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Respirators Can Help Your Workers Breathe Easy

If respirators are part of your company’s safety arsenal, you know how critical they are in protecting employees.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), about five million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards can cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases or death.

Respirators protect users in two important ways. First, they remove contaminants from the air. This type of respirator includes particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters, which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean, respirable air from another source. Respirators in this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.

Respirators can save lives in the workplace. According to OSHA, if facilities comply with its Respiratory Protection Standard, hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses can be averted each year.

That’s why it’s important for employers to comply with OSHA regulations not only to avoid citations and costly fines, but also to protect your most valuable asset, your employees.

When it comes to using respirators in the workplace, those responsible for safety should know the difference between mandatory and voluntary respirator use, and provide specific procedures and processes for employees accordingly. In its Respiratory Protection Standard, OSHA provides specific detailed respiratory protection requirements that apply, depending on mandatory (emergency) use and voluntary use of a respirator.  But whether your workplace is using respirators on a mandatory or voluntary basis, you need to put a written respiratory protection program in place.

It’s important to select the right respirator for your workplace and your employees. Next, you must create and implement a respirator program that ensures their health and safetys. According to ohsonline.com, a respirator program should include the following steps:

  • Evaluate the health of employees who are required to use respirators
  • Establish fit-testing procedures for tight-fitting respirators
  • Create procedures for properly using respirators in routine and potential emergency situations
  • Implement processes and schedules for cleaning, disinfecting, storing, inspecting, repairing, discarding and otherwise maintaining respirators
  • Develop procedures to ensure adequate air quality, quantity, and flow of breathing air for atmosphere-supplying respirators
  • Train employees about the respiratory hazards that they may be exposed to during routine and emergency situations
  • Teach employees to use the respirators properly, including taking them off and on, any limitations on their use and their maintenance
  • Regularly evaluate your program’s effectiveness

These steps are critical to ensure your employees’ health and safety as well as to comply with OSHA rules. In OSHA’s list of 2017 list of Top Violations, respiratory protection ranked No. 4 with 3,118 violations cited.

Keep in mind, OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) requires employees to be fit tested before the initial use of a respirator, as well as when a different respirator is used. If you’re required to wear a tight-fitting respirator at work this month, it’s important to have a clean shave even if you want to participate in the No-Shave November movement for cancer awareness. Facial hair can interfere with protection and is a common reason that someone can’t be fit-tested. According to studies, even a day or two of stubble can reduce effective protection. Facial hair under a sealing surface can cause 20-1,000 times more leakage than a clean-shaven face. In addition to a fit test, a worker should perform a user seal check every time he or she wears a respirator.

KC Supply offers a variety of respirators and PPE, and more. We can help you select the right respirator for your workplace and your employees. Give us a call at 800.KC.SUPPLY or visit www.kcsupply.com.  

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OSHA Announces Top 10 Violations for 2018

OSHA released its top 10 violations for 2018, and the list looks familiar because it didn’t change much from 2017.

OSHA Violations

Patrick Kapust, OSHA’s deputy director, announced the OSHA violations last week at the National Safety Council Congress in Houston. The list is based on an estimated 32,266 violations from fiscal year 2018. The violations were found by OSHA and precluded violations discovered by state enforcement agencies.

According to Kapust, “The top 10 represents the most frequently cited standards, and they are a good place to start for the employer in identifying hazards in their own workplace.”

Employers should by now be very familiar with the list. The top seven OSHA violations remained basically unchanged for the fourth year in a row, and in fact, there was only one new addition to the list from years’ past: This is the first year that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has ranked in OSHA’s top 10 violations, replacing Electrical Wiring Methods.

The top 10 list of OSHA violations for 2018 is as follows:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements

Violations: 7,270

OSHA Standard: 1926.501

  1. Hazard Communication

Violations: 4,552

OSHA Standard: 1910.200

  1. Scaffolds – General Requirements

Violations: 3,336

OSHA Standard: 1926.451

  1. Respiratory Protection

Violations: 3,118

OSHA Standard: 1910.200

  1. Lockout/Tagout

Violations: 2,944

OSHA Standard: 1910.147

  1. Ladders

Violations: 2,812

OSHA Standard: 1926.1053

  1. Powered Industrial Trucks

Violations: 2,294

OSHA Standard: 1910.178

  1. Fall Protection

Violations: 1,982

OSHA Standard: 1926.503

*OSHA Top 10 Violations 2017 Rank: 9

  1. Machine Guarding

Violations: 1,972

OSHA Standard: 1910.212

*OSHA Top 10 Violations 2017 Rank: 8

  1. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment (PPE) – Eye and Face Protection

OSHA Standard: 1926.95

Violations: 1,536

*OSHA Top 10 Violations 2017 Rank: Unranked

If you fear your facility may be committing a few of the violations on OSHA’s 2018 top 10 list, you need to act to ensure your worksite gets into compliance. Trust KC Supply Co. to help you comply with OSHA’s standards so you do not appear among the violations on next year’s list. We can provide safety and monitoring equipment, including PPE and respirators. Visit www.kcsupply.com to learn more, or call us at 800.KC.SUPPLY and we’ll be happy to answer all your compliance and safety equipment questions.

