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Hands-On Safety Training for Tech Students

Falls while on the job are a leading cause of
work-related death nationwide and the third leading cause of death in Montana. Montana Tech’s Safety Health and Industrial Hygiene department looks to limit that number with a unique hands-on safety training for tech students in their campus OSHA lab.

Hands-On Safety Training for Tech Students
Hands-On Safety Training for Tech Students at Montana Tech OSHA Lab

Falls while on the job are a leading cause of death nationwide and the third leading cause of death in Montana. Montana Tech’s Safety Health and Industrial Hygiene department look to limit that number with hands-on safety training for tech students in their unique on-campus OSHA lab.

The lab is equipped with different ladders, harnesses, fall arrest systems, and other safety gear that allow students the opportunity to get familiar with fall protection equipment. The work that happens in the lab helps students to go out into the industrial workforce and train employees to avoid those potential dangers. They believe combining classroom work with hands-on safety instruction in the lab gives Montana Tech students a far greater education than those coming from programs without this kind of lab.

Montana Tech’s Safety, Health and Industrial Hygiene Department prepares students for successful safety and health careers. At Montana Tech, the Occupational Safety & Health degree (OSH) is an interdisciplinary major in health sciences and engineering that gives students the advantage of being highly skilled in a unique major that supports a variety of businesses. OSH students mimic real-world situations in the lab. Nearly all graduates have rewarding careers as OSH professionals working in positions aimed at helping employees perform their work safely in a workplace free from recognized hazards.


Get to Know Overhead Fall Protection

Overhead rigid rail fall protection systems provide the highest degree of mobility and safety in fall protection. The system is designed to prevent its user from falling a long distance if he/she should slip while traversing along an elevated surface. While the rigid rail system does not prevent falls, when properly used, it limits the distance a user can fall to less than two feet.

Overhead Rigid Rail Fall Protection
Overhead Rigid Rail Fall Protection

In an overhead rigid rail fall protection system, a steel track is installed above your walking surface providing continuous lateral coverage along the unprotected area. The user is outfitted with a full-body safety harness that connects to a moving trolley via a self-retracting lifeline (SRL).

The SRL provides a vertical lifeline for fall-arrest or restraint. While they pull out and retract easily to allow for workable mobility, SRLs contain a sensitive braking mechanism that is activated by sudden rapid movement. The lifeline is designed to absorb some of the shock incurred by a fall. Most of today’s SRLs feature a friction control mechanism that provides a smoother stop and limits fall forces.

The force of the fall is distributed over a user’s body via a full-body harness, which is connected to the SRL. Typically weighing less than three pounds, the safety harness has a back-mounted D-Ring which is used to hook up to the lifeline. Harnesses include several quick-release clamps and tensioning adjustments to fit various body shapes and sizes. Proper adjustment of the harness is essential to the user’s safety. Because of this unique fit, it is recommended each user have his/her own personal harness.

The safety harness takes on the force of a fall and distributes to areas of the body better able to absorb the force and support weight. In addition to distributing force, the design of a full-body harness serves to keep the user upright in a fall. This allows a deceleration device to properly deploy, but also keeps the spine vertical, which is ideal for the body to best absorb compressive forces of a fall.

Overhead rigid rail fall protection systems are safer than their flexible lifeline counterparts. Overhead rigid rail systems provide the shortest fall arrest distance and remove the secondary fall risks of wire-rope based fall arrest systems. They can be installed in customized configurations for your work site including outdoor, indoor, fold-a-way, swing arm, and mobile applications.

Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance. If these hazards exist at your work site, consider overhead rigid rail fall protection systems to protect your workers.


OSHA Prepares for Increased Enforcement in 2020

OSHA prepares for increased enforcement in 2020, requesting an increase of $3,780,000 from its FY 2019 Federal Enforcement Enacted Appropriation. The request was made largely to support additional compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) which will provide a greater enforcement presence and enhanced technical assistance to employers who need help in understanding how to achieve compliance with OSHA standards.

