Construction

Annual Safety Audits: 4 Reasons Why You Need Them

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ANNUAL SAFETY AUDITS: 4 REASONS WHY YOU NEED THEM

It is always heart-wrenching when you hear about devastating accidents and fatalities in the workplace.  OSHA reports that on average 13 worker deaths occur each day, and out of all the reported workers, 3% will experience an injury or accident each day.  Thankfully these statistics have decreased since the 1970s, however many of the deaths and injuries that continue to happen today are preventable.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe work environment for your employees.  This responsibility not only affects employees, but also their families.  That is why it is imperative to conduct annual safety audits at each facility in addition to meeting OSHA requirements.

Here are Four Reasons Why You Should Conduct Annual Safety Audits:

  1. To Ensure Compliance. Make sure you are in safety and environmental compliance with OSHA and the EPA, as well as state agencies.  Regulations are constantly changing and it is easy to miss urgent updates, even with all the email reminders and newsletters.  Conducting a safety audit with a third-party will help ensure that your facility is up to date with OSHA and EPA regulations.
  2. To Identify Potential Hazards. Facility managers and EHS managers may catch glaringly obvious hazards like damaged guardrails or puddles of water, but it is easy to miss less obvious hazards like noise or chemical over-exposure.   This can be common due to the fact the facility and EHS managers are on-site all day, every day and become acclimated to their surroundings.   Therefore, it is good practice to have someone other than the facility or EHS manager who is well versed in safety to audit the facility and to provide a fresh view of the work environment.
  3. To Evaluate the Effectiveness of Company Safety Training.  A thorough safety audit includes taking a look at the company safety training and policies.
    1. Are all supervisors’ and employees’ up to date with their annual refresher training?
    2. Has each employee completed a new hire orientation specific to their job duties?
    3. Are all employee training courses documented with a sign-in sheet, test materials, and a corresponding safety plan?

If you can not fully answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, it’s time to re-evaluate your safety training program.  Also, you will be able to identify where additional training may be needed.

4. To Assess the Condition of Equipment and Processes. OSHA regulations require inspections of equipment modifications and additions that could affect the safe operation of the equipment.  However, it is recommended that annual, or even semi-annual, inspections are performed on all equipment and processes.  Preventative maintenance is key to keeping equipment expenses within budget.  Additionally, equipment inspections allow supervisors and managers to assess the the safety and effectiveness of all work processes.

Have Questions or Concerns About Your Facility?  Call an SRP Safety Consultant Today!

SRP Safety Consultants work with companies across the United States in oil and gas, manufacturing, construction, agricultural, and healthcare.   SRP has eight convenient locations in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Long Beach, Midland, Shreveport and Pittsburgh.  Located elsewhere? Let SRP Come To You.   Call SRP Safety Consultants today at (866) 222-4972 to schedule a safety audit.

Builders & Contractors Should Know These 7 Things to Avoid Stormwater Fines

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Construction activities can impact the quality of water from the construction sites stormwater discharges. Stormwater can pick up various pollutants such as chemical, sediment or debris and transport them to nearby water sources like sewer systems, rivers, lakes or coastal waters.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be implementing a revised Construction General Permit (CGP) early next year.  This five-year CGP states that all builders, contractors and site owners abide by stormwater discharge terms in the CGP when disturbing one or more acres of land due to development and building construction.  Operators of construction sites must implement stormwater controls and develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which reduces the amount of pollutants and sediments from being discharged.

The 2017 CGP will go into effect February 17, 2017 and replace the 2012 CGP.  There are seven changes that will affect builders, contractors and site owners.

1. Easier to read permit requirements.  The EPA is simplifying the language and requirements in the CGP, allowing permittees’ to better understand the compliance requirements.  The new structure will have a streamlined approach to the permit.  For example, extraneous but relevant information will now be located in the appendix.

