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OSHA: Agricultural Risks and Prevention

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With all the risks involved in agriculture, employees must remain diligent in their efforts to prevent injury. Noise exposure is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in the agriculture industry. As such, the agriculture industry should implement ways to educate the risks associated with the work, as well as provide adequate training to prevent such injuries.

Exposure to high sound levels increases a worker’s likelihood of hearing injury. Because agriculture uses noisy equipment like tractors, chain saws, grain dryers, and other heavy equipment for extended periods of time, OSHA [recommends] hearing protection for sound levels above 90 decibels or exposure to high sound levels of eight hours or longer.

Employers undertake the responsibility to protect their employees. Here are a few tips to help reduce noise exposures:

Equipment

Both providing appropriate and sufficient equipment is imperative to adequate protection. Perform regular maintenance checks on all equipment to ensure there are no machine parts increasing decibels while in use. Replacing outdated, worn, or defective parts can reduce noise levels. Remaining up to date on equipment models and featured tools for such equipment can also reduce noise levels.

Administration

Delegating work on rotation can help reduce exposure to noisy equipment. For example, having a worker or group of workers operating a loud machine rotates to a less noisy task after a set period of time could reduce exposure to such high noise levels and risks. Individuals with already developed hearing problems should not be tasked with high noise tasks or work in high noise work areas.

Proactive

Be proactive in identifying any potential risks and preventative methods to reduce hearing injuries. For example, if an individual displays symptoms or complains of symptoms of potential hearing loss, referring him or her to an audiologist to determine a potential injury can prevent further injury. Being proactive can also include awareness of your surroundings, such as ensuring all employees are following safety protocols and adequate safety equipment is provided to all workers. For more information on safety and health in agriculture, please visit OSHA’s website which provides helpful tools to assist with such concerns. If you’re not sure if you are in compliance with OSHA standards or would like to learn more about risk management, please contact Harbor America. We value the safety and wellbeing of all employees and have a team of safety and risk management experts that are more than happy to help find a solution that best suits your business needs.

 

Source: Agriculture Risk Advisor

OSHA x

2019 Year-End OSHA Updates

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is preparing proposals in the new year. Many of OSHA regulations on the agenda pertain to and affect blue-collar industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and manual labor. Two proposals on the agenda for the beginning of 2020 will discuss forklift and walking-working surface regulations.

The forklift proposal will incorporate updates to the 1969 powered industrial trucks standard from the current industry consensus standard. OSHA is gathering data to determine adequate requirements for the maintenance and use of powered industrial trucks, as well as the training of operators.

The walking-working surface proposal will likely be introduced after the forklift proposal and will serve to refine the 2016 standards. OSHA has received feedback about the vagueness and has proposed updates to explicate that language.

The agenda addressing Puerto Rico has been delayed due to the inability to meet requirements for approval. OSHA has progressed in completing the final phases of the Standards Improvement Project and updating its quantitative fit-testing requirements for respirators.

While it may not be on the upcoming agenda for 2020, OSHA is shifting to limit online training to promote in-person, interactive training for workers to provide opportunities to ask questions, receive feedback from trainers, and ensure compliance with OSHA requirements in real-time. OSHA is not opting to eliminate online training altogether. It is in fact interested in providing a qualified trainer hotline that workers can have access to during online training. However, OSHA is adamant that online training is not optimal for these types of industries.

Other regulation proposals have made their way to the final ruling stages.

  • Construction industry cranes and derricks standard
  • Additional exemptions to be added to roadway work
  • Beryllium exposure clarification of the ancillary provisions of the general industry standard
  • Construction and shipyard standards

While there are more pending proposals to be discussed, they are not on OSHA’s agenda as of yet. Here are some other items that are pending OSHA’s discussion and final rule.

