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Safety Moment

5/1/22
Grainger Editorial Staff

Grainger is committed to protecting people, property, processes and the environment, both in the workplace and at home. To expand on this commitment, Grainger is providing a monthly Safety Moment to help drive awareness of critical safety issues and provide practical solutions to mitigate associated risk. Use these insights to assist with your safety committee meetings, toolbox talks and shift-starter meetings.

This Month's Theme: National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

In 2020, there were more fatal injuries in construction than in any other industry, and more of those deaths were caused by falls than by any other event or exposure. Fall prevention measures can make a difference.

Preventing falls in construction is the theme of this year's National Safety Stand-Down. OSHA coordinates this annual event to encourage employers to communicate with their employees about safety through toolbox talks, discussions of job hazards, hands-on exercises and other safety activities.

As one of its tips for a successful stand-down, OSHA suggests reviewing your fall prevention program with these questions:

  • What types of falls can occur?
  • What needs improvement in your fall prevention program?  
  • What training do you give employees? 
  • What equipment do you provide to employees? 

The National Safety Stand-Down takes place May 2–6, 2022, but it's always a good time to raise awareness of fall hazards and fall protection.

View on-demand webinars on mobile elevating work platforms and working at elevated heights or consult the articles below for more on fall hazards.

Learn how Grainger can help.

Use These Resources to Support Training and Awareness

This Month's Theme: Workplace Violence

The problem of violence in the workplace can't be ignored. 

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there were more than 20,000 days-away-from-work injuries intentionally caused by another person in 2020. And each year there are millions of workers who report beings victims of workplace violence, according to the National Safety Council

4 Steps to Help Employees Feel Prepared

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends four steps that can help employees feel more prepared and secure:

  • Establish a workplace violence prevention program
  • Create a plan for emergency response 
  • Train all employees on how to respond to incidents
  • Make sure employees know about the resources that are available

Learn how Grainger can help.

Use These Resources to Support Training and Awareness

Past Theme: Ladder Safety Month

For many workers, using portable ladders is a routine part of the job. But falls from portable ladders are a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the workplace, and training on safe ladder use is essential.

Why does ladder safety training matter?

  • Inadequate training was a consistent theme in NIOSH fatality reports involving ladders, according to research discussed in Safety+Health magazine.
  • There are more than 130,000 emergency room visits and 300 deaths related to ladders each year, according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involved a ladder, and an estimated 81% of construction workers' fall injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments involve a ladder, according to Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (ISHN).
  • OSHA citations are also trending upward. In the most recent OSHA Top 10 list of most violated standards, the standard on ladders (1926.1053) rose from No. 5 to No. 3.

To get the ball rolling, consider these three ladder safety fundamentals:

Get more ladder safety tips, learn more about OSHA and ANSI-compliant ladders and visit the National Ladder Safety Month website, presented by the American Ladder Institute.

Use These Resources to Support Training and Awareness

Past Theme: American Heart Month

Year after year, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. February is American Heart Month, a great time to reinforce the importance of cardiovascular health.

In 2022, there are good reasons to take heart health especially seriously:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have delayed getting treatment for stroke and heart attack symptoms, which has led to poorer outcomes, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
  • Pandemic lockdowns have also led to poor eating, drinking and exercise habits, which can contribute to heart disease, according to the AHA.
  • People who have serious heart conditions also have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This year, the CDC is encouraging Americans to control hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to the agency, almost half of adults have high blood pressure, and only about a quarter of those people have it under control.

The CDC describes actions that employers can take to help tackle this problem, including offering healthy foods and encouraging physical activity at work. The CDC also recommends steps that individuals can take:

  • Eat healthy food
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Don't smoke
  • Don't drink too much alcohol
  • Get enough sleep

Whether it happens at work or at home, stress can have negative cardiovascular consequences. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers information on how to stress less for a healthier heart, self-care tips for heart health and more resources for American Heart Month.

