Manufacturing

Powered Industrial Truck Pedestrian Safety Lights – What a Bright Idea!

DeRoiaPosted by John DeRoia, OHST, WCP®

According to a report published by OSHA, in 2015 there were approximately 96,785 incidents related to powered industrial trucks.  With approximately 855,900 lifts in the US, roughly 1 in 10 forklifts were involved in an accident.  Since these are common devices used in nearly all industries, any safety improvement would certainly be welcome. 

While walking through a large warehouse recently, I saw this blue light shining on the floor, moving out from an aisle way.  The light was mounted to a forklift and was shining perhaps 15 feet in front of the lift.  I thought to myself “WOW, here is something that I haven’t seen before and what a great warning device for pedestrians or other vehicular traffic in tight areas!” 

After a little research, I discovered these lights have been available in the United States since 2013.  Several manufacturers offer these lights in various colors, configurations, and mounting options for all types of powered industrial trucks.

Here is a photo demonstrating the light in action:

Forklift 1

Forklift 2

They can also be used as a warning light to represent a “do not enter area.”

Many manufacturers and retailers offer these devices and the price has been dropping as product usage increases.  Check out these products available from Forklift Safety Solutions, Forklift Training Systems, and Global Industrial.  Naturally, the cost of these safety improvements is minimal compared to the cost of an injury related to fork lift use.

I thought it would be a good idea to shed some light on this subject!  Clearly there is no substitute for proper forklift operator training, equipment maintenance policies and procedures, and bystander awareness training. 

However, just like standard PPE, warning signs, and other safety equipment, devices like these may improve overall safety awareness and reduce the odds of a catastrophic injury.  

 

 

 


Torque Tool Use

AndersonPosted by Maureen Graves Anderson, M.Sc., CPE

Recently I was asked about safe torque levels when using electrically, pneumatically, or hydraulically powered screwdrivers or wrenches. These tools are often used in assembly jobs in the manufacturing industry. 

IStock-465944934 cropped

Basically, torque is a measure of the turning force on an object. A person holds the tool in place while the tool delivers a specified amount of force, measured in English units, inch-pounds (Newton-meters [nM] in the metric world). As the tool delivers the force, the body braces against the force. When the specified force is reached, the machine stops abruptly. It is this jerking reaction force that causes the problem – over time this repeated force can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). How much force, torque in this case, can a person safely handle? The amount of torque force that a person can tolerate over the course of day varies greatly. Overall, strength, age, sex, posture, grip size and type are all factors that determine tolerance to torque forces. 

For healthy adults, we know the range of the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), the measure of strength for this type of force. But that tells us only the maximum a person can generate. This is not a good indicator for someone repeatedly doing this type of work. For that, we need to modify the MVC with a percentage. 14% of MVC is used for intermittent static contractions and 8% for continuous static contractions over the course of day. So doing the math, I calculate that for 95% of women, the range is 6.7 inch-pounds to 14.6 inch-pounds, with 10.66 inch-pounds being the average. For 95% of men, the range is 13.6 inch-pounds to 21.3 inch-pounds, with 17.6 inch-pounds being the average.

What do you do if the torque tool generates more force than a person can comfortably handle over the course of the day? There are two approaches: engineering controls and administrative controls. Engineering controls should be the first line of defense. Here are a few options:

  • Reaction arm for conventional tool: When a torque tool reaches its specified force, it abruptly stops. A reaction arm transmits the force to the frame rather than the human body. It is interesting that the industry recommends torque reaction arms for forces greater than 12 pounds; this is a pretty good estimate for males. For women, I recommend using these torque reaction arms for forces greater than 10 inch-pounds. There are many on the market, here is an example:

             Torque Pic 1Source: Penntoolco.com

  • Pulse tools: These tools apply the force by pulsing, and are very quiet and do not require a reaction arm. However, they are more expensive upfront and require more maintenance. In the long run, they may be cost-effective depending upon how they are used. 
  • Remember that posture matters. I advise the working surface should be set so the operator can be in an upright position, with good head posture. 
  • The grip should fit comfortably in the hand, and there should be no awkward angles of wrists and hands. 
  • Lighting should be adequate to do the job. Poor lighting can result in poor posture as people crane their necks to see better. However, overly bright environments can lead to eye fatigue. 
  • Limiting exposure is an administrative control that should be considered. Job rotation is a good strategy for limiting exposure. As an example of job rotation, a person would alternate between torque tool and non-torque tool tasks every two hours.

