Safety Training International

Online OSHA Training & Workplace Safety

Locking In Safety…

Understanding and implementing OSHA-approved safety measures

Last year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued more than $750,000 in citations to the metal fabrication industry for equipment-related safety violations. This includes tool usage and guarding issues, control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), and electrical safety. These citations do not begin to account for the total cost to metal fabricating shops when considering associated property damage, medical costs, workers’ compensation and insurance increases, lost work time, and lawsuits that often go along with the citations. To avoid equipment-related incidents, you must understand OSHA requirements and have safety programs in place, including those pertaining to tool safety and machine guarding, lockout/tagout, and electricity.

Tool Safety and Machine Guardingmachineguards

Safe tool usage and machine guarding violations were the most frequent and costly citation areas last year. The first thing that you must do is assess the specific hazards by evaluating each piece of equipment. If the machine is new, determine all points of operation, pinch points, and areas that require protection. Ensure that all required guards are in place, and replace any missing guards before allowing anyone to use the equipment.

If you have an older machine that needs guards, you must first determine if the machine is still made. If it is, contact the manufacturer and ask for information on the current guards supplied with new machines. Purchase or replicate the new guard configurations to provide protection, and discard any equipment that cannot be guarded adequately.

After you have assessed the hazards and have adequate guards on your equipment, you can then develop your safety program. Equipment operators must leave the guards on at all times unless the equipment is locked out. Include in your safety program your policy on removal of guards, including who is authorized to do it, and the required lockout/tagout procedures. Also include discipline for employees who remove or bypass guards.

Next, explain the function and purpose of the guards to each employee. Managers and employees must be familiar with the proper guards so they can recognize when something is missing. Without knowledge of the safety program and the purpose and function of the guards that protect them, employees are more likely to bypass or remove them. Remember that a successful training program is always time and money well spent; studies have shown a $4 to $6 return for every dollar invested in safety and health.

Lockout/Tagout Safety

tagoutFailure to follow safe lockout/tagout procedures also accounted for a significant percentage of citation dollars. An effective lockout/tagout program is especially critical because the type of accident it is meant to prevent typically is severe and can result in crushing, amputation, struck-by, or electrocution injuries. OSHA requires you to identify the practices and procedures necessary to shut down and lock out or tag out machines and equipment; provide locks; and train employees on their role in the lockout/tagout program. Also, conduct periodic inspections to maintain or enhance your hazardous energy control program. The No. 1 citation in this area is lack of an effective written program.

Assess hazards by first identifying the lockout requirements for each piece of equipment used, serviced, and maintained at your facility. All energy sources must be documented, including direct and hidden sources. Documentation must include the hazard posed, the magnitude of danger, any special or unusual conditions, and the correct isolation methods and required devices.

About 95 percent of all lockout/tagout citations involve companies’ failure to have a formal program in place. The energy control or lockout/tagout program must be written and must include your hazard assessment, devices to be used, personnel authorized to perform lockout/tagout, enforcement policy and training methods, and the method for auditing and updating procedures. You must develop written procedures for shutting down and locking out each machine. Except in emergencies, each lock/tag must be removed by the person who put it on, and each employee must have his or her own locks and tags. Make sure your written program accounts for situations when servicing lasts longer than one shift, when contractors are involved, or when a group of employees services a piece of equipment.

The training program must consist of effective initial training and periodic retraining. You must have certification that training has been given to all employees covered by the standard. The training each employee needs is based on the relationship of his or her job to the machine or equipment being locked or tagged out. OSHA identifies three types of employees: authorized, affected, and other.

1. Authorized employees are those responsible for implementing the energy control procedures to perform service and maintenance. They must understand the need for lockout/tagout procedures and be able to recognize hazardous energy sources. They also must have a clear understanding of the means and methods of controlling the various types of energy sources and how to verify that each energy isolation is effective.
2. Affected employees are those who operate or use equipment on which servicing or maintenance is being performed under lockout, or those who work in an area where servicing or maintenance is performed. Affected employees must ensure that they can recognize when a lockout/tagout procedure is being implemented. The goal of this training is simple: Whenever there is a lockout or tagout device in place on an energy-isolating device, the affected employee must leave it alone and make no attempt to operate the equipment.
3. All other employees must be able to recognize when the control procedure is being implemented and understand that they must leave lockout/tagout devices alone and not attempt to energize or operate the equipment.

site-meetingRetraining must be provided whenever there is a change in job assignments, machines, equipment, or processes that present a new hazard; when there is a change in energy control procedures; inadequacies are present in employees’ use of the energy control procedure; or at least every three years.

