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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in workplace safety

The Biden Labor Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act by delaying, then withdrawing, a Trump-era rule that made it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, a federal judge in Texas said. Judge Marcia A. Crone invalidated the DOL’s actions and reinstated the Trump rule, siding with the Coalition for Workforce Innovation, which represents gig-economy companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.

Read entire article - Business Groups Get Trump Independent Contractor Rule Reinstated (

It’s National Safety Month – a time to focus on working conditions around the country and how each of us can help create a safer environment for all. Workplace Safety has been helping businesses do just that for over 20 years. We specialize in risk management with a primary concern of helping our customers reduce health risks, injuries, and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices.

Some of our services include, but are not limited to:

At Workplace Safety, every month is a Safety Month. Our ultimate goal is to help you protect your most valuable asset – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737 or to see how we can do just that for you!

Summer and thunderstorms go hand-in-hand and that means lightning! For those who work in outdoor spaces, lightning safety is definitely something to keep in mind at all times. We’ve all probably have heard the phrase, “when thunder roars, go indoors.” Here are some common Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to outdoor safety and lightning:  


  • Check the weather forecast. Be aware of upcoming storms, and if the forecast calls for thunderstorms, make sure you have adequate safe shelter options.
  • Find a safe, enclosed shelter when you hear thunder. Safe shelters could be a home, offices, shopping centers or even a hard-top vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • Seek shelter immediately if a thunderstorm is heading your way to remove yourself from the danger. If there is no shelter available, these actions may reduce your risk…but does not remove you from the danger completely:
    • Get off of any elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
    • Never lie flat on the ground (goal is minimum contact on the ground), but you can crouch down in a ball-like position with your head tucked and hands over your ear.
    • Do not shelter under an isolated tree – ever!
    • Do not use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
    • Get out of and away from any water immediately.
    • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, which as power lines, barbed wire fences).


  • Stay in open vehicles (convertibles, motorcycles, golf carts), structures (porches, gazebos, sports arenas), or spaces (golf courses, bodies of water, playgrounds).
  • Stay near tall structures – avoid leaning on concrete walls as lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls and flooring.
  • Venture out too quickly after a thunderstorm – it is recommended to shelter in place for at least 30 minutes.

Lightning can occur any time of year, but July is generally the month with the most lightning, and lightning casualties are highest during the summer with 2/3 of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6pm. Take steps this summer to keep yourself and your team members safe while working outdoors when a thunderstorm is heading your way!

Employers can no longer mandate pre-dispute arbitration for claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by employers. On Feb. 10, 2022, Congress passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (the “law”) ending any dispute as to whether the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (FAA), preempted state laws seeking to prohibit mandatory pre-dispute arbitration of employee sexual harassment claims.

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This final rule provides the statutorily-prescribed 2022 adjustment to civil penalty amounts that may be imposed for violations of certain DOT regulations. In addition, this rule notes new DOT civil penalties authority provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL, enacted as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act).


Tagged in: fmcsa workplace safety

Posted by on in Noise Measurement

Did you know 22 million workers in America are exposed to potentially harmful level of noise every year at their workplace? It is also estimated that 1 in 4 adults aged 20-69 have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Most people think of workplace safety as fall prevention or other such hazards that can cause immediate and severe injury, but one of the most common safety concerns in the workplace is the risk of hearing loss. May is designated as Better Hearing Month to raise awareness and help you take steps to protect your workers’ ears!

When looking at noise and hearing loss prevention, there are two main types of noise that cause hazards to your hearing – impulse sound and continuous exposure.

  • Impulse sound – sudden, loud noise that is typically brief in nature. In the work environment, this is usually a machine that activates quickly making a loud noise.
  • Continuous Exposure – this is much more common in the workplace. It may not be extremely loud, but it’s constant, and people tend to get used to it, but it is causing ongoing damage.

One of the best ways to help prevent hearing loss is to make sure you are providing proper personal protection equipment (PPE) for noise reduction. Here are the most common options:

  • Ear Plugs – effective and inexpensive way to block out the majority of the damaging noise
  • Traditional Ear Muffs – for louder locations, ear protection that goes over the ears is most beneficial
  • Electronic Ear Muffs – these can drown out all the background noise, but capture the voices and conversations and play them back into your ear

Giving your employees options that they are comfortable with means they will most likely use them on a regular basis. Cultivating a safe workplace is an employer’s responsibility, and a sound investment (see what we did there?) is to implement hearing programs and protections. At Workplace Safety, we can help you establish a hearing conservation program or conduct noise surveys to see where in the organization hearing protection is a must. Give us a call at 317-253-9737 and check out our noise measurement section of our website. 

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The North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week is held every year during the first full week of May. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) partners with the Canadian Society of Safety Professionals (CSSP) to raise public awareness about occupational safety, health and environment in an effort to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

Statistics show that every 99 minutes, a worker dies from a work-related injury. Workplace injuries are a significant risk for any business, and they definitely lead to such things as costly medical bills, lost productivity, possible large fines, and increased insurance premiums. Employers should always be looking for strategies to implement and improve upon to reduce the number of workplace injuries.

Here are just a few strategies to get you started:
• Regularly examine your workplace for ways to reduce the chance of injury
• Provide regular training to both managers and employees regarding risks for workplace injuries, including ways to reduce or avoid injuries, recognizing workplace risks, ways to mitigate those risks, and how to seek medical attention for you or your fellow employees – training should be done annually and during orientations
• Make sure you have administrative recommendations/requirements to help keep your employees safe, such as shift lengths, limiting overtime, scheduling more breaks, and rotating workers when jobs are physically taxing
• Develop and revisit policies that support good health, safety and injury management, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training on how to properly use it, workplace safety programs, return-to-work programs, and ergonomic workplace initiatives

NAOSH Week is a great time to revisit those policies, take a field trip around the workplace, chat with your team members on workplace safety ideas, and make a point to focus on ways to prevent workplace injuries and death. Check out Safety and Health Week website for more information and events to participate in.

Tagged in: naosh workplace safety

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm. Under unprecedented circumstances, employers were forced to make decisions that may impact their workforce for years. Skilled leadership took center stage during these tumultuous times. Great leaders thrived.

This session will explore best leadership practices from the pandemic and what employers can glean from this time to lead a workplace forever changed.

Watch Webinar: Webinar: The Workplace After COVID-19 | EHS Today

Posted by on in Uncategorized

We are heading into Spring, better known for those who suffer from seasoning allergies as the season of headaches, sneezing, itchy eyes and skin, as well as congestion. Allergies affect one in five Americans, and studies show allergies significantly impact workplace productivity, with one study reporting that Americans lose 3.5 million workdays each year due to allergies.

While you can’t cure your employees’ allergies, you can help limit the impact of allergens in their workplace. What is an allergy? It’s being hypersensitive to a substance – those who suffer have an overreaction from their immune system to the allergen, which can cause a physical response that outweighs the substance’s harm. There are several varieties of workplace allergens to consider, including:
• Animal dander and debris
• Food
• Industrial chemicals, such as solvents, bleaches and even cleaning products
• Latex
• Perfumes and odorants
• Pollen
• Dust
• Mold
• Wood dust and resins

It’s important for employers and employees to both understand the allergens specific to their workplace, including identifying triggers and best allergy treatment. Making sure work areas are very well-ventilated, have lower humidity to minimize mold and are kept clean and dust-free on a regular basis are great steps to lessening allergens. While it is near to impossible to keep all allergens out of a workplace, here is a list of some common and relatively inexpensive modifications that could improve your workplace health:
• Run the AC system during peak allergy season (do not open windows even though the weather seems perfect, the trees are releasing lots of pollen!)
• Use HEPA air filters – and change them regularly (monthly or more during peak allergy season)
• Make sure your workplace areas are cleaned regularly – and encourage your employees to clean and dusty their workspaces regularly as well
• Identify and repair any water damage – it doesn’t take long for mold to start growing
• Remove carpet and other absorbent materials that are known collectors of allergens
• Provide appropriate protective gear, such as respirators, face shields and gloves, when employees handle industrial chemicals or other irritants

Spring is a great time to jumpstart cleaning, hence the term Spring Cleaning! Keep your most important assets – your employees – as safe and healthy this spring and throughout the rest of the year. And keeping allergens at bay as much as possible is one great way to do just that!

The guidance states that health plans must cover over-the-counter test purchases without requiring a health care provider's order or clinical assessment. Health plans may set limits on the number or frequency of OTC COVID-19 tests covered without cost-sharing but must allow up to 8 tests per 30-day period (or per calendar month).

Read entire article: Employer Health Plans Soon Must Pay for At-Home COVID-19 Tests (

EHS Today’s annual profile of the companies that demonstrate excellence in safety leadership.

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Tagged in: workplace safety

Year after year, Fall Protection shows up as number one on OSHA’s yearly Top Ten Violations list. It is one of the top three most disabling workplace injuries, and it costs lives and livelihoods, as well as more than $17 billion is spent each year on falls at the jobsite.

To bring awareness to this, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) designates March as National Ladder Safety Month. Each week in March has a theme, and this year’s themes are as follows:
Week One: Choosing Your Ladder
Week Two: Safety Before the First Step (Inspection and Set Up)
Week Three: Safety While Climbing
Week Four: Safety at the Top

In many cases, ladder injuries are caused by people using them incorrectly. As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep your employees safe. One such way is making ladder safety training an integral part of employee training, including it as part of new hire training as well as an annual refresher. ALI offers free online video ladder safety training, which includes four videos providing education on the selection, safe use, and care of most frequently used ladders. Through the program, supervisors can monitor team members’ training progress through end-of-video quizzes – and each employee who scores a 90 percent or higher will earn a ladder safety certificate.

What’s in it for you besides a well-trained and safer team when it comes to ladder safety? ALI recognizes organizations that show their commitment to employee safety through its Ladder Safety Ambassador program. To find out more, please visit the American Ladder Institute: National Ladder Safety Month.


In a new study, 46% of frontline workers say they are never, rarely, or only sometimes listened to concerning safety issues.

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Before the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago, prioritizing workplace safety and health was crucial not only to keep your employees safe and healthy, but also to help mitigate company losses. Studies show each unhealthy employee costs employers on average 27.5 productive days per year. This stat was before we had a global pandemic!

If employee health and safety weren’t on the forefront before, it sure is now! With variants continuing to emerge and breakthrough cases becoming more commonplace, employers and employees are looking at how to stay safe. Taking a proactive approach to prioritize safety in the workplace will go a long way in helping calm the fears.

Here are some helpful tips to show your team their safety needs are being supported:
• Supply personal protective equipment and, if possible, rearrange working spaces to allow distance between employees
• Implement good hygiene practices, including hand hygiene and workplace cleaning – provide sufficient cleaning and disinfection supplies and equipment
• If you have customers visiting the workspace, they should follow the safety rules in place, and you may have additional safety rules specific to visitors
• Offer COVID-19 testing – either kits they can take home or tests they can take during work hour – and if there is a positive case, let others know of their possible exposure as quickly as possible
• If possible, allow employees to work remotely – the ability to work from home (even part-time) will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission

It’s been a long two years, but we must remain vigilant and protect workers and others at the workplace from the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

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According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, nearly 30 percent of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, and more than half revealed they have driven while drowsy. Close to 100,000 crashes a year and 1500 deaths are attributed to drowsy driving. Bottom line, drowsy driving is impaired driving.

National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is November 7-13, and here are eight warning signs that you are driving drowsy and should pull over to rest:
1. Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
2. Finding it hard to focus on the road, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
3. Starting to daydream or have disconnected thoughts
4. Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
5. Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
6. Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble
7. Feeling restless or irritable
8. Finding it hard to keep your head up or nodding off

Some groups of drivers are at greater risk for drowsy driving crashes, and a few of these groups are specifically work-related and should be taken into account when thinking about workplace safety:
• Shift workers (working night shift can increase your risk of drowsy driving by nearly six times)
• People who work long hours consistently
• Commercial drivers, especially long-haul drivers (15%+ of all heavy truck crashes are due to drowsy driving)
• Business travelers (long hours driving or possible jet lag)

Drowsy driving can slow down your reaction time, decrease awareness, impair judgment and definitely increase your risk of crashing.

For almost 100 years, Fire Prevention Week is observed during the week of October 9 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This year’s observation will be held October 3-9, 2021, and the theme will be “Learn the Sound of Fire Safety,” and the hope is to better educate the public about the sounds of smoke alarms, what those sounds mean, and how to respond.

Some basic safety tips when it comes to smoke/fire/CO alarms:
• Continuous set of three loud beeps means smoke or fire, so get out, call 911 and stay out – four beeps for carbon monoxide alarms
• A single chirp, every 30 or 60 seconds, means the battery is low and should be changed
• Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the unit should be replaced as it is not functioning properly and at the end of its life (do not disconnect and forget about it)
• All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years
• Test all smoke and CO alarms monthly by pressing the test button
• Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all, including those with sensory and/or physical disabilities (ie – install bed shaker and strobe light alarms)
When thinking about workplace safety, here are some helpful tips to avoid fire in your facility or building:
• Keep your workplace as clean as possible – emptying trash regularly and don’t block any fire exits or equipment.
• Maintain electrical equipment to prevent any machines and equipment from overheating and keeping friction sparks to a minimum. Turn off lights and computers after work hours.
• Check faulty electrical wiring on a monthly basis, as faulty wiring is the most common source of workplace fires.
• Store hazardous chemicals properly – make sure each container is labelled correctly and placed in a safe storage.
• Assign designated smoking areas in your workplace and have policies in place and visible, so they can follow to avoid any fire safety issues
• Always have fire extinguishers all over the workplace – and do routine inspections to make sure they are fully charged.
• Conduct fire drills once a year with your employees
• Schedule training sessions with your employees on the proper way to use a fire extinguisher and other fire prevention equipment, as well as promote fire safety and education on fire exit routes and safety planning
• Post emergency hotline numbers in visible places – special bulletin boards, break room refrigerators, etc.
• Follow the Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) - provided by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held every September as an important reminder to all that natural and man-made disasters can happen anytime. Having a planned response is critical for your safety, no matter if you are at home, at work or anywhere. Our last blog focused on having a strategic evacuation plan in place for those emergencies when you need to exit the facility.

Even though a large majority of emergencies may indeed mean vacating the area, let’s talk about medical emergencies. Work-related accidents or medical emergencies require an immediate response. There are many types of medical emergencies, which could include but definitely not limited to heart attacks, choking, strokes, seizures, falls, burns, and cuts. It is important to prepare for all types of medical emergencies that can happen in a workplace and have a designated group of employees trained to assist – sometimes referred to as designated first aiders.

Three C’s: Medical Emergency Initial Response
• Check over the injured individual to access what type of medical emergency
• Call 911, so that emergency life support and help will arrive as soon as possible
• Care: those designated as first aiders in the workplace should provide relevant medical emergency care

All employers should have some basic supplies and resources available for medical emergencies, including the following:
• Keep a fully stocked, accessible first aid kit
• Offer CPR certification and seizure training opportunities to your employees
• Equip the facility with and train employees in the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator)

The AIHA announced new guidelines for developing health metrics in workplaces to help prevent illness and injury.

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Tagged in: aiha workplace safety

Posted by on in Uncategorized

We are in the middle of summer, and heat stress in the workplace affects too many workers every year in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1992 and 2016, 783 workers died and more than 69,000 workers suffered serious injuries due to heat exposure on the job, which this number is challenged by labor advocates who say numbers are much higher because of under-reporting or not being classified as a work-related illness or death.

In our last blog, we covered all the terms associated with heat stress and its subsequent illnesses, but to recap - heat stress is a series of conditions where the body is under stress from overheating. Symptoms can range from profuse sweating to dizziness, cessation of sweating, and eventually collapse. Of course, high temperatures increase heat stress, but also increased relative humidity, decreased air movement, or lack of shading from direct heat can all contribute to heat stress.

Supervisor’s Role in Preventing Heat Stress
• Allow time for employees to adjust to hot jobs when possible (heat tolerance), which can take 2-3 weeks for an employee to become acclimated to the hot environment
• When possible, adjust the work schedule with heavier work assigned on cooler days or during the cooler part of the day
• On hot days, reduce the workload – and increase the use of equipment to reduce physical labor
• Establish a schedule for work and rest periods during hot days
• Train workers to recognize signs and symptoms of heat stress illnesses and be prepared to give first aid, if necessary
• Avoid placing "high risk" employees in hot work environments for extended time periods (older, overweight, heart disease, high blood pressure, take medication that may be affected by extreme heat)
• Provide auxiliary body cooling and protective clothing

Worker’s Role in Preventing Heat Stress
• Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat stress – and take adequate rest periods (in shade or cooler environment)
• Use adequate fans for ventilation and cooling, especially when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Wear light-colored, loose clothing (unless working around equipment with moving parts).
• Keep shaded from direct heat whenever possible - wear a hat in direct sunshine, find a shaded area when on breaks, etc.
• Drink plenty of water – the body requires more water than usual in hot environments

While most workers have the comfort of an air conditioned office during the hot days of summer, many are not quite so lucky. Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments could definitely be at risk for heat stress, which can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.

Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and those working in hot environments, such as firefighters, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, bakery workers, factory workers and others. In this blog, we will cover CDC’s and NIOSH’s definitions of heat stress and the illnesses that can result from it.

Heat Stress
The net heat load to which a worker is exposed from the combined contributions of metabolic heat, environmental factors, and clothing worn which results in an increase in heat storage in the body.

Heat Strain
The physiological response to the heat load (external or internal) experienced by a person, in which the body attempts to increase heat loss to the environment in order to maintain a stable body temperature.

Heat Cramp
A heat-related illness characterized by spastic contractions of the voluntary muscles (mainly arms, hands, legs, and feet), usually associated with restricted salt intake and profuse sweating without significant body dehydration.

Heat Exhaustion
A heat-related illness characterized by elevation of core body temperature above 38°C (100.4°F) and abnormal performance of one or more organ systems, without injury to the central nervous system. Heat exhaustion may signal impending heat stroke.

Heat Stroke
An acute medical emergency caused by exposure to heat from an excessive rise in body temperature [above 41.1°C (106°F] and failure of the temperature-regulating mechanism. Injury occurs to the central nervous system characterized by a sudden and sustained loss of consciousness preceded by vertigo, nausea, headache, cerebral dysfunction, bizarre behavior, and excessive body temperature.

Heat Syncope
Collapse and/or loss of consciousness during heat exposure without an increase in body temperature or cessation of sweating, similar to vasovagal fainting except that it is heat induced.
Stay tuned as we will focus our next blog on heat stress in the workplace and what employers and employees can do to prevent heat stress.

Our last blog, June is National Safety Month, touched on the importance of a workplace safety culture. According to Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), employers shall provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. One of the greatest ways to impact the reduction of workplace incidents is having a strong workplace safety culture. To reiterate, a workplace safety culture is defined as a way in which safety is managed in a workplace – a combination of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes towards safety of workers and the overall safety of the work environment itself.

So how do you implement a safety culture at your organization or business? How do you as an employer help facilitate the culture of the workplace that encourages employees to think of safety as an important aspect and behave in a way that prioritizes their own safety and those around them at all times?

It starts at the top – the attitudes held by the company’s leadership. What are the daily safety practices your team is committed to doing? A strong safety culture will not happen overnight – it’s something that has to be continuously discussed. It is also extremely important to get employee buy-in as well, so make sure they understand the why behind specific aspects of any safety practices and plans being implemented - and allow them to ask questions and voice concerns. One way to get buy-in is having a group of employees be a part of the safety culture conversations and what it should look like at your organization – this will help encourage them to take personal responsibility for one another’s safety.

When thinking about your company’s safety culture and implementing new policies and practices, keep these considerations in mind:
• Identify hazards in the workplace – some possible existing hazards to think about include, but are not limited to, workplace layout, types of machinery, clothing, jewelry, even the dangers that can happen with hair length
• Create a safety program – make sure it applies to all workers, and make sure the program covers all safety hazards as well as complies with legal requirements
• Provide safety training to all workers – and make sure there is a program in place for ongoing trainings as part of the culture
• Conduct annual safety audits – take a look at how well the business is doing regarding safety and what can be done to improve
• Have a written policy for handling employee concerns – open communication will encourage workers to continue to bring safety matters to their supervisors’ attention, and part of the policy should include updates to employees on the safety issues as well as how they were resolved, and possible recourse options if the employee is not satisfied with how the safety concern was dealt with

It has been shown companies who focus and achieve a strong workplace safety culture have higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. When everyone in the company perceives workplace safety as part of their job responsibilities, everyone wins.

Tagged in: workplace safety

This guidance is intended to inform employers and workers in most workplace settings outside of healthcare to help them identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to implement.

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In July 2020, the SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317) was introduced in Congress with the express purpose “to discourage insubstantial lawsuits related to COVID-19 while preserving the ability of individuals and businesses that have suffered real injury to obtain complete relief.” The bill did not pass before the 116th Congress expired. But the need for employer protection during the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic remains. Cue the state houses.

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More than one-third of business leaders say ensuring a safe workplace will be more challenging over the next 12 months.

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Tagged in: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

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Employees don’t feel safe going to the workplace. According to a new study, 68% of workers globally do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings.

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With the COVID-19 vaccine slowly making its way to our most at-risk citizens, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a long way to go before the pandemic is behind us. We have surpassed 485,000 deaths linked to this pandemic at the time of this writing.

Businesses have a moral responsibility to continue to keep their employees as safe as possible – and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whether your employees have returned to the office or continue to work remotely, everyone should be reminded to continue taking precautions.

While you may have taken steps early on and educated your employees on safety measures, it’s almost been a year since COVID became an issue here in the United States, and a refresher is a good idea. Unless they themselves or a friend or family member has contracted COVID-19, your employees may not really understand the severity of this virus. One action step that helps continue the education conversation is to include employees who have been affected by this virus share their experiences and management should be encouraged to share their stories as well.

Employees need to understand and adhere to the rules put in place to keep themselves and their co-workers safe. Setting ground rules and expectations – and following up on those rules if employees fail to comply - is important for the overall health of your team. Any rules that are in place should be fully explained and revisited on a regular basis through this pandemic. It’s the ultimate responsibility of the employees to adhere to the rules, but leaders set the stage by leading by example, communicating the rules and expectations, and reprimanding those who are not following them.

During this past year, many families have struggled on several different levels, and employee mental health should be a top priority for any business. Providing mental health support, including talking about the statistics and creating a culture that removes the stigma around mental health is extremely important, as well as encouraging employees to use such resources as Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

This has been such a unique year for businesses – a worldwide pandemic is not something most of us ever would have imagined or planned for. But until that light at the end of the tunnel gets closer and brighter, let’s do our part to keep our most valuable assets – our employees – as safe and healthy as possible when it comes to COVID-19.

In last month’s blog, we covered steps employers can take to help stop cyber security breaches, including using secure access points and installing updates across all devices and systems on a regular basis. But when it comes to cybersecurity and mobile phones, we must all take an active stance to protect our mobile devices and your company’s data.

In today’s world, our smartphones have so many advanced capabilities – just like our computers, and we check our emails and bank accounts, search the internet pretty much whenever we want, and our phones allow us to continuing working in many cases when we are not sitting at our office or business. The security, though, is usually not set up as strongly as it is on our work computers.

There are some steps you can do to protect your mobile phone:
• Consider the safety features when choosing your mobile phone – such things as file encryption, finding and wiping the data remotely, ability to delete known malicious apps remotely and authentication features such as device access passwords
• Configure the device to be more secure, including enabling the password feature that locks the device until the PIN or password is entered – or even a thumbprint or face scan! There may even be a feature that after 10 failed attempts to login, the phone is wiped clean
• Do not click on links sent in suspicious emails or text messages
• Use caution before posting your mobile phone number anywhere
• Be careful what information you want stored on your phone
• Do your research before selecting and installing apps, including “repackaged apps” that may seem like updates to your current apps – and keep in mind, your social networking apps may reveal more personal information than you know, including location, birthday, etc.
• Disable interfaces that are not currently in use, such as Bluetooth and WiFi – and while you are at it, set Bluetooth-enabled devices to non-discoverable, so it is not visible to other devices
• Avoid joining unknown WiFi networks and using public Wi-Fi hotspots as attackers have been known to create fake hotspots

If your mobile phone is stolen or lost, notify your mobile service provider. If it’s a company phone or you do business on your personal mobile phone, contact your company ASAP. They can usually revoke all credentials that were stored to keep your company’s information safe. And if need be, have the mobile phone company remotely delete all data on the phone.

Mobile phone cyber threats are definitely on the rise. A little bit of time and effort on your end keeping these steps in mind can help lessen the opportunity of attackers targeting you.

CDC’s Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 FFRs were written to follow a continuum using the surge capacity approach in the order of conventional (everyday practice), contingency (expected shortages), and crisis (known shortages) capacities. N95 FFRs are meant to be disposed after each use. CDC developed contingency and crisis strategies to help healthcare facilities conserve their supplies in the face of shortages.

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Even before the COVID era and remote working becoming so prevalent, many employees were using their mobile phones to access company email, networks or data. This “bring your own device” work culture is definitely a security risk to not only your employees, but to your company as well.

Smartphone security has not kept up with traditional computer security, and your employees may be vigilant when it comes to security breaches on their desktop or laptop, but we are all more distracted when it comes to our mobile devices as we quickly scan through emails, text multiple people and scroll through different social media, usually all at the same time. This makes our phones very attractive targets for scammers – tricking us into joining rogue Wi-Fi networks or tapping fake emails without even thinking.

A 2019 study on the mobile threat found that 57% of companies have experienced a mobile phishing incident. Phishing is the most common cyber threat, especially for companies. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 data breaches start with a phishing attack, and when we are on our smartphones, we tend to not pay as much attention to what we are clicking – plus the smaller screens make red flag less noticeable.

Making sure your company has a strong cyber security system and communicating the importance to your employees is a must nowadays. Here are a few strategies that everyone can incorporate today that can help keep your employees and your data safe, but even these are not 100% guaranteed:
• Use secure access points, such as virtual private networks (VPNs). These allow you to extend your private network across public Wi-Fi using encrypted virtual point-to-point connection, enabling and maintaining secure access to your company’s resources.
• Have your employees create a secure network for business transactions in their home offices. Most home routers allow for the creation of multiple networks, such as a home and guest connection. Adding a password protected network for work connections means your employees can keep their families’ personal devices separate from work devices.
• Make sure your company is installing updates across all devices and systems on a regular basis. Regular updates and patches ensure your systems are protected against known vulnerabilities.
• Always make sure your employees are using strong passwords and two-factor authentication across all devices and accounts. It cannot be stressed enough that passwords should be complex, meaning they should incorporate numbers and special characters and should not be the same ones used across multiple accounts. As a business, you may want to look into a password management software to help your team keep track of their passwords.
• Be vigilant when responding to emails, especially those with links and attachments. Remind your employees to never click on those links or attachments from an unknown sender – and even if the email seems to come from a trusted source, be sure they are looking closely at the email address or website URL. Inform your employees to make sure they let your IT department or contact know of any suspicious emails right away, as well as letting them know if there is a possibility of a breach.
• Install anti-malware and anti-virus software across all devices and networks, which will stop the majority of attacks.
• Make sure your company has a Cyber Response Plan in place and that all your employees are aware of this plan – and that everyone knows who to contact if they suspect a breach, both during work hours and after-hours.

Nowadays, cybersecurity is the responsibility of all your employees, but taking these steps to protect your business can alleviate many of the breaches from ever happening. In our next blog, we will discuss more specifically on what your employees can do to make sure their mobile devices are more secure, as well as what to do if their devices are stolen.


Federal law entitles you to a safe workplace. Your employer must keep your workplace free of known health and safety hazards. You have the right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation.

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Who would have thought when thinking about Workplace Safety and 2020, when we would say “Stay Safe,” it also meant staying healthy from a worldwide pandemic! Even though COVID safety tended to take up so much of our attention, which it needed to, so we could keep our employees safe, we also needed to be concerned with emphasizing safe operations in all areas as a top business priority. So, let’s talk about how to stay safe in 2021.

An important first step – review what happened in 2020 as last year’s safety results reveal areas for improvement and help with goal setting for 2021 and coming up with a solid workplace safety plan. Two areas to make sure you review are your accident reports and training records.

Accident reports, including the “near miss” incident reports, can help you clearly define areas that should be a priority in your safety planning for the new year. Safety assessments and annual safety audits should expose any safety performance gaps and provide a meaningful understanding of workplace hazards. While you are at it, doing a safety risk assessment of every potential hazard category is important.

Ongoing training for your employees is essential to keep safety top-of-mind, as well as making sure there is on-going communication with your team on training expectations. Did your company provide adequate training? In what areas would additional training for the new year result in a safer work environment? It’s a great opportunity to ask your employees what type of training makes sense for them – getting their input can help with employee buy-in, which is always beneficial. Make sure you have adequate funding set aside for training.

Reviewing these two areas can really help you define those safety goals for 2021. A solid workplace safety plan is essential to avoid potential harm to your employees, as well as helping to reduce the costs when it comes to worker’s compensation. Workplace Safety & Health Co. is here to help you make 2021 the safest year yet! Contact us at 317-253-9737.

When collecting employee health information during the pandemic, be transparent about how the data will be used, disclosed and retained.

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Employers will have to revise their COVID-19-related safety policies and practices to meet new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on what it means to have been in "close contact" with an infected person.

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The saying goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and that holds true when it comes to OSHA’s annual top 10 most frequently cited violations as falls tops the list again for the tenth year in a row. But some of the others tend to switch spots year to year, and some fall off one year and come back on the following year.

OSHA publishes this yearly reminder with the hope that employers will learn from these results and take steps to find and mitigate the hazards in their own workplace. It is believed most of the injuries and illnesses that happen in the workplace are preventable if safety measures are implemented and followed.

Here is OSHA’s 2020 Top Ten Violations:

1. Fall Protection (1926.501) – 8241 violations: Whenever a work is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 6156 violations: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemical they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to communicate the hazard information to their customers.

3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 5423 violations: Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3879 violations: Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3254 violations: “Lockout-Tag out” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 3340 violations: Each year, thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

7. Ladders (1926.1053) – 3311 violations: Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.

8. Electrical, Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 3452 violations: Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2701 violations: Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

10. Electrical, General Requirements (1910.303) – 2745 violations: As a repeat to #8, working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies – and many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

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Workplace safety is a pretty hot topic in 2020. While our country continues to deal the COVID-19 pandemic, and we start to see many states start to peak again both in cases and hospital admissions, employers and businesses are working hard to navigate this new normal while trying to stay open, stay afloat in too many cases and be profitable.

A new global study shows 35% of employees and business leaders wish their offices had closed faster and safety measures for essential workers had been implemented sooner. This same survey, conducted by The Workforce Institute, showed only 20% of the workforce felt their organization met their needs during the initial months of the pandemic, but that 33% of employees globally say they trust their employer more now than before the pandemic began because of how their organizations responded. Moving forward into the last quarter of 2020 and into 2021, employers are encouraged to keep their employees’ needs and concerns in the forefront.

Surprisingly, when we think of the number one concern in the workplace during the pandemic, it isn’t having a clean and healthy workplace – it’s job security, flexibility and work-life harmony. Many are concerned about future layoffs or furloughs due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19. Many who are working say they are working either the same or more hours regularly since the start of the pandemic, and there is a concern among employees and employers of fatigue and burnout. Taking some measures to guard against burnout will go a long way with your employees.

Almost half of the surveyed employees felt quick notification of confirmed workplace cases was a top concern. Another surprise is the younger generations (Generation Z and younger Millennials) are most concerned about this. Quick notification and contact tracing can help put minds at ease.

Even though job security and quick notification of confirmed cases were the top priorities, workplace cleanliness came in a close third. Keeping in mind the workplace layout – is there the opportunity to socially distance? What safety measures have been put in place and enforced – mask wearing, hand sanitizing stations, scheduled deep cleanings, limited shared common areas and workplaces, including kitchens, bathrooms, and conference rooms?

Employees are looking for more frequent and transparent communication from their leaders during this time. The good news is that among the 33% of the employees who trust their organizations more now than before the pandemic, 70% say the company went above and beyond in their COVID-19 response. The bad news is there are many employees who are not as trusting right now. It’s time to build that trust, and putting the employee first and getting back to the basic needs every employee requires (physical safety, job stability, and flexibility) are steps to help engage your workforce and help your business succeed during these challenging times.

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Did you know around 40% of deaths in the workplace occur in transportation incidents making motor vehicle accidents overwhelmingly the leading cause of workplace deaths? Millions of workers drive or ride in a vehicle as part of their jobs, and all workers are at a risk of crashes, whether they drive light or heavy vehicles, or whether driving is their main duty or incidental job duty. From 2003-2018, more than 29,000 workers in the United Stated died in a work-related motor vehicle crash.

With so many people behind the wheel, drowsy driving, or driving while you are tired, only exacerbates this situation. It is estimated 6% of all crashes and 21% of all fatal crashes involve a fatigued driver. The first week in November is considered Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, but it’s something we all need to be preventing every single day we are on the road.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following factors contribute to drowsy driving:
• Driving on less than 7 hours of sleep
• Driving at a time when usually sleeping
• Travelling frequently through different time zones
• Having an untreated sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea
• Working multiple shifts or night shifts

Drowsy driving is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver’s reaction times, awareness of hazards and the ability to keep attention worsens when the driver is fatigued. Driving while going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which is the U.S. legal limit. If you drive while fatigued, you are 3x more likely to be in a car crash.

Employers can take steps to help keep their employees safe by implementing strong safety and health programs, including setting up a fatigue risk management system (FRMS). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has relevant information listing ways employers and employees can prevent driver fatigue. Take the steps today to keep your employees safe and healthy.

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When we think about cybersecurity, most of us think it is a larger problem for big entities such as banks, tech companies, and the government, but truth be told, smaller companies with less than 1000 employees are at the greatest risk with 43% of all cyber attacks being aimed at small businesses? October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

Here are some pretty shocking cybersecurity statistics:
• It takes half a year to detect a data breach
• 91% of all attacks are launched with a phishing email
• A business falls victim to a ransomware attack every 14 seconds
• 38% of malicious attachments are masked as a Microsoft Office file
• Companies face an average of 22 security breaches in 2020
• The global cost of online crime is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021

In today’s world, with many companies being more open to remote work and with many employees working from their personal devices, such as checking emails from their phones, cyber threats are all too common nowadays. Being diligent with prescreen hiring, training your current employees on staying cyber safe and setting expectations for third party associates when it comes to cybersecurity are extremely important. Risks should always be accurately assessed and, when possible, minimized. Every person in your organization has a role in mitigating the risk of a cyberattack.

Here are some basic tips to keep your workplace safe when it comes to cybersecurity:
• Take inventory of all your company’s devices – all hardware and software – because you cannot defend what you don’t know you have.
• Lock up your devices – no matter where your office is located. All devices, including computers, laptops and cell phones, should be locked with a secure password.
• Use two-factor authentication if possible as it’s an extra layer beyond just a typical password. This should be a must for anyone accessing sensitive networks or data.
• For those working outside an office network, make sure your employees are never using wi-fi without a VPN (Virtualized Personal Network). Using public wi-fi networks without this extra security can expose your organization’s accounts and data to malicious cyber threats.
• Train employees on cybersecurity – and remind and empower your employees to question any suspicious looking emails, especially those with urgent subject lines and billing-related attachments. Always hover over a link before clicking to ensure you are being directed to the intended URL.


Did you know most people spend 90% of their time inside? The pandemic has brought indoor air quality (IAQ) front and center in the discussion on keeping people as safe as possible. IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures. Poor IAQ is not a new concept as most of us have heard of Sick Building Syndrome, where occupants may experience headaches, dry cough, dizziness, and even difficulty concentrating because of the poor air quality.

Inadequate ventilation is a key component, and right now in the COVID-era we are currently in, ventilation and air cleaning opportunities have been the talk of the town. Advanced ventilation systems allow for more airflow from the outside, as well as monitoring air quality and having air purification technologies in place to clean the contaminated air and prevent it from spreading to different areas. These technologies are becoming more commonplace, but definitely not universally adopted.

Even though COVID-19 has caused many businesses to look more in-depth at their IAQ, it’s also a chance to test for other air quality issues. There are literally hundreds of other air contaminates that cause issues in the workplace, but the most common and usually the most harmful besides the coronavirus are tobacco smoke, dust, mold and mildew, chemical pollutants and volatile organic compounds.

Concerned about the IAQ? Workplace Safety & Health Inc. can help you identify and manage risks posed by air quality through monitoring, mapping, fact-finding surveys and evaluations. Our program now includes COVID-19 testing, and our blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free, lists those particular services.
During National Indoor Air Quality Month and every month, we are here to keep your most important assets safe – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

Employers have to follow mask regulations in states that require face coverings in public, but what if employees don’t want to wear one? Can an employer make them wear a mask? The short answer is yes, according to legal experts.

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What a year it has been already! Seems many have been preparing ongoing for disasters as we are still working through the COVID pandemic with social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing our workspaces. Usually when we think of disasters, we think of such emergencies as earthquake or weather-related events, but whatever the emergency, it’s important to have a planned response.

National Preparedness Month, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held every September as a reminder that natural and man-made disasters can strike any time, including while on the job. It’s extremely important to have employees who know how to respond in the event of an emergency – be it a tornado, active shooter or a hurt or unresponsive team member. This year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

Do you have a preparedness training plan? Emergency action plans should include types of emergencies, emergency procedures, and identifying specialized emergency roles with specific training for those roles. Employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe – which means making sure they are prepared for all kinds of workplace emergencies. Well-prepared employees act more quickly and safely in a crisis, are more likely to survive without injury, as well as damage to your facility can be minimized.

Keeping your employees as safe as possible doesn’t stop at the workplace either. Help your employees be prepared at home as well. Homeland security suggests workers and their families should take these four steps:
• Get a kit of emergency supplies – should last at least three days in the event of a crisis in your area
• Make a family emergency plan 
• Be informed about the possibility of different threats that could affect your community and develop appropriate responses
• Get involved by getting first aid training

Workplace Safety & health Co., Inc is dedicated to helping its customers maintain and improve the health and well-being of their employees. We provide a full range of occupational safety training services. Let us help you during National Preparedness Month and in the future – contact us at 317-253-9737.


From the looks of it, COVID-19 may be the way of life for us for quite some time. Keeping your employees as safe and healthy as possible while at work should always be a top priority, and right now, this sentiment is probably weighing heavy on many within your organization and business. While every state will have its own mandates and guidelines, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help you protect your staff and others and slow the spread. Please keep in mind these guidelines are only a sample and not all inclusive, but are a good starting point:

• Create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan – the purpose is to provide basic steps to reduce the risk of worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are templates available online, and here is an example from the Western Michigan University to help you get started.

• If you have not resumed business operations, check the building to see if it’s ready for occupancy – some areas to concentrate on would be checking for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown, including mold growth, pests, stagnant water systems which can give rise to Legionella bacteria growth, potentially leading to a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak; and take appropriate corrective actions; check the ventilation systems; increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, as long as this doesn’t pose a safety or health risk for occupants

• Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work – conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace; identify work and common areas where employees have close contact (within 6 feet) with others

• Include ALL employees in communication plans – including any contractors who might work at or visit the business to make sure they understand any new work processes and requirements to prevent transmission of COVID-19

• Develop hazard controls to reduce transmission among workers
-Isolate workers from the hazard including modifying and adjusting seats, furniture, workstations (whenever possible); install transparent shields or other physical barriers when social distancing is not an option; replace high touch communal items, such as coffee pots and bulk snacks with pre-packaged, single-serving items; improve central air filtration and consider using natural ventilation when possible
-Change the way people work including encouraging employees who have symptoms or family members who are home with COVID-19 to stay home for full quarantined time; conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks of employees before they enter the work site; implement a policy to prevent employees from gathering in groups; stagger shifts, start times, break times; post signs in parking areas and entrances to ask guests and visitors to phone from their cars and wear face coverings; clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often; establish policies and practices for social distancing

Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. is here to help you open up your business and keep it open by providing programs, ideas, and solutions to keeping your employees safe. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as many as 1.3 million people in the United States go to the workplace every day where they are exposed to significant amounts of asbestos. Even though asbestos was largely banned in the US in the 1970s and 1980s, it can still be found in older homes and buildings as it was used as insulation in many cases since it was fire-resistant.

Asbestos kills between 12,000-15,000 people per year in the United States. This number of annual deaths has held steady for more than a decade because asbestos-related diseases may not strike victims for decades after they are exposed. It is estimated this number may be conservative because many deaths for such things as lung cancer are not listed as being from asbestos exposure.

What is asbestos?

According to OSHA, asbestos is a name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. It has been used in over 3000 products, including insulations for pipes, fireproofing, floor tiles, various building materials, and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Nowadays, most exposures occur in the construction industry and in ship repair during renovations, repairs and demolitions as the removal of asbestos materials releases asbestos fibers into the air, which are then inhaled. These fibers are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Limiting workplace exposure

OSHA has specific standards for addressing asbestos hazards and worker exposure. These standards reduce the risk to workers by requiring employers to provide personal exposure monitoring to assess the risk, along with hazard awareness training. If asbestos is present or believed to be present, employers are required to ensure exposure is reduced by using administrative controls and provide personal protective equipment, including respiratory equipment and protective clothing. Even though there really is no ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure, OSHA regulations do define the amount of asbestos exposure that is still permissible in the workplace. The permissible exposure limit (PEL) is being exposed to a time-weighted average of 0.1 fibers of asbestos per cubic centimeter of air over an 8-hour workday and an excursion level of 1.0 fiber of asbestos per cubic centimeter of air in any 30 minute period. These are the maximum workplace exposure levels that are permissible without personal protective gear.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help keep your employees and visitors safe by assisting you in properly managing the asbestos-containing material (ACM) in your facility. We offer the following asbestos services: building surveys, operations and maintenance programs, air monitoring and exposure assessments, abatement design and specification authoring, and AutoCAD© drawings showing the amount and distribution of ACM, data management software, and employee training. We are ready to serve you – give us a call at 317-253-9737.

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week began in 2001 to call attention to this underrated killer. Greater awareness of the dangers of lightning have dropped their fatalities by about 40%, from 50 a year to about 30.

When thinking about workplace safety and lightning, there are definitely some occupations which are more at risk. People who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, with explosives or with conductive materials such as metal have a much greater risk to being exposed to lightning dangers.

Employers should have a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP), which includes a lightning safety protocol for outdoor workers. Some items which should be included in this plan are as follows:
• Inform supervisors and workers to check the daily forecast throughout the workday and take action after hearing thunder, seeing lightning, or perceiving any other warning signs of approaching thunderstorms.
• Indicate how workers are notified about lightning safety warnings.
• Identify locations and requirements for safe shelters.
• Indicate response times necessary for all workers to reach safe shelters.
• Specify approaches for determining when to suspend outdoor work activities, and when to resume outdoor work activities.
• Account for the time required to evacuate customers and members of the public, and the time needed for workers to reach safety – don’t start a project you cannot finish quickly if a storm is approaching
• Post information about lightning safety at outdoor worksites. All employees should be trained on how to follow the EAP, including the lightning safety procedures.

When caught outside in a thunderstorm, the only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle. This should be prefaced as the only safe option. But if there could be a chance a safe location onsite is not nearby, be proactive and include some safer outdoor options including the following:
• Stay off and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles and ladders
• Stay off and away from large equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders and tractors
• Do not touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing
• Leave areas with explosives or munitions
• Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top
• Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects – in a forest, stay near the lower stand of trees
• If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current travelling between group members
• Stay away from water and wet items as they are excellent conductors of electricity

National Safety Month is observed every June to educate organizations and communities while encouraging safe behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. Right now, our country is dealing with a pandemic – a crisis like we haven’t dealt with possibly ever that is affecting so many lives and the economy. When thinking about safety nowadays, what many are thinking is how do we ensure the safe return to work and continue to keep our employees safe?
The National Safety Council released a framework summary for employers based on the recommendations from the SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns task force. The task force identified the following six critical areas employers must prioritize as they consider reopening and returning employees to traditional work environments:
• Physical Environments
• Medical Issues
• Stress, Emotional and Mental Health
• Employment and Human Resources
• Communication Needs
• External Considerations

Employers are required to make sure they provide a safe workplace, and when considering the physical environment, Workplace Safety can help by making sure your workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19 and ensure safety processes are in place to keep your workplace safer. Please check out last month’s blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free (hyperlink), for an overview of our services to ensure your business has been deemed COVID-19-free.

Workplace Safety is ready to help keep your most important assets – your employees - safe. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

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The last couple months have been unprecedented times with many businesses having to shut completely down or at least scale back considerably for the health and safety of our citizens. At some point, you as a business owner will decide it’s time to re-open, and we are seeing these steps being taken in some industries right now, including the auto industry.

How the United States will go from widespread quarantine to what is being called the “new normal” will most likely happen in waves. Even though we are unsure what this will really look like, what we can definitely speculate is there will be plenty of apprehension with our employees, and if our business is consumer-focused, such as restaurants or retail stores, for our customers as well.
Employers’ back-to-work plans will vary considerably depending on geography. Areas that saw fewer confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths will have a much easier time convincing workers it is safe to return to work than those cities hit much harder.

Employers have a duty under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to make sure they provide a safe workplace. One step employers can do no matter what industry is give their employees and their customers some peace of mind by making sure their workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19, and new processes are in place including ongoing cleaning and sanitizing, keeping workers more separated, continuing to wear masks, limiting in-person meetings and even taking employee temperatures when entering facilities.

As you begin looking at specific protocol to ensure the safety of your business, Workplace Safety & Health Co has a program to help you deemed your workplace free from COVID-19. Here is a brief overview of our services:

1. Visually inspect the premises for obvious contamination;
2. Determine through interviews and observations which surfaces are most commonly touched, worked at, used by your employees, etc.;
3. Devise a strategy to select surfaces to sample for the presence or absence of COVID-19;
4. Collect environmental swab samples following specific handling protocol;
5. Send samples to an accredited laboratory;
6. Generate a full report, including but not limited to results and recommendations;
7. Oversee cleaning, if required, and
8. Retest until results are satisfactory.

Re-opening our economy sooner rather than later is a goal we all are hoping for, but we must take steps to ensure our employees and customers trust we are doing whatever we can to keep them safe. Workplace Safety & Health is ready to help you do just that – 317-253-9737.

Drug abuse and addiction cost United States companies $81 billion every year, accounting for absenteeism, healthcare costs and loss of productivity. Some may think those struggling with substance abuse are not holding down a job, but according to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD), more than 70 percent of those abusing illicit drugs in the United States are employed.

Another study found about 1 in 13 working adults has an alcohol use disorder, and 13 percent of men and 5 percent of women reported binge drinking at least once a week. Such occupations as emergency workers, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing and construction are at increased risk of alcohol abuse. Taking into account prescription pain medication and the opioid crisis, it is estimated that workers in construction and extraction experience the highest rates - 15.6 percent living with a substance use disorder.

National Prevention Week is recognized every May, and for this year, it is May 11-15. The three primary goals of this week are to:
1. Involve communities in raising awareness of substance use and mental health issues and implementing prevention strategies
2. Foster partnerships and collaborations with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to improving public health; and
3. Promote and disseminate quality substance use prevention and mental health promotion resources and publications.

Substance abuse in the workplace can lead to lowered productivity, physical injuries, and fatalities, and a national study found approximately 16 percent of emergency room patients injured at work were found to have alcohol in their system. Most addiction sufferers hide their drug and alcohol use from employers and coworkers, but there are known red flags including:
• Avoiding coworkers and friends and irrationally blame them for personal mistakes
• Openly talking about money problems
• A decline in personal appearance or hygiene
• Complaints of failing relationships at home
• Taking time off for vague illnesses or family problems

As an employer, reading these signs and having steps in place to help your employees is good practice for both your business’s and your team’s health and safety. Though most employed adults will not want to take time off from work for an inpatient treatment program, there are outpatient programs that can help them recover while still retaining a sense of normalcy at work. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available as a benefit for many businesses, and they can help addiction sufferers and their families by letting them know of community resources for both emotional support and treatment.

Substance abuse, be it alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medications, is costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Taking steps to offer programs and solutions for your employees is a win-win.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) with a yearlong celebration of past achievements, current efforts, and future initiatives to protect the American workforce.

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Before cell phones, distracted driving might have brought an image of a mom yelling at her children “don’t make me stop this car!,” but today it’s much broader and affecting many drivers every day. It’s talking on the phone, texting, entering addresses for directions, trying to locate that perfect Spotify station. You may think you are only glancing down a few seconds, but studies show it’s takes an average 5-6 seconds, and a car driving 60 mph would cover an entire length of a football field in that time. Just think about that!
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but efforts to curb distracted driving are ongoing – focusing on ways to change behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education. Whether you are driving on the interstate or backing out of your driveway, a lack of focus can be fatal.
When it comes to workplace safety, distracted driving is a big issue. Workers in many industries and occupations spend much time on the road as part of their workdays. One study has shown that compared to other drivers, those who were working were more likely to be in a hurry to reach their destination, be tired or use their cell phone.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Health (CDC), employers should use the following recommendations to prevent distracted driving:
• Ban all phone use while driving a company vehicle – and apply the same rules to use of a company-issued phone while driving a personal vehicle.
• Require workers to pull over in a safe location if they must text, make a call, or look up directions.
• Prepare workers before implementing these policies by communicating:
-How distracted driving puts them at risk of a crash
-That driving requires their full attention while they are on the road
- What they need to do to comply with your company’s policies
- What action you will take if they do not follow these policies
• Consider having workers acknowledge that they have read and understand these policies.
• Provide workers with information to help them talk to their family about distracted driving.

The point is – it’s time to just drive!

Since 1962, the National Poison Prevention Week has been observed annually the third week in March to educate Americans of all ages about poisoning risks. Even though the aim (and most marketing) doesn’t necessarily focus on workplace safety, poison prevention is something that should be discussed and steps taken in the workplace to help reduce its too frequent occurrences.

We are exposed to poisons and potentially hazardous chemicals every day, sometimes without even realizing any danger exists. The rate of fatalities due to accidental poisoning in all age groups has more than tripled in the past 55 years. Yes, a huge majority of that is due to fatal drug overdose (both legal and illegal drugs), but accidental poisoning is now the most common cause of accidental death in America.

When thinking about workplace safety and poison prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates more than 50K employees die each year from long-term occupational hazards. There are four different categories of occupational hazards classified as poison:
1) agricultural and industrial chemicals
2) drugs and healthcare products
3) radiation
4) biological poisons

Commonly found workplace environmental hazards include:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Fumes from lead, iron oxide or zinc oxide
  • Manganese fumes
  • Exposure to ammonia
  • Dust from silica and crystalline quartz

While it is impossible to mitigate every possible workplace poisoning, there are various measures you can take to prevent injuries and fatalities:

  • Comply with OSHA’s Health and Safety regulations (HazCom)
  • Request a health & safety audit to check for chemical exposure (air quality)
  • Have appropriate HR policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace
  • Educate your employees on identifying the symptoms of poisoning and know what steps to take, including calling emergency help quickly when required

Taking steps to keep your employees safe from workplace hazards, including poisoning, should be an ongoing priority. Any questions or concerns on how to do this, we are here to help at Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. – 317-253-9737.

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You may think since it’s almost springtime, you are in the clear of this year’s flu, but did you know that February usually has the highest number of cases on average of any flu season…there have been many cases of flu as late as May of any given year? Employers have a duty to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards, and yes, influenza (flu) is a hazardous contagious viral respiratory disease.

Some statistics concerning the flu that happen consistently each year:
• 5-20% of the U.S. population will get the flu
• 31.4 million outpatient visits
• Approximately 200,000 hospitalizations
• 36,000 deaths

Tips for Employees
• Get vaccinated every year
• Stay home when you are sick – and if you start feeling sick while at work, go home as soon as possible
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
• Wash your hands frequently – if water and soap are not available, then use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – as germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work, including doorknobs, keyboards, phones
• Practice healthy personal habits like getting enough sleep, be physically active, manage stress levels, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food

Tips for Employers
• Host a flu vaccination clinic in the workplace – and if you cannot do this, then allow employees to get the flu vaccine during work hours
• Encourage sick workers to stay at home
• Post signs on hand hygiene and cough etiquette as visible reminders
• Invest in “no touch” wastebaskets, disposable towels, air blower hand dryers and alcohol-based hand rubs
• Review and print free supplemental resources to post in your business to help educate employees on safe practices to prevent the flu -

Before we know it, it will be spring and most likely the flu will be something everyone forgets about until next flu season, but until then, stay safe!

OSHA explains safety culture as shared beliefs, practices and attitudes that exist at an establishment, and the culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs and attitudes which shape the establishment’s and the team members’ behaviors.

The main goal of a workplace safety program is to prevent deaths and injuries. Organizations with a strong safety culture have established comprehensive safety programs, effectively act on them, and monitor their progress consistently.

Establishing a positive culture in any organization is imperative for the emotional and physical well-being of team members, but when it comes to safety culture, we are talking about life and death. Both effective leadership and employee engagement are critical for a safety culture to become established.

Want to see if your organization has a strong safety culture or is on the right path? Check out this list:
• Leadership commitment – what do you as a leader value in your organization? In strong safety cultures, leaders prove their safety commitment through their actions, their safety initiatives and how they empower others to keep safety in the forefront. Your safety plan clearly defines what your desired safety culture looks like.
• Safety-minded employees – employees are invested in learning about health and safety and know their roles and responsibilities. Safety is everyone’s job, and engaged employees understand this.
• Safety comes first every time – when it comes to production vs. safety, does safety win out every time? Safety should always be the priority.
• Financial investment in health and safety – safety should always be thought of as an investment, not as a cost. When safety issues are identified early on, does your organization take action right away? Are improvements made and problems solved with safety in mind before they become bigger issues?
• Safety and health communication opportunities are on-going, regular and available to all. Does your organization have a system in place to increase safety awareness across the entire organization? Is safety the first item on meeting agendas? It should be!
• Are your leaders and managers in touch with what is happening on the ground level? Are they talking to their employees and getting consistent feedback? Do they truly understand what is happening on the floor or are they stuck in an office doing administrative work and not keeping a pulse on where the work is being done?
• Do your employees feel safe to discuss safety and health issues with management? Does your organization reward and recognize positive safety behaviors?
• Are there regularly scheduled audits of the company’s health and safety programs that are conducted by an external auditor?

Can you think of any other ways to ensure a strong safety culture in your organization?

As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second best time is now. Culture change in any organization takes time and perseverance, and Workplace Safety & Health Inc is here to help you achieve a strong safety culture.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it has recently implemented the OSHA Weighting System (OWS) for fiscal year (FY) 2020. OWS will encourage the appropriate allocation of resources to support OSHA’s balanced approach of promoting safe and healthy workplaces, and continue to develop and support a management system that focuses enforcement activities on critical and strategic areas where the agency’s efforts can have the most impact.

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According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), industrial hygiene is a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well- being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community. Industrial hygiene (IH) is definitely not a new concept – it’s actually been around for centuries as far back as Hippocrates noting toxicity in the mining industry in the 4th century BC. In 1700 Italy, Bernardo Ramazzini, known as the “father of industrial medicine,” published the first comprehensive book on industrial medicine (The Diseases of Workmen) that contained descriptions of the occupational diseases of most of the workers of his time.

A little closer to home and a bit more current, Dr. Alice Hamilton led efforts to improve IH in the early 20th century as she had observed first-hand the industrial conditions, had evidence of the correlations between worker illness and their exposure to toxins, and presented convincing proposals for eliminating unhealthy working conditions in such places as mines and factories. She was appointed to the first investigative commission in the United States, which was the Occupational Diseases Commission of Illinois, in 1910.

Nowadays, OSHA regulates hundreds of chemicals, and understanding these chemical and identifying potential chemical or physical exposures, evaluating their severity and assisting in controlling or eliminating the hazard in the workplace is the job for a certified industrial hygienist. These hazards can be anything from air quality, hazardous and toxic agents such as asbestos, radon gas, and pesticides, exposure to chemicals and lead, hazardous waste management and more.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc., we have conducted industrial hygiene consulting to many different industries, including automotive manufacturing and supply facilities, aerospace companies, high-rise commercial buildings, hospitals, surface and subsurface mines, gray iron and non-ferrous foundries, fiberglass manufacturers, rare earth metal alloy manufacturers, food and beverage processing facilities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, ship-building operations and steel mills.

Our IH services include the following:
• Chemical and Particulate Air Monitoring
• Noise Monitoring
• Indoor Air Quality Assessments
• Qualitative Exposure Assessments
• Hazard Communication
• Vapor Intrusion Monitoring
• Ventilation System Assessments
• Employee Training

Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is ready to help you incorporate a solid IH program to protect your employees from both acute and chronic health issues, which will help your company thrive in many ways.

With more than 5,000 workplace fatalities per year, a comprehensive safe and health management system is crucial to reducing that number across all industries. The revised ANSI/ASSP Z10.0-2019 standard guides implementation of safety and health management systems is now available from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) after recently being approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

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The beautiful colors of fall have given way to the gray and white and sometimes dreary colors of winter – and for some, this dreariness drags on. Days are getting colder, it’s dark when you leave for work in the morning and when you get home in the evening, it seems you are stuck indoors too often because of the weather. If these thoughts give you some anxiety, you may be prone to the winter blues. Winter isn’t really the cause of blues, it’s the symptom of being cooped up inside with really low amounts of sunlight.

Winter blues in the workplace affect 1 in 4 people, especially women. It manifests in such ways as sleepiness, moodiness, lack of energy, and depression. These symptoms make it more difficult to get to work on time, be more productive while at work or even engage with co-workers.

Whether you suffer from the winter blues or not, when the weather is miserable and you haven’t seen the sun for days, just getting motivated to work can be difficult. Here are some ways to get through the winter months while staying as positive and productive as possible:
• Go outside – if the day is pretty, encourage your employees to take a break from working and walk outside for a bit – maybe even do group walks around the building or work site
• Let in the light – open the blinds and encourage your team to keep the lights bright during the winter
• Encourage your employees to get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and get some physical activity – having a routine can really help combat the winter funk
• Chocolate – yes, chocolate! Chocolate is a natural mood booster, so help out your employees by keeping small, individually wrapped chocolates around the workplace
• Volunteer opportunities – find ways to give back to the community within working hours or do group volunteer projects as the odds of describing yourself as a “very happy person” increases by 7-12% for those who regularly volunteer

Winter blues are very common, so helping your team get through the dreariness of winter will result in a more productive workforce once spring is here!

*While winter blues are common and can be lessened, it is not the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is more severe and may require medical attention -

At the 2019 National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, California, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the agency’s top 10 violations for fiscal year (FY) 2019 to a standing-room-only crowd of safety professionals. The order may have changed slightly, but the list remain remains the same as last year.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

A new final rule announced by EPA on June 21 will revise the federal limits for lead in dust on floors and windowsills. The rule will lower the agency’s dust-lead hazard standards from 40 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on windowsills. The new limits will apply to houses built before 1978 and to buildings where children spend many hours, such as daycare centers and kindergarten facilities.

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We’ve heard the news stories of major companies having data breaches – including credit card companies, hospitals, and airlines. The list goes on! Most breaches occur in North America with an estimated average cost of a data breach being over $150 million by 2020. Creating a culture of cybersecurity is critical for all organizations, and one of the first steps to protecting your business from a cyberattack is implementing a cybersecurity checklist with all the necessary precautions in place. Keeping these steps in mind can save you and your employees in a world full of hackers:

• Limit physical access to your sensitive information – make sure your servers are not accessible to visitors or employees without security clearance
• Physically secure network access points – i.e. employee workstations, WiFi outlets. If you allow guests to use your company WiFi, make sure they have no access to your inner network and that your router and other devices are password protected
• Conduct employee background checks – it is important to take potential insider threats into account as your own employees can pose the biggest threat to your company’s data
• Educate your employees on the risks of cyber threats and proper habits/best practices to keeping not only the company’s data out of harm’s way, but their own sensitive data – make sure they know who to contact in case they suspect a security breach while at work or on work computers
• Configure and maintain firewall and anti-virus protection – and always keep it up-to-date; also a good idea to limit and filter out questionable websites which could be havens for dangerous malware
• All communications should be encrypted and monitored, including traffic monitoring which can detect suspicious network activity
• Maintain redundant connections for critical systems, so your network can continue to run if your security is compromised
• Establish regular backups and store them in a secure manner – preferably in an inaccessible location separate from your main network

These steps help create a security perimeter and safeguard your data from such attacks as malware, ransomware and other external breaches. Protecting your business’s data is just all-around good business as your customers are at risk when your business is hacked or has a security breach. Creating a culture of privacy is a win-win for all – except the hackers! And that’s fine with us!

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a chemical management strategy that can quickly and accurately assign chemicals into categories, or "bands" in order to protect workers on the job, according to a press release from the agency.

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The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 claimed the lives of approximately 300 people, destroyed over 3 square miles of property, and left more than 100,000 people homeless. Why the quick history lesson? The Fire Marshall’s Association of North America decided in 1911 to make the Great Chicago Fire anniversary a way to promote fire safety and help prevent future tragic events from occurring. This year’s Fire Prevention Week is October 6-12, and its theme is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cap. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” Employers can use this week to focus on fire safety at the workplace and at home.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as 1-2 minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. It’s not a lot of time, but with careful planning and practicing for such an event, it will save lives – at home and at work. Employers can help educate and train their staff on fire safety by using these helpful tips:
• Update signage as necessary – make sure fire escapes are well-marked and routes are posted throughout the facility.
• Make sure fire extinguishers are readily accessible and fully functioning. A fire extinguisher may go years without being used, so make sure fire extinguishers are tested on a regular basis.
• Make sure dangerous equipment or flammable materials are labeled (bilingual signage as well, if possible).
• Practice workplace fire drills on a regular basis and provide training, emails and pamphlets detailing safe fire practices and procedures.
• Encourage or offer incentives for completing online training courses or attending classes.
• Offer to cover training for certification trainings through NFPA, which include such trainings as electrical safety, fire protection, fire inspector and fire plan examiner.
• Provide specific training by inviting certified professionals to speak with employees or send your employees to relevant seminars.
For work and home fire safety, it’s really about the planning:
• Plan your escape route – map your home or workplace and show all available exits from rooms
• Test all smoke alarms on a regular basis – working smoke detectors cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half, and many workplace smoke detector systems can send out an automatic notification to the fire department if left unchecked after a certain amount of time.
• Choose an outside meeting place that is always stationary, like a tree, a building, a parking lot
• Make sure the plan is available to everyone – for the workplace, included in the employee handbook is a good place
• Practice fire drills – for the home, it is recommended to practice twice a year. For the workplace, it might be best to do it more often to train new employees

Employers are responsible for helping to ensure their workplace remains safe. Taking advantage of Fire Prevention Week to heighten the awareness of fire safety is a great way to educate your staff and to keep your employees safe.

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Each September, National Preparedness Month is recognized to promote family and community disaster awareness and remind people to plan for emergencies. This year’s theme is Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters, and each week in September is dedicated to a certain safety topic.

Week 1 – September 1-7: Save Early for Disaster Costs
Week 2 – September 8-14: Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters
Week 3 – September 15 – 21: Teach Youth to Prepare for Disasters
Week 4 – September 22- Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness

Even though here at Workplace Safety & Health, Inc., we focus specifically on safety in the workplace, your employees, which are your best assets, have homes, families and personal lives. Helping your employees have the awareness for general preparedness is a win-win for everyone! Here are some general preparedness tips to keep in mind and share with your employees:
• Make a family emergency plan – and don’t forget to include your pets in the plan
• Make a communication plan, so your family knows how to reconnect and reunite when a disaster strikes – include an out-of-town emergency contact who can let family and friends know where you are and how to reach you
• Review insurance policies – checking to make sure you are covered for all sorts of disasters, including, but not limited to, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes
• Keep copies of important documents in a secure place
• Build or restock your emergency preparedness kits for home, work and your vehicle – make sure you include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies
• Create an emergency savings fund and keep cash on hand for emergencies
• Download the FEMA app and set up local alerts

September is as good a time as any month to make sure you are prepared, not scared! Take some time this month to get you and your family ready for a disaster! Preparation is key.

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Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, the rate of work deaths and reported injuries in the United States has decreased more than 60 percent. Even though is this great news, there are still too many deaths and injuries in the workplace. Every year, more than 5000 workers are killed on the job – that’s still 14 a day! Also, more than 3.6 million suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.

Implementing a safety and health program at your business can not only save lives, but can help your business by reducing costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums, increase productivity, engage workers, and enhance overall business operations. Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event that celebrates businesses who have successfully implemented safety and health programs in the workplace, and this year’s event is August 12-18.

Safe + Sound Week is a great time to raise awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs. The annual event highlights businesses that show their commitment to safety by focusing on such initiatives as management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in workplaces.

Don’t have an established safety and health program at your business or maybe it’s time to update your current program? We are a leading provider of industrial hygiene, safety, and risk management services; industrial hygiene and safety data management; and occupational safety training courses. and workplace risk management. Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is helping you protect your most valuable asset – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737 or check out our website at We look forward to working with you.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an average of 92 fatalities occur every year due to confined spaces, with the most frequent cause of death being asphyxiation or a lack of oxygen. Only six percent of the victims have received safety training specific to confined spaces, and 60% of those who have died were trying to rescue their team members who were trapped.

OSHA, in 29 CFR 1910.146, defines a “confined space” as a potential work space which, by design, is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; AND, has limited or restricted means for entry or exit; AND, is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. A key word here is “AND”, meaning each of these descriptions must be true for a work space to be considered an OSHA-defined confined space. Typical confined spaces include, but are not limited to:
• Storage tanks
• Compartments of ships
• Process vessels
• Pits
• Silos
• Vats
• Degreasers
• Reaction vessels
• Boilers
• Ventilation and exhaust ducts
• Sewers
• Tunnels
• Underground utility vaults
• Pipelines

A confined space permit is needed when a space that presents such hazards or has the potential to present such hazards – including the potential for toxic air contaminants or reduced oxygen, material that could engulf a person, walls that taper into a smaller area causing entrapment, unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, heat and many other potential hazards.

OSHA requires employers to provide rescue and emergency services (either in-house or a contracted team) that can be summoned and the means to contact those services, but calling 911 should not be the only rescue plan as most workers who die in confined spaces do so because of lack of oxygen. Rescuers only have 4-6 minutes to provide oxygen before the worker begins to lose brain function.

OSHA’s regulation requires the facility to select a rescuer who is:
• Able to perform a rescue in a “timely” manner
• Equipped with the necessary tools to perform a non-entry rescue in the specified type of confined space
• Proficient with rescue-related tasks and equipment

Standard Permit-Required Confined Spaces procedures and practices should include evaluating workplaces to determine if permit spaces exist and informing employees where these confined spaces are. Employers should also prevent workers from entering such spaces, or if they are expected to enter the space, there should be a strong confined space safety program in place.

Workplace Safety can help you improve your confined space program. We offer a variety of confined space services including: confined space identification and logging, developing a confined space locator drawing in AutoCAD™, assessing the hazards of each confined space, labeling of each space, developing a cloud-based application to assist in program management and the ability to issue and manage permits, and training of confined space supervisors, entrants and attendants on how to use the system. Check out our Confined Spaces Services brochure and contact us at 317-253-9737 with any of your questions.

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Cloud-to-ground lightning occurs 20 to 25 million times a year in the United States! But what exactly is a lightning strike? As thunderstorms develop, many small particles of ice within the storm clouds collide, which create a positive charge at the top of the cloud and a negative charge of at the bottom.

As this continues, a second positive charge builds up on the ground beneath the cloud, and when the difference between the electrical charge in the cloud and on the ground becomes great enough to overcome the resistance of the insulating air between them…an electrical current flows instantly – a lightning strike! The electrical potential can be as much as 100 million volts!

During the past 30 years, about 50 people, on average, have been killed by lightning strikes every year, and many more suffer permanent disabilities, including memory loss, fatigue, chronic pain, dizziness, sleeping difficulty, and the inability to complete several tasks at one time. Worker activities at higher risk for lightning hazards include:
• Logging
• Explosives handling or storage
• Heavy equipment operations
• Roofing
• Construction
• Building maintenance
• Power utility field repair
• Steel erection/telecommunications
• Farming and field labor
• Lawn services/landscaping
• Airport ground personnel operations
• Pool and beach lifeguarding

Following these simple safety practices can help keep your outdoor workers safer during thunderstorms and lightning strikes:
• Designate a worker per shift to monitor daily weather forecasts, observe local weather conditions and alert all other workers when a possible lightning threat develops.
• When a storm moves nearby, don’t start or continue any work that cannot be stopped immediately
• Anticipate and take action early by moving everyone to a low-risk location. Don’t wait until you see lightning.
• Good motto: If you see it (lightning), flee it. If you hear it (thunder), clear it. Either one, get indoors and to a safe location!
• Remain in a safe location for 30 minutes after the last sight of lightning or the last sound of thunder. The safest location is inside a fully enclosed building. If that is unavailable, the second safest location is inside a full enclosed car, van, truck or bus with a metal roof and metal sides.

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National Safety Month is observed annually in June, and it focuses on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. Each week in June highlights a safety topic, which is discussed below.

Week 1: Hazard Recognition
Accidents don’t just happen. Usually there is an error that is within the control of one or more people once you get to the bottom of things. Even when workers have been properly trained and all the proper materials and tools are available, accidents happen often because of haste and poor planning. Best practice is to not take safety shortcuts, make sure you plan ahead, and identify hazards.

Week 2: Slips, Trips and Falls
The third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death is falls, and depending on the industry, for example construction, falls can actually be the leading cause of death. When thinking about slips, trips and falls, most, if not all, are 100% preventable. It’s important to plan ahead, assess the risk and use the right equipment.

Week 3: Fatigue
Occupational fatigue can occur because of long work hours, a heavy workload, lack of sleep, environmental factors, and medical conditions. Effects of fatigue can include slower reaction time, more errors and decreased cognitive ability. Fatigue can occur in all industries, but those affected most often are shift workers, health care workers and drivers. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and safety performance decreases as employees become tired.

Week 4: Impairment
Reasons for impairment on the job can vary, including lack of sleep, medical condition, or substance use. When thinking about substance use, including legal and illegal drugs, it is estimated that nearly 21 million Americans are living with a substance use disorder, and three-quarters of those struggling with addiction are employed.

This might be National Safety Month, but it goes without saying that safety should be a priority every month. Have questions about these four topics or other safety concerns, Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is here to help. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

Occupational hearing loss (OHL) is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States with about 22 million workers exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, 10 million exposed to solvents, and an unknown number exposed to other ototoxicants that can lead to OHL. According to the National Institute for Occupational and Safety Health (NIOSH), noise is considered loud (hazardous) when it reaches 85 decibels or higher or if someone has to raise his/her voice to speak with someone 3 feet away (arm’s length). Ototoxic chemical exposure includes such chemicals as organic solvents (styrene, trichloroethylene and such mixtures), heavy metals (mercury, lead, trimethyltin), asphyxiants (carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide), and pesticides.

NIOSH has always considered hearing loss prevention as one of its top priorities as OHL is permanent, but also nearly always preventable. The best solution to dangerous noise levels in the workplace is to reduce the source of the noise, if feasible. One NIOSH initiative is to encourage companies to “Buy Quiet,” meaning to develop a plan to take noise levels into consideration when making purchasing decisions.

If this is not technically feasible, workers must use hearing protection devices (HPDs), which when properly selected and correctly worn, these devices will minimize the chance of developing a hearing loss. When considering hearing loss due to ototoxicants, it has been shown that some of these chemicals can cause hearing loss in conjunction with noise levels, but some can cause hearing loss without simultaneous excessive noise exposure.

Virtually all companies that perform manufacturing, construction, or mining activities create noise, so the first step to protecting your employees’ hearing is to establish a hearing conservation program. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help your business establish such a program, which would include provisions for noise measurement, engineering and/or administrative control of noise, audiometric (individual employee hearing) testing and provision of hearing protectors.

Noise exposure crosses all industries and affects many workers, and many workers are unaware that their hearing loss may be an OHL, and in most cases, happens gradually. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. is ready to help you protect your employees’ hearing. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

It may be obvious when people get injured at work, but it may not always be apparent when people acquire infections resulting from exposures at work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently published a study conducting a review of infectious disease investigations in workplaces across the U.S. to better understand the range of cases, the risk factors for workers, and the ways to prevent infectious disease transmission on the job.

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Unhealthy employees cost companies money in many ways – from the unmotivated employee to the seriously ill. Your employees are your number one resources, and it’s much better for the bottom line when those resources are healthy. Global Employee Health and Fitness Month is every May, and it’s a great opportunity for companies to educate their employees on the benefits of adopting healthy habits and behaviors into their daily routine.

Employees who believe their employer cares about their health feel more engaged and invested in their company, which then leads to higher employee satisfaction. Higher employee satisfaction has been shown to save companies money, have higher productivity, and a more positive company image. A win-win in so many areas!

It has been documented that healthy employees reduce a company’s tangible and intangible costs in the following ways:
• Accidents – healthier employees are more focused and aware, so not as prone to accidents from inattentiveness
• Work-related illnesses – better fitness decreases stress, increases strength and boosts immunity
• Sick pay and absenteeism– healthier employees don’t get sick as often, saving companies money lost to sick pay and lessened productivity
• Insurance costs – healthy employees often qualify for lower health insurance rates
• Workers compensation claims – healthy and fit employees file less claims whereas overweight employees file twice as many claims and cost U.S. companies around $73.1 billion a year
• Turnover – happy employees tend to stay longer at a job and less likely to seek other employment
• Stress – healthy lifestyles include more awareness of and need for work-life balance and making sure they are taking care of themselves, so they can be more productive, which leads to lowered stress levels
If a full wellness program is not an option, companies can jumpstart a healthier environment for employees by offering these tips and incentives:
• Encourage employees to take the stairs and encourage them to walk around and stretch their legs throughout the day – it’s not really the amount of time, it’s just a commitment to be more active, which helps improve overall fitness, decreases stress, and strengthens mindset
• Invest in a fitness tracker – provide incentives for those who consistently reach that heart-healthy 10,000 steps or more a day
• Provide a gym membership or pay a large percentage of a gym membership as part of your company’s benefit package
• Take a walk outside for that morning business meeting, which has been shown to boost the mood and creativity

Progressive employers understand their greatest asset is their employees. Investing in their health is essential for managing health care costs, increasing your company’s productivity, and improving employee morale.

Al Shenouda, former federal protective security advisor, talks about the importance of training employees to be prepared for active shooting incidents.

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Believe it or not, spring really is just right around the corner! And for over 50 million Americans that means those budding leaves and flowers bring a host of misery, including relentless sneezing, runny and congested noses, watery eyes, sore throat and headaches by way of pollen. Spring allergies can begin as early as February in the Midwest with tree pollen followed by grass a bit later.

For those in the workforce who suffer from spring allergies, this time of year can make it difficult to focus on the job or on proper safety measures for two reasons: the allergy symptoms themselves and the medications taken to combat them.

Here are some workplace and lifestyle tips to help win the war against springtime allergies:

• Make sure your work areas are well ventilated and have proper humidity
• Regularly dust work areas
• Change air filters frequently
• Clean or replace soiled, dusty or moldy carpet – pollen and other allergens get transferred easily from clothing and shoes
• Working outside:
o Wear NIOSH-approved masks, which can filter at least 95 percent of pollen and other airborne allergens 
o Wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves to protect your skin from allergens
o Work when cloudy skies and calm winds, if possible – pollen counts are higher on sunny, breezy days
• Take antihistamines that are low- or non-sedating during the day, including Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), Fexofenadine (Allegra) or Desloratadine (Clarinex) – there are also many nasal sprays and even allergy shots that can help alleviate symptoms

• Wash and change your clothes frequently as pollen clings to clothing
• Cover up when working outside – long pants, long sleeves, gloves and masks
• Install HEPA filters to capture pollen in your home
• Keep your furry family members off the furniture as pollen gets trapped in pet hair and then transfers onto your couch, bed and chairs
• Do not line dry your clothing outside – dry clothes indoors
Monitor pollen levels daily throughout spring and summer 
• When pollen levels are high, keep your windows closed and limit your outdoor activity

It is estimated that missed work and reduced productivity due to allergies cost U.S. companies more than $250 million a year. Taking these steps both in the workplace and personally can combat the effects of spring allergies and make for happier and safer employees!

When we think of typical New Year’s resolutions, spending time with family and friends, working out more, losing weight, getting fit, or quitting smoking usually come to mind, but have you thought about how to improve your health and safety while on the job?

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time on-the-job, so incorporating some steps both personally and professionally to keep yourself healthy and safe every day will help us keep those more personal resolutions on track as well!
Improving the safety and security of your workplace should be on everyone’s list, not just company management! Here are some workplace safety resolutions to keep in mind as an employee:

Don’t Repeat the Same Mistakes
Review the accidents from the previous year. Has your company put things in place to ensure those same issues will not happen again? Did they offer sufficient safety training to new and current employees? If not, decide right now to make changes to prevent the same accidents from occurring and discuss with management how together you can make 2019 the year of safety.

Review Company Policies
In many cases, company policies are only possibly read when you start employment, but it’s a good habit to review policies every year as situations change and new rules and laws are imposed. Also, if you know of a new rule or regulation that has not been included in your company’s policies, be proactive and inform them about it. It could save you or one of your co-worker’s lives.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
If you are wondering about something, chances are others are as well, so ask those questions. Asking questions allows more open communication between the workers and management and may even prompt them to modify safety rules and regulations they did not consider being a safety hazard.

Make It a Habit to Personally Check Your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Making sure your PPE is in top working order is something you should be checking throughout the year, so make it a habit to personally check to make sure your safety vest still properly fits or that your shoes still have intact soles to keep your feet from slipping. What about that helmet or those safety glasses? Are they still in great shape or do they need to be replaced?

Your company should be consistently looking at their workplace safety plans to make sure they are keeping you as safe and healthy as possible while on the job, but you as an employee can take steps as well to ensure your own personal safety while working. By following the above four resolutions, you are not only making sure you are safe on the job, but you are probably helping to make those more personal resolutions such as spending more time with family and friends ring true as well during the New Year! By the way, everyone at Workplace Safety and Health Inc. wishes you and yours a very safe 2019!

Tagged in: workplace safety

It’s the new year! Time for a fresh start or at least a great time to reassess and reevaluate the safety and security of your workplace. Time to evaluate those emergency plans and your facility’s security, schedule and conduct drills and training exercises, as well as review last year’s accidents and make sure your company has put steps in place to ensure they are less likely to happen again.

Need some more concrete ideas on those safety and security resolutions? Here’s a list of some of the more common ways you can improve your company’s workplace safety:

• Test your notification and alarm systems

• Conduct annual safety training drills with all your staff, making sure you cover a variety of emergency situations, including weather issues, fires, workplace violence, spills, falls, etc.

• Review, reassess and update your crisis management response plan, including who is in charge of certain aspects and remind them of their responsibilities, and involve local law enforcement and health professionals as they may have insight you did not consider

• Upgrade your facility’s security, which could include revising visitor badges and staff access cards, upgrading the locking systems for doors and windows, upgrading or maintaining all security monitoring systems, and if possible, hire security professionals

• Create or evaluate your current internal system for employees to voice concern or make suggestions about workplace safety and security, making sure they feel safe bringing up ideas

• Create an employee health and wellness program to help your team members have an avenue to deal with life stressors, which affect their work habits

• Bring in experienced workplace safety professionals to conduct a workplace safety risk assessment

As an occupational health and safety consulting firm, Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. specializes in risk management. Our primary concern is helping our customers reduce health risks, injuries, and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. We are here now and throughout 2019 to make this year a safer year for you and your team members. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.


The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), an independent, non-regulatory federal agency appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, is responsible for investigating the root causes of major industrial chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities with the vision of having a nation safe from chemical disasters. The agency, which consists of chemical and mechanical engineers, industrial safety experts and others with many years of chemical industry experience, was created under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

While the agency does not issue fines or citations, it does make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry organizations and labor groups. In its almost 30-year history, the agency has deployed to over 130 chemical incidents and issued more than 800 recommendations that have led to many safety improvements for a variety of industries. In addition to specific accident investigations, the agency also reviews more general chemical accident hazard issues, which has led to new recommendations to OSHA and EPA for regulatory changes.

From years of investigating chemical accidents, the CSB has found that effective emergency response training and planning, along with better communication between the company, emergency responders and the community, are critical to preventing injuries and fatalities. Here are some responsibilities for each of those key groups to ensure a better response in case of a chemical accident:

Companies’ Responsibilities:
• Maintain current emergency response plans
• Communicate frequently and openly with residents, businesses, and emergency management officials about chemical hazards in their community and emergency response plans
• Train employees to respond properly to chemical emergencies and to evacuate when appropriate

First Responders’ Responsibilities:
• Have proper hazmat training and equipment
• Conduct frequent drills and exercise plans to respond to possible chemical releases
• Communicate with companies in their communities that deal with chemicals
• Know the key facility contacts in case of an emergency

Communities’ Responsibilities:
• Understand the hazards of the chemicals used at local facilities
• Support and maintain active local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) and up-to-date community response plans and teams
• Develop detailed evacuation and shelter-in-place plans that identify when and how community members are to respond to different types of emergencies
• Establish redundant communication systems to notify residents of a chemical emergency

Every year, OSHA unveils the agency’s top 10 violations for the previous fiscal year during the National Safety Council Congress & Expo, which is the largest annual gathering of safety professionals. The preliminary data collected covers violations cited between October 1, 2017 through September 30th, 2018.

Most of the list does not vary much through the years, with the top seven being the same as last year’s listing, but this year saw one brand new violation make it into the top ten – Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment/Ear and Eye Protection, which replaced Electrical Wiring Methods.

Here’s this year’s OSHA’s Top Ten Violations:

1) Fall Protection – General Requirements (7,270 violations): This violation has held onto the top of the OSHA’s annual list for several years and includes failure to provide proper fall protection near unprotected sides and edges and low-slope/steep roofs.

2) Hazard Communication (4,552 violations): Holding onto the number two spot for several years, this citation is due to lack of a written program, inadequate training, and failure to properly develop or maintain safety data sheets.

3) Scaffolds (3,336 violations): Holding tight to this ranking for the past few years, this violation includes lack of proper decking, failure to provide personal fall arrest systems and/or guardrails where required, and failure to ensure that supported scaffolds are supported adequately on a solid foundation.

4) Respiratory Protection (3,118 violations): In many cases, citations were issued at facilities for providing ill-fitting equipment, failing to implement a proper program or failing to provide medical evaluations.

5) Lockout/Tagout (2,944 violations): Most citations for this violation were for failing to establish any kind of energy control procedure, and other violations included for poor employee training, failure to develop machine-specific procedures, and lack of proper lockout/tagout equipment.

6) Ladders (2,812 violations): Common citations include failure to have side rails extend three feet beyond a landing surface, using the top step of a stepladder, using ladders for unintended purposes and using ladders with broken steps or rails.

7) Powered Industrial Trucks (2,294 violations): In this category, citations were usually issued for such violations as fork trucks and similar vehicles that were not up to code or damaged and still being used, improper training or certification for those operating forklifts, and failure to recertify forklift operators.

8) Fall Protection (1,982 violations): This violation focuses on the training aspect, including all required persons received training and by a competent person. It also includes failure to certify training in writing and failure to train the proper use of guardrails and personal fall arrest systems.

9) Machine Guarding (1,972 violations): These citations usually include such violations as failing to guard points of operation and ensuring such guards are securely attached to machinery or properly anchoring fixed machinery.

10) Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment/Ear and Eye Protection (1,536 violations): New to the top 10 list, this violation is usually cited concerning the failure to provide eye and face protection from flying objects as well as caustic hazards, gases and vapors. Another common citation includes allowing employees to wear their own prescription lenses in addition to protective equipment, which led to obscured views.

These ten violations represent about 60 percent of the total incidents for 2018, and even though most safety professionals are not surprised by OSHA’s annual listing, what is pretty concerning is that the total number of violations on this list represent a 10.19 percent increase, or 2,942 more violations than in 2017. Everyone here at Workplace Safety & Health Co. would love to see a decrease in violations in 2019, and we are here to help you do just that. Contact us at 317-253-9737 to talk about how we can help you keep your employees - your most valuable assets - safe on the job.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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More than 700,000 employees injure their eyes at work each year in the United States – that’s more than 2000 a day! Three hundred thousand of these injuries send employees to the emergency rooms each year, and 10-20% cause temporary or permanent vision loss. The most common causes for eye injuries are from flying bits of metal or glass, tools, particles, chemicals, harmful radiation or a combination of these hazards.

Experts believe using proper safety eyewear could have prevented, or at least lessened, 90% of the eye injuries occurring at work. Other than using the right eye protection, knowing the eye safety dangers at work is extremely important. Complete an eye hazard assessment, described in 29 CFR 1910.132 and Appendix B to Subpart I, and then eliminating hazards before starting work, such as machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls. Doing these three things can greatly reduce the likelihood of a workplace eye injury.

But what type of safety eye protection should you wear? That really depends on the hazards at your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust, you must wear at least safety glasses with side shields. If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers or fiber optics, then you must use specific eye protection for such jobs, including safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that specific task.

Here are a couple other tips to keep in mind to promote eye safety in the workplace:
• Employees should have regular comprehensive eye exams to verify their vision is adequate to complete their jobs safely.
• When an employee already has reduced vision, company provided prescription glasses or goggles would ensure more protective eyewear usage
• Make sure all employees know where the nearest eyewash station is at work and how to use it to properly clean their eyes
Your eyesight is your most critical sense. Protect it by making sure you are wearing the most appropriate and well-fitting eye safety protection – for Eye Injury Prevention Month and every month afterwards.

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized each September. Even though this push tends to be a reminder we must prepare ourselves and our families for a multitude of Mother Nature disasters and encourages us to take time to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, we must not forget the workplace.

Disasters can manifest in a variety of ways, and the workplace is definitely not exempt. Tornadoes, floods and weather-related disasters bring havoc, and do you know if your employees know what to do in such situations? What about workplace violence? A chemical spill? A fire? Taking preventative measures and planning ahead are important aspects to staying calm and keeping your employees safe.

First step is making sure there is an evacuation plan in place. recommends regularly testing your building’s communication system as it is of the utmost importance that employees can clearly hear instructions. If no such system is in place, have a backup plan, such as speaking through a bullhorn to relay information. Other tips include:
• Make sure every floor of the building has two exits that are kept clear
• Assign specific evacuation roles to employees to help direct co-workers to safety and to account for all employees being present
• Contact your local fire department to create an evacuation plan for workers with disabilities

Taking Shelter
Mother Nature has been on a bit of a rampage in the recent years, and while Indiana may not technically be in tornado alley, it seems we are just across the street! If severe weather is a threat, sound a distinct warning and move all workers to the strongest part of the building or structure. It is important to conduct regularly scheduled emergency drills, so employees know what to do and to ensure the building’s safe areas provide enough room for everyone.

Lockdown Situation
Workplace violence is a serious occupational hazard, ranking in the top four causes of death in the workplace for the past 15 years. recommends if gunfire is suspected, employees should find a hiding place and stay quiet. If possible, workers should hide in a room – under a desk and away from windows and doors – and lock and barricade the door. Employees should stay hidden until authorities, such as the police, release them.

Dangerous Materials
If you suspect a gas leak or chemical spill has occurred, National Safety Council recommends the following acronym – E.S.C.A.P.E.:
• E: Exit the area
• S: Secure the scene
• C: Call 911
• A: Assess the problem
• P: Pull your building’s fire alarm
• E: Exit the building

In honor of National Preparedness Month, make it a point to ensure the safety of your workers. Workplace Safety & Health is here to help you do just that. Give us a call – 317-253-9737.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Jax Utilities Management Inc., a Jacksonville utilities contractor, for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $271,606.

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Manual dexterity – the use of hands, fingers and thumbs to perform everything from very basic to very complex motions - is something we may take for granted much of the time.

But when these most intricate and useful manual appendages find themselves in harm’s way, the results are hard to ignore.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a million workers visit the emergency room with hand injuries each year. Approximately 110,000 hand injuries result in lost time at work (1) with the average hand injury resulting to six days away from the job. The average claim is about $6,000, while the average workers' compensation claim comes to about $7,500. In all, the hands account for about 13 percent of all industrial injuries each year.

Depending on the industry, some workplace injuries routinely involve the possibility of exposure to toxic materials through the skin. In fact, the Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (2) from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists approximately 450 organic substances for which skin protection is required.

As the body’s largest organ, the skin represents a major route for chemical exposure. Toxins can damage the skin directly, be absorbed into the body through the skin or enter through hand-to-mouth transfer. To complicate matters, results of numerous studies indicate that chemical absorption through the skin can go unnoticed by someone going about his or her work routine.

So, one might argue, when it comes to chemical protective clothing for the hands, why not just have workers don heavily insulated, chemically impervious mitts and be done with it? The reason, of course, is that most jobs require a level of tactility that limits the practicality of such a design, even it were possible to fabricate.

Here’s another argument for not just throwing on any old set of gloves. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Occupational Safety and Health Administration/OSHA), 30 percent of workers who suffered hand injuries were wearing gloves that were inadequate, damaged or were the wrong type for the hazard. Perhaps even more telling is that the other 70 percent who sustained a hand injury were not wearing gloves at the time of the incident (3).

When it comes to choosing chemical protective clothing, organizations should weigh factors such as cost, practicality, toxicity, and workplace exposure conditions.

OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard (1910.132) calls for a hazard assessment that includes conducting a survey of each operation, identifying specific potential hazards, organizing the data and analyzing the information. This analysis should include a determination of the level of risk and seriousness of the potential injury from each hazard found in the area.

It’s important to keep in mind that commonly available glove materials provide only limited protection against many chemicals. Gloves also represent an opportunity for sweat to build up, leading to potential discomfort and health issues. That means selecting the best fit for a particular application, which includes determining how long gloves can be worn and whether they can be reused (4).

Because they are not always reliable as a source of protection, gloves are not recommended by NIOSH or OSHA as a primary defense against chemical exposure.

Rather, chemical protective clothing for the hands should be one part of a comprehensive approach that includes practices such as isolation, training and environmental monitoring.

1. 2014 USA National Safety Council. 2014 injury data.

What Is Safe + Sound Week? A nationwide event to raise awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs that include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in workplaces.

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Summer is in full swing, and that means some extremely warm weather! July and August are typically the hottest months of the year, and those who work outdoors are exposed to hours of the sun’s strong ultraviolet (UV) rays. In May’s blog, we discussed heat-related illnesses, but don’t forget another possible cause of too much sun. Since the sun is the primary cause of skin cancer, outdoor workers are at the highest risk. 
Even though cancers caused by a person’s work are generally taken seriously, skin cancer isn’t often thought of as an occupational disease. The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to minimize risk of harm to employees. 
According to the National Cancer Institute, people should protect themselves against skin cancer by:
Avoiding sun exposure as much as possible between 10am and 4pm
Wearing long sleeves, long pants and a hat that shades your face, ears, neck with a brim all around
Using broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and can filter both UVA and UVB rays
Wearing sunglasses that filter UV rays to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes
Some of these steps may be difficult to follow if you are an outdoor worker, which includes such occupations as construction, agriculture and landscaping. Most work hours are during the heat of the day, so what steps can employers take to help protect their outdoor workers from the harmful UV rays?
Here are a few strategies to increase sun protection:
Schedule breaks in the shade and allow workers to reapply sunscreen throughout their shifts
Modify the work site by increasing the amount of shade available – tents, shelters, cooling stations
Create work schedules that minimize sun exposure – schedule outdoor tasks early morning or evening time and rotate workers to reduce their UV exposure
Add sun safety to workplace policies and trainings
Provide free sunscreen, uniforms that offer ample body coverage and UV-blocking sunglasses
In the United States, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other forms of cancer combined with one in five Americans getting skin cancer by the age of 70. Every year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S., which costs an estimate $8.1 billion annually. It’s in the employers’ best interests, and it’s an OSHA requirement, to keep their workers safe, including keeping them safe from the intense rays of the summer sun.

The Consumer Products and Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of Honeywell Fibre-Metal E2 and North Peak A79 hard hats. These hats can fail to protect users from impact, posing a risk of head injury.

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Premier Behavioral Health Solutions of Florida Inc. and UHS of Delaware Inc., the operators of Bradenton-based Suncoast Behavioral Health Center, for failing to protect employees from violence in the workplace. Proposed penalties total $71,137.

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Back in 1982, OSHA developed the Control of Hazardous Energy regulation to help protect workers who routinely service equipment in the workplace, and it went into effect in 1989. This regulation is now commonly known as the lockout/tagout (LOTO) regulation, and it outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment (General Industry -29 CFR 1910.147).  The regulation also addresses a number of other OSHA standards, including but not limited to Marine Terminals, Construction, Electrical and Special Industries.

So what is hazardous energy? When machines or equipment are being prepared for service or maintenance, they often contain some form of hazardous energy, which is any type of energy that can be released and cause harm. Energy sources include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal and other energy sources. Failure to control such hazardous energy can cause serious injuries and death, and many injuries include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating or fracturing body parts.  Some examples of such injuries include the following:

  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases and crushes a worker who is trying to release the jam.
  • A valve is turned on somewhere along the same line where a worker is repairing a connection in the pipes, and the fluid or steam then spills on and burns the worker.
  • Internal wiring on the equipment electrically shorts, shocking the worker repairing the equipment.

Every workplace should have an energy control program in place, with LOTO safety being part of that program. A LOTO procedure should include the following six steps:

1. Preparation – the employee must investigate and have a complete understanding of all types of hazardous energy that might need to be controlled, including identifying the specific hazards and how to control that energy

2. Shut Down – shut down the machine or equipment that will be serviced and inform any employee affected by the shutdown

3. Isolation – isolate the machine or equipment from any source of energy, which may include turning power off at a breaker or shutting a valve

4. Lockout/Tagout – the employee will attach lockout/tagout devices to each energy-isolating device – these devices should not be removed by anyone except by the person performing the lockout, and the tag should include the name of the person and other needed information who is performing the LOTO

5. Stored Energy Check – hazardous energy can be “stored” within the machine, so during this step, any potentially hazardous stored or residual energy must be released, disconnected, restrained or made non-hazardous

6. Isolation Verification – doublecheck/verify that everything was done correctly, and the machine or equipment is de-energized

It is estimated there are at least three million workers who service equipment routinely, including craft workers, electricians, machine operators and laborers. Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries, and those who are injured lose an average of 24 workdays recuperating. Compliance with LOTO standards prevents on average an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. offers a Lockout/Tagout program, which includes effective programming, procedure writing and labeling, training and data management.  In the past 15 years, Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has authored over 15,000 energy control/lockout-tagout procedures for the automotive, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, medical device, and ferrous & non-ferrous metals industries. Give us a call to see how we can help you implement or update your LOTO program and train your employees on those life-saving procedures – 317-253-9737.

OSHA Fact Sheet -

NIOSH Alert -

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Did you know in the United States that cloud-to-ground lightning happens 20 to 25 million times a year? Even with such frequency, for some reason, lightning is overlooked too often as an occupational hazard. It doesn’t get the attention of other deadly weather storms, such as hurricanes, floods or tornadoes, because it doesn’t result in mass destruction or mass casualties. But anybody working outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects or near explosives or conductive materials have a significant risk to being struck by lightning.

In a typical year, the central Ohio Valley, including Indiana, sees some of the most frequent lightning activity across the United States. Summertime is the peak season for lightning and a great time to educate your employees about lightning and what precautions should be taken to prevent worker exposure to this dangerous natural force.

Lightning 101 – When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

  • Lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from its parent thunderstorm – much farther out from the area of rainfall within the storm.
  • Thunderstorms always include lightning – any thunder you hear is caused by lightning.
  • Nowhere outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area.
  • If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance.
  • Seek safe shelter and stay there until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
  • Don’t use corded phones as this is one of the leading causes of indoor lightning injuries – cordless and cell phones are safe to use as long as they are not being charged.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Don’t touch electrical equipment or cords as anything using electricity is susceptible to a lightning strike.
  • Avoid plumbing as metal plumbing and the water inside are both very good conductors of electricity.
  • Refrain from touching concrete surfaces – lightning can travel through the metal wires and bars in concrete walls and flooring, such as in a basement or garage.

Remember, there is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm, so seek full-enclosed, substantial buildings with interior wiring and plumbing as these will act as an earth ground. But what if workers are caught outdoors?  These are National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) recommendations to decrease the risk of being struck:

  • Lightning will likely strike the tallest objects in the area, so make sure it’s not you.
  • Avoid such things as isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell phone towers, cranes, large equipment, ladders, scaffolding or rooftops.
  • Avoid open areas, such as fields, and never lie flat on the ground.
  • If you must be near trees, find a dense area of smaller trees that are surrounded by larger trees or retreat to low-lying areas.
  • Avoid water – immediately get out of and away from such places as pools, lakes or oceans.
  • Avoid wiring, plumbing and fencing as lightning can travel long distances through metal.

Many people often wonder about the safety of their own vehicle during lightning. There have been enough reported incidences and injuries to know the myth of being completely safe in a car is just that - a myth. If you find yourself in your car during a lightning storm, it is best to pull off to the side of the road, turn on your emergency blinkers, turn off the engine and put your hands on your lap until the storm passes. Do not touch door or window handles, radio dials, CB microphones, gearshifts, steering wheels and other inside-to-outside metal objects.

On the other hand, heavy equipment, such as backhoes, bulldozers, loaders, graders, scrapers and mowers, which have an enclosed rollover system canopy (ROPS) are considered safe, so you should shut down the equipment, close the doors and sit with hands in lap until the storm has passed. Smaller equipment without ROPS, such as small riding mowers, golf carts and utility wagons, are not safe, and you should leave these vehicles for safe shelter.

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees, which includes but is not limited to having an Emergency Action Plan that addresses lightning safety protocol for outdoor workers, posting information about lightning safety at outdoor worksites and offering safety training to their employees. Workplace Safety & Health Co. is here to help you keep your employees safer in thunderstorms and in all kinds of weather. 

High cholesterol and high blood pressure are more common among workers exposed to loud noise at work, according to a NIOSH study recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Researchers found that a quarter of U.S. workers reported a history of noise exposure at work.

NIOSH researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty, and heart conditions within U.S. industries and occupations. The researchers also examined the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease.

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National Safety Month is observed annually every June to promote safety throughout the country and focus on reducing leading causes of death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), nearly 5200 American workers died while doing their job in 2016.  That averages to more than 14 people per day! It’s a 7 percent increase from 2015, and it’s the first time in nearly a decade the number has surpassed 5000. 

More workers lost their lives in transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about one out of every four fatal injuries. Workplace violence injuries increased by 23 percent, which made it the second most common cause of workplace fatality. With the nation’s opioid crisis, drug abuse and deaths have entered the workplace at an alarming rate.  A BLS’s report from December showed the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32 percent in 2016, and the number of drug-related fatalities has increased by at least 25 percent annually since 2012. Even though these three are significant, workplace deaths are increasing percentage-wise among many different demographics. 

Safety in the workplace is vital, and employers must take bigger steps to encourage and increase workplace safety. Here are some basic ways employers can help ensure the safety of all workers:

Staff Training

Employees may roll their eyes when they are required to attend regularly scheduled safety trainings, but proper training is a necessity – not only for your employees’ safety, but you will be held liable for the incidences. During these trainings, encourage your employees to share ideas on how to improve safety.  One great topic for a staff training – first aid training. 

Develop a Workplace Safety and Health Plan

Identifying hazards in your workplace and taking steps to eliminate or minimize them are great first steps in keeping work spaces safer, but also take it further by developing a safety plan listing such hazards, telling your employees what you will do to ensure their safety and what you expect from them. Make sure your employees have access to a first aid kit and the AED equipment.

Inspect Your Workplace

Regularly scheduled workplace inspections are very important. Check tools and equipment to make sure they are well maintained and safe. Make sure your workplace is relatively clean and clutter-free. When properly carried out, these inspections can help you proactively identify and address hazards before they cause safety issues.

Reward Safety

Are you rewarding employees for completely a job before deadlines, under budget or high productivity? This mentality to get it done quickly could compromise safety. Why not reward those who have followed all your safety rules and have consistently provided efficient work? This puts the emphasis on safety instead of productivity.

Want more ideas on how to promote a safer work environment? Contact us at Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. at 317-253-9737.

It’s been a long winter – and a cold spring, but summer is just around the corner, which means hot weather is on its way. For the many people exposed to higher temperatures as part of their job duties, it’s time to review how to prevent heat-related illnesses (HRI’s). Every year, thousands of workers in the United States suffer from serious HRI’s, which if not addressed can quickly turn from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, which has killed on average 30 people every year since 2003. Jobs that are at a higher risk of HRI’s include, but are not limited to, firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers and factory workers.

You might wonder how does excessive heat affect the body? Our bodies usually maintain a stable internal temperature by circulating blood to the skin and through sweating, but when the outside temperature is close to or even warmer than normal body temperature, sweat may not be able to evaporate, so it’s less effective. If the body cannot get rid of the excess heat, it stores it, which causes an increase in core temperature and heart rate. If the body continues to store heat, you begin to lose concentration and have difficulty focusing, you may become irritable or sick and lose your desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even possibly death. The body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes!

Five Categories of Heat-Related Illnesses

  1. Heat Rash – caused by skin being constantly wet from sweat and plugged sweat glands (raised, red blistery rash)
  2. Heat Cramps – caused by excessive loss of water and electrolytes, with cramps occurring in the legs and abdomen
  3. Heat Syncope – caused by prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or laying position (includes fainting or dizziness)
  4. Heat Exhaustion – symptoms are pale skin, excessive sweating, headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and dizziness, with the potential for fainting
  5. Heat Stroke – symptoms are dry hot skin and a very high body temperature, skin is red but without sweat, and the person is incoherent or unconscious

Preventative Actions to Protect Employees

  • Train and educate workers and supervisors on risk factors and early warning signs of HRI’s
  • Provide cool drinking water near work areas and promote regular hydration before feeling thirsty
  • Monitor temperature and humidity levels near work areas – incorporate a variety of engineering controls that can reduce workers’ exposure to hear including air conditioning, increase general ventilation, cooling fans, local exhaust ventilation, reflective shields to redirect radiant heat, insulation of hot surfaces, and elimination of steam leaks
  • Implement a heat management program, so everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency
  • Allow workers to distribute the workload evenly over the day, to rotate job functions and incorporate work/rest cycles, including if possible to allow heavier work scheduled for cooler times of the day
  • Use the “buddy system” to monitor worker conditions
  • Use safety supplies such as special cooling devices when using certain personal protective equipment
  • Acclimate workers by exposing them for progressively longer periods of time to hot work conditions

Hot Weather Safety Tips for Employees

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid dehydrating liquids, including alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing when possible
  • Pace yourself and schedule frequent breaks in a shaded or air-conditioned area
  • Use a damp rag to wipe your face or put around your neck
  • Avoid direct sun and getting sunburnt – use sunscreen and wear a hat
  • Be alert for signs of HRI’s
  • Eat smaller meals – eat fruits high in fiber and natural juices and avoid high protein foods

Just take a look at OSHA’s Fat Cat report and the most common theme on the fatality report is a fall, usually from some sort of construction job site. Fall from heights is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction, accounting for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S., more than 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured, and the statistics for 2016 show that of the 991 construction fatalities, falls accounted for 370. 

Overall, fatality injuries in construction are higher than any other industry in the United States, with the majority of them occurring in establishments with fewer than 20 employees. About two-thirds of those fatal falls were from roofs, scaffolds and ladders. 

Many, if not all, of these deaths could have been prevented with these common-sense safety precautions* including:

Planning ahead to do the job safely before starting each and every job.

Providing the right equipment for working at heights.

Training workers to use the equipment properly and to work safely on roofs, ladders and scaffolds

Preventing Roof Falls


Wear a harness and always stay connected

Make sure your harness fits

Use guardrails or lifelines

Guard or cover all holes, openings and skylights


Don’t disconnect from the lifeline

Don’t work around unprotected openings or skylights

Don’t use defective equipment

Preventing Ladder Falls


Choose the right ladder for the job

Maintain three points of contact

Secure the ladder

Always face the ladder


Don’t overreach

Don’t stand on top or on the top step of a stepladder

Don’t place the ladder on unlevel footing

Preventing Scaffolds Falls


Use fully planked scaffolds

Ensure proper access to scaffolds

Plumb and level

Complete all guardrails

Ensure stable footing

Inspect before use


Don’t use a ladder on top of the scaffold

Don’t stand on guardrails

Don’t climb cross-braces

*DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2012-142, Fall Prevention Fact Sheet -

Even though construction falls are the majority of fatality-related falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 261,000 private industry and state and local government workers miss one or more days of work yearly due to injuries from falls on the same level or to lower levels. Fall injuries are a big financial burden, accounting for an estimated $70 billion annually in the United States through workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with occupational fall incidences. 

To increase awareness for fall prevention, OSHA incorporated National Safety Stand-Down Week five years ago. This year’s event takes place May 7-11. OSHA is asking employers to set some time aside during that week to have an open discussion with employees about falls and how to prevent them. Workplace Safety and Health Co. is here to help you lower employee injury rates. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

Clocks will spring forward on Sunday, March 11 as we begin Daylight Saving Time. Even though we welcome the bright mornings as a signal that winter is finally coming to an end, we do miss that lost hour of sleep and we might even have to deal with our body clock disruption.

Now you may think one hour of lost sleep isn’t much, but many of us deal with lack of sleep on a regular basis. The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives, including workplace safety.

March is Sleep Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to remind people that getting a good night’s sleep is a necessity. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation and drowsiness on the job can be a major safety issue, especially in safety-critical positions that involve operating machinery, driving or other tasks that require alertness.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but 63 percent of Americans reported their sleep needs are not being met each week. According to Circadian (link to website -, a global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock, sleep deprivation is frequently the root cause of decreased productivity, accidents, incidents and mistakes which cost companies billions of dollars each year.

Sleep deprived individuals are poor communicators, have decreased vigilance and slower response time, become distracted easily, and are more prone to engage in risky decision making. Interesting point is if you have four or more nights of less than seven hours of sleep per night, it can be the equivalent to a total night of sleep deprivation and that can affect your functioning for up to two weeks.

And what about operating machinery or driving while sleepy? Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and the National Safety Council research showed:
• You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if fatigued
• Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers
• Being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk (22 hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioral performance impairment that are comparable to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level)

The loss of sleep is not only detrimental to workplace safety, it is a major player in employees’ overall health. Chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. It is estimated fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.

So, time to get some shut eye in the name of workplace safety and health!

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently published "Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices," a guidance document for industry and the FDA staff and said it is the world's first agency to provide a comprehensive technical framework to advise manufacturers creating medical products on 3D printers.

The document, available at, addresses a range of issues, from design, software, and materials (both starting materials and reuse of materials) to post-processing, device testing, biocompatibility, and labeling.

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Prolonged blasts of arctic air throughout much of Eastern United States in December and January have reminded us just how severe and dangerous winter weather can be, especially for those who find themselves outdoors in it.

Anyone exposed to extreme cold, such as in a work environment, may be at risk of cold stress – when body heat is lost faster than it can be produced. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary from region to region. That means that in places typically unaccustomed to wintry weather, even near-freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Such weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.

OSHA's Cold Stress Guide at offers a number of tips for avoiding cold stress on the job, while reminding employers of their responsibility to keep workers safe under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

According to the guide, “Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Workers should be trained on the appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices to reduce the risk of cold stress.”

Some of these are common sense practices, like wearing inner and outer layers of clothing to stay both dry and warm, donning a hat and/or hood, and putting on waterproof and insulated gloves and boots.

Others involve taking frequent breaks in a warm area, working in pairs so either one might spot danger signs, and notifying a supervisor or calling for medical help immediately if a worker has signs or symptoms of hypothermia or another cold-related illness or injury.

Still others involve engineering controls like providing radiant heaters to warm workers in outdoor security stations, and where possible, shielding work areas from drafts or wind to cut down on wind chill.

Perhaps the two most salient points in OSHA’s Cold Stress Guide are recommendations that both employers and employees be proactive and alert, both good practices for dealing with winter – and workplace safety – in general.

There were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016, representing a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015. That’s according to the most recent Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This marked the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities and the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded by the CFOI since 2008. The fatal injury rate increased to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers from 3.4 in 2015, the highest rate since 2010.

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There’s no mistaking the value in lifelong learning, but training courses – whether they last a few hours or a few days, can sometimes seem daunting to anyone enrolled in them.

A 2015 Microsoft study found that the average person’s attention span is about 8 seconds. While that finding and others like it might suggest that any productivity or safety message at work is playing to a sold-out crowd at Short Attention Span Theatre, a new trend known as microlearning seeks to capitalize on that apparent shortcoming.

As the name suggests, microlearning courses are shorter than traditional training: A single microlearning session aims to teach one particular lesson in a concentrated way – a single presentation typically ranges from 2 to 5 minutes. Such sessions are typically more convenient than traditional classroom settings, too: Most microlearning formats are easily accessed from smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers, while organizations can choose to offer courses either at specific times or an on-demand basis.

Considering the time many people spend watching video – one recent study found that many Millennials spend upwards of a total of three hours a day gazing into the electronic ether – the concept of brief, targeted lessons with clear-cut goals seems like a logical progression in eLearning.

In the few years since such courses have been offered, there is evidence to suggest that putting forth the effort can bear fruit. As chronicled in the 2016 Fortune magazine article "Corporate Training Gets an Upgrade for the Facebook Generation," Walmart developed an app for its warehouse workers comprised of three-minute instructional videos on performing common tasks safely. Each lesson was followed by a short test. Following a trial period of six-months, injury claims at the company’s warehouses fell by nearly half. The magazine also looked at a private Facebook group created by PayPal aimed at helping its employees help each other troubleshoot by watching videos of short classes. One major takeaway was that the number of workers who finished at least two training courses every six months doubled. During that same period, PayPal was able to reduce its training expenses by nearly a 25 percent.

It’s clear that such a method – taken by itself – has its limits. For example, a two-day personal protective equipment training course cannot adequately impart all its lessons in a single five-minute video, no matter how motivated the student and concise the course material. And instructor-led courses have the versatility of responding to students’ learning pace and questions in an organic way. However, when microlearning sessions are incorporated in the framework of a longer course in complementary ways, such as when some lessons are transferred to video as prerequisites for attending a brick-and-mortar course or when they are used in conjunction with one to introduce or reinforce concepts, it appears that the sky (or the Cloud) is the limit.

Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs) appear to be on their way to becoming as common a sight in buildings and gathering places as fire extinguishers. The potentially life-saving devices can be found in a growing number of schools, churches, courthouses and businesses – and with good reason. CPR from a trained bystander can double or even triple a heart attack victim's odds of survival.

Yet the results of two recent surveys commissioned by the American Heart Association suggest there is a gap between the people’s appreciation of these potentially live saving techniques and their ability and willingness to use them.

One survey found that while many in the workplace recognize the value of training, their good intentions haven't necessarily meant an increase in the number of people trained in comprehensive first aid, which involves both CPR and the AED use. Perhaps even more telling, 56 percent of respondents did not even know where an AED could be found where they work. 

This first survey included polled 500 general industry/labor employees, most of them working in construction or manufacturing. Forty-six percent indicated that their employers offered no first aid or CPR+AED training.

More than a third indicated that they had not received first aid or CPR+AED training through their current employer.
Forty percent said they did not believe it was necessary to learn the location of AEDs in public places such as airports and large-scale public venues.

At the same time, most of these same employees believe they or someone in the workplace will know how to perform CPR+AED or first aid in the event of an emergency.

The other AHA-commissioned survey collected responses from more than 1,000 environmental health and safety managers and human resource managers from a variety of industries.

Their responses suggested they, too, appreciate the value of workplace training during or outside of business hours: About a third indicated that someone’s life had been saved inside or outside of the workplace as a result of proper first aid and CPR+AED training from their organization.

At Workplace Safety & Health Company, we are committed to helping to make workplaces safer by offering training in First Aid/CPR (including AED and bloodborne pathogens), as well as:
-Aerial lift safety training
-Confined Space Entry and Rescue
-Asbestos Operations and Maintenance
-Fall Protection
Whatever your workplace safety concern, contact us – we’re here to help.

Tagged in: AED CPR workplace safety

The present regulatory approach toward safety and health in the workplace needs improvement. That's according to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), whose “OSHA Reform Blueprint” lists 12 points outlining changes to emphasize risk management, sharpen the agency’s focus on productive policies and fill gaps that limit OSHA’s ability to protect workers.

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Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

If investing in safety at the workplace sometimes seems costly, there are numbers that show just how expensive the alternative can be.

The most serious workplace injuries cost companies in the United States $59.9 billion per year. That's according to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, which used figures from 2014, the most recent year statistically valid injury data are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance in order to identify critical risk areas in worker safety.

The index looks at what caused employees to miss six or more days of work and then ranks those reasons by total workers’ compensation costs.

Taking the top spot in this year's index was overexertion involving outside sources. That category includes lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing objects. Such injuries accounted for 23% of the total costs, or $13.79 billion.

The remaining categories in the top 10 were:
-falls on same level, $10.62 billion, 17.7%;
-falls to lower level, $5.5 billion, 9.2%;
-being struck by object or equipment, $4.43 billion, 7.4%;
-other exertions or bodily reactions, $3.89 billion, 6.5%;
-roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle, $3.7 billion, 6.2%
-slip or trip without fall, $2.3 billion, 3.8%;
-caught in or compressed by equipment or objects, $1.95 billion, 3.3%;
-struck against object or equipment, $1.95 billion, 3.2%, and
-repetitive motions involving micro-tasks, $1.81 billion, 3.0%.

That order in among the top 10 was unchanged from the previous year. What did change from year to year, however, was the share of the top 10 causes of serious workplace accidents. In 2014, the cost of all disabling workplace accidents was 83.4 percent, up by just under 1% from 2013. The report also found that falls on the same level and roadway incidents continued to increase.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to assist customers in reducing injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through robust health and safety management practices. A mock OSHA audit from Workplace Safety & Health Co. can provide valuable insight into the presence of unsafe conditions and/or unsafe work practices that may be present at your facility. Give us a call or visit our website to learn more about how we can help.

Tagged in: workplace safety

There are significant differences in short sleep duration – less than seven hours a night – among occupational groups. That’s according to a CDC study that is believed to be the first to evaluate short sleep duration in more than 90 detailed occupation groups and across multiple states.

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Updated OSHA regulations that went into effect in January 2017 stand to have a pervasive impact on all fall protection programs going forward.

In November 2016, OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (29 CFR 1910 Subparts D & I). The 500-plus page document sets compliance dates that go out as far as 2036, but many are much more pressing. In one example, workers exposed to fall hazards or who use fall protection equipment must receive training by May 2017.

Some of the key features of the new rule are discussed below.

Roof Work
A common concern with respect to roof work involves distance, specifically, what is considered to be a safe distance from the edge of an unprotected roof.

Although OSHA's previous position is that there is no safe distance, the new rule does provide some clarification on this point. The regulation states that work at less than 6 feet from the roof edge requires conventional means of protection (such as a guardrail, personal fall arrest systems, etc.). From a distance of 6-15 feet, the new rule allows for a designated area for infrequent or temporary work. These areas are defined in more detail in the rule’s commentary section.

Some of the new features clearly reflect an alignment with regulations on construction. One is that a warning line is required beginning at 6 feet from the edge.

Under the new rule, work at a distance greater than 15 feet from an unprotected edge does not require an employer to provide any fall protection – but only if the work is both infrequent and temporary. In this situation, the rule allows for an administrative control to be used in order to keep workers from being closer than 15 feet from an unprotected edge.

Guardrails, Ladders and Stairs
The new rule contains new information on common features such as guardrails, ladders and stairs.

One key feature of the new rule with respect to these devices is a number of additional approved types: They include alternating tread-type stairs, combination ladders and mobile ladder stand platforms. The rule also now includes specific requirements for spiral stairs and ship stairs. For falls of greater than 24 feet, the new rule requires the use of ladder safety systems. Enforcement of the requirements for new ladders is set to start in November 2018, and every ladder will be required to comply with this by 2036.

General industry regulations for guardrails are now aligned with construction rules and require a height of 42 inches (plus or minus 3 inches). Under the new rule, openings are required to be no larger than 19 inches. No longer allowed is the use of chains to close off access to openings or the use of a "parapet alternative" option that involved a shorter (30-inch) barrier, provided as it was of sufficient width (18 inches).

Competent and Qualified Persons
The new regulations address more than just hardware requirements, and one subset speaks more specifically than in the previous version to the roles of “Competent and Qualified” persons.

That includes distinct training and responsibilities for personnel who have those designations. There are specific references on the need for a Qualified Person for the following job functions:
-Worker training, which in the past was linked to the Competent Person
-Instances in which correction or repair involves structural integrity of a walking-working surface
-Inspection of knots in a lanyard or vertical lifeline
-Annual inspection of rope descent anchorages
-Anchorage certification

Workplace Assessments
One of the most significant features of the new rule is the need for fall hazard assessments. 29 CFR 1910.132(d) now requires workplace assessment. That means employers must ensure the following to be in compliance:
-Determine whether hazards are present and, if so, communicate that information to employees, select types of personal protective equipment for employees, and ensure its proper fit.
-Coordinate with other entities to assess hazards for multi-employer sites.
-Document the completion of assessments, including what workplaces were evaluated, who certifies that an evaluation was performed, and the date of the assessment.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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In this second installment in a three part series on safety culture in the workplace, we look at the concept of encouraging safe behaviors through employee engagement. Read Part One - Safety Culture: Who Is Getting Your Safety Message 

Safety is a Team Win

What message is your organization sending to employees about its commitment to safety?

Let’s begin with the familiar “days without an injury” statistic. The numbers speak for themselves. They may even be posted in the form of a sign for everyone at work to see. But they only tell part of the story.

We know workplace safety education and training programs positively affect employee safety. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, more than 13 people in the United States died each day as result of performing their jobs. The National Safety Council goes a step further by claiming that each of those deaths was preventable. So where do things go off track?

All the safety measures in the world are of little benefit if they are not followed. Motivating employees to use the safety protocols they've learned is therefore essential. That’s where engagement comes in. A standard dictionary definition of “engagement” is “an emotional involvement or commitment.”

The “Four Pillars of Safety,” a white paper from the Performance Improvement Council, offers a number of suggestions for recognizing employee contributions to safety and doing so in engaging ways. (“Engagement,” incidentally, is one of those four pillars, along with” recognition,” “communications” and “measurement.”)

One of those is to offer employee wellness programs. These can be as simple as encouraging employees to improve their health together and offering incentives and rewards for top achievers. Such programs have been a feature of the corporate landscape for over a decade, and according to a recent State of the Industry Survey conducted by Virgin Pulse, they are among the top priorities for responding employers in 2017. That survey, which gathered data from 600 human resources and benefits officers at global organizations, also found that those companies that invest in wellness and engagement can realize measurable improvements in business performance. Seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated employee well-being is a critical part of their business plans, while 74 percent of those with comprehensive wellness programs said their employee satisfaction has increased.

According to the NSC, employers who demonstrate that they care about the safety of their employees can see fewer injuries along with better morale, increased productivity and lower costs.

Now, back to the “days without an injury” sign. While signs and placards are good visual reminders, they tend to be passive, impersonal and monolithic. Most people tend to appreciate at least occasional face-to-face feedback and "tangible" rewards. According to the Performance Improvement Council, surveys that seek to determine why employees left a job consistently find "lack of recognition" and "compensation” as the top two reasons. Recognizing achievements and safe behaviors as they happen or soon after tells employees they are appreciated for being safe and for ensuring they keep a safe work environment.

And when all employees take ownership of their roles in safety at work, it becomes, as it should be, a team effort. Go team!

1. Every Worker Deserves to Make it Home Safe from Work—Every Day,
2. Performance Improvement Council, “The Four Pillars of Safety,” white paper March 2014,
3. State of the Industry Survey Report 2017,

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