Torque tools are great in a manufacturing environment. With focus on engineering and administrative controls, they can be safe tools too.  For more information, check out this torque tool resource from EHS Today, and hand tool safety article from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.


Keep Lifts Between the Knees and Shoulders

BrownPosted by Allan Brown, PT 

How did this lifting range come into existence?  Some might say experience and logic got us here.  Actually, this guideline was developed through historical research done by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) using mechanical models and understanding the mechanism of injury. 

The NIOSH lifting equation is used to predict the risk of injury based on the weight being lifted.  The equation uses a load constant of 51 pounds.  This was the starting load that 99% of male and 75% of female workers could handle safely in perfect conditions.  However, perfect conditions don’t exist in our manufacturing and manual lifting worlds. 

The equation accounts for these imperfections (such as reaching and vertical distance) and chisels away at the 51 pounds as risks increase.  Once all considerations are accounted for the final recommended weight limit is calculated.  This is often something less than 51 pounds.  The healthcare industries as well as some manufacturers are starting to use 35 pounds as a standard. It’s a basic recommendation that doesn’t account for all risks when lifting. 

Why knee and shoulder height? 

At shoulder height the dynamics and forces around the shoulder change and become poorer and weaker.  According to a review of literature by Rhode and Rhode titled Occupational Risk Factors of Shoulder Tendon Disorders 2015, when lifting an object to above shoulder height the core and stabilizer muscles become less efficient so we change our body mechanics and the risk of shoulder injury increases dramatically. 

Pic - Blog

The graphic above illustrates safe lift zones and appropriate weights in those zones.  The green area is the best zone often referred to as the power zone.  The red zone is the no lift zone and is appropriately above shoulder and below knee height.  Additionally, the further a worker reaches from the body the lesser the weight safely handled (yellow zone). You can see why 35 pounds became the healthcare industry standard and a good recommendation for all lifting environments.

At the lower end of a lift, moving below the knee increases the risk and exposure to the back, especially for the lumbar region.  Research completed by Al Nachemson  illustrated the changes in disc pressure with different activities.    Lifting activities greatly increase the disc pressure.  Better body mechanics reduces the force and keeping the load off the floor in an upright position reduces the force further. 

Here’s a fact that will make you pause before you lift from the floor. Bending at the waist and reaching to the floor with no weight in the hands increases the pressure in the lumbar disc to approximately 1000 inch pounds. 

NIOSH recommends limiting lumbar disc pressure to no greater than 770 inch pounds.  Forces beyond 770 inch pounds begin to physically change the health of the disc.  Lifting properly can reduce the force, but proper technique is a skill rarely mastered or used by people in a dynamic work environment.  

Through these studies we know the safest lift range is between standing knee and shoulder height.  This is a basic guideline not taking into consideration reaches and twists away from the body as well as coupling (grip).  Work environments outside these ranges increase the risks of shoulder and back injuries. 

Here are a few simple considerations:

  • Keep lifts between knee and shoulder height.
  • Limit weight to 35 pounds and consider lift assist devices such as vacuum lifts for greater loads.
  • Avoid placing work on the floor. Double up pallets to raise load platform.
  • Consider dynamic pallet lifts to keep the load in the best position.
  • Anything lifted manually over 35 pounds should be a two person lift.

 

 

 


Off the Chain!

LaRochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

When celebrity judge Mel B shouts “Off the chain!” on America’s Got Talent she’s praising the act for a spectacular performance.  When the same might be blurted out in a manufacturing facility using alloy steel chain slings to hoist large fixtures and other heavy objects, it typically means trouble.  Used for their strength, durability, and abrasion resistance, the failure of an alloy steel chain sling with a suspended load can have catastrophic consequences for the operator and expensive machining equipment.  For this reason, OSHA incorporates specific requirements in their Slings standard, 29 CFR 1910.184, on the identification, attachments, inspections, proof testing, safe operating temperatures, repair and reconditioning, wear effects, and deformed attachments for this versatile type of sling.

