Categories safety

Consultant Selection Tips – Outsourced Contractor Vetting Part 2

Big Companies are using safety audit companies like Avetta, Browz, Complyworks, ISNetworld®, and Veriforce to vet their contractors – If you’ve been faced with an audit by one of these companies – You need to read this article

 

Part 1 Recap

In the first part of this article, we looked at some of the reasons why big companies outsource the contractor and supplier vetting process.

We touched briefly on the cost savings associated, and the enormous benefit for the hiring client.

For those of you who did not catch the first part, you can catch up here.

In a nutshell, big companies need to verify the legitimacy of their contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers.

Contractor vetting can be time consuming and expensive. Consequently, many large companies are beginning to use third party safety auditors such as Avetta, Browz, Complyworks, ISNetworld®, and Veriforce to make sure the companies coming onto their property have a safety program, employee safety training, insurance, worker’s compensation and an acceptable safety record.

 

What About Contractors?

This all sounds wonderful for the big companies vetting their contractors, because they save money, and have access to pre-qualified contractors.

The contractor, however is not so fortunate. Like I mentioned in Part 1, a single contractor may be required to subscribe to multiple safety audit databases at once – depending on who they are working for, and what those companies require.

My company consults for some contractors who are subscribed to over ten safety audit databases.

If you are thinking this doesn’t sound cost effective for contractors – you’re right.

Imagine yourself as the owner of a small business where, in addition to your responsibilities as a business owner – you have to stay compliant with multiple audit databases, just to keep working.

Similar to their clients’ outsourcing contractor vetting, many contractors are seeking help as well.

Contractors are beginning to see the value in hiring a consulting company to help them prepare the documentation for various safety audits.

 

Consultant Selection Tips

Consultant vs. Template SalespersonWhen searching for a company to hire for helping you become compliant with a safety audit, be sure to ask a lot of questions. Ask questions that require a very specific answer, and watch out for vague, or ambiguous answers that make the “consultant” sound unsure.

Open up a web-browser, and type ISNetworld® Compliance into Google – four companies should be displayed near the top of the page in the “Ad” section, but keep scrolling past these paid ads, and more service providers will be listed.

Contractor safety audit compliance is a growing industry. You will be lucky to find even one consultant of a professional caliber displayed within the paid ads. Most companies offering this service only really specialize in sales.

Yep. You read it correctly. Most companies who claim to be professional safety consultants, specializing in ISNetworld® Compliance, Avetta Compliance, Browz Compliance and (insert audit company here) Compliance – are nothing more than professional swindlers. In fact, many of these companies do not even write the templates that they sell to satisfy the audits. They either buy them from another provider, or they slightly modify their competitor’s templates – and sell them illegally.

It is common to receive frequent calls from these companies while you are engaged in the sales process, and right when they get your cash – you don’t hear from them again – until it is time to renew the annual “maintenance plan” the following year.

 

Insurance

Some safety audit companies are set up to integrate with your insurance agent. For example, ISNetworld® has an ideal setup – your insurance agent can link directly to your ISNetworld® account, to view requirements and submit certificates. However, it has been my experience that some insurance agents are just plain lazy, and they are simply not willing to go the extra mile, to log into your account to submit documents.

When shopping for a consultant to help with safety audit compliance – be sure to ask them about their process for satisfying insurance requirements.

Some “consultants” claim to offer 100% account compliance, but they have no idea how to interpret insurance requirements, much less negotiate with the safety auditor on your behalf to have unnecessary requirements waived.

Insurance requirements are typically dictated by the trade, or work-type(s) you’ve selected, or by the way you’ve answered the safety questionnaire, or the insurance pre-questionnaire.

If the insurance requirements listed in your account seem to be excessive for the work or service you’re performing, you may need to take a closer look at one of these areas of your account. Additionally, some of these safety audit databases, are designed with code written for “if-then” statements. For example, whether you climb ladders or not, if you select drywall installation as your trade, the safety audit database may automatically determine that you must have a ladder safety program, or additional umbrella limits on your general liability policy.

