How Safe Do Employees Feel at Work?

Many unsure how to protect themselves in emergency

When looking for a new job, it’s not unusual to take job security into consideration. But how often do workers think about security on the job? A new survey from CareerBuilder looks at how safe workers feel in their workplaces and how well they feel their companies work to ensure their security.

According to the survey, while the vast majority of workers (94%) feel their office is a secure place to work, nearly a quarter of workers (23%) say they would not know what to do to protect themselves if there was an emergency in their office that posed a physical threat.

The national online survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between February 11 and March 6, 2015 and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers across industries and company sizes.

When asked about their feelings of security in regards to specific forms of threat, three in ten employees (30%) do not feel their workplace is well-protected from a physical threat from another person, and the same percentage (30%) feel their workplace is not well-protected from a digital hacking threat.

Most workers (85%) feel their workplace is well-protected in case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, and 83% feel their workplace is well-protected from weather-related threats.

One in five workers (21%) report their company does not have an emergency plan in place in case of fire, flood, or other disaster, and one in four (26%) say the same of extremely severe weather. Even more workers (40%) don’t believe their company has an emergency plan in place in case of a physical attack from another person or a technology security breach.

“Ensuring a safe and secure work environment should be of the utmost importance in any workplace,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “Keeping employees protected means not only putting measures in place to keep them safe, but making sure employees are aware of the policies and procedures they can protect themselves, too.”

Did You Know?

Why you should be familiar with RAGAGEP

Did you know the significance of RAGAGEP, or recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices, in your process safety management (PSM) practices?

In any industry, the use of highly hazardous chemicals may result in accidental release anytime they are not properly controlled. To protect against potential disaster, OSHA has issued the Process Safety Management Standard of Highly Hazardous Chemicals. PSM is addressed in specific standards for the general and construction industries and directly references or implies the use of RAGAGEP in its guidelines.

“Recognized And Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices” (RAGAGEP) are the basis for engineering, operation, or maintenance activities and are themselves based on established codes, standards, published technical reports or recommended practices (RP), or similar documents. RAGAGEP detail generally approved ways to perform specific engineering, inspection, or mechanical integrity activities, such as fabricating a vessel, inspecting a storage tank, or servicing a relief valve.

As used in the PSM standard, RAGAGEP apply to process equipment design, installation, operation, and maintenance; inspection and test practices; and inspection and test frequencies. RAGAGEP must be both “recognized and generally accepted” and “good engineering” practices.

The PSM standard allows employers to select the RAGAGEP they apply in their covered processes.

Primary Sources of RAGAGEP

1. Published and widely adopted codes. Certain consensus standards have been widely adopted by federal, state, or municipal jurisdictions. For example, many state and municipal building and other codes incorporate or adopt codes such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety and NFPA 70 National Electric codes. Such published and widely accepted codes are generally accepted by OSHA as RAGAGEP, as are federal, state, and municipal laws and regulations serving the same purposes.

2. Published consensus documents. Certain organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) follow the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards (Essential Requirements) when publishing consensus standards and recommended practices. Under the ANSI and similar requirements, these organizations must demonstrate that they have diverse and broadly representative committee memberships. Examples of published consensus documents include the ASME B31.3 Process Piping Code and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration’s (IIAR) ANSI/IIAR 2-2008 – Equipment, Design, and Installation of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Mechanical Refrigerating Systems. Published consensus documents are very widely used as RAGAGEP by those knowledgeable in the industry, and are accepted as RAGAGEP by OSHA.

3. Published non-consensus documents. Some industries publish non-consensus engineering documents using processes not conforming to ANSI’s Essential Requirements. For example, the Chlorine Institute’s (CI) “pamphlets” focus on chlorine and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) safety. Where applicable, the practices described in these documents are widely accepted as good practices and used in industries handling these materials. Similarly, CCPS publishes an extensive set of guideline books, some, but not all, of which deal with process equipment specific topics, e.g., the Design Institute for Emergency Relief Systems’ technology for reactive and multiphase relief systems design. Peer-reviewed technical articles addressing specific hazards may also fall into this category and may be considered when published standards or recommended practices are not available or are not adequate to address specific hazards. OSHA may accept such materials as RAGAGEP where applicable and appropriate.

