Listen Up: The Lowdown on Hearing Conservation Programs

September 10, 2018

Is noise at work a problem? You bet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, and the Department of Labor says $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.
Does your organization need a program?
Is excessive noise a problem at your organization? Pinnacol can help answer that question. Our safety consultants are available to test the noise level at your worksite. If the test shows noise equals or exceeds an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 decibels, then your organization needs a hearing conservation program as a first step toward OSHA compliance.
“As a general rule of thumb: If employees three feet from one another must raise their voices or shout to hear one another, the noise level in the work area likely is 85 decibels or higher, and please call us for an evaluation,” urges Pinnacol Industrial Hygienist Joan Brown. “We do these at no cost.”

 

What are the essential components?
If your organization must develop and implement a hearing conservation program, Pinnacol can help with this, as well. You’ll find a sample program template on our website. The essential components of a program include:

  • Noise exposure monitoring for an initial baseline and following workplace changes in production, process, equipment or controls that increase noise exposures
  • Audiometric testing for employees exposed to noise equal to or exceeding an eight-hour TWA of 85 decibels (performed by a licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist or other physician, or by a technician certified by the Council of Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation)
  • Hearing protection — provided at no cost to employees exposed to noise equal to or exceeding an eight-hour TWA of 85 decibels
  • Employee training on the effects of noise on hearing; the purpose of hearing protectors and the advantages, disadvantages and attenuation (i.e., noise reduction) of various types; instructions on equipment selection, fitting, use and care; and the purpose of audiometric testing and explanation of test procedures
  • Recordkeeping of noise exposure measurements, audiometric test records, certificates of training and warnings to workers for noncompliance

Additionally, the hearing conservation program should specify who on staff will coordinate the program and how your organization will administer noise exposure monitoring, audiometric testing, hearing protection, training and recordkeeping. The program also should explain how you’ll enforce the use and care of hearing protection.

 

Pinnacol Resources
You’re not alone. Pinnacol safety consultants are here to help with our time and many tools. Visit the noise and hearing conservation page of our website. There you’ll find the following helpful downloads:

  • Sample Hearing Conservation Program
  • General Estimates of Work-Related Noises
  • Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss – A Practical Guide
  • Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss – Compliance Checklist
  • Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss – Program Evaluation Checklist
  • Tips on Using Hearing Protection

You can also contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services team is committed to helping you protect your employees from occupational hearing loss.

Eye Safety: Focus on Requirements, Products and Practices

July 12, 2018


More than 20,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace every year at a cost of more than $300 million in lost production time, medical expenses and workers’ compensation. The good news, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is that consistent use of safety glasses can prevent nearly 90 percent of these injuries.

Industry Requirements
Manufacturing, construction, woodworking, laboratory, welding, plumbing, medical and auto industries must outfit certain workers with safety eyewear, per OSHA requirements. Employees who work with energized electrical equipment require eye and face protection, as well. These workers risk injury from arc flashes and arc blasts. The ANSI Z87.1-2010 Standard requires that protective eyewear bear labeling on lenses and frames. All high-impact lenses must show the manufacturer’s mark, followed by a + sign in the upper/outer corner. All prescription safety lenses must be paired with frames marked “Z87-2+” for ANSI compliance.
Product Choices
That’s clear enough. Less clear is which eyewear to choose from the myriad products available. One emerging trend combines safety eyewear with other personal protective equipment, or PPE. Integrated face shields, for example, offer further protection from chemical splashes, falling objects and flying sparks. And innovations in anti-fogging technology and indirect venting optimize workers’ visibility.

Your organization can choose from safety glasses and safety goggles. Goggles shield the face around the eyes, but must be fitted to form a perfect seal. Safety glasses with a foam gasket around the frontal eye socket bone protects workers from airborne fibers, dust and bugs., while cover safety goggles can be worn over corrective eyewear. Lastly, choices in lens coatings accommodate a range of lighting situations. But your employees shouldn’t wear tinted eyewear inside dark buildings; clear-lens safety eyewear is necessary when indoors.

Workplace Practices
Get the most from your investment in PPE by encouraging your workers to wear their safety eyewear.

