Jeff Woods – Safety Compliance at Graphic Products

I’m so excited to share with you another one of our in-depth talks on safety, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Jeff Woods, Safety Compliance Analyst at Graphic Products. Jeff lives in Vancouver, Washington but he has worked in various other states where he has built himself an extensive career in all things to do with safety.

Jeff has held several roles in major companies and agencies, from being a Security Specialist with the US Air Force to being an Operator Assistant II at Halliburton then going on to become an HSE Manager for Bilfinger Westcon – amongst countless other roles.

Each time I interview a safety leader, I always ask them the reason why they decided to move into the safety industry. Some get into by chance. Some are inspired or motivated by a significant life event. Some simply find that have a personal inkling to become involved in the industry.

I’ve found out Jeff belongs to the latter group. He told me an interesting story – as a kid, when he and his friends were climbing trees, he was the one who always had his arm around the tree limbs. That was his fall protection strategy, and adhering to it has saved him a lot of broken bones. He was taught to be careful. And he didn’t want to be that boy who fell off from the tree and spent the rest of the summer nursing a broken leg. So even as a child he knew that safety was important.

It was an interesting reflection for me also, as I strangely used to be the kind of kid who always fell out of the tree – but that’s another story.

Given Jeff’s lifelong career in safety, I wanted to know when the major turning point was for him in his career. He told me that it was when he worked in the oil fields in Texas – an environment where lots of things could go wrong due to the risk factors involved in working with riggings and heavy industrial equipment. Adding to that, he said getting medical help (when needed) was difficult as the sites were pretty far general support services. This particular experience serves as a lesson to all of us on ust how important it is to adhere to all the safety rules and guidelines and to work together as a team.

Having worked as an HSE Manager for a few companies, I wondered whether Jeff had a particular strategy for telling workers when they’re not doing the safest thing on site. I find this to be a common issue among safety managers, because it is actually challenging not to offend people when telling them that they’re doing something wrong.

In fact, Jeff’s technique is based on what he calls the IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) principle. He explained:

“Basically the way I do it is that I watch them then I approach them and tell them first off what they were doing right, i.e. “I have noticed that you wore your PPE. I notice that you had a guard on the tool but I also notice this… and I was wondering why it is that you do that.”

Jeff follows up a compliment with a question designed to encourage an individual to participate in a friendly safety dialogue.

Jeff said this approach has helped him to get more into the behaviour-based safety and to find out the real issue – whether it was the training (or lack thereof), or the way the workers were taught to do it, or if it is just how they thought it should be done. In his opinion, understanding the issue makes it easier to come up with simple explanations and corrective actions.

Jeff further explained that as an HSE manager, you’re there as a support, not as an overlord.

Of course, workplace health and safety is not just the responsibility of the safety manager but also the workers themselves. In this regard, Jeff shared a key tip for all the guys in the field:

“One of the things I discovered is that it doesn’t matter how big the job or how small the job – if you’ll break groups down into 5 people, then you’ll always have somebody in charge, meaning a person in charge no matter whether they’ve got their boss there or not.”

What this means, according to Jeff, is that everyone in these smaller groups are accountable for the safety of each other. That way, the responsibility level goes up and everyone gets involved. Because every person knows the role they’re playing, it is easier to fulfil safety goals and do the job right.

Jeff also has an important message to those who are taking chances and risking other people’s lives:

“What it comes down to is responsibility. Everyone of those people on the job has somebody that they go home to, and they have a life. If you actually get to know one of those people and become involved in their lives, you realise how important it is – every decision you make can change their lives forever. Whether it’s a loss of a finger or bad fall or incapacitation, it doesn’t matter, your job is not just production anymore [but safety as well]…Everybody is responsible. Everybody needs to learn what it is they need to do to be safe. If they don’t know, they need to ask.”

Jeff also added that OSHA does not hesitate in coming after people who don’t follow safety rules, regardless of whether they are CEOs or frontline supervisors. For him, keeping yourself from landing in jail for a violation of safety is motivation enough.

On the benefits of operating safely

Reducing injury and saving lives are obviously the main benefits of safe operations. But there are also other advantages such as higher morale and productivity among workers. So I asked Jeff is he thinks there are other ways companies can benefit from operating safely.

His answer was honestly one of the best lines I’ve heard:

“Absolutely. When you take responsibility for yourself and your actions and also the actions of other people, the benefits come across the board. People work together. They understand how it’s supposed to be done safely and all goes smoother… If safety does something other than saving lives, it improves communication.”

The more people communicate, the better things go. And that, for Jeff, is a big part of safety. This point really resonated with me – by having an increased level of communication onsite future incidents are avoided and productivity increases – this can be simply implemented by increased participation in a safety program.

On the role of technology

Within the industries Jeff has worked in, he’s seen the evolving role of technology in safety. In fact over the last two or three years, Jeff has seen a huge push for software in the management of safety programs. He says electronics and software are getting more and more precise, enabling safety professionals to understand trends and get ahead of things before they happen.

As a matter of fact, Graphics Products, the company Jeff works for as a Safety Compliance Analyst, has an innovative technology that could help safety managers make the workplace safer. The technology is a battery-operated portable printer which can be used to create labels for chemicals, signage, graphics for safety procedures, etc.

It’s simple yet it makes sense. Pretty much the same thing we are trying to achieve with our Safesite app – a simple way for companies to manage and collaborate on workplace safety and health.

Tune in for more safety insights! And feel free to drop myself or Jeff a line in the comments below – would love to get your thoughts!

Shawn Milton – HSQE Advisor at ALE Middle East

So this week I’ve had the privilege to interview Shawn Milton, HSQE Advisor at ALE Middle East LLC, an international heavy transportation and lifting contractor based in the United Arab Emirates.

Conducting different safety-related job inspections, preparing safety reports and conducting tool box meetings are all part of a day’s work for Shawn. In his seven years in the industry as a safety professional, he has gained a wealth of knowledge about best safety practices and guidelines.

In fact, he’s shared with me some valuable insights on workplace safety, which I’m happy to share with you. I believe we can all pick up a tip or two from it.

So I asked Shawn what gives him motivation as a safety professional. He pointed out that the nature of the job itself is his main motivational factor.

“Because in safety, we are focusing on [the] right way and to guide the safe way of working without any loss of life,” he explained.

I think it’s an excellent point. His answer shows his passion and commitment towards ensuring the safety of their workers at ALE. It’s inspiring that safety professionals don’t just conduct site audits and train staff on occupational health and safety because that’s their job – they do it because they also care for other people.

For those working in the field, Shawn has three bits of advice to mitigate risk and prevent accidents on site:

  • Always wear full body safety harness while working at height
  • Always check an electrical appliance before using it
  • Always report near-miss incidents so they would be investigated

It is also a known fact that falls and electrocution are two of the most common accidents on site, so I think the fundamental points of Shawn’s advice apply to everyone. The third point on near misses is also particularly important because when we don’t report near-misses, the potential risk may increase over time and result in a worse injury incident at some point down the track.

In our interview we also discussed – how building a positive safety culture is a collaborative effort. It’s built through a two-way communication where both employees and safety managers are actively involved. This is something Shawn touched on when he said,

“Development of safety culture is the main objective of any organization,” Shawn said. He also believes every person can take part in building an industry leading safety culture that will serve as a role model for other companies.

Part of developing a strong safety culture is keeping up to date on the latest safety knowledge. For Shawn and his team, the main resource of safety knowledge is their affiliated companies with whom they share good practices as well as incidents. He also pointed out the Internet as another avenue for learning new knowledge about safety as well as new technology.

As you already know, it is our mission here at Safesite to take safety processes into the 21st century. In relation to this, I asked Shawn about his vision on the future of safety and the role of technology in terms of harm minimization onsite.

His expert opinion:

In the 21st century, the new generation of machines will bring with them new safety issues and challenges as well as a different safe system of work. As such, organisations need competent employees and a positive safety culture to achieve their safety targets.

Thanks to Shawn for sharing these insights and I found it an extremely valuable exercise talking to him.

I’ll be doing more similar interviews with safety leaders from different industries, so stay tuned

If you have any questions for Shawn or would like to be featured yourself – please write them in the comments below

 

OSHA Most Frequent Safety Violations in the Construction Industry

As we all know – there are inevitably things that we are going to miss onsite. Some of these might result in less serious situations developing, but often it may be a number of small oversights which add up to create a hazardous environment filled with greater potential harms. With this in mind – let’s have a look at some of the most common violations which were sighted in 2014 by OSHA (the leading American body for occupational health and safety.)

Most Frequently Cited Serious Safety Violations in Construction – 2014

4301 – Fall Protection – Residential Construction

1585 – Portable Ladders Not Extended 3 Feet Above Landing

1409 – Unprotected Sides & Edges

Further breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

construction-safety-violations

General Safety & Health Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.20 -35)

614 – Inspections by a Competent Person

439 – Employee Training Programs

274- Initiate and Maintain Accident Prevention Programs

Further general health & safety breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

general-safety-violations

Personal Protective & Life Saving Equipment Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.95 – 107)

1240 – Eye and Face Protection

1145 – Head Protection

274 – PPE – Provided Used & Maintained

Further personal protective breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

personal-protective-safety-violations

Tools: Hand & Power Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.300 – 307)

101 – Tools Designed for Guards – Guards in Place

66 – Guarding of Portable Circular Saws

40 – Woodworking Tools – ANSI Requirements

Further tools breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

tool-safety-violations

Electrical Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.400 – 449)

315 – Grounding Path

212 – Worn/Frayed Cords and Cables

195 – Flexible Cord Strain Relief

Further electrical breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

electrical-safety-violations

Scaffold Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.450 – 454)

878 – Fall Protection

762 – Aerial Lifts – Fall Protection

694 – Safe Access

Further scaffold breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

scaffold- safety-violations

Fall Protection Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.500-503)

4301 – Residential Construction

1409 – Unprotected Sides & Edges

1351 – Fall Hazard Training

Further fall protection breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

fall-protection-safety-violations

Excavation Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.650 – 652)

517 – Cave-In Protection

261 – Safe Egress

171 – Competent Person – Inspections

Further excavation breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

excavation-safety-violations

Stairway and Ladder Safety Violations (Subject to 29 CFR 1926.1050 – 1060)

1585 – Portable Ladder – 3 Feet Above Landing Surface

454 – Appropriate Use

295 – Ladder & Stairway Hazard Training

Further stairway and ladder breakdown courtesy of OSHA:

stairway-and-ladder-safety-violations

Conclusion

Consider the above violations and consider whether any of them are of possible concern at your workplace! Leave your thoughts in the comments below, are there any particular areas listed above that you think are of particular note compared to the rest of the incidents listed

All statistics sourced from – https://www.osha.gov/dte/library/FY2014_MFC_Construction.pptx

The Safety Triangle Explained

What is the Safety Triangle?

The Safety Triangle has many other names – Bird’s Triangle, Heinrich’s Triangle or the Loss Control Triangle. The Safety Triangle refers to a ratio which has come to define many safety practices and policy developments to date – 1-10-30.

Who invented the Safety Triangle?

The safety triangle was devised by Frank E. Bird, Jr based on the findings of H.W.Heinrich in his book, Industrial Accident Prevention. Heinrich established that based on his findings an accident ratio of 1 major injury to 29 minor injuries, and 29 minor injuries to 300 no-injury accidents existed.

What do the numbers in the Safety Triangle mean?

Bird – using the findings of Heinrich – commissioned his own study to evaluate how true this mathematical ratio was.  Bird analysed close to two million accidents in almost 300 companies wherein he found a similar ratio existed – this materialised in the one we have come to know and love today – 1-10-30.

Based on his findings, Bird found that for every major injury (resulting in death, disability, medical complications or lost time) there were likely to be 10 report minor injuries which required only first aid. This gives us our first two numbers, 1 & 10.

The meaning of 30 lies in property damage accidents – with approximately thirty of these occurring per major injury.

the-safety-triangle-picture

Does everyone agree on the Safety Triangle theory?

Just like any theory – there are always going to be critics. One of the major points of contention surrounds the ratio itself – and whether the numbers at each level are accurate.

Secondly – some individuals and further studies have sought to add lower levels onto the triangle to give the concept more depth. Bird initially eludes to another number 600 – which refers to the number of total incidents which were near miss, meaning they may have resulted in injury or property damage. Industry experts argue that this number is in fact lower (closer to 300) and also argue over adding another level to reflect at risk behaviours with a number closer to 200,000 – 300,000 per major injury.

Thirdly – some criticism lies in whether the theory is too basic and lacks industry specificity.

If we accept the Safety Triangle Theory, how can use this knowledge to improve our approach to safety?

Essentially there are three things we can learn from this powerful concept.

The first is that there is a distinct mathematical relationship between incidents of similar type and how severe there are.  You can use technology like Safesite to keep track of where your company is in relation to industry standards and even calculate this ratio for yourself anytime at your command or receive an automated report each week.

Secondly – it is not plant, equipment or location which accounts for the majority of safety incidents but employee behaviour – especially if we expert more modern interpretations of the theory which incorporate another level in the triangle for at risk behaviours. Usage of Safesite encourages all employees, not just safety managers to log hazards, record observations, maintain equipment and support safety officers in their inspections – reducing poor behaviour and increasing productivity by up to 38%.

Thirdly – by reducing overall frequency of workplace injuries the number of severe or fatal injuries will consequently reduce. Safesite allows you to combine the best of technology with the best people in your workforce to get on the front foot when it comes to safety management, safety culture improvement and risk reduction.

If my reporting capability increases won’t my ratio be distorted?

This point might reflect some of your concerns. If suddenly your company adopts a more proactive safety approach and begins documenting more work related hazards this could cause the actual reporting numbers to increase i.e. you might find out you have more ongoing workplace safety incidents than you currently report.

Ultimately – whether numbers increase or decrease, the most important thing is that you will be able to discover potential threats to your workforce through technology like Safesite will give you the power to avoid a potential future threat – which may remain invisible if current statistics are not accurate.

Returning back to the ratio – you want the relationship between the numbers to be as far away as possible i.e. a ratio of 1-50-500 is a lot better than 1-10-30 which is only going to improve the more diligent your safety practices are. Furthermore the more you focus on the numbers at the bottom level of the pyramid (see the diagram below) the more likely you are going to reduce the number of major safety incidents in the workplace.

the-safety-triangle-picture-advanced

In relation to reported near misses – focus on avoiding them in the future by looking at the reports generated by a system like Safesite.

In relation to unsafe behaviours – use an app like Safesite to create safe working environments and encourage active participation by managers, safety professionals and workers to ensure consistent and continual improvement in the workplace.

Conclusion – the Safety Triangle

The Safety Triangle is a powerful piece of theory within the safety and risk management framework. We here at Safesite have taken concepts like this and combined them with the very best technology to create one of the world’s best and most comprehensive risk management platforms. Leave a comment below to get in touch with us today to find out how we can improve safety onsite and show you how to actually make more money at the same time!

Most Common Sources of Construction Injuries

The construction industry whilst only having approximately 5% of the nation’s workforce, actually experiences 17% to 20% of its fatalities.

Statistics show that construction is the one of the most dangerous land-based work sectors, with several thousand reported injuries and deaths each year. This is not surprising at all as the nature of the job lends itself to danger – a dynamic environment means that accidents can literally can happen at every turn.

While most construction companies make safety their number one priority, work-related accidents still occur at an alarming rate. Over 3,000,000 safety related incidents occur in the United States alone each year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – with almost 5,000 of these being fatal.

In light of these alarming statistics, there are steps we can all take to make sure we easily avoid some of the more common and easily addressed safety concerns in the workplace to ensure these incidents are minimised – see some of the most rectifiable points below:

Falls in the United States

68,000+ incidents per year

Most construction projects involve working from tall heights. Unsurprisingly, the leading cause of death in this field of work is falls. These accidents are often caused by bad scaffold construction or the lack of guardrails, harness and other fall protection gear.

Slips and trips in the United States

33,000+  per year

Each year, thousands of construction workers are injured following a slip or trip whilst working on a building site.

From uneven surfaces to trailing cables, obstructed access routes and stray materials, there are many hazards that could lead to a dangerous slip or trip. Construction sites especially aren’t the most organised or clean workplace, as everyone is ‘too busy’ to tidy up.

Electrical incidents in the United States

8,200+ electricians injured

Fire, explosions and electrocution, often caused by unfinished plumbing or electrical work, are not uncommon in construction. Electrocutions are often the result of unknowingly getting into contact with defective machinery or electrically charged objects, or being unaware of the minimum clearance distance from power lines.

While construction teams include trained electricians, there is a general lack of knowledge on basic electrical safety amongst non-electrical workers, which significantly raises the number of such accidents on the job.

Falling debris and tools in the United States

154,000+ per year

Obviously, these are the primary reasons construction sites are strictly a hard-hat area. From several stories up, even a piece of brick can cause serious injury to anyone who gets hit by it. Despite wearing the required personal protective equipment, a worker may still suffer severe injuries or even die, especially if struck by a larger or heavier falling object.

Traffic accidents in the United States

60,000+ per year

A majority of avoidable fatal construction site accidents involve vehicles. Lack of training, poor onsite traffic management and mishaps by vehicle drivers are cited as major causes of these accidents. In some cases, accidents happen due to the combination of long working hours and heavy machinery.

Conclusion

Regrettably, anyone who works in construction knows that these accidents are part and parcel of the industry.

That said, it’s worth noting that the causes of these work-related accidents are well known and entirely avoidable. The solutions are obvious – companies need a solid system designed to reduce, if not eliminate, safety and health risks on site AND a good safety leader who can help build a safety-minded culture.

Save time and lives by improving your workplace safety whilst also realising gains in efficiency and decreased project cost- post a comment below to get in touch with us and we will show you how!

Note: All statistics are based on 2013 reportings by Bureau of Labor Statistics – available here http://www.bls.gov/iif/