 

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Storage Tank Cleaning: Tips & Best Practices

If your plant maintenance schedule doesn’t include regular storage tank cleaning, it definitely should.

Debris and corrosion-causing contaminants can create a sludge-like material at the bottom or on the sides of dirty tanks. This can result in oxidation, which can reduce storage tank efficiency. Dirty, contaminated tanks also may post increased safety risks to your employees and the environment.

Tank cleanings are often part of regulatory inspection requirements and must be scheduled on a regular basis. How often will depend upon the materials stored in your tanks. It’s critical to make sure that workers who clean your tanks are properly trained and follow proper safety procedures.

Storage tank cleaning requires training and experience, but even with those, it still can be a dangerous task. Here are some steps to take to help make storage tank cleaning safer:

  • Create a plan: During planning sessions, plant managers should assess the risks as well as obtain permits, if needed, and schedule safety training meetings.
  • Train professionals: Cleaning tanks requires industry-specific experience and training. Only employees with the right knowledge and expertise should be allowed to clean storage tanks.
  • Use protective gear & safety equipment: Employees must be properly equipped with the right personal protective equipment to keep them safe. Employees must have the proper safety equipment for handling the holding materials and working with specific tanks before starting the cleaning process. Proper safety equipment includes calibrated gas and oxygen detectors to alert cleaners of oxygen deficiencies. Plant managers should have safety harnesses and emergency kits on hand in case they are needed.
  • Implement safety procedures: Before cleaning, trained personnel must make sure  to properly turn off, open, close or otherwise take care of all valves, manholes and other tank components.

Not cleaning your tanks can result in a standing threat to your employees and facility. However, cleaning tanks without the right safety measures in place can be equally, if not more, dangerous. Plant managers should plan and prepare to mitigate risks by working to ensure that tanks are cleaned by training professionals and with proper safety procedures in place. If you need professional help, hire experts help clean your tanks and keep your facility, employees and environment safe.

Do you need more information about cleaning your storage tanks? KC Supply Co. can answer your questions and help provide you with all the safety equipment you need to clean your storage tanks properly. Visit www.kcsupply.com or call 800.KC.SUPPLY.

 

 

 

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Housekeeping Tips for Grain & Feed Facilities

Housekeeping isn’t much fun, but it’s critical in a grain and feed facility.

OSHA regulates housekeeping activities to prevent dust explosions that can be fatal or cause critical injuries. Following housekeeping rules keeps your employees safe, ensures product safety and protects you from getting hit with fines and citations. For detailed information, check out OSHA’s housekeeping rules in the Grain Handling Standard (29CFR 1910.272).

In the meantime, here are five grain and feed facility housekeeping tips from Feed & Grain magazine:

  1. Create, write down and implement a housekeeping plan: If you don’t have one already, create and establish a program for grain and feed facility housekeeping. Be ready to present your written plan to an OSHA inspector, if necessary. It should specify areas inside to be cleaned, frequency of cleanings and cleaning methods.
  2. Follow the ⅛-inch rule: Immediately remove grain dust accumulations that exceed ⅛ inch in priority housekeeping areas. If your housekeeping plan includes precautions, this step is less important. Precautions include treating the grain stream with oil additives to prevent combustibility or wetting down areas of dust accumulations with a water- or oil-based solution.
  3. Prioritize cleaning areas: In certain areas of a facility, violations are more serious. So dust in one area may not be as serious as dust in another. For example, immediately remove grain dust accumulations exceeding ⅛ inch from: any place within a 35-foot radius of an inside bucket elevator, including walls, overhead, equipment and walking surfaces; floors of enclosed areas containing grinding equipment; and floors of enclosed areas containing indoor grain dryers.
  4. Turn off ignition sources: When cleaning dust, make sure ignition sources are turned off. Use only compressed air to blow dust from ledges, walls and other areas during downtime to reduce the risk of fire.
  5. Clean up spills: Product spills aren’t as critical as dust accumulations, but inspectors do take notice. Train all staff to take action when spills happen. Clean up spills quickly with a portable vacuum. Keep ingredient and product tubs close by to prevent spills.

For more information on grain and feed facility housekeeping, visit www.kcsupply.com or call 1.800.KCSUPPLY. KC Supply can answer any questions you may have about OSHA requirements regarding grain and feed facility housekeeping. Call us today to find out more.

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When it Comes to Railway Safety, Stay on Track

Railway Safety

Railroads are inherently dangerous places to work. An average freight car weighs more than 250,000 pounds when fully loaded, and some cars carry toxic chemicals, spent nuclear fuel and radioactive earth from old nuclear energy sites, according to Safety Management Group.

The dangers for workers are serious. For example, workers who don’t follow proper safety procedures when loading and unloading cars may be injured; a worker who gets trapped between two cars or falls under a moving car can lose limbs or be crushed.

To protect workers, proper railway safety procedures should be in place and followed at all times, and workers must always be aware of potential hazards. Employers also must keep workers safe with equipment that protects them. Here are some hazards in and around the railroad business and ways to keep workers safe:

  • Injuries: If you need to adjust equipment on the train, use the proper tools. For example, trying to adjust coupler height with your foot can result in losing a limb. If you need to climb up on a car’s ladder or stand on any of the walkways, be sure to maintain three-point contact at all times.
  • Weather: Inclement weather creates hazards. For example, rain, snow and ice can increase the risk of slips and falls, especially if you don’t have the proper guardrails or other safety measures in place.
  • Visibility & Communication: All personnel working near railcars should wear high-visibility apparel, such as reflective vests. If there are places where visibility is limited and workers should not cross the tracks, guardrails can add an extra layer of security. If there is limited clearance between railcars and a structure, safety signs should be posted to warn that there’s no room for a worker.
  • Loading & Unloading Cars: When loading and unloading a railcar, balance is important. The weight of the contents must be as equal across the car’s width as possible to prevent the car from falling off the track. Proper procedures must be followed and consider that bulk materials such as cement, grain, sand and dry chemicals may interfere with the ability to open and close gates and doors. But trying to open doors by hand can lead to injury. Instead, workers should use tools such as pneumatic boxcar door openers.
  • Moving Cars: Railcars should only be moved with equipment that is specially designed to do so. Using jobsite equipment to move railcars is dangerous and may damage the cars. All car doors and other movable surfaces such as hopper gates must be closed before cars can be moved. Wheel chocks help make sure that the car’s wheels won’t roll or move. If cars need to be moved, railcar lifters can do the job safely.

For all your railway safety needs, visit www.kcsupply.com. KC Supply carries an extensive line of safety supplies for the railway and other industries. We are your local experts and can help you determine what you need to keep your employees and facility safe. Call 1.800.KC.SUPPLY.

 

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Protecting Yourself from Silo Gases

Spending any time inside a silo can be dangerous. The risks include an employee slipping and falling into the agricultural product inside, or inhaling silo gases and getting sick. Silo gases also can negatively impact your livestock.

The most common silo gases are carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Types and concentrations of silo gas vary depending on the type of silo and how much time has passed since the grass or other green fodder (silage) was placed in the silo, according to Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Agricultural Safety and Health.

The most plentiful type of gas in a conventional silo is nitrogen dioxide, which has a bleach-like odor and produces low-lying yellow, red or dark brown fumes. Nitrogen dioxide is heavier than air and so tends to settle on top of the silage or to flow down the chute and collect in adjoining feed rooms or other low-lying areas near the base of the silo.

Silo gases can cause serious respiratory issues, Pennsylvania State University found. Nitrogen dioxide causes severe irritation to the nose and throat, which can lead to lung inflammation. After low-level exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a person may not notice any discomfort initially but may later suffer from fluid collection in the lungs that may be fatal. Prolonged or recurring pneumonia-like symptoms can occur two to six weeks after initial exposure.

Pennsylvania State University suggests several things you can do to decrease the risk of exposure to silo gases, including:

  • Ventilation: In a conventional silo, ventilation is the best protection against nitrogen dioxide buildup in areas of your facility. For example, provide adequate ventilation in and around your silo during the first 72 hours of silage fermentation and for at least two to three weeks after filling the silo, and keep the door between the silo room and the barn closed.
  • Timing: Avoid the silo during critical periods when silo gases are forming. Gas concentrations are highest between 12 and 72 hours after filling. If possible, don’t enter the silo for two to three weeks after filling because of the high level of silo gases. If you must enter the silo during that time to level silage or set up an unloader, enter immediately after the last load is in and before the fermentation process begins.
  • Personnel: Never enter a silo without another person directly outside who can quickly get help if necessary. This person should maintain visual contact with you at all times because if you are overcome by silo gas, you may not be able to call for assistance.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): If, in an emergency, it is necessary to enter a silo containing silage, the individual entering the silo must wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and harness attached to a lifeline and anchor point.
  • Signage: Post appropriate signs around the base of the silo, warning people of the potential for silo gases.
  • Gas monitor: To keep your facility safe, you need a way to accurately monitor the atmosphere for dangerous gas levels. Because most gases are undetectable to humans, it is critical that you have the right tools to keep your personnel and property safe at all times. Gas monitors are typically portable, allowing workers to clip them onto their uniforms. Monitors can detect one or several different gases simultaneously.

Silo gases are a serious but invisible threat. It’s critical to protect your facility and employees. KC Supply Co. will help keep your workplace safe. Call KC Supply for gas monitoring products to protect your employees and facilities. Call 1.800.KC.SUPPLY or visit www.kcsupply.com to learn more.

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