Category Archives: Worker Safety

Toolbox Talks App – Free Safety Tool

The no-cost Toolbox Talks application works on phones and tablets to document training in real time in the field. Available in English and Spanish, the app was designed for the construction industry, yet many topics can be utilized by other businesses.

There are over 100 Toolbox Talks included with the app covering a variety of topics. It is simple to find safety talks for both construction and marine industries. Review a topic, then document your safety briefing with a signature capture form that generates a PDF of the meeting details that you can email or save to your device.

The free app includes:

  • What to do and learn.
  • Inspection tips.
  • Questions for discussion.
  • Presenter tips.
  • The ability to obtain participant signatures.
  • The ability to add photos of worksites or equipment related to training.
Featured Toolbox Talks:

Read more and ownload the Toolbox App for iOS and Android mobile devices here.

Safety & Health Investment Projects

This app was developed by the Construction Center of Excellence and funded by a Safety & Health Investment Projects (SHIP) grant. SHIP grants have resulted in a wide variety of projects and topics, including:

Applications for SHIP grants are currently being accepted until September 8, 2020. To apply for a SHIP grant for your project, or to see the list of approved grant products, read more here.

Prior Posts on Related Topics

Safe + Sound Week

Safe + Sound Week, August 10-16, 2020, brings focus to a year-round OSHA campaign to encourage every workplace to improve upon their safety and health program. Employers and workers can recognize their safety successes and set the stage for new ones during Safe + Sound Week.

DLI and OSHA Help Employers Form Safety Programs

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has tools and resources available for businesses that want to improve safety, from the management level to the work floor.

Management leadership means there is a commitment from the top to implementing a program and using it to drive continuous improvement in safety and health.

When management leadership is sincere and is supported by actions, workers know that safety and health are important to business success. This means that the steps they take to improve safety and health will be valued by the business.

Top management can demonstrate its commitment to safety in many different ways, including:

  • Developing and communicating a safety and health policy statement.
  • Providing the resources needed to implement and operate the program.
  • Factoring safety and health into operational planning and decisions.
  • Recognizing or rewarding safety and health contributions and achievements.
  • Leading by example, by practicing safe behaviors and making safety part of daily conversations.

OSHA provides resources for businesses to strengthen their safety programs, including a webinar: Three Core Elements of Effective Safety and Health Programs.

Workers are Key Players in Safety

Workers often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. When they are involved in finding solutions, they are invested in the program. To maximize participation, workers must feel free of any fear of retaliation or discrimination (e.g., for reporting an injury or hazardous conditions). Trust is key in promoting a safe workplace.

Workers can participate in many ways, including:

  • Developing the initial program design.
  • Reporting incidents (including near misses) so they can be investigated.
  • Analyzing hazards associated with routine and nonroutine jobs, tasks, and processes.
  • Defining and documenting safe work practices.
  • Conducting site inspections and incident investigations.
  • Training current coworkers and new hires.
  • Evaluating program performance and identifying ways to improve it.
COVID-19 Safety is Part of the Puzzle

Safe + Sound Week also gives us the chance to highlight workplace safety and employer responsibilities in the time of COVID-19. In Washington State, our phases of reopening are evolving as conditions change. However, one constant is an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.

The Safe Start Washington plan provides details for reopening of businesses.

Requirements for All Employers

The full details of the Safe Start Washington – Phased Reopening County-by-County plan is available here. The following is an outline of the requirements for employers under this plan. For all of the fine-point details, refer to the Safe Start document. In all phases – Employers are required to:

  • Provide (at no cost to employees) cloth facial coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor & Industries’ safety and health rules and guidance. Since June 8, all employees have been required to wear a cloth facial covering, consistent with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules and guidance.
  • Cooperate with public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspected cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19; cooperate with the implementation of infection control measures, including but not limited to isolation and quarantine and environmental cleaning; and comply with all public health authority orders and directives.
  • Notify the local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if it is suspected that COVID-19 is spreading in the workplace, or if you 2 or more employees develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
  • Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices.
  • Educate workers in the language they understand best about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission, and the employer’s COVID-19 policies.
  • Maintain minimum six-foot separation between all employees (and customers) in all interactions at all times. When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other prevention measures are required, such as use of barriers, minimizing staff or customers in narrow or enclosed areas, and staggering breaks and work shift starts.
  • Ensure frequent and adequate hand washing with adequate maintenance of supplies. Use disposable gloves where safe and applicable to prevent virus transmission on tools or other items that are shared.
  • Establish a housekeeping schedule that includes frequent cleaning and sanitizing with a particular emphasis on commonly touched surfaces
  • Screen employees for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Make sure sick employees stay home or immediately go home if they feel or appear sick. Cordon off any areas where an employee with probable or confirmed COVID-19 illness worked, touched surfaces, etc. until the area and equipment is cleaned and sanitized. Follow the cleaning guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control to deep clean and sanitize.
  • Post a sign requiring customers to wear cloth facial coverings, and prominently display it at the entrance to the business so that it is immediately noticeable to all customers entering the store.
  • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.

