Workers’ Memorial Day: Let’s Start a Movement

April 28 marks a solemn day each year. Depending on where you live, it is known as Workers’ Memorial Day, Day of Mourning, or International Workers’ Memorial Day, and it remembers and honors those workers who were killed, disabled, injured, or made unwell by their work.

On this Workers’ Memorial Day, our thoughts turn to healthcare and emergency workers, the heroes on the frontline of a global pandemic. Nearly every day, a news report reminds us that one of these heroes has died from COVID-19, and the truth is, we may never know how many of them died as the result of a workplace exposure. Six months ago, we could not have imagined that a virus would cause so many work-related fatalities.

We also want to recognize the “essential workers,” who continue to make PPE and other products to keep our our workers protected and our essential industries running, provide … Read more...

How Technology is Improving Workplace Safety

There’s a digital revolution underway in EHS, and it’s helping make workplaces the safest they’ve ever been. Safety professionals today are being asked to not only protect their employees, but also their company’s bottom line.

To improve safety capabilities in all areas, safety leaders are increasingly turning to digital technologies.

A new e-book offers suggestions on how to discover and measure the value of EHS technologies, how to manage their implementation, and how to gain buy-in both from senior management and the employees who will be using and benefiting from the technology.

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How Fall Prevention Strategies Can Protect Your Workforce

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that on average slips, trips and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year. Let’s look at how to prevent them.

Fall prevention strategies should be comprehensive and multifaceted but should begin with complete understanding of the variable risk factors that create loss potential opportunity. Given that there have been changes to the Walking-Working Surfaces standard, it’s prudent to consider risk assessment as a starting point to understand the robustness of your program and if you should be doing more. Consider what risks in your workplace may lead to slips and trips. Here are a few areas that should be evaluated:

  • Slippery Surfaces. It’s a safe assumption that most injuries occur on a slippery floor. Assessment should be conducted to understand if the floor surface is impacted by liquid or dry spillage. Some areas to consider are surfaces impacted by production materials like
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Diseases, Not Accidents, Are the Biggest Health and Safety Challenge in the Workplace

Here are some sobering and surprising numbers about workplace health and safety: 2.4 million deaths globally are attributable to work-related diseases. Many of these diseases are born from exposure to chemicals and other workplace hazards over long periods of time. These diseases represent 85 percent of all work-related deaths every year. They will claim 270 lives in the next hour and every hour after that. That’s the equivalent of the death toll of the 9/11 terrorist attacks every 11 hours.

The problem is getting worse as you read this. In 2015, there were 2.4 million deaths that were attributable to work-related disease, which represents an increase of 0.4 million over 2011.

It seems astonishing that a problem of this magnitude should not only exist in the 21st century, but that it could be getting worse. Yet work-related disease presents significant challenges for even the most attentive and meticulous organizations. … Read more...

Compliance — What’s Involved?

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stipulates that employers must “provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.”

Interestingly, the OSH Act itself contains no regulations on Occupational Health and Safety. OSHA, however, has promulgated countless regulations under the authority granted to it by the Act. These regulations cover virtually every conceivable health or safety hazard in the workplace.

Among their many requirements under the OSH Act, employers must:

  • examine their workplace conditions to make sure they conform to the standards that apply to them
  • make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment
  • establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements
  • keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. Employers with 10 or fewer employees and
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OSHA’s Most Common Citations – Part 3: Lockout/Tagout

Downtime may be the worst time when it comes to workplace hazards.

When a machine or other equipment operates normally, workers are protected from most of its potential hazards, assuming they operate the machinery safely and as prescribed. But when it is necessary to expose the inside of equipment for the purposes of maintenance or repair, workers may be exposed to hazards that are normally enclosed, guarded, or otherwise inaccessible. At those times, it is important to make sure that no part of the machine could unexpectedly start up, cycle, fall or release energy that could injure a worker. This is done by neutralizing all energy sources before beginning a task, and locking or tagging them out of service.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) lockout/tagout standard, (29 CFR 1910.147) requires employers to:

  • Create energy control procedures for each piece of machinery or equipment that could pose a
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Keeping Workers Safe Is the Golden Rule for This Canadian Mining Company

A rooted culture of caring runs deep within Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. – a Canadian-based gold producer with operations in Canada, Finland and Mexico.

Louise Grondin, Agnico Eagle’s senior Vice-President of Environment, Sustainable Development and People, says worker safety is paramount and her company wants every employee to be responsible for their own and others’ safety. To that end, it’s important for everyone to play a part in the effort to declare all events and situations that may put workers at risk. The goal is to eliminate any potential harm.

“It’s not a game to … Read more...

How to Be an Emergency Preparedness Hero

By Peter Ossmann

As EHSQ professionals we all wear many hats and are pulled in multiple directions, but we all should make time to be Emergency Preparedness Heroes in our communities. Do you remember the last time you encountered an emergency or disaster and wished you were more prepared, or had known about a best practice that would have saved you a major headache? Just as there are no secrets in Safety, there are also no secrets in emergency preparedness.

Here are three things you can do to be an Emergency Preparedness Hero:

  1. Visit www.ready.gov.

This free online resource has a wealth of information on preparedness on a wide variety of topics, with a simple strategy of “Be Informed, Plan Ahead and Take Action” that allows you to move at your own pace and build a set of documents, plans and kits to fit your needs. This site has … Read more...

Tightening Processes is Key to Worker Safety

Variations that exist within system processes may be putting workers on a path to making poor decisions while performing their work and invariably compromising their safety. That’s an assertion made by Scott Gaddis, the Health and Safety Practice Leader for Intelex Technologies and a 25-year veteran of environmental health and safety leadership and management.

It’s important to tighten process methodologies to ensure there’s little room for interpretation by workers that forms bad safety habits. In his recently published Intelex Insight Report, entitled, Unleash a Better Safety Culture by Controlling Process Variability, Gaddis notes that, in many incidents where a worker performs an unsafe act, the decision that often led to err was likely influenced by other uncontrolled variables residing within the work system itself.

Dan Peterson, in his book, Human Error Reduction and Safety Management, writes that “Human error is involved in every accident and there are many reasons … Read more...

A History of Workplace Health and Safety – Part 3

General awareness of the need for better workplace safety continued to grow in the early years of the 20th century, as reformers, journalists and artists began to expose industry’s shortcomings. Upton Sinclair’s seminal novel The Jungle, for instance, laid bare the horrific working conditions within Chicago’s turn-of-the-century stockyards and slaughterhouses.

The first significant U.S. reforms came in the railroad sector with the passing of the Safety Appliance Act of 1893. It was designed to protect workers performing such traditionally dangerous tasks as coupling and decoupling railroad cars. Industrialists began to consider the benefits of ensuring their workers’ safety, including improved production and increased profits.

At the same time, governments began making the cost of ignoring worker safety increasingly onerous. Liability and compensation legislation was toughened up, forcing employers to pay attention to the plight of workers. Firms began placing protective guarding around machines and mandating the use of … Read more...