Safety Archives - Harbor America

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

FireExtinguisherChecklist x

Creating a Portable Fire Extinguisher Checklist

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It is reported that nearly 80%[1] of fires could have been extinguished by a portable fire extinguisher. Unless employees are tasked with fire safety, they may never actually notice the thoughtfully placed fire extinguishers around the building.

Fire extinguishers are designed to fight small, early-stage fires that present a relatively small hazard to the operator. “Portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives…”[2] Fire extinguishers are designed for small, slow to grow fires with minimal smoke and heat.

Portable fire extinguishers require monthly visual inspections to help ensure the extinguisher is in proper operating condition. The best practice is to create a checklist for managing regular visual inspections. The below items should be included on the monthly checklist:

  • The extinguisher is easily located in a conspicuous, designated, and unobstructed location
  • The locking pin is in place
  • Tamper seal is unbroken
  • Extinguisher feels full when lifted
  • The pressure gauge is within the operable range
  • Legible operating instructions are facing outward
  • Check the last professional service date is within 12 months

Annual inspections may require additional time and more maintenance or testing to be completed by a certified fire suppression professional.

Protect your employees and business by ensuring you have the right fire prevention and protection in place. From fire extinguishers to automatic sprinklers secured overhead, these are your business’s best bet for extinguishing small, controllable fires.

Contact Harbor America to discuss preparing a unique safety plan specific to your business to reduce risks and keep your employees safe.

[1] Fireline: The Importance of Fire Extinguishers
[2] National Fire Protection Association: Fire Extinguisher

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.

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.

Machine Safeguarding Basics

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Machine guards may not always make your job easier, but they will keep you safe and are a necessity of the workplace and industry. Designed to protect workers from dangerous moving parts, employers recommend that machine guards are used as intended without being tampered with or removed. Check out our recommendations for machine safeguarding basics. Contact Harbor America with any questions.

Thousands of workers each year suffer injuries that could have been avoided with proper machine safeguarding. Safeguards must be in place to prevent a worker’s body from making contact with dangerous moving parts.  There are no workarounds; creating a workaround to avoid a safeguard defeats the purpose and can introduce new hazards to the work environment.  Guards should be secured to the machine and made out of durable material to withstand normal use conditions.

Contact Harbor America to learn more about accident prevention strategies.

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

Tractor Safety Tips

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The most common causes of serious injury on a tractor include rollovers, falling when climbing on or off, and being run over by a tractor or towed machinery. The Centers for Disease Control reported that tractor rollovers/overturns were the leading cause of death for farmers or farmworkers.[1] Regular review of tractor operation safety rules and regulations with employees can minimize the risk to employees.

What You Need to Know

  • The greatest dangers when driving a tractor include collisions, rollovers, run-overs, or being caught in moving parts.
  • Reduce your speed when turning to avoid a roll-over accident.
  • Each day, inspect the tractor before beginning work. Use a safety operation checklist in addition to visual inspections.
  • Collision hazards can include hidden obstacles such as rocks or a tree stump, or low hanging branches or power lines.

Take control of employee safety by regularly reviewing tractor safety rules and regulations. Contact Harbor America to start improving employee safety today.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aginjury/default.html



Reducing the Risk of Hand Injury

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On the job, an employee’s hands are involved in almost every task performed. In a typical office situation, workers are at risk of suffering from repeated movements that increase the employee’s risk of carpal tunnel or tendon inflammation. On the farm, however, employees are at risk of far greater injuries to their hands and extremities.

While hand injuries on the job are quite common, there are steps employees can take to avoid these risks:

  • Never operate machinery that does not have an operational guard to protect an operator’s hands. If guards are damaged or need to be replaced, do so immediately once removed to avoid injury.
  • Employees should always protect their hands by wearing gloves suitable for the type of machinery they are using, when handling rough materials, lifting or moving objects.
  • Advise employees to always remove rings prior to beginning work. Rings can easily catch on machinery or other objects resulting in lacerations, broken bones, or other severe injuries.

Harbor America offers a wide range of accident and injury prevention strategies. Contact Harbor America to stay on the right side of risk.