The identification of a new alloy steel chain sling from the manufacturer will specify the size, grade, rated load, and length along with the number of legs, a serial number, and name or trademark of the manufacturer all on a durable tag.  OSHA requires these slings to be inspected by a designated competent person each day before use and periodically depending on frequency of use and service conditions at intervals no greater than 12 months.  OSHA’s Guidance on Safe Sling Use lists the following items to be looked at during the sling inspection.

  • Wear,
  • Defective welds,
  • Nicks, cracks, breaks, gouges, stretch, bends, discoloration due to excessive heat,
  • Excessive pitting or corrosion,
  • Throat opening of hooks,
  • Missing or illegible sling identifications, and
  • Other conditions that cause doubt as to continued safe use of the sling.

Chain slings noted with any of these defects or deterioration need to be immediately removed from service but can be repaired, reconditioned, and proof tested by the sling manufacturer or a qualified person.  Additionally, slings need to be removed from service if the hooks are “cracked, have been opened more than 15 percent of the normal throat opening measured at the narrowest point or twisted more than 10 degrees from the plane of the unbent hook.”  A log or other record needs to be maintained by the employer on the inventoried and inspected chain slings.

Vigilance by the employer to thorough inspection, proper service condition, and recordkeeping of alloy steel chain slings could be regarded as a class act worthy of a Mel B congratulatory exclamation.

MEMIC policyholders have access to a sling sample safety program in the Safety Director Resource Library.

Steel chain


It's That Time Again: Post Your OSHA 300 Log Summary

Koch Peter 1 Posted by Peter Koch

OSHA's  29CFR 1904.1  requires all employers with more than 10 employees to keep a record of workplace injuries and illnesses.  All employers are required to complete this recordkeeping unless they have 10 or fewer employees during all of the last calendar year or the business is classified in a specific low-hazard retail, service, finance, insurance, or real estate industry.  Click on the following link to see a list of Partially Exempt Industries.

Because the OSHA Record Keeping Rule has many facets, this blog will only outline what OSHA requires for forms and posting.  More detail regarding definitions, requirements, timelines, and forms can be found at the OSHA Recordkeeping web page.

As we close the book on 2012 it's time to review the workplace injuries that occurred over the past year, enter recordable injuries on the OSHA 300 Log, and post the summary.  In the Recordkeeping Standard, OSHA outlines:

  • What is considered a recordable injury
  • How injuries are categorized
  • Forms, on which, injuries are recorded
  • How long to post the summary, and
  • How long to keep the forms

Following is a general outline of the steps you have to take to complete the required forms:

  1. Review your OSHA 300 log for 2012 (relevant injuries that occurred January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012) - 29 CFR 1904.29.
  2. Complete the OSHA 300a Summary form by February 1, 2013 - 29 CFR 1904.32.
  3. Post the OSHA 300a Summary form from February 1, 2013 to April 30, 2013 - 29 CFR 1904.3.
  4. Fill out the OSHA 301, or equivalent form (some state workers' compensation first reports may be acceptable), for each OSHA recordable injury on the OSHA 300 log.

Some businesses receive an Annual OSHA Injury and Illness Survey.  This must be completed as directed in the survey and returned to OSHA or the stated designee [1904.41(a)], in addition to the forms/logs described above.

The forms, instructions, and the OSHA standard can also be found through the following links:

The standard is well written and in a question and answer format. 


A New Year's Resolution we can all benefit from... Improve your Safety Program

EricGrant Posted by Eric Grant


As we begin 2013, if you are like most people, you have probably made a New Year’s Resolution.   Consider the same for your business and more specifically, your injury prevention program.

Consider these ideas or brainstorm with your safety committee and/or leadership team:

  • Focus on company specific exposures - Work with your agent to review injury claims and loss runs.   Refer to your OSHA 300 log to determine areas of opportunity.
  • Develop a formal safety training agenda - OSHA compliance is a start but should not be the finish. Remember 15% of claims are associated with unsafe conditions, but 85% are caused by unsafe behaviors.
  • Conduct quality Event Investigations - Determine root cause and take corrective actions. Remember, look for the Facts, not Fault and operational involvement is key to an effective program. (Visit the MEMIC Safety Director for program materials)
  • Utilize your resources - Internal (supervisors/experienced workers, safety committee, leadership, HR) and external (MEMIC loss control, state consultation services, private consultants, your insurance agency). 
  • Recognize and reward positive behaviors - Consider implementing a formal program that reinforces positive actions taken by employees at all levels.
  • Pre-plan activities with a focus on safety & injury prevention - Have you considered implementing a Job Hazard Analysis Program? This may be the year to get it done!
  • Provide leadership accountability training - Integrate safety with business goals.  Management commitment is one of the foundations of a comprehensive health and safety program.
  • Explore ways to increase employee involvement - Examples include safety committees, routine self-inspections, participation in training agendas, and company sponsored activities/programs.
  • Implement a formal routine self-inspection program - What does OSHA want from businesses? Identify hazards and correct them! Get out there and inspect your workplace and implement follow up corrective actions. 

Reduce injury claim frequency and severity by implementing these nine objectives and communicating them as part of a formal SMART Goal.  To learn more about SMART goals, check out a 2008 Smart Goal posting from the Safety Net, or search online, keyword- SMART Goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).

Have a Happy, and SAFE, New Year!


Recognize and Reduce Manual Pushing and Pulling Hazards

Scott Valorose 2012 Posted by Scott Valorose

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, injury and illness cases requiring days away from work remained largely unchanged from the prior year, although overexertion rates increased.  Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) rates also increased compared to 2009.  Among others, these losses were experienced by laborers and material movers.

Are your personnel involved in manually moving, pushing, pulling, or transporting materials?  Have you identified these terms in the descriptions of any experienced losses?  If your answer is “yes” to either question, consider the following guidelines to recognize and reduce your hazards:

1. Look to, or better yet, at your employees.  In addition to any difficulties or problems your employees are telling you about, look for the following visual cues as they work:

  • Strained facial expressions – it’s possible that their facial expressions may be telling you that their efforts are high or demanding much of their physical capacity.
  • Leaning in to it – employees tend to stay more upright when force demands are low, but use their own body weight to get things moving when higher forces are required.
  • Somewhat erratic or jerky efforts – quick motions or efforts may be used to generate or halt movement when loads are high or conditions are adverse, as opposed to smooth, fluid, or appearing effortless when forces are low.

2. Look at your workplace conditions.  Pushing or moving materials on carts, dollies, or pallet jacks can become more demanding due to multiple turns or changes in direction, narrow aisles, doorways and thresholds, ramps, damaged flooring or expansion joints, or poor housekeeping.  Minimize changes of direction and elevation with good planning, layouts, and work methods.  Regularly inspect housekeeping and floor conditions.

3. Understand the forces involved.  Look at the loads or weights being handled as a general estimate; recommendations for maximum loads have included 500 pounds for four wheel carts and 1,500 pounds for manual pallet jacks.  That said, push or pull forces are typically not the same as the weight of the load being moved.  Under the most favorable of conditions (i.e., smooth level surface, well maintained carts, wheels aligned in direction of travel) forces may be as low as 2% of the load weight.  Forces quickly rise when these conditions are not met.  Consider measuring the actual forces using a tension pull gauge possibly found in your maintenance shop.  Recommended force levels have included:

  • 50 pounds or less to start the cart, dolly, or other device in motion.
  • 40 pounds or less to keep a device moving.
  • 25 pounds or less when the force has to be sustained for more than a minute or the device has to be pushed more than 10 feet.

Maximum recommended forces can change depending on handle heights, distances, frequency, gender, age, and percent of population you are trying to accommodate.  Commonly, at least 75% of females should be able to perform the manual material handling work without undue strain or fatigue.

4. Train employees to push as often as possible.  Pushing allows employees to better utilize their body weight when higher forces are required.  Pushing with both hands also helps to minimize twisting and reaching.  Acceptable forces can be to be up to 20% higher when pushing as opposed to pulling, and pulling, more so the pushing has been found to increase compressive loading of the spinal discs.  Train employees to identify the swivel wheels or casters on some carts and push from that end; forces required to turn the carts should be lower.  Consider labeling the associated handle, “Push From This End,” or remove the opposite handle to eliminate any possible confusion.