  • Fit employees for safety eyewear and give them options. For example, HVAC workers may prefer reversed bifocal lenses, enabling them to view objects up close without tilting their heads back.
  • Noncompliance is due most often to fogging, discomfort or both.
  • Publish eyewear and other PPE policies in your organization’s employee handbook.
  • Review the PPE policy with workers; get their “buy-in.”
  • Hold a safety class that showcases tenured employees demonstrating what works best to protect their eyes.
  • Train supervisors to enforce PPE policies.
  • Lead by example; encourage managers and supervisors to wear protective eyewear. Workers watch for demonstrable safety leadership!

 

Resources

We encourage you to visit OSHA’s website for helpful resources. Its “eTool,” for example, includes a hazard assessment, information about selecting protective devices and OSHA’s requirements.
For guidance on safety eyewear, workplace practices and resources to help protect your workers’ eyes, visit the Knowledge Center on Pinnacol’s website. Or contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our safety services team stands ready to answer questions and help keep your workforce safe, healthy and on the job.

Rev Up Your Driver Safety to Reduce the Risk of Accidents

June 7, 2018

Do you follow the speed limit when you drive? You may think going a few miles over is no big deal. But speeding plays a role in nearly a third of car crash deaths. By slowing down, you could save lives.

 

That’s one of many ways to practice driver safety. Taking the proper precautions can reduce your risk of accidents, which happen all too frequently in Colorado.

 

Last year, vehicular accidents made up almost half of Pinnacol’s fatality claims. At the same time, deadly accidents in Colorado rose to the highest level in at least a decade. From 2006 to 2010, vehicles caused 39 percent of our fatal claims with injuries. The average cost of a vehicle accident claim is $23,037, or more than double our second-most-expensive claim: slips, trips and falls.

 

No industry is immune to accidents. The health care industry accounts for the highest number of vehicle claims, but trucking accounts for the highest number of fatalities.

 

Whatever your industry, embracing better driving safety protocols benefits everyone who works for you. Implement these tips to get your workers on the road to safer driving.

Conduct safety inspections on your vehicles
Use our checklist to inspect your company vehicles for safety at least once a year.

Initiate a companywide driver safety program
Follow these suggestions from NIOSH to begin. Put your policies into writing, and conduct evaluations of your current drivers.

Post on-site reminders to buckle up
In Colorado, only 81 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers wear seat belts, which is lower than the national average of 86 percent. Hang seat belt safety posters in English and/or Spanish by exits and garages reminding people to fasten their seat belts.

Encourage device-free driving
Distracted driving, from such actions as taking your eyes off the road to text, leads to an average 411,000 injuries across the country each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Urge your workers to silence their devices and cell phones or even put them in the glove compartment or trunk when they drive.

New in 2018: Sign up for StriveSafe, driver performance management technology
StriveSafe and Pinnacol have teamed up to offer Pinnacol policyholders a driver performance management solution at an exclusive, discounted price. Businesses using StriveSafe have reported up to 90 percent reduction in accidents in the first year of use, and improved operational efficiencies resulting in up to a gallon of gas savings per vehicle per day. StriveSafe helps identify and sustainably correct risky driving behaviors that pose significant risk, such as:
– Speeding.
– Hard braking.
– Rapid acceleration.
Watch a short video to see how it works.

Consult our Driver Safety Center for more ideas and resources. Questions? Contact us at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or call us at 303.361.4700.

Pinnacol Pointers: Staying Safe in the Sun

April 4, 2018


Did you know that outdoor workers are up to 3.5 times more likely than indoor workers to develop skin cancer? Employees who work outdoors also are at a higher risk of experiencing heat stress, which can bring on rashes, cramps, fainting spells, exhaustion and even heat stroke. These five sun safety tips can guide you in safeguarding your employees:

  1. Wear on sun-protective clothing.
  2. Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen.
  3. Cover your head with a sun hat.
  4. Protect your eyes with quality sunglasses.
  5. Shade yourself from the sun whenever possible.

UV radiation from the sun reflects off water, sand, concrete, light-colored surfaces and snow, which can harm the eyes. These surfaces can considerably increase the strength of the sun’s damaging rays, so employees who work in these areas should exercise extra precaution.

Important to Know

  • Sunlight exposure is highest during the summer and between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Workers are exposed to UV radiation even on cloudy days.
  • Many drugs and medications increase sensitivity to sunlight and the risk of sunburn. These include thiazides, diuretics, tetracycline, doxycycline, sulfa antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

 

Is your workplace sun-safe?

  • Consider a sun and heat safety policy and include responsibilities in job descriptions.
  • Sync scheduled breaks with times when sunlight exposure is greatest, and provide shade, water and protective equipment.
  • Provide your workers with practical information, resources and training.
  • Schedule employee screenings and encourage self-exams for sunburn and skin cancer.

 

Pinnacol and other resources
For information and standards that can improve your organization’s sun safety, visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Cancer Society websites. For workplace posters, forms, online training and more, visit Pinnacol’s Knowledge Center webpages. Or call Pinnacol’s Safety On Call hotline at (303)361-4700 or (888)501-4752. Our Safety Services team stands ready to answer questions and help keep your employees safe from the sun’s hazards.

Steps to Improve Sleep and Worker Safety

March 9, 2018

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Sleep deprivation is a problem in America — at a cost to employees and employers. Here are the facts:

The good news is there are helpful, time-tested tips for employers and employees.

 

Tips for employers

  • Evaluate and reconsider workloads, hours, understaffing and worker absences — scheduled and unscheduled.
  • Set work schedules to permit rest breaks and nighttime sleep.
  • Adjust the lighting, temperature and worksite surroundings to keep your workers alert.
  • Educate and train your employees on sleep deprivation, effects on wellness and the workplace, tips for better sleep (see below), and the benefits of diet and exercise.
  • Develop worksite wellness program that improves population health and reduces health risks.
  • Consider a fatigue risk management plan for your organization (see Resources).

 

Tips for employees

  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep every day.
  • Follow a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Eliminate unnecessary light.
  • Don’t eat right before bed.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and stimulants.
  • Don’t watch TV or use electronic devices at bedtime.

 

Additional resources
Additional workplace resources and educational content are available from OSHA, the National Safety Council and the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project. And contact us at Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361-4700 or 888-501-4752. Our Safety Services team is here to answer questions, provide materials and help your organization maintain a well-rested workforce for a safer, healthier and more productive workplace.

Six Steps to Effective, Compliant Hazard Communication

February 9, 2018


Inadequate, noncompliant hazard communication can lead to worker injuries, even death. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) ensures employees’ right to know and understand the potential hazards of chemicals they work with, as well as safeguards to protect themselves.
OSHA sets forth the following six steps to effective hazard communication:

  1. Identify a point person for hazard communication — This employee is responsible for obtaining safety data sheets (SDSs), planning employee training and managing other elements of program implementation at your organization.
  2. Develop and implement the plan — Hazard communication requires a plan that explains how your organization will conduct its program. The plan should list hazardous chemicals at your worksites and specify labeling, SDSs, training and communication protocols.
  3. Label all containers — Ensure all containers in your facility are labeled. If your organization manufactures or ships chemicals, label them. Labels must include specific information set forth in the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals section below.
  4. Make SDSs available — Obtain an SDS for each hazardous chemical at your workplace, and make SDSs readily available to workers. If you make SDSs available only electronically, make sure there’s a way to provide the SDSs in the event of a power failure or emergency. If you receive chemical deliveries, suppliers should provide accompanying SDSs; if they don’t, request the SDSs.
  5. Formally educate employees — Train employees before they begin work near hazardous chemicals and when new hazards are introduced to the workplace. Conduct multilingual training to accommodate a diverse workforce, and ensure that employees understand the hazards and your organization’s protective measures and equipment.
  6. Evaluate and enhance hazard communication — Periodically evaluate, update and enhance your organization’s program, especially when new hazards are introduced. OSHA’s HCS mandates that hazard communication remains up-to-date, comprehensive and tailored to your organization.

Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

OSHA’s HCS provides classification criteria for the hazards of chemicals, as well as a standardized approach to creating SDSs and labels. Your SDSs must follow a specified 16-section format, and labels must include the following six elements:

  • A product name or identifier, such as “WD-40”
  • A signal word, such as “danger” or “warning”
  • Pictogram(s)
  • Hazard statement(s)
  • Precautionary statement(s)
  • The name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer or other responsible party

Resources
For more information, visit OSHA’s hazard communication webpage. Another helpful resource is the Society of Chemical Hazard Communication. Also, check out Pinnacol’s hazard communication webpages for further information and downloads of a sample written hazard communication program, training materials and more. Pinnacol offers J.J. Keller safety resources on this topic, including training videos, interactive training and safety talks. Or contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services Team stands ready to answer questions, provide materials, and help your organization remain compliant and keep your employees safe, healthy and productive.

E-submissions of injury data to OSHA — Who needs to do it, how and by when in 2018 (Hint: Caterers do but Restaurants do not)

January 24, 2018

Many employers are required to use OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA), which debuted in August last year, to submit their annual summary injury data. New Year’s Eve marked the revised deadline to submit 2016 injury data, and we want to remind you of 2018 deadlines to submit 2017 data.

By July 1 this year, employers with at least 250 employees must submit information to the ITA website from 2017 Forms 300, 300A and 301. By July 1, establishments with 20 to 249 workers in specified industries  (including Caterers) — ones with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses — must enter data from form 300A. In 2019 and beyond, OSHA’s deadline for electronic submissions moves up to March 2.

How to submit data electronically
Electronic data submissions involve a five-step process:
1.  Launch the ITA application from the OSHA webpage.
2.  Create an establishment.
3.  Add 300A summary data.
4.  Submit data to OSHA.
5.  Review OSHA’s confirmation email.

The ITA website will offer three options for submitting data securely: enter data manually, upload a CSV file to submit single or multiple establishments at the same time or use an application programming interface to submit data from the employer’s automated recordkeeping system. The ITA website also will include reporting requirements, an FAQ section and a link for assistance.

Pinnacol resources
Pinnacol’s here to help. As a Pinnacol customer, you can use our OSHA Report Manager. This online tool helps your organization comply with OSHA’s electronic submission requirements and save time in the process. Use the OSHA Report Manager to generate your business’s OSHA 300, 300A and 301 logs. And now, to make submissions even easier, the OSHA Report Manager generates data in the OSHA-approved CSV file format. You can access this tool through Pinnacol’s policyholder portal or by visiting our OSHA recordkeeping webpage. There you’ll find a toolkit to aid compliance, OSHA 300 and 300A logs, and more. We invite you to contact your Pinnacol safety consultant or contact us on our Safety On Call line at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Pinnacol stands ready to assist your organization in meeting OSHA’s electronic submission requirements.

Here’s further information about the new federal rule from OSHA, as well as the federal register entry.

Trump administration may rescind rule
The Trump administration has taken steps to amend or even rescind OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule. And on Oct. 10, 2017, OSHA filed an update that it “continues to develop a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ‘reconsider, revise or remove provisions of the [rule],’” as announced in Pres. Trump’s First Regulatory (and Deregulatory) Agenda issued last July. Pinnacol will monitor these developments and apprise you of any changes. Currently, though, all elements of OSHA’s recordkeeping rule remain in effect, and employers should submit injury and illness recordkeeping data to OSHA as required.

Pinnacol Pointers: Winter Driving and Keeping Workers Safe on Snowy, Sleety Roads

December 10, 2017

Last year motor vehicle crashes cost Pinnacol policyholders an average of $17,980. According to OSHA, when a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to the employer is $74,000, and costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. In fact, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among our nation’s workers. This time of year, wintry roads can prove especially hazardous.

 

Ensure vehicle systems are working properly
Now is a good time to encourage your employees to perform the following vehicle maintenance:

  • Scheduled maintenance: Schedule service for an oil change, coolant flush and brake inspection based on the mileage and manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Address any maintenance issues with the vehicle’s battery, electrical system, hoses and belts.
  • Fluids: Check to ensure proper oil, coolant, transmission and other fluid levels.
  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and for signs of damage or uneven wear. Ensure tires are properly inflated.
  • Visibility systems: Inspect turn signals, headlights, brake lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window) and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

For more detailed inspection checklists, visit the Colorado Department of Transportation pre- and post-trip vehicle safety checklist and Pinnacol’s vehicle safety checklist.

 

Outfit vehicles with emergency essentials
Workers should be encouraged to outfit their vehicles for winter with emergency kits that include the following items:

  • Cellphone or two-way radio
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or granular cat litter)
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Road maps
  • Blankets, change of warm clothes

 

Pinnacol Resources
For more information on shoring up winter driving safety at your organization, visit Pinnacol.com for articles, checklists, workplace posters and employee training resources. Additional resources are available on the websites of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Safety Council. Or contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call online or at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our safety services team stands ready to answer questions and help keep your workforce safe behind the wheel this winter.