Farm Machinery: Ensuring Employee Safety

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As one of the longest-running professions, agriculture in the United States has a rich history. Agriculture and modern-day farming have turned into one of the most hazardous industries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As an example, “every day, about 100 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury.” – [1]

Here are a few recommendations to reduce an employee’s injury risk:

Remain Alert

Aside from making sure employees are trained and fully able to handle heavy machinery (i.e. not impaired in any way or too tired), it is recommended that employers follow these general awareness safety tips:

  • Allow machinery to shut down fully prior to inspecting or performing repairs.
  • Do not remove or modify safety features.
  • Read and follow manufacturer instructions for operation.
  • Supervise inexperienced workers at all times.

Dress the Part

To avoid injuries, ask employees to wear tight-fitting clothing, tuck shirt into pants, and button long-sleeved shirts at the cuff. In an instance where gloves are necessary, verify they are task appropriate. Jewelry should not be worn. If a medical alert bracelet is necessary, secure it with an adhesive band.

Plan Ahead

Create a farm safety emergency plan, if you don’t have one already. The plan should contain information on the location of the nearest first aid kit, routes to the nearest hospital, and a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses. This plan should be reviewed regularly with family and employees to ensure familiarity with the plan’s location and contents.

Harbor America supports employer safety practices, including those mentioned here. Learn more about safety and risk management solutions including accident prevention, OSHA compliance, and unique safety plans.


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aginjury/default.html

construction safety plan workers talking

Your Construction Business NEEDS a Safety Plan: Here’s Why

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Construction site safety is a hot topic of conversation lately. Everyone seems to have something to say about how to accomplish it if the number of articles and blog posts published online are any indication. From must-implement procedures to DIY safety plan templates, the spectrum seems to be covered – except for one question.

 Why does my business need a safety plan?

If your business is in the construction industry, and you do not already have a safety plan, here are a few of the biggest reasons you truly need one.

 1. Safety plans prevent avoidable accidents.

Not every construction accident is avoidable, but a safety plan helps to lower the overall risk of them occurring on a job site. Start by identifying the most common types of accidents and the steps necessary to stop them from happening. Add procedures for others as necessary. As your workers follow procedures, the number of these accidents will decrease.

 2. Keeping your workers safe helps your bottom line.

This does not just apply to your budget for a specific job you are working on. It applies to your entire business. Workers will not stay long with a business that cuts corners and puts them in danger just to save a few dollars here and there.

Some employees may find it irritating to have to continually sign forms saying they understand and will follow the safety procedures for whichever site you send them to. However, they would rather do that than get hurt because there was no safety procedure to stop it. You, on the other hand, may have to go through the hassle of generating the paperwork your workers need to sign off on, but that is nothing compared to the costs you may incur if an accident happens.  Besides, with a streamlined and efficient safety plan, there should be minimal time or paperwork involved.

 3. Safety plans lower your insurance rates.

Implementing a safety plan will help you save money on insurance down the line. Why? An effective safety plan reduces the potential for accidents on the job. The fewer accidents there are, the more willing your insurance company will be to lower your rates. The lower your insurance rates, the more money you have to expand your business.

 4. You need to protect yourself.

Safety plans do not just protect your employees. In certain situations, they protect you as well. A thoroughly written and effective safety plan puts procedures in place that everyone agrees to perform before starting the work. A written safety plan and signed documents from all the workers on the project takes some of the liability off of you if an accident occurs.

5. Safety plans help your business’s reputation.

People are attracted to businesses that actively work to keep their workers safe – potential customers and employees alike. If you want to be known as a safe and reliable construction business, setting a safety plan into motion is a step in the right direction. Word of mouth is a power machine, and it will build your reputation as a business that values safety. Customers and quality workers are drawn to that, and they will be drawn to you.

6. Your bids stay competitive.

Do you have to include a safety plan when you send in your bid? Not necessarily, but worksite safety is becoming more of a concern all the time. Companies are starting to add safety plans to the list of required documents in a bid package. Creating a safety plan now and including it in future bids will help you stay in the running for more of the jobs you want to get.

Ready to take the next step and create a safety plan for your business? Harbor America can help with this and many other HR and compliance tasks – click here to get started today.