Essential safety tips for warm-weather work

According to OSHA, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill every year while working in extreme heat or humid conditions. Read this blog post for essential safety tips for employees who work in warm weather.


Dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill every year while working in extreme heat or humid conditions, according to OSHA. As June marks both the official start of summer and National Safety Month, now is a perfect time for employers to review emergency plans with outdoor workers and provide tips on how to beat the heat and stay safe during lightning storms.

Beating the heat

With temperatures quickly rising, employers should first understand the factors that can lead to heat susceptibility.

Heat susceptibility can be caused by:

  • A combination of high temperature, direct sun and humidity;
  • Intense physical labor during peak hours; or
  • Sudden hot days after cool weather conditions or workers who have not yet acclimated to the heat.

To prevent these factors from causing illness, employees must stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water to ensure fluids are replenished. Ideally, workers should drink water before beginning a job and re-hydrate often. Any caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they increase heat sensitivity.

Workers also should avoid waterproof or tight clothing that doesn’t breathe. To dress for the heat, workers should wear a wide-brimmed hat, light-colored clothes and sunscreen. Fabrics that pull moisture away from the body and provide a cooling effect also are recommended.

Proper attire and hydration can be a big help, but it’s still important to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Headache, dizziness, weakness, wet skin and fainting are indications that workers must get out of the heat immediately — or at least move to the shade. If an employee experiences confusion, slurred speech, excessive thirst, nausea or vomiting, it’s very possible he/she may be experiencing more severe heat stroke. Immediate medical attention should be sought in these cases.

Employers can also do their part in preventing heat-related illness with smart planning for outdoor work. This includes setting earlier schedules to avoid the hottest part of the day and arranging frequent rest periods and water breaks in shady, cooler areas. Project managers should also increase the number of workers for strenuous tasks on hot days and acclimate employees who haven’t worked in hot conditions lately by gradually increasing workloads and allowing more frequent breaks.

Staying safe when lightning strikes

The chance of being struck by lightning is only about 1 in 500,000, according to the CDC, but the risk increases in states that have frequent storm activity, like Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and Texas. Wherever employees may be doing outdoor work, encourage them not to tempt fate. They should be smart by following these CDC safety guidelines:

  • Look to the skies. If dark clouds form and the winds pick up, do not begin any task that cannot be stopped quickly. If lightning can be seen, follow the 30-30 rule. First, count to 30. If thunder sounds before 30, get inside. Suspend outdoor work or activities for at least 30 minutes after thunder ends.
  • Shelter indoors. Although the best place to be during a lightning storm is inside, indoor spaces aren’t lightning-proof. Avoid sinks and showers since lightning can travel through the building’s plumbing system. Do not use electronic equipment and corded phones. And, of course, stay away from windows and doors, even concrete as lightning can travel through metal bars in concrete walls or floors.
  • Go low. If caught out in the open, find a low spot — like a ditch — and crouch or squat down low so as little of the body is touching the ground as possible. Electrical currents from lightning can travel along the top of the ground.
  • Find refuge in a car. If a hard-topped truck or car is available, hop inside. Although most people think rubber tires are the grounding force, it’s the metal shell that dissipates the electricity and keeps you safe.

Thunderstorms may be thrilling, but lightning can kill. Remind employees to respect the power of nature and observe storms from a safe vantage point inside.

Each season comes with a new set of liabilities. Now that the risks of cold and icy conditions have passed, reeducate employees on how to protect their safety during summer months. It’s far easier to act now than in the heat of the moment.

SOURCE: Arrison, J. (24 June 2019) "Essential safety tips for warm-weather work" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2019/06/24/essential-safety-tips-for-warm-weather-work/


Safety Focused Newsletter - June 2019

Emergency Preparedness During National Safety Month

It’s always important to take a proactive approach to safety in the workplace, but sometimes an emergency can arise at a moment’s notice. Taking some time to plan before an incident takes place can help you take action quickly and ensure the safety of yourself and your co-workers. And, because the National Safety Council organizes National Safety Month every June, it’s a great time to review emergency preparedness in various workplace settings.