Businesses are also required to implement any health and safety requirements developed specifically for their industry.

More Information for Workers

If you have questions or concerns about exposure to the Coronavirus on-the-job and how the workers’ compensation process will work, feel free to contact our firm for assistance.

Recent Posts on Related Topics

Rotten Roof Injures Roofer in Fall Incident

Roofer Falls 20 Feet through Rotten Roof

SUMMARY

A 39-year-old roofer was severely injured when he fell 20 feet through a rotten roof. He had 22 years of experience in the roofing industry and had been with his employer, a roofing contractor, for a year.

The injured roofer was a member of a four-person crew that had been tearing-off and replacing the flat (low pitch) roof of a manufacturing storage facility for a month. On the day of the incident, they were working to remove three layers of roofing materials to check for spots of rotten roof.

Warning lines were set up near the roof’s edges and a safety monitor was used. Workers were not required to use personal fall protection while inside the warning lines. Outside of the warning lines, they were required to use a personal fall arrest system consisting of a full body harness with ropes tied-off to anchor points. Most of the visible rotten roof was in the area outside of the warning lines.

The roofer was inside the warning lines near the roof ridge using a shovel to scrape off shingles and insulation. As he stepped backward, a patch of rotten roof gave way and he fell through, landing 20 feet below on wood flooring. He was severely injured and suffered numerous fractures and internal injuries.

Investigators found that a worker had previously placed an orange cone to mark a rotten spot near where the roofer broke through the roof. The spot he fell through was three feet away from the cone and under three layers of roofing material so he was not able to recognize it was rotten. Workers had also been walking across the roof in the area for several weeks. At the time of the incident, the safety monitor was on the other side of the roof ridge throwing debris into a truck below. After the incident, the employer required workers to use a personal fall arrest system at all times.

RECOMMENDATIONS

FACE investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:
• Erect guardrails around rotten roof areas to prevent access.
• Place a cover of standard strength and construction over localized rotten roof areas. (A sheet of
plywood would have covered the rotted deck area in this case.)
• Use scaffolds and/or elevating work platforms to access the underside of a roof to remove rotted deck when site conditions allow their use.

REQUIREMENTS

• Employers must ensure that all surfaces on which employees will be working or walking on are structurally sound and will support them safely prior to allowing employees to work or walking on them. See WAC 296-155-24605(1)
• Ensure that the appropriate fall protection system is provided, installed, and implemented when employees are exposed to fall hazards of 10 feet or more to the ground or lower level while engaging in roofing work on a low-pitched roof. See WAC 296-155-24611(1)(a)
• Prior to permitting employees to start demolition operations, you must make an engineering survey, by a competent person, of the structure to determine structural integrity and possibility of unplanned collapse of any portion of the structure. See WAC 296-155-775(1)

MORE INFORMATION

Read the full FACE Construction Injury Narrative report for this incident. For a slideshow version, intended for educational purposes, click here.

This narrative is an alert about the serious traumatic injury of a worker and is based on preliminary data ONLY and does not represent final determinations regarding the nature of the incident or the cause of the injury. Developed by the WA State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), WA State Dept. of Labor & Industries. The FACE Program is supported in part by a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH grant# 5U60OH008487). For more information visit the FACE website.

