A few weeks ago, one of our Texas America Safety Company customers ordered several dozen pink hardhats and specified that they were for Marist Women Build committee, which partners with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.  Because our company supports Habitat for Humanity, I asked if she might send information about their group for our Blog, in order to tell you about the great work that they do.  Along with a picture of the gals with their pink hardhats, they also sent the following article:


“Over 400 women will pick up hammers, strap on a tool belt and wear a pink hard hat to build a home for a single mom and her family.   The future homeowner will work alongside Students, Mothers, Grandmothers and Faculty of the Marist School.  Over the course of seven weekends, this enthusiastic group will complete the home.  On Mother’s Day weekend, May 7th, the keys to the home will be given to the new homeowner as many of the volunteers come back to celebrate with the homeowner.

Marist has a strong legacy with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. Eight years ago a small group of women at Marist School, a private Atlanta Catholic school, formed the Marist Women Build committee to partner with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing for women built by women.   The women work alongside the female homeowner to pour concrete, build/install walls, erect roof trusses, install roof shingles, hang siding, paint, landscape, and much more – all the essentials required to complete a home and lovingly demonstrate their spirit and commitment to their community.

Habitat for Humanity International established the Women Build program to encourage the involvement of women in the construction of Habitat homes. Women Build projects provide an environment in which women can feel comfortable learning new skills while making home ownership a reality for hardworking women. Empowering women homeowners also leads to a positive impact on the future of their children.”


Wouldn’t it be great if there were more women who gave their time and energy to help someone build a home for their children?  Our hats are off to Marist Women Build, and we thank them sharing their wonderful story.  Best wishes to all of you on Mother’s Day when you hand that key to the new homeowner!


We began the month of February asking everyone to wear red on Friday, February 4, to help everyone be aware of taking care of our hearts, and stating that heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.  Midway through February, we again talked about keeping our hearts healthy.  What better way to end the month than to again express the importance of this subject – keeping the very most vital organ in our body in good shape. 

Everyone should discuss their heart health with a physician.  He/she should know important things about their patients – family history, blood pressure, and other risk factors that need to be watched.  Also, too much sodium intake should be avoided.  Healthy people should consume a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, which equals 1 Tablespoon.  Those with high blood pressure or other risk factors should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams per day.  Over 75% of sodium consumption comes from pre-processed foods. 

Your primary care manager can determine what risk factors you might have.  Age (men over 45, and women over 55), tobacco use, inactive, diabetes, and overweight/obese, are all risk factors; family history cannot be changed, but tobacco use, weight, and high cholesterol can.  Your physician will order a lipoprotein test, an analysis that breaks down cholesterol into four groups:

  1. Total cholesterol;
  2. Low density lipoproteins (LDL), “bad” cholesterol;
  3. High density lipoproteins (HDL), “good” cholesterol;
  4. Triglycerides.

Fasting prior to this test is required in order to ensure an accurate reading.

Total cholesterol values over 200 may indicate an increased risk for heart disease.  However, LDL levels better predict risk factor for heart disease.  Those with known heart disease (previous heart attack or peripheral vascular disease) or diabetes should have levels under 100.  LDL over 130, with two or more of the above risk factors, is abnormal.  An LDL over 160, with one or fewer of the risk factors, is also abnormal.  HDL cholesterol more than or equal to 60 takes away one risk factor and decreases your risk for heart disease.  Levels under 40 add a risk factor.  Normal triglyceride levels are under 150.  However, as with other components of the lipid test, fasting less than 9-12 hours may alter triglyceride results.  The best policy is to sit down with your doctor and let him explain these results in detail so you understand exactly where you stand. 

Also, here’s news about the  importance of training kids in CPR.  It is important for both adults and kids to know how to administer this life-saving procedure.  Here are the facts:

  • Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
  • 85% of cardiac events happen in the company of family and friends.
  • The incidence of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest in high school athletes ranges from .23 to 1 death per 100,000 high school athletes in the U.S. annually.
  • Studies have shown that children as young as 9 years old can learn and retain CPR skills.
  • About 5,900 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year from all causes, including trauma, cardiovascular causes and sudden infant death syndrome. 