Here are some strategies to help ensure you’re ready to respond to an emergency in the workplace:

  • Check workplace policies—There may already be plans in place for how to respond to an emergency, but they’ll only be effective if you and your co-workers follow them. These plans may also include evacuation routes or strategies to help contain a hazard.
  • Stay focused and calm—You may not have time to react to an emergency, so you should always be ready to get to safety at any time. Try to keep essentials on hand so can take them with you, as you should never go back to a dangerous area to gather your belongings.
  • Have a communication plan—After you’re in a safe area, you should have a plan to communicate with your manager, co-workers or emergency responders. Try to meet in a designated location that’s established by a workplace policy and give an update on your status as soon as possible.
  • Help others when possible—Make your own safety a priority during an emergency, but offer any help you can if there aren’t any hazards present. It may be a good idea to check the locations of first-aid kits in your workplace if you need to treat an injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 330 heat-related fatalities every year.

5 Tips for Outdoor Heat Safety

The hot summer months can cause body temperatures to rise to unsafe levels, especially when combined with strenuous work. Outdoor workers are also be vulnerable to heat-related illnesses since they spend long periods in direct sunlight.

There are many types of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat cramps. Each of these conditions have various symptoms, but they commonly cause dizziness, weakness, nausea, blurred vision, confusion or loss of consciousness.

Here are some tips for staying safe in the heat while working outdoors:

  1. Wear loose, light-colored clothing so your skin gets air exposure.
  2. Shield your head and face from direct sunlight by wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  3. Take regular breaks to rest in a shaded area. If you’re wearing heavy protective gear, consider removing it to help cool off even more.
  4. Ease into your work and gradually build up to more strenuous activity as the day progresses. You should also avoid overexerting yourself during the hottest hours of the day.
  5. Drink water frequently, even if you aren’t thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least eight ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks and avoid caffeinated beverages, as they can dehydrate you.

Employees should take care to monitor themselves and their co-workers on hot days. If you notice any signs of heat illness, notify your on-duty supervisor immediately.

Heat illnesses can usually be treated by being moved to a cooler area and drinking cool liquids. In extreme cases when heat illnesses cause unconsciousness, health care professionals should be alerted immediately.

Taking some time to plan before an incident takes place can help you take action quickly and ensure the safety of yourself and your co-workers.

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Construction Risk Advisor - June 2019

Trenching and Excavating Safety

Excavations are any man-made cuts, cavities, trenches or depressions formed by earth removal. Of these, trenches—narrow excavations made below the surface of the ground—create the most significant workplace hazards, particularly as they relate to:

  • Cave-ins
  • Hazardous atmospheres (e.g., carbon monoxide, noxious gas, vapors or a lack of oxygen)
  • Falls (e.g., a worker accidently falls into a trench and injures themselves)
  • Floods or water accumulation
  • Mobile equipment (e.g., equipment operated or stored too close to the excavation site falls into the trench)

Above all, cave-ins present the greatest risk in trenching and are more likely to result in worker fatalities than any other excavation-related accidents. In fact, one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car, leading to serious injuries or even death in the event of a trench collapse. In order to keep workers safe, employers must consider one or more of the following protective systems:

  • Shoring involves installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. Shoring systems typically consist of posts, wales, struts and sheeting.
  • Benching/sloping is a method of protecting workers from cave-ins by excavating the sides of an excavation to form one or a series of horizontal levels or steps, usually with vertical or near vertical surfaces between levels. Sloping, if done correctly, removes the risk of cave-ins by sloping the soil of the trench back from the trench bottom.
  • Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins.

For more information on construction safety, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today.

Newsletter Provided by: Hierl's Property & Casualty Experts

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Commercial Risk Advisor - June 2019

Benefits of Crime Insurance

While you may think your business would never be the victim of a crime, the harsh reality is that nearly every business can become a victim. In this day and age, criminals (including employees) do not need direct access to cash to steal from you—merchandise, supplies and securities are all fair game. Standard commercial insurance policies may provide some protection from criminal acts, but they often do not cover losses resulting from all types of fraudulent activities. Crime insurance was developed to deal with the limitations of other policies and extend protection to include coverage for a wide variety of wrongdoings:

  • Coverage for the misuse of funds—It is likely that a number of your employees have access to company funds or financial information. In some cases, employees may abuse this access for personal gain. Crime insurance can protect organizations from the misuse or illegal transfer of funds, ensuring your finances are safe from internal criminal acts.
  • Insurance for goods in transit—Goods in transit are particularly vulnerable to employee theft and, in some cases, organizations may not notice anything has been stolen until it is too late. What’s more, if the theft takes place outside of the organization’s premises, it can be difficult to prove, often leading to drawn out and expensive legal battles. Crime insurance policies can provide ample protection for goods in transit and reduce the likelihood of extreme losses whenever you send or receive products.
  • Coverage for forgery and alteration—Your employees may have access to checks that they can easily alter for their own gain. Crime insurance policies provide coverage for losses that result from the forgery or alteration of a check.

