Archives for February 2014

Are Your Workers Ready for the New GHS Standards?

GHS Label

The United States and 65 other countries are transitioning to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), and Canada will soon follow. This means an update to laws related to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), including the Hazardous Products Act and Controlled Products Regulations.

Health Canada will make the necessary changes to the WHMIS-related laws, which will be published this year in Canada Gazette Part II, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). The exact timeline will for enforcement hasn’t been announced yet, but it could begin as early as 2015, while the jurisdictional updates are expected to be completed by June 2016.

Use Seton CA’s safety training DVDs to educate your staff on the new GHS standards. Three separate products are available in the GHS Regulatory Compliance DVD series, including Introduction to GHS, Safety Data Sheets, and Container Labels. The DVDs can be used by individuals or in a classroom setting and each includes tools such as attendance forms, quizzes and certificates. Get ready for GHS now, so your employees will understand the new labels before they encounter them.

GHS DVD

 

Lockout Tagout Program Assessment: It’s About Time

Lockout Tagout PadlocksThe first quarter of the year is already in full swing. For most organizations, this time also means review and assessment season. This is the period where you, as employers and safety managers, should have already started on assessing the safety programs and policies in your workplace or are about to. If you haven’t gotten that underway yet, well now is the time to do so.

One essential safety program that you need to focus on is your lockout tagout program. An effective lockout tagout can save lives and help reduce industrial accidents by thirty to fifty percent. It can also significantly increase workplace productivity by making lockout activities more efficient, which results to lesser downtime. These, and other vital reasons, are what makes a lockout program critical in providing and maintaining a safe workplace.     

Here are six critical points to consider when assessing if your existing lockout safety program meets the standards or require updating or changes.  

Compare actual maintenance and servicing activities against your lockout tagout policies. What is written on your lockout program may not be what is actually happening on the floor. Make sure your employees are following the proper procedures and rules in your lockout program, even if the tasks they are doing may seem menial. Check if your lockout procedures clearly define what constitutes normal production operations against when equipment will be locked out.Lock-On Lockout Tags

Check if all possible energy sources have been identified and correctly labelled. Ensure your workers’ safety by identifying and labelling all potential energy sources in your facility. Workers usually apply locks and tags on the main electrical disconnect,  but there might be additional energy sources that exist such as hydraulic, thermal, pneumatic, radioactive, or chemical energy. After locating these energy sources, use padlocks, labels, and tags for easy identification.

You also need to check if the energy source is correctly identified. Usually, when workers isolate energy source, the circuit type devices such as on/off switches, interlocks, emergency stops, and three-way selector switches are  just locked out. This is an unsafe practice; control circuits do not isolate the flow of electrical energy to a piece of equipment. You need to use an energy isolating device such as an electrical circuit breaker or main electrical disconnect for proper equipment isolation.

Ensure all of your workers’ protection. Lockout/tagout guarantees your worker is protected while performing maintenance, servicing, and other equipment tasks. However, if more than one employee is working under the same lockout/tagout device, safety is compromised. A worker could unintentionally remove their locks and tags, and expose unprotected employees. The best practice for this is for each worker to use their personal lockout/tagout device on each energy isolating device. For complex jobs that involves several workers and more than one energy source, you need to use a group lockout.

Check if the correct locks are being used. There are many incidents of misuse of lockout/tagout in the workplace. Instances of all workers using the same keyed locks or the supervisor having a duplicate key for all his employees have occured. In these scenarios, anyone can  remove each other’s locks, which is a critical hazard. Security is also an issue, since everyone will have access to personal lockers and tool cribs. Unless otherwise needed, you need to use uniquely keyed lock that come with only one key. You must also use standardized lockout and tagout devices that are not used for other purposes.

Perform a “Lock-Tag-Try”. This is a safety procedure to ensure that hazard machines are properly shut off and will not be started up before and during the maintenance and servicing of the equipment. This is done to prevent hazardous energy from escaping or being released. You need to do this to ensure that the power source is isolated and rendered inoperative before any repair procedure is started.

Make sure all affected employees are trained. Employers are required to provide lockout tagout training to employees who apply padlocks and lockout tags to equipment. However, machine operators and all workers who work near an equipment must also receive training. In addition, all other employees, and even management employees, must undergo awareness training on lockout/tagout and the policies against removal of lockout locks and tags from energy isolating devices or attempting to operate locked out equipment. This goes for all new hires or those holding new positions as well. 

You, as employers, are required to conduct an annual review of your lockout/tagout program to verify your program’s effectiveness. Each equipment’s specific lockout procedure should also be reviewed in real time to check if it is being performed correctly, and if it is still relevant and effective with the existing work conditions of your workplace. Performing these assessments will help ensure you and your workers are safe and keep your workplace in good running condition. 

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Xtreme-Code™ Pipe Markers for Extreme Winter

Xtreme-Code Pipe Markers

Thanks to the unusual occurrence of the polar vortex, temperatures are dropping even lower than usual this winter, and with it comes a number of unanticipated dangers. These dangers are not just to life and limb but to infrastructures as well. Freezing and sub-zero temperatures can easily freeze piping and cause ruptures, leading to chemical leaks and other accidents.

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to plan and prepare for these eventualities, by selecting the right equipment to secure your pipes against the ravages of intense cold and freezing temperatures.

Selecting the right pipe markers is just a small facet of comprehensive cold-weather crisis prevention. And to deal with such extreme temperatures, consider selecting Xtreme-Code™ Pipe Markers for the job!

Xtreme-Code Pipe Markers are designed to withstand adverse conditions and maintain both readability and adherence. They resist damage, abrasion and chemical dissolution, an ideal quality to have for materials in chemical plants or industrial manufacturing locations. Vital pipes transporting large volumes of chemicals or critical pipes facing extreme temperatures (-40°F to 230°F) must be labelled with Xtreme-Code Pipe Markers to identify the pipe contents and directional flow.

Made from surface-printed self-adhesive polyester, Xtreme pipe markers are protected by a clear polyester overlaminate. They will stick to stainless steel, fiberglass, and other surfaces where pipe markers go, whether indoors or outdoors. They have a lifetime of up to eight years, minimizing replacement costs. Color schemes and lettering are fully compliant with ASME (ANSI) A13.1 standards.

Your business is critical, and you must protect it and its infrastructure against the challenges of extreme temperature and climate change. Xtreme-Code Pipe Markers are up to that challenge!

 

WHMIS Meets GHS: Hazcom Labels Get a New Look

GHS Symbols

The standards for classification and labeling of chemical products vary from country to country. What is considered toxic in Canada may not be considered toxic in the United States, China, or some other part of the world. Pictograms for substance toxicity or flammability may differ across borders, and some countries may not even have pictograms or indicators for certain hazard classes. These inconsistencies are what GHS targets to eliminate.

The Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is a standard set of rules that defines chemical products and classifies the hazards associated with each of them. It communicates health and safety information through uniformly formatted GHS labels and safety data sheets (SDSs). When adopted worldwide, GHS can effectively reduce the rate of injuries and fatalities related to hazardous materials on a global scale.

GHS Labels

Material labels are the first level of chemical hazard information. They should contain enough information for workers to affect proper handling procedures and avoid hazards. When the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) finally adopts GHS, chemical labels will surely undergo a major makeover:

  1. GHS Pictograms – Labels will follow the new pictograms, which contain a black symbol on a white background bordered by a red diamond. The previous round border will no longer be used. Some WHMIS symbols, such as the “R” for “Dangerously Reactive”, will also disappear. There are nine HazCom GHS pictograms used in most countries, but there will be 10 in Canada since the old WHMIS symbol for “Hazardous Biological Material” will be kept. Note that specific pictograms are required for certain hazard classes, while some categories do not have symbols associated with them.
  2. Signal Words – The GHS system uses two signal words to communicate hazard degree on both label and SDS: Danger and Warning. The classification system specifies if it is necessary to use a signal word or noGHS Pictogramst. “Danger” is for more toxic substances and mixtures, while “Warning” is for the less hazardous ones.
  3. Hatched Border and MSDS Reference – The WHMIS hatched border and the reference to the corresponding MSDS may not be required anymore.
  4. Hazard Statements – GHS labels should have hazard statements placed close to the pictogram to provide more details on the exact health hazards that come with the substance. These statements are indicated in the GHS classification system as well.

Companies in the United States were required to train their workers on GHS by December 2013, and several other countries have followed suit. Canada Gazette Part II is expected to publish the final regulations this year, and Health Canada means to implement the “WHMIS after GHS” rules in force in 2015. Until then, employers must train their workers on both WHMIS and GHS labeling standards. This can be quite challenging for employees since pictograms differ greatly between the two systems. There are, however, training materials such as posters, wall charts, and GHS wallet cards complete with GHS terminologies and pictograms to help workers out.

Chemicals pose real dangers to human health and the environment. Many chemical-related injuries worldwide are not because of the chemicals themselves, but due to improper material handling, insufficient information, and inconsistent labels. The new GHS standards will help prevent these circumstances.

Fight Injuries in 2014 with First Aid Kits

It’s been over a month since New Year’s Day, and if you haven’t made your safety resolutions yet, now is a good chance to do so. This winter, commit to a zero-accident, zero-injury 2014 by beefing up your safety protocols and equipment.

Of course, it’s not enough just to declare your year will be safe and just hope for the best. When bad things happen, it pays to be equipped for the worst and to have quick access to first aid kits and other medical supplies in case of emergency.

There are many kinds of first aid equipment suitable for any business, but the two most important distinctions to be made when making a purchase is to decide what kind of first aid kits are needed. Make your decision based on your type of business and ask yourself: “What do I and my personnel need to be protected from most?” Other considerations include the environment (closed office or open-air workplace?), the hazards (diseases or accidents, burns and bruises?), and the work being done (professional and desk-bound or physical and machine-operated?).

Deluxe Office First Aid KitFor common offices and other professional buildings, the threats faced by workers are less dramatic, and office first aid kits are the ideal solution:

Office First Aid Kits are optimized for dealing with the minor, everyday injuries common in your average office setting. These include cuts, scrapes and nicks, and an office first aid kit will allow you and your coworkers to hygienically treat such accidents. They also contain supplies needed to prevent infections or diseases from spreading or taking hold, which is a constant concern in the closed environment of the average office.

For more physical needs, the workplace first aid kit contains just what’s needed:

Workplace first aid kits are outfitted similarly to office first aid kits, but have additional provisions for the somewhat more physical threats faced by workers in heavy industries such as manufacturing, construction and warehousing. In those workplaces, the risk of suffering burns or more traumatic injuries is higher. As such, workplace first aid kits often come with burn creams, rescue blankets, splints, and other gears that would be out of place in a calm office.

No matter what your business is, it’s important (and legally mandated) to have adequate first aid kits for all of your workers. Do the safe thing this year and stock up on what you need to deal with any accident!

5 Steps to An Efficient & Accident-Free Warehouse

Reform Foam Impact ProtectorsRunning a warehouse can be overwhelming. Aside from overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business, a warehouse supervisor must also ensure everyone’s safety and security in the warehouse facility. Warehouses, large or small, can be hazardous places. As warehouse manager, it is also your responsibility to promote and enforce safety practices in your facility.

A safe workplace makes for an efficient one. Not only that, Canadian laws require you, as an employer, to provide a safe environment to all your employees. Here are five important safety aspects of warehouse management that you need to follow to help you achieve an efficient, safe, and accident-free work environment:

  1. Observe cleanliness and orderliness. Maintaining a neat, clean, and organized warehouse at all times will ensure a safer warehouse. Keep your floors free from water, oil, cleaning products, and other spills that may cause slips and injuries. Clear all traffic areas of pallets, cartons, plastic wraps, and other debris that may cause accidents or delay in warehouse operations.
  2. Create a safety program. Provide a well-planned warehouse safety program that fits your warehouse’s needs. Make sure all your employees are educated and knowledgeable about this program before they begin work.
  3. Safety and equipment training is essential.  Safety training courses should be mandatory, along with vehicle and equipment courses, for all workers who will be operating warehouse equipment such as forklifts, electric stackers, mechanical loaders, lifters, and shrink wrappers. Always check if warehouse employees have attended the training or received proper certifications before handling any equipment.
  4. Enforce safety regulations. Make sure all managers, warehouse handlers, and other employees wear the appropriate PPE such as hard hats, steel-toed boots, heavy gloves, and safety goggles before working on the floor.
  5. Mitigate accidents. The movement of forklifts and other heavy equipment around your warehouse can account for a large number of accidents. This includes collision with people, collision with other vehicles, collision with the warehouse structure, and overturning of FLTs. To deal with this, you need to:
  • Plan periodic vehicle, machinery, equipment and loading dock examinations and maintenance to prevent accidents.
  • Ensure all safety features including lights, vehicle reverse sensors, and warning beeps work properly.
  • Report vehicle defects and equipment malfunctions. Make sure to oversee repairs and testing before using the item again.Conformable Foam Impact Protector
  • Equip your warehouse structure with safety equipment such as signs, bollards, and impact protectors to lessen the impact and damage of heavy-equipment collisions. Damage to your columns can potentially endanger your warehouse building. You can save on building repair by installing column protectors and foam impact protectors in key areas.

Following these safety precautions is a good start to ensuring better warehouse safety. You, as warehouse supervisor, are responsible for assuring warehouse processes are consistent with your safety plan and being followed religiously. By acting as the touchstone and safety anchor for your employees, your warehouse staff will be able to develop and carry out action plans from your safety program. In the end, it will help you achieve a safer, efficient, and successful warehouse operation.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

7 Steps To Get Your Workplace Ready For Flu Season

Workplace First Aid KitThe cold season is here – and with it comes flu season. Every year, the Canadian winter brings about an estimated 3,500 influenza-related deaths, with around 20,000 people getting hospitalized. Since the flu is highly contagious, it can easily be transferred from one person to another by the simple acts of shaking hands, coughing, sneezing, or just being in close contact with someone who is sick. So what is the best way to deal with this? The answer is the most sensible one: through prevention.

One of the most vulnerable places to catch the flu is the workplace. Colds and viruses not only get transferred from person to person, but also from surface to surface. When an infected co-worker coughs or sneezes in the air, the flu or cold virus becomes airborne while flu droplets can lands on work surfaces. When another person breathes the infected air or comes into contact with the affected surface, the virus is then transferred.

Preventing the flu in the workplace can be easy with proper guidelines and the right tools on hand. The following steps can help you create a flu-free work environment and get you ready to take the cold season head-on:Employee Pandemic Flu Kits

  1. Know the lowdown on influenza. Educate yourself and your staff on what the flu is and what it isn’t. You can do this by posting and distributing educational materials to your employees on general flu facts, the importance of flu vaccinations, proper cleaning and disinfection. You can also provide office wellness tips on how to stay healthy this winter.
  2. Start a flu vaccination campaign. According to FightFlu.ca, flu shots can prevent flu illness in up to 70% of healthy children and adults. Encourage your employees to get a flu vaccine for themselves and their family. You can work with a community mass vaccinator to schedule an onsite or offsite flu vaccination clinic. Allow your employees time off to get vaccinated. You can even cover the flu vaccines with low or no-pocket costs through your company’s health plans. Lastly, promote your flu shot drive through staff meetings,  employee newsletters, email notices, or through employee engagement activities such as employee vaccination contests and trivia games.
  3. Promote sanitary practices in your workplace. Start talking to your staff about the importance of covering coughs and sneezes, and disinfecting hands after. Hand washing is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of infections. Make sure everyone is washing their hands often and properly with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds to eliminate bacteria and viruses.
  4. Step up your cleanliness program at work. Did you know that on average your work desk alone contains 400 times more bacteria than a toilet, and that they can live for up to 48 hours on your desk? Let your staff know about these numbers and put emphasize on hygiene in the workplace. Make sure that common surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, telephones, and other frequently touched objects are regularly cleaned and disinfected.Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer
  5. Make hygiene and disinfecting products available to everyone. Provide tissues, hand soap, disinfectants, disposable towels, and germ-killing hand sanitizers for your staff to clean their hands and work surfaces.  Place these products in areas identified as germ hot spots and consider using hands-free soap dispensers in the bathrooms.
  6. Protect your staff. Your staff is your most valuable asset. Encourage workers to stay home when sick. Many employees come to work sick because they can’t afford to miss work or are concerned with absenteeism. Offer flexibility in work schedules so your staff can stay home when sick or work from home.  A worker who comes in sick will just put his co-workers at risk of also catching the flu.
  7. Provide the proper PPE apparel to your workers. Workers who are exposed to cold and wet weather without the appropriate winter PPE are not only in danger of potential accidents, but also of health hazards. Make sure your employees are wearing the correct PPE clothing and are following safety protocols while performing their tasks.

As an employer, it is also important that you set a good example and follow your own advice on flu prevention. This means that you also observe the proper hygiene, use the correct winter PPE tools, stay home when you are sick to keep your germs out of the workplace. A widespread outbreak of the flu or a pandemic in your workplace can have serious consequences. Everyone at work needs to take these steps to prevent the spread of germs and viruses that is critical to good health. As the old saying goes, prevention is still the best medicine. It also makes for good business sense.
###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+