Last, but not least, I want to leave February heart health tips for you with a recipe that I found on the North Carolina State Health Plan website:


Preparation Time: Depends on you

Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate


1 ounce of prevention

1 or more motivated individuals

Lbs of healthy weight (remove large amounts of fat)

Well-balanced nutrition

4-6 servings of exercise/week

Blood pressure management

Less than 200mg cholesterol/day

Controlled blood sugar (glucose), if diabetic

A pinch of stress management

Moderate alcohol consumption (O optional)

O tobacco (for best results) 

Instructions: Combine the above ingredients on a regular basis, you will feel better, and your heart will thank you!


Tuesday, February 22nd, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the island nation of New Zealand, causing damage to its’ second-largest city, Christchurch, which has a population of around 400,000 persons.  This was an “aftershock” that followed a September 2010 earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.0.  At this time, there are at least 75 persons dead and hundreds still trapped.  

Search and rescue teams from the United Kingdom, Australia, United States and Japan are responding to offer aid in finding those still trapped.  These teams are experts at recovering trapped persons under structural collapse; emergency workers, doctors, engineers, and search dogs comprise these teams.  Google has launched a person finder on its website.  Their crisis response page lists emergency phone numbers, maps, and other resources.  This service was also offered following the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti. 

Some buildings survived the earthquake better than others, because of more rigorous building standards over the past five years.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, Graeme Beattie, a local structural engineer, who had worked with a reconnaissance team in Seattle after the Nisqually earthquake, and again in Chile after 2010’s Maule earthquake, reported that stricter local building regulations that had taken place in the mid-2000’s appeared to have been beneficial to Christchurch.  Of course, we are seeing older buildings that did not fare so well, and understandably so. 

It seems to me that an earthquake would be one of the worst natural disasters to really be ready for.  Those who live in areas prone to earthquakes would be wise to do all they can to be prepared, just as persons who live in tornado-prone areas should know where the nearest shelter or storm cellar is, and what to do in that type of emergency.  

For earthquake preparedness, here are some suggestions from the United States Geological Society.  These steps are taken based on “The Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety” handbook, Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country: 

  1. Secure it now!  Your risk of injury or death following the next earthquake or other disaster can be reduced by eliminating hazards throughout your home, neighborhood, workplace, or school.  Conduct a “hazard hunt” to help identify and fix things such as unsecured televisions, computers, bookcases, furniture, unstrapped water heaters, etc.  Securing these items now will help protect you tomorrow.
  2. Make a plan.  Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person’s name and number, location of emergency supplies, and other pertinent information.  Planning for an earthquake, terrorist attack, or other emergency is not that much different from planning for a party or vacation.
  3. Make disaster kits.  These kits should be stored in accessible locations at home, work, and in your car.  Having these supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake, a terrorist incident or other emergency on you and your family.  These kits should include food, water, flashlights, portable radios, batteries, first aid kit, cash, medications, whistle, fire extinguisher.
  4. Is your place safe?  Most houses are not as safe as they could be.  There are things that you can do to improve the structural integrity of your home.  Check out inadequate foundations, unbraced cripple walls, unreinforced masonry and vulnerable pipes.  A contractor or engineer can help you identify your buildings’ weaknesses and fix them now.
  5. DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!  These are the exact instructions that the children and adults  in New Zealand have been trained to do.  Know what to do during an earthquake, regardless of being at home, work, school, or just out and about.  Taking these proper actions can save lives and reduce your risk of death or injury.  During earthquakes, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly.  Be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.
  6. Check it out!  One of the first things to do following a major disaster is to check for injuries and damages that need immediate attention.  Make sure you are trained in first aid and in damage assessment techniques.  You should know how to administer first aid and how to identify hazards such as damaged electrical, gas, water, sewage lines.  Be ready to report damage to city or county government.
  7. Communicate and recover!  Communication is an important step in recovery efforts following a major disaster.  Turn on the portable radio for information and advisories.  If your home is damaged, contact your insurance agent right away to begin the process.  For most Presidentially declared disasters, resources will also be available from federal, state, and local government agencies. 

Most of these suggestions would apply in different emergency situations, as stated.  We have talked about emergency supply kits and being prepared in many articles.  But truthfully, have we done anything about it?  I need to get things better organized.  We never know what may be coming.  To the people of New Zealand, we pray for successful rescues of the many who are missing, and that they will be able to come back from this devastating earthquake better than ever.

Source: USGS


Continuing with OSHA’s Top Ten Violations List, (fiscal year 2010),  coming in at #6 is Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry, (29 CFR 1910.147).  The same standard was #4 in highest penalties assessed by OSHA in fiscal year 2010.  OSHA feels that compliance with this standard  prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually, as there are about three million workers in the United States that have jobs to repair or service equipment or machinery, which must be isolated from energy sources before they can begin their work.  Almost 95 per cent of all lockout/tagout citations involved are from not having a formal Energy Control Program in place.  There are three core components to an energy control program:

  1. Energy Control Procedures. These procedures must detail and document the specific information that an authorized employee must know to accomplish lockout/tagout, namely, the scope, purpose, authorization rules and techniques to be utilized for the control of hazardous energy.
  2. Periodic inspections of the energy control procedures to ensure that the procedures and requirements of the standard are being followed.
  3. Employee training and retraining, along with additional training under a tagout system, to assure that the purpose and function of the energy control programs are understood by the employer. 

Employers are expected to develop programs and procedures, training and inspections, that meet the needs of their particular workplace and the particular types of machines and equipment they use and service, as long as they meet the requirements of the standard.  They must ensure that prior to an employee servicing the equipment where the potential exists for unexpected energization or start-up of equipment or the release of stored energy, the machine or equipment is isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative.  Sources of stored energy include electricity, mechanical motion, motion due to gravity, pressure, springs under tension or compression, and/or thermal (high or low temperatures.) 

Here are other significant requirements of a Lockout/Tagout procedure required under this type of program:

  • Only authorized employees may lockout or tagout machines or equipment in order to perform service or maintenance.
  • Lockout and tagout devices shall not be used for any other purposes and must be used only for controlling energy.
  • The devices (locks and tags) must identify the name of the worker applying the device.
  • All energy sources to equipment must be identified and isolated.
  • After the energy is isolated from the machine or equipment, the isolating device must be locked out or tagged out in safe or off position only by authorized employees.
  • Following the application of these devices to the energy isolating devices, the stored or residual energy must be safely discharged or relieved.
  • Prior to starting work on the equipment, the authorized employee shall verify that the equipment is isolated from the energy source, for example, by operating the on/off switch on the machine or equipment.
  • The lock and tag must remain on the machine until work is completed.
  • Only the authorized employee who placed the lock and tag must remove his/her lock or tag,  unless the employer has a specific procedure as outlined in OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard.

An accident can best be avoided by preventing an unexpected startup of equipment or machinery while it is being serviced or repaired.  One can never be too careful!

Source: OSHA


The old saying “when it rains, it pours,” infers that there’s usually been too much of a bad thing.  Australia has certainly experienced more than their share of weather-related happenings: a cyclone on the eastern coast, and flooding from drenching rains in Queensland and southern Victoria.  Now, in Perth, in Western Australia, wildfires are destroying homes, forcing many to evacuate.  February is the last month of summer in that country, bringing the height of monsoon season, in addition to being the riskiest time for wildfires. 

The United States has already begun to experience wildfires in several areas of the country:  from California, eastern New Mexico, western Texas and the panhandle of Texas, to the Carolinas and the east Coast.   Because brisk winds accompany warmer days, red flag warnings and fire danger warnings are commonplace, as some areas are beginning to see a gradual warmup.  Spring and warmer temperatures cause an earlier snowmelt in the mountainous areas, leaving the vicinities dryer overall, creating a longer season in which a fire can start.  Don’t let your home and property become fuel for a wildfire.  We want to share these suggestions from the Texas Forest Service about steps you can take to reduce your risk for damage from wildfire:

  • Keep leaves and other debris cleared from gutters, eaves, roof, porches and decks.  They can cause embers that can ignite your home.
  • Clear vegetation around your home at least 30 to 100 feet, depending on your area’s wildfire risk.
  • Landscape with native and less-flammable plants.  Check with your state forestry agency for information.
  • Dispose of debris and lawn cuttings quickly.
  • Remove fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including sheds and garages.  If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck, or porch.
  • Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire; keep your lawn hydrated and maintained.
  • Remove branches from trees to a height of 15’ or more.  Wildfire can spread to tree-tops.  Be sure the lowest branches are 6’ to 10’ high.
  • LPG tanks should be far enough from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire.  Keep area around tank clear of flammable vegetation.
  • Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
  • Establish fuel breaks along roadways and buildings and fields or woodlands, if you live in a rural area.
  • Any combustibles – firewood, wooden picnic tables, boats, and stacked lumber should be kept away from all structures.
  • Have fire tools handy, such as:  shovel, rake and buckets for water, as well as a ladder tall enough to reach your roof.
  • Keep water hoses connected on all sides of your home for emergency use.
  • Be certain that you and your family know all emergency exits from your home and neighborhood.

These are excellent ideas to help keep the exteriors of our homes less susceptible,  in case of any type of fire;  even those who don’t live in an area of a possible wildfire.  

I have seen first-hand the devastation wildfires can cause.  A few years ago, a small community and its’ surrounding area were almost totally wiped out because of a wildfire.  Persons lost their homes and everything in them.  Because of extremely dry, windy conditions, wildfires were happening in many parts of Texas, all around the same time, (in the spring), causing not only the loss of homes, but churches and businesses.  Cattle and wild animals were trapped inside fenced pastures, with no way to get out.  

If additional senseless and potentially deadly wildfires are to be avoided, everyone must exercise extreme caution with all potential sources of wildfire ignition.  Careless debris burning is one of the major causes of wildfires.   First, and foremost, stay informed about wildfire danger levels and heed warnings and bans on outdoor burning.  Check to see if weather changes are expected.  Postpone outdoor burning until your area greens up, and check with your local fire department to determine if bans on outdoor burning have been lifted.  If you decide to burn, have a water hose ready, and stay with all outdoor fires until they are completely out. 

Source: Texas Forest Service


When young people are new to the world of work, they bring special talents and advantages to the workplace, but may need increased protections and guidance.  Occupational health and safety risks may jeopardize their well-being.  They may only vaguely understand  the dangers of various work situations and mistakenly be willing to take risks.  This is where specialized training is required in order to keep them safe and help them realize that the real world of work has real-world hazards.  

The enthusiasm that a young person brings to a job cannot be duplicated.  However, their eagerness to please their supervisor may limit their judgment in certain circumstances that could result in an injury or accident.  On-the-job driving is one of the tasks that older workers may handle best, until the new worker is ready.  The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers under 18 years of age from working as a motor-vehicle driver or outside helper on any public road or highway except that 17-year-olds may drive automobiles and trucks on an incidental and occasional basis if certain criteria are met.  

Not wishing to be unfair, I have seen any number of older persons distracted while driving.  However, here are some facts regarding young drivers:

  • In the U.S., the crash rate per mile driven for 16-to-19 year-olds is 4 times higher than the risk for older drivers.
  • A total of 4,054 teenagers ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2008. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fact Sheet).
  • One in four (26%) of American teens of driving age say they have texted while driving.
  • One-half (50%) of all teens ages 12 to 17 say they’ve been a passenger while a driver has texted behind the wheel. (Was it their parent?)
  • The percentage of young drivers who text or use other hand-held electronic devices is increasing annually.
  • Drivers under 20 years old had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes (16%).
  • The 20-to-29 year-old age group had the next greatest proportion of distracted drivers.  ( 

Every company should have safety policies that prohibit the use of cell phones, unless the vehicle is stopped.  Cell phones should be used for company business only.  This is for the safety of the driver and for everyone else on the road.  Many companies will dismiss employees if they are caught texting and driving a company vehicle. 

There’s a great social movement by Allstate – designed to curb distracted driving.  This is on facebook and features a combination of celebrity support, online engagement, and in-person events.  This integrated social media and traditional grassroots campaign is making a difference.  Over 100,000 X the TXT fans are building an activist community, and saving lives, with more than 125,000 people who have taken the pledge either online or at live events not to text and drive.   
These statistics are intended for everyone that drives a vehicle, not just young people:

In a study done by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan, U.S. road fatalities dropped by 22 percent from 43,501 to 33,963, (2005 to 2009), mainly due to better use of seat belts, air bags, and a reduction in traffic because of the economy.  Their studies reported, however, that federal statistics that included a code for factors involved in fatal crashes indicated a large increase in inattentive driving.   Researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center calculated last October that drivers using cell phones killed 16,000 people from 2001 to 2007.  In 2009, the U.S. government blamed distracted driving for 16 per cent of road deaths, or 5,800 persons.  As we know, distractions can include conversations within the vehicle, eating, putting on makeup, reading, looking at the GPS, adjusting music, drinking, driving under the influence of drugs, as well as talking or texting on the cell phone.  

Think about these facts the next time you hit the road.  Leave the distractions at home. Turn the cell phone off and check for messages when you get to your destination.  When you send your youngster to that new job, be sure he/she understands that there are many responsibilities in any job, and safe driving is a very important one.


Sixty-three years old, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is ready to begin its’ new season with the Daytona 500, this Sunday, February 20th.  The 38-race season runs from February to November.  Sports fans are getting ready to watch their favorite drivers and race teams display fast speeds and daring driving. 

Little emphasis was placed on safety in the early days of racing, but following several high speed crashes that caused the deaths of beloved drivers, the industry has focused on every detail from building safer cars to outfitting the drivers with the safest equipment and protective clothing.   Racing safety has evolved rather slowly through the years.  Drivers began wearing crash helmets in the 40’s.  Roll bars were added to the cars in the 50’s, and roll cages came along in the 60’s.  When the HANS (head and neck system) device was developed in the 80’s, many drivers were adamant that they would not wear it.  Now, drivers are required to wear this life-saving piece of equipment.  Drivers wear fire retardant suits made of Proban or Nomex material.  Some prefer to wear full-face helmets, while others say a full-face helmet restricts their peripheral vision, and choose open-face helmets with goggles.  Most drivers wear six-point harness belts that wrap around their legs.  All belts are connected to a single harness that can be quickly released to exit the cockpit rapidly. 

In 2002, NASCAR built it’s Research and Development Center, a combination warehouse, lab, and machine shop.  The goal of the R&D Center is to affect all three areas – safety, competition, and cost – in a positive way.  This center is the equivalent of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  A platform with a portable coordinate measurement machine checks each chassis.  This machine makes up to 220 measurements and is accurate to one ten thousandth of an inch.  It gives the car a unique serial number and installs about 10 small radio frequency chips. A record of this inspection is saved for future comparisons.  There is no expense to the teams, but allows NASCAR inspectors in the field to scan the chips to ensure the car is the one that has been certified.  In the event of an accident, the car must be re-certified before it can be raced again.  Other safety improvements in the cars include moving the driver’s seat closer to the center of the car, enlarging the cockpit area and adding crushable material in the doorframes.  

Just this past Sunday, NASCAR announced the addition of a pressure relief valve to the engine and small front grille openings in hopes of reducing the time two cars can remain in drafting tandems.  Tandem drafting has become a fine dance of two drivers connecting nose to tail at speeds over 200 mph to achieve an advantage over other race cars on the track.   But NASCAR’s recent decisions to decrease the airflow to the grill, limit the psi (pounds per square inch) in the pressure relief valves, and then Wednesday’s switch to a smaller restrictor plate, were designed to lower speeds and discourage the extended periods of two-car drafts that occurred in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, according to Fox News.  In the tandems last Saturday night, speeds exceeded 206 m.p.h.   NASCAR  reported Wednesday the size of restrictor plates will be reduced in an attempt to cut speeds before the season-opening Daytona 500.  The reduction amounts to 1/64” and possibly could cut 8 r.p.m.s from engines. 

Barriers called SAFER have been built to absorb crashes better than concrete.  These barriers contain crushable foam insulation behind a series of square steel tubes.  Since these have been in place there have been no fatalities resulting from incidents with an outer wall barrier in any of NASCAR’s three major series. 

By sharing this information about this popular sport, we hope you fans will appreciate knowing the many steps that are taken to keep the drivers safe.  Be prepared if you plan to attend a big race, by taking along some earplugs, sunscreen, and safety sunglasses.  Wear your team hardhat to support your favorite driver, at the race or at work!