The only way to ensure your company has the protection it needs is through crime insurance. To discuss your unique risks and to learn more about crime insurance policies, contact your insurance broker.

Fire Protection Impairment Programs

A fire can be extremely damaging to your organization, and while a fire protection system may be able to protect against many threats, impairments are an inevitable part of a fire protection system’s life cycle. An impairment is any time that a fire detection, alarm or suppression system is out of service or unable to operate to the full extent of its intended design. During an impairment, the chances of a fire developing and causing major damage is greatly increased.

There are two types of impairments: planned (the system is purposely put out of service for maintenance) and unplanned (the system is unintentionally out of service). These are further grouped into two different levels of severity—major and minor:

  1. Major—The impairment lasts more than ten hours and/or affects multiple systems.
  2. Minor—The impairment lasts for fewer than ten hours and is limited to a single system.

Ensuring safety and efficiency during an impairment requires a great deal of work, planning and coordination. To be prepared for an impairment, organizations should develop a written program, assign responsibilities to staff and train employees in the procedures to be followed during an impairment.

The written program should outline exactly what to do before, during and after an impairment based on its type and severity, as well as assign and detail the role and responsibilities. The most important role to consider is that of the impairment supervisor, who will implement and manage the fire protection impairment program, take care of scheduling planned impairments and carry out the plan during unplanned impairments.

Above all, the goal of a fire protection impairment program is to minimize the risk of a fire developing and spreading during an impairment while maintenance, repairs and tests are performed to the system. Before an impairment period, or upon discovering an unplanned impairment, the impairment supervisor should obtain a copy of the organization’s fire protection impairment program form and fill it out. This form must be updated as progress is made to include further details of the impairment and repair process.

To learn more about fire protection impairment programs, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today.

The Following Parties Should be Notified in the Event of an Impairment as Soon as Possible:

Insurance company or companies

The local fire department

Safety managers, or relevant managers and supervisors

Staff

Building owners or their designated representative

 

Standard commercial insurance policies may provide some protection from criminal acts, but they often do not cover losses resulting from fraudulent activities.

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OSHA Penalty Schedule

HIGHLIGHTS

OSHA CITATIONS

  • Citations must describe the particular nature of the violation.
  • OSHA will provide a reasonable time to correct the problem.
  • Citations must be posted at or near the location where the violation occurred and must remain on display until the violation is corrected.

2019 PENALTIES

  • $13,260 per serious, other-than-serious and posting violation
  • $13,260 per day for failure to abate a violation
  • $132,598 per willful or repeated violation

OSHA Penalty Schedule

An employer receives a written citation when it violates OSHA standards or regulations. The citation will describe the particular nature of the violation and will include a reference to the provision of the chapter, standard, rule, regulation or order the employer violated.

In addition, the citation will provide a reasonable amount of time for the employer to correct the problem. When the violation does not pose a direct or immediate threat to safety or health (de minimis violation), OSHA may issue a notice or warning instead of a citation.

An employer that receives a citation must post a copy of it at or near the place where the violation occurred. The notice must remain on display for three days or until the violation is corrected, whichever is longer. Penalties may be adjusted depending on the gravity of the violation and the employer’s size, history of previous violations and ability to show a good faith effort to comply with OSHA requirements.

LINKS AND RESOURCES

CURRENT PENALTIES

Below is a list of potential citations employers may receive and a range of corresponding penalties for these citations.

Violation

Current Penalty

De minimis violation Warning
Other-than-serious violation Up to $13,260 per violation
Serious violation 

A violation where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from an employer’s practice, method, operation or process. An employer is excused if it could not reasonably know of the presence of the violation.

Up to $13,260 per violation
Willful or repeated violation 

A violation is willful when committed intentionally and knowingly. The employer must be aware that a hazardous condition exists, know that the condition violates an OSHA standard or other obligation, and make no reasonable effort to eliminate it.

Between $9,472 and $132,598 per violation
Repeated violation

A violation is repeated when it is substantially similar to a violation that was already present in a previous citation.