Employers do not need to consider or comply with a RAGAGEP provision that is not applicable to their specific worksite conditions, situations, or applications. However, the PSM standard they select because of the applicable statues should document that their inspection and testing of equipment is in accordance with the appropriate RAGAGEP. The failure to do so is a citable OSHA offense.

Read the complete OSHA Letter of Interpretation on RAGAGEP issued last month.

 

Roofing Company Owner Charged In Employee’s Fatal Fall

The latest OSHA enforcement activity from Region 1

James J. McCullagh, 60, of Meadowbrook, Penn., was charged by indictment in connection with the fatal fall of an employee, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. McCullagh, who owns James J. McCullagh Roofing, is charged with with four counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of willfully violating an OSHA regulation causing death to an employee.

According to the indictment, McCullagh failed to provide fall protection equipment to his employees. On June 21, 2013, one of McCullagh’s employees was killed after falling approximately 45 feet from a roof bracket scaffold while performing roofing work for McCullagh. In connection with the OSHA investigation of the fatality, McCullagh attempted to cover up his failure to provide fall protection by falsely stating, on four occasions, that he had provided fall protection equipment, including safety harnesses, to his employees. McCullagh told an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer that his employees had been wearing safety harnesses tied off to an anchor point when he saw them earlier in the day prior to the fall.

The indictment alleges that McCullagh knew that he had not provided fall protection to his employees and none of his employees had safety harnesses or any other form of fall protection. It is further alleged that McCullagh directed other employees to falsely state that they had fall protection, including safety harnesses, on the day of the fall.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, three years of supervised release, $1.5 million in fines, and a $510 special assessment.

The case was investigated by OSHA and the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Kay Costello.

The acting OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia Robert D. Kulick, issued the following statement about the case:

“Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and it’s no secret how critical fall protection is to saving worker’s lives. OSHA cited James J. McCullagh for not protecting his workers and not providing a safe work environment. We are hopeful that this indictment will lead to accountability for this unnecessary and totally preventable workplace fatality, and most importantly, that his family will finally see justice. “Employers who fail to fulfill their legal responsibilities to provide safe and healthy workplaces, who provide false statements to OSHA, and who coerce their employees to provide false statements will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Temp Staffing Firm Agrees to Make Changes to Protect Employees

A Tewksbury, Mass., company that supplies temporary employees to businesses has agreed to enhanced workplace safety and health protections for workers it places in all those businesses in a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor.

OSHA cited Marathon Staffing Services Inc. for a serious violation in December 2014 for not providing hearing tests for its employees exposed to high noise levels while working on assignment at Concrete Systems Inc. in Hudson, New Hampshire.

Under the terms of the agreement, Marathon will have a qualified safety and health professional review and update a checklist to address foreseeable safety and health concerns at client workplaces. The list will be used to conduct initial and periodic safety and health inspections or audits at client work sites to ensure working conditions meet OSHA standards.

Marathon will also provide comprehensive safety and health training for its account executives and sales representatives. The company will develop, with each of its clients, written contracts specifying their respective responsibilities to develop safety and health programs applicable to each workplace where Marathon will supply temporary employees. These terms echo OSHA’s recommended practice that temporary staffing agencies and host employers define and implement their respective roles designed to ensure compliance with applicable OSHA standards.

“This is an example of what suppliers of temporary employees should be doing,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s regional administrator for New England. “Both host employers and staffing agencies have critical roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements. They share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health. Each employer should consider hazards it can prevent and correct, and no employer—whether a temporary staffing agency or a client company—should ever send an employee into harm’s way.”

“This settlement ripples beyond this one case. It is designed to enhance safety and health for hundreds of Marathon employees at numerous work sites in several states. Other suppliers and employers of temporary workers can and should take heed and ensure that all employees—permanent, short-term or day laborer—work in an environment that enables them to come home each day safe and healthy,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor for New England.

Marathon Staffing Services Inc. operates in several states and is part of a Marathon Staffing network of connected offices that collectively place more than 15,000 temporary workers annually.

The settlement in this case was negotiated by senior trial attorney Susan Salzberg of the Regional Solicitor’s Office.

In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers, who are at increased risk of work-related injury and illness. The initiative includes outreach, training and enforcement to ensure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have issued a “Recommended Practices” publication that focuses on ensuring that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that permanent employees receive.

Provant Health Solutions’ Employee Sustains Preventable Needlestick Injury

An East Greenwich, Rhode Island, company that conducts wellness clinics throughout the U.S. inadequately protected its employees against exposure from contaminated needlesticks and bloodborne pathogen hazards, an inspection by OSHA has found.

OSHA began an inspection of Provant Health Solutions LLC in November 2014, after an employee complained that a used needle punctured him as he unpacked a box in the company’s mailroom. The company ships clean needles and other medical supplies to clinics. After use, the contaminated needles are shipped in unmarked boxes back to the company’s headquarters for disposal by a private biohazard removal service.

OSHA inspectors determined that the packages in use did not effectively protect employees from needlesticks as boxes were unpacked. They also noted that needles could fall out of boxes into a shipping container, which happened at least twice. Boxes lacked required warning labels, and the company did not use an authorized carrier to return the contaminated needles to Provant’s headquarters. The company also lacked an effective program to minimize needlestick injuries. It also failed to train employees about hazards, as required, and did not record injuries properly.

“This company needlessly exposed its employees to preventable injuries and illnesses that can result from being punctured by contaminated needles and also lacked required safeguards,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island. “Unless Provant Health Solutions updates, changes and improves its handling of needles and other bloodborne pathogen hazards, its employees will remain at risk.”

The inspection has led OSHA to cite Provant for nine serious and one other-than-serious violation of OSHA standards. Proposed fines total $62,000.

Provant Health Solutions has more than 13,000 employees. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

OSHA Revises Whistleblower Investigations

Clarifies remedies and settlements

OSHA has updated its Whistleblower Investigations Manual to increase uniformity and predictability in the settlement and damages aspects of whistleblower cases—a significant benefit for both employers and workers, and their attorneys.

Revisions to Chapter 6 in the manual, “Remedies and Settlement Agreements,” lay out OSHA’s guidelines for ordering compensatory and punitive damages, including the factors that OSHA uses for calculating these damages.

The chapter affirms that OSHA may award compound interest for out-of-pocket damages, such as credit card interest, annuity losses, and job search expenses incurred by a worker as the result of unlawful retaliation by an employer. The revised chapter also clarifies the method OSHA follows to award attorneys’ fees under appropriate statutes.

Revised Hazard Communications Requirements Now in Effect

Is your business in compliance?

As of June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers are required to provide a common approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category. Beginning in December, distributors may only ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer if the labels meet these requirements.

The June 1 deadline was established when OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard in 2012 with the global standard for chemical product labeling. The provisions for labeling offer workers better protection from chemical hazards, while also reducing trade barriers and improving productivity for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals.

The updated standard also provides cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the standard, saving businesses millions of dollars each year.

The new format for Safety Data Sheets requires 16 specific sections to ensure consistency in presentation of important protection information. For more information, see OSHA’s Hazard Communication webpage.

Recent Storms Reinforce Need for Disaster Prep

Free webinar teaches you what you need to know

Thunderstorms with high winds produced by strong downdrafts called microbursts swept into several Connecticut towns in June, taking down trees and power lines, blocking roads, and leaving thousands of homes and businesses in the dark.

If that kind of disruption happens to your business, will you know what to do?

Experts say this year could produce 11 named storms, six of them hurricanes, and two as powerful as Category 3 or higher (according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

A new one-hour webinar offered twice this summer will feature property insurance experts explaining the steps you can take before and after a catastrophic event that will help your business not only navigate but survive and potentially thrive in the aftermath of a disaster.

Two Disaster Preparedness webinars offered by the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group will take place on Wednesday, July 29 and Wednesday, August 26, both starting at 10 am.

Panelists will include Jeb McPherson, CPA, CFF, FCPA, senior consultant and FEMA project leader for Marsh Risk Consulting’s Forensic Accounting and Claims Services; Marc Fabrizio, director, Risk Services, Marsh & McLennan Agency; Brett Gillmon, managing director, Marsh USA Inc.

