Tuesday, October 20, 2009

electrical safety (one of my favorites)

This is one of my favorite pictures to use when I do electrical safety training. Very creative, but not very safe.

That is the challenge that we face as safety professionals; how to incorporate safety in our activities. The goal in the picture is to get hot water where there is none, but the goal should be to get hot water SAFELY.

Safety needs to be incorporated in our designs and plans of action.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ANSI/ASSE Z359 Fall Protection

ANSI has updated their Z359( fall protection standard.

Falls have moved from the third leading cause of work-related death to become the number one killer of construction workers and the second leading cause of occupational death for general industry workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2004 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

One difference between the OSHA standard and ANSI/ASSE Z359 is that Z359 requires 100% continuous fall protection where the OSHA Fall Protection Plan consists of administrative controls versus physical 100% fall protection.

The first step is using fall protection.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boat Launching Procedures

Sent to me by a friend

So here it is.

I just bought a new boat and decided to take 'er for the maiden voyage this
past weekend.

This is my first boat and I wasn't quite sure of the exact Standard
Operating Procedures for launching it off a ramp, but I figured it couldn't
be too hard.

I consulted my local boat dealer for advice, but they just said "don't let
the trailer get too deep when you are trying to launch the boat".
What am I doing wrong?
Well, I don't know what they meant by that as I could barely get the trailer
in the water at all!

Remember to always secure your boat!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When is a fatality not a fatality?

As I stated in my previous post, I was able to get OSHA to recognize that the ultimate cause of the fatality was a MRSA infection. I was talking with a colleague this week who is a stickler for statistics, he pointed out an interesting fact; I am probably the first and only (to the best os his knowledge, my knowledge, and an internet search we did together) safety person/accident investigator in the United States to show that a fatality not a fatality.

This is the reason my clients call me in when things go bad. They should not be penalized for things that are not their fault. All to often the tragedy overshadows the facts. I have had a former police officer who now works with insureds to fight work comp fraud tell me that I was the best accident investigator he ever saw.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Taken from: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2009/06/03/workman-dies-in-hospital-after-fall/

Fall from scaffold causes serious injury and worker dies in hospital

A construction worker who was seriously injured in a fall from scaffolding on a London site in February is thought to have died in hospital from MRSA.

The workman engaged by Ramport Scaffolding on a new homes site in Islington, London was taken to the Royal London Hospital with “life-threatening injuries” on 18 February and is believed to have died in hospital on 19 May.

Contract Journal report one source as saying: “He didn’t die of his injuries. It actually looks like he caught MRSA while in hospital.” HSE is investigating the fall and subsequent death.

This article was posted on 3rd June 2009 in Latest News.
PP Construction Safety H&S Assistance and Consultancy service.


2 years ago I investigated a fatality for another staffing company that had an employee die after a fall at a client's facility. The ultimate outcome was that my investigation showed OSHA the employee did not die as a result of his injuries, but from a MRSA infection while in the hospital.

I reasoned that if an injured employee was off of work due to his injuries and he dies in a fire at a rehab center while receiving therapy, or if a bus hits him as he walks to his mail box to get his workers' comp check, that NEITHER can be considered a work related fatality.

OSHA accepted my conclusions and as a result the injury was not counted as a fatality against the other staffing company. The fines were about $1000 for some training records not up to date. The workers' comp carrier also agreed and subrogated against the hospital for a portion of medical expenses and the settlement paid out.

It was an unfortunate event the loss of life, but this did not have to happen. The company was also not unfairly blamed for the death. This also shows the benefits of having a solid accident investigation program in place and how the conclusions can run wild if left to someone else.

This also shows a valuable tool that many times gets a bad rap; outsourcing. The other staffing company had an accident investigation policy in place, but they realized that their safety person, although competent was not prepared for a fatality investigation, and especially one that was full of complexities as this one was (details that I will not go in to).

This also shows the value of acting immediately to preserve evidence. I was on site the next day beginning the investigation. It took OSHA 2 more days after I was already there to get out to the site. Do not think that I am disparaging OSHA in any way, because I am not! They do a very good job of protecting the workers in our country, and they respond very quickly. They are understaffed though and have a set list of priorities that they have to follow, and this particular region is very "active" for them.

My response was immediate, the other staffing company has great concern for the safety of all their employees, and along with the ramifications of the seriousness of this accident, the most prudent thing was for me to be there immediately.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Safety Culture; Take It Home

Safety Culture

One of the reasons that from time to time, I will post something related to safety at home, and not necessarily workplace safety is that because (I believe) that when employees have developed a safety culture, they think about safety outside of work. As I have stated before, when I do safety training I poll my students to see how many practice safety at home (usually 50%). After 6 months of training that number goes up to 80%-90%.

I have discovered another important aspect of safety training in the last 6 months; that is support for a safety culture at home. If the employer has a commitment to a culture of safety that has to extend beyond the boundaries of work. I have always provided safety information that extends beyond work and encourage them to "take it home."

I have been reviewing the accident rates of safety training I have done, programs of some colleagues, and programs I have set up and were turned over to another trainer. I noticed that my (sole) training has had lower accident rates.

The revelation came to me when one of my former client had contacted me because they were unsatisfied with the trainer of the new staffing company that had taken over their workforce. I was presented with a copy of their annual syllabus. It was very welled prepared and extremely detailed (better than mine).

It was too perfect though. It was almost as if it was a computer based program that spits out pages of information. I also noticed that it lacked safety for at home. I began to review other safety programs that I had started and with some colleagues who were willing to share data. I also specifically asked how many of these had specific elements that encouraged safety at home.

Some claimed they did, but did not have the lower accident rates. Their "take it home" aspects were basically a reminder of "don't drink & drive" during the holidays, fireworks safety during the summer. They lack to strategies to promote, develop, and integrate safety outside of work.

A note about the accident rates:

The difference between the accident rates of the safety training that integrated the "take it home" concept and the ones that did not were small; but there was a distinctive pattern between the 2. The main reason that the difference was so small was twofold, the groups were generally less than 50 employees. Most around the 10-20 employee size.

The second is that the difference between accident rates between companies that have a (well run, correctly implemented, and not half-assed) safety program and those who do not is is very big. Compared to this number the "take it home" program vs. not difference is almost insignificant.

There is definitely a pattern though. If you take into account near misses, equipment damage, productivity, and quality, the pattern becomes more pronounced and the difference greater. Finally if there was a method to mathematically quantify a measure of the abstract concept of safety culture, the "take it home"programs would have a higher rating because the culture would be 100% of the time instead of just 9 to 5.

When Pigs Fly; a Swine Flu Update

The current swine flu virus outbreak contains a combination of DNA from avian flu, swine flu and human flu viruses, (including elements from European and Asian swine viruses). That makes it a new, unique strain of swine flu that has not been scene before.

After this weekend,

-6 Cases of Swine Flu Confirmed in Canada-
-10 New Zealand Students 'Likely' Have Swine Flu
-Swine flu confirmed in 5 US states, CA, TX, OH, NY, KS
-Michigan Investigating Probable Case of Swine Flu

Here are some facts about the virus and flu viruses in general:

* The virus is an influenza A virus, carrying the designation H1N1.

* It is genetically different from the fully human H1N1 seasonal influenza virus that has been circulating globally for the past few years. The new flu virus contains DNA typical to avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses.

* Flu viruses mutate constantly, which is why the flu vaccine is changed every year, and they can also swap DNA in a process called re-assortment. Most animals can get flu but viruses rarely pass from one species to another.

* From December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza were confirmed, all but one among people who had contact with pigs. There was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

* Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to those of seasonal influenza — sudden onset of fever, coughing, muscle aches and extreme tiredness. Swine flu appears to cause more diarrhea and vomiting than normal flu.

* People rarely catch avian flus. Notable exceptions include the H1N1 strain that caused the 1918 pandemic and H5N1 bird flu, which has killed 257 out of 421 infected in 15 countries since 2003, according to the World Health Organization.

* Seasonal flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally in an average year.

* When a new strain of flu starts infecting people, and when it acquires the ability to pass from person to person, it can spark a pandemic. The last pandemic was in 1968 and killed about a million people.

* In 1976 a new strain of swine flu started infecting people and worried U.S. health officials started widespread vaccination. More than 40 million people were vaccinated. But several cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe and sometime fatal condition that can be linked to come vaccines, caused the U.S. government to stop the program. The incident led to widespread distrust of vaccines in general.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Swine Flu Update

1004 suspected cases now in Mexico
60 deaths from the flu in Mexico
8 cases in the US

Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico; cases found in CA & TX

AP just reported Swine flu outbreak in Mexico, Mexico city closes schools. This outbreak has been responsible for the deaths of 60 people in Mexico. Cases have been reported in California and Texas.

A 9-year-old girl in Imperial County and a 10-year-old boy in San Diego County both were identified as having swine flu. Luckily, neither child needed hospitalization and both have recovered. Health officials, however, are puzzled and looking for the source of the infection.

The story can be found here:


What is the swine flu?

Swine flu refers to four different types of flu strains that circulate among pigs. Under normal conditions, typically humans don’t contract swine flu. Unless, of course, they have direct contact with pigs.

Historically, the swine flu epidemic of 1918 hit the U.S., killing more than 500,000 that year. In 1976, the U.S. was scared again by swine flu. A national vaccination program was launched and fewer people died.

This strain of swine flu originated in Mexico and is a NEW strain of the virus. For this reason, there is no vaccine to protect against it.

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:

* Fever (usually high)
* Headache
* Extreme tiredness
* Dry cough
* Sore throat
* Runny or stuffy nose
* Muscle aches
* Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults

These symptoms are usually referred to as "flu-like symptoms."

More info can be found at the CDC here: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/key_facts.htm


* If you are sick, do not go to work. Stay home so you do not potentially infect others.

* Seek medical attention. Only a doctor can diagnose your condition and treat it.

* If employees show up at work with flu-like symptoms, coordinate with HR to send them home until they are well or it is determined that they are not suffering from the flu.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Machine Guarding

I think that machine guarding is probably the most overlooked deficiency in industry. The reason being that the guards get in the way, slow down production, and the mindset that there was never a guard there. This is a form of complacency. Complacency seems to be the most common factor in the majority of accidents I have investigated.

OSHA requires all machines to be guarded. An employer must guard any machine without a guard, even if it was purchased without guards. This is especially relevant in manufacturing. From my work in the printing industry it was not uncommon to see a printing press, die cutter, etc. that is about 100 years old. This is also common in the woodworking industry too.

In many of these machines there are only 5 things that can go wrong and they are all replaceable wear parts. They are bushings/bearings, drive belts, cutters (the working tool), feeders, and the drive motors. (Some may argue that motors are not wear parts, but they are designed to be rebuilt.) Unlike many of the newer machines that rely on electronics, the older machines will last forever.

The most common unguarded machines I see are table saws and drill presses. As for the drill presses, I am not fully convinced that a guard is practical. I think that is because I have not seen a really good design for a drill press guard. Sears offers a pretty good guard retail! The Sears Craftsman guard is pictured above.

I have also seen 1 or 2 guards that were fabricated at shops that were designed pretty good also. The one drawback is that they limit the functionality of the drill press. I have an open mind and I am always looking to advance safety, so I continue to look for a good drill press guard.

For table saws, there is an amazing product called Saw Stop. If you touch the blade, it stops the saw blade before it can cut you. You can watch the video here: http://www.sawstop.com/

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oklahoma Oil Fields

Click on any image to view full size.

Once again work takes me to some remote corner of the US. This time it was the Oil Fields of Oklahoma. I personally handle sites, inspections, training, and incidents that involve high profile sites or companies, high hazard/high risk industries, remote locations, severe incidents, or where safety is mission critical.

The petroleum industry is considered high hazard. One of the things that I learned from my trip is that the petroleum industry is dominated by many, many small companies rather than a few big multinational corporations. The industry is full of small contractor companies that service the different segments of the supply chain.

From a safety perspective this is good and bad. Unlike the big names that we all know, there is not the million dollar budgets for safety. They do not use Six Sigma quality control. They are however very agile when it comes to implementing programs and there is open lines of communications between employees and management with questions or concerns.

I also found that since this is part of the Bible Belt there are employees who do not drink alcohol. These companies are like families, small and the people look after each other. Many times these are family owned and employ family members.

Some differences from the offshore petroleum rigs is that drilling is done by mobile rigs that are somewhat safer. The whole process of sinking a well is done by small crews, each specializing in the step they are doing. The Oil and Natural Gas Industry as a whole has a lower rate of injury than the whole US private sector.

In 2006, the rate of job-related nonfatal injuries and illnesses for the oil and natural
gas industry was 3.41 per 100 full-time workers, compared to a rate of 4.4 for the
entire U.S. private sector.
-source: American Petroleum Institute, www.api.org


Click on any image to view full size.

And Decided Not To Worry And Kept Driving.

The Ensuing Jumble Finally Whipped Around Enough to Tear A Hole In The Fuel Tank.

The Subsequent Lack Of Fuel Is What Finally
Brought Her Vehicle To It's Knee's.

She Had Still Managed To Drive 30 More Miles
With A 60 Pound Tangle of Stuff Wrapped
Around Her Driveshaft.

She Had It Towed To Her Dealership And Complained
That The Vehicle Had A " Sort Of Shimmy "
When She Was Driving At High Speeds.

Below Are The Photo's Of What They
Found At Her Dealership.....................

The Last Photo Is By Far The Best.

" Sort Of A Shimmy" I'll Bet It Did !

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Root Cause

I just finished another accident investigation, not too serious. Just prior to doing the investigation, I was reviewing my notes on accident investigation so that I was focused on the investigation and the facts. I came across this illustration of the "Accident Weed."

What this states is that the ultimate cause of all accidents is a system failure. Somewhere the safety program has deficiencies. These deficiencies lead to the accident. Although the deficiencies may not have been the direct cause of the accident, they allowed (or did not prevent) the behavior that lead to the accident.

In my years of investigation accidents I found a couple interesting factors that contribute; It is not the "goof-off" employee that is involved in serious accidents, it is the good employee that cares so much about his work that he forgets about safety practices (complacency).

Another factor is that time pressure is present in almost all of these serious accidents. The last contributing cause is when employees do not FOLLOW or do not UNDERSTAND the instructions given. #-part communication can solve this system weakness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More PPE pics

I am doing this post first with some fun PPE pictures first so that it follows my entery on PPE. I am sure most people have seen these before.

The respirators in the first picture are like my BioMarine Industries full face respirator.

Just a note on the above picture: This picture has been all over the internet as one of those "What's wrong with this picture?" The real story behind this picture is quite a bit different. The gentleman in the shorts is one of the top Hazmat trainers in the US. This picture was taken during a training exercise in one of the Carolinas (I am pretty sure it was South Carolina).

This was a picture of a teacher with his students doing hands on training. There was never real hazards present. This picture is a great training aid for PPE. I am sure that at one point or another, every safety trainer has used it. I have even used it.

The best trainers know the real story behind this picture. When ever I use this pic, after the lesson has been learned, I tell my class the real story behind it. 


I am doing this post first with some fun PPE pictures first so that it follows my entery on PPE. I am sure most people have seen these before.

(Click on the picture to view a larger picture)


I think that if you ask me if I were to pick the most important topic to convey, it would be PPE (personal protective equipment). When I go go in to a place to do training over a period of 6 months, I do PPE training first. One of the questions that I ask is how many use PPE when they mow their own lawn or have their children wear PPE.

Surprisingly I get a response rate of 40%-50%. After 6 monthes of training I ask the same question. This time the response rate is 80%-90%. That is how I judge that the effectiveness of m training. I judge my success when the people I train "take it home with them."

When ever I visit a site, I carry a messenger bag that contains all the PPE (and some extras) that I will need. I have compiled it over the years. Some of the things I keep in the bag are safety glasses, safety sun glasses, a fluorescent vest, gloves, dust masks, hearing protection, and some other items. There is also a first aid kit, flashlights, tape measure, emergency blanket, among other things. I carry my hard hat with me (it does not fit in it) and my fall harness when needed.

The picture is me on a warehouse roof in Joliet, IL. Of course I have my bag with me.

Working in the staffing industry is different from working in any other industry; actually it is like working in EVERY OTHER industry. Whenever I go to a site, I could face any environment. I do my homework before visiting to see if there is anything other than is in my bag before I arrive. Another difference is that I am not going to the same site every time and I do not want to depend on the site to provide PPE. Chances are you get the worn-out/worn-by-everybody stuff.

My favorite piece of PPE is my BioMarine Industries full face respirator. I have not have had to use this much, thankfully. I use this only in REALLY BAD situations. It also has good shock value when I wear it with my fluorescent hard hat. I posted a picture in my previous post that has respirators similar to mine.

Monday, March 23, 2009

OSHA Multi-Employer Citation Policy

You can hear 8th Circuit Court oral arguments at:


This is something that I deal with on a daily basis. I am head of safety & risk management for a very large staffing company. Every accident that we deal with is considered a multi-employer work site. Cal-OSHA specifically defines multi-employer (they call them dual-employer sites), the info can be found here:


Anyone who uses temps is in a multi-employer situation. Further rulings that affect this relationship is OSHA's decision to require OSHA 300 logs be the responsibility for, and kept at the site.

Construction sites compounds my situation. I had an accident on a high profile construction site that I handled personally. A general contractor chooses an electrical sub contractor. The electrical sub contractor utilized a staffing for some of their employees. The situation was further complicated because there was another sub contractor that was responsible for setting up the scaffolding that the employees were injured on.

To address the question posed to 8th Circuit Court as to the question of employer, I will look at it from the point of view of the PEO (Professional Employer Organization) industry. The EMPLOYER is defined legally 3 ways; by the DOL, IRS, and English Common law. Co-employment is then defined from the concept of "who is the employer."

The IRS developed a 20 question test based on Common Law to determine an employee. This covers 3 areas:

1.)Behavioral control: The right to direct or
control how the work is done.
2.)Financial control: The right to direct or
control how the business aspects of the
worker's activities are conducted.
3.)Relationship of the parties: How the
parties perceive their relationship.

Another area that I deal with is in respect to Work Comp Insurance. The definition of employee has also been applied to whether an "independent contractor" is really an employee. They usually claim that the are really an employee after they are injured, do not have WC, and try to collect WC for the company that they are working for. Independent contractors (at client sites) are a risk and concern for PEOs also.

States' law also support OSHA's concept of multi-employer work sites in their insurance regulations. Any state that allows contractors to do a "wrap-up" program is using the concept.The primary purpose of wrap-up is to ensure that there is coverage when an event occurs. Even by a sub contractors employee who could attempt to prove that he was actually an employee of the general contractor.

A wrap-up program is one where the interests of the project owner, general contractor, construction manager, architects, engineers, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors are combined (wrapped up) for insurance purposes. How the insurance will be handled is up to the project owner or general contractor who is spearheading the project.

These wrap-up programs can be sponsored by project owners or general contractors. When owners require and control them, they are commonly referred to as "owner-- controlled" insurance programs (OCIP), and "contractor-- controlled" (CLIP) when general contractors require and control them.

A good evaluation of wrap-up programs can be found here:


I know that the concept of multi-employer is difficult to comprehend, but we have been dealing with it in the staffing industry (called co-employment) forever. Understanding this is one of the things that makes me so good at the job I do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Setting Buoys in the Keys

One of the things that I thank God for is the variety & adventure that my job brings. One example is a my chance to supervise a crew setting buoys in the Florida Keys. I donned snorkel gear and went underwater with the crew. To document what I saw, what they did right or wrong, I took an underwater disposable camera that I bought at Walgreens.

I always use a camera. It is my most important safety tool. The picture never lies.

The crew had their routine down. We covered everything at the tailboard meeting, including my presence there. Tailboard meetings are another powerful safety tool. It brings everybody together on the same page before the job begins. We cover what could go wrong, everyone's role, safety issues, and things that are different.

The first pic is one of our buoys anchored. The second pic is the marker to the channel that we were setting the buoys for. The buoys were red & green. Always remember; "Red on the right when coming in at night."

Safety and the Economy

A very good friend of mine lost his job as a warehouse shift manager as a result of the economy. He had started a job search and was not having much luck. I offered him the OSHA 10 hour training that I do for my clients to make him more marketable. I had done forklift "train the trainer" with him in the past, so I know his own commitment to safety.

In this tough economy so many places are cutting back on spending, even for safety. This makes him stand out because his next employer is getting a freebee in his safety training.

If anyone knows of a warehouse management/supervisory position in the Greater Philadelphia area, please let me know. Email at: advisors@ptd.net. I will pass it on.

This happens to be a good time for companies to pick up some talent, not just in safety, but anywhere. Good people have lost their jobs not through fault of their own and are out there looking. Even if your company is not hiring, things are going to turn around. Just like jello, there is always room for good people.

Top Ten List of how you can tell if your OSHA inspection is going poorly:

Top Ten List of how you can tell if your OSHA inspection is going poorly:

1) OSHA sets up temporary housing in your parking lot.
2) The Inspector mutters "This is unbelievable" every time he/she walks into a new department.
3) OSHA calls in a professional film crew to document conditions at your facility, as a reporter from "60 Minutes" tags along "for the fun of it all."
4) The Inspector insists on wearing a NASA space suit...as you employees sit around in shorts and T-shirts.
5) Your congressman won't return your calls...but did return your campaign contribution check.
6) The Inspector begins your first meeting with "You have the right to remain silent..."
7) The Inspector asks you about specifics in your files...without having seen them first.
8) The Inspector knows your entire staff by their first name.
9) The Inspector is a former employee you fired...for failing to obey safety regs.
10) The current OSHA Secretary conducts your closing conference.

Nailgun Accident Investigation

I just found out today one of our clients had a nailgun accident. It looks like a true accident. I will be on site tomorrow conducting an accident investigation.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm Back

I have been extremely busy and have neglected my blog. I am now back. I have just finished a 3 year contract as head of contractor safety at a nuclear power plant. I am currently hoping that my contract will be renewed. With out a doubt, the nuclear power industry is the safest industry in this nation. This has allowed me to say I have seen how safety is done correctly.