Summer 2008 Volume 40

Feature Articles

Beat the Heat

“Texas hot” summer temperatures of 100 degrees or more make it extremely dangerous for anyone working outdoors. No one understands that better than EMC Risk Improvement Representative Kelly Castillo. Castillo works with a variety of policyholders to help them reduce the likelihood of heat-related illnesses.

According to the National Safety Council, on average, 384 people die each year from heat stroke. Castillo notes that the Texas Department of Health Services documented 40 heat-related deaths among all Texans last year. Castillo offers policyholders the following recommendations to help protect workers during the summer months:

  • Acclimate workers to hot weather — It often takes two to three weeks for an employee to become acclimated to a hot environment.
  • Replace fluids — Provide cool water or any cool liquid (except alcoholic and caffeinated beverages) to workers and encourage them to drink small amounts frequently (one cup every 20 minutes).
  • Educate workers — Train workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress and to provide first aid if necessary.
  • Limit the physical demands — Use relief workers or assign extra workers to minimize overexertion. You may also want to increase the use of equipment on hot days to further reduce physical labor.
  • Choose the right workers — Avoid placing high risk employees in hot environments for extended time periods.
  • Reschedule hot jobs — Assign heavier work on cooler days or during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Wear the right clothes — Encourage workers to wear light-colored, loose clothing to protect themselves from the heat.

If these tips are appropriate for policyholders dealing with the 100-plus degree weather of a Texas summer, they will certainly be of value to you and your employees. For additional tips, Castillo suggests visiting OSHA, the Center for Disease Control or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Kelley Castillo

When visiting a jobsite during the summer, EMC Risk Improvement Representative Kelly Castillo is always on the lookout for situations that could lead to heat-related illnesses.

“All too often, I see workers enjoying a cold soda with their lunch,” notes Kelly, who makes it a point to advise workers and employers that the sodium content in soft drinks could cause dehydration. Kelly also takes a look at what workers are wearing. “Workers in short sleeve shirts are more prone to hazardous exposure to UV rays,” comments Kelly.

Drinking the right fluids and wearing the right clothes are just some of the many small precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood of heat-related illnesses. EMC risk improvement representatives like Kelly Castillo can offer valuable advice and help you find more heat-beating tips in the Loss Control section of EMC’s website.

Other Topics

Make A Difference This June

In celebration of National Safety Month, EMC encourages you to plan to make a difference in your workplace. “Make a Difference” is the theme of the National Safety Council’s 2008 National Safety Month observance in June.

Participation in this month-long series of events is just one way organizations can support the council’s efforts to promote safe and healthy behaviors in the workplace and at home. National Safety Month posters and other materials are available at no charge on the council’s 2008 National Safety Month Planner’s Page.

Safety Training For Spanish-Speaking Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attributes an increase in the fatality rate for Hispanic employees, at least in part, to the language barrier. Concerns about that barrier continue to grow as more than 10 million Americans speak little or no English.

OSHA has compiled safety and health PowerPoint presentations in Spanish. These new resources are designed to assist OSHA construction and general industry outreach trainers and others in conducting Spanish language training for employees. Click here to access the presentations.

Be On the Alert For Metal Theft

An EMC commercial policyholder recently took a smart step and invested in heavy metal cages with alarm wire and a louder outdoor siren system to protect his air conditioning equipment. This precaution was necessary to combat one of today’s newest risks — copper and aluminum theft.

Should you be concerned about the growing rate of copper and aluminum theft?

A quick survey of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ website illustrates how prevalent and costly this crime is becoming.

  • In Tennessee, a utility reported the theft of #2 size AWG solid transmission copper wire, estimated at 1,400 feet and 288 pounds.
  • The following were among the materials reported stolen from a construction site in Colorado: 1,000 feet of ?-inch copper, 1,000 feet of ?-inch copper, 500 feet of 1-inch copper and a cutter power head.
  • Eight 54-foot copper pipes (1.5” in diameter) were taken from a construction site at a school in Pennsylvania.

What’s Causing The Increase In Metal Theft?
The number one reason why thieves have turned their attention to copper and aluminum is the price. In 2001, scrap metal sold for $77 a ton. Today, it is quickly approaching $480. Combine the price increase with the relative ease of stripping construction sites and businesses of metal, and it’s no wonder that metal theft has become such a lucrative business for thieves.

Who Is At Risk?
If your business has any substantial equipment or materials made of copper, aluminum or other metals, you could be a potential target. Utilities, for example, are reporting a dramatic rise in burglaries at substations and other facilities. Unsecured construction sites are an open invitation to metal thieves. Losses have been reported from school athletic fields and city parks to churches and small businesses. Law enforcement departments are responding to a growing number of calls about thieves stripping wire out of home construction and renovation sites.

It’s not just copper and aluminum that are attractive to thieves. Since 2004, cities across the country have experienced waves of manhole cover theft. Fifty million dollars worth of stainless steel beer kegs are stolen every year. Catalytic converters have been pulled out of cars for their palladium and platinum.

What’s The Answer?
Unfortunately, as long as there is a market for scrap metal, people will try anything to obtain it. Although 26 state legislatures and several cities have toughened penalties for metal theft, EMC loss control specialists continue to stress the importance of securing construction sites and any exterior metal equipment to deter metal theft and reduce the expense of having to replace stolen equipment and materials.