2. Types of Discharges Authorized.  The EPA will prohibit non-stormwater discharges of external building wash down waters that contain hazardous substances, such as paint or products contain polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).  This part of the CGP is designed to limit sites from conducting external building wash down activities and the EPA expects that sites who do perform these activities won’t have hazardous substances in the discharge.  The EPA also expects that the wash down activities can be done without discharging into a body of water.

3. Effluent Limitations.  Amendments to the C&D rule will be revised.  The C&D rule states that non-numeric effluent limitations apply to all permitted discharges from construction sites. The effluent limitations require construction operators to prevent the discharge of sediment and other pollutants through the use of effective planning and erosion control measures; and second, to control discharges that do occur through the use of effective sediment control measures. Permittees are also required to implement a range of pollution prevention measures to limit or prevent discharges of pollutants including those from dry weather discharges.

The EPA is making revisions to clarify the requirements to control erosion by providing details on areas where buffers are required.  Clarification revisions will also include discussing soil stabilization, preservation of topsoil and pollution prevention measures.

4. Notice of Permit Coverage to the Public. A sign or other public notice of permit coverages is required at a publicly accessible location.  The notice is to include EPA contact information in case stormwater pollution occurs.

5. Stockpiles and Land Clearing Debris Piles.  Inactive piles that will be unused for 14 or more days require temporary stabilization, a tarp covering or other appropriate protection.  This change clarifies that this requirement is only applicable to inactive piles while reducing pollutant exposure or discharge from these piles.

6. Construction and Domestic Waste.  Waste containers lids are to be closed when not in use or have effective means to minimize the risk of discharging pollutants.  Recommended practice is that lids remain closed except when adding or removing solid or hazardous waste.

7. Pollution Prevention Requirements for Demolition Activities.  EPA will now require certain information about building location and potential pollutants be documented in the SWPPP prior to a building being demolished if it was built or renovated before 1980 and is over 10,000 square feet. Pollution prevention controls should be used to minimize the discharge of pollutants due to construction activities.  Additionally, controls to limit the exposure of PCB containing materials should be implemented.

For more information regarding the new Construction General Permit, click here.

 

 

Confined Space Standards Have Changed. Are You In Compliance?

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OSHA updated the confined spaces standard to cover construction workers who may work on sites that have confined spaces like sewers, pits, tanks, attics, crawl spaces and more. The new standard, Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926, was issued in May of 2015 and is effective as of August 2015.

confined space, permit required, OSHA complianceSo what is a confined space? It’s a space that is large enough for entry, doesn’t regularly have occupants and challenging to exit. A permit-required confined space contains a hazardous atmosphere, engulfment hazards, entrapment hazards that could lead to asphyxiation of the entrants, or any other serious safety and health hazard. Permits list entry conditions, equipment that must be used, atmospheric data results, rescue and emergency services, and tracks who enters the space.

Key changes to the existing standard include:

  • Continuous monitoring of atmospheric hazards,
  • Continuous monitoring of engulfment hazards,
  • Better information exchange when multiple employers are on site to ensure coordination of activities outside the space to reduce potential hazards inside the space,
  • Designating a competent person to conduct worksite evaluations
  • Suspending a permit instead of cancelling it, and
  • Addressing alternate procedures for permit space entry.

 Additional things to consider are:

  • Do you have adequate signage? Post signage noting that the confined space is “enter by permit only”.
  • Are you employees trained? Ensure proper training for employees that are affected by confined spaces, including attendants, entrants, supervisors and rescue teams. Confined Space programs should be part of your company health and safety manual.
  • What roles are employees assigned? Assign the attendant role to a person who will monitor authorized entrants who enter and exit the permit required confined space. Designate who will be authorized entrants, entry supervisor or person to monitor the atmosphere in a permit-space.
  • Do you have a trained confined space rescue team on stand-by? Implement procedures that address summoning rescue and emergency services, rescuing entrants from permit spaces and providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees.
  • How are you ensuring the safety of employees in confined spaces? Use proper controls and protective equipment, including respirators, PPE and fall protection.