OSHA Prepares to Increase Enforcement in 2020
OSHA Prepares for Increased Enforcement in 2020

The increase will also allow the agency to continue full and fair enforcement of occupational safety and health standards and regulations as an effective deterrent to those employers who put their workers’ lives at risk. With the increased resources, OSHA plans to conduct 33,133 inspections and reach a goal of 40,422 enforcement units (EUs), shifting the focus to the highest-impact and most complex inspections at the highest-risk workplaces.

OSHA anticipates that the response to severe injury reports (SIR) will continue to affect inspection totals in FY 2020, resulting in an increase in unprogrammed activity. SIR inspections typically require double the amount of time to complete as programmed inspections, which will continue to reduce resources available for programmed emphasis areas in industries with targeted hazards.

In FY 2020, OSHA plans to continue the Site Specific Targeting (SST) inspections to help focus agency efforts. The second year of SST inspections will target non-construction workplaces with 20 or more employees and is based on the injury and illness information employers submitted to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application. The program helps OSHA achieve the goal of ensuring that employers provide safe and healthful workplaces by directing enforcement resources to the workplaces with the highest rate of injuries and illnesses, while also examining low reporting workplaces to ensure adherence to the reporting requirements.

In FY 2020, OSHA will continue to focus on national and local emphasis programs that direct resources to industries with hazards that lead to severe injuries, illnesses, or death while balancing the requirement to respond to unprogrammed activity. As construction still outpaces other industries 3 to 1 in fatalities and poses a greater risk to worker safety and health, a greater percentage of inspections is expected to be focused on the industry.

OSHA abated 7,306 hazards associated with falls in construction, general industry, and maritime in FY 2018. For FY 2020, the agency has set target of 7,900. Continual focus on enforcement and compliance assistance efforts are designed to result in a downward trend.

Fall Protection violations remain the most frequently cited by OSHA for the NINTH consecutive year. There were 6,010 Fall Protection – General Requirements 1926.501 violations, almost double of the next ranking violation. The top ten also include Ladder (1926.1053) violations in sixth place and Fall Protection Training Requirement violations (1926.503) in 8th place. Make sure to understand your risks and work with a fall protection specialist to ensure you have compliant safety equipment in place.


Workplace Fatalities Up in 2018

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data for 2018 showing workplace fatalities up in 2018.

Workplace Fatalities Up in 2018
Workplace Fatalities Up in 2018

Total fatal injuries raised to 5,280 in 2018, up 2% from 2017. The fatal work injury rate remained unchanged at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. This is the highest number of workplace fatalities since 2007.

While nonfatal injuries due to falls were on the rise in 2018, fatalities resulting from falls declined. In 2018, 791 of the fatalities were a result of fall-related incidents, down 11% from 2017. In large part that was due to a 14% decline in falls to a lower level which accounted for 615 fatalities in 2018, a 5 year low. Despite an overall decline, 16 states had more fall fatalities in 2018 than the prior year. 

Construction fall fatalities continue to lead all other industries, more than triple the next highest ranking industry (trade, transportation, & utilities). In 2018, construction workers suffered 338 fatal fall injuries. 

2018 Workplace Fall Fatalities by Industry
2018 Workplace Fall Fatalities by Industry

CFOI counts both intentional and preventable deaths. Preventable deaths (accidents or unintentional incidents) also increased by 2% from 2017 to 2018. Injuries and illnesses from falls are considered preventable incidents that can be minimized or reduced with proper fall protection


Six-Figure Penalties Continue from OSHA

Employers can expect to see more six-figure penalties in 2020 as a result of OSHA’s new enforcement weighting system that emphasizes inspections for four construction industry hazards. The updated weighting system now prioritizes inspections for fall hazards, caught-in or between hazards, electrical hazards, and struck-by hazards.