Up to $132,598 per violation
Willful violation resulting in death of employee Up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.

Penalties may double for a second or higher conviction.

Uncorrected violation Up to $13,260 per day until the violation is corrected
Making false statements, representations or certifications Up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months
Violation of posting requirements Up to $13,260 per violation
Providing unauthorized advance notice of inspection Up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months or both

Current laws allow OSHA to adjust the maximum penalty amounts every year to account for the cost of inflation, as shown by the consumer price index (CPI). If OSHA plans to adjust penalty amounts, it must signal its intention by Jan. 15 of each year.

For more information regarding OSHA regulations, standard or penalties, contact us today.

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Provided by Hierl Insurance Inc.


Trucking Risk Advisor - May 2019

CVSA Roadcheck to Take Place June 4-6

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual International Roadcheck will run June 4-6, 2019. During the International Roadcheck, inspectors will conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. This year’s blitz will place a special emphasis on steering and suspension systems.

Over the 72-hour blitz period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America will conduct assessments of commercial motor vehicles and drivers. Drivers are required to provide their license, Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate (if applicable), record of duty status and vehicle inspection reports (if applicable).

If no critical inspection item violations are found during inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle, indicating that the vehicle successfully passed a decal-eligible inspection conducted by a CVSA-certified inspector.

If an inspector identifies any violations, they may render the driver or vehicle out of service. This means that the driver cannot operate the vehicle until the violations are corrected. To read the official release from the CVSA about this year’s roadcheck, click here.

Newsletter Provided by: Hierl's Property & Casualty Experts

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Preventative Maintenance Tips for Drivers

In order to preserve the safety and longevity of a fleet, regular maintenance and inspections are critical. Drivers play a key role in these practices, and their efforts help minimize service interruptions, manage costs for employers and, above all, ensure vehicles are safe for the road. While specific procedures are often part of a larger preventive maintenance program, there are several responsibilities all drivers have when it comes to avoiding costly vehicle breakdowns.

Before and after every trip, drivers should do the following:

  • Check all lights and signals, including taillights, headlights, brake lights, high beams and turn signals. Ensure tires are in good condition. Be sure to check the tire pressure and tread levels.
  • Review fluid levels, verifying that engine oil, coolant, transmission, brake and power-steering fluids are at appropriate levels. When it comes to changing fluids, follow manufacturer-provided suggestions.
  • Inspect brakes to ensure they are functioning properly. When checking your brakes, listen closely for any grinding noises, as this could indicate a more serious issue.
  • Clean the exterior of your truck. This can prevent dirt and debris buildup, which can deteriorate a truck’s paint job or undercarriage over time.
  • Test the battery. Examine all belts and hoses in the engine bay. These hoses help direct coolant flow and prevent engines from overheating.

Regular maintenance and inspections can go a long way toward identifying potential issues. Consider establishing a preventive maintenance program for continued fleet safety.


OSHA Cornerstones - Second Quarter 2019

OSHA Signals Updates to Powered Industrial Truck Standards as It Requests Information From Employers

OSHA recently requested information on powered industrial trucks in the workplace, a sign that the agency will likely update its standards on these vehicles. Although the American National Standards Institute and the National Fire Protection Association updated their own standards last year, OSHA’s regulations have only been changed once since they were adopted in 1971.

Powered industrial trucks are one of the most frequently cited OSHA standards, with 2,294 violations in 2018. The agency’s current regulations don’t include language on common risk exposures, such as carbon monoxide buildup from engines, noise hazards and stopping distances on descending grades. And, although updates may require employers to implement new safety procedures, OSHA stated that a major goal is to remove regulatory burden while improving safety.

As a part of the request for information, OSHA specified that it wants data on these specific topics:

  • The types, age and usage of powered industrial trucks
  • Maintenance and retrofitting procedures for each type of powered industrial truck
  • Suggestions for regulating older vehicle models
  • The types of accidents and injuries associated with the use of these vehicles
  • The advantages and drawbacks of retrofitting machines with new safety features
  • Any relevant components of powered industrial truck safety programs

OSHA will accept public comments on powered industrial trucks until June 10. For more information, see the full notice on the Federal Register’s website.