Read prior posts about roofing accidents:
WHY DO ROOFERS FALL FROM ROOFS? IS IT JUST BECAUSE OF GRAVITY?
MUKILTEO, WA COMPANY FINED $645,000+ FOR EXPOSING ROOFERS TO FALL HAZARDS

Violence Research By UW

“In May, the State of Washington awarded $1 million to the UW School of Medicine for the formation of the Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program. The program seeks to answer urgent questions involving firearm risks, injuries, policies and programs in Washington state.” – UW Medicine

Violence research by UW Medicine researchers provides findings that support the contention of ongoing impacts to physical and mental health subsequent to experiencing violence. Workplace violence is increasingly prevalent, with immediate and long-lasting consequences for the victims of this violence.

The lasting effects of workplace violence can require ongoing medical and psychiatric care, can impede the victim’s ability to return to work and, in some cases, can result in permanent impairments. In my experience, the mental health impacts can be the most insidious and difficult to overcome. The difficulties are compounded if an injured worker encounters pushback from the Department of Labor and Industries, sometimes in the form of treatment denials, other times through not recognizing the difficulty in returning to work or not acknowledging the presence of permanent impairment.

UW Medicine recently released the news of the completion and presentation of the researcher’s findings. Violence research findings that span every age and a variety of circumstances, but findings that can be applied to workplace violence cases, as well. The full text of the UW Medicine release can be read here, and is excerpted, below:

Violence has complex, far-reaching impacts on health

A new paper by UW Medicine researchers offers a broad, updated look at the interrelated impacts of violence on physical and mental health across age groups, from infants to elderly people.

The authors compiled recent compelling findings about health effects of child abuse, bullying, youth violence, adult interpersonal violence, and elder abuse, among others.  The paper was published Oct. 7 in Health Affairs. Its authors represent the Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program, based at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

“Violence has important consequences for physical and mental health. These consequences vary with the type of violence and age, but all of them can be severe, debilitating and lifelong,” said Dr. Fred Rivara, the paper’s lead author. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health.

“The findings of our review point out the need to both treat the victims of violence and prevent these types of violence from occurring in the first place,” Rivara said.

By organizing their findings by age group, the authors highlighted the cumulative, interrelated harms of violence across the lifespan. For example, research has found that victims of child abuse have an elevated risk of depression, suicidality, drug use, and certain chronic illnesses later in life. Because of that risk, they are also more likely to later experience intimate partner violence, which in turn heightens risk of depression, anxiety, asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, and other health issues.

An overview of many types of violence also helps broaden research and policy perspectives beyond the immediate physical trauma, and draws attention to long-term health impacts. These harms affect not only individuals, but also indirectly traumatize family, friends, and communities.

Fall Protection Lifelines Cut

Fall Protection Lifelines Cut by Exposed Edges – DOSH Hazard Alert

Fall protection lifelines cut by exposed edges have occurred in two separate accidents. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) recently issued an hazard alert directed to all employers and workers who rely on personal fall arrest systems. The following information was provided by DOSH.

DOSH Hazard Alert

This alert was developed by L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to alert employers, labor groups, and employees to potential hazards associated with work activities. This is not a rule and creates no new legal obligations. The information provided includes suggested guidance on how to avoid workplace hazards and describes relevant mandatory safety and health rules. DOSH recommends you also check the related rules for additional requirements.

Fall protection lifelines cut – a real and deadly risk

In Washington State, two workers fell to their deaths due to their self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) being severed in separate fall incidents. The lifelines had been anchored horizontally (i.e., at a level below the harness D-ring.

One incident involved a steel-cable lifeline that was severed when it contacted the edge of formwork made of steel plates.ƒ The other incident occurred when a nylon webbing lifeline was severed after contacting sharp, abrasive edges along a beveled wall.

Evidence from investigations of each incident indicated damage to lifelines occurred during the fall, not before. In both cases, manufacturers of the lifelines warned about using SRLs around edges that could damage the lifeline or prevent the SRL from effectively arresting the fall. Although the incidents described involved SLRs, non-SLRs (e.g., lanyard and rope, webbing, or cable) have similar risk.

Employers are required to address this risk per WAC 296-155-24613(1)(e), “You must protect all safety lines and lanyards against being cut or abraded”.

