Former CalGeo Board Member Mike Miller of Stoney-Miller Consultants recently delivered key testimony in support of the City of San Diego’s defense of a liability lawsuit stemming from a 2007 landslide in La Jolla. Miller’s expert testimony helped relieve the city of responsibility for the damage to 65 homes, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. Read Read »
Former CalGeo Board Member Mike Miller of Stoney-Miller Consultants recently delivered key testimony in support of the City of San Diego’s defense of a liability lawsuit stemming from a 2007 landslide in La Jolla. Miller’s expert testimony helped relieve the city of responsibility for the damage to 65 homes, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. Read more here.
Affiliate member Geopier Foundation Company-West is proud to announce it is changing names to GeoTech Foundation Company-West in recognition of the firm’s expanding product line. All other aspects of the company will remain unchanged.
Affiliate member Geopier Foundation Company-West is proud to announce it is changing names to GeoTech Foundation Company-West in recognition of the firm’s expanding product line. All other aspects of the company will remain unchanged.
Cal/OSHA requires employers to provide safety training in a language that is understandable to their workers. With today’s multilingual workforce, the attempt to comply with this regulation can be a challenge. In order to assure that all workers understand important safety information, employers first must be aware of their workers’ native languages. They also need Read »
Cal/OSHA requires employers to provide safety training in a language that is understandable to their workers. With today’s multilingual workforce, the attempt to comply with this regulation can be a challenge. In order to assure that all workers understand important safety information, employers first must be aware of their workers’ native languages. They also need to assess their workers’ ability to understand English in written and verbal forms. Then they need to provide instruction in those native languages, provide translators, or translate the safety materials.
In order for employers to identify the best way to communicate to their multi-lingual work force; they can test worker understanding using simple and complex written documents and verbal instructions. Workers may be uncomfortable demonstrating that they don’t understand the information presented in English. They may be reluctant to ask for instructions in their own language or for repeated English instructions. A worker may nod their head or say “yes” while you explain something, but may not understand you. Ask the worker to repeat instructions back to you. Ask them to demonstrate the technique, etc. that you just taught them. Encourage workers to ask for help or clarification when they need it.
If an employer translates or offers training in another language, the same materials and amount of detail must be covered as the English language training. Interactive training provides workers with hands-on experience and allows them a chance to ask questions. Give simple, direct verbal instructions such as “wear your hardhat” instead of “hard hats are required onsite to protect your health and safety” and give directions in the order that they should be performed. For example, “First, open the door. Then, remove the hardware.” Don’t say, “Remove the hardware after you open the door”.
Workplace documents that must be translated include hazard warning signs and lockout-tagout devices and signs. Safety and hazard signs should have pictures and words that everyone can understand. Confirm that all of your employees understand the signs’ directions. If the job has many technical terms for material and equipment, teach workers what the words mean.
Translate company safety policies and procedures. Translate equipment manuals and instruction booklets. Provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) in appropriate languages so your workers know how to properly handle, store, and dispose of chemicals. When you have materials translated, ask a bilingual reader to review them for mistakes.
Identify bilingual workers that can serve as interpreters on the job site, during training, or act as resources for reviewing written materials. Make sure workers know who is bilingual on the job and encourage them to use interpreters as a communication resource.
Fortunately, the majority of companies seldom have to deal with fires. Unfortunately if a fire does occur it can be life threatening and devastating to any business. Whether it be a fire in the office or lab that destroys equipment and records, or a fire in the field that jeopardizes the health and safety of Read »
Fortunately, the majority of companies seldom have to deal with fires. Unfortunately if a fire does occur it can be life threatening and devastating to any business. Whether it be a fire in the office or lab that destroys equipment and records, or a fire in the field that jeopardizes the health and safety of our employees and the public, it is important for each of us to always be alert for fire hazards and take all the necessary steps to prevent a fire from starting.
What is Fire
Fire is a chemical reaction resulting from a mixture of the following three components.
To prevent a fire, be sure fuel, oxygen and heat don’t mix.
