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The Safety Net L O C AT I O N C O N S U LT I N G




APRIL 2019 


Eye Safety - Ergonomics Lyn Wagner | Health Resources Publishing


ith so many people using computers at work and at home, complaints of eye strain, difficulty focusing and discomfort have become commonplace in doctors’ offices.

One of the main reasons for this is — although offices have marched into the age of technology, not much else has. People are still using the same lighting, furniture and desk configurations they had when using typewriters. The American Academy of Ophthalmology put together some tips to help us alleviate some of the eye problems modern technology has given birth to. They are: • Eye Exam — by your ophthalmologist, who can rule out the possibility of eye disease as the cause of your symptoms. You could simply need glasses when working at a computer, or your prescription might need updating; • Screen distance — you should sit approximately 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little further than you would for reading distance, with the top of the screen at or below eye level.

• Furniture — an adjustable chair is best; • Reference materials — keep reference materials on a document holder so you don’t have to keep looking back and forth, frequently refocusing your eyes and turning your neck and head; • Lighting — modify your lighting to eliminate reflections or glare. A hood or micromesh filter for your screen might help limit reflections and glare; and

• Equipment — choose a monitor that tilts or swivels, and has both contrast and brightness controls;

• Rest breaks — take periodic rest breaks, and try to blink often to keep your eyes from drying out.

Another thing to remember is that the forced-air heating systems in big office buildings can increase problems with dry eyes during the winter months. The usual symptoms of dry eye are stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, a feeling that there’s something in the eye, excessive tearing or difficulty wearing contact lenses. Over-the-counter eye drops, called artificial tears, usually help, but if dry eye persists, see your eye doctor for an evaluation.

SAFETY FIRST. Austin employees have worked 2,671,019 hours without a Lost Time Accident through 2/2019.

Introduction to Eye Strain in the Office 3-22-19 |

The use of computers amongst office workers has increased markedly over the past two decades. This has resulted in an increase in health disorders associated with computer use, the most common of which are eye and vision problems. While eye health problems related to computer use are usually temporary, they cause significant discomfort to computer users and are largely preventable. Like the human body, the human eye is not designed for looking at a computer screen for prolonged periods. Office work previously included a range of activities, such as typing, reading, writing and filing, which involved a variety of movements and visual demands, and reduced the risk of eye strain. The use of computers allows many of these varied tasks to be combined and performed more efficiently from the desktop, thus reducing the amount of ‘natural’ breaks for office worker’s eyes and increasing the risk for

• Sitting an inappropriate distance from the screen (too close|too far); • Looking at the computer screen for long periods of time, particularly without breaks; and

the eyes to become strained.

• Working in a stressful environment.

In addition to computer use, other factors that contribute

Eye and Vision Problems Associated with Computer Use

to eye and vision disorders in an office environment include air conditioners, ventilation fans, static build up, airborne paper dust and contaminants. Computer users also have a decreased blink rate and increased ocular surface exposure due to horizontal viewing of the screen, which can increase the tendency for their eyes to become dry.

Risk Factors for Vision Problems The main risk factors for developing eye or vision

There now exists a substantial amount of evidence that computer use is closely associated with various eye disorders, which are collectively referred to as computer vision syndrome (CVS). Temporary vision and eye problems which are associated with computer use include: • Dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca); • Eye strain or fatigue (Asthenopia); • Burning, itching or tearing eyes;

problems through computer use are:

• Temporary change in ability to see colors; and

• Viewing unclear or flickering images;

• Tired or irritated eyes.

• Viewing images or characters on the screen that are

Nonocular symptoms such as headaches, shoulder, neck

too small; • Using a screen that is glary or reflects other images;

or back pain may also result from over-correction or accommodation postures that aim to reduce eye strain (e.g. bending forward to view the screen more clearly.

• Working with background lighting that is too bright;


Available evidence also suggests that there is an

intensity of light in the foreground and background,

increased risk of open-angle glaucoma associated with

for example, if a bright window is positioned behind a

regular computer use for extended periods. One study

computer screen.

reported that individuals who had used a computer for

In glary conditions, the eyes have to constantly adapt to

an average of 4-8 hours per day over five years were 1.14 times more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma than those who used computers for <4 hours per day, while those who averaged >8 hours in front of a computer each day were 1.38 times more likely to develop glaucoma. The risk of developing glaucoma was even greater amongst participants with co-existing refractive errors.

Preventing Eye Health Problems Related to Computer Use

the difference in contrast between dark and light areas, resulting in eye fatigue, headaches and reduced visibility. Glare can also be reflected from a computer screen and contribute to eye strain. Ways to reduce direct or reflected glare in the office environment include: • Control natural light from windows through the use of curtains, blinds or window tinting; • Reduce the contrast between foreground and

There are many measures individuals or employers can

background (e.g. use darker partitions behind

take to minimize the risk of workers developing eye

computer screens);

problems as a result of computer use. These are further discussed below.

Use an Appropriate Computer Screen Use a large, clean screen with a flat surface. The user should also ensure their screen has easily adjustable contrast and brightness and that images displayed on the screen are in sharp, clear focus and do not flicker.

Work Station Ergonomics The most important ergonomic factor for eye strain is the distance of the eyes from the computer screen. Computer users should arrange their workstation so that the computer screen is 18-30 inches from their eyes. In addition, computer users should take measures to reduce glare on their screen. Ergonomic measures that can reduce glare include placing computer screens at a 90o angle to windows (they should never be placed directly in front of or behind a window) and to the side, rather than directly below light sources (e.g. in between rows of fluorescent lights).

Glare and Reflection It is also important to take measures to prevent glare, shadow and reflection caused by external sources of light, as these can contribute to eye strain. Glare results when there is a high level of contrast between the

• Reposition the workstation or light source to adjust light falling directly on the work surface (see workstation ergonomics above); • Adjust the intensity of general lighting to suit the task performed); • Choose office furniture in neutral or dark colors that will reduce glare and reflection; • Change the type of lighting (e.g. filament lamps, luminescent lamps, sodium lamps and mercury-arc lamps provide different levels and quality of light); and • Use anti-glare screen filters.

Intensity of Lighting Good lighting should enable people to easily view their work without the need to strain the eyes. The type of work being performed will determine the intensity of light required. Work typically performed in an office environment, which involves fine and detailed work such as reading and writing, requires much more intense lighting than tasks that do not involve detailed viewing (e.g. walking). While lights need to be sufficiently bright to ensure detailed viewing tasks can be performed without straining the eyes, they should not be so bright as to cause glare and reflection. Office lighting that is either too bright or not bright enough, increases the risk of workers developing eye health problems. Computer users should be working in rooms in which the brightness is between 200-500 lux. In spaces


where there are no other sources of bright light, lighting at around 300 lux is most appropriate. When the environment is already bright or there are large contrasts in lighting, brighter lights (400-500 lux) are more appropriate. Flickering

Prevent Dry Eyes Further measures that can be taken to prevent the eyes from becoming dry include:

lights from old or malfunctioning fluorescent tubes should

• Use lubricants or artificial tears when the eyes dry out;

be replaced or regularly maintained.

• Lower the position of the monitor so that more of the

Take Regular Breaks from Computer Use To allow the eyes to recover and focus on distant objects, users should take regular breaks from looking at their computer screen. Clinical optometrists often suggest the 20/20/20 rule – that is, after 20 minutes of computer use, look at something 20 feet (6 metres) away for at least 20 seconds. It is also recommended that computer users periodically take more substantial breaks (at least one 15-minute break after two hours of computer use) to prevent eye problems and muscular skeletal disorders associated with computer use. Computer users engaged in intensive keyboard work should take a 15-minute break every hour.

eye surface is covered by the eyelid; • Increase blinking; and • Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day for adequate hydration.

Take a Yearly Vision Test Regular computer users should take a yearly vision test so any eye problems can be discussed with an eye professional, eye problems identified early and preventative strategies developed. It is important that patients tell their health practitioner that they are a computer user, as this may impact on the type of lenses prescribed (if applicable).

Perform Eye Exercises Regularly Computer users should take a few minutes to perform simple eye exercises every hour.

Wear Glasses, not Contact Lenses The use of contact lenses increases the severity of symptoms of dry-eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). This syndrome is a common eye condition amongst office workers, with research indicating that up to 48% of office workers experience dry eyes. Office workers who wear contact lenses experience more severe symptoms of dry eye because contact lenses can cause friction if the eye is not well lubricated. If the surface of the eye is dry, the

Employee Training

contact lens also becomes dry and sticks to the upper

Employee training should be provided so all employees

eyelid during blinking. This “friction effect” from dry eye is

have adequate knowledge to implement preventative

what produces the discomfort.

measures. This includes knowledge of the signs and symptoms of eye strain and the need to take regular breaks and perform eye exercises, as well as the ability to make minor adjustments to the work environment (e.g. computer screen) to reduce eye strain.

Case Studies On the following page, two clinical cases outline typical scenarios in which computer users may experience eye and vision disorders, and demonstrate possible treatments for CVS.


Case 1: Eye fatigue, blurred vision and headaches

Case 2: Eye fatigue and dry eyes

A 34-year-old female project manager visited an

A 28-year-old male information technology manager

optometric clinic for eye fatigue during work that

came to an optometric clinic and reported increased

required close-up viewing, periodic blurred vision and

eye fatigue and dry eyes. He had previously consulted

frequent frontal headaches in the early evening. She

his physician, but was found to be in good health. The

had treated her symptoms with analgesia in the past,

eye examination suggested that he had normal eye

but found no relief. Her eye examination revealed

and vision conditions. However based on his clinical

no permanent eye damage, however her clinical

history, which revealed extensive computer use with

history revealed the following working conditions were

infrequent breaks, he was diagnosed with CVS with

contributing to eye strain:

transient nearsightedness.

• Five hours of work per day at the computer over the

His eye fatigue and dry eyes were associated with

previous 12 months, without sufficient breaks to allow

two factors:

the eyes to rest and focus in different fields of vision;

• Working for 8 hours or more a day at the computer

• A viewing distance of only 12 inches (30 cm) from the computer monitor; and • Her computer monitor being positioned on top of

during the previous 12 months, without taking breaks to allow the eyes to rest focus on distant objects; and • The existence of various visual ergonomic problems in

the CPU, creating a viewing angle that was above

the patient’s work environment; while the screen was

eye level and which therefore increased exposure

positioned at an appropriate viewing distance of 22

of the eye’s surface.

inches (56 cm), his computer screen was higher than

Based on her eye examination and clinical history, she

eye level and produced glare and reflection.

was diagnosed with CVS. The following measures were

The following measures were recommended to treat the

implemented to treat the condition:

condition, and resulted in significant improvement of

• She was prescribed glasses and advised to wear


them for work involving close-up viewing; • She was advised to reposition her computer screen so that it was at least 18 inches and up to 30 inches away from her eyes, and so that the top of the screen was at eye level • She was advised to take regular breaks and perform

• Adjust the computer workstation, to reduce glare and reflection and aligning the top of the computer screen at eye level to reduce the proportion of the eye’s surface exposed when viewing the screen; • Taking regular breaks to perform simple eye exercises when the eyes become strained (Visual Training).

simple eye exercises, when involved in extended periods of computer use (i.e. more than 1 hour).


Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and Your Career Published on February 19, 2019 IN | 2-21-19 | Dr. Travis Bradberry Influencer The next time you tell yourself that

cells, wreaking havoc by impairing

keeps skin smooth and elastic. In men

you’ll sleep when you’re dead, realize

your ability to think—something no

specifically, not sleeping enough

that you’re making a decision that

amount of caffeine can fix.

reduces testosterone levels and lowers

can make that day come much

Skipping sleep impairs your brain

sperm count.

function across the board. It slows

Too many studies to list have shown

sooner. Pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer.

your ability to process information

that people who get enough sleep

According to the Division of Sleep

and problem solve, kills your creativity,

live longer, healthier lives, but I

Medicine at the Harvard Medical

and catapults your stress levels and

understand that sometimes this isn’t

School, the short-term productivity

emotional reactivity.

motivation enough. So consider this—

gains from skipping sleep to work are

not sleeping enough makes you fat.

quickly washed away

Sleep deprivation

by the detrimental


effects of sleep

your body’s ability

deprivation on your

to metabolize

mood, ability to focus,

carbohydrates and

and access to higher-

control food intake.

level brain functions

When you sleep less,

for days to come.

you eat more and

The negative effects

have more difficulty

of sleep deprivation

burning the calories

are so great that

you consume.

people who are drunk

Sleep deprivation

outperform those

makes you hungrier

lacking sleep.

by increasing the appetite-stimulating

Why You Need

hormone ghrelin

Adequate Sleep

and makes it harder

to Perform

for you to get full by

We’ve always known

reducing levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin.

that sleep is good for your brain,

What Sleep Deprivation Does to

but research from the University of

Your Health

People who sleep less than 6 hours a

Rochester provides the first direct

Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety

obese than those who sleep 7-to-9

evidence for why your brain cells need you to sleep (and sleep the right way—more on that later). The study found that when you sleep, your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep. So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain

of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes

night are 30% more likely to become hours a night.

and obesity. It stresses you out because your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it’s sleep deprived. While excess cortisol has a host of negative health effects that come from the havoc it wreaks on your immune system, it also makes you look older, because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that


Storing Fire Proof Materials LION Technology |2-25-1919 | Lee Ann Coniglione to the flash point has to do with the characteristic of volatility that we just mentioned. The two are essentially interrelated. Perhaps it is no surprise then that one of the two parameters used to classify flammable liquids is in fact the material’s flash point. The other parameter is boiling point. For all of these reasons and more, specific safeguards need to be taken when handling and storing flammable liquids. In this article, we’ll summarize the main points from OSHA’s General Industry Flammable Liquids Standard as it relates to the use of flammable storage cabinets. Before we get into a discussion on the cabinets themselves, let’s take a quick look at how OSHA groups flammable liquids based on the characteristics of flash point and boiling point.

OSHA’s Classification of Flammable Liquids Nearly every facet of industry – be it research and development, production, manufacturing, or logistics – handles, transfers, stores or otherwise uses some amount of flammable liquids. As a result of widespread use and the materials’ hazards, flammable liquids are regulated by OSHA under several standards. The OSHA Standard we will focus on in particular in this article falls under the General Industry Flammable Liquids Standard at 29 CFR 1910.106. A popular misconception synonymous with flammable liquids is that it’s the liquid component of the material that catches fire and burns. It’s important to keep in mind

You’re likely familiar with both “categories” of flammable liquids and “classes” of flammable liquids. Simply put, OSHA uses the term “category” in its definition of flammable liquids, while the NFPA uses the term “class.” OSHA has four broad categories of flammable liquids ranging from Category 1 through Category 4. Each category’s flash point and boiling point values is summarized in the table below. [29 CFR 1910.106(a)(19)] OSHA/GHS










Category 1

< 73.4

≤ 95



Category 2

< 73.4

> 95



Category 3

≥73.4 and ≤140


PG III or Combustible

IC or II

Category 4

>140 and ≤199.4




that this is NOT the case. It is actually the vapors coming off the liquid that ignite. So, a liquid’s ability to give off vapor (known as “volatility”) directly correlates with the material’s hazard severity.

Flash Point and Volatility for Flammable Liquids When addressing the inherent hazard associated with flammable liquids, we typically look to the material’s flash point temperature. Is it “really low” or on the “higher” side? The reason we refer

By comparison, the NFPA broadly uses the terms “Class I,” “Class II,” and “Class III,” each of which has subgroups denoted by the letters “A,” “B,” and “C.” For instance, an NFPA Class IB liquid is defined as having a flash point below 73°F and a boiling point at or above 100°F. Referencing the OSHA table above, we can see that a Class IB as defined by the NFPA would fall under Category 2 according to OSHA’s standards.


For more about classifying flammable liquids under OSHA

made tight by some equally effective means. The cabinet

and U.S. DOT PHMSA requirements, check out Burning

door must be equipped with a three-point lock with the

Love: How DOT and OSHA Regulate Flammable Materials.

door sill raised at least 2 inches above the bottom of the

Storing Flammable Liquids in Cabinets

cabinet. The design and construction of the cabinets shall effectively limit the internal temperature to not more than

Now that we have a sense of how flammable liquids

325°F within the cabinet when subjected to a 10-minute

are defined/categorized, let’s turn our attention to the

fire test. In addition, all joints and seams shall remain tight

safe storage of these materials in the workplace. If your

and the door securely closed during the fire test. The

facility makes use of flammable storage cabinets, you’ll

exterior cabinet doors must be labeled “Flammable -

want to make sure they meet OSHA’s specifications for

Keep Fire Away.” [29 CFR 1910.106(d)(3)(ii)]

design and construction. In addition, HOW you store your

While ensuring you have an OSHA-compliant cabinet for

flammable liquids, that is to say, where and how much, is

your flammable liquids is a good place to start, there is

also regulated by OSHA. Let’s start with a brief discussion

much more to be aware of when it comes to flammable

of permissible quantities.

liquid storage.

When dealing with flammable liquids falling into

Other factors to consider include limits on how much

Categories 1, 2 or 3, no more than 60 gallons of liquid

liquid you can have stored outside of a flammable

may be stored inside a cabinet. Let’s apply this to an

storage cabinet, the number of cabinets you can have in

example scenario. Say you have numerous two-liter

a single storage area, the proximity of fire extinguishers to

bottles on hand that are full of flammable liquids. You’re

the storage area, etc. For additional information on these

looking to finally put them away in the storage cabinets in

topics and more, see OSHA’s Standards for flammable

your area. How many should you put in each cabinet?

liquids at 29 CFR 1910.106.

When converting from liters to gallons, we want to keep in mind that 2 L equals approximately 1/2 gallon (0.53 gal.).

Hazmat Safety and OSHA HazCom Training

If we do a bit of math, we arrive at a value of 113, which

DOT and OSHA each maintain requirements for how to

means that no more than 113 bottles of the 2 L size would

communicate flammability, combustibility, and other

be allowed in a storage cabinet. Now it’s more likely that

types of hazards. They also have rules for what to do in an

your flammable liquid bottles are of all different sizes,

emergency and for how to store, handle, transport, and

so you will need to take this into account when making

use flammable and combustible materials safely.

sure you are not exceeding the maximum volume of flammable liquids allowed in each cabinet. As for the Category 4 flammable liquids, remember, here we’re talking about liquids with higher flash points, so it should be no surprise that the maximum allowable volume is increased. OSHA allows no more than 120 gallons of Category 4 flammable liquids to be stored in flammable storage cabinets.

Montana Contractor Signs Partnership with OSHA to Protect Workers on School Construction Project

Flammables Cabinets: OSHA Design and Construction Requirements Let’s move on to the design and construction requirements for these cabinets. OSHA provides specifications for two distinct types of cabinets: metal and wood. Due to their widespread popularity, however, we’ll be focusing on cabinets constructed of metal.

OSHA and general contractor Langlas & Associates, Inc., established a strategic partnership to protect workers at a high school construction project in Billings. During the two-year partnership, OSHA and the contractor will provide training and outreach on hazards, including falls, struck-by, electrical, amputations, and trenching and excavations. The

The bottom, top, door, and sides of the cabinet shall be

partnership will also raise awareness of OSHA’s

at least No. 18 gage sheet iron and double-walled with

rulemaking and enforcement initiatives to prevent

1.5-inch air space. All joints must be riveted, welded or

workplace hazards in the construction industry.


18 Essential Safety Tips When Using a Portable Generator Arbill | 2-21-19 | Julie Copeland

As we are at the height of the winter season, one constant threat is the loss of power due to ice storms or vehicle accidents taking out telephone poles.

Shock and Electrocution The electricity created by generators has the same hazards as normal utilitysupplied electricity. It also has some

When these events occur, a reliable

additional hazards because generator

backup to get energy to your facility

users often bypass the safety devices

or home is a portable generator.

(such as circuit breakers) that are built

However, these generators come with

into electrical systems. The following

a variety of risks.

precautions are provided to reduce

Provided below are specific hazards

shock and electrocution hazards:

inherent with the use of generators,

• Never attach a generator directly

along with helpful information to

to the electrical system of a

ensure that workers and others using

structure (home, office, trailer, etc.)

such equipment remain safe.

unless a qualified electrician has

Hazards Associated with Generators: • Shocks and electrocution

properly installed the generator with a transfer switch. Attaching a generator directly to a building

from improper use of power or

electrical system without a properly

accidentally energizing other

installed transfer switch can

electrical systems.

energize wiring systems for great

• Carbon monoxide from a generator’s exhaust. • Fires from improperly refueling a generator or inappropriately storing the fuel for a generator. • Noise and vibration hazards.

distances. This creates a risk of electrocution for utility workers and others in the area. • Always plug electrical appliances directly into the generator using the manufacturer’s supplied cords or extension cords that are grounded

(3-pronged). Inspect the cords to make sure they are fully intact and not damaged, cut or abraded. Never use frayed or damaged extension cords. Ensure the cords are appropriately rated in watts or amps for the intended use. Do not use underrated cords—replace them with appropriately rated cords that use heavier gauge wires. Do not overload a generator; this can lead to overheating, which can create a fire hazard. • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), especially where electrical equipment is used in or around wet or damp locations. GFCIs shut off power when an electrical current is detected outside normal paths. GFCIs and extension cords with built-in GFCI protection can be purchased at hardware stores, do-it-yourself centers, and other locations that sell electrical equipment. Regardless of GFCI use, electrical equipment used in wet and damp locations must be listed and approved for those conditions.


• Make sure a generator is properly

may NOT prevent CO from building

properly designed and marked for

grounded and the grounding

up when a generator is located in

their contents and vented.

connections are tight. Consult the

an enclosed space.

manufacturer’s instructions for

• Keep fuel containers away

• Make sure a generator has 3’ to 4’ of

from flame producing and heat

clear space on all sides and above it

generating devices (such as the

• Keep a generator dry; do not use

to ensure adequate ventilation.

generator itself, water heaters,

it in the rain or wet conditions. If

• Do not use a generator outdoors if

proper grounding methods.

needed, protect a generator with a canopy. Never manipulate a generator’s electrical components if you are wet or standing in water. • Do not use electrical equipment that has been submerged in water. Equipment must be thoroughly dried out and properly evaluated before using. Power off and do not use any electrical equipment that has strange odors or begins smoking.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas. Many people have died from CO poisoning because their generator was not adequately ventilated. • Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces and basements. NOTE: Open windows and doors

its placement near doors, windows,

cigarettes, lighters and matches). • Do not smoke around fuel

and vents could allow CO to enter

containers. Escaping vapors or

and build-up in occupied spaces.

vapors from spilled materials can

• If you or others show symptoms of CO poisoning— dizziness, headaches, nausea, tiredness—

travel long distances to ignition sources. • Do not store generator fuels in

get to fresh air immediately

your home. Store fuels away from

and seek medical attention. Do

living areas.

not re-enter the area until it is determined to be safe.

Fire Hazards • Generators become hot while

Noise and Vibration Hazards • Generator engines vibrate and create noise. Excessive noise and vibration could cause hearing loss

running and remain hot for long

and fatigue that may affect

periods after they are stopped.

job performance.

Generator fuels (gasoline, kerosene, etc.) can ignite when spilled on hot engine parts. • Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool.

• Keep portable generators as far away as possible from work areas and gathering spaces. • Wear hearing protection if this is not possible

• Gasoline and other generator fuels should be stored and transported in approved containers that are


Charlie Engel has renewed his OSHA 502 Outreach Trainer certification for Construction at Texas University. Renewal of this certification is required every four (4) years to continue teaching OSHA 10 and 30 hour classes.


Trenching Tragedy in the Making SafetyNow ILT | 3-22-19

There are some obvious hazards in this picture that make it a great tool for training and learning. Share this image with your crew and see how many hazards they spot. Then discuss why they are hazardous, how these hazards can be corrected, and what they would do if they were asked to work in this excavation. Here are six violations found in this scene, along with explanations for each. 1. There are no protective systems in place – no shoring, sloping, or use of a trench box. • Unless trench walls are solid rock, no one should enter a trench deeper than 1.2 meters (4 feet) if it is not properly sloped, shored, or protected by a trench box. 2. The spoil pile should be at least 1 meter (CA) or 2 feet (U.S.) from the edge of the excavation, and farther away for deeper trenches.

• Equipment should also be kept as far from the excavation’s edge as possible. • The weight of the spoil and the weight of equipment puts pressure on the walls of the excavation and can lead to collapse. 3. Vibration from vehicle traffic, heavy equipment, compactions, pile driving and blasting can also affect trench stability and lead to collapse. 4. Water has been allowed to accumulate in the trench. • Rain, melting snow, thawing earth and overflow from adjacent streams, storm drains and sewers all produce changes in soil conditions. In fact, water from any source can reduce soil cohesion. • The amount of moisture in the soil has a great effect on soil strength. Once a trench is dug, the sides of the open excavation are exposed to the air. Moisture content of the soil begins to change


almost immediately, and the strength of the walls

with ladders so that workers can enter and exit safely.

may be affected. The longer an excavation is

Ladders must be:

open to the air, the greater the risk of a cave-in.

• Placed within the area protected by the shoring

5. Workers in the trench don’t appear to be wearing

or trench box.

head protection or any other form of PPE.

• Securely tied off at the top.

• Whenever there is the potential for falling debris or

• Extend above the shoring or box by at least

objects, hard hats must be worn. • Safety glasses are recommended to protect eyes from flying debris. 6. A ladder has been placed in the trench, but the lone

1 meter (3’). • Be inspected regularly for damage. • Placed as close as possible to the area where

worker on the far end of the excavation may have trouble reaching it quickly. Whether protected by

personnel are working and never more than 7.5 meters (25’ away.)

sloping, boxes or shoring, trenches must be provided

Which Injured Workers Are More Likely to Receive Opioid Prescriptions? Study Explores National Safety Council | 2-20-19 Cambridge, MA — Injured workers who are older, employed by organizations with smaller payrolls and in counties where more people have health insurance are more likely to receive opioid prescriptions, according to a recent study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute. The study, “Correlates of Opioid Dispensing,” used data from 1.4 million pain medication prescriptions filled within 18 months after an injury occurred between October 2014 and September 2015 in 27 states. Workers at least 55 years old received an opioid prescription 49 percent of the time and two or more prescriptions 24 percent of the time. For workers ages 25 to 39, those percentages were 42 and 19, respectively. Other findings: • Mining industry (including oil and gas extraction) workers were most likely to received opioid prescriptions for pain (62 percent). Construction workers were second at 55 percent. • Injured workers in counties with uninsured rates at or less than 9 percent received an opioid prescription 57 percent of the time, compared with 48 percent for workers in counties where uninsured rates were 30 percent or greater. • Injured workers at organizations with payrolls between $1 million to $4 million received an opioid prescription 54 percent of the time. For those employed by companies with larger payrolls, those percentages were either 47 or 48. • Injured workers in areas with fewer than 20,000 residents received an opioid 68 percent of the time. For areas with more than 250,000 residents, opioids were prescribed 54 percent of the time. • 79 percent of workers who suffered fractures were prescribed opioids. Cases of carpal tunnel and neurological spine pain received opioids 70 percent and 66 percent of the time, respectively. • Men received an opioid prescription in 46 percent of cases, and two or more in 22 percent of cases. For women, those percentages were 42 and 19, respectively. “This information may be useful for policymakers, payers, employers and health practitioners to target efforts to better manage possible overuse of opioids while providing appropriate care to injured workers and reducing unnecessary risks to patients and unnecessary costs to employers,” the researchers said.


Court Decision Says that GCs Can Receive OSHA Citations for Subcontractor Violations Construction / UNKIE | 2-21-19 | Shane Hedmond

A late 2018 ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the

According to the court records, both a City of Austin

5th Circuit ruled that a violation given to Hensel Phelps

inspector and a Hensel Phelps’ superintendent instructed

Construction, a General Contractor, is valid, even

the owner of the CVI Development, LLC [directly

though none of the firm’s employees were directly

contracted by Haynes Eaglin Watters, LLC (HEW), who

affected by the cited safety hazard. The appeal

directly contracted by Hensel Phelps] to redirect his

overturns a previous court ruling from 2017, that stated

employees back to the excavation site to finish the work

OSHA could not cite an employer such as Phelps. Phelps

in that area. The owner of CVI emailed a Senior Project

was cited for one willful violation, totaling $70,000 in

Manager at HEW explaining that “[P]lacing rebar in the

fines, after the Austin, Texas, area OSHA office received

mud and rain is unorthodox and very dangerous,” but was

a complaint of hazardous working conditions, according

again instructed to move the employees back to the area.

to Safety and Health Magazine.

CVI received two violations from the incident: one serious

The citation explains that “four (4) workers were installing

and one willful, totaling $18,000. The serious violation was

rebar during intermittent rain in an unprotected excavation

for allowing workers in an excavation below the level

approximately twelve feet and six inches (12’6”) deep by

of the base or footing of a foundation or retaining wall

one hundred and fifty feet (150’) long, exposing the workers

and for the competent person on site not removing the

to a cave-in hazard. “The workers subjected to the hazard

employees from a hazardous area. The willful violation

were employed by a subcontractor hired by one of Hensel

was for not providing adequate protection from cave-in.

Phelps’ subcontractors.

The 5th Circuit governs only Louisiana, Texas and

OSHA’s Multi-Employer Worksite Policy was cited as the

Mississippi. It’s my understanding that lower federal

reason for issuing the citation to Hensel Phelps. In that

courts in the same district must abide by the rulings of

policy, a “creating employer” is defined as “the employer

their circuit’s appellate court. While this decision will

that caused a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA

not immediately and directly affect other areas of the

standard” and explains that “employers must not create

country, this decision can set a precedent for other

violative conditions. An employer that does so is citable,

courts to rule in the same fashion in the future.

even if the only employees exposed are those of other employers at the site.” That policy went into effect in 1999.


March 2016 OSHATake California Fines Construction Company Following Worker Fatality California OSHA issued 10 citations and $242,600 in penalties to Platinum Pipeline, Inc., after a worker died in a trench collapse. Inspectors concluded that the company failed to train workers on excavation hazards; protect workers from excavated materials; and adequately slope, shore, or shield an excavation wall.

Florida Roofing Contractor Cited for Repeatedly Exposing Workers to Fall Hazards OSHA has cited Crown Roofing, LLC, for exposing workers to fall hazards at different worksites. The contractor faces penalties of $265,196. OSHA initiated the inspections as part of the Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction after inspectors observed the workers on roofs without fall protection.

Virginia Cites Contractor for Safety and Health Violations Virginia Occupational Safety and Health issued 12 citations and $528,692 in penalties to T.D. Fraley & Sons, Inc., after a worker who was removing scaffolding sections received an electric shock from contact with a power line. Inspectors concluded that the company failed to protect workers from the energized power line and ensure that scaffolding was properly supported.

California Construction Company Fined Following Worker Fatality California OSHA issued four citations and $65,300 in penalties to Shimmick Construction Co., Inc., and ConQuest Contractors, Inc., after a worker was fatally struck by a falling beam. Inspectors determined that the companies failed to identify hazards from moving flat rail cars and ensure the safe travel of a rail crane.

Contractors Cited for Safety Violations Following Two Fatalities at Florida Worksite OSHA cited two contractors â&#x20AC;&#x201C; PCL Construction Services, Inc., and Universal Engineering Sciences â&#x20AC;&#x201C; for safety violations after two workers suffered fatal injuries at a worksite. OSHA found that the contractors failed to properly inspect formwork, shoring, working decks and scaffolds prior to construction. The contractors collectively received three violations totaling $157,792 in proposed penalties.

Pennsylvania Construction Company Cited for Exposing Workers to Trenching Hazards OSHA cited Etna Construction, Inc., for exposing workers to excavation hazards at a worksite. The company was cited for failing to install protective systems inside a trench, provide a safe means of exit from the trench, ensure that workers wore hardhats, and properly guard protruding steel. The company faces penalties of $208,560.


OSHA Eyes Update of Powered Industrial Trucks Standard; Issues Request for Information National Safety Council | 3-11-19

Washington — OSHA is seeking input to aid in a possible update of its powered industrial trucks standard (1910.178), which covers forklifts, fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks and motorized hand trucks, among others, according to a Request for Information published in the March 11 Federal Register. The agency’s powered industrial trucks regulations for the construction, maritime and general industries were “based on industry consensus standards from 1969,” OSHA states in a March 8 press release. The requirements went into effect in 1971, when the agency was established. OSHA is requesting information on “types, ages and usage of powered industrial trucks; maintenance and retrofitting; how to regulate older powered industrial trucks; types of accidents and injuries associated with operating these machines; costs and benefits of retrofitting the machines with safety features; and other components of a safety program.” The agency states it will use the information received to “determine what action, if any, it may take to reduce regulatory burdens and create jobs, while improving worker safety.” Comments on the RFI are due by June 10. The powered industrial trucks standard has been a perennial fixture on OSHA’s annual list of Top 10 most frequently cited violations.


The Importance of Proper Fall Protection Training for Workers at Height E-News | Construction Superintendent | 2-15-19 | Baxter Byrd, Pure Safety Group

As the march of technology pushes

of individual worker training, the

and echoes the requirements found

fall protection products into the future,

updated standard removed that

in OSHA 1926 Subpart M Safety and

the most useful tool for the worker-

doubt. OSHA 1910.30(a)(1)

Health Regulations for Construction.

at-height remains the one between

states unequivocally:

In essence, training for the worker-at-

their ears. Keeping that tool keen

Before any employee is exposed to a

height can no longer be considered a

and sharp with a properly managed training program is the most effective way to ensure that what goes up, comes down safely.

fall hazard, the employer must provide

tangential concern.

training for each employee who uses

It would be reductive to simplify

personal fall protection systems or who

training for the worker-at-height

is required to be trained as specified

into a single, all-encompassing

2017 was an important year

elsewhere in this subpart. Employers

curriculum; there are simply too

regarding worker-at-height training.

must ensure employees are trained in

many strata of worker to require

OSHA released its long-awaited

the requirements of this paragraph on

every worker to â&#x20AC;&#x153;know it all.â&#x20AC;? Rather,

update to the 1910 Walking-Working

or before May 17, 2017.

a better approach is to identify

Surfaces and Personal Protective

This standard helps further codify the

which training is most effective for

Equipment (Fall Protection Systems), which became effective on Jan. 17, 2017. If there was any doubt before this release as to the necessity

non-legally binding, but thorough ANSI/ASSE Z359.2-2017 Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program,

a specific type of worker, and then add layers of more complex training as workers gain experience or take on greater responsibilities.


The Power of Why Before jumping into the different levels of training you may need on a jobsite, it’s worth considering one of the most important benefits of training – the power of “why.” When addressing a fall hazard solution, it is one thing to know what equipment to use

type of structure, a worker may have

ventilation, explosive potentials due

multiple responsibilities depending on

to flammable vapor concentrations

the nature of the work being done.

and below-foot rescue/retrievals.

Still, there are general boundaries

Confined space rescues are

that can help identify what type of

incredibly dangerous with potential

fall protection training might be most

rescuers themselves making up

appropriate for a given jobsite role.

nearly 60 percent of fatalities.

The following list is not exhaustive, but includes examples of role-specific

Eliminate Viral Training

training common to many jobsites:

If we refer to the OSHA and ANSI

knowledge). It is very possible a

• Authorized Person: Entry-level

regulations mentioned above, it’s

worker may have the practical

introduction to fall protection

worth noting that each employee is

knowledge to solve a problem, but

topics. Authorized Persons

required to be trained. While it might

not the theoretical reasoning (the

represent the standard worker on

be tempting to approach training

“why”) behind it. Without a firm grasp

a jobsite, and typically work under

via a viral method; i.e., training a few

of the theoretical reasoning behind

the supervision of a Competent

workers to pass on the information to

why a specific solution is used, a


others, it’s the wrong approach. Just

(practical knowledge), and another to know why to use it (theoretical

worker may substitute what they feel is an appropriate alternative and end up in a life-risking situation.

• Competent Person: Competent Persons are assigned by the employer, and are capable

Take leading-edge compatible self-

of identifying fall hazards and

retracting lifelines, for example. A

selecting the appropriate fall

worker may know there are certain

protection equipment based on

SRLs that are suitable for falls in which

theoretical knowledge to mitigate

the lifeline may contact the edge

those hazards. Competent Persons

of a structure. But, unless they know

calculate fall clearance, develop

why only specific SRLs can withstand

rescue plans and perform

that type of fall – how they work, the

regular equipment inspections to

purpose of certain features or how a

ensure proper functionality. Each

leading-edge fall differs from a regular

jobsite must have at least one

fall – when it comes time to choose

Competent Person.

an SRL from the job box, their lack of knowledge may lead them to make the wrong choice. This is especially true when a jobsite contains products from different manufacturers, since not all designs are necessarily compatible. When a worker can properly evaluate a practical solution against their theoretical knowledge, they are much less likely to make mistakes in choosing a proper fall protection solution.

Different Roles, Different Responsibilities Jobsite responsibilities can vary greatly and, unlike in a strict hierarchical

as in a college class, we wouldn’t consider it effective for the professor to teach one student, and have that student pass the information to the next person and so on. Like the children’s “phone game,” the more ears knowledge passes through before it meets its intended recipient, the more opportunity there is for static, misinterpretation, incorrect translation and loss of integrity. Truly effective training is instructor-led and direct to the student, with ample opportunities to clarify information for the greatest learning outcomes.

• Authorized Rescuer: A prompt rescue of a fallen worker is a legal requirement. The Authorized Rescuer is capable of writing or reviewing a fall protection or rescue plan and performing a timely rescue in any given situation. Rescuers are knowledgeable in the selection, care, inspection and use of specialized rescue equipment. • Confined Space Entry/Rescue: Not every worker is automatically permitted to enter a confined work space. Given the unique conditions found in confined space areas, workers need to be familiar with environmental conditions/noxious air


Profile for The Austin Company

Safety Net | April 2019  

Safety Net | April 2019