In many cases a good consultant can work on your behalf, to have these unnecessary requirements waived.

Be sure to make sure the “consultant” understands corporate insurance requirements, and these audit processes before hiring them.

 

Customer Service Process (Proactive or Reactive)

What approach do you prefer as a customer? Would you rather monitor your own safety audit database, and call the “consultant” when you need help, or would a more proactive solution make more sense?

Let’s face it – people are busier now than any other time in history. Without lists and reminders set on our calendars – we forget. Heck, my credit score increased by 100 points, just by setting reminders on my phone calendar for paying the bills.

Be sure to ask the “consultant” to explain their customer service process in detail. If it sounds like the representative is a bit unsure, or if it sounds like they need to think about how to respond to your question, perhaps you’re not talking to the right company.

I can tell you every step, and every action that occurs throughout the fulfillment and customer service process at my firm – from the time a new customer signs up – to seven months into the contract.

 

Additionally, ask the “consultant” the following questions prior to hiring them:

  1. How often do you actually log in to review my account? Or, do you wait until the customer asks for help?
  2. How many employees do you have, who are dedicated to nothing other than customer service?
  3. How many total accounts does your company manage?
  4. When do you request quarterly statistical data?
  5. When do you request renewal insurance certificates, when my insurance is coming up for renewal?
  6. Will a dedicated account manager be assigned to my account?
  7. Ask them if you can speak to the person who wrote the safety programs for the company. If this isn’t an option – be alarmed.
  8. Ask them if they will modify your existing safety plan for submitting to the audit – if they say this isn’t an option BE ALARMED.
  9. Ask them if a new policy must be created, a policy that you do not already have, if they can format the policy to match the formatting within your current / existing safety program. – if this isn’t an option be alarmed.
  10. Ask them how often they will call you to discuss account updates.
  11. If I want/need to cancel the maintenance plan before the year is over – will you refund the pro-rated amount of the total annual fee?

 

OSHA Logs / Statistical Reporting

Things are quite different in Canada, than here in the US with regard to statistical reporting. In this article, I will use an example that only applies to companies based in the US.

A record keeping exemption exists for companies with less than ten (10) employees at any point throughout the year.

So, why does ISNetworld® require companies with less than ten employees to submit OSHA logs?

Should you submit OSHA Logs to ISNetworld®, if you have less than ten employees?

These are all questions a real safety audit consultant should be able to answer with confidence.

If you have similar questions, call ProQual Safety.

 

Safety Audit Experience and Knowledge

As I mentioned earlier, a quick Google search will find multiple companies who claim to consult in the field of contractor safety audit compliance.

Be very careful – most of these companies are not what they claim to be. In fact, many of these organizations, do not spend much time consulting, because they do not know how to.

The market is becoming overrun with people with templates, they have learned how to fill in the blanks, and in many cases – they can help you obtain passing scores.

In a real audit however, these companies are not able to offer any real consulting assistance. Tell them that you have too many injuries, that you’ve now received an “F” grade, and ask them for ideas on how to increase their score, despite the injuries.

 

Pricing

Don’t jump at the lowest price. Not all “safety companies” are created equal. In fact, many of the companies who advertise their service on Google, claim to offer pricing that beats the competitor.

Ask them for a list of 25, 50 or 100 of their customers – call them all and find out how happy they are with the ongoing service plan. I’d be surprised to hear that more than twenty percent of their client base is happy with the ongoing service.

Many of these companies offer low pricing, because they do not invest in the backend of the business. They do not spend the time and money necessary to build a professional customer service team.

These companies know their service stinks, but they think in numbers. They know most people do not like to switch service providers, and they gamble on a majority of their current clients to renew with their service, simply to avoid the hassle of switching providers.

 

Reputation

Take a look back at my suggestion in the Pricing section. Don’t ask a company for a “couple of references”.

Of course they are going to give you the two or three happiest customers to call for a reference.

Be Bold – ask them for a list of seventy-five clients, and ask them if they will send them to you within the next ten minutes. Trust me, any company worth your time, should be able to fulfill this request.

