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Safety tips from the trade.

This article is a digest of practical safety tips contributed by readers of Occupational Health & Safety E-News, an electronic newsletter from Stevens Media Group. For information on subscribing to the newsletter, see the "additional resources" box (below, left). Reprint permission granted courtesy of Stevens Media Group,, and Occupational Health & Safety News.



"We see countless examples of accidents in industry due to improper lockout or failure to do lockout. One of the major risks happens when there are multiple energy sources (MES) for a single piece of equipment. An example of multiple lockout equipment is a palletizer, which often has electrical power, pneumatic controls and gravitational energy at a minimum. Unfortunately, too many people feel that lockout is only an electrical energy issue. They think, 'If I lock out the primary power, I am okay.' Not true if there are multiple motors, hazardous chemical lines, hydraulic energy, compressed air sources to operate valves, stored energy in spring-loaded mechanisms, etc.

"All energy sources must be brought to a zero energy state. One way to deal with this is to perform a hazard analysis of the equipment and identify everything that needs to be locked out. Develop a lockout procedure for the affected type of equipment and train all workers in the procedure. For added safety, all work orders for Multiple Energy Source equipment can be accompanied by a written lockout procedure. Finally, the controls for each energy source can be labeled to indicate that they are a part of MES lockout. (We use a yellow label, MES, as a reminder to all workers to look for other energy sources.)--James Maness, JEM Consultants, Wildwood, Missouri, USA

A clarification on the above tip: "As a former compliance officer for the Cleveland Area OSHA Office. I must inform you that lockout/tagout has nothing to do with electrical hazards. There is a huge difference between turning a valve, piping disassembly and the like and working with voltages over 50 VAC. An Authorized Person can apply a lock and/or tag to valves, etc., but only a Qualified Person can lockout/tagout any electrical device. One of the hazards associated with 'locking out' such items as electrical disconnects is unless you open the cover to assure that all blades have broken contact, the circuit is still energized. There are many other hazards that only Qualified Persons should inspect and have access to. Furthermore, only a Qualified Person can work on or near de-energized electrical parts.

"Many employers make this common mistake. Sadly, while I was at OSHA, I had to routinely investigate serious injuries and fatalities that occurred because the employer did not know the major differences between 'Controlling Hazardous Energy' (29 CFR 1910.147) and 'Safety Related Work Practices' (29 CFR 1910 Subpart S).

"In LOTO product advertising, the picture almost everyone uses is a lock and tag applied to an electrical disconnect, but rarely do they mention Subpart S in their literature. I was compelled to write this to help other employers and employees understand this difference."--Dave Hunter, corporate safety administrator, Professional Service Industries, Inc., Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois


"I am the safety director for a large commercial general contractor. We have a field work force that varies between 200 and 400 people depending on our workload. One of the problems with keeping up with a constantly changing work force is staying current on their emergency contact information. We came up with a simple and inexpensive way to combat this problem.

"Part of the new hire packet is a 3 1/2" X 4" packing slip with a folded sheet that slips inside. The packing slip is adhered to the inside of the employee's hard hat so it is always readily available in an emergency. The front side, which shows, has the employee's name on it, and the inside lists an emergency contact, an alternate contact, doctor's name, special medical conditions or allergies and any medication the employee may be taking. If the employee's medical or emergency contact information changes, it is easy to tear out the packing slip and replace it.

"I presented this idea at our local Associated General Contractors meeting and most of the members were very excited about it and have started using this procedure. I also ran it past our attorney, and he said since the confidential information is sealed inside the packing slip, it was acceptable."--Terry Hukriede, regional safety director, Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A clarification on the above tip. "It is very important that you contact the hard hat manufacturer before attaching the packing slip to the inside of the hard hat. The adhesives in most stickers and packing slips will deteriorate the plastic shell of the hard hat, causing pitting and hidden damage. This hidden damage could seriously compromise the integrity and protection offered by the shell.

"If the hard hat manufacturer approves the attachment, that approval must be in writing. This is likely a deviation from ANSI Z89.1-1997. Section 1.3 of the standard states that, 'Alterations, attachments, or additions of accessories may affect the performance of the helmet.' Furthermore, by approving the attachment of the packing slip, the helmet manufacturer must essentially be certain that they are not violating Section 6.3, which states. 'Accessories installed by the manufacturer shall not cause the helmet to fail the requirements of the standard.' This section should be applied to any accessory or attachment. This is not to discount the concept behind this tip. I am only pointing out that before applying the attachment, you should first obtain the written expressed approval of the helmet manufacturer. It is ultimately the responsibility of the employer to ensure that protection provided has been approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory in accordance with any applicable consensus standard."--Glenn McGinley, safety and health coordinator for the Ohio Public Employment Risk Reduction Program


