Electrical Safety Tips for the Workplace

Electrocution is one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities. It’s a hazard not limited to construction, manufacturing or factory settings, either; even an office building can present electrical risks. Below are five tips and precautions you should take regardless of your work setting.


1. Be cautious with electrical extension cords. From mobile worksites to office buildings, extension cords often can’t be avoided. In any setting, be sure that extension cords are well protected against physical damage. Do routine checks for any abrasions, tears or cracks in extension cords, as they can go unnoticed and pose serious threats for electrocution or fire. In the event that an extension cord must be spliced for any reason, make sure that the splice is well insulated — better than the original insulation, if possible. Additionally, be sure that extension cords have enough slack in them so that they are not putting unnecessary strain on the electrical outlet itself.


2. Assume all electrical devices are energized before servicing them. From changing a light bulb to performing maintenance for a piece of electrical equipment, you must always assume you are handling equipment that is energized until you can verify otherwise (see tip No. 4 below about Lockout/Tagout). And be mindful of where you’ve placed all tools and equipment (ladders, for example) so that you don’t inadvertently energize something. When in doubt, or when working with electrical equipment, be sure to use personal protective equipment, such as electrical gloves and eyewear, and only handle electrical equipment that you are familiar with and have been trained to service. Alert any nearby coworkers that you are performing maintenance work so that they can steer clear.


3. Use GFCI in wet settings. Some work settings might require Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) if work conditions are damp. Those areas include kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor work settings. If your worksite falls into any of these categories, be sure your GFCI equipment is in place and is working properly. In settings prone to dampness, don’t rely on GFCI alone; use extra precautions to ensure that electrical equipment is properly insulated against such conditions.


4. Use Lockout/Tagout Equipment and Procedures. Also known as LOTO, Lockout/Tagout procedures, as defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), are an effective safeguard against workplace electrocution. Lockout refers to devices that prevent unwanted access to electrical equipment by requiring the user to have a designated key. Tagout refers to devices that act as warning systems that alert others that a specific machine is currently undergoing maintenance, decreasing the chances of a person mistakenly energizing it and causing injury.


5. Maintain a hazard observation checklist. The only way to know if your equipment is safe is to check it regularly. Employees in any work setting should be trained to spot immediate dangers, such as exposed wires, dangerous spills, worn extension cords or and machines that are not operating properly. Checklists should be specific to each job setting. A checklist should include emergency contact information, as most employees will not be trained to address electrical issues.


About the author:

Christina Chatfield, Marketing Communications Manager of HARTING USA in Elgin, IL, is an expert in industrial electrical and electronic components. HARTING Technology Group develops, manufactures and sells products for your specialized manufacturing needs.

Asbestos in the Workplace: The Risks

Asbestos is a killer. In fact, it’s the biggest work-related killer in the UK, with the HSE reporting an average of 20 deaths per week from asbestos-related illness. In total, 2,291 deaths are recorded annually in the UK as a direct result of mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops in the tissue that covers the surface of the lungs and the abdomen.

In the US, the figures aren’t any better. 4,800 patients are diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer, with a further 3,000 developing mesothelioma. From 1999 to 2010, there was an average 12.8 deaths per million people due to asbestos. At the top of the list was Maine, which exceeded the average by almost double with 22.5 deaths per million annually.

With the rate of asbestos deaths at its peak, here are the facts that you need to know.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral with thin, fibrous crystals. It’s been mined for 4,000 years, and for the greater part of the 20th century was commonly used as building insulation and household fire-proofing.

The danger of asbestos is that its fibres are so thin that they are invisible when airborne, and are easily inhaled, which damages the lungs.

There are three basic types of asbestos:

  • Crocidolite (blue fibres)
  • Amosite (brown fibres)
  • Chrysotile (white fibres)


There have been some scientific debates pressing that blue and brown fibres asbestos is more toxic than white, though the consensus has generally been that all types of asbestos are carcinogenic.

Legislation has been passed banning asbestos in the UK, but unfortunately it is still technically legal in the US, despite the damage it does.

What Asbestos Does

The long-term effects of asbestos exposure are devastating. In the vast majority of cases, something called “pneumoconiosis” – a disease of the lungs characterised by inflammation due to irritation – is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.

This can be especially harmful for smokers, as it’s known to vastly increase the likelihood of lung cancer in conjunction to smoking.

Asbestos has also been linked with ovarian, laryngeal and gastrointestinal cancers.

One of the main problems with asbestosis is that is has a latency period of 20-30 years generally, with some cases being reported over 40 years after original exposure. This is a major issue because it means that by the time the asbestosis is properly diagnosed, there’s no specific treatment available.

What You Can Do

The sectors of industry that are at most risk include any sectors to do with home renovation – plumbers, electricians and interior decorators in particular – and commercial construction.

If you believe you are at risk of asbestos exposure, talk to your employer and your safety representative. It’s also worth getting in touch with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to let them know your situation.

If your employer isn’t taking the appropriate safety measures to tackle asbestos exposure, seek legal help. It’s important that you and your family aren’t put at risk.

Bio: Linda Williams works forCarrs Solicitors, a legal agency based in the UK that specialises in helping victims of work-related accidents claim the compensation they deserve.








The “How To” Guide to Air Compressor Maintenance

Air compressors are a necessity for many business owners and can often be a huge investment. The good news is, a well maintained air compressor can last for up to 10 years with the proper care.


Sizing and Installation

Preventative maintenance for air compressor begins before you even purchase it. It’s important to purchase the right air compressor for the function you’ll be using it for in order to get the greatest longevity out of the system. A common mistake is that people buy an air compressor that is too large for the application they need it for. Do your research ahead of time at jhf.com.

Once you purchase the right-sized air compressor, it’s important that you install it properly in a space that is well ventilated, since the most common problem with air compressors is over-heating.


Regular Checks

You should check your air compressor daily, monthly, quarterly and annually to ensure that it stays well maintained. The owner should do a visual inspection every day to check for any alarms or oil leaks. Almost all air compressors these days have built-in microprocessors that will alert you about maintenance issues, like a filter that needs to be changed or a temperature problem. These alerts are much like the oil or gas light going on in your car: They let you know there’s a problem, and it’s your responsibility to take care of that problem.

For monthly, quarterly and annual inspections, it’s best to call in a professional. If you have a relatively small air compressor, you can do the monthly checks by yourself, but every air compressor owner should have a professional inspect their machines on a quarterly and yearly basis. John Henry Foster can help you with its Preventative Maintenance Program, which includes pre-scheduled visits so you won’t have to remember to schedule your inspections. You can choose to pay based on time and materials, or choose a flat rate billing option. Rates vary based on the size of the air compressor.


Monitor temperatures

            As stated above, the most common problem with air compressors is overheating, and summer is the most common time of year to experience this. Aside from installing your air compressor in a space that is well ventilated, it’s important to keep the air compressor coolers clean. A build-up of dust or debris can clog the coolers and keep them from working properly. It’s also important to keep all of your air compressor oils and fluids at their proper levels.



            Depending on the size of your air compressor, it can cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. Air compressor owners usually start to notice more problems after five years, but with the right maintenance they can easily last for up to 10 years. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to spend the cost of your air compressor in annual maintenance costs. For example, if you purchased an air compressor for $50,000, you should expect to spend about the same each year on materials to perform preventative maintenance and labor costs.



Preventative care? The biggest thing to get the proper life out is to apply the proper compressor for the application. Generally people buy too large of a compressor and they don’t install it in the processor


1. Sizing of the compressor is key

2. Installation of the compressor. Proper ventilation

3. OEM specifications for PM maintenance schedule. The manufacturer requirements as far as the pm goes, they’ll have the schedule of how often


Preventative maintenance. Oil filers, lubricant, air filters.


Daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly and checks. Your daily checks should be by the people who own it. Depending on the size of the machine, monthly can go ownership and have a professional come in. definitely quarterly and yearly should have professional. Rates vary based on size of the machine. $120/hr.




Author Bio: Matt works for John Henry Foster, a hydraulic and pneumatic equipment company based in St. Louis, Missouri.

It’s Time To Reconsider Clay Absorbents In The Workplace

Every business needs cleaning supplies to handle potential messes around their work site. But for industrial facilities or garages working with fuels, gasoline, oils and other spillable liquids, over-the-counter cleaning supplies definitely won’t do the trick. These facilities must turn to professional industrial absorbent products and spill kits to handle their cleaning needs. But are the tools they’re reaching for as safe as they could be?

Tools like spill kits and absorbent products are a vital part of any major industrial facility; without them a small worksite spill can potentially become a major problem for nearby communities and local wildlife. Just one gallon of oil or gasoline will pollute 100,000 gallons of water; because of this, it’s important to clean a spill before it leaks out of a contained area. Unfortunately, what a majority of workers and companies do not know is that many popular spill kits used to prevent major accidents can still pose a number of risks, even when used properly.

A product designed for to address a safety issue should not become a safety issue itself. Unfortunately, many popular absorbents can indeed become a problem. How is this possible? Because of the main ingredient in popular absorbents: clay.

Clay-based products have been the main absorbent product ingredients of choice for years, largely because of their affordability. However, clay absorbents present a number of potential problems:


  1. Despite their name, clay absorbents do not truly absorb the very spills people want clay-based products to clean. Instead, liquids simply coat the surface of the clay absorbent being used. And since these liquids are not properly absorbed, the very spill that workers cleaned to prevent a hazardous situation can potentially leak right back off of the clay product. Imagine the kind of damage this can do if a used absorbent product is dropped off at the local dump, improperly disposed of in unsealed plastic bags. This should never happen, seeing as clay absorbents do not meet US EPA Guidelines for solid waste disposal and must be treated as a hazardous waste. Unfortunately, just one little slip-up by a new worker or a lapse in company rules can result in an accident just waiting to happen.
  2. The next time you pick up a bag of clay absorbent product, check the label for a health warning. Clay absorbents often contain crystalline silica, a material known to pose major health risks to workers. Long-term exposure to crystalline silica dusts can cause silicosis, an irreversible lung disorder that can cause asthma, and even encourage the development of tuberculosis and heart failure; additionally, workers who breathe in silica dust have twice the normal risk of lung cancer and often. In fact, the silica dust found in clay products and produces during other industrial worksite activities poses such a strong health risk that many safety experts are now pushing for stronger rules for working with this dust.
  3. During a clean-up process clay absorbents can quickly create as big a problem for a worksite as the spill they’re meant to clean. Due to their design, clay absorbents have to be swept up or shoveled into proper disposal bins. This process cuts down on productivity, wears down the workers cleaning the heavy absorbent material, and can even make an area more dangerous to walk in by spreading the often leaking product over a greater area; this creates a large, slippery surface that’s unsafe to walk on. Seeing as the National Floor Safety Institute already reports that slips and falls are the leading cause of lost work time injuries, the last thing a worksite needs to do is increase the risk of falling and add to the billions in paid compensation claims already associated with these injuries.


In addition to these three major safety risks, clay absorbents are incredibly inefficient: it takes over 10 pounds of clay to clean up one gallon of spilled oil. The same dust that poses a health risk to workers doesn’t just get into individual’s lungs, either: it also works its way into a facility’s machines and tools, causing additional wear and tear and leading to equipment failure.

Despite this myriad of issues clay absorbents remain popular for industrial companies and garages alike, partly because of their low sticker price, and partly because they are unsure about where they can go for alternative spill cleaning solutions. Fortunately, a number of alternatives are in fact available for companies looking to improve their worksite safety measures. Rather than just using clay absorbents, companies can now buy absorbent mats, socks, and pillows to help absorb and contain worksite spills. There are also a number of environmentally friendly, silica-free loose absorbent products available today that feature a higher absorbency rate than their clay counterparts.

Don’t be afraid to begin making the switch from clay absorbents to alternative cleaning solutions; while the initial cost of purchasing new cleaning items may be higher, investing in modern day absorbent products will inevitably lead to the creation of a safer, less expensive workplace all around. So don’t hesitate any longer – make the worthwhile switch today to environmentally friendly, truly effective absorbent products.


Bio: This article was co-written by freelancer Larissa Gula and Joe Davids, the CEO of American Green Ventures. Currently American Green Ventures (US) Inc. is in the process of introducing SpillFix Industrial Organic Absorbent products to the American market as an alternative to hazardous clay absorbent products.

July 4th Plans Need to Include Safety Precautions

With the 4th of July coming up, the weekend will be filled with plans of fireworks shows, outdoor parties, and parties at the lake.  With all of the excitement and commotion, we all need to be sure to remember to keep safety in mind while planning our various parties.  Here are a few things to keep in mind this weekend:



Fireworks are always an exciting part of any Fourth of July celebration.  But we always need to use caution when handling them.  Remember that you are basically purchasing small hand held explosives!  YouTube is littered with videos of people who have fireworks blow up in their hands or faces.  While most seem to end up with just minor injuries or some singed hair, the possibility of greater injury is always there.

Just this morning, we had a tragedy in a town 30 miles from here.  The city puts on a locally famous fireworks show every year at the local high school football stadium.  A load of fireworks exploded, tragically killing one person, and sending 4 others to the hospital with extensive injuries.  The city has chosen to cancel the show in light of this.

Most cities have a fireworks ban within the city limits, so please keep that in mind as well.



With the warm weather, it makes for a perfect season to fire up the grill and cook some burgers or steaks for friends and family.  While this is fun for everybody involved, it can quickly turn to disaster if the fire gets out of control.  Be sure to keep all fires contained and keep fire extinguishers handy just in case.  Many parts of the country have been in drought conditions, and the surrounding landscape can flame up with just an errant spark or ash.  If possible, it’s always a good idea to keep the grill on a concrete-type surface.  Also, be aware of overhead hazards.  Flames travel upwards.  You don’t want a low hanging branch (or hour house eaves) catching fire because you got overzealous with the lighter fluid.

Also, keep in mind that some places have a burn ban going.  Always check with local authorities regarding the laws for grilling and outdoor fires.



Going to the lake or lounging at the pool is one of the better features of summer time.  Getting the gang together to take the boat out or just cool off in a friend’s pool is one of the less expensive forms of entertainment.  We need to be sure to take precautions, though, so that the fun time doesn’t end with a hospital trip or worse.

  1. Make sure to swim in designated areas only (at a lake), and make sure to use a life jacket if you’re not a strong swimmer.  Children should always wear them.  If you’re in a boat, it’s the law in most places that life jackets are worn, or at minimum, available.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings at all time.  If you don’t pay attention, you could swim out into the boating sections of the lake and risk injury.  Or, if you’re in your boat, you could risk wrecking and/or injuring yourself and your friends. That video link was remixed to be funny, but it could have easily been a tragic video.  Everyone in that boat was lucky nothing worse happened.
  3. It should go without saying that alcohol and boating don’t mix. Ever.


Plans for the holiday don’t have to be ruined because of safety concerns.  Just take a few extra moments to check things out and make sure there are no issues.  It’s much easier to prevent the problems than to fix them after they happen.

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.