Thursday, September 18, 2014

Basic Workplace Safety Made Simple

Have you ever wondered how your office, job site,or facility would score after a safety inspection? Here is a basic overview of what to look for and see where you might find some areas of improvement. Not all sections on this overview will apply to everyone, but almost everyone will find something on here that will apply to them. By performing regular safety inspections, you help keep the workplace safe by identifying and correcting hazards in the workplace. Inspection frequency depends on the hazard level of the workplace; sites may need checks at every shift, daily, quarterly or annually. Document the inspection observations, identified hazards, and the corrective actions taken.

To start, focus on the administrative records and postings at the workplace. SDS or MSDS binders, safety programs, procedures, trainings, and records need to be up to date and accurate. Critical procedures (e.g. spill cleanup, evacuation) should be posted in prominent locations. Required employer postings (e.g. OSHA, Workers Compensation, and labor law) must be “likely to be seen” by employees.

Floor surfaces should be clean and free of slip hazards such as dirt, granular substances, equipment parts, water, or oil. Wet surfaces should be covered with non-slip materials. Holes in the floor, sidewalk, carpet, or other walking surface should be repaired properly, covered, or made safe.

For good housekeeping, items and debris should be kept up off floors and out of walkways. Stored items need to be stacked properly on shelving units firmly attached to the wall; heavier items should be on the bottom, lighter items stored on top shelves. Items stored on tops shelves require 18” clearance from fire sprinkler systems. Unsecured stacks on floors should not exceed 72” in height.

Electric panels should have 36” clearance in front. Power cords to equipment should be intact; repair or replace frayed cords. Check that extension cords do not cross walkways and are used only temporarily. Additional power outlets should be installed if extension cords are necessary on a permanent basis or there are “daisy chained” power strips. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets should be installed around wet areas.

Aisles and walkways need 36” clearance in an office and 44” in a shipping area. Clearly mark emergency exits so they can be seen from any point in the facility. Keep exits clear of stacked material and other impediments. Label doors that are not exits to avoid confusion. Fire doors should not be propped open.

Ensure equipment and tools are in good working order; place defective equipment out of service. Check that equipment guards and protective coverings are in place. Store chemicals within their compatible classes; flammables should be kept in a secured flammable cabinet. Personal protective equipment should be clean and accessible with available areas and materials for decontamination and storage.

Test fire alarms and sprinkler systems annually. Fire extinguishers should be checked for charge monthly and recharged annually. Inspect first aid kits periodically and replenish or replace supplies when needed. 


If you have any questions concerning work place safety and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eye Protection - Seeing is Believing

In just the blink of an eye, an incident can injure or even blind a worker who is not wearing proper protective eye wear. The type of eye protection-safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets must meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In hazardous workplaces, eyeglasses should only be worn in conjunction with ANSI-approved additional cover protection. Supervisors and managers should always check their employees eye protection to ensure that they are using ANSI approved glasses. If they don't have the ANSI markings on the safety glasses, throw them out and get the proper protection immediately.  

Eye safety requirement signs should be posted for anyone entering a work area that requires industrial-quality eye protection. Warning signs should be placed near machines, equipment, or process areas that require specific eye protection.

Eye injuries can be reduced when workers are properly trained to recognize the eye hazard they may encounter and to use and care for eye protection equipment properly. Workers in hazardous areas should also know what to do in case of an eye injury. In all eye injury cases, professional medical attention should be sought as soon as possible after taking initial first-aid measures. There are several causes for eye injury: 

  • Foreign particles such as dust, dirt, metal, wood chips, even an eyelash can cause eye damage. These get into the eye from the wind or activities like chipping, grinding, sawing, brushing, hammering, or from power tools, equipment, and machinery. Flush the object out with water. Never rub or try to remove objects embedded in the eye. This can cause further damage. Loosely bandage eyes to stop movement then seek professional care.
  • Chemical splashes from solvents, paints, hot liquids, or other hazardous solutions can cause great damage. Go immediately to the nearest emergency shower or water source. Look directly into the stream of water. With fingers hold eyes open and flush eyes for at least 15 minutes.
  • Light burns can be caused from exposure to welding, lasers, or other radiant light. Their effect may not be felt until hours later when the eyes begin to feel gritty and become sensitive to light, then redness or swelling may occur. Keep eyes closed while awaiting medical attention.
  • Bumps and blows to the eyes can be helped if a cold compress is applied for 15 minutes to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Cuts in or around the eyes should be loosely bandaged to stop any eye movement until professionally attended. Don’t rub, press, or wash the cut; this can cause further damage. 