As with any occupation, it is up to every individual to be safe.  These drivers make the decision to earn their living in a job that poses more danger than many others.  They know the consequences, but choose be involved in a sport that they love.  We wish them all the success in the world, and a safe season for 2011.  



Yesterday, we began a series about OSHA’s Top Ten List for violations and citations for fiscal year October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.  Number One on the violations list was Scaffolding, Construction (29 CFR 1926.451).  Topping the list for citations and coming in second for violations is Fall Protection, Construction (29 CFR 1926.501).  Because construction is often done at elevated heights, the risk of injury and death from falling is greater than almost any industry in the United States.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in a 7-year period, more than 4,500 American workers died as a result of falls.  Many workers  fall through existing openings in roofs, floors, skylights, temporary staircases, and off edges of roofs.


There are many examples of persons losing their lives because they were not using the proper safety equipment.  One man was thrown from the bucket of a cherry picker when it was hit by a delivery truck.  Two other men were in the bucket with him, but were wearing harnesses.  Witnesses said he wasn’t even wearing a hardhat, let alone a harness.  Another worker fell from the 10th floor of a hotel that was under construction.  He was not wearing a harness, and climbed on the outside of a rail, despite being warned not to do so.

Contractors must identify all potential fall hazards in the workplace before work is to begin.  Any time a worker is at a height of six feet or more, he is at risk and needs protection from falling.  Some of the precautions to be taken are:

  • Proper training of employees in the use of the safety system.
  • Proper supervision of workers.
  • Compliance with safe work procedures at all times.
  • Selection of proper fall protection systems appropriate for each building site.
  • Proper construction and installation of safety system.
  • Being sure that everyone understands.  Language barriers have been known to be at the root of many accidents.

As with any job, each worker is responsible for his own safety.  Set an example by taking a few extra minutes to be sure that your safety equipment is going to work correctly.  Wear your harnesses or other fall protection equipment!  Others will follow suit, when they see that you are serious about safety.

Many persons are hurt by falling off ladders.  It is important to choose the right ladder for the job.  The ladder should extend three feet above the surface, and for every four feet in height of the ladder, the base should be one foot away from the wall.  There are three types of ladders:

1)      Type 1, which supports 250 lbs.

2)      Type 1A, which supports 300 lbs.

3)      Type 1AA, which supports 375 lbs.

Be sure to tie the ladder to fixed points – this will take about 5 minutes total for you to do at the beginning and end of the day, and could keep you safe.  One other thing, when working on a ladder, don’t carry materials or tools while climbing the ladder.  Use a tool belt, or install a rope and pulley system, or tie a rope around materials and pull them up when you reach the work surface.

Anyone who works in high places has my greatest admiration – I can’t even climb three feet off the ground!  It is obvious that when the same violations occur year after year, it’s an indication that employers and employees are making the same mistakes every year about compliance with OSHA standards.  This is a very serious threat to the safety and lives of thousands of construction workers.   So, we are repeating for all those who are involved in working in high places: Fall Protection, Construction, (29CFR 1926.501) was #1 in highest penalties assessed by OSHA for fiscal year 2010, and #2 in Top Ten Violations, fiscal year 2010.

Source: OSHA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The Number 1 most frequently violated standard on OSHA’s list for fiscal year October 1, 2009, through September 30, 2010 was: Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451).  Working with heavy equipment and building materials on the limited space of a scaffold is difficult.  Without fall protection or safe access, it becomes hazardous.  Falls from such improperly constructed scaffolds can result in injuries ranging from sprains to death. 

Scaffolds must be constructed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Guardrail systems should be installed along all open sides and ends of platforms.  If workers on a construction site are exposed to vertical drops of 6 feet or more, OSHA requires that employers provide fall protection in one of three ways before work begins: 

  • Placing guardrails around the hazard area.
  • Deploying safety nets.
  • Providing personal fall arrest systems for each employee. 

Most times the nature and location of the work will dictate the form that fall protection takes.  There are several types of scaffolding: 

  • Suspended scaffolds – Those that are suspended with ropes or other non-rigid means from overhead structures equipped with methods to permit platform to be raised and lowered.
  • Supported scaffolds – Those with one or more platforms that are supported by beams, brackets, poles, legs, frames, or similar rigid supports.  Frame scaffolds are the most common type.
  • Other scaffolds such as hydraulic scaffolds on bucket trucks. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict provisions in place for scaffolding use, but when construction companies are more concerned with producing quick results than ensuring the safety of their workers all too often they try to work around these regulations.  Depending on the size of the scaffolding, OSHA requires that:

• Scaffolding be moved, constructed, and altered by a competent person who has had significant training in the erection of scaffolding.
• A frame must be able to support four times its weight.
• Guard rails be used to block access to areas where the plank extension over the end support is less than 12 inches.
• Horizontal security and vertical tie-ins be placed every 20 feet.
•  The space between scaffolding planks not go beyond one inch.   The use of ties, bracers, and outriggers.  

When the safety requirements put in place by OSHA are not followed, injuries can easily occur.   The most common causes of scaffolding accidents are:

• Improper construction of the scaffolding.
• Improper inspection of the scaffolding.
• Inadequate securing of the scaffolding deck.
• Inadequate guard rails, toe boards, screens, and safety netting. 

These oversights can lead to injuries from being hit by falling objects, to slipping and falling off the scaffolding,  to planking or support giving away.   According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, 72 per cent of workers were hurt  in scaffolding accidents in one of these ways.  The study also reports that an average of 88 deaths occur each year as a result of scaffolding accidents.  Regretably, these injuries and deaths could have been avoided if only proper safety regulations had been followed. 

Tomorrow’s “Top Ten List to Avoid” subject is the #2 violation and #1 highest penalties assessed: Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501).  In the meantime, stay safe! 

Source: OSHA


Most of the time, when we get ready to go out, we (guys and gals) have to be certain that everything is pretty close to perfect……from  hair, clothes, shoes, the works, we want to look good!  How about your work?  Many jobs require wearing several different types of personal protective equipment, all at the same time!  What serves the workplace correctly must not interfere with ones’ ability to perform their job.  Do you have the correct “outfit” for your job? 

Personal protective equipment, or p.p.e., as it is called, may cover a worker from head to toe.  Construction workers may wear hardhats, safety glasses, gloves, steel-toed boots, and other safety products.  Hospital employees not only wear scrubs or lab coats, but also may have to don face shields, goggles, safety glasses, and disposable medical gloves.  There are many types of p.p.e. that can accommodate one another.  Hardhats are made with slots that allow several other protective devices to attach to them, such as earmuffs, glasses, and even a pencil clip! 

For p.p.e. to be effective, workers must know that it is for their protection.  If it is uncomfortable or does not fit, they may not wear it.  Managers, who have employees’ safety in mind, must be a positive influence on their workers.  It is their responsibility to convey the importance of wearing the right p.p.e. that fits both the employee and the job.  They have prior experience and know the hazards of each particular job.  As well as enforcing safety, they must deal with issues, such as keeping up with OSHA guidelines, enforcing policies, and training workers in first aid and being prepared for workplace emergencies.   If industrial safety glasses are too big, they certainly aren’t going to protect the eyes.  (Hundreds of persons have had their eyes damaged seriously because they were not even wearing their safety glasses.)   If the hardhat doesn’t fit, it’s going to fall off and be of little use.  Not wearing p.p.e., or wearing it incorrectly can affect one’s health, quality,  and possibly duration of life. 

There are many kinds of p.p.e. that must be available at a moment’s notice.  Disposable clothing, for instance, may become soiled or damaged, and need to be replaced quickly, therefore, replacement supplies should be kept in stock.  Letting the workers make a personal choice of their p.p.e. could help ensure acceptance and compliance of safety policies.  Whatever it takes, the bottom line is the importance of personal protective equipment for the entire team – the managers, supervisors, and workers.  Each person is responsible for his own safety, but having good training and understanding of personal protective equipment and the role it plays in keeping each person safe is primary. 

You wouldn’t see a race car driver get into his vehicle without his entire suit of protective clothing, or a football or hockey player start to compete without first putting on those pads under their uniforms, so why should we begin our work without the right total “outfit?”