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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) entered into a new Ambassador status agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Service, Transmission, Exploration, and Production Safety (STEPS) Network to prevent illnesses, injuries, and fatalities among workers in the oil and gas extraction industry.

Read entire article - NIOSH Signs Alliance Program Ambassador Agreement with OSHA, National STEPS Network | NIOSH | CDC

October is Fire Prevention Month, and specifically the week of October 9th is the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week. This year’s campaign is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape,” which is incredibly critical as you may only have as little as two minutes to safely escape your home or business from the time the smoke alarms sound.

Besides having a planned fire escape and educating your employees on what that plan is at least on an annual basis, let’s take a look at ways to improve fire safety in the workplace as most workplace fires can be avoided with a few extra precautions.

Identify Risks in the Workplace – taking a look at your building, facility or site to see if there are any unique risks and understanding how to avoid a fire or at least mitigate the impact. The most common causes of workplace fires include such things as cooking appliances, electrical wiring, overloaded power strips, and many others. Also keeping in mind minimizing the risk of those items that produce the most damage – ie. loose paper and flammable materials. Some of those risks you may be able to remove completely, but most are just part of the work environment, so take steps to educate employees and keeping an eye on those critical fire-prone areas.

Assign Fire Safety Roles – designating at least one person, but preferably a team of people, to oversee fire safety. Many times this role is given to either your office manager, facility manager, safety manager or human resources manager.

Understanding Your Industry’s Specific Needs – when it comes to fire safety, every business will have specific industry considerations, including what type of fire risks and if a specialized fire extinguisher is needed, or in the case of such a place as a hospital, an evacuation plan that includes how to get staff and patients out safely and quickly.

Educate, Educate, Educate on Fire Safety Guidelines – businesses have a legal and moral responsibility to keep their employees safe, and one very important step is to make sure employees are trained on fire prevention and safety. Every organization should have a fire prevention plan that is posted and made available for all employees to review. October is a great time to do annual inspections and fire drills, but best practice is not to only do these once a year. Unexpected fire drills are a great way to access if your employees know what to do in case of a fire.

Workplace Safety and Health is here to help you maintain a safe work environment. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

On March 10, 2022, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) entitled “Protecting Workers from Retaliation.”

Read entire article: https://www.employmentlawworldview.com/dol-issues-new-guidance-specific-examples-of-prohibited-retaliation-under-whd-enforced-wage-hour-laws-us/

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Twenty-two workers have died already in just the first half of 2022 from trenching and excavation hazards, exceeding the 15 deaths in all of 2021. This rise has prompted the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take action, announcing enhanced enforcement initiatives in an effort to protect workers. Because of this sharp rise in fatalities, OSHA is looking at possible criminal referrals in cases where a trenching incident resulted in a worker’s death.

OSHA’s Assistant Director stated every one of those tragedies could have been prevented had employers complied with OSHA standards. Failing to install trench protection systems or properly inspect the trenches, workers are exposed to serious hazards, and in one such instance, two workers died while the trench shields laid unused off to the side.

OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow excavation (in relation to its length) made below the surface of the ground. In general, the depth of a trench is greater than its width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is not greater than 15 feet (4.6 m).

Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than five feet and soil and other materials kept at least two feet from the edge of the trench. Each trench must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting before allowing workers to enter.

It is estimated a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3000 pounds, which is about the same as a small car. It only takes seconds, and workers can be crushed and buried under thousands of pounds of soil and rock. Don’t know what a cubic yard amounts to? Do a search on the internet – it will surprise you just how little that actually is!

OSHA is ready to help your business take steps to comply with trenching and exaction requirements. And if you own a small to medium-sized business, OSHA has an On-Site Consultation Program, which is a no-cost and confidential health and safety program, to assist employers with developing strategic approaches for addressing trench-related illnesses and injuries.

Trench collapses are rarely survivable, but they are completely preventable. Take steps today to keep your employees safe and healthy – and alive. Educate your workers on the hazards of excavating and trenching and have systems in place to ensure their safety.

Workers responding to the cleanup from floods may be exposed to serious hazards including electrical, fallen trees and debris, mold, and carbon monoxide. OSHA reminds employers that worker safety is a priority, and the agency has resources available to protect workers from hazards associated with flood response operation.

Read entire article: Keeping Workers Safe during Flood Cleanup (osha.gov)

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