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Workplace Safety and Health Management Systems Reduce Injuries and Illness

safety health management systemsHaving an effective safety and health management system (SHMS) can help reduce work-related illnesses and injuries and save injury-related costs for businesses. It is estimated that injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses approximately $170 billion a year. An SHMS will help a business go beyond just complying with laws to anticipating and preventing any possible risks in the workplace.

The key elements in creating an effective SHMS include:

• management commitment and employee involvement

• worksite analysis

• hazard prevention and control

• training for employees, supervisors, and managers

Steps to encourage management commitment and employee involvement include creating a clearly stated policy on safe and healthy working conditions; a clear goal and objectives for meeting that goal; top management involved in implementing the system; employee involvement in decisions that affect they health and safety; assigning responsibilities to everyone in the organization for the management system, including managers, supervisors and employees; and annual reviews of the system to evaluate is effectiveness and deficiencies.

To complete a worksite analysis it is necessary to identify all hazards by conducting initial worksite surveys as well as periodic follow-up surveys; analyze the hazards of particular jobs or processes; inspect the site regularly; a system for employees to notify management of hazardous conditions without reprisal; determine causes of any accidents or incidents to enable prevention strategies; and analysis of patterns and problems over an extended period of time.

For hazard prevention and control OSHA recommends using engineering controls; administrative controls such as adjusting work schedules to minimize exposure to hazards; work practice controls; and personal protective equipment. Also recommended is preparing for emergencies by conducting drills and providing training; and creating a medical program that includes first aid and emergency medical care.

Safety and health training should ensure that all employees, including contract workers, understand the hazards they may encounter on the job and how to deal with them safely; ensure that supervisors understand what their responsibilities are and why they are important to effective safety practices; and provide periodic refresher training to employees.

Resources from OSHA in creating a SHMS include:

• Small Business Handbook – http://www.osha.gov/Publications/smallbusiness/small-business.html

• Compliance Assistance Quick Start – http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/quickstarts/index.html

• Hazard Awareness Advisor – http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/oshasoft/hazexp.html

• Safety & Health Management Systems eTool – http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/safetyhealth/index.html


Also available to assist businesses in creating a SHMS are Compliance Assistance Specialists and OSHA On-site Consultations.


OSHA Cites Construction Firm after Massachusetts Police Officer’s Death

dump-truckOn July 26, 2012, Police Officer Jose Torres, 53, who had been assigned to direct traffic at a work site in Westfield, Massachusetts, was killed when a dump truck operated by a Revoli employee backed over him. At the time there were two backup alarms sounding from different vehicles. Torres apparently was unaware that the dump truck was backing toward him. Officer Torres, an Army veteran, was well-liked and had twice received citations for heroism during his career. He is survived by a wife and two sons.

Revoli had been hired by the city of West Springfield to complete a pipe project. Part of the work involved was in the neighboring city of Westfield, where the accident occurred. The company is scheduled to return in the spring to finish the job at the Westfield worksite where the fatal accident occurred. Due to the citation issued by OSHA and a history of safety violations by Revoli, Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapnik has made the decision that when work resumes at the site, roads where work is being done will be closed to all traffic for safety reasons. Knapnik, who has 20 years of experience in his career before becoming mayor said, “The number one killer on a job site is a dump truck that is backing up.”

The citation issued by OSHA to Revoli is for a repeat violation of standard 29 CFR 1926.21 (b)(2). The citation states that the “employer did not instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.” The citation requires that the company must “conduct and document daily (or as necessary) briefings with all exposed employees on the job site where those employees are exposed to vehicular and other job site hazards…Specific abatement documentation that this violation has been corrected must be provided [to OSHA] within 10 days of the abatement in accordance with 29 CFR 1903.19(d)(1).”

OSHA Springfield area director Mary E. Hoye also wrote a letter addressed to Shawqi Alsarabi at Revoli with recommendations for improving conditions which, though they were not found to be violations in the OSHA inspection, would be significant to reducing or eliminating safety hazards. The letter stated, “Specifically, OSHA is concerned with your company’s apparent lack of focus on safety and accident prevention…Had a comprehensive safety program been in place and enforced, an accident of this magnitude may have been avoided.”

The OSHA investigation found that the truck involved in the accident was equipped with a backup alarm as required by federal law. However, the truck driver was unable to see what was behind him as he backed up and was relying on anyone in the way to remove themselves from the truck’s path. Hoye’s letter to the company’s representative recommended that Revoli explore the use of backup cameras and microwave-Doppler backup warning systems which would alert drivers of obstructions they are not able to see.

Revoli has a history of safety violations. The company received a citation from OSHA in 2005 for failing to provide cave-in protection for its workers at a work site in Gloucester, Massachusetts and was fined $115,900. The citation noted that in the previous twelve years, Revoli had been cited nine times for not providing cave-in protection for workers. Revoli also received citations from OSHA in 2008 and 2009.

Winter Weather Warning: Tips on How to Remove Snow Safely

snowcontrolThis past weekend, a powerful snowstorm swept across several Northeastern states. Weather conditions have crippled operations in at least four Northeastern states. Snowy weather has halted air travel, public transportation, and caused major power outages. Snowy weather causes major inconveniences. Construction workers required to work in snowy conditions face severe hazards. Construction workers die while removing snow from rooftops or other building structures each year. In the last ten years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has investigated 16 serious injuries or fatalities related to snow removal. OSHA has issued a hazard alert for workers involved in snow removal, http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-3513roof-snow-hazard.pdf.

OSHA officials maintain injuries and fatalities resulting from snow removal can be prevented. Employers should take responsibility for training and educating workers on the most effective ways to remove snow. Employee safety should always be a priority when dealing with snow conditions at construction work sites.

Construction employees working in snowy conditions deal with extreme cold, high winds, and icy surfaces. Potential injuries range from amputations, eye injuries, or frostbite. Workers are also at risk for fatal falls.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests using safety precautions when removing snow and working in snowy weather.

• Use snow removal methods that do not require employees to climb onto roofs (Try using drag lines or snow rakes).

• In an effort to prevent collapse, workers should consider how much weight the roof can handle.

• Use fall protection.

• Make certain workers are familiar with how to operate aerial lifts and ladders safely.

• Ensure workers on the ground are aware of potential injuries or suffocation associated with falling snow piles.

• Be informed about conditions related to snow removal such as frostbite or hypothermia.


Connecticut Roofing Company Fined for Fall Hazards

Roof repair and construction are common causes of fallsA Milford, Connecticut roofing contractor, Roof Systems of Connecticut has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Proposed fines total $44,880. The citations are a result of a November 2012 inspection where officials spotted fall hazards.

Robert Kowalski, OSHA area director in Bridgeport, Connecticut explained inspection officials consistently visit job sites with inadequate or absent fall protection. It is critical workers have access to fall protection and training relevant to fall hazards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) initiated an aggressive awareness campaign focusing on fall hazards. Information, fact sheets, videos, and posters can be accessed from this link, http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html. OSHA loops falls into a category termed construction’s focus four. Falls, along with electrocutions, struck-by object, and caught-in or-between are the most common causes of death in the construction industry. Falls contributed to 35% of worker fatalities according to the latest statistics released by OSHA.

Despite OSHA’s increased emphasis on fall prevention and fall protection, Roof Systems of Connecticut was cited with three repeat violations. It is not the first time the company violated industry regulations regarding fall protection. The company was also cited in 2008 and 2009. At the November 2012 inspection, OSHA officials found workers exposed to falls of up to 11 feet 2 inches while installing roofing without fall protection. Workers were not trained to identify fall hazards and officials also noticed workers using a pneumatic gun without eye protection.

The three serious violations involved ladder hazards and neglecting to familiarize workers on ladder hazards. OSHA suggests the following basic tips to workers when working with ladders.

Ladder Safety Tips

• Select the appropriate ladder for the job.

• Maintain three points of contact.

• Secure the ladder.

• Stand in front of the ladder at ALL times.


Roof Systems of Connecticut has fifteen days from receipt of the citation to dispute OSHA’s claims.