “ribbon” 2 wire cords. Excessive use of cords should be avoided and temporary wiring should be securely fastened every 10 feet and protected from physical damage. Are conduit fittings and junction box covers securely attached and breaker boxes and panel covers closed? Are there enough ground fault circuit interrupters available and have they been tested to make sure that they will work when needed. Are electrical outlets overloaded? Never force a circuit breaker to stay on as this could over draw an electrical device and cause a fire.  OSHA considers 600 volts or more as “high voltage”: make sure that any exposed live parts are guarded and posted with warning signs forbidding unqualified personnel entry or access. Assume that all overhead power lines are energized and keep at least 10 feet away from them.

Have all the appropriate people had forklift driving training? Are inspections done before each work shift when the forklifts or other industrial trucks are used? No one should be riding on the forks or anywhere else other than in a seat with a proper seat belt.

Are ladders inspected to be sure that rungs and steps are free from grease or oil, and joints between steps/rungs and side rails are tight? Are all hardware and fittings securely attached? A portable ladder should be angles so that its base is one-fourth of its working length from the vertical and at least 3 feet should project over the landing to be accessed.  Ladders must not be placed in boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to get additional height. No one should be standing on the top step of a step ladder. A rope should be used to raise or lower loads. Nothing should be carried in the hands while climbing a ladder.

Machine guarding in the shops is as important as the more visible hazards in the process units. Have existing guards been modified or removed? Rotating shafts and tools; saw blades, grinders, and other equipment with unprotected points of operation should have guards, interlocks or some means of keeping hands and body parts out of danger.

These are just a few of the most common hazards to look for related to the top 10 OSHA citations.  See how many more you can find at your job site. These tips are just the tip of the iceberg!

For more information about occupational hazards, feel free to contact us at 888.44.TOTAL.