Periodic inspections must be performed annually on each energy control procedure at your site, and the employer must certify that the periodic inspections have been performed. The certification must identify the particular machine, the date of the inspection, the employees included in the inspection, and the name of the person performing the inspection.

Electrical Safety

An average of one worker dies from electrocution on the job every day. Even low-voltage or low-current shock can cause serious harm or death. All of the equipment in a metal fabricating shop operates on 110 V or more and is capable of causing electric shock, burns, or electrocution.

Check your tools and equipment to ensure that the ground prong is present and that cords are in good condition. OSHA requires that live parts of electrical equipment operating at 50 V or more be guarded against accidental contact. Whenever conduit or electrical equipment is in a location where it could be exposed to physical damage, it must be enclosed or guarded. Junction boxes, pull boxes, and fittings must have approved covers. Unused openings in cabinets, boxes, and fittings must be closed.

Flexible cords are vulnerable because they can be damaged by aging, door or window edge contact, staples or fastenings used to hold them in place, abrasion from adjacent materials that they may contact, and various activities in their proximity. Improper use of flexible cords or use of damaged cords can cause shocks, burns, or fire. Whenever possible, use one of OSHA’s recognized hard-wiring methods. OSHA allows flexible cords to be used only for certain applications.

Check your circuits regularly. An inexpensive tester can tell you if the ground iselectrical-6 connected and can also test your ground fault interrupter (GFI) protection. Your safety program must include policies for grounding systems and electrical shutoff device systems. Develop policies for use of ladders and scaffolding around electrical devices. Extension cords have specific current ratings that must not be exceeded or they can overheat and cause a fire without tripping the circuit breaker. Use a qualified electrician for installation and repair of circuits.

Personnel who are at primary risk of electrical hazards are arc welders, those who work with or around electric power tools and equipment, and maintenance and janitorial staff who are responsible for handling electrical issues at your facility. At lesser risk are all other personnel who work with or around other electrical equipment, including lighting, computers, coffee makers, and so forth. Training must be adequate to the needs of each employee depending on his or her specific tasks.

Employees must understand the built-in safety features of electrical systems, including insulation, ground fault circuit interrupters, double-insulated devices, grounding (both of the circuit and the equipment), guarding of live electrical parts, and fuses and circuit breakers.

Employees also must follow safe work practices, such as de-energizing electrical equipment before inspecting or making repairs, correct usage of flexible cords and extension cords, recognition of damaged electric tools and procedures to remove them from use, how to work safely near energized lines, and use of personal protective equipment.

All lockout/tagout devices (locks and tags) must have four key characteristics:

* They must be durable, meaning that they must withstand the environment for the length of the expected exposure.
* They must be standardized according to color, shape, or size.
* Devices must be substantial enough to minimize early or accidental removal.
* They must be identifiable, clearly identifying the person who applied them and warning of hazards should the machine or equipment become energized.

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December 22, 2008 Posted by | Business, Economy, Education, Health & Safety, OSHA Compliance, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Training the New Hire: Positives and Pitfalls

So, you’re in charge of training new hires in your workplace. Here are a few helpful tips to help you keep pace with training new people an ever-changing work environment.

Is your training program easy to understand?

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Ensure your training is updated at least annually.

You interviewed applicants and found one who matches the skill set and attitude for the job opening you are offering. The new hire has seen your operation and knows what is expected. Now, you have to start with the actual training.

Have you kept your training program up-to-date and easy to implement? Your program should be periodically reviewed in each area’s training program with other managers and update them if necessary. Also, when reviewing training programs, ask yourself, “Would I understand this on my first day in a new job?”

Be confident and direct

You have a solid training program, but your new hire still shows signs of confusion during the training. Don’t give up hope. Perhaps it isn’t your new hire that is having trouble with the training session. As a trainer, you are looked at as the expert, which can be a little frightening at times, even for the most seasoned trainer.

Just being skilled and knowledgeable about the job you are demonstrating isn’t enough to effectively train a new hire; you need to be able to communicate instructions with clarity and confidence. To keep my trainer skills sharp, look for opportunities every day to pass on a piece of knowledge or skills, not just in a formal training session. It may be just answering a simple question from a co-worker; adding something to a group of co-workers looking for a solution to a problem; or something similar that doesn’t require set instructions.

Adjust your trainer’s voice to fit the trainee’s attention span

employee-training

Take control of the training and get feedback from participants.

Remember how nervous you were during your first training session? I do. Recently, I trained an intern who is confident and very skilled. Yet, early on, I found he retained information more effectively when I slowed the rate of my speech down a little from my normal rate.

Don’t wait for your trainee to tell you to slow down or speed up. Use short pauses when explaining training material to make sure a new hire is still grasping the teaching. It is during the pauses in the training that you can listen closely to the questions or comment (or lack of!) from a trainee.

As a trainer, you have control over the direction and pace of the training program, but what you hear and see from your trainee helps you to alter the rate you deliver your training program when needed to get better response from your trainee.

Allow your trainee to fail during training

As a trainer, you may be tempted to stop your trainee from fumbling during coaching, but refrain from stepping in and trying to save them. Many “what-not-to-do” lessons hold as much learning (sometimes more) as any other training does.

Having experienced the fear of failure myself in past jobs, I know how strong this fear can be in a trainee. Right from the start, I prefer to help a new employee confront and get rid of, as quickly as possible, any anxiety over failing. Once a new employee experiences what happens when things don’t work in training, they know what to look for when they actually start their new job duties.

Schedule rest periods during training sessions

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Frequent breaks will keep training participants on track.

This tip goes along with staying aware of attention spans – both yours and the trainee’s. Don’t waste valuable training time by tiring out yourself or your trainee, but be sure to set regular break times. Some workplace allows breaks every two to three hours which works well for training sessions.

A final thought on this issue. When I happen to take a break with a trainee, I talk about anything, except the training. I use breaks in training to strike up conversations about family, hobbies, etc. Break times during normal work periods are meant for relaxing and re-charging, so let it be the same during a training session.

Relax, be nice…and be yourself!

This is the most important piece of advice I can offer. You enjoy teaching others in the workplace. So, let your trainee see how much you like being a trainer. Be relaxed, warm, and friendly, while staying on track with instructions.

If you were like me in school, I was bored and frustrated with the teacher who barely cracked a smile in class, or hardly ever looked up from his or her desk. This was the teacher who looked uncomfortable, making me uncomfortable being in class. My school experience has taught me to make it a point to try to shed any nervousness or discomfort before starting a training session.

Still, a fast-pace work environment doesn’t always allow for a relaxed state of mind! So, when I need to slow my mind and focus on instructing a new employee, I take a moment to think about something pleasant. I might think about a joke I recently heard or read; an upcoming family event; or a favorite place. Once I have attained a quiet state of mind, I begin every training session with a smile.

Staying relaxed and pleasant during instructing a trainee will help him or her to stay comfortable as well. As a trainer, I see trainees retain far more information and show trust in what they are taught, when they see and hear the passion I have for being a trainer.

Bottom line: show pride in being a trainer and let the real you show through for your trainee to see!

For more information about our Safety Training please contact us!

November 27, 2008 Posted by | Business, Economy, Education, Health & Safety, OSHA Compliance, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Identify Employee Training Needs Through Needs Assessment

As a small business owner, it’s important to take proactive steps toward making sure that your employees are ready and able to handle the technological and environmental changes that are likely to impact your business. It’s important to remember that employee training doesn’t stop with your new hire orientation procedures. Organizational training needs are ongoing, particularly in the rapidly changing 21st century workforce.

Strategic Needs Assessment

The best way to make sure that you are providing employees with the training needed to position your business for long term success is to engage in an ongoing needs assessment process at both the organizational and individual levels. The process of needs assessment involves developing an understanding of where your organization is now, in terms of employee skills, and where it needs to be in the future.

Individual needs assessment involves looking at your employees’ current skill levels and identifying any gaps that exist between their current abilities and what they need to be able to do, now and in the future. At the organizational level, strategic needs assessment involves identifying gaps between the skills that exist across the organization and the skills that need to be in place to accomplish the company’s long term strategic plans.

Targeted Training

Once you have conducted a thorough assessment of your organization’s training needs, you can identify which gaps are actually training issues. You can begin implementing an employee development plan designed to make sure that your workforce is positioned to take your organization forward toward accomplishment of its long term strategic planning goals.

Depending on your organization’s goals, and the market it which it operates, your workforce may need both technology and soft skills training. An important part of strategic planning is identifying the technological and environmental factors that will allow your organization to become or remain competitive now and in the future.

For example, leadership and management training can be an important component of succession planning. Additionally, providing employees with training on how to use software applications can enable companies to automate various aspects of production and delivery processes.

Workforce Development Benefits

By encouraging necessary employee skill development training, you are playing an important role in fulfilling your company’s long term staffing needs. Companies that are committed to providing employees with training opportunities enjoy the benefits of improved employee satisfaction and retention. Keeping highly trained and motivated employees can help your organization continue to move forward and become increasingly successful over the long term.

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Business, Education, Health & Safety, OSHA Compliance, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment