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June 2013

Share The Road With All... Big and Small

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

As we enter the busy summer months and more of us are travelling it is important to be more aware of our surroundings as we drive.  Highways are filled with vehicles, from tractor trailers to bicyclists and everything in between.  Keep these tips in mind:

  • Bicycles are harder to see than full sized vehicles.  If you’re a rider consider wearing high visibility colors and install lights front and rear.  Obey all traffic laws and be predictable.  Always wear a helmet.  When driving a car around a bicyclist give them at least 3’ of space.
  • Motorcycles are also harder to see, so the same recommendations apply.  Wear all your protective gear, especially the helmet.
  • Tractor trailers take a long time to accelerate and a long time to stop.  It takes about the length of a football field to stop a tractor trailer from highway speed.  Trucks will have to make very wide turns, so don’t find yourself caught between the trailer and the curb by trying to go inside a tractor trailer making a right turn.  Always allow extra room around the big rigs.
  • People travelling away from home are often unfamiliar with the area and tend to make quick turns or slow down as they navigate their way around.  Keep at least three seconds of following distance from the car in front of you and stay alert.
  • Fatigue is insidious and can be a serious safety hazard on the road.  Plan your days appropriately, get plenty of rest, and stay well hydrated on these long summer days. 

Check out the following resources for more information regarding safe driving.  Enjoy the summer safely!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration- a great resource to learn more about distracted driving, child safety seats, teen driving, safety ratings and more.

Bicycle safety information available from Bicyclesafe.com.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a page devoted to sharing the road safely.


PELs, STELs, and Ceiling Limits

LaRochelle Greg 1 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

The air we breathe is never contaminant free in the sense that the atmospheric gases comprising air (nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases) are “littered” with dust particles, pollen, dander, microbes, and chemicals released from processing operations.  This is quite obvious when shafts of sunlight shine through windows revealing minute particles suspended in air.  So in realizing this, what is considered to be a safe level of exposure to air contaminants, particularly in an occupational setting?

OSHA has developed occupational exposure limits, commonly referred to as permissible exposure limits (PELs), by adopting exposure limits established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).  These limits are mostly derived from worker experience and research on laboratory animals and are based on an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA). 

OSHA defines a TWA as “the employee's average airborne exposure in any 8-hour work shift of a 40-hour work week which shall not be exceeded."  Therefore, the 8-hour TWA PEL is considered to be “the highest level of exposure an employee may be exposed to without incurring the risk of adverse health effects.”  There are approximately 500 PELs listed in the Z tables of OSHA’s air contaminants standard, 29 CFR 1910.1000.

Additionally, OSHA has established two other legal limits of air contaminant exposure, the short term exposure limit (STEL) and the ceiling limit defined as follows:

  1. Short Term Exposure Limit – Maximum concentration to which workers can be exposed for a short period of time (15 minutes) for only four times throughout the day with at least one hour between exposures.
  2. Ceiling Limit – An airborne concentration of a toxic substance in the work environment, which should never be exceeded.

PELs, STELs, and ceiling limits refer to employee exposure without regard to use of a respirator, in other words with no protection.  STELs and ceiling limits are intended to “cap” excessive exposure where an 8-hour TWA allows a worker to have exposure to airborne concentrations above the PEL, albeit for limited periods provided the average concentration remains lower over 8 hours.

Chemical manufacturers are required to provide information on exposure limits for their products in Section 8, Exposure Controls and Personal Protection of the corresponding Safety Data Sheet (SDS).  Employers, in turn, are required to evaluate the level of employee exposure to chemicals and other hazardous substances and must take appropriate action when limits are exceeded.  First and foremost, engineering controls (product substitution or ventilation) need to be implemented and if not feasible, personal protective equipment with training must be afforded to employees. 

For more information on OSHA exposure limits click here.


Do You Have a Written Emergency Action Plan?

Tony soares 2012 Posted by Tony Soares

This post series regarding Emergency Evacuation continues with our fourth and final issue.

Remember that your written Emergency Action Plan must include the following (at a minimum):

  • A method for reporting fires and other emergencies;
  • An evacuation policy and procedure;
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as floor plans, workplace maps, and safe or refuge areas;
  • Names, titles, departments, and telephone numbers of individuals both within and outside your company to contact for additional support following an emergency situation;
  • Procedures for employees who remain to perform or shut down critical plant operations, operate fire extinguishers, or perform other essential services that cannot be shut down for every emergency alarm before evacuating; and
  • Rescue and medical duties for any workers designated to perform them.

Do not forget to designate an assembly location and procedures to account for all employees and visitors after an evacuation.

  • The site of an alternative communications center to be used in the event of a fire or explosion; and
  • A secure on or offsite location to store originals or duplicate copies of accounting records, legal documents, your employees’ emergency contact lists, and other essential records.

You must alert your employees of an emergency.

  • Alarms must be able to be heard, seen, or otherwise perceived by everyone in the workplace. You might want to consider providing an auxiliary power supply in the event that electricity is shut off. (29 CFR 1910.165(b)(2) offers more information on alarms.)

Keep an updated list of key personnel such as the plant manager or physician, in order of priority, to notify in the event of an emergency during off-duty hours.

Additional references:

DOL / OSHA - How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations

DOL / OSHA - Evacuation Elements

NFPA - Employee Fire and Life Safety