Safety Management Series – Be a Skeptic – It Makes You Smarter

I absolutely LOVE learning new things. It’s especially exciting to hear/read about new solutions to old persistent problems. Unfortunately it’s all too easy to get excited about these “new” discoveries when they are announced and/or discussed on LinkedIn or other social media. That excitement should be enjoyed until of course, through further research, you find out that the “study” the new discovery is based on was 12 people. Even worse, the evidence is anecdotal ONLY and “they ALL FEEL BETTER when asked. “Hardly objective, nor verifiable.

Belief by “best seller” is another all too common problem! The safety community, like many others, is searching constantly for the next GREAT thing. Because that discovery may help us accomplish our goals of assisting ourselves and our fellow humans to safely live our collective lives. It’s easy to get caught up in what sounds like a GREAT idea to solve the safety problems! So why not get excited about the next GREAT thing in safety management? Well, actually we should but not before being VERY skeptical about the discovery. By the way, being skeptical is NOT a negative thing. Underlying good skeptical thinking is looking for objectively gathered and analysed evidence. Great claims with no evidence are only MYTHS and interesting ideas. The truth ALWAYS comes from objectively verifiable evidence.

There is a huge difference in what we believe and what may actually be true. As long as we separate the things we know objectively and what we THINK we know, we’ll be fine. The mind plays wonderful tricks on us. It is well documented that the mind is terrible at some things. Optical illusion is just one example. The direction of low frequency sound is another. What we think we see or hear is not what is actually there. Sometimes in our zeal to know the unknown, we may fill in the blanks to create the appearance of us knowing something we don’t. This is the fundamental reason that in early human history the sun was a flaming chariot crossing the sky and NOT the ball of gas it actually is. How do we know it’s a ball of gas? Objective evidence.

It is the search for objective evidence that will help people separate what humans actually know and what we think we MAY know. It doesn’t mean what you are convinced is true isn’t… it just means it MAY be true but we need more information. Here are a few clues that you should be skeptical about the next GREAT thing:

  • When the support for the information starts with “My brother-in-law had X and he was cured by (fill in the blank brand of snake oil or pseudoscience).”
  • I read it on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Any Newspaper or On-Line Blog you can think of
  • I saw it on YouTube!

Remember, we learn by first questioning. Watch any 5 year old go through their day. It’s a very good thing that we do. Just don’t be satisfied with the first answer you come across, ask another question. The best question I was EVER asked was “Why do you think that Al?” If you can’t answer that question with objective evidence please consider looking for more sources of evidence! It’s the evidence that will lead us to the truth AND we’ll all be smarter because of it!

Top 8 Major Elements of Personal Protection Equipment

Personal protective equipment or PPC is now among the most common applications that can be seen in factory and working environments. PPE equipment can be easily worn by workers for minimizing exposure to different kinds of occupational hazards. Some PPE examples include fall protection, aprons, gloves, safety jackets, foot, eye and head protection. The use of PPE would only be a single element in a complete program safety that would employ different kinds of strategies for maintenance of healthy and safe working environment. However, total or permanent protection isn’t guaranteed by PPE as the hazard isn’t eliminated itself.

The major elements of personal protective equipment can be categorized through the body area of protected body, by the types of hazard, and the garment accessory. A single item, like safety shoes, would provide different types of protection: with steel insoles and steel toe cap you get different proper protection from puncture injuries or crushing, impervious rubber and protection lining from chemicals and water protection, high reflectivity and heal resistance through radiant heat protection, and high electrical resistivity protection through electric shock. Here lie the top 8 major elements of PPE-:

1. Noise
With the help of earmuffs and earplugs the damage extent to hearing can be significantly reduced thus increasing ear safety. High level noise exposure causes irreversible loss of hearing and impairment with psychological or physical stress.

2. Access and height protection
The range height and access protection is wide and includes things like fall-arrest systems, body harnesses, lowering harnesses, rescue lifting, lanyards, energy absorbers, etc. Such kind of PPE is specialized and needs thorough training through competent persons, in user checks and the right use as well.