Heart disease is largely preventable, but it's also important to be ready for the worst. Learn more about preparing for cardiovascular emergencies in the workplace with Grainger KnowHow:

Use These Resources to Support Training and Awareness

Past Theme: OSHA Top 10

Every year, OSHA's list of frequently cited standards serves as an important reminder of some of the workplace safety issues that matter most.

To help keep workers safe, OSHA can issue fines to businesses that put their workers at risk—fines of up to $13,653 per serious violation, up to $13,653 per day for failure to abate and up to $136,532 per willful or repeated violation.

Fall protection, respiratory protection and ladders topped the agency's 2021 list.

Fall protection – general requirements (1926.501) has been the agency's most-cited standard for 11 years running. In 2021, there were 5,271 violations.

After transportation incidents, falls are the leading cause of work-related death. And according to the National Safety Council, falls are largely preventable.

Fall protection is important for any organization that uses ladders, scaffolding or elevated work platforms, as well as when work involves stairways, roofs, wall openings or unprotected floor holes, among other common hazards.

Respiratory protection (1910.134) was OSHA's No. 2 standard in 2021, up from No. 3 in 2020. There were 2,521 violations of this standard in 2021. Respirators and respiratory protection programs have been top-of-mind in many organizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

In 2021, the percentage of cited violations of this standard increased from 5.3% to 6.5%.

The most-cited sections of the standard were 1910.134(e)(1), on medical evaluation; 1910.134(f)(2), on fit testing; and 1910.134(c)(1), on establishing and implementing written respiratory protection programs.

Ladders (1926.1053) was OSHA's No. 3 standard in 2021, up from No. 5 the year before.

The most-cited section of the standard was 1926.1053(b)(1), for using a portable ladder that's too short and not properly secured at its top.

 

There were 1,269 violations of this section in 2021, which states that the ladder side rails need to extend at least three feet above the upper landing surface that the ladder is being used to access.

The data above is current as of Nov. 8. See the rest of OSHA's top 10 for 2021.

Past Theme: Cold Stress

Prolonged exposure to cold weather or cold indoor working conditions can lead to cold stress. Some employers fail to recognize and address cold stress hazards because they don't know the related signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite
  • Cold water immersion
  • Dehydration

Solutions that Work

Even the most attentive and proactive worker can’t tackle the dangers of cold stress alone. A cooperative approach is important. OSHA’s guidance for cold stress prevention lists engineering controls, training, safe work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE)such as appropriate cold weather attireas foundational components for employers to build into their work plans. Employers should:

  • Train workers on how to help prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries, and how to apply first aid treatment
  • Give workers frequent breaks in warm areas
  • Ensure employees are dressed properly in cold temperatures
  • Reduce exposure time
  • Allow workers to interrupt work if they feel a cold condition affecting them
  • Provide engineering controls such as thermostats and door flaps to help control exposure indoors

Register to view an on-demand cold stress webinar.

Use These Resources to Support Training and Awareness

Past Theme: Working at Elevated Heights

People working at heights often do not take sufficient precautions, especially when carrying out work at relatively low heights (four to six feet). They fail to plan correctly, underestimate the risks involved or are just in a hurry to finish the job.

This leads to:

  • Higher serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs)
  • Higher direct and indirect cost related to a fall incident
  • Higher worker compensation rates

Solutions that Work

Employers and workers share in the responsibility of making sure all work done at elevated heights is done safely. Employers can help workers to understand what they need to do to protect themselves and should:

  • Establish fall prevention and protection policies and procedures and educate employees
  • Select proper fall protection for each employee working at elevated heights
  • Regularly inspect all equipment used in working at heights
  • Train employees on proper inspection, maintenance, and use of equipment
  • Take precautions to minimize the risk of falling objects

Employees, in turn, should learn and practice safe procedures and follow company policies and procedures and avoid cutting corners to save time.

Use These Resources to Support Training and Awareness

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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