Increased OSHA Penalties for 2019

Federal law requires OSHA to increase its maximum penalties every year to account for inflation. Here’s a list of the maximum penalties for 2019:

  • Other-than-serious violation: $13,260 per violation
  • Serious violation: $13,260 per violation
  • Failure to comply with posting requirements: $13,260 per violation
  • Failure to correct a violation: $13,260 per day until corrected
  • Repeated violation: $132,598 per violation
  • Willful violation: $132,598 per violation, and a minimum penalty of $9,472 per violation

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Roll Back Electronic Reporting Requirements After Concerns About Employee Privacy

Earlier this year, OSHA updated its electronic reporting rule after concerns that reports on workplace injuries and illnesses contain employees’ personal information. The agency also explained that under the original rule, it was possible for this information to be disclosed publicly through a Freedom of Information Act request or OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application.

The new final rule only requires certain establishments to submit data from OSHA Form 300A, and became effective on Feb. 25. Previously, establishments with 250 or more employees were also required to submit forms 300 and 301. While this requirement was removed before the March 2 deadline to submit data, OSHA stated that it’s likely that many employers automatically submitted data from all three forms, and using software to remove personal details won’t be 100 percent effective.

Some organizations believe the final rule will negatively affect workplace safety, and six states filed a lawsuit against OSHA in an attempt to reinstate the original electronic reporting requirements. However, others believe that the final rule still allows the agency to collect a summary of workplace injuries and illnesses without revealing potentially harmful personal information.

New and Updated OSHA Resources to Help Prevent Falls

Falls are one of the most common and dangerous injuries in the workplace, and OSHA recently released a number of resources to help employers stay aware of common fall hazards and train their workforces.

Here’s a summary of the new and updated resources:

For more resources on preventing falls at your organization, call 920-921-5921 today or visit www.hierl.com.

According to the National Employment Law Project, the Trump administration's focus on deregulation has caused OSHA enforcement activity to fall and fatality investigations to rise.

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Hot tips for winter driving

Wintry conditions can make it hard for drivers to see and even harder to control the vehicle, making driving nerve-wracking even for the best drivers. Continue reading this blog post from UBA for tips on winter driving.


Driving in wintry conditions can be nerve-wracking even for the best drivers. Snow, fog,  and black ice can make it hard to see and even harder to control your vehicle. But if you follow some basic tips, you’ll be more likely to keep your cool and get to your destination without mishap.

Before you hit the road

First things first: Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition. And don’t wait till the last minute to do this, in case mechanics find issues that need repairs or need to order in parts. Check the battery, lights, cooling system, tires, windshield wipers and defrosters to make sure everything’s working correctly.Be ready for possible emergencies. Carry a shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, jumper cables, emergency flares or markers, blankets, cell phone charger, snacks and water.

Plan your route carefully, keeping weather and construction in mind. If you’re using GPS, make sure you input your destination before you leave. And let someone know your route and what time you expect to arrive.

Safety strategies

  • Be well-rested before you go.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half-full.
  • Don’t use cruise control when it’s slippery due to snow, ice or rain.
  • Drive slowly according to road conditions and traffic. Keep a longer following distance between you and the car ahead of you (a normal distance is three to four seconds; increase this to eight to ten).
  • If you’re stuck in the snow, stay with your vehicle. Don’t try to walk in search of help. Tie a bright piece of loth to the antenna or hang a piece of cloth from the closed window to try to attract attention. It’s OK to keep the dome light on. It won’t wear down your battery and will make your car more visible. Run the heater for short periods till the car is warm, and then turn it off to save gas. Always make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of sow or ice!
  • Accelerate slowly. Steer in the direction of a skid. Brake gradually with steady pressure. (If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, you might need to pump the brake pedal.)
  • Stay out of the way of snow plows. Their field of vision is limited.

And always…

Always use your seat belt and make sure children are in car seats that are installed correctly. Don’t text and drive and avoid other distractions whenever possible. And never, ever drink and drive.

If playing it safe means arriving at Grandma’s a little late, so be it. Arriving safe, sound and healthy is what’s important.

 

Sources:

AAA Minneapolis. Drive to Survive this Winter Season. https://minneapolis.aaa.com/news/drive-survive-winter-season.   Accessed 9/11/18

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Winter driving tips.

https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/winter-driving-tips.pdf   Accessed 9/11/18

American Automobile Association. Winter driving tips.

https://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/winter-driving-tips/#.W5gPtjbfPtQ   Accessed 9/11/18

SOURCE: Olson, B. (7 March 2019) "Hot tips for winter driving" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/hot-tips-for-winter-driving