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Strategize, Be Firewise

OSHA Workplace Fire Safety Planning


When OSHA conducts workplace inspections, one of the areas of your facility that they will check is whether you are in compliance with OSHA standards for fire safety.

OSHA standards require employers to provide proper exits, fire-fighting equipment, emergency plans, and employee training to prevent fire deaths and injuries in the workplace.

Below are some the critical elements that all workplace fire safety plans should include:

  • Each workplace building must have at least two means of escape remote from each other to be used in a fire emergency.
  • Fire doors must not be blocked or locked to prevent emergency use when employees are within the buildings.
    • Delayed opening of fire doors is permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design.
  • Exit routes from buildings must be clear and free of obstructions and properly marked with signs designating exits from the building.
  • Each employer needs to have a written emergency action plan for evacuation of employees which describes the routes to use and procedures to be followed by employees.
    • Procedures for accounting for all evacuated employees must be part of the plan.
    • The written plan must be available for employee review.
  • Where needed, special procedures for helping physically impaired employees must be addressed in the plan.
    • The plan must include procedures for those employees who must remain behind temporarily to shut down critical plant equipment before they evacuate.
  • The preferred means of alerting employees to a fire emergency must be part of the plan.
    • An employee alarm system must be available throughout the workplace complex and must be used for emergency alerting for evacuation.
    • The alarm system may be voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles or horns.
    • Employees must know the evacuation signal.
  • Training of all employees in what is to be done in an emergency is required.
    • Employers must review the plan with newly assigned employees so they know correct actions in an emergency and with all employees when the plan is changed.

For information on specific OSHA codes and regulations click here.

Scary Statistics: Take Immediate Action


Don’t neglect your safety responsibilities at your facility. Lack of attention and cutting corners can lead to big consequences both financially and physically through lost production, greater employee injury and absence and liability cost and fines due to inevitable violations.

2.3 million people worldwide die annually as a result of occupational illnesses and accidents at work. In addition, there are 860,000 injury-causing occupational accidents every day. The direct or indirect cost of occupational illness and accidents at work is estimated at $US 2.8 trillion worldwide.

In 2012 fatal work related injuries in the U.S. were broken down as follows:

  • Total fatal injuries (all sectors):
    4,628 in 2012
  • Roadway incidents (all sectors):
    1,153 in 2012
  • Falls, slips, trips (all sectors):
    704 in 2012
  • Homicides (all sectors):
    475 in 2012

Don’t let your workplace become part of these scary statistics. By listening to your employees who are closest to the potential hazards, these mishaps can be avoided. Welcome feedback even in the form of complaints, Include your workers in the decision making process when developing your protection plans, Find root causes to lingering gaps and problems in your safety plan without placing blame on individuals for reporting accidents. When employees feel like they are being heard and their issues are being addressed, they are more likely to be on board with the changes that are being made.

Make safety part of your mission, change only happens when everyone is committed to the improvement and follow through.



Sound the Alarm: Will you be able to hear it? 


The Essentials of Hearing Protection


Loud machines, jackhammers, construction sites and warehouses, they all carry with them an immense amount of noise that has lasting effects on your workers whether you realize it or not. Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work daily.  An estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss disability.

While there are many types of protection out there, what goes into selecting the proper noise protection for your job?

Consider the environment that you’ll be working in. Do you need a portable solution? Or how about something that is better suited for long term use. Will it be hot and humid requiring a more comfortable solution? Or do you need something that won’t interfere with the other PPE that is required for the job.

No matter what the job is, there is a solution to properly protecting your workforce. However not all ears are created equal so there may also be differing solutions within a single working environment.

Consider the following when making your selection:

  • OSHA states that permissible exposures for an 8 hour period should never go above 90 decibels and decibels of 115 should not be experienced over 20 minutes.
  • When shopping, hearing protection options should carry a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which is a unit of measurement used to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection devices to decrease sound exposure within a given working environment.
  • When selecting protection NIOSH recommends derating hearing protectors by a factor that corresponds to the available real-world data. Specifically, NIOSH recommends that the labeled NRRs be derated as follows:
    • Earmuffs – Subtract 25% from the manufacturer’s labeled NRR
    • Formable earplugs – Subtract 50% from the manufacturer’s labeled NRR
    • All other earplugs – Subtract 70% from the manufacturers labeled NRR
  • If you choose to combine hearing protectors (i.e. earplugs and earmuffs) rather than adding the two NRR numbers you simply add 5 more decibels of protection to the device with the higher NRR

Here is a chart to help you determine what might be excessive noise in your workplace:




Workplace Safety News



New Test May Predict Worker Hearing Loss

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. A new study suggests a simple test can predict which workers will be affected by high noise levels at work.
Read more about the test and its limitations here: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-new-test-may-predict-worker-hearing-loss-2014-8

The younger face of workplace safety and what OSHA is doing about it

As part of its efforts to curb workplace injuries, OSHA is attempting to educate young workers on their rights, in part, by creating a special webpage for young workers with access to blogs, real-life stories of workplace accidents, a list of known workplace hazards in industries and jobs typically filled by young workers, and various other resources including reporting mechanisms.

To learn more about the resources being provided click here: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=288cbbae-cb72-4a60-9e7e-267cfab015f3

Workplace violations

Roofing contractor exposed workers to falls, faces nearly $300,000 in OSHA fines for deliberately and repeatedly failing to use legally required fall protection for its employees at two New Britain work sites and exposing workers to potentially fatal falls. Gravity doesn’t give you a second chance. If you fall and there is no effective fall protection in place, the result could end your career or your life.

To read more click here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26664

Worker crushed by machinery at Youngstown, Ohio, steel mill. The machine operator suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, and has been unable to return to work. The investigation found that Youngstown steel mill workers were exposed to crushing, amputation and fall hazards. Proposed penalties total $94,000.

To read more click here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26661

OSHA cites company with 38 violations for exposing workers to a cancer-causing health hazard; fines total $341,550. Citations included failure to provide safe personal protective equipment for exposed workers; failure to prevent ingestion of food and drinks and absorption in hazardous areas; and failure to properly train workers exposed to hazards. Repeat violations also existed having been previously cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years.

To read more click here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26628