How to prevent this from happening at your jobsite

Any open side or edge of a floor, roof, deck, platform, or formwork creates a condition in which a lifeline could contact an edge and be severed in the event of a fall. To protect workers who use lifelines:

  • Identify and document all potentially hazardous edges during your walk-around safety inspections at the jobsite.
  • When possible, avoid working in areas where lifelines could contact potentially hazardous edges should a fall occur. ƒ
  • Anchor lifelines vertically overhead, whenever possible, to prevent the lifeline from contacting an edge and to minimize swing falls (or the pendulum effect) that can abrade and cut lifelines. In addition, make sure workers stay within a safe working distance from the overhead anchor point. ƒ

When a fall could occur over an edge:

  • Select and provide lifelines designed specifically for the
    application and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  • Protect lifelines against being cut or abraded by covering the edge with a protective material.
  • Address potentially hazardous edges and protective measures for lifelines in your Fall Protection Work Plan.
  • Routinely inspect lifelines and other fall protection equipment before each use.

Instruct crews on:

  • The use and limitations of the fall protection equipment provided.
  • Where potentially hazardous edges are located.
  • Why they need to protect lifelines when working around exposed edges and how to do that.

Share this alert with crews to reinforce awareness of this safety issue.

Other resources you can access

View the full alert here.

Stand-Down for Safety, May 6 – 10, 2019


Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

Join the Washington State Stand Down

Falls cost. Safety pays. Choose to promote fall prevention on your job site during Safety Stand-Down weeks.

 

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

It’s when you take a break from normal work activities so your crew can focus on a particular jobsite safety topic, like training on safe use of ladders or inspection of full body harnesses.

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, as you can see from this Washington State infographic (753 KB PDF)

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Get Involved

Start now. Any construction business in Washington State can choose how to participate and what to address. You’ll find plenty of ideas and ready-to-go resources on various topics. See the Ladder Safety Resource Guide (177 KB PDF).

Ideas for Stand Down

Stand-Down activities can range from short toolbox talks to scheduled, full-day events. Pick what’s right for your company.  Find ideas here.

Share your success stories!

Share your story on social media with the hashtags #StandDown4Safety and #StopFalls.

Image credit: OSHA

Ironworker Falls 80 Feet through Bent Plate Gap

The Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program* has published a new Injury Narrative. The new narrative describes an incident where an ironworker fell from a roof into a debris net. 

These are one-page reports that summarize work-related incidents and list some requirements and recommendations that might have prevented the incident from occurring. For your convenience, this narrative is also available as a Slideshow intended to be used as a group discussion and training tool.

FACE is focusing on the construction industry. These narratives provide preliminary information about the incident to the interested community, similar to OSHA’s Fatal Facts and MSHA’s Fatalgrams. FACE hopes that they are used for formal or informal educational opportunities to help prevent similar incidents.

 Ironworker Falls 80 Feet through Bent Plate Gap

 

A 29-year-old ironworker was severely injured after falling through a bent plate gap and landing 80 feet below in a debris net. Coworkers rescued him from the net. He suffered numerous injuries, and still had not returned to work nearly a year after the incident.

The ironworker’s employer was a structural steel and precast concrete contractor. He had worked for his employer for over four years and he had been an ironworker for 10 years.

See the full details of the report, including safety requirements and recommendations, here.

 

 

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is observed each April to bring national attention to the hazards of distracted driving. The dangers of distracted driving are serious and the results can be severe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016, distracted drivers caused 3,450 fatalities and 391,000 injuries on America’s roads and highways. That’s at least 9 people killed and 1,000 injured every day. Washington State Traffic Safety Council data shows that distracted driving causes 30% of fatalities and 23% of serious injuries in crashes in the State of Washington.

Operating a motor vehicle requires full attention to the road, but it’s easy to become distracted when you are driving and at the same time using a mobile device, changing radio channels, using a calculator, applying cosmetics, smoking, eating or drinking. Looking at billboards, buildings and people also causes major distractions. Texting is among the most dangerous distractions. Typing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the entire 120-yard length of a football field with your eyes shut. Driving while texting also increases your crash risk like driving with a blood alcohol content of 1.9.

It’s the Law

In 2017, Washington State passed a distracted driving law into the rules of the road. Getting ticketed for distracted driving is expensive. Fines start at $136 and can go up to $234 on repeat offenses. The citations stay on your driving record and increase your vehicle insurance rates. Federal law also prohibits texting by interstate truck drivers and forbids companies from requiring their drivers to text while behind the wheel. In addition to disqualification, civil penalties for truck drivers can reach up to $2,750 for multiple offenses, and $11,000 for companies requiring or allowing drivers to text while driving. Over 150 law enforcement agencies across Washington State participate in the Distracted Driving Awareness Month prevention effort.

