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Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog

Posts in safety programs.

The recent “Polar Vortex” has stunned even snow-hardened Minnesotans. I became concerned about worker safety in this brutal cold when I stopped late one night to pump gas on my way back to Atlanta from out of state trial prep. Thermometers showed it as seven degrees but with the substantial wind, it was well below zero. I nearly froze pumping gas. When I arrived the next morning at a rental car garage, it was obvious that despite the attendants wearing more winter clothes than Ralhie’s brother in the Christmas Story, they were suffering in the shade and wind. Imagine the injury potential for a construction worker, lineman or any employee working in the cold.

Yesterday I shared a link to a post discouraging managers and employees from drinking at parties and in fact use the conversations where you are the sober one. Today, I am linking to a "kind-of" contrarian view from another wonderful writer, who argues that one should use drinking at company parties as a way to build a better reputation and relationships within the company. Enjoy!

I enjoy articles that I discover in Plant Engineering because one of my (many) goals is to obtain more coordination between the safety, engineering, maintenance and purchasing functions. Management of Change (MOC) affects far more than PSM, combustible dust and guarding and interlocks. We should all try to understand the plant engineers approach and work to better integrate safety and sustainability into those decisions. The following article is one of several on Plant Engineering's site.

As apart of its enhanced whistleblower focus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) pilot program for complaints filed with OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. OSHA’s ADR program is intended to assist complainants and employers in resolving their disputes in a cooperative and voluntary manner. OSHA’s Directive 12-01 released in October 2012 defines the alternative dispute resolution as an approach that will “involve the use of negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.”

Fisher Phillips supports the efforts of associations to recognize employers who put their money where their mouth is, and demonstrate superior safety processes. We are especially excited about the October 28 - 30 celebration of EHS America's safest Companies.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard has been changed to now align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling Chemicals (GHS). Since the Hazard Communication Standard became effective almost 30 years ago, employers have had to provide “right to know” information to their employees about the chemical hazards in their workplace. The key difference in the revised standard, however, is that it provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical safety hazards as opposed to the previous standard that allowed chemical manufacturers and importers to convey information on the labels in whatever format they chose. This revised standard, like the original one, requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate chemicals they produce or import and provide hazard information to employers and employees. However, the old standard’s “Material Safety Data Sheets” (MSDS) are now replaced by more detailed Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s) as well as new labeling requirements. Under the new standard, OSHA is requiring that all employees be trained on the new rule and how to understand the new SDS’s and new labels by December 1, 2013.

EHS Today has named 16 companies – Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International, Alberici Constructors, American & Efird LLC, Dresser-Rand, Great Lakes Construction Co., Honda of South Carolina, LP Building Products, Morton Salt, The Mundy Companies, Northern Improvement Company, Odebrecht, Raytheon, Rogers Corp. Advanced Circuit Materials Division, The Brock Group, Safariland LLC and Valdes Engineering – to the list of 2013 America’s Safest Companies.

Safety Professionals do a fine job of determining the “root causes” or “contributing factors” of incidents in order to prevent the next accident. Executives might apply this analysis to employee performance issues.

Of necessity, employers often analyze performance and attitude problems from the standpoint of ensuring that a termination is legally defensible. Let’s shift our focus and try to determine the contributing factors to employee performance or judgment issues, and start with an often-overlooked contributing factor … employee fatigue.

Many employees work alone at a customer’s site or on the road with no immediate supervision or the presence of a safety professional to check for hazards. Some employees, such as journeymen electricians and certified crane operators are trained to operate with minimal supervision. Other workers may be less trained or less equipped to individually analyze their setting. Unfortunately, both types of isolated workers may violate OSHA standards, and preventing that misconduct is more of a problem when employees are working alone.

As I started typing about “Google Glass,” that 80”s song by Hall and Oates began to torment me over and over again …

Private Eyes
they're watching you
they see your every move
Private Eyes
they're watching you
Private Eyes
they're watching you watching you watching you watching you

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