Eye safety is no accident. Nothing can replace the loss of an eye. Protect your eyesight from workplace hazards by wearing and caring for appropriate, approved protective eye wear. You’ll see the difference.


If you have any questions concerning safety glasses or Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)  and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stay Safe Working In Hot Temperatures!

 It's that time again when hot conditions put your body under a lot of stress. Physical activity stresses the body even more. When heat is combined with physical activity, loss of fluids, fatigue, and other conditions can lead to a number of heat-related illnesses and injuries. Death is even possible. This week's blog discusses ways to prevent heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms of heat-stress conditions.
Warm weather increases the number of heat-stress injuries and illnesses, but Heat stress can occur any time the surrounding temperature is elevated. Even if the weather is cool, you may work in warm areas, indoors or out.
The main factors that are involved in causing heat stress include:
  • temperature  &  humidity
  • movement of air & radiant temperature of the surroundings
  • clothing & physical activity
Adjusting to these factors and/or controlling them may reduce the chance of heat stress. Your body can adjust to working in a warm environment through a process known as "acclimatization". Check with your company's safety people for the exact way to properly acclimatize yourself.  Keep in mind, though, even if you're already acclimatized, conditions can change which stress your body even more. Bright sunshine, high humidity, and sources of heat in the workplace can affect your body's ability to cool itself. If conditions change, make sure you re-acclimate yourself to the new conditions.
Engineering controls implemented to reduce the possibility of heat stress include:
  • control the heat source through use of insulation and reflective barriers
  • exhaust hot air or steam away from the work area
  • use of air-conditioning & use of air-conditioned rest areas
  • use of fans to circulate the air
Administrative controls to prevent heat stress injuries include:
  • increase  frequency and duration of rest breaks
  • schedule tasks to avoid physical activity during the hottest parts of the day
  • provide cool water and encourage consumption
  • use additional jobsite workers or slow the pace of the work
  • review  the signs and symptoms of heat stress with workforce
There are a number of types of heat stress injuries. Some are annoying but not very serious. Others can quickly lead to life-threatening situations. Knowing what to look out for is important. This is especially true because the more serious heat stress conditions cause the victim to become disoriented and unaware of his/her condition. People who are overweight, physically unfit, suffer from heart conditions, drink too much alcohol or are not acclimated to the temperature are at greater risk of heat stress and should seek and follow medical advice. The major heat stress injuries and illnesses are described here:

Heat Rash is caused by a hot, humid environment and plugged sweat glands. It is a bumpy red rash which itches severely. It is not life-threatening but is very annoying.
Heat Cramps are painful muscle cramps caused by a loss of body salt through excessive sweating. To help prevent heat cramps, drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free fluids while working in a hot environment.
Heat Syncope (pronounced "sin-co-pay") is sudden fainting caused by a reduced blood flow to the head. The victim's skin will be cool and moist and his/her pulse will be weak. Immediate medical attention is needed in the event of syncope.
Heat Exhaustion results from inadequate salt and water intake and is a sign the body's cooling system is not working properly. The victim will sweat heavily, their skin will be cool and moist and their pulse weak. They will seem tired, confused, clumsy, irritable or upset. They may breathe rapidly, even pant, and their vision may be blurred. The victim may strongly argue that they are okay even with these obvious symptoms. If you suspect heat exhaustion, don't let the victim talk you out of seeking immediate medical attention. The heat exhaustion will affect their ability to exercise good judgment. Until medical help arrives, try to cool the victim and offer sips of cool water as long as the victim is conscious. Immediate medical attention is required. Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke.
Heat Stroke is the deadliest of all heat stress conditions. It occurs when the body's cooling mechanism has shut down after extreme loss of salt and fluids. Here, the body temperature will rise, the victim's skin will be hot, red, and dry. Their pulse is fast, and they may complain of headache or dizziness. They will probably be weak, confused, and upset. Later stages of heat stroke cause a loss of consciousness and may lead to convulsions. In the event of heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention. Until help arrives, try to cool the victim and offer sips of cool water if the victim is conscious.

