IDESCO Safety Blog

5 Types of Signs and How They Improve Workplace Safety

Safety signs may be considered one of the most basic and fundamental forms of safety equipment. For over 100 years, safety signs have been encouraged or required in specific parts of the workplace, spelled out in the primary language(s) of the workers. They save thousands of lives every year and continue to play an important role in preventing injuries in the workplace.

In 1941, standards for safety signs were introduced by the American Standards Association (later to become ANSI). These standards introduced formats for DANGER, CAUTION, NOTICE, and EXIT signs, to name a few. While many aspects of those early standards still hold today, globalization now has more of an effect. In 2007, ANSI published guidelines that coordinated with ISO label formats, ushering in a new era of global best practices in safety signs for the workplace.

Self-Laminated Safety Tags Offer Compliance Convenience

Workplace, industrial, transportation, and commercial safety is a big deal these days. The wheels of international commerce are greased with safety standards that enable efficiency, reliability, and sound commercial relations. Properly marking equipment, chemicals and hazardous materials is a subject closely regulated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), conventions like the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), and other regulatory agencies across the globe—not to mention being the subject of intense scrutiny by the lawyer class.

The Global Harmonization Code

     The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) were designed to standardize the critically important method of shipping hazardous toxins throughout the world. Many countries have had their own regulatory system for classifying and labeling. However, what one country may classify a chemical as “somewhat toxic” another country may classify the same chemical as “very toxic.” And a third country may classify that very same chemical as “benign.” Chemicals involved in shipping include Physical Hazards – chemicals with explosive properties, flammables, oxidizers, corrosives and gases. Other types in include chemicals that are considered Health Hazards. They include chemicals that cause burns, effect breathing or those that lead to organ damage and cancer. And there are chemicals that can affect the environment. With each country developing their own classifications for these types of chemicals, it is easy to see how it is dangerous and virtually impossible it is for each country to be sure of how each chemical being imported to their country actually fits into their own standards. With this new Global system, each country that signs off to the program will have the same classifications for each and every chemical they import and export.


Laminating Pouches for Home and Business

      Important Documents must be protected if they are to maintain their integrity for any length of time. It could be a Driver’s License, an identification badge, a birth certificate, an award, a legal document, a photo, a menu or piece of art. In order to protect it properly and be assured that it will last indefinitely, it should be laminated. Once a document is laminated, there is no worry that an inadvertent spill of water or other liquid will ruin the document. A child’s crayon will not be able to leave a mark. The document will not be accidently folded. Photos of loved ones will remain as good as new as you review them over many years. Menus in your restaurant can be used over and over and over again. Legal documents will not tear or wrinkle. Identification cards remain legible and valid in your wallet.


Heat Related Worker Illness

Since 2008 there have been 107 Heat-Related Deaths in the continental United States. Each year there are thousands of heat-related illnesses. That is why OSHA has developed a Nationwide Heat Illness Campaign designed to raise awareness to both employers and employees about the dangers of working in heat and hot weather. Those most affected by the heat include but are in no way limited to the in the construction trade, utilities, agriculture and oil and gas exploration. New employees, temporary employees and those returning to work after a period of time off are especially vulnerable to the heat as it takes some time to build up a tolerance to it.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

When excessive continuous pressure is placed on the medium nerve, the nerve that allows feeling to parts of the hand, the condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome develops. The primary symptom of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is numbness of the thumb, index finger and ring finger.  When one bends a wrist forward for any length of time and feels pain it is a sure sign that CPS is present. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have identified work related repetitive tasks, force, posture and vibration as major causes of CTS. A recent study showed that there is in many instances, a greater risk for CTS to affect worker production, than basic physical factors such as obesity. It should be noted that similar injuries caused by falls, slips, motor vehicle accidents or other similar accidents are not recognized as work-related causes of CTS by OSHA.


Severe Burns in the Workplace

On average there are over 200 deaths and over 5,000 injuries caused by fires, electrical and chemical burns, radiation, scalding water and explosions in the workplace every year. Fires can be caused by accidents at industrial food preparation ovens, overheated and shorted out wiring, from welding mishaps, spills and leaks of sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid, strong bases such as sodium hydroxide and ammonia and burns from scalding hot water.

Employers should have trained personnel on site at all times who know how to identify and treat both minor burns and serious burns.  The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. The dermis is the inner layer of the skin. First degree burns affect only the epidermis. Symptoms involve a very red and painful burn. Second degree burns involve the entire epidermis and upper layer of the dermis. Blisters are usually present, the wound is pink, wet in appearance and very painful. A Third degree burn involves all layers of skin being destroyed and the fatty tissue known as the subcutaneous tissue, under the skin. In a fourth degree burns all layers of skin and muscle and bone are affected.


Noise Related Hearing Loss In The Workplace

 

Government regulations and in-house safety rules have really concentrated on the prevention of physical harm to employees. We generally think of injuries in the workplace  as falling into the categories of slips and falls, injuries to eyes and inhalation of dust and chemical vapors to name a few. However, actually it is noise-related hearing loss that is listed as one of the most prevalent occupational concerns for many years. It has been reported than in the past 10 years, nearly 125,000 workers have suffered permanent hearing loss.


First-Aid Practices In The Workplace

The Occupational Health Admiration (OSHA) states that First-Aid is any one-time treatment along with a follow-up treatment dealing with minor scratches, cuts, burns, splinters and other minor industrial injury that may occur during the average work day. According to CFR 1910.151 “The employer shall ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health.” Generally first-aid treatments are simple and require little technology.  However, assuming there is no infirmary on site, there must be at least one person, preferably more, who are trained to provide first aid. A workplace must also provide facilities and equipment for treating the eyes and body should an employee be injured by coming into contact with corrosive material.  Along with these basic first-aid requirements, a number of OSHA standards require training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.)


The Dangers of Silica Inhalation

     It takes just a very small amount of inhalation of crystalline silica particles to cause serious problems to plant workers. Initial symptoms include but are not limited to shortness of breath, weakness and weight loss. Many  cases of Silicosis can be shown to eventually lead to lung cancer, pulmonary and kidney disease.  Crystalline silica is found in virtually every type of industrial environments. The largest areas of exposures are caused by the everyday factory operations such as abrasive blasting, cement and brick manufacturing, asphalt pavement manufacturing, china and ceramic manufacturing and the tool and die industries. In addition, the manufacturing of adhesives, paints, soaps and glass are made with crystalline silica.


Fork Lift Safety

Fork Lift Trucks are used to raise, lower or move large objects or several smaller objects at the same time. They can be driven by an operator or mechanically controlled. In either case, identifying the hazards of moving heavy materials in this manner is of prime importance.

When heavy objects are moved from place to place, there is the possibility of at least some of the objects falling off the forklift. And as the objects can be well off the ground in a fork lift truck, it can lead to a serious accident. There is also the possibility as with all moving vehicles that someone walking nearby can be hit by the fork lift. Also, the driver may inadvertently make a wrong turn and crash into a wall, equipment or even another vehicle.


The Importance of Ergonomics

 

June is National Safety Month and there are many things we can do as employers and employees.

In the workplace Ergonomics is an important key to safety. This month is a good time to identify and abate musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs.) These include strains, sprains and tears, inflammation, pinched nerves and spinal disc problems. Here are some things we should all know about ergonomic programs and practices:

1.      Visit the OSHA web page. There are grants to train workers about hazards and hazard abatement; training courses through the OSHA Training Institute, booklets on ergonomic programs, especially for computer workstations, and videotapes on general industry situations.

2.      Ergonomics Best Practices Conferences:  Designed to provide examples of practical and inexpensive programs; Intervention lectures.

3.      Enforcement: Employers are required to provide working conditions that are free from known hazards that can cause an employer physical harm.  Employers are keen to follow this policy not only to avoid fines, but because it is in their best interest to keep their staff on the job.

4.      Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements: Where companies have been cited for musculoskeletal disorder violations, they have agreed to enter into a settlement whereby they would agree to follow Meatpacking Guidelines that OSHA has set up.


Thermoplastic Non-Conductive Padlocks

Thermoplastic padlocks are designed exclusively to satisfy CFR 1910.147 Lockout:Tagout regulations. They are durable, lightweight and are non-conductive. Thermoplastic is an excellent insulator preventing the flow of electricity. Static electric charges can remain in equipment even after the equipment has been shut down. Using thermoplastic padlocks for lockout:Tagout use means that the padlocks can be used around heat or electrical equipment with little concern that electronic sparking will occur. In addition, the key retaining feature insures the padlock will not remain unlocked. The key cannot be removed while the padlock is open. A very important fact when equipment is being repaired and lockout procedures are in place.


Chemical Hazards In The Workplace

The OSHA Regulation CFR1910.1200 “Toxic and Hazardous Substances” is intended to address comprehensively the issue of classifying the potential hazards of chemicals and communicating information concerning hazards and appropriate protective measures to employees, and to preempt any legislation or regulatory enactments of state, or political subdivision of a state, pertaining to the subject.

Toxic Industrial chemicals are manufactured, stored, transported and used throughout the world. They can be found in the form of gas, liquid or solid state. The hazards they contain include carcinogens, corrosives and reproductive hazards. Toxic chemicals can also be highly flammable, combustible, explosive or reactive.


Electrical Safety In The Workplace

     The Electrical Safety Foundation International (EDFI) has designated May as National Electrical Safety Month. On average, there are more than 300 deaths and over 4,000 injuries per year caused by Electrical Hazards in workplaces here in the United States. Over 60% of the injuries are due to electric shock, the remainder caused by electric burns. Electric shock is caused by either direct or indirect contact with a conductive part that is energized. Electrical arcing, explosions or fire result in burns. Toxic gases released as a result of fire as well as the burning of electrical equipment often leads to severe illness or death.


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