Why ask them for 75 client contacts to be sent to you within ten minutes? This method ensures they do not have time to cherry pick the client references. They should be able to log into their CRM, copy and paste the seventy-five clients.

Would I honor this request? Absolutely!

Would you find any unhappy customers – I hope not, but I cannot promise that every single one of my clients are going to be 100% happy all of the time. This is just unrealistic.

What if a competitor gets ahold of my client list? I don’t care – that’s how good we are here at ProQual Safety and JJ Safety. I am confident, if a client leaves for lower pricing – they will be back.

 

Covered Services

Some “consultants” use a slight change in safety auditor requirements as leverage to sell additional safety training kits, written safety and quality programs and other services which are not truly necessary to be in compliance.

Cross-selling and up-selling is a common business model in the “safety consulting” industry.

For example, the company where I got my start in this business, is infamous for hounding their existing customers for more sales.

In fact, they have a number of bad reviews online and the same business practice that has helped them become a $30M company, is the same set of practices that drive away business.

A bad hire can be damaging to your business, and the impact can be far-reaching and long-lasting.

Take the time to ask the right questions before making this very important decision

Categories safety

A New Market Created – Outsourcing Contractor Vetting Part 1

Even if your company has a top-notch safety program, it is possible that you have been faced with a contract safety pre-qualification audits such as Avetta, ISNetworld®, Browz, Veriforce or Complyworks. Year after year, more and more companies are making the shift to outsourced contractor and supplier vetting. From a cost, process and workflow perspective, it makes sense.

According to OSHA, pretty much every employer has a duty to provide a workplace free of known hazards; BUT, not every employer follows this rule.

You would be surprised how many employers do not even know that they are supposed to provide safety training to their employees.

I remember the shock that I felt when I first realized this fact. I guess that I just assumed that, if someone had a real company, that they were in compliance with all applicable laws. NOPE. Not even close.

I have seen countless companies that have absolutely NO SAFETY PROGRAM WHATSOEVER! I’m not talking about little mom and pop companies either. I am talking about companies with fifty employees, who work for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies.

Well, I guess that at some point, the Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies realized this fact too. Uh oh! What now?

So, the problem became contractor and supplier vetting and selection.

Imagine for a second, the resources necessary for a company the size of Chevron to ensure that every one of their contractors, suppliers, service companies and sub-contractors have an up-to-date safety program, current and applicable safety training, an insurance policy that is in-force, and a safe work history – all before doing business.

Imagine the cost of having an entire building full of PepsiCo employees responsible for reading safety programs, verifying insurance documents and OSHA Logs, and double-checking training records; the payroll cost alone would be enough to make even the wealthiest of companies think twice about how to eliminate this cost center. So, out of this demand, companies like Avetta, ISNetworld, Browz, PEC Safety and Veriforce were birthed.

Problem Solved!

The big companies had a solution to the vetting conundrum, and this cost center was dramatically reduced –  everyone was happy, right? Not so fast!

What about the contractors?

Contractors are required to subscribe to the audit system of their client(s) choosing. Yep, you heard me right. A single contractor may have to subscribe to multiple auditor systems, and they may have to complete multiple safety audits – depending on which companies they contract for, and what system that particular “Hiring Client” requires.

So, while the big companies have found a solution to streamline contractor management and procurement, the contractors are not so fortunate.

I personally consult for contractors who subscribe to over ten different online audit systems. Wait, did he say ten? YES! I said TEN ONLINE safety audit systems for a single contractor? That doesn’t sound very cost effective or streamlined to me.

If contractor companies only had to subscribe to a single audit system, the world would be a much happier place. Lets face it – this is never going to happen.

So what are contractors to do? God forbid they hire a consulting firm to manage their safety pre-qualification and audit systems. For some reason, it is okay for the hiring client to outsource risk management to firms like Avetta and ISNetworld, but when contractors hire companies like ProQual Safety, they are frowned upon by the professional safety community, and oftentimes by the companies they contract to. Contractors will often hear comments like “safety is an inside job”, and “safety culture is diminished when it is outsourced”.