Recognizing the symptoms of heat stress is very important, particularly since the victim may not realize what is happening. If you work alone in a hot environment, develop a "buddy system" so someone will check in on you periodically to look for signs of heat stress.
Preventing heat stress is a matter of controlling the factors that cause it. Use the precautions mentioned in this article, and don't hesitate to seek assistance if you suspect heat stress. Your good health depends on it!
If you have any questions concerning heat stress and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Department of Labor Pursuing H-2A Temporary Non-Immigrant Worker Program

The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to obtain a judgment against strawberry grower Fernandez Farms Inc., based in Watsonville, Calif., and its president, Gonzalo Fernandez, requiring payment of nearly $1 million in back wages to approximately 400 farm workers for minimum wage and overtime violations. Additionally, the department seeks more than $1 million in penalties for those wage violations and for egregious violations of the H-2A temporary non-immigrant worker program, which include a failure to hire qualified U.S. workers and allegedly requiring workers to pay a substantial sum of their earnings to cover costs of the program.

"This employer blatantly disregarded the law — underpaying low-wage workers, demanding kickbacks and circumventing rules on proper hiring," said Laura Fortman, deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "Because of the nature of these violations, the department has no choice but to seek a debarment order that prohibits Fernandez Farms Inc. and its president, Gonzalo Fernandez, from applying to the H2-A program for three years, the maximum allowed."

Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division's San Francisco district office found that from May 2010 to December 2011, Fernandez Farms failed to pay workers the proper hourly wage and keep complete and accurate personnel and payroll records. The employer also required each temporary worker to kickback more than $1,600 from their earnings per season, allegedly to cover administrative costs of the program, in direct violation of H-2A program rules. The grower was also found in violation of federal housing safety and health requirements under the H-2A program. Additionally, the employer is alleged to have impeded the department's investigation by intimidating workers and coercing them to hide from or lie to investigators, resulting in an extended investigation.

The H-2A temporary agricultural worker program establishes a means for employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the United States to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The employer must file an application stating that a sufficient number of domestic workers are not available and the employment of these workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States. Employers using the H-2A program must meet a number of specific conditions relating to recruitment, wages, housing, meals and transportation. More information about H-2A requirements is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs26a.htm.


The case is being litigated by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in San Francisco. For more information about the H-2A program, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
As a reminder, PEO clients receive continuous update and support related to employment tax regulations and obligations, as well as other regulatory changes.   Contact the LL Roberts Group today and find out how a PEO can assist you with your employee administration needs and to ensure your company’s compliance with constantly changing laws and regulations.  Call us (toll free) at 877.878.6463 and ask to speak with an LL Roberts Group PEO Consultant.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Survey Says.........Small Business Owners Concerned about Workplace Safety

Recently, EMPLOYERS, (a specialty provider of workers’ compensation insurance and services) conducted a survey of small business owners to find out what risk they were most concerned about with regards to operating their businesses.
For many owners, keeping employees safe on the job is a major concern, according to the survey.  The survey revealed that workplace safety risks were ranked as the greatest worry for business owners, with 35% of survey respondents citing it as their primary concern.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Slips, trips and falls account for nearly a quarter of all nonfatal workplace injuries and 15% of all fatal workplace injuries that occur in the private sector. 21% of small business employers feel as though they are prepared to handle slip, trip and fall accidents.
Other common injuries that small business owners are prepared to handle include motor vehicle accidents (12%) and employees coming into contact with harmful objects and equipment (12%). Small businesses are least prepared to address acts of violence (29%), and fires or explosions (17%). 
Survey results were based on interviews of a representative sample of 502 small businesses with 100 employees or fewer. Find more details on EMPLOYERS’ website.
If you have any questions concerning any potential risk at your workplace and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Working In Cold Weather: More Than Just Staying Warm.

Workers exposed to extremely cold conditions are at risk of serious health problems, including hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and muscle injuries. Working in cold weather puts enormous strain on your body. To fight back, try these cold-weather safety tips while working on the job:
  • Securely tie down or weigh down supplies so they are safe from gusts of wind.
  • Be careful in high wind, and be aware of potentially slippery surfaces.
  • Take frequent breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow your body to warm up.
  • Sweep water out of passageways inside of buildings under construction to avoid slipping.
  • Use the buddy system – always work in pairs.

Frostbite occurs after prolonged exposure to low temperatures or wet working conditions. Frostbite can be dangerous and even life-threatening. That’s why it is important to look for the following symptoms when working in cold temperatures:
  • Discoloration of the skin.
  • Burning or tingling sensations.
  • Partial or complete numbness.
  • Intense pain.

 To prevent frostbite, wear loose-fitting layers of clothing and always cover your hands, feet, nose and ears. At the first sign of pain or if your skin gets wet, look for a place to warm up. When working outside, be aware as winds increase. Heat is carried away from the body at a faster rate, making you feel colder than if there were no wind. When your body temperature drops, your nerve cells and muscles work more slowly, impairing your body function. This is easy to notice when tying a shoelace or fastening a button in cold weather.

Safety Considerations
Layer clothing to keep warm enough to be safe, but cool enough to avoid perspiring excessively. It should also contain the following: 
  • Inner layer – a synthetic weave to keep perspiration away from the body.
  • Middle layer – wool or synthetic fabric to absorb sweat and retain body heat.
  • Outer layer – material designed to break the wind and allow for ventilation, such as GORE-TEX®
  • Wear a hat. Almost 40 percent of your body heat escapes from your head. If you wear a hard hat, add a winter liner that covers your neck.


Watch out for the effects of cold temperatures on common body functions, such as:
  • Reduced dexterity and hand usage. (Cold tool handles reducing your grip force)
  • The skin’s reduced ability to feel pain in cold temperatures.

If you have any questions concerning working in winter conditions and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Get Ready.......OSHA 300A's Are Around The Corner!

As we start to wind up the first month of the new year, we must look again at the process of to prepare the previous year's 300A Summary using the previous year's OSHA 300 Log. The 300A contains all the information of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses in your 300 log in a condensed version. Employers with 10 or more employees must post a summary of the previous calendar year’s injuries and illnesses. If your company location has fewer than 10 employees, OSHA may still require your organization to complete the OSHA 300 log and summary if your total organization has more than 10 employees. Not all businesses must complete the OSHA log. Click HERE for a list of the exempt businesses.

To complete the 300 log, which contains all the information you need for the 300A Summary log, employers must classify work-related injuries or illnesses. The basic parts to the 300 Log that are recordable are death, loss of consciousness,  days away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer, and medical treatment beyond first aid. You must update the OSHA 300 log within seven days after each injury or illness. To complete the 300A Summary log, total up all the events from the 300 Log and complete the 300A. An employer subject to this requirement must post the OSHA 300A Summary log even if the employer had no reportable injuries/illnesses in the prior year. In addition to the posting requirement, employees with no fixed work site or no access to posted sites must be provided with a copy of the report.
While every injury on the job should be taken seriously, not every incident is “recordable” for OSHA record keeping purposes. For example, an employee may receive only first-aid treatment or the incident may be an exacerbation of an earlier injury already reported. If you need more details, the OSHA/ Department of Labor  Web site is very informative and can be very helpful.  Click HERE for "step by step" 300 & 300A record keeping information.
The 300A Summary Log must be posted from February 1st to April 30th. The log must be posted in a visible place that your employees can easily view. The break room or by the time clock are two good places that have a lot of employee traffic. The highest ranking company executive or manager at each location must sign the 300A certifying that he or she agrees with the 300A Summary. The OSHA 300 log and the posting of the OSHA 300A Summary is a complex process. After they are completed, do not send the forms to OSHA unless they specifically request them. However, any inspection will no doubt include a review of the forms. 

Should you have any questions concerning, your OSHA 300 and 300A Summary log please contact your LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management Department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. or you can talk to us on Facebook!