COVID-19: How Social Distancing and Other Measures Fit into the Traditional Hierarchy of Controls

Some workplaces are measuring the temperatures of workers and visitors before they enter the workplace.

Like any workplace hazard, the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace can be slowed or eliminated by using a hierarchy of controls like those created for other hazardous exposures.

Elimination

The first step in the hierarchy of controls, however sometimes elimination of a hazard is not possible. Until a vaccine or other countermeasures are identified, COVID-19 is a potential hazard in the workplace. Review, update, or develop workplace plans to potentially include:  Liberal leave and telework policies including a leave policy for workers with COVID-19 symptoms; encourage employees to stay home and notify workplace administrators when sick; and provide non-punitive sick leave options to allow staff to stay home when ill.

Substitution

COVID-19 is not a hazardous chemical or process that can be replaced with a less-dangerous option. However, some employers are implementing a new … Read more...

Your EHS 4.0 Survival Guide: Digital Transformation with Connected Solutions

There’s a lot of discussion about “emerging technologies,” such as smart sensors, drones, cloud computing and mobile applications. But what many EHS and operations professionals fail to realize is that they already have powerful connected solutions close at hand.

Whether you are responsible for worker safety or operations management, you understand the complexities of managing workers, safety, and production while continuing to strive for operational excellence. Recently, you probably faced unscheduled shutdowns and consequently will engage in unscheduled start-ups. These are challenging times that require attention to process and safety management systems to prevent incidents.

You’re not alone in this challenge. EHS professionals who don’t embrace all of the connected solutions available to them often find themselves in the dark when it comes to identifying and mitigating hazards and improving how people and equipment are performing.

Connected Solutions Amplify Worker Safety

In this May 12 EHS Today webinar, “Your EHS … Read more...

All Hands and Hearts Uses Technology to Protect Volunteers and Staff


When a natural disaster strikes, All Hands and Hearts arrives early and stays late to assist the affected communities. Thanks to passionate volunteers, donors and partners, the U.S.-based nonprofit has provided 15 years of disaster relief support to over 1.2 million people.

In recent months, All Hands and Hearts has operated projects in response to damaging hurricanes in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, earthquakes in Mexico and Nepal, and a tropical cyclone in Mozambique.

All Hands and Hearts Mobilizes Quickly

All Hands and Hearts effectively and efficiently addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities, by building in a disaster-resilient way that better prepares them for future events. Utilizing a unique volunteer model, All Hands and Hearts is able to mobilize quickly to work alongside local residents in areas around the world struck by natural disasters. The volunteers, many who have not had formal environment, health and safety training or … Read more...

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster: Why it Holds Important Lessons for Every Organization

Ten years later, the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon incident remain important.

On April 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and injured 17. By July 15, five million barrels of oil had flowed from the ruptured well into the Gulf of Mexico. This caused untold environmental and economic disaster for the region, the effects of which continue to resonate to this day. 

Ten years later, the story of the Deepwater Horizon remains important. The Report to the President by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling summarized the technology failures. On the face of it, these failures were responsible for the immediate disaster.

Significant Technology Failures

In summary, the most significant technology failure was that of the blowout preventer (BOP), which did not sever and seal the well … Read more...

Using an Integrated Management System in Your Organization

Many of today’s organizations use management systems to establish policies and procedures for achieving their objectives. Most frequently, organizations have management systems to support quality, health and safety, environment and sustainability, and data privacy. Management systems are not, by definition, technology solutions. Instead, they are conceptual models of the organizational processes and responsibilities that help coordinate everything in the direction of a common goal. However, while a management system can theoretically use paper-based manual processes, the increasing complexity of the global marketplace and the attendant compliance requirements mean that most organizations will need a reliable cloud-based technology solution to support their management systems. 

Management systems are often segregated from one another in the organization. For example, the quality management system might be separate from the safety management system. This creates the risk of isolated responses to incidents that impact each individual management system. It also means considerable duplication of effort, which wastes both human and financial resources. To … Read more...

Being a safe employer pays off: Ontario announces program to reward excellence in health and safety

The Government of Ontario has announced that it will provide $140 million in WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) rebates over three years for employers who successfully implement occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS) in the workplace. The program is open to any employer regardless of sector or size, and while it will recognize existing safety management systems, it will also encourage organizations that don’t have safety management systems to create them. 

This program is the first of its kind in Canada. The incentive is part of Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers, a voluntary program that recognizes employers who are working towards lowering the accident and injury rate among Ontario workers. The program is accredited by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) under the authority of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development with the goal of promoting health and safety in the workplace and encouraging continuous improvement in existing safety management systems. The program has … Read more...

Why the Human Factor is as Important as Your Technology

In 1979, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) held a workshop at which it presented research demonstrating that the root cause of most aircraft accidents was human error and worker performance relating to poor critical thinking, lack of leadership, and miscommunication. The presentation was a response to the crash of United Airlines Flight 173 in Portland, Oregon in 1978, in which a landing gear problem forced the crew to circle the airport prior to landing. The captain focused on the landing gear problem for over an hour, missing frequent communications from his crew that the fuel supply was running low. The captain only realized his lack of situational awareness moments prior to the plane running out of fuel and crashing only a few miles short of the runway. Two crew members and eight passengers were killed. 

NASA therefore developed the practice of crew resource management (CRM). CRM addresses the human factor in teams … Read more...

Why Your People Are Your Most Important Metric

In the workplace, health and safety strategies specify the need for actions that management expects. Efforts to meet such expectations are employed and measured to ensure a successful journey. Though it is doubtful you are at war where you work, Sun Tzu’s approach involved first looking at the battlefield in detail (your organization), evaluating the enemy (poor performance), understanding any strengths or weaknesses (gaps in the management system) as well as the capabilities (resources) required to win. Once all of this is done, it’s merely a question of deciding what must be deployed and monitored for victory.  

Though they are not exciting parts of the process, the acts of measuring and evaluating how well the organization has implemented its health and safety strategies are the measure of management system success. Metrics are measures used to track, monitor and gain an understanding of the effectiveness of business processes. Such measures are … Read more...

Ontario Increasing Workplace Safety Inspections

Businesses in Ontario should prepare for a workplace safety blitz. Between October 1 and December 27, 2019, inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Labour will be performing safety inspections across the province, focusing on the health care, mining, and construction sectors.  

Inspectors will be focusing on musculoskeletal injury and respiratory illnesses. Musculoskeletal injuries, such as tendonitis, back pain, and carpal tunnel, are among the most frequently occurring workplace injuries on all worksites in Ontario. They are common injuries for workers who engage in heavy physical labour, including repetitive actions and heavy lifting in awkward positions, and can damage joints, soft tissue, ligaments, and bones. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), they also account for more than one-third of all lost-time injury claims in the province. In 2017, that meant approximately 19,000 claims that cost WSIB $72 million and resulted in a cumulative 462,000 days of lost work time. Inspectors will be looking to ensure … Read more...

10 Steps to Take Your Safety Management System from Good to Great

Taking your EHS management system from good to great requires more than just buying a tool or paying lip service to the idea of safety. It requires a strong safety culture that integrates people, processes, and tools so that every worker is connected not only to the technology, but to their peers. Connected workers = safer workers, and that means connecting the organization as a whole to the core value of safety. 

In the new Intelex checklist 10 Steps to Take Your Safety Management System from Good to Great, EHS expert Scott Gaddis, Vice President and Global Practice Leader—Safety and Health at Intelex Technologies Inc., shows you the fundamental principles you need to build upon to make sure your EHS management system can keep your workers safe, provide business value, and provide a positive impact for your bottom line. When it comes down to it, every organization is built out of … Read more...