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Too Close to Ignore

Why aren't near misses being reported?


Fear, embarrassment, reputation and paperwork are some of the contributing factors for why workplaces aren’t getting any safer. Why is this you ask? In most workplaces the perceived connotation of reporting a near miss incident is one of a complainer or something that will add an extra burden to the company and its workers with paperwork, meetings and lost productivity.

What exactly is a near miss and why is it important? A near miss is an incident in which no property was damaged and no personal injury was sustained, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury easily could have occurred, 2 forklifts almost colliding, a finger almost getting caught in a machine, a worker tripping over pallets.

A near miss is a warning that shines light on problems that will arise in the future. The Bureau of Labor estimates that about 1.2 billion near misses happen each year, and 4.2 million actual injuries. If these near misses were recorded and fixed, as reduction in the number of near misses occurs, probability would suggest that workplace injuries would decrease as well.

In many industries where near misses transform into serious mishaps there is often times a macho air that goes along with them. One of bragging rights and battle scars instead of reporting. If a worker feels that they will be singled out or bogged down in paperwork if they speak up without any real resolution no real change will ever occur.

In order to create a safer workplace, employers need to first assess their environment, get their workers involved and avoid the blame and shame game, changing the mindset of how safety and reporting near misses is perceived within their organization.



Lock-out/Tag-out : It's Electric


Injuries are severe and life altering when mishaps dealing with large powerful machinery and electrical currents with enough voltage to power an entire city occur. All employees in charge of the handling and maintenance of these areas within a workplace are required to have proper Lock-out/Tag-out training. This should include informational, applied and follow-up monitoring.

The Five main causes of lock-out/tag-out injuries are:

  • Failure to stop equipment
  • Failure to disconnect from power source
  • Failure to dissipate (bleed, neutralize) residual energy
  • Accidental restarting of equipment
  • Failure to clear work areas before restarting

In order to prevent these injuries from happening lock-out procedures should outline the chain of events to be followed every time a machine is being locked-out for any reason and highlight: notifying all affected by the lock-out, distinguishing the type of energy source to the machine, identifying the methods used to operate and control energy, pointing out the location of lock-out devices and getting the machine to an absolute zero energy state.

Tag-out devices can be used in place of lock-out devices only if they provide equivalent protection. Unlike locks, tags only warn and do not provide physical restraint. They must be legible, durable, securely attached and only removed by the one who attached it, never to be ignored or bypassed.

Retraining and monitoring should not only happen when a new hire, accident or near miss occurs. The job is never complete when it comes to keeping employees safe and up to date on the newest, most advanced practices and procedures. No employee new or experienced is immune to an on the job injury.

For more information on Lock-out/Tag-out tips & procedures visit http://www.esfi.org/index.cfm/page/LockoutTagout/pid/10865

Safety Planning, Procedures and Evacuation

Even if an emergency situation may not have occurred in your workplace, doesn’t mean that one isn’t possible. Accidents and emergency situations are not predictable. When they arise will your employees know what to do? Have you prepared them effectively on proper response procedures given a natural disaster, a safety breach, a workplace injury or mishap?

There are unique dangers and disasters that plague every workplace making it impossible to provide a universal plan of action for everything however providing as much preventative planning and support as possible helps to strengthen lines of communication and protocol that too often break down in times of commotion.

When putting together your safety procedures and evacuation plans here are a few tips to be mindful of:

  • Safety procedures won’t do employees any good if they are not followed — always.
  • Providing a strong leadership presence, that consistently follows and enforces the importance of the procedures goes a long way – Lead by example
  • Involving and listening to your employees during the creation process is essential. No one knows the possible dangers and potential best practices better than those who are living and experiencing the environment on a daily basis
  • Encourage your employees to bring safety deficiencies to management’s attention. Having an open door policy with your workers reinforces a positive workplace morale and lets them know that their perspective on issues matters
  • Be sure to include: a method of alerting your workforce of the emergency, a full list of employees and descriptions of designated responsibilities in emergency situations, diagrams and route assignments for safe escape and evacuation, a reporting and evaluation process for after the crisis.

Here is a helpful link to OSHA’s planning and procedures etool for more information: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/index.html



Workplace Safety News Roundup


Owens Corning Garners Major Workplace Safety Award

Owens Corning has trimmed 95% of their reportable injuries. For their unwavering commitment to workplace safety, the National Safety Council presented Owens Corning with the Green Cross for Safety Medal. The award is a major honor from the council. Delta Air Lines and Exxon Mobil are previous recipients.

For more information on how Owens Corning achieved their workplace safety success click here.

OSHA Issues Final Rule On Electrical Safety Requirements

OSHA released its final rule on electric power generation, transmission and distribution; and electrical protective equipment. The final rule will update the decades-old construction standard for electric power line work to make it consistent with the similar general industry standard. According to the agency, about 20 deaths and 118 injuries annually will be prevented by the rule, which will result in net benefits of about $130 million per year.

For more information on this OSHA final rule click here.

OSHA Fines Real Estate Developer $2.3 Million For Asbestos And Lead Violations.

A New York real estate development and management company is facing $2.3 million in proposed fines for exposing employees and contractors to asbestos and lead hazards. According to OSHA, the development company failed to take basic safety precautions and did not inform employees or contractors about the presence of asbestos and lead, despite knowing both hazards were present.

For more information on this OSHA fine click here.