Drilling and Field Operation Hazards
Fire extinguishers are to be available in appropriate work areas and as required by law. Fire extinguishers must be inspected monthly and serviced annually. There are four classes of fire extinguishers Classes A, B, C, and D:
Class A. Class A extinguishers are used on ordinary materials like wood, paper, cloth or trash. Class A extinguishers are numbered 1-A, 2-A, etc. The larger the number, the larger fire it can handle. A 2-A extinguisher has twice the capacity of a 1-A extinguisher. Class A extinguishers should be kept within 75 feet of the area they are likely to be used.
Class B. Class B extinguishers are used to fight fires involving gases or flammable liquids such as oil, gasoline, paint solvents and grease. Class B extinguishers are also labeled with numbers. A 5-B extinguisher should be able to suppress a 5 foot square fire, a 10-B extinguisher should be able to suppress a 10 foot square fire etc. Class B extinguishers should be kept within 50 feet of the area they are likely to be used.
Class C. Class C extinguishers are used to fight electrical fires. Class C extinguishers are not numbered. Never use water to fight an electrical fire.
Combination ABC or BC. Combination extinguishers are used to fight fires of one or more of the classes described above.
Class D. Class D extinguishers are used to fight fires involving combustible metals such as sodium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, powdered aluminum and titanium. Class D extinguishers are not numbered. They should be kept within 75 feet of the area they are to be used.
Use of the fire extinguisher:
Do not risk your life trying to extinguish a fire which may get out of control.
Heat illness is a silent hazard. Heat illness victims may not realize they’re in trouble until the symptoms are advanced. If left unattended, heat illness could lead to heat stroke, a condition that is life-threatening. Construction worker employers should be familiar with Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention regulation to prevent possible heat-related illness or death. The Read »
Heat illness is a silent hazard. Heat illness victims may not realize they’re in trouble until the symptoms are advanced. If left unattended, heat illness could lead to heat stroke, a condition that is life-threatening. Construction worker employers should be familiar with Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention regulation to prevent possible heat-related illness or death. The main points of the regulation include training, water, shade and planning.
Training – Workers and supervisors should be trained in both environmental (working conditions that create the possibility of heat illness) and personal (individual’s age, degree of acclimatization, health, etc.) risk factors , how to recognize the early warning signs of heat illness in themselves and in fellow workers, and in first aid measures. Training should include how to prevent heat illnesses, the importance of drinking water, how to slowly build up heat tolerance, and what emergency medical services to call to prevent a delay in life-saving services. When workers cannot communicate directly with emergency services, the employer must identify someone who can.
Water – For an 8 hour work shift, employers are required to make 2 gallons of water per employee available. Not all of the water needs to be available at once, but the water supply should allow at least one quart per employee at all times. Workers should consume about 3 – 4 cups of water every hour (about one cup every 20 minutes) starting at the beginning of the work shift and throughout the day. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks, which cause dehydration, should be avoided.
Shade – Employers are required to provide workers with a shaded rest area that has good air movement. The area can include buildings, canopies, lean-tos, or even shade trees; a car or other vehicle interiors can be used if shaded, air conditioned, or kept cool in some other way. However, the rest area should not be hazardous (e.g. not underneath tractors or in confined spaces). Employers must allow workers to take periodic rest breaks (when they request it) in a cool or shaded area. The rest area should have enough room to allow workers to rest and sit comfortably. A rest break in the shade for at least five minutes can reduce potential heat illness.
Planning – Employers need to develop and implement written procedures for complying with the heat illness prevention standard. This should consist of responding to symptoms of possible heat illness, including how emergency medical services will be provided should they become necessary; contacting emergency medical services, and if necessary, for transporting employees to a point where they can be reached by an emergency medical service provider; and ensuring that, in the event of an emergency, clear and precise directions to the work site can and will be provided as needed to emergency responders.
Most heat-related health problems can be prevented, or the risk of developing them reduced, if a few basic precautions are taken. Encourage workers to:
Summertime work will be more enjoyable and productive if every worker on site is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness and to know how to prevent, control, and respond to its effects.
The 76 million “baby boomers” are growing older and our workforce is graying with them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of “older” workers (over age 55) will increase steadily from 12% in 2000 to 20% by 2025. The physical changes associated with aging could affect workers and their safety on the Read »
The 76 million “baby boomers” are growing older and our workforce is graying with them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of “older” workers (over age 55) will increase steadily from 12% in 2000 to 20% by 2025. The physical changes associated with aging could affect workers and their safety on the job. Employers and employees should prepare for the aging workforce now to ensure that job tasks and worksites remain safe.