Either the contractor is too small to justify the cost of a full time in-house safety department, or their current in-house safety staff are busy implementing real actionable safety measures, and don’t have time to manage three or four online safety audit portals like Avetta and ISNetworld.

Now, can the contractor companies figure out how to  pass these audits? Sure they can. This stuff is not rocket surgery, but it is very time consuming.

It comes down to opportunity cost.

What is the contractor’s time worth? In the three hours per week they spend managing online safety systems, how much revenue could they have generated? How many new proposals could they send? How many real safety actions could they have executed? How many toolbox talks could they hold with their crew?

If you are an employer – you are required to have a safety program.

If you are a company who has been required to complete an online safety audit such as Avetta, ISNetworld, Browz, Veriforce, Complyworks or a similar system – you may want to consider hiring a consultant to assist with the process.

Efficiency is accomplished by specialization and division of labor. Similar to an assembly line.

For example, I own a consulting company. We have roughly twenty-five employees, and we continue to grow each quarter. When we first started the business, we connected the computers to the internet by ourselves, because it was easy and because we couldn’t afford to hire an IT company. We’ve grown past that, but we still do not have an in-house IT department – we outsource the management of our network to an independent consulting company that specializes in IT and networking. We don’t try to figure out how to be professionals on routers and switches and network configurations. We would probably go broke if we spent our time learning how to do this ourselves.

Hiring an IT consulting group was one of the best decisions we have made.

If a user is unable to log in to their workstation, we call the IT folks.

If the interwebs just stop working in the middle of a workday – we call the IT folks.

We do not have to troubleshoot the problem, we do not have to worry about being offline, and we do not have to bother with remembering to run those annoying and never-ending updates, because our IT consultants do it all for us.

The best part about hiring a professional, is that you don’t have to think about it – the process seems to manage  itself.

The same theory applies with safety audit consulting. Think about a specific area of your business that you currently outsource – imagine if you had a company full of professionals to handle your safety audits the same way.

In Part 2 of this post, I will provide some tips on what to look for in a safety audit consultant. In the meantime, consider hiring a consultant like ProQual Safety to complete and manage your company’s audit system(S)!

 

Categories safety

Beat The Heat – A Brief Heat Illness Prevention Review

Summer is here, and with it – HEAT! Forty-five people died from heat related injuries in the US in 2015, according to the National Weather Service. Some companies simply prefer to close when temperatures get high, but closing is not an option for every business, so it is important to know how to beat the heat! 

Heat related illness includes four major categories:

____________________________________________________________________

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke is by far, the most dangerous stage of heat related illness. Heat Stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death! Call 911 immediately if you witness any signs of heat stroke.

Heat Stroke may occur as a result of other, heat related illnesses progressing, and is usually a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke include:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot dry skin
  • Very high body temperature
  • Dizzyness
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Extreme headache

Those affected by heat stroke may also experience seizures and unconsciousness.

First Aid for Heat Stroke

Call 911

  • Place the worker in a shady, cool area
  • Loosen clothing and remove the outer layer
  • Fan the worker if possible
  • Place ice / cold packs in their armpits to help lower internal body temperature.
  • Use cool water, cold compresses, ice and any other cold item available
  • Be sure to stay with the worker until help arrives – do not leave the worker alone if at all possible.

____________________________________________________________________

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion comes as the result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Whether working indoors or outside – precautions should be taken to avoid heat exhaustion.

  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizzyness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat

____________________________________________________________________

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are a result of prolonged use of muscles in high temperatures. A lack of salt, and imbalance in electrolytes are believed to be a catalyst for muscle cramps.

Heat cramps present with muscle spasms that are painful, involuntary, brief, intermittent but they normally go away on their own.

Listen to your body. Heat cramps is your body’s way of telling you that you need to cool down. If you, or someone working near you begin to experience signs and symptoms of heat cramps, take the following action:

  • Rest in shady, cool area
  • Drink a sports drink to replace electrolytes
  • Consume salt by drinking a salt solution, or by taking salt tablets
  • Drink cool water
  • Wait a few hours to resume strenuous work
  • Seek medical attention if cramps do not go away

  Salt Solution TIP: Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of table salt in a quart of water.

____________________________________________________________________

Heat Rash

Heat rash is often the very first sign that your body may be overheating.

 

Look out for:

Clusters of red bumps on skin

Check the neck, upper chest and folds of skin for spots that look like a rash.

If you, or someone working near you experience symptoms of heat rash, take the following steps to cool down:

  • Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry

Water, Rest and Shade may be the most important aspects of staying safe while working in the heat.

Summer is here, and with it – HEAT! Forty-five people died from heat related injuries in the US in 2015, according to the National Weather Service. Some companies simply prefer to close when temperatures get high, but closing is not an option for every business, so it is important to know how to beat the heat! 

Heat related illness includes four major categories:

____________________________________________________________________

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke is by far, the most dangerous stage of heat related illness. Heat Stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death! Call 911 immediately if you witness any signs of heat stroke.

Heat Stroke may occur as a result of other, heat related illnesses progressing, and is usually a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke include:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot dry skin
  • Very high body temperature
  • Dizzyness
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Extreme headache

Those affected by heat stroke may also experience seizures and unconsciousness.

First Aid for Heat Stroke

Call 911

  • Place the worker in a shady, cool area
  • Loosen clothing and remove the outer layer
  • Fan the worker if possible
  • Place ice / cold packs in their armpits to help lower internal body temperature.
  • Use cool water, cold compresses, ice and any other cold item available
  • Be sure to stay with the worker until help arrives – do not leave the worker alone if at all possible.

____________________________________________________________________

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion comes as the result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Whether working indoors or outside – precautions should be taken to avoid heat exhaustion.

  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizzyness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat

___________________________________________________________________

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are a result of prolonged use of muscles in high temperatures. A lack of salt, and imbalance in electrolytes are believed to be a catalyst for muscle cramps.

Heat cramps present with muscle spasms that are painful, involuntary, brief, intermittent but they normally go away on their own.

Listen to your body. Heat cramps is your body’s way of telling you that you need to cool down. If you, or someone working near you begin to experience signs and symptoms of heat cramps, take the following action:

  • Rest in shady, cool area
  • Drink a sports drink to replace electrolytes
  • Consume salt by drinking a salt solution, or by taking salt tablets
  • Drink cool water
  • Wait a few hours to resume strenuous work
  • Seek medical attention if cramps do not go away

 

  Salt Solution TIP: Mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of table salt in a quart of water.

___________________________________________________________________

Heat Rash

Heat rash is often the very first sign that your body may be overheating.

Look out for:

Clusters of red bumps on skin

Check the neck, upper chest and folds of skin for spots that look like a rash.

If you, or someone working near you experience symptoms of heat rash, take the following steps to cool down:

  • Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry

Water, Rest and Shade may be the most important aspects of staying safe while working in the heat.

Categories safety

Slips, Trips & Falls – Causes and Prevention

29 CFR 1910 Subpart D

According to the US Department of Labor, over 17% of all disabling occupational injuries results from a fall, making falls one of the most frequently reported workplace incident. In fact, 15% of all accidental deaths that occur in general industry are a result of a slip, trip or fall.

A slip can be defined as too little friction or traction between feet (footwear) and a walking/working surface, resulting in loss of balance. The typical result of this loss of balance, is a fall.

OSHA places falls into two separate categories: Fall at the same level, and fall to a lower level. Falls that occur at the same level occur when a worker falls into or against objects above the same surface. Falls to a lower area is when a worker falls below their current walking/working surface.