3. Respirators
With respiratory mask it becomes simple to protect the worker from breathing contaminants in the polluted air, thus preserving respiratory tract and the heart’s health. Two main types of respirators are present. Type one functions through filtering gases, chemicals, and airborne particles, through air breathed by workers. The process of filtration would either be active or passive. Particulate respirators or gas masks are main examples of these kinds of respirators. The type two helps in protection of users by offering clean and respirable air through any other source. This type also includes self-contained breathing apparatus and respirators.

4. Protective clothing
Being one of the main PPE elements, it is all-encompassing and refers to different uniforms and suits that is worn for protection of users through any harm. Ballistic coats that are worn through law enforcement officials and lab coats or safety gloves that are worn by scientists daily at work would come under this category.

5. Ensembles
In personal protective equipment, many types of ensembles can be found for protecting you against different conditions and this work together for specific tasks or occupations. PPE equipment like safety helmets is usable for multiple tasks or occupation for offering maximum protection to users. Chainsaw protection can be done by wearing several equipment (especially hearing protection, face guard, anti-vibration gloves, Kevlar chaps and chainsaw safety boots. Additionally, other measures are also advisable for using this hazardous equipment

6. Bee-keepers
Different clothing equipment is worn depending on bee temperament and reaction of bees to availability of nectar. At the minimum, most of the bee keepers wear brimmed hats and veils made through hardware clothes that bear similarity with window-screen materials. Another level of protection would involve long gauntlets with leather gloves.

7. Eye protection
While eye protection equipment would vary per the occupation, the offered safety gets generalized. With safety glasses, you get long term protection from external debris and side protection is possible through side shields and wrap around designs. Eyes can be protected from welding, dust, splashes and other hazards by Safety Goggles. Face shields can be worn over standard eyewear for protection against blood, impact and chemical-borne hazards.

8. Skin protection
Second most common injuries are related to the skin and occupation related skin illnesses like skin cancers, contact dermatitis, infections and other skin injuries are second most common occupational diseases that are costly. Any skin protection PPE is of utmost importance at the workplace as it becomes a barrier between hazardous agent and the skin.

Keep Aging Workers Safe

The workforce is getting older. People are living longer, and dollars aren’t going as far as they’d like. How much of the work force will be at least 55 years old in five years from now? Look at you workers whose still on the job. This is just the world today. Workers are working longer.

That’s good news for companies that don’t want to lose the benefits of older workers – institutional knowledge, lower turnover, more dedication to work, and positive values. But while older workers also tend to have fewer workplace injuries, they generally take longer to heal. With this, Employers must take steps to address this change in the work place.

The Aging Process

Generally, the human body will show signs of aging around ages 40 to 50. However, no two persons are exactly alike. But most will similarly have or show signs associated with aging, like impact vision, hearing, strength and flexibility, and cognitive skills.

What can you Do

Employers cannot point out single older workers for health-related changes without running the risk of discrimination allegations, unless it is an accommodation for someone with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. But you can make changes to make all workers safe. These changes while simple, will help the older workers as well.

But before you make the change, talk to the workers. They are doing the work and can be of assistance in providing insight to what can be changed. Plus, they will feel like the changes are a part of a cooperative effort to make the work place safer and therefore will buy-into the change with less resistance.

Work environment

1. Make the lighting brighter. Put adequate lighting in all areas – inside and out, to make sure surfaces are clearly visible.

2. Keep the work site clean. Get rid of any clutter and have a policy that requires workers to move objects or debris out of normal walking areas. Walkways should also be free of electrical cords and any other objects.

3. Reduce all Noise. Make sure the noise level is at conversation level, unless impossible due to the e type of work. When possible, provide sound-reducing headphones; but make sure any warning bells or alarms have visual as well as auditory alerts.

4. Solid footing. All walking surfaces should be kept dry. If an area is perpetually wet, make sure there is adequate signage and towels to dry the area. Provide mats and slip-resistant shoes for workers in areas where there may be grease or slippery surfaces.

5. Assistive devices. When possible use manual hoisting cranes are a great way to help reduce back strain and prevent musculoskeletal problems.

6. Adjust work space. Make sure workers are comfortable and are properly situated in their chairs and at their desks or other working area.

7. Properly Working Tools. Make sure equipment is always in proper working condition and that safeguards are fully operational.

Conclusion

Making simple changes to help the employees at all levels is an easy way to prevent injuries to all workers, especially older ones.

4 Types of Emergency Safety Showers

An emergency safety shower is a must-have piece of kit for the laboratory or other work environment that has the potential to put workers at risk of hazardous substances. They are used in addition to normal safety precautions, such as face shields and goggles. In the laboratory there is always the risk of chemical exposure due to knocked or dropped containers.

The best course of action to take to prevent serious injury is to use the emergency safety shower for on-the-spot decontamination. This treatment is most effective if used within the 10 to 15 seconds of the initial exposure. Plus, they can also be used as a useful tool to flush contaminants off clothing or effectively put out clothing fires.

Here are a few of the popular types of emergency safety showers:

Ceiling shower

The ceiling shower is a permanent fixture and is typically located in an overhead position and easily activated using a lever or chain. It is built to rapidly direct a large volume of water directly on a person’s head and body after coming into contact with a harmful substance.

Floor mounted

The floor-mounted unit is designed to give all-round treatment with the ability to not only act as a safety shower, but also as a drench hose and eye-wash. This type of system is particularly useful in the laboratory that works with a wide range of hazardous substances.

Deck mounted

The deck mounted unit is built to conveniently attach to a lab beach and operates by squeezing a handle to active the flow of water. This is one of the most practical choices for spot-washing.

Drench hoses

The drench hoses is a further choice for spot-washing, but gives more flexibility compared to the deck mounted units. The hose is easy to direct at the person that is unconscious or unable to stand or even to quick wash beneath clothing before it can be removed. Also, with the correct pressure, the drench hoses can also function as an eye/face washing unit.

Using eye-wash stations

In addition to the shower units to drench the head and body in general, there are also the stand-along eye-wash stations. It isn’t practical to use the standard emergency safety shower to flush the eyes because of the high pressure, which could easily cause damage to the eyes. Many of the eye-wash units direct a constant flow of water and leave the hands free to help pin the eyelids open.

The Benefit of Labelling and Classification for Chemical Safety

Exposure to chemicals can affect many people within the society. We deal with different types of chemical products throughout the day. Individuals working in the laboratory have the higher risk. Chemical effects do not even leave the homemakers cooking in the kitchen. The chemicals produced at factory outlet spreads while carrying through the transportation system. Kids going to school or traveling with parents in the road can get affected by such chemicals. This is possible if proper precaution is not taken while handling or transporting the chemicals. The authorities dealing with the safety of environment are working to prevent the effect.

Attempts for chemical safety –

Many programs are conducted to teach people to stay away from chemicals. They should stay little more cautious. Keeping kids away from such chemical is another important attempt. GHS SDS is nothing but the globally harmonized system. The authority has many techniques to manage such risks. The internationally harmonized approach is economically beneficial for you. Above all, you get protection from chemical effects. The authority deals with labeling and classification of such chemicals. Canada is the country to conduct this program regularly. Today, many countries have become very cautious about the fact. This program is conducted almost in all the countries.

Why is harmonized system introduced? –

We are all trying to avoid chemicals in everything we do. But, some chemicals are really a necessity. You cannot avoid them totally. The global trade of chemicals is contributing a good amount in our country’s national income. If you take some precautions, avoiding the side effects of such chemicals will be easy. GHS SDS communicates the hazards of such chemicals. Not all ratio of chemical is harmful. The authority is aware of the ratio beyond which the combination of the chemical can be life threatening. Thus, the system of classification and labeling of chemicals are introduced. You must go through that data sheet very well.

