The UBIC Blog

OSHA's New Respirable Crystallilne Silica Standard

On September 23rd, 2017 OSHA began enforcing the respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. This new rule provides important guidelines to protect and keep workers from breathing silica dust. Compliance will help curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.

It is estimated that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent 900 new cases of silicosis each year. The rule has two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Marine. It affects about 2.3 million workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

Harmful exposure in construction can result from drilling, cutting, crushing or grinding silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone. The ruling also affects general industry operations like brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Equipment that controls dust with water or a vaccum system can protect workers from these harmful affects.

Although the new rule took effect on 23 June 2016, industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction - September 23, 2017. OSHA delayed enforcement from June 23, 2017 to September 23, 2017 in order to conduct additional outreach to provide educational materials.

General Industry and Maritime - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date. 

Hydraulic Fracturing - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

OSHA conducted 14 days of public hearings with input from more than 200 stakeholders and accepted over 2,000 comments all leading to about 34,000 pages of material which was used to reach this new safety standard.

The UBIC Loss Control team can work with employers to establish safety plans to keep workers safe and save employers money.  To schedule a meeting call (801) 432-8121.

 

Adventures in Casual Footwear

Earlier this month, I was getting some things taken care of around the house for our fall clean-up.  One fine Sunday, I decided I was going to finish the trim in our downstairs bathroom which meant I needed to paint 5 pieces of trim with my paint gun.  I set up, grabbed my paint gun and respirator, and headed outside BAREFOOT.  Why was I barefoot?  Because anyone who has used a paint gun knows that you get overspray and I didn’t want any over spray on my shoes and it just didn’t seem right to don work boots on a Sunday.  As I headed out the basement door, the storm door swung back and caught the back of my heel (right next to my Achilles tendon).  This took out a half inch by quarter inch chunk of flesh.  I said a few things, yelled at myself for not having shoes on, and painted my trim.  

While waiting for my paint to dry, I decided to head to the gym to work out as the place is a ghost town on Sunday afternoon and I like the solitude.  As I finished my last incline dumbbell bench press, I was sitting up and let the dumbbells hit the floor.  You guessed it, the dumbbell rolled onto the outside of my RIGHT foot.  The same foot I had just removed a chunk of flesh out of the back.  70 lbs dumbbell vs your baby toe, I will let you guess which one felt more pain.  That evening after a day of working around the Palmer home, my wife and children wanted to have a fire in the fire pit.  I happily obliged as that sounded like a good idea to me too.  The wood we had was little green and needed some kindling to get it going.  I pulled out my trusty camp hatchet and began to make small pieces out of bigger pieces IN THE DARK, BAREFOOT yet again.  I missed the piece of wood and tried to trim the top of my toenail with a hatchet.  I will let you guess what foot it was on.  All in all, it was a bad day for my right foot and it got me thinking about footwear.

OSHA has a standard for PPE and they incorporate many standards for footwear by reference in the ANSI standards.  If you don’t work behind a desk all day, your feet are your means of transportation around the shop or jobsite.  They should be treated with MUCH more respect than I treated mine on that Sunday.  Make sure you and your employees’ footwear is fitted for the work they are doing and if their footwear does not provide adequate protection, remedy it.  They may not thank you while you are making them get rid of those boots they “just broke in” but they will when they try to trim their toenail with something other than nail clippers and they walk away unscathed.  If you need any assistance with assessing your employees’ footwear versus your exposures, contact your local loss control rep.  They are happy to help.  

For further guidance on footwear and the standards that apply, click here. One thing you won’t find is that it is okay to be barefoot. 

 

Author: Sam Palmer is passionate about workers health and safety. Before joining UBIC he worked several years in the construction industry educating workers on how EHS and OSHA policies and regulations can keep you safe. 

Electrical Safety

Why Should We Be Concerned?

Electricity is essential to almost every aspect of our lives today – at home and on the job. Since electricity is such a familiar part of our daily life, we don’t always give much thought to the hazards electricity poses and often fail to recognize that even small amounts of electricity can hurt or kill us.

The Effects of Electricity on the Body

An electric shock can result in anything from a slight tingling sensation to immediate cardiac arrest. The severity depends on the following: 

  • Amount of current flowing through the body
  • Current's path through the body
  • Length of time the body remains in the circuit

 The list below shows the general relationship between the amount of current received and the reaction when current flows from the hand to the foot for just one second.

Measurements are listed in milliamps - 1/1000th of an amp.

• 1 mA:

Slight tingling sensation. Still dangerous under certain conditions.

• 5 mA:

Slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing. Average individual can let go. However, strong involuntary reactions to shocks in this range may lead to injuries.

• 6 – 30 mA:

Painful shock, muscular control is lost. This is called the freezing current or "let-go" range.

• 50 – 150 mA:

Extreme pain, respiratory arrest, severe muscular contractions. Individual cannot let go. Death is possible.

• 1000 – 4300 mA:

Ventricular fibrillation (the rhythmic pumping action of the heart ceases.) Muscular contraction and nerve damage occur. Death is most likely.

Can the Current Found in the Average Residence Kill You?

Yes. At any given time, there are as much as 10-15 amps available at any outlet. Your circuit breakers are probably 10-amp or 15-amp Electrical Safety breakers. The numbers in this chart are 1/1000th of an amp, far less than what flows through the outlets in a home.

Qualified or Unqualified?

Working with electricity requires specialized training. Electricians and electrical engineers are people who, because of their training, are qualified to work on electrical systems. Those without proper training are unqualified and cannot work or adjust electrical components. Re-wiring your basement or installing new outlets in a garage does not make you a qualified electrician.

Basic Reminders

Here are some basic reminders about electrical issues we face every day.

Electrical Panels: All electrical panels should have a clear space of 36 inches in front of the access panel. Nothing should be stored in front of the panels, even temporarily.

  • Extension Cords: Extension cords are to be used on a temporary basis only and never as a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords can become damaged and bare wires can be exposed. The plugs on extension cords need to be three-prong plugs so equipment is properly grounded. Always inspect an extension cord before use to make sure there are no breaks in the insulation. Look to see how and where extension cords are placed so they do not become a trip hazard and so they won’t be driven over by motorized vehicles.
  • GCFI Outlets: Outlets in wet (or potentially wet) locations should be protected with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This outlet has that red ‘test’ button on it. It measures how much electricity goes out and how much comes back through the outlet. When there is a deviation greater than 15 milliamps, it switches off within 1/10th of a second.
  • Conduit: Conduit (metal tubing) that has come loose from a junction box is a potential problem and should be reported. 
Taking Shortcuts is a Bad Idea at Work

If you are in the habit of taking safety shortcuts at work, it's time to stop. The potential dangers you expose yourself and others to while taking shortcuts can be deadly.

The following rules are some of your best safety tools for avoiding accidents in the workplace.

  • Do not take an unsafe entrance or exit into a jobsite or work area; it may pose unseen hazards.
  • Wear the proper personal protective equipment.
  • Use the right tools for the job, such as scaffolds for work in high areas or the appropriate power tool.
  • Instead of straining to reach, get a ladder when something is high overhead.
  • Using the buddy system to move an awkward load will help save your back.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when moving a load.
  • Always maintain a safety-first attitude and alert your supervisor if you witness unsafe practices.

UBIC is committed to safe work practices, offering safety tips and classes to companies. Your safety at works matters. We help keep you safe and partner with you when injuries happen to get workers back on the job.

Safety Meeting Basics

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the most effective ways to promote a safe working environment is to get involved in company safety meetings. 

Why Safety Meetings

These informal, brief meetings allow you the opportunity to stay up to date on potential workplace hazards and safe workplace practices, such as machinery use, tool handling, equipment use and safety-minded attitudes - basically anything that may contribute to accidents or illnesses in your workplace. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your company safety meetings.

Meeting Basics

  • Attending safety meetings should be mandatory. Be consistent and let everyone know what days meetings are held.
  • Have everyone sign an attendance log - record keeping is an important part of any safety and compliance program.
  • Encourage active participation. Some of the best safety ideas come from workers who are on the frontline and more aware of existing dangers.
  • See something? Say something! Employees should feel free to bring up examples of procedures not being followed.
  • Reviewing topics gives employees opportunity to bring up new ideas.
  • Invite employees to suggest safety topics for future meetings.
  • Remind employees that there are no stupid questions when it comes to safety. 
  • Have a bulletin board or fixed location where it is easy to find and be reminded of safety policies.
  • Consider recognizing safety with awards or perks. Allow employees to dominate others for good safety compliance.

 Regardless of your job title, working safely is everyone's responsibility. See you at the next safety meeting!

Take Control of Workplace Stress

Job stress is a very common health complaint, ranking above financial troubles and family problems, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Many experience stress due to heavy workloads, pressure to perform and conflicts with co-workers.

Though some daily stress is common, excessive stress can contribute to insomnia, anxiety, headache, depressions, short temper, and stomach and back problems. These symptoms can eventualy lead to more serious problems, so try the following tips to help keep your workplace stress under control:

  • Set realistic deadlines and plan ahead.
  • Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Keep the end goal in mind.
  • Search for alternative ways of doing things, which may save you time.
  • Use all available resources to assist you.
  • Take periodic breaks to clear your head and de-stress.
  • Debrief from the day: talk about how you're feeling and possible stress-relieveing techniques with the someone close to you.

Hopefully these steps will help you take control of workplace stress and have a calming or relaxing effect on your day.

Missouri Makes Changes to Waiver

Changes (Clarification) to the Missouri Waiver of Subrogation Exception

The Missouri Department of Insurance approved  NCCI Item Filing 01-MO-2017,  revising – and clarifying -  Missouri’s exception to Waiver of Right to Recover from Others (Subrogation) rule in the NCCI Basic Manual.  Prior to this item filing, the exception stated the rule did not apply in Missouri.   This was due to Missouri statute which holds the waiver of subrogation to be against public policy and void for employers in the construction industry.  The statute applies to Missouri employers with multistate exposures.

The filing, which became effective 7/1/2017 for new and renewal policies,  amends the Missouri exception as follows:

“4. The endorsement does not apply to policies or exposure in Missouri where the employer is in the construction group of classifications. According to Section 287.150(6) of the Missouri statutes, a contractual provision purporting to waive subrogation rights is against public policy and void where one party to the contract is an employer in the construction group of code classifications.   For policies or exposure in Missouri, the following must be included in the Schedule: 

  • Any person or organization for which the employer has agreed by written contract, executed prior to loss, may execute a waiver of subrogation. However, for purposes of work performed by the employer in Missouri, this waiver of subrogation does not apply to any construction group of classifications as designated by the waiver of right to recover from others (subrogation) rule in our manual. 

What does this mean to your Missouri employers with construction class codes?  UBIC is revising, the Schedule on form WC 00 03 13 to include verbiage specifying that:   for purposes of work performed in Missouri,  this waiver of subrogation does not apply to employers assigned to classifications included in NCCI’s construction group of classifications.

Construction codes are identified in the Scopes® Manual by a bullet sign following the code (5645 •). If you have questions about this filing, or whether or not a code is considered a construction code by NCCI please give your underwriter a call!

Life at 40

I’ll be turning 40 this month! Yeah Baby! Top of the hill, and a major oh crap what have I done with my life moment! And I think the only thing I’ve learned so far is that life now happens faster today than when I was 20. A few months back, knowing that this milestone was creeping up on me, I set a goal for my fitness and health to be improved. Along the way I’ve had a few of those moments where I recall how easily things seemed when I was 20. Keeping myself grounded to the fact that, that was 20 years ago. Doing that I’ve been able to curb frustrations and stay focused on getting back into the swing of things physically with those reminders, and allowing myself to say ok you’re not 20 anymore, so give yourself some slack, but not too much.

My milestone goal is to lose 40lbs by the time I turn 40. That’s my first milestone of my ultimate goal. I’m nearing my birthday and am getting really close to my first milestone, I’m down 30 pounds since the first of May when I set my goal. Nearly four weeks to go, some hard work and I know it can be done.

Side note: the terminology we use to “lose weight” gives the connotation that we will miss the weight eventually and want it back. We really should change our language to have a better mental image of the loss of our weight as something more fierce and masculine like shedding pounds, shredding pounds, beating the fat off with a stick, some other adjective than lose, it’s not lost it’s vanquished.

Looking back I’ve surprised myself with the progress that I have made toward my milestone goal. I turned to people and processes that were proven and experienced in helping people like me with aspirations of weight loss and physical fitness. And let them direct me to the best path, but not push me, I was following their direction not trying merely get best practices and implement them alone. Then I have stayed close to their path for me. I’ve joined a gym, and took part in a diet plan that was given. Given myself accountability to own the results each day.  I committed myself to follow the plans for exercise and eating. Making allowances for the regression I’ve had, and celebrated the small progressions, I need to make in order to hit my goal.  In other words counting smaller milestones along the way to bigger ones.

My experience here that last few months has been 88to trust and rely on others for direction and then following that so I can hit my goals. There are countless parallels I can draw in a lot of areas of life where we lean on others to reach our goals. Just to name a few, filing taxes, buying a home, hiring our first employee, making our first sale. We lean on others all the time.

Accountability is part of it, tracking your goal feeds to a sense of accomplishment. When I measured myself at the beginning of my goal and then remeasured a few months in, I lost several inches. “So what” I thought then my wife said move the tape out to where you started and then look where you are compared to now. Not until I took the measuring tape out to where I started did I see how much had been accomplished. Talk about motivation, seeing the change in something you’ve chosen to change, and seeing the results. Weight loss is easy to see when your vanquishing pounds.

What milestones are you after, what will you do to measure and track for your own accountability. Start where you are and take steps daily, be brave and take steps in directions your not so sure are going to work, and give it some real effort. Measure frequent enough to see how you’re doing. Get someone to make you accountable to your goal and performance. Reach out to others for help and direction. Then just go to work everyday to work toward your milestone. Count the little progresses made as victories and for continued motivation to keep going toward that milestone.

 

Brandon Jones is a Market Rep for UBIC

Be Alert for Emergency Alarms

Nobody expects an emergency or disaster to strike, but it can at any time. Moreover, if it happens in the workplace, workers are presented with special safety challenges. As a result, it is important for you to have a thorough understanding of the safety measures in place to assist you during such circumstances. One of the most important safety measures to be aware of is the alarm system, as well as other warning devices.

Employee alarm systems can reduce the severity of workplace accidents and injuries. When properly installed and maintained, they can be invaluable to your on-the-job safety. However, alarms can only be effective if you know what they are and what action they require you to take.

Audible and visual alarms are to warn you and other workers about a hazardous condition or emergency requiring evacuation or other safety precaution. Please see the  Emergency Action Plan for detailed information regarding alarms in your specific work area. As a reminder, the following types of alarms may be used:

Audible Alarms

Audible alarms include bells, horns, sirens, voice announcement systems and other devices that can be distinguished above and apart from normal sound levels.

·         Vibrating bells usually indicate a fire alarm.

·         Horns are loud distinctive sounds that immediately attract attention, usually used to call a critical situation to attention.

·         Sirens are loud piercing wails that are usually used to initiate a site-wide evacuation.

·         Announcement systems are live or recorded voice messages played over speakers, usually used for phased or guided evacuations.

Visual Alarms

Visual alarms use steady, flashing or strobe lights to alert workers to an emergency in areas where noise levels are high, especially where ear protection is worn and audible signals may not be heard or understood. Visual signals also provide an effective way to alert workers with hearing loss of an emergency.

·         Flashing or steady lights may be used in areas where ambient noise makes audible signals difficult to hear. These types of lights may come with different colored covers for increased attention and may have rotating or flashing lights.

·         Strobe lights may be used in areas where high ambient light levels make traditional rotating or flashing lights difficult to distinguish or where ambient noise makes audible signals difficult to hear.

 Your safety is our top priority. If you see or hear an alarm, immediately follow the appropriate emergency procedures as outlined in our Emergency Action Plan.