"When an employee is assigned a task that involves using a solvent or other chemical, the material safety data sheet (MSDS) is certainly available to him or her. What has worked well for me, however, is to attach a one-page summary of the chemical's hazard(s), proper use, PPE requirements and first aid measures to the instructions or procedures. This provides the essential information in a standardized format to refresh the employee quickly on the chemical, while still maintaining the full MSDS for more detailed information for new hires or experienced employees with a newly assigned task. That way the employee is sure to have the correct PPE for the task prior to starting it and becomes more familiar with the hazards and use of the chemical, without having to wade through numerous pages or categories to find the information from various product manufacturers with no standardized format."--Randy DeVaul, M.A., RSHEP, safety professional, TXI Chaparral Steel Virginia, Petersburg, Virginia


"I've found an inexpensive way to mark areas where fire extinguishers are located that is more visible to employees than signs. Signs are required, but additional location markers can be made by placing red lens repair tape on the lenses of light fixtures located in the vicinity of the extinguishers. This tape can be purchased from most auto parts stores; it will withstand a fair amount of heat and can be cut to size. Also available are red plastic tubes for fluorescent lighting applications. These can be cut to 6- or 8-inch lengths and will slip over your light bulbs for the same purpose. They can be bought from your local lighting distributor."--Eddie Swift, environmental/safety coordinator-OAP, Corning Cable Systems


"My safety team performs weekly audits and distributes the results to supervisors and to company owners and executives. Getting the results read and understood was difficult until we starting inserting digital images of safety problems and successes. Pictures make for easier reading and understanding. These same images can be used in training presentations throughout the year. Readership is up, employees understand the contents much better and the audit is a useful tool for managers for employee feedback, training and evaluation."--Harold Ingmire, HR & safety director, Whip Mix Corp., Louisville, Kentucky

A clarification on the above tip: "The use of photographs to document safety issues can be a two-edged sword, particularly if the workforce is represented by labor unions. Take care photographing identifiable employees violating work rules. OSHA regulations or other state or federal regulations. Such pictures may also become self-incriminating evidence in the event of a complaint or during the investigation of alleged safety or environmental concerns. Photographs certainly can be useful, but use them prudently and with full knowledge of those being photographed."--C. Ray Prible, M.D., director medical services, Norfolk Southern Corp.


"If you want to make employees aware of the significance of labels on containers of chemicals, assign them the following task. Have them examine the contents of the medicine and kitchen cabinets in their own homes and bring in examples of items they found that pose hazards to their health. Examples would be outdated prescriptions, outdated over-the-counter drugs and medications and prescriptions that remain from past illnesses as well as those chemicals that have normal health and safety hazards that should not be kept within reach of children. It is amazing how much employees react to the things they find in their homes, when the reaction at work would have been one of indifference."--Fred Shapiro, P-F Technical Services Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland


"When a facility asks for assistance in the area of emergency evacuation routes and exit directional signs. I suggest that the facility bring in a person who is unfamiliar with the location (a co-worker from a different location, a spouse, a trusted friend) to evaluate how effective the current system is. The stranger to the facility will have no idea where the current exits are located, but by looking around in the unfamiliar location, the person should be able to find the exits. If that stranger to the facility cannot find the exit locations, then additional signs/markings are needed to improve the evacuation routes. Also, if the stranger walks through a doorway that is not an exit, then a sign stating 'Not An Exit' should be placed on that doorway."--Kevin Risko, regional safety manager, George Weston Bakeries/Freihofer's, Bouyea-Fassett's, Arnolds & Thomas'


"Even though we conduct monthly meetings and perform audits of equipment and departments. I still felt the need for our employees to get further involved with our safety programs. I recently installed a safety concerns log at our facility for employees to voice their concerns about safety problems or potential hazards. This log, which is simply a dry erase board, keeps safety issues high profile and warrants our safety committee to address each and every entry. All entries are kept in a computer file for traceability and case history. As a result of employee suggestions, we have modified three pieces of equipment to become more ergonomically friendly and eliminated possible unsafe conditions."--Paul Smith, safety coordinator, Vesuvius U.S.A. Research Laboratory, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


"Remember that when you hire new employees, it is important to explain why you have a safety rule. New employees are anxious to please and if they think they see an easier or faster way to accomplish a task, they might put themselves at risk. If you just say, do this or don't do that, and the reason is not apparent, the importance of compliance and potential severity of the accident can be missed. Inexperience with a task also means inexperience with the risks."--Pat Renouf, assistant lab manager, Wah Chang Analytical Laboratory, Albany, Oregon


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Title Annotation:Safety Management
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Previous Article:Ten good things about the paper industry.
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