Causes

Slips may occur because of the following:

Liquid spills on smooth floors or walking surfaces such as water, grease, mud, oil food, bodily fluids and other wet material is one cause of slips and falls. However, don’t think that just because there are no liquid spills, that the surface is slip-free; dry product spills often contribute to slips as falls as well as wet conditions. For example, smooth walking surfaces where dust, powder, dry granules, wood shavings, plastic wrapping or other dry material connect is likely to create an equally dangerous slip potential. Wet and dusty conditions are not the only reasons for slips; transitioning from one surface to another surface is another often causes slips as well. Be sure to train your workers to be careful when transitioning from carpeted floors to vinyl or other smooth surfaces – especially when they are carrying tools and materials.
Some other common causes of slips are:

  • Highly polished floors such as granite, marble and ceramic tile.
  • Sloped walking surfaces
  • Loose, unanchored rugs or mats
  • Loose floorboards or shifting tiles
  • Ramps & gang planks without skid or slip-resistant surfaces
  • Metal surfaces
  • Dockboards & dock plates
  • Sidewalk & road covers
  • Mounting & dismounting vehicles & equipment
  • Climbing ladders
  • Loose, irregular surfaces such as gravel
  • Sloped and uneven terrain
  • Tree leaves, pine needles and other natural plant debris

 

Trips often occur because of:

  • Uneven walking surfaces
  • Damaged steps
  • Debris accumulation
  • Various waste materials
  • Cables, chords, tools and materials
  • Protruding objects
  • Sidewalk / curb drop
  • Opened drawers / doors
  • Clutter, obstacles in aisles, walkway and work area
  • Sudden changes in elevation
  • Unmarked steps or ramps
  • Rumpled carpets, mats or rugs
  • Carpets with curled edges
  • Thresholds
  • Gaps
  • Irregularities in walking surfaces
  • Missing or uneven brick pavers or floor tiles

 

What if every one of the previously listed risk factors were non-existent, would the workforce be completely free of slips, trips and fall hazards? NO!

Human element is the one, unmeasurable, and unpredictable risk factor that must be considered when developing a training plan. For example, a worker walking on a perfectly even and perfectly stable working surface, who is carrying a generator that weighs 200 pounds, is at greater risk of slipping and falling than if he was walking on the same surface, and carrying nothing.

 

Human Risk Factors Include:

  • Age
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of physical fitness
  • Stress or illness
  • Intoxication (alcohol, drugs & prescriptions)
  • Carrying heavy objects or two many
  • Rushing
  • Situational Awareness – PAY ATTENTION

 

Environmental Conditions:

  • Poor lighting
  • Rain, sleet, snow and other bad weather
  • Poor housekeeping
  • Improper cleaning methods
  • Inadequate signage

 

Prevention Rules

Ladders

Just like any tool, or piece of equipment used on worksites, ladders must be inspected frequently for damage or defects – once you are on the ladder, it is too late. Always inspect the ladder PRIOR TO USE – InspectInspect and Inspectsome more! Here are some specific notes about ladder safety, and how you can stay safe while using ladders.

  • Never use the top of a ladder as a step, or platform
  • Never place a ladder in front of a door unless the door is locked, blocked or guarded
  • Immediately remove any ladder that is damaged or defective
  • Make sure the ladder is maintained and in good condition at all times!
  • Make sure that locks, and wheels are functioning properly and be sure to lubricate them often.
  • Don’t forget to check the safety feet and other auxiliary equipment.
  • Fiberglass framed ladders are notorious for splinters – be sure that all parts are free from splinters and that it has no sharp edges

20 FOOT MAX – for Stepladders

30 FOOT MAX – for Stepladders

 

 

Stairs

Handrails and railings must be present on the open sides of all exposed stairways and stair platforms, and handrails must be provided on at least one side of closed stairways preferable on the right side descending.

Stairway platforms cannot be less than the width of a stairway and a minimum of 30 inches in length measured in the direction of travel.

Stair treads must be reasonably slip-resistant and the nosing shall be of nonslip finish.

Stairs must have uniform rise height and tread width on any flight of stairs including any foundation structure used as one or more treads of the stairs.

Fixed stairs must have a minimum width of 22 inches.

 

Railings

  • Standard railing system consists of a top rail, intermediate rail and posts.
  • Railings have a vertical height of 42 inches nominal from the upper surface of the top rail to the floor.
  • The top rail is smooth surfaced.
  • Be sure that the end of the rail does not create a hazard with sharp edges or other uneven protrusions.
  • Stair railings may not be more than 34 inches nor less than 30 inches from the upper surface of the top rail to surface of tread in line with face or riser at forward edge of tread.

 

The following specifications must be followed for wood and pipe railings:

  • Posts must be at least 2 by 4
  • Posts must be less than, or equal to 6 feet
  • Rails must be at least 2 by 4
  • Pipe railings must be at least 1 ½ inches nominal diameter
  • Posts may not be spaced more than 8 feet on centers.

Structural Steel Railings must adhere to the following specifications:

  • Posts, top and intermediate rails 2 by 2 3/8 inch angles
  • Posts may not be spaced more than 8 feet on centers
  • When constructing railings, the completed structure must be capable of holding a load of 200 pounds applied in any direction at any point on the top rail.
  • Railing Toeboards – Standard toeboards are 4 inches nominal in vertical height, be securely fastened, not more than ¼-inch clearance above floor level. Openings may not be over 1 inch.
  • Where material is piled to such height that a standard toeboard does not provide protection, paneling from floor to intermediate rail, or to top rail shall be provided.

 

Stairways

  • Every flight of stairs having four or more risers shall be equipped with standard stair railings or standard handrails.

 

Open-Sided Floors

  • Every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet or more guarded on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway or fixed ladder.
  • Railings shall be provided with a toeboard wherever: persons can pass, moving machinery exists, or where there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard, beneath the open sides.
  • All open sided floors, walkways, platforms, or runways above or adjacent to dangerous equipment, guarded with a standard railing and toe board.

 

Wall Openings                     

  • Wall openings from which there is a drop of more than 4 feet must be guarded by a rail, roller, picket fence, half door or equivalent barrier.

 

Floor Openings

  • Whenever workers must feed material into any hatchway or chute opening, protection shall be provided to prevent a person from falling through the opening.
  • Every stairway floor opening must be guarded by a standard railing
  • Employer must ensure that railing is provided on all exposed sides, except at the stairway entrance.
  • Ladder way floor openings and platforms must be guarded by a standard railing with a standard toeboard on all exposed sides, except at the opening’s entrance, with the passage through the railing either provided with a swinging gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening.
  • Pits and trapdoor floor openings must be guarded by a floor opening cover of standard strength and construction.
  • While the cover is not in place, the pit or the trap opening constantly attended by someone or protected on all exposed sides by removable standard railings.
  • Every temporary floor openings must have standard railings, or shall be constantly attended by someone.
  • All floor holes that a person could accidentally walk into must be guarded by either a standard railing with standard toeboard on all exposed sides, or a floor hole cover of standard strength and construction. While the cover is not in place, the floor hole shall be constantly attended by someone or shall be protected by a removable standard railing.

Aisles

  • Permanent aisles and passageways shall be appropriately marked.
  • Sufficient safe clearance must be maintained where mechanical handling equipment is used.
  • Aisles and passageways must be kept clear and in good repair.
  • There may be no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard

Housekeeping

  • All places of employment must be kept clean, orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Workrooms must be kept clean and dry
  • Platforms, mats, or other dry standing places must be provided for wet process work areas.

 

 

Prevention Tips

Slips occur when an unintended or unexpected change in the contact between the worker’s feet and the walking surface. Good housekeeping, shoe selection, walking surface maintenance and employee preparedness all play an important role in slip / fall prevention.

We have listed some industry best practices below to help you remain vigilant and free of falls in the workplace; we hope that our advice helps to raise awareness for slips, trips and fall injuries, and we hope that we help to people stay safe.

 

 

Housekeeping

Slips, Trips & Falls – Public Enemy No.1

Companies who practice good housekeeping have slip and fall injuries than the ones who pay less attention to maintaining a clean and safe walking / working environment.

 

Your company can reduce slips and falls by following the following best practices:

  • Clean all spills immediately.
  • Mark spills and wet areas immediately with wet floor signage – block off area with caution tape if necessary.
  • Keep floor free of debris (sweep and mop frequently)
  • Mop floors during low traffic times, or when workers are on break to allow proper drying time.
  • Remove obstacles from walkways
  • Keep walkways free from clutter (including tools and jobsite materials)
  • Rugs & Carpeting – make sure edges that do not lay flat are taped down
  • Cabinets & Doors – keep doors closed at all times
  • Cables that cross walkways must be covered at all times
  • Working areas and walkways must be kept well lit
  • Replace faulty switches and burnt-out light bulbs immediately – improper lighting conditions may contribute to existing hazards and may prevent workers from noticing slip and trip hazards.

