September is National Preparedness Month
Developing an emergency response or business continuity plan is good practice regardless of the size or scope of your operations. Here in the Midwest, a tornado can wreak havoc in the blink of an eye. In other locales, it could be a hurricane or an earthquake. Workplace violence and terrorist attacks are real threats. None of us is immune.
The purpose of an emergency response or business continuity plan is to help you get back on your feet as quickly and efficiently as possible. A good emergency response plan defines essential personnel, tools, equipment, supplies, locations, call lists, chain of command, and much more.
Developing this plan requires you to take a close look at your business model. What is the workflow? How are work functions completed? Who is involved and what materials are required to assure quality and compliance? We live in a mobile society and laptops and cloud-based software platforms greatly enhance our ability to carry on outside the traditional office. We still may require certain office equipment to fulfill our business obligations. What suppliers and resources will we need to contact in order to obtain the materials, supplies, and equipment we need?
What about shelter-in-place policies? Have you thought about emergency supplies? Would your organization have fresh water and emergency blankets available in the event of a catastrophic physical event? Would there be some emergency food supply? Are first aid kits available?
In addition to identifying the physical and logistical needs of the business, identify employees with special skills such as nursing or EMT qualifications, CPR training, or multi-lingual skills. Any special skill sets that may be helpful during limited operations should be identified.
There are many considerations in developing an emergency preparedness and business continuity plan, and the time to do so is before you find yourself in need.
General Contractors Maintain Safety at Active Construction Sites
General contractors are typically in charge of safety and controls at a construction project. This includes implementation and enforcement with all OSHA safety standards. Trench work, PPE, job briefings, safety meetings, signage, security, public access and traffic control, utilities, and subcontractor controls are among the many items addressed in the development phases of a project.
The general contractor oversees all subcontractors involved in the project. Roofers, framers, masons, painters, iron workers, plumbers, pipefitters, machinists, electricians, excavators, fire protection and security are commonly-used subcontractors. The general contractor may have employees on site performing part of the work, or the entirety of the project may be subcontracted.
Construction trades suffer frequent and severe reportable injuries due to fall from heights, struck by objects, electrocutions, and caught-between (crush and collapse) accidents. Site safety plans must be drafted early and evaluated for each possible exposure to assure the safety of all contractors.
Housekeeping is a huge concern in construction. Slip, trip and fall injuries occur routinely due to items lying on the ground. It is critical that tools, extension cords, ladders, and materials be properly stored. Debris should be disposed of in dumpsters and materials and equipment should be stored securely on site. Scaffolding should be professionally erected. Fall protection may or may not be required, depending upon the project and heights from which work is being conducted. Typically, trenches of 5′ or more in depth require shoring to prevent collapse.
Heavy equipment operators and subcontractors must be properly licensed and adequately insured ($1,000,000/$2,000,000 minimum coverage). Formal subcontractor agreements should be executed with all subcontractors and should include hold harmless and indemnity language in favor of the general contractor. Certificates of insurance should be collected from all subcontractors prior to the commencement of work.
An office or safety trailer should be established on site. All documentation should be maintained at this location. A first aid kit, spare PPE, and site safety plan should be available at this location. Visitor control should be strictly maintained. Visitors should be required to sign in and should never be permitted to walk the site unattended. All visitors should be required to comply with the same PPE requirements as workers.
Pedestrian and vehicular traffic should be controlled with fencing, secured access, and/or adequate signage and barriers. Security should be established to secure the site after working hours. This may include perimeter fencing, temporary lighting, security cameras or alarms, or a patrol service. Construction sites, by their very nature, present an attractive nuisance exposure due to the presence of heavy equipment, dirt piles, trenches, concrete work, and partially-finished structures.
A reputable general contractor is the cornerstone of a safe, successful project. Build a strong foundation by choosing wisely.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our Kansas City-based safety and risk management firm or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
The High-Risk Division of Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO)
Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facilities perform every type of aircraft repair you can imagine – replacing interior seats and carpeting, rewiring electrical harnesses and gauges, and maintaining and repairing engines, wings, or landing gear – you name it, MRO facilities touch it. Multiple times.
Mechanical work is conducted both inside and outside the plane. Mechanics, painters, cleaners, and others are up and down ladders frequently throughout their day. They often perform work overhead or within very confined compartments. Mechanics are often required to contort their bodies into a number of tight spots to complete their work. Bending, squatting, stretching, pulling, pushing, lifting, and torquing on wrenches is the heart of a mechanic’s activity. These actions lead to a high number of reportable strain/sprain and laceration injuries each year.
Aircraft work may be conducted inside the hangar or outside on the tarmac. Struck by injuries are common due to low ceiling heights inside the aircraft. Outside the aircraft, many struck by injuries are attributed to personnel walking into a wing, striking the bottom of the engine compartment when working overhead, or even being struck by other moving equipment on the tarmac.
Additional high risks associated with MRO facilities are the frequent lifting and/or moving of heavy and awkwardly shaped or weighted parts, the use of both hand and power tools, exposure to jet fuel, chemicals, and paint fumes. Ventilation is a major concern, particularly if an MRO paints on-site.
The aviation industry, as a whole, suffers a high rate of slip, trip, and fall claims. While there are a number of contributing factors (air hoses and tools lying on the ground, the frequency of work on ladders, etc.), weather may be the most serious contributing factor. A large amount of mechanical work occurs outside. Much of that work is completed from a platform ladder. Rainy conditions, snow and ice, and falling temperatures can all change the physical condition of a platform, and the worker’s footing, in an instant. Inclement weather and ladders can be a deadly combination.
Water discharge from the aircraft while servicing a lavatory can pool at a worker’s feet and create a fall or electrocution hazard. There are so many unique exposures in this industry. While it is impossible to focus on every variable at all times – work at hand, maintaining a center of gravity and footing, confined spaces, moving equipment in the work area – it is critical to be aware of your surroundings, including weather conditions, at all times.
Rapidly changing weather conditions and fast-dropping temperatures can be a game-changer. The best-maintained facility cannot keep up with every shift in conditions, particularly when we are talking about black ice and fast-forming ice on platform surfaces. Awareness is critical and cannot be emphasized enough. Sudden movements can have disastrous consequences.
Unfortunately, this industry experiences both a high frequency and a high severity of injury claims. Electrical shock, falls from heights, eye injuries, hearing damage, strain/sprain, struck by falling objects, slips on ice – all are common claims in the aviation industry. Inclement weather serves only to heighten these exposures. Claims in this sector range from minor sprains and lacerations to brain injuries, paralysis, and even death.
Make safety the top priority at your MRO facility. Establish a formal safety program, create a formal safety committee with a designated leader, and conduct JSAs on all positions. As summer fades out to rainy autumn and icy winter, be sure to promote seasonal safety awareness early and often.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
The very nature of entrepreneurship is risky. Sound decision making is the foundation upon which all successful businesses are built. Balancing potential gains against probable losses is critical in creating a safe, healthy, and profitable work environment.
Risk management strategies should be part of a small business startup mentality. Including risk management in your initial business plan helps you respond calmly to predictable obstacles. This experience, in turn, prepares you to deal with the unforeseeable. Recognizing risk at a small business is a matter of learning to objectively assess your environment, your task, your tools, and your resources. A hazard can only be managed after it has been identified. This proactive stance is the best way to determine whether or how a risk can be eliminated or mitigated at a small business, and that is the essence of risk management.
Your risk management leadership team should be able to:
- Assess situations critically and objectively
- Analyze large amounts of data to identify trends and patterns
- Prioritize risk to properly allocate resources
- Impart knowledge in a concise and meaningful manner
- Make thoughtful, well-developed recommendations
Your safety and compliance teams form the backbone of your risk management program. They should be equipped and entrusted to make critical decisions and allocate valuable resources in order to create a safe work environment. Their commitment determines the success or failure of your safety and risk management plan across the organization. When employees see upper management supporting these leaders with the necessary tools and resources to improve safety, they, too, will look for ways to contribute. This employee buy-in is invaluable in promoting the safe, efficient work environment all businesses strive to achieve.
On the Job Safety for Automotive Repair Shops & Mechanics
Spend much time in an automotive repair shop and you’ll gain a new appreciation for the phrase “moving parts.” These shops are full of hazards. Mechanics suffer eye injuries, lacerations, and burns on a frequent basis. Historically, this profession ranks as one of the top 20 in reportable injuries.
From routine oil changes to major rebuilds, mechanics are in close proximity with moving belts and blades, hot parts, and pressurized systems every day. Simply changing a tire requires the use of a torque wrench. Strain/sprain injuries are common for auto mechanics due to the physical nature of stretching into hard-to-reach engine compartments and torqueing away on wrenches.
For auto mechanics, burns are frequently the result of contact with hot oil, transmission fluid, coolants, grease, or spot welding. Corrosives, oils (fresh and waste), fluids, solvents, and lubricants are stored on site, often in bulk. Rubber tires, oily rags, and batteries all pose safety hazards. Vehicles inside the shop have gas or diesel in the tanks. More than one automotive shop has burned to the ground due to electrical short. These fires rage quickly out of control with the abundance of accelerants on site.
Spills require immediate cleanup. Tools should be maintained in toolboxes and not strewn around the shop floor. Air hoses should be properly coiled and stored. Customers should not be permitted to walk through the shop area. Flammables should be stored in appropriate cabinets. Oxygen and acetylene tanks should be chained upright on caddies. Hoists and lifts should be inspected routinely. Eyewash stations, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers should be located in highly visible, easily accessible areas. Labels should remain affixed to all chemicals and employees should be trained in hazardous communications.
Good housekeeping can make a substantial difference in reducing the risk of injury and improving the safety performance of automotive repair shops. Are you doing enough to protect your automotive shop?
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Call us at ((816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.