Registration is free, but required.

Ten Leading Causes of Workplace Injuries

And what they cost in workers’ comp

According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety Workplace Safety Index, overexertion ranked first as the leading cause of disabling injury in the workplace.

The overexertion category, which includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing, cost U.S. businesses $15.1 billion and accounted for more than one quarter of the top 10 disabling injury causes in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. All told, the listed injury causes amounted to nearly $60 billion in total U.S. workers compensation costs or more than $1 billion dollars a week spent by businesses on disabling injuries.

The Workplace Safety Index is developed annually by Liberty Mutual researchers based on information from the company’s workers compensation claims, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Using BLS injury event coding, researchers determined which injuries caused an employee to miss six or more days of work and then ranked those events by total workers compensation costs.

10 Leading Causes and Direct Costs of Workplace Injuries in 2012

  1. Overexertion: $15.1B—25.3%
  2. Falls on same level: $9.19B—15.4%
  3. Struck by object or equipment: $5.3B—8.9%
  4. Falls to lower level: $5.12B—8.6%
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions: $4.27B—7.2%
  6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle: $3.18B—5.3%
  7. Slip or trip without fall: $2.17B—3.6%
  8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects: $2.1B—3.5%
  9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks: $1.84B—3.1%
  10. Struck against object or equipment: $1.76B—2.9%

The top five injury causes accounted for 65.4% of the total 2012 workplace injury cost burden, based on Liberty Mutual data. The leading “overexertion” category and the two “falls” categories among the top five combined to generate more than 50% of the leading causes of disabling workplace injuries.

Roofing Workers Spotted in ‘Clear and Present Danger’

Area contractor has history of violations, faces nearly $73K in fines

Inspectors from OSHA were headed back to their Providence office on Jan. 22, 2015, after completing a site inspection when they saw a dangerous situation in clear view at another site in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Two men working for Ivan Paredes, a Brockton, Massachusetts, roofing contractor, were on a ladder-jack scaffold without guardrails, and with no protective gear to keep them from falling 16 feet to the ground. The two federal inspectors immediately pulled over, ordered the employees off the scaffold and began an inspection.

“This was a clear-and-present danger. These employees could have fallen at any time and been killed or disabled. Ivan Paredes knew of this hazard, but chose to ignore it and his legal responsibility to protect his employees,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island.

Paredes’ failure to provide and ensure the use of fall protection led OSHA to cite the contractor for a willful violation of worker safety standards. He now faces a $70,000 fine, the maximum allowed under the law.

Paredes was also cited for a serious violation, with a fine of $2,800, for an additional hazard for not having his employees use an access ladder to reach the scaffold’s work platform safely. The proposed fines total $72,800.

OSHA has cited Paredes, who also operates as Lincoln Construction, for fall-related hazards seven times since October 2010, at work sites in East Greenwich, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, and Providence.

Paredes has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

New Confined Spaces Rule for Construction Workers

Construction protections now match those in manufacturing

OSHA has issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces.

Manholes, crawl spaces, tanks, and other confined spaces are not intended for continuous occupancy. They are also difficult to exit in an emergency. People working in confined spaces face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation.

Last year, two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole, the second when he went down to save the first—which is not uncommon in cases of asphyxiation in confined spaces.

“In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these don’t have to happen,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “This new rule will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces. In fact, we estimate that it will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year.”

The rule will provide construction workers with protections similar to those manufacturing and general industry workers have had for more than two decades, with some differences tailored to the construction industry. These include requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards—a safety option made possible by technological advances after the manufacturing and general industry standards were created.

“This rule will save lives of construction workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation, and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health.”

Compliance assistance material and additional information is available on OSHA’s Confined Spaces in Construction Web page.

Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

Free emergency preparedness resources

The resources below can help you develop a plan to protect your employees, lessen the financial impact of disasters, and reopen your business quickly to support economic recovery in your community.

If you need disaster assistance immediately, visit the SBA’s disaster assistance page.

General Preparedness Information

Specific Disaster Information

For more emergency preparedness advice, click here or contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.