The most advanced flooring systems and the best non-slip shoes will not prevent slips and falls if good housekeeping practices are not a part of the culture. Maintaining a clean and tidy workplace should become such a routine practice, that cleaning becomes second nature. Every team member must participate in the advancement of good housekeeping.

 

Flooring

  • Improperly maintained walking surfaces have the potential to cause slips and falls despite the best housekeeping habits. The following measures can be taken to add an additional level of protection against slips and falls.
  • Recoat or replace flooring
  • Install non-slip mats
  • Install pressure-sensitive abrasive strips or abrasive filled paint-on coating and metal or synthetic decking.

 

Footwear

Some work environments are slippery by nature, so extra care must be taken to prevent slips. For example, work environments that are oily or wet, or where workers spend considerable time outdoors have a reputation for being more slippery.

There is no shoe that works best for every scenario, so you should pay close attention to the nature of your specific workplace – and be sure to check the manufacture’s recommendation for what shoe is best for your particular workplace.

 

You can also reduce the risk of slipping on wet floor by:

  • Taking your time while walking
  • Pay attention to where you are going
  • Make wide turns at corners
  • Walk with your feel pointed slightly out
  • Adjust your cadence for the condition.

 

You can reduce the risk of tripping by:

  • Keep walking area free from debris, tools and materials
  • Keep flooring in good condition
  • Make sure the work area is well-lit
  • Be sure not to carry items that are too bulky or too heavy

Delayed Compliance Dates:

Although the final rule became effective on January 17, 2017, but some parts of the final rule have a delayed, or phased-in, compliance dates.

May 17, 2017 – Training workers on fall and equipment hazards

November 20, 2017 – Inspection and certification of permanent building achorages

November 19, 2018 – Installation of fall protection (personal fall arrest systems, ladder safety systems, cages, wells) on existing fixed ladders (over 24 feet) that do not have any fall protection

November 19, 2018 –Installation of ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on new fixed ladders (over 24 feet) and replacement ladders/ladder sections

November 18, 2036 – Installation of ladder safety systems or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders (over 24 feet)

Categories safety

Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Standard Updates – General Industry

Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Rule


Effective Date: 
January 17, 2017

2017 ushered in the new OSHA Final Rule for general industry standards addressing slip, trip, and fall hazards (subpart D), and additional requirements for personal fall protection systems (subpart I). Falls from heights, as well as falls occurring on the same level, are the leading cause of serious injuries and deaths in the US workplace. So much that, OSHA estimates the new rule will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.

Since many general industry companies perform similar work activities, and are engaged in similar risks as their counterparts within the construction industry – OSHA attempted to align the two industries’ fall protection requirements to ease compliance, and to make America’s workforce more safe.

OSHA strongly anticipates this rule change will create a more safe workplace in general industry trades, just as we’ve seen in the construction industry since 1994, because now general industry companies have the flexibility to choose which fall protection system they feel is best for the job.

State Plans will have six months to adopt standards that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA standards.


Enforcement Timeline
The final rule became effective on January 17, 2017, however OSHA provides delayed implementation dates for some components of the final rule in order to phase-in enforcement.

6 Months (May 17, 2017)   Worker Training Deadline

  • Employers shall train exposed workers on fall hazards
  • Employers shall train workers who use equipment covered by the final rule.

1 Year (November 20, 2017) Inspection Deadline

  • Employers must Inspect and certify permanent anchorages for rope descent systems.

2 Years (November 19, 2017) Fall Protection Systems Deadline

  • Employers must install personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures.
  • Employers must ensure existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system.

20 Years (November 18, 2036) Cages & Wells Upgrade Deadline

  • Employers must replace cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet.