Terry McDonald: Site Safety

Springtime brings the possibility of natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes. Have you put your comprehensive disaster plan in place?

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Well, it’s that time of year again… and no, I don’t mean April 15. Even though this is indeed that unfortunate time of year when we all must prepare and submit our tax statements—which, if you are like me, is not my favorite job in the world—it is also the time when we employers are required to file our OSHA 300A summary reports. Many of us procrastinate and don’t keep our OSHA 300 logs up to date so that it becomes a mad scramble right at the very end to get the summary posted in time. As frustrating as this can be, I would like to point out that the OSHA 300 log can be a valuable tool in the safety program of any company. This log of job-related injuries is a real time-saver when we periodically update our safety manual and procedures. When properly kept, the OSHA 300 log is a tool that makes it easy to pinpoint the existing safety hazards in our facility. For instance, if you have a recurring injury such as a cut that occurs while your employees are performing a certain task, then it immediately stands out as a candidate for review by your safety committee. How about a similar spate of back injuries? Do you review the OSHA 300 log frequently? You should, because it really is valuable, and not just a way for Big Brother to hassle us about our work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently published a final rule in the Federal Register for an updated electrical installation standard; the first in 25 years. This new standard updates the general industry electrical installation requirements to the 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association 760E and the National Electrical Code. This is a rule that you must make sure that all of your maintenance and electricians are familiar with.

Are you aware that there are 2,000 workplace eye injuries each and every day? The Prevent Blindness Association offers the following guidelines: Safety eyewear must have ANSI Z87 marked on it and should be worn whenever there is a potential eye hazard. All employees should know the location of the nearest eye wash station and how to use it. People with reduced vision should ask their employers for prescription safety glasses or goggles and have regular eye exams to be sure that they are capable of doing the job. Above all, we must notify workers immediately if an eye safety hazard is discovered.

On a weather-related note, springtime is here, and along with the nice weather comes the possibility of Mother Nature playing some dirty tricks on us. In the past we’ve discussed the need to have a “disaster plan” in place in case a natural disaster should occur. Events including fires, floods, tornadoes, and other such incidents can place the very existence of your business—as well as your employees—in jeopardy. We must have a plan already in place prior to such an event occurring. While we may have created such a plan in the past, most of us do not keep it updated. This plan, or at least elements of this plan, must be revised with every change we make in equipment, procedures, or even personnel. For instance, what would happen if there were a fire in your facility while you were cutting teeth on a quantity of parts furnished by your customer? Do you have a plan in place to address the possibility that you would have to replace this material? It can be a major cost, and many insurance companies don’t cover the loss if it’s someone’s property other than the building owner. This is just one instance of how the requirements for a disaster plan can change even from day to day. I suggest that you conduct a complete review of your plan at least once a year.

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is partner and manager of Repair Parts, Inc., and a current member and past–chairman of the American National Standards Institute B11.11 Subcommittee on Safety Requirements for Construction, Care, and Use of Gear Cutting Equipment. McDonald writes this monthly column specifically for Gear Solutions magazine, and he can be reached at (815) 968–4499 or rpi@repair–parts–inc.com. The company's Web site is [www.repair–parts–inc.com].