EMC offers the following tips from the law enforcement community to help you reduce the likelihood of metal theft:

  • Make security a priority — Lock all garages, sheds, gates and doors. Enhance your exterior lighting. Consider the installation of wireless surveillance and alarm systems.
  • Mark equipment — Because law enforcement agencies rarely have serial numbers to trace when investigating metal theft, paint some type of recognizable mark in an inconspicuous place on equipment and materials.
  • Talk to lawmakers — Encourage them to enact legislation that would require scrap metal dealers to keep accurate records about materials and suppliers.
  • Report all thefts — Report any metal theft, regardless of the stolen amount. Your report could result in catching criminals who are routinely involved in metal theft.
Working with Pesticides

Each year, 67 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns. EMC loss control s pecialists offer the following tips on the proper storage and disposal of pesticides to protect customers, employees and the environment:

  • Don’t stockpile. Reduce storage needs by buying only the amount of pesticide you will need in the near future or during the current season.
  • Read the label. Follow the directions to the letter. Pay particular attention to storage instructions.
  • Store pesticides in a safe place. Keep them in a locked cabinet in a well-ventilated utility area. Never store pesticides in cabinets near food, potable water, animal feed, medical supplies, protective clothing, seed, fertilizer or gasoline.
  • Keep emergency numbers handy. Display the National Poison Center toll-free number (800-222-1222) near your storage area.
  • Use original containers. Keep labels intact, as they contain valuable information about ingredients, directions for use and first aid steps in case of accidental poisoning.
  • Check with local authorities regarding disposal. State and local laws regarding pesticide disposal may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label.

For additional tips on using, storing and disposing of pesticides, EMC loss control specialists encourage you to visit the Environmental Protection Agency.

To help reduce injuries, damages and operational costs of motor vehicle accidents, EMC is teaming up with businesses and organizations to recognize drivers for their safe driving habits. Employees of qualifying organizations who are assigned to a full-time operation of motor vehicles on official business are eligible to participate in this program.

To receive an EMC Safe Driver Award, drivers must complete 12 consecutive months of driving without a preventable accident. Awards range from a certificate for one to four years of safe driving, to a personalized, engraved plaque for 35 years of safe driving.

“The award program is more than a way to reward and recognize drivers with good safety records,” notes EMC Vice President of Risk Improvement Norm Anderson. “The program guidelines help outline reasonable safe driving expectations for all professional drivers.”

Complete program guidelines are available online in the Loss Control section at emcinsurance.com. If you currently have an EMC commercial auto policy, you can request Safe Driver Awards for eligible drivers by completing the Application for Safe Driver Awards at emcinsurance.com or by contacting your local EMC agent.

Insights Online

Contractors

Find out what steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of scaffold-related accidents.

Safety Tips For Scaffolding
It’s no surprise to learn that each year there are 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths associated with scaffolding accidents. After all, 2.3 million workers, or 65% of the construction industry, frequently use scaffolds on the job. EMC loss control specialists offer the following guidelines to protect workers on scaffolds.

When Using Supported Scaffolds:

  • Scaffold components should be inspected prior to erection, and defective items should be tagged and removed from service for repair or replacement.
  • Scaffolds and scaffold components should not be loaded in excess of their maximum intended loads or rated capacities, whichever is less.
  • Employees on scaffolds 10 feet or more above a lower level should be protected from falling through the use of guardrails or a personal fall arrest.
  • Employees working below scaffolds should wear hard hats.
  • The scaffold should not be moved horizontally while employees are on it, unless specifically designed by an engineer for this use.
  • A scaffold should not be erected, used, dismantled, altered or moved such that it, or any conductive material on it, might come close to an exposed and energized power source.
  • Employees should not work on scaffolds covered with snow, ice or other slippery materials, or in high wind or storm conditions.
  • Makeshift devices (boxes, buckets, etc.) should not be used on scaffold platforms to increase the working height of an employee.

When Using Two-Point Suspended Scaffolding:

  • Inspect all rigging and equipment prior to each use and verify it has not been moved or tampered with.
  • Inspect wire rope during ascent and descent to check for damage such as bird-caging or broken strands. Lubricate as required and remove from service if damaged.
  • Preload wire rope and equipment with the maximum working load before starting work. Retighten wire rope rigging clamps and recheck rigging according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Use only approved rigging clamps and the correct number. A minimum of three clamps is required. Never place the dead end of wire rope under the saddle of the bolt. This is commonly stated as “never saddle a dead horse.”
  • Use thimbles and shackles at all wire rope suspension terminations.
  • Always maintain at least four wraps of wire rope on drum-type hoists.
  • Each person working on a scaffold should wear a properly attached fall arrest device. Each person should be tied off to his/her own anchorage point, separate from any rigging of the suspended scaffold.
  • When using vertical lifelines in a fall protection system, protect the lifelines at sharp edges and corners, and suspend them freely from the structural members of the scaffold and the building fa?de.
  • Assure that the electrical power source and all power source connections are properly grounded before using electrically operated hoists.
  • When welding from suspended scaffolds, ensure all wire rope is insulated above and below the platform and at suspension points, and that the platