RMSC Safety Sentinel: June 2013

RMSC Safety Sentinel: June 2013

CONCERN FOR TEMPORARY WORKER SAFETY

The safety situation for temporary workers in recent months has been somewhat alarming. OSHA has received a series of reports about temporary workers suffering fatal injuries. Now, the agency has launched an initiative to protect temporary workers from workplace hazards.  

Recent inspections by OSHA have discovered numerous cases where temporary workers did not receive a proper training or were not protected from serious workplace hazards due to lack of personal protective equipment, inadequate lockout/tagout protections and more.

OSHA issued a memorandum to its regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers with temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

This initiative requires inspectors to use a new code in their information system to check whether temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations. They will assess if temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand.

While worksite employers have the primary obligation to provide workplaces free of recognized hazards, temporary agencies can be cited for failing to take reasonable steps to determine conditions at worksites and ensure temporary workers are informed of and protected against hazards.

To prevent serious injuries to workers, it is critical that both temporary agencies and worksite employers understand their responsibilities and work together to assure workers are safe. Below is a breakdown of some of these responsibilities.

Temporary Agencies:

  • Inquire about safety conditions at assigned sites for temporary workers.
  • Provide general safety information to temporary workers in the language best understood.*
  • Make arrangements with worksite employers to ensure they provide temporary workers with site-specific safety training.
  • Provide workers’ compensation insurance and contact information to all employees,
  • Record injuries/illnesses for temporary workers directly supervised on a day-to-day basis by the temporary agency.

 Worksite Employers:

  • Provide site-specific safety training to temporary workers in the language best understood.* For example:
          – Safe operating procedures of equipment including location of emergency stops, and when and how to implement lockout/ tagout procedures
          – Safe handling of chemicals to be used
          – Site-specific emergency procedures
  •  Provide workers with PPE (personal protective equipment) for site-specific hazards, and train workers on how to properly fit and use PPE.
  • Record injuries/illnesses for temporary workers directly supervised on a day-to-day basis by the site employer 

Contracts between Temporary Agencies and Worksite Employers:
Temporary work contracts should clearly outline the aspects of safety for which the temporary agency and worksite employer are responsible. This will prevent confusion.

  •  Describe who will provide both the general and site-specific training for workers.
  • List anticipated tasks and necessary PPE for temporary workers, including who will provide the PPE. Provide workers with this information, in the language best understood,* before they start at the job site.
  • Designate agency and worksite point persons and provide their names and phone numbers for temporary workers to contact with concerns that arise.

If you have any questions about how your current approach to temporary workers might be affected by this new OSHA initiative, you can find help on the OSHA website here.

PREPARING YOUR WORKPLACE FOR TORNADOS

Tornados often occur with little or no warning and everyone is familiar with the devastation that can follow.  Taking precautions before the storm occurs by: developing an emergency plan; learning the warning signs; monitoring tornado watches/warnings; and understanding basic shelter concepts will help keep your employees stay safe if a tornado occurs in your area. 

What are tornado warning signs?  While local television and radio stations are probably the best sources of information – there is no substitute for watching the sky and staying alert.  Look out for persistent swirling cloud bases, whirling dust or debris, and heavy hail or rain followed by extremely calm meteorological conditions.  Listen for a steady rumble or roar – which doesn’t fade like thunder normally will.  Remember not all tornados have funnel clouds associated with them. 

Another important concept to understand is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning:

A tornado watch means tornadoes are likely to occur in the watch area. Check supply kits, and be ready to act quickly and take shelter.  Stay up to date by tuning in to radio and television stations for current information.

A tornado warning is more severe.  It indicates there is an imminent threat—a tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by radar.  If a tornado warning is in effect you should take shelter immediately.

An underground area such as a basement or storm cellar will provide the best shelter area during a tornado.  If an underground shelter area is not available consider using the following: 

Locate a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick, or block without windows, and a sturdy ceiling or roof system overhead usually make the best shelters.

  • Stay away from windows, doors and exterior walls which could shatter or be pushed over.
  • Shelter in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris during high winds.
  • Avoid cafeterias, auditoriums, and gymnasiums which often have wide, flat roofs that are prone to collapse.

For further information, check one of the following sites:

http://www.noaa.gov/features/protecting/tornados101.html
http://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/tornado/

FIRE EXTINGUISHER USE: DO EMPLOYEES HAVE TO BE TRAINED?

This question is often raised by employers wanting to comply with OSHA fire and evacuation planning.  The short answer is, if your place of business has fire extinguishers mounted throughout and you require certain or all employees to be able to use them then they must be trained. 

What has to be included in training employees to fight incipient stage fires? A 1986 OSHA Letter of Interpretation states of training employees to fight incipient stage fires that “In meeting the requirements of these standards, the employer may provide educational materials, without classroom instruction, through the use of employee notice campaigns using instruction sheets or flyers or similar types of informal programs; or he may provide onsite training which exposes employees to the actual “feeling” of fire fighting by simulated fires for training employees in the proper use of extinguishers.” 

For a fire extinguisher and evacuation planning e Tool visit: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable_required.html 

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For additional information on these topics or for Loss Prevention assistance, contact:

Paul Fox pfox@rmsc.com or (502-708-3111) 

RMSC has exercised due and customary care in producing this newsletter but has not independently verified information provided by others. No other warranty, express or implied, is made with regard to the content of this newsletter. Therefore, RMSC assumes no liability from any loss resulting from errors, omissions or misrepresentations made by others.  The use of this information by third parties shall be at their own risk and RMSC accepts no duty of care to any such third party.

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