  •  Update hazard communication standard to conform with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
  • Update “confined space” in construction welding and cutting standard to a clear, concise definition
  •  Update communication tower standard protections in small, highly hazardous industry
  • Create standards and regulations for issues like tree care and workplace violence

It is important for business owners to stay updated on OSHA regulations and changes to regulations as it affects both the way business is conducted, as well as the safety and compliance of a business’s workers. If you’re uncertain of how OSHA affects your business or would like to evaluate your current policies, contact Harbor America. As your partner in HR services, we can help with workers’ compensation, technology, compliance support, commercial insurance, and safety and risk management. You don’t need to be an expert because Harbor America is staffed with experts who would love to help you find innovative, effective business solutions tailored to you!

Sources:

https://safety.blr.com/workplace-safety-news/safety-administration/OSHA-Occupational-Safety-and-Health-Administration/OSHA-plans-forklift-walking-working-surfaces-propo/

https://ohsonline.com/articles/2019/11/20/osha-stresses-limits-on-online-training.aspx?m=1

https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/19164-osha-advisory-committee-set-to-meet-for-first-time-in-three-years

DustHazards x

Avoiding Dust Hazards in Agriculture

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While we have already explored the importance of prioritizing respiratory protection for safeguarding employees from exposure to airborne contaminants while on the job, we wanted to dive in a little further on organic dust toxicity syndrome (ODTS) in the agriculture industry.

Agriculture is “defined as embracing all forms of activity connected with growing, harvesting and primary processing of all types of crops; with breeding, raising, and caring for animals; and with tending gardens and nurseries.”[1] As one of the oldest activities known to man, agriculture is one of the more common professions around the world.

While the notion of farming brings wide open, rolling fields and clean, fresh air to mind, the reality is that farming is filled with potential respiratory hazards, including dust. Dust can appear in any work setting, including:

  • Mineral dust from mineral processing
  • Chemical dust from bulk chemicals and pesticides
  • Vegetable dust and pollen from wood, flour, cotton, or tea
  • Mold and spores

Workers who are most likely to become exposed to work-related dust include those who are “[exposed] to soil, intensive animal husbandry, dry vegetable products, or agrochemicals.”[2] This organic dust (dust that comes from hay, grain pesticides, chemicals, feed and bedding particles, or hair, feathers, and droppings “can lead to congestion, coughing or wheezing, sensitivity to dust, and frequent infections, such as colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia.”[3]

The best ways to prevent prolonged dust exposure or limit the amount of inhaled dust particles are:

  • Wear proper respiratory protection or personal protective equipment at all times.
  • Supply and regularly employ automated equipment to maneuver materials with high organic dust content.
  • Use proper wetting techniques when moving or working with feed, cleaning grain bins, or any dusty surface or container.
  • Ensure ventilation systems are well maintained in barns and silos to minimize worker exposure to dust.

Harbor America approaches safety as a crucial business element. Contact us to learn more about our wide range of accident prevention and OSHA compliance resources, including respiratory safety and procedures for avoiding dust hazards.

[1] American Thoracic Society: Respiratory Health Hazards in Agriculture

[2] World Health Organization: Hazard Prevention and Control in the Work Environment

[3] United States Department of Labor: Youth in Agriculture: Organic Dust

Ladder Safety Tips

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Not only are falls one of the top three most disabling workplace injuries, but ladders are also sixth on OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Volitions list.[1] Most of the ladder-related workplace incidents occur due to basic ladder safety rule violations. Proper use of ladders including ladder storage and adequate training can significantly reduce related injuries and accidents. Contact Harbor America to inquire about OSHA compliance resources, online training manuals, or compliance posters as an extension of your total package of safety and risk management resources.

What Employers Need to Know

  • More than 700 ladder injuries occur every day.
  • The most common ladder accidents include missing the last step/rung when climbing down or overreaching.
  • Choose the right ladder by thinking about the task, the size or style of the ladder, and the ladder can handle your weight.
  • Avoid climbing the ladder if you feel dizzy, if it is too windy, or the ladder is not in proper operating condition.
  • Always remember to take your time and never rush to finish a job.

Contact Harbor America to bolster your total safety and risk management resources.