The best strategy to prevent a roadway incident is an easy one. Never take your mind off driving and always keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel. Put away your cell phones and other handheld gadgets and objects until you are safely parked out of the flow of traffic.

Trucking companies should implement a cell phone policy in their safety program that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while driving. Drivers also should not handle dispatching devices, maps, or food while driving.

Visit the following links to get more information and resources for distracted driving prevention:

Washington State traffic law:

Using a personal electronic device while driving

Dangerously distracted driving

Keep Trucking Safe:

Smart and safe cell phone use poster

Washington State Traffic Safety Council:

Distracted driving data, training resources and programs

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Rule limiting the use of wireless communication devices

Distracted driving tips and training tools

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Distracted driving website

National Safety Council:

Distracted Driving Awareness Month website

Distracted driving safety topics website

 

Photo by BC Gov Photos on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Are Safety Incentive Programs Counter-Productive?

Most companies care about their employees’ safety and sometimes use games like Safety Bingo or signage that reports safety records, like days without an accident, to encourage safe behavior. However, these well-intentioned incentives don’t always improve safety. In fact, using incentive-based prizes that reward employees for working safely may unintentionally lead employees to suppress injury and illness reporting. Underreporting to win prizes has two harmful side effects:

1.Underreporting can slow down hazard identification and resultin misinformed decisions about workplace safety programs andpractices – putting your workplace at risk. A successful safetyprogram may even have a high number of incidents reported.This allows management to target resources and training where itwill do the most good.

2.Discouraging workers from reporting injuries and gettingtreatment early can cause more serious injuries that require timeaway from work to heal. This results in higher workers’ compcosts, injuries that may permanently impact the worker’s return towork and the high cost of turnover.Design a safety program that rewards worker participation and encourages injury and illness reporting.

The following tips may help:

  • Reward employees who identify hazards orparticipate in investigations of injuries, incidents or close calls.
  • Revise your incentive program if any part of it is deterring injury and illness reporting.
  • Create a policy that prohibits retaliation against employees who report injuries and illnesses.
  • Provide gifts to workers serving on safety and health committees.
  • Play games that test employee knowledge of job hazards and safety practices.
  • Offer modest rewards for employee suggestions that strengthen the safety and health program.
  • Throw a recognition party at the successful completion of company-wide safety and health training.

The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project was developed by the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries.  

The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project team and the TIRES steering committee are working with the Washington State trucking industry to identify causes for the most frequent injuries to develop effective strategies for preventing them. Free safety training materials are available at KeepTruckingSafe.org.

The TIRES steering committee is made up of a diverse group of professionals that includes: drivers, safety people from large and small trucking companies, labor and business associations, insurers and a representative from a publicly funded truck driving school.

Funded in part by a grant from CDC NIOSH 5 U60 OH 008487. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC/NIOSH.

Agriculture Safety Event in Eastern Washington

Agriculture is one of Washington’s largest industries. Unfortunately, it continues to have one of the highest injury rates. The state is working to change that with upcoming workplace safety events geared specifically toward agricultural workers and management.

To meet the growing safety and health training needs, Washington’s 2019 Agriculture Safety Day events will be held in two locations.

This year, for the first time, the Kennewick conference was held at the Three Rivers Convention Center on Feb. 5. It returns to the Wenatchee Convention Center Feb. 27. Registration is now open online for the Wenatchee event.

Reducing hazards is good for workers, and it makes good business sense. The one-day meetings promote workplace safety and health.

The topics covered during the safety day events are specifically geared to hazards that employers and workers say are the most important. The training is cosponsored by the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

This year’s agenda features sessions on tractor and ATV safety, confined spaces, machine guarding, hazard awareness, sexual harassment prevention, distracted driving and more. Many workshops will be in both English and Spanish.

Some classes qualify for pesticide recertification credits. Check the registration web page for details. Several health and safety exhibitors will also be there with educational booths, product displays and demonstrations.

Online pre-registration is $75 per person or $65 for groups of five or more. Students and apprentices get a discounted rate of only $35. Admission at the door is $85. The registration fee includes the conference and lunch.

Register now for Wenatchee 2/27/2019: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/376831

For more information, contact Conference Manager Rebecca Llewellyn at 1-888-451-2004.

Photo by ILO in Asia and the Pacific on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND