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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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 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.
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.
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.