Six-Figure Penalties Continue from OSHA
Six-Figure Penalties Continue from OSHA

Last week, OSHA announced it cited Action Roofing Services Inc for exposing employees to safety hazards at two Florida work sites, accumulating $146,280 in penalties. OSHA cited the contractor for failing to provide fall protection to employees installing roofing tile at both work sites. Citations also included improper ladder use and deficient training of recognizing and preventing fall hazard penalties.

In December alone, OSHA announced 12 six-figure penalties. In addition to the one previously mentioned, the citations were:

  • $191,895 – Mavis Southeast LLC (Mavis Discount Tire) – Georgia – fall, struck-by, and other hazards
  • $291,724 – CJM Roofing Inc. – Florida – fall and other hazards
  • $195,034 – Wright Metal Product Crates, LLC – Indiana – amputation, chemical and other safety hazards
  • $104,192 – Dollar Tree Stores – Alabama – Struck-by hazards, unsafe stacking hazards
  • $222, 579 – ArcelorMittal Cleveland LLC – Ohio – fall hazards
  • $431,517 – United Parcel Service – Massachusetts – Multiple safety hazards (4 repeated and 7 serious safety violations)
  • $312,576 – Dollar Tree Stores – Alabama – slip, trip, fall hazards, unsafe stacking, and exit blocking hazards
  • $208,384 – Dollar Tree Stores – Connecticut – exit and storage hazards
  • $200,451 – Chanell Roofing and Home Improvement – Ohio – fall hazards
  • $551,226 – Dana Railcar – Pennsylvania – confined space hazards
  • $205,098 – Martin Davila (Davila Construction) – Missouri – fall hazards

Construction related penalties have seen an increase in egregious willful, repeat, and serious workplace safety violations with citations for fall hazards resulting in some of OSHA’s largest penalties. These are preventable injuries and penalties with proper fall protection systems in place. As six-figure penalties continue from OSHA, protect your workers and financial position by ensuring you have implemented compliant and reliable fall protection solutions.


Happy New Year from FPS

We look forward to continued partnerships and protecting the work force from work place falls in the coming year and beyond.

The FPS Office will be closed Wednesday, January 1st.


MIOSHA Awards Safety & Health Minded Orgs

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) announced the award of $870,000 in training grants to 20 nonprofit organizations. The grants are awarded to employer groups, labor organizations, and other nonprofits who have shown a commitment and effort toward enhancing safety and health training.

MIOSHA Awards Safety & Health Minded Orgs
MIOSHA Awards Safety & Health Minded Orgs

During the 2019 grant period, more than 20,000 employees attended training sessions funded by MIOSHA CET training grants. These efforts increase safety awareness in the workplace and encourage work practices that result in fewer injuries, illnesses, and fatalities on work sites. Grant recipients are required to demonstrate how their efforts will meet specific objectives and must file quarterly activity and financial reports with MIOSHA who monitors the grant programs and observes on-site operations.

“Bold solutions are needed to ensure Michigan’s working men and women are safe on the job as they build and strengthen our communities,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I am committed to protecting Michigan workers, improving workplace safety and health is a wise investment that benefits business and ensures workers return home.”

MIOSHA awards Consultation Education and Training (CET) grants on an annual basis for the development and implementation of safety and health training and services to supplement CET division activities. The CET grant program was initiated as part of the MIOSHA effort to help assure a safe and healthful workplace. These grants are awarded on an open competitive basis to Michigan management/employer groups, labor/employee organizations and other non-profit groups such as universities, hospitals, and service organizations.

The CET grant program aims to increase the number of employers and employees receiving occupational safety and health education, training, and prevention services, especially focused on employers with less than 100 employees. The program encourages the development of new strategies for providing occupational safety and health education, training, and prevention services and increasing the number of providers offering these services in the state of Michigan.

Michigan ranked as the 12th highest state in number of workplace fall fatalities in 2018 (20) and 20th in number of nonfatal falls to a lower level (1,090) according to recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fall protection training resources are among their featured topics for grant products and reference documents.


Happy Holidays from FPS

The FPS offices will be closed Tuesday, December 24th and Wednesday, December 25th.


Workers Incurred 2.8M Injuries or Illnesses in 2018

The U.S. Board of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employer-Reported Workplace Injury and Illness data from 2018. The rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illness among private industry employees was unchanged for the first time since 2012. The reported incident rate is 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers with the private industry reporting that workers incurred 2.8M injuries or illnesses in 2018. 

Workers Incurred 2.8M Injuries or Illnesses in 2018
Workers Incurred 2.8M Injuries or Illnesses in 2018

The data released are estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). Each year, approximately 200,000 employers report work-related injuries or illnesses of workers who require medical care beyond first aid. The SOII presents estimates of counts and incidence rates of employer-reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses by industry and type of case, as well as detailed estimates of case circumstances and worker characteristics for cases that resulted in days away from work. 

The incidence rate for total recordable cases (TRC) in the private industry also remain unchanged from a year ago. This is the first year since 2012 that the TRC rate did not decline. The incidence rates for days away from work (DAFW) cases and for days of job transfer and restriction only (DJTR) cases did not change from 2017. Within private industry, there were 900,380 injuries or illnesses that caused a worker to miss at least one day of work in 2018. 

BLS has generated estimates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses for many industries as defined in the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAISC) manual. You can get more information on your specific industry, various case circumstances, and worker characteristics on their website.

Falls, Slips, and Trips were slightly on the rise in 2018 after a three year decline with 240,160 incidents (up from 227,760 in 2017). Most injuries from fall hazards can be minimized or reduced with proper fall protection.


Understand the OSHA Inspection Process

Ensuring compliance with OSHA standards is a critical element of the agency’s mission to keep workers safe. OSHA inspections were on the rise in 2019 and that trend is expected to continue into 2020 as they remain committed to using enforcement and compliance assistance to promote a safe workplace that benefits everyone. OSHA recently released a short video to help you understand the OSHA inspection process.

Understand the OSHA Inspection Process
Understand the OSHA inspection process.

There are several reasons OSHA may visit you for an inspection:

  • Imminent danger situations
  • Worker fatalities
  • Hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye
  • Worker complaints
  • Referrals
  • Targeted inspections
  • Follow up inspections

OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers are experienced and well trained industrial hygienists and safety professionals. The Compliance Officer will arrive at your site and the inspection will begin with a presentation of their credentials. The inspection is a three-part process that includes an opening conference, a walk-around, and a closing conference.

During the opening conference, you will learn the reason for the OSHA inspection. The Compliance Officer will also explain the scope of the inspection, walk-around procedures, worker representation and the need for worker interviews. The company will be asked to provide an employee representative to walk around the site with the Compliance Officer.

During the walk-around, the Compliance Officer will talk privately with the employees asking some of the following questions:

  • How long have you worked for the company?
  • Have you or anyone else been injured or had close calls on the job?
  • Does your employer provide personal protective equipment?
  • How often does the company provide training and what is included?
  • Are there any improvements you would suggest to make working conditions safer?

After the walk-around, the Compliance Officer will conduct a closing conference with the employer and designated representatives. They will discuss the findings of the inspection, any possible corrective action to be taken, and set a reasonable timeline to complete any corrections. The Compliance Officer will explain any course of action the employer may take following the inspection and off any applicable consultation services. 

The Compliance Officer will compile a report including the details of the inspection and documenting possible violations. The report is sent to the area OSHA director who determines whether or not a citation is issued. 

If a citation is issued, the employer has 15 working days to take action, such as requesting an informal meeting with the area OSHA Director to discuss any issues or penalties or contesting the citation. 

OSHA works to provide all employers with the information and resources they need to comply with standards and provide safety information to their workers. You can find all OSHA resources on their website including the video to help you understand the OSHA inspection process, safety tips, standards, compliance assistance programs, and other training tools.

Fall Protection Services offers nationwide inspections on existing fall protection systems regardless of manufacturer or installer, completed by our experienced and certified inspection technicians. We also offer onsite fall protection analysis of your job site, helping you identify areas of need and customizing an OSHA compliant solution.