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Maintaining Clean Room Safety Standards

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Cleanrooms are a standard facet in most manufacturing facilities. Cleanrooms control the working and storage environment to regulate air quality, temperature, and moisture (humidity). These rooms are reserved for sensitive electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, sterile medical devices, or the manufacturing of products where the contamination could compromise the products’ structure or functionality. And of all potential contamination threats, people pose the largest risk of contamination.

There are different cleanroom standards for which organizations should abide by as they help to determine the level of production safety. Ensuring the facility meets the air quality standards begins with employees wearing proper cleanroom equipment and attire, as specified by the organization. Contamination, no matter how inadvertent or small, could cost your company downtime and increased production costs.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent contamination:

  • Encourage employees to practice good hygiene to limit contaminants. Everything from perfume or cologne, jewelry, make-up, or gum can be important to consider when working in a cleanroom.
  • Regularly remind employees of the proper way to put on and take off disposable cleanroom garments. Each company’s garment procedures may be unique, but the one constant is that specific garment procedures will be required, and employees should receive follow-up training on a regular basis.
  • Supplies used in a cleanroom should be designated as such. From pens and notebooks to any other tools or instruments needed to complete day-to-day activities should be used only in the cleanroom.
  • Instruct employees to clean their workstations, tools, equipment, and supplies after their work, or use of those items, is complete.

Ensuring your employees are well trained and reminded regularly of cleanroom guidelines will save your company thousands of dollars in lost productivity or downtime by lessening the risk of cleanroom contamination.

As you understand the best practices for your business, Harbor America understands the areas of your business that will require documented procedures for continual employee development. Adding a Harbor America human resources expert to your arsenal of valuable resources can help to ensure cleanroom contaminants are limited and not the result of insufficient training or miscommunicated policy and procedure. Are you ready to learn more about effectively managing contamination risk?

HazardCommunication x

Hazard Communication Program Plans

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Each employer who has employees working with or around hazardous chemicals is required to implement a formal hazard communication program to help manage and maintain employee safety. These five steps are crucial to keeping employees safe from hazardous chemicals.

  1. Develop a written program plan to document the business policy for hazardous chemicals. Details of the plan should include how to communicate a chemical hazard, employee training, and an inspection schedule. The plan can and should contain additional details specific to your business that may be pertinent to a successful hazard communication program plan.
  2. Create a complete inventory of all hazardous chemicals. Inventory should be taken regularly with any deviations reported immediately.
  3. Employees should be able to access chemical safety data sheets (SDS), which include a full library of the chemicals housed on-site. Find the full 16 sections required for a complete SDS here.
  4. Hazardous chemicals should be clearly labeled with highly visible permanent labels.
  5. Employees should receive regular training and communication regarding hazardous chemicals. Reinforcing the hazard communication program plan and details about how to handle and report issues when dealing with hazardous chemicals is the key to the success of your program.

OSHA’s sample hazard communication plan can be found here.

Employee safety is one of the most important investments you will routinely make as an employer. It helps to reestablish a strong sense of culture and workplace safety for employees and managers. Contact us today to learn about the different compliance resources offered by Harbor America.

Prioritizing Respiratory Protection

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Respiratory protection is a priority when it comes to safeguarding employees from exposure to airborne contaminants while on the job. While employees may find the act of wearing respiratory protection to be a hassle, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that “when respiratory protection is required employers must have a respiratory protection program as specified in OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard.”[1]

Some respirator safety and use tips include:

  • Different types of respirators (single-use, half-face, full-face, air purifying, etc.) should be available as various types of protection may be required in a single workplace.
  • Respiratory protection facepieces should be inspected prior to use. Instruct employees to alert their supervisor if the inspection yields a crack, puncture, tear, leak, or displays any other unusual condition.
  • Request that employees keep track of their respirators to reduce the risk of inadvertently using/wearing another employee’s equipment.

OSHA sponsored respiratory protection training videos can be located on the United States Department of Labor website. Click here to access it.

Harbor America helps take the burden off employers by supplying necessary OSHA compliance resources. Contact Harbor America for more information.

[1] https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3789info.pdf