Physical changes vary by individual, but as we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and flexibility; a 15-20% decrease in strength by age 60 is typical. Employers should prepare for this by examining work tasks and determining the physical requirements for each job. Job tasks should not require that employees work at their maximum capacity repeatedly or over extended periods of time; this can lead to injury to a worker of any age. Altering job tasks and processes and providing assistive devices such as hand trucks, dollies, and hoists can reduce worker effort on the job.
A worker’s balance, vision and hearing may also change with age. For example, a worker age 60 generally requires eight times the amount of light to see as clearly as a 20-year-old. Employers can prepare now by examining the current workplace lighting and upgrading it as necessary. Additional lighting will allow all workers to see their job tasks and each other more clearly. Non-skid flooring, the addition of handrails, and an emphasis on good housekeeping can prevent slips and falls. Communication methods may also need evaluation because verbal commands may be more difficult for an older worker to hear, resulting in hazardous mistakes.
Employees can minimize the effects of aging by maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, and strength-training programs to build muscle and bone mass. Because sleep regulation is more difficult with age, employees should adjust their sleep habits to remain well-rested. Sleep deprivation can cause reduced attention and reaction times, a safety hazard. Older workers need to know that the ability to adapt to temperature changes (thermoregulation) decreases with age. They should be prepared with layers of clothing and close monitoring because heat and cold will affect them faster than when they were younger.
Both employers and employees will need to work together to make sure that the older worker can do the job safely within their physical abilities. Employers should always try to fit the job task and tools to the individual for maximum safety and this is especially important for older workers. Likewise, older employees need to know their limits. If there are job tasks that they cannot safely do anymore, they need to communicate with their supervisor and consider job accommodations to protect themselves and their coworkers. Does the workplace need a complete overhaul to suit older workers? No; but it is always best to adjust the job tasks and tools to the individual, regardless of age. Good risk management such as job hazard analyses, ergonomics, and wellness programs can maximize safety for older workers as well as their younger counterparts.
Summer is the dry and windy season when eye hazards are most common. In our business we are exposed daily to potential hazards that could result in serious injury or even blindness. In the United States every day there are approximately 1,000 eye injuries in the workplace. Each year there are over 100,000 disabling eye Read »
Summer is the dry and windy season when eye hazards are most common. In our business we are exposed daily to potential hazards that could result in serious injury or even blindness. In the United States every day there are approximately 1,000 eye injuries in the workplace. Each year there are over 100,000 disabling eye injuries; there is a disabling eye injury occurring approximately every five minutes.
Types of hazards that can cause eye injuries
The following are the most common types of hazards that can cause an injury to the eye:
Flying particles. Blowing dust or sand on a job site; metal flakes emitted from tools or machinery; dust from sweeping the floor; sawdust; and particles or bugs blown into the cab of your vehicle when driving down the road (or riding your bicycle) are all potential hazards that can result in eye injuries.
Splashing liquid. Muddy water splashed by a passing vehicle on a construction site; molten liquid such as sulfur cement used as a capping compound in the lab; hazardous chemicals such as trichloroethane for asphalt testing and cleaning solutions used in the office are all liquids that can be splashed and cause an eye injury.
High intensity light or heat rays. Sparks, hot slag, and ultraviolet rays emitted from welding or cutting operations can cause eye injury.
Protruding objects. Sharp protruding objects found on construction sites, in poorly lighted areas, or confined spaces can cause eye injury.
Glare and reflection. Glare from natural or artificial light sources can result in eye strain and fatigue.
How to protect yourself from eye injuries
Personal protective equipment. One of the most important pieces of personal protective equipment is eye protection. To protect against flying particles or protruding objects, wear approved safety glasses. For particles approaching from above, below, or either side, wear safety goggles or be sure the safety glasses have side-shields. To protect from splashing liquids or chemicals, a face shield or goggles may be necessary. A tight fitting face mask will provide eye protection against toxic atmospheres. To protect against sparks, hot slag and the hazards of welding and cutting, safety glasses and a welding helmet equipped with the proper shade of filter lens will be necessary. The American Welding Society specifies the minimum protective shade and a suggested (comfort) shade number (ANSI/ASC Z49.1).