Facts about increase in cost –
Different countries are working on several methods to harmonize the chemical effect. The system of labeling and classification of each country is also quite different. Each system becomes quite expensive. Government too has to bear a huge cost. The chemical bearing industries have to export it to the other countries. Also, there is a question about the safety of the workers. People present in the system of transportation also have a danger of chemical combustion. Thus, from all corners, there are issues with the transportation of these chemicals.

The Globally harmonized system works on the chemicals that can prove to be hazardous. This can be applied to the effect of chemicals in the workplace. You can also go ahead with the labeling of chemicals that are used in pharma companies. The chemicals are also present in consumer products. As a result, labeling must be done even there and the data sheet for transport worker is the must.

6 Types of Crowd Control Barriers

Any large gathering at festivals, special religious days, or protests can benefit from having the proper crowd control barriers. They are very effective at handling the crowds and significantly increase the level of safety. There are many different barriers with each having a different use and type of control purpose.

Here are a few of the most popular types of crowd control barriers:

Stanchion Barrier

A simple form of crowd control is the stanchion barrier. This consists of upright posts and thick ropes which are very easy to set up. This type of control method is practical for the red-carpet and business-type events. They are well made and efficient, and the posts and ropes can be color coded to perfectly match the hosted event.

Retractable

The retractable barriers are a short-term solution to crowd control and are easily installed in a hurry. This barrier has multiple poles that are connected together using a strong belt like material. It is a practical choice for the business or temporary event that doesn’t normally need a more permanent barrier in place. Plus, it is a useful option to help contain the quite large gathering of people.

Steel

The most robust type of barrier is those manufactured in steel. They are very heavy and multiple pieces interlock together to provide a solid crowd control option. A great benefit of this type of interlocking fence is the low risk of falling over and ability to hold back the larger gatherings. This barrier is a practical choice for the events that have hundreds or thousands of people attending.

Temporary fencing

The temporary fencing is a lightweight option and mostly made in a hard-wearing plastic material. This type of barrier is easily color-coded to match the venue or theme of the occasion. This barrier is really easy to set up and taken down and hauled away when not in use.

Rail systems

The rail systems are a practical choice to direct crowds or queues in lines for the retail outlet. Most of the rail systems rely on horizontal tubing to connect each of the rails. The rails come in many different materials with steel and plastic the most popular choices.

Collapsible

The collapsible barrier is a versatile option and comes in a wide range of sizes and gives complete ease in setting up and storing. They are mostly used to block areas like doorways that have been declared as off-limits. The barrier is designed to easily expand to match the desired width. This type of barrier is a popular choice for stores or small venues.

Safety Data Sheets From Emergency Response and Fire Fighter Perspective

There is an inherent risk present in chemicals, especially those that are classified as hazardous. There is a risk of toxicity, fire, and explosion. Even with best practices, one must be prepared for worst case scenarios where such chemicals may spill, come into contact with the skin of handlers, be inhaled or ingested by them or cause fires or contaminate the soil. In all such cases, emergency responders and firefighters swing into action in order to contain such hazards.

These emergency responders like doctors, nurses, and firefighters rely on lifesaving information that is contained in the Safety Data Sheets and labels. It could mean the difference between life and death. Of course, the primary responsibility is to the persons who are handling the chemicals to be fully informed and act fast to contain the damage but there are instances when emergency response by specialists may be required as happens in the case of explosions and fires as well as damage by corrosive and toxic chemicals. In some cases such as spills of reactive chemicals only trained responder must handle the situation.

How well the SDS is prepared and the clarity of labeling contributes to how fast and correctly the emergency responders can take the right action in such situations and save lives as well as property not to speak of minimizing the impact on the environment. The hardest part for such emergency responder is to determine whether it is a simple or complex spill or situation and this can be resolved if the labels and SDS carry the right information in the appropriate columns. GHS SDS are structured to convey this information. It is up to the manufacturer/distributor/importer to ensure that such information is presented in a succinct fashion to allow emergency responder to take the right decision quickly and effectively.

The sections that are most interests to responder pertain to hazardous identification of a product that covers GHS classification, label elements including graphical symbols and text and other information. The other section is first aid measures that describe an action to be taken according to various exposure types such as inhalation, ingestion, contact and so on and the most important symptoms as well as immediate medical attention required in such cases. The other section of interest is fire-fighting measures that cover the use of appropriate extinguishing media and special hazards of the chemical and protective equipment to be used. Handling and storage sections are just as important as accidental release measures and exposure controls.

It is not surprising that quite a few manufacturers give these sections only cursory importance when they could prove to be of critical importance and it is not surprising that firefighters are not satisfied with the lack of detailed information in SDS and labels. Engaging the right company to take care of updating MSDS to SDS or preparation of SDS with emphasis on these safety precautions and information for emergency responder is vitally important. It could save lives and property.

Some Aspects of GHS Safety Data Sheets

Nations across the world are adopting the UN recommended Globally Harmonized System of classification and labeling of chemicals with the purpose of achieving several objectives.

One objective is a protection of the health of workers involved in the chain of processing, storage, handling and transportation of chemicals. Another is to safeguard the environment. A unified system of classification will facilitate trade across borders and properly identify chemicals and their hazard levels. Some countries did not have in place a system of classification while others that did had various methods of classification and categorization that led to confusion and risky situations. Development of the GHS safety data sheets was based on an extensive study that sought to address disparities and bring about uniformity while ensuring that level of protection did not reduce. The classification process takes into consideration the intrinsically hazardous properties of single chemicals and their formulation as well as reactivity with air, water and other chemicals besides impact when released into the environment. As such the GHS SDS were developed in a structured way with each section easily referred to by those involved in the chain such as processing, storage, and transportation in addition to end users. Over the years GHS underwent various revisions and countries accepted one or the other besides introducing their own norms. One of the quirks of the SDS is that disclosure of hazard must be made in full but without compromising confidential information of proprietary formulations. A key feature is that of training employees in the use of SDS and appropriate procedures in relation to the chemicals they handle and this training included interpretation of the safety data sheets and the safety labels.

Then there are further recommendations on implementation. For instance, an importer-distributor may simply receive sealed containers of chemicals with GHS labels. It is their duty to ensure that the labels remain intact. If a manufacturer receives a sealed container and it is subsequently opened, he has to maintain the data sheet and make it readily available to employees handling the chemicals and further label secondary containers. As such the method of application of hazard communication part, contained in the label, varies according to product category and the stage in its use cycle.

There are surprising exceptions and anomalies too that those involved in the handling of hazardous chemicals should know. GHS does not specify a uniform test method but relies on tests conducted by internationally accepted test agencies such as OECD or relies on WHO data in regards to health and environmental hazards. In the case of physical hazards such as flammability and explosive, one may refer to UNSCETDG tests. GHS is based on available data but as new data comes to light the system of classification could change and manufacturers or distributors must keep abreast with these changes. Some chemicals may not need to be labeled and these exceptions apply to pesticides, fungicides and rodenticide or chemicals that fall under special Acts.

As can be seen, GHS has been instrumental in bringing about uniformity in classification and categorization of chemicals but it is vastly complex with exceptions and anomalies. It needs experts to prepare GHS SDS and labels that are fully compliant yet take care of safeguarding proprietary formulations while taking care of anomalies and exceptions.

5 Types of Materials to Store in Your Flammable Storage Cabinet

Easily ignited materials like gases, liquids and solids must be stored carefully. The flammable storage cabinets are essential to protect the workspace and workers. Also, the right flame proof material should be used to match the specific type of substance that is being stored. Here are a few of the most common types of flammable storage items:

Liquids

Flammable liquids are known to automatically ignite in the event of reaching a certain temperature. It is practical to store these liquids in an environment that is kept below a temperature of 37.8° C (100° F). If the liquids are left to reach a higher temperature, there is a risk of the material giving off a vapor that can lead to burning. The different liquids include alcohols, paint thinners, paints and petrol.

Gases

The flammable gas is likely to burn when combined with air or a similar oxidant and when in contact with an ignition source. This type of substance can be extremely hazardous even when safely locked in a proper cabinet. Even a minimal amount of escaping gas can lead to an explosion or fire in favorable conditions. Common forms of flammable gases include methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, acetylene and propane.

Explosive chemicals

Chemicals have the potential to explore as a result of shock, friction or heat. There are even touch sensitive chemicals that will activate even when its storage container is touched or brushed against. Also, there is more risk with the older chemical stock which can start to degrade over time. Specifically manufactured or naturally occurring chemicals include nitoso, haloamine, oxonides, azides and acetylides.

Oxidizing chemicals

Certain chemicals are known to unexpectedly evolve oxygen with slight heating or even at room temperature. This build up of oxygen can lead to a fire and cause damage to the local surroundings. To minimize the risk of an accident with oxidizing chemicals, a secure and purpose-built cabinet must be used. Also, there is the risk of chemicals mixing if stored together, so a separate space is required for each type of chemical. Common types of oxidizing chemicals include bleach, concentrated Nitric acid, and hydrogen peroxide.

Solids

There are plenty of solids that are highly dangerous. Picrate salt is a flammable solid and common in laboratories, dye manufacturing and used to create explosives. It only needs a small amount of friction, shock or heat to react. Also, cellulose nitrate easily catches fire and a popular choice for photographic negatives and old film.

Workplace Safety: Get Employees Involved

For some employers’ safety is the most important aspect of their business, a healthy investment which their company strives to promote throughout the workplace. Yet others see safety as code for an over burdensome waste of time, money, and effort. For businesses struggling with safety culture improvement, here are a few tips to raise and increase awareness.

Increase the importance and awareness of the benefits of safety in the work place. Employees may be hesitant to embrace safety if they feel that it does not apply to them. It is important that employees understand that even if they are not working on machines or climbing to dangerous heights, that they are still at risk of injury. Include information and statistics on real life safety topics such as food preparation, or slip and falls in rest rooms or walking down a hallway. Topics like these will show employees that there are risks involved with every job! Videos of real workplace safety hazards and community safety programs can help get the point across. Encourage employees to include their family members in the safety message. Injuries can affect people at home or at work.

Another great way to involve employees in the safety environment and concern of the business is by creating a new safety committee/board, or inviting them to join your existing safety committee/board or if no committee /board exist, to have a monthly meeting with the employer to discuss the safety aspect. Make sure management allows employees to participate during work time. Employees may not want to take their free time to discuss this matter and it confirms that the employer is respectful of the employees’ time. A safety meeting should have representatives from all levels of the organization, from management to laborers. This gives employees the opportunity to express any concerns they may have along with efforts to ensure those issues are addressed with everyone’s impute. Sometimes employees may provide options that the employer can utilize and this will buster good will between all parties. The committee can also create goals for safety compliance, including rewarding employees for participating or making safety improvements.

Since safety does not remain of the minds of employee every second, a simple way to keep safety in the minds of your employees is to include a reminder in their paycheck envelopes, send emails, text messages or safety news update boards in employee areas. Providing and sharing safety tips, statistics, and real-life stories about other companies like your own are just a few examples of what can be included. Ask your employees for suggestions or ideas on what they would like to learn more about. Additional, host safety training seminars or meeting at the workplace. These meeting should take place during work hours. This will keep safely a little more on the minds of the employee and provide safety updates.

The focus of the committee and the employer encouragement to the employee should be to help the employer identify the hazard and correct it. Encourage employees to look for hazards in the workplace and report them to the appropriate personnel to correct the problem! Make workplace safety a habit not a hassle.