5. Perform preventative maintenance on equipment.  Regular preventative maintenance is critical for bearings and other components to operate as efficiently as designed and intended.  Consider going beyond any recommendation provided by the manufacturer or supplier, as instruction is limited depending on the device.

6. Consider powered equipment.  If loads are heavy, forces and frequencies are high, distances are long, or injuries continue to occur, consider providing powered equipment.  When looking for possible equipment, know your exposures and facility conditions; consider any limitations in space, aisle width, floor capacities, etc; consider associated requirements of inspection, storage, charging, eyewash stations, etc; and your budget.

If further assistance is needed, contact your loss control consultant and check out the following resources:

Push-pull


Is Your Business Ready?

Darnley Dave Posted by David Darnley

Hurricanes, floods, wind damage, heat waves, shootings, and domestic terrorism – all events that have happened this year. Is your business ready?

MEMIC recently archived an August webinar entitled Is Your Business Ready?, which is designed to help our clients prepare, write, test and improve their own “all hazards” emergency response and business continuity plans.  This webinar is available to policy holders at MEMIC’s Safety Director.

The federal government provides excellent resources on the website, “Ready.gov”.  You can access templates to prepare a Risk Assessment, Business Impact Analysis Worksheet, Business Continuity Resource Requirement Worksheet, Business Continuity Plan Worksheet, Emergency Response Resource Requirements Worksheet, and Emergency Response Plan

Additional information on emergency planning and protecting people from natural and human-caused disasters can be found at other sites on the web including these:

OSHA’s Flood Preparedness and Response

FBI Workplace Violence Response

Federal Emergency Management Agency

 


Reporting Mechanical Power Press Injuries

LaRochelle Greg 1 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

In most cases, employers need only to record work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 form without a need to contact OSHA.  However, as stated in 29 CFR 1904.39, Reporting Fatalities and Multiple Hospitalization Incidents to OSHA.

Within eight (8) hours after the death of any employee from a work-related incident or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident, you must orally report the fatality/ multiple hospitalization by telephone or in person to the Area Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. Department of Labor, that is nearest to the site of the incident. You may also use the OSHA toll-free central telephone number, 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Additionally, and to the point of this blog, 1910.217(g)(1) requires the reporting of employee injuries involving the operation of mechanical power presses: 

The employer shall report, within 30 days of the occurrence, all point-of-operation injuries to operators or other employees to either the Director of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance at OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210 or electronically at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/mechanical.html; or to the State Agency administering a plan approved by the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

The URL address above provides access to an electronic form that can be submitted online or mailed.  The form contains several drop-down menus for inputting the appropriate information pertaining to the incident and operational features of the power press. 

For more information, check out the following OSHA link, on compliance requirements for the operation of mechanical power presses.


Transportation Leads the Way

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

In 2010, 4690 U.S. workers died while on the job.  Although this represents a 3% increase from 2009, both years continue an overall downward trend in workplace deaths.  For example, in 1994 there were 6632 workers killed.  This trend is good news for all of us, yet over 13 people still die each day at work.   

Take a look at the pie chart below to see the manner in which fatal work injuries occurred.  With this knowledge you may be able to address specific issues at your workplace in order to mitigate the hazards.  It’s pretty easy to see what is killing most people:  40% of fatalities were transportation incidents.      
Transportation Graph
Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2012

Ask yourself if your employees drive either company cars, vans, trucks, heavy machinery, or their own personal vehicles during the course of their jobs.  If the answer is “yes” then a fleet plan should be developed to ensure the safe operation and condition of all vehicles.  There are many elements to a comprehensive fleet plan and each organization’s would differ slightly.  However, they should all include policies regarding driver’s license checks, vehicle inspections, maintenance programs, traffic law responsibilities, and driver safety training and education. 

Check out the Safety Director Resource Library at MEMIC.com for fleet plan tools and resources.  Get started today and ensure all employees Arrive Alive each and every day.