Inspect your hand tools. Before using a hammer or any hand tool that could emit a flying particle, inspect the tool to be sure it is in good working order.
Carry a flashlight. Use a flashlight to illuminate areas of reduced visibility such as a basement or crawl space beneath a floor.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). To protect against hazardous chemicals review the MSDS sheet.
Site Reconnaissance. Conduct a site reconnaissance (whenever possible) before commencing work in an area where protruding objects are suspected.
Adjust your work station. Adjust your video display terminal to reduce glare from windows or lights.
Take a break. When working at a video display terminal, take regular breaks to relax your eyes and focus on objects at varying distances.
Close Doors and Windows. When working in a windy environment or when driving, keep openings closed to reduce airborne particles.
Orient Yourself. When working in the field, orient your operation (whenever possible) to reduce glare.
Protective guards. Machinery and equipment with moving parts should have protective guards to reduce the possibility of flying particles.
Construct a screen. Welders must ensure that a screen, curtain or plywood barrier protects others from seeing the welding arc.
What to do in the event of an eye injury
Chemicals. For chemical burns, flush eyes for minimum of 15-20 minutes. Flush from inside corner out. Do not rub the eyes. Call for medical assistance immediately.
Impaled objects. Do not remove impaled objects. Keep the patient calm. Cover the injured eye (impaled object) with a paper cup for protection. Cover the uninjured eye also to decrease eye movement. Call for medical assistance immediately.
Small particle in the eye. Do not rub the eye. If the object is under the upper lid, pull the lid away from the eye and down over the lower lid. Hold the lid over the lower lid and allow tears to wash the particle away. If the object is under the lower lid, pull the lower lid away from the eyeball. Hold the lid away from the eyeball and allow tears to wash the particle away. Call for medical assistance if necessary.
Bleeding. Apply a loose dressing of clean cloth. Do not apply pressure. Call for medical assistance immediately.
Manufacturing functions, including processing, production, and distribution of products, is generally fast passed and labor-intensive. Many activities involved in getting the product to market can be physically demanding. And, although some physical exertion is good for the body, overexertion can result in injuries, physical fatigue, reduced work efficiency and a decrease in the speed and Read »
Manufacturing functions, including processing, production, and distribution of products, is generally fast passed and labor-intensive. Many activities involved in getting the product to market can be physically demanding. And, although some physical exertion is good for the body, overexertion can result in injuries, physical fatigue, reduced work efficiency and a decrease in the speed and quality of your work. Preventing injuries due to overexertion is a lot easier than correcting them. By implementing simple work practices, you can prevent many overexertion injuries.
Overexertion injuries are caused by tearing or stretching of tendons, ligaments or muscles when loads lifted, carried, pushed, pulled or otherwise handled exceed the limits of the joint system doing the work. The most important way to prevent injuries from overexertion is to correctly handle a load using proper lifting techniques and take rest breaks when you become excessively tired.
Throughout each manufacturing process activity, workers must remain aware of how they are physically performing to insure that they are following safe and healthy work practices and not overexerting themselves, especially when reaching for or lifting products and their containers. Even when product manufacturing is in full swing, workers should think about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and keep in mind the correct handling procedures they’re been taught to employ.
Workers shouldn’t try to move or lift an object they can’t safely handle. When in doubt, they should break down the load into smaller parts. If they can’t break a load down, they should use mechanical assists such as a hand truck, lifting device, forklift or cart. But, they should ensure that hand trucks, wheel barrels or other moving equipment are in good operating condition. The work saving device may put more strain on your body if it’s overloaded or doesn’t work properly. If the wheels on a cart are not aligned, they could strain your back, arms or shoulders when you try to move it. When no mechanical assists are available, ask for help from other workers.
Workers can protect themselves from overexertion strains, fatigue, and injury by taking care of their body, eating well, and exercising, and getting proper rest. Workers should be encouraged to stretch before work activities and during the day to increase flexibility. If muscles or ligaments have weakened over time from lack of exercise or age, they’re more susceptible to overexertion than if they’re physically fit. Encourage workers to take periodic breaks when they feel the need to re-energize and give over-worked muscles a chance to recover.
Monitor workloads to ensure that workers are performing at optimum efficiency but with minimum risk for overexertion injuries.
As temperatures rise, employers should have their Injury and Illness Prevention Program and emergency response procedures in place and ensure that all their workers are prepared for heated work conditions. Employers must also comply with California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standards which requires mandatory training for employees and supervisors on specific heat-related topics. Cal/OSHA studies show Read »
As temperatures rise, employers should have their Injury and Illness Prevention Program and emergency response procedures in place and ensure that all their workers are prepared for heated work conditions. Employers must also comply with California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standards which requires mandatory training for employees and supervisors on specific heat-related topics. Cal/OSHA studies show effective reduction of heat illness depends on written procedures, access to water, access to cooler areas, acclimatization and weather monitoring, emergency response, and employee and supervisor training.
Under the heat illness prevention regulation, employers are required to take four basic steps to prevent heat illness at all outdoor worksites that include developing and implementing written procedures on heat illness prevention and providing heat illness training to all workers–especially those who are not proficient in the English language. In addition, employers must provide their workers accessible, clean drinking water and proper shade or cooling areas. They should encourage workers to drink four 8-ounce cups of fresh water per hour. Other prevention measures include increasing the number of water and rest breaks or preventative recovery periods on hot days and encouraging the use of a “buddy system” to monitor workers in the field. Employers may consider starting the work day early and pacing work activities for their workers.
For those who work outdoors, the hot sun with high temperatures can be life-threatening. The risk of dying from heat illness appears to be highest for workers who just begin working in extreme heat because the body needs to adapt gradually to exertions in the heat and humidity. It’s, therefore, imperative to monitor workers at all times during hot weather and allow those who are new to working in hot weather—especially during the first exposure to the high temperatures—to gradually adapt to the daily routine. Allowing workers to acclimate to the heat is one of the best defenses against heat-related illnesses and fatalities. According to Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention data, most people adjust to the weather or acclimate within four-to-14 days of regular work levels. Letting workers adjust to changes in weather by gradually increasing their exposure and physical activity reduces the risk of heat-related issues. Those who work indoors in high-heat conditions should take the same precautions as those who work outdoors and follow similar measures under (section 3203 of Title 8) their employers’ Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
Raising awareness is another important element in preventing heat illness. Whenever temperatures start to rise, close attention must be focused on the effects of heat on workers who don’t work in air-conditioned environments—particularly those who engage in physical or strenuous activity. Some early symptoms and signs of heat illness to watch for are headaches, muscle cramps and unusual fatigue. If left untreated, these symptoms can rapidly progress to nausea and/or vomiting, weakness, excessive sweating or hot dry skin, mental confusion, seizures, and fainting or loss of consciousness.
Cal/OSHA offers employers free consultative services and can help reevaluate Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. For information regarding heat illness prevention, training materials, and free workshops go to http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/HeatIllnessInfo.html Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.
Each year over 70,000 head injuries occur in the workplace; almost 200 head injuries for each day of the year. Most of the injuries were minor abrasions requiring first aid or a few stitches and probably could have been prevented. To protect your head it is important to understand the types of hazards that can Read »
Each year over 70,000 head injuries occur in the workplace; almost 200 head injuries for each day of the year. Most of the injuries were minor abrasions requiring first aid or a few stitches and probably could have been prevented. To protect your head it is important to understand the types of hazards that can cause injury and the steps you can take to reduce those hazards.
Types of hazards that can cause head injuries
The following are the most common types of hazards that can cause head injury:
How to protect your head from injury
The following are ways to protect your head from injury:
A hard hat is designed both to resist blows to the head and to absorb the shock of the blow. The one-piece outer shell takes the blow and the cradle lining within the hat absorbs the shock. All OSHA approved hard hats are designed to meet the specifications of the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). Hard hats can be divided into the four following classes:
A proper fit is essential to ensure hard hat protection. Adjust the headband so that the hard hat doesn’t touch your head. The fit should be snug but not too tight. If you will be working in a windy environment or a situation where your hat could fall off and injure someone working below, a chin strap is suggested.
Inspect your hard hat regularly to be sure it isn’t cracked or that the headband isn’t damaged. Always replace a hard hat that is cracked or broken. Avoid storing your hard hat in the direct sun to prevent damage to the plastic.