October 2, 2018

Identifying Unsafe Lifting at Your Worksite

In past issues, we’ve shared tips on safe lifting. But how can you identify which tasks are unsafe at your workplace? And are there resources that can help make your organization’s employees more mindful of these lifting hazards?

 

Identifying unsafe lifting tasks
Step one is to identify which tasks are causing injuries. Step two is to investigate why these injuries are occurring.

Review records for trends — Review your workers’ compensation claims for at least the past three years to identify injuries caused by manual material handling. Scour past near-miss worker reports or complaints, or conduct a symptoms survey so workers can identify ongoing musculoskeletal discomfort related to specific tasks. Request guidance from your Pinnacol safety consultant, too.

Observe work activities — Conduct regular walkabouts to observe employees’ behavior and use of equipment. Here are some things to watch for: lifting while bending and reaching with the arms fully extended; lifting while bending and twisting; repetitive lifting from the floor or above shoulder height; lifting large or unwieldy objects; and workers who appear fatigued, perspire heavily or rush to keep pace with lifting requirements (e.g., loading a pallet with materials from a conveyor line).

Use assessment tools — A checklist or assessment tool documents what you’re observing and helps identify the most critical risk factors for injury; therefore, it supports thorough follow-up to eliminate lifting hazards or take other corrective actions. Be aware, though, that generic checklists may not uncover all lifting hazards, and you may need to tailor a checklist to your specific workplace.

Most important, talk to your workers — Get their thoughts on safe-lifting challenges they experience. What works, in their opinion? What doesn’t? Can they suggest alternatives to manual handling (e.g., tools or equipment)?

 

Pinnacol and other resources for worker awareness
For lifting procedures and a worksite poster, visit the lifting and ergonomics webpage at Pinnacol.com. Also available from Pinnacol’s website are two simple checklists for manual material handling inspection and pushing/pulling inspection. Additionally, Pinnacol’s site posts a publication that helps raise worker awareness: “Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling.”

Other helpful resources include OSHA’s ergonomics webpage and a calculator for analyzing lifting operations from Oregon OSHA, which can be used on mobile devices. An online tool from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation enables users to evaluate specific lifting tasks. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also has a mobile app that analyzes lifting tasks to determine recommended weight limits. And the Center for Construction Research and Training offers mobile apps that can help workers identify unsafe lifting conditions.

 

We invite you to contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services team is available to help identify unsafe lifting hazards at your organization’s workplace.

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.

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.

OSHA’s Electronic Submissions & Anti-Retaliation Rule

February 1, 2017

By Mindy Carrothers, Pinnacol Safety Group

With the new year underway, we remind you about amendments to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations that became effective Jan. 1, 2017. The revised regulations require many employers to annually submit to OSHA certain electronic injury and illness data, which will then become publicly available. The new rule also includes anti-retaliation language that covers the entire scope of employer policies on the reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses.

The annual electronic reporting requirements became effective on New Year’s Day, 2017, while the anti-retaliation provisions were effective much earlier, on Aug. 10, 2016.

Annual Electronic Reporting

Previously, employers covered by OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations collected and maintained injury and illness data internally. Under the new rule, covered employers must now provide injury and illness data to OSHA annually, and the agency intends to make the data publicly available.

The annual electronic reporting requirements apply to three categories of employers:

  1. Large employers (i.e., establishments with 250 or more employees that are not exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping rules)
  2. “High-risk” employers (i.e., establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries)
  3. Any other employers from which OSHA makes a written request for data

OSHA decreased the reporting requirement for large employers (250+) from quarterly submissions to an annual submission. All employees working at an establishment during the previous calendar year (including full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary workers) are counted.

The new reporting requirements will phase in over the next two years as follows:

   

July 1, 2017

 

July 1, 2018

 

March 2, 2019

(and every March 2

thereafter)

Non-Exempt Employers

with 250+ Employees

2016 OSHA Form 300A

Logs due

 

2017 OSHA Forms

300, 300A and

301 due

Prior year’s OSHA Forms

300, 300A and 301 due

Employers in “High

Risk” Industries with 20-249 Employees

2016 OSHA Form 300A

Logs due

2017 OSHA Form 300A

Logs due

Prior year’s OSHA Form

300A Logs due

 

 

Recommendations

  • Employers subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations can take certain steps now to comply with the new rules and limit citation liability:
  • Collect OSHA 300A forms (and 300 and 301 forms for large employers) electronically.
  • Post the newly revised OSHA poster to ensure compliance with the rule’s revised informational requirements.
  • Ensure reporting procedures (and, if applicable, any safety incentive programs) to ensure that such programs are reasonable and do not discourage injury and illness reporting.
  • Remind managers of anti-retaliation practices in light of the increased scrutiny employers will face under the revised rule. Per OSHA’s guidance, review disciplinary, incentive and drug-testing programs for elements that could result in retaliatory actions against employees.

Pinnacol Resources

For more information on OSHA’s electronic submissions and anti-retaliation rule and the requirements for your organization, visit OSHA’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements webpages. Review the helpful resources, including the OSHA Report Manager and many downloads, available on Pinnacol’s OSHA recordkeeping webpages. Consider registering for one of Pinnacol’s OSHA recordkeeping training sessions. Check out the online interactive OSHA compliance training available to Pinnacol customers through J.J. Keller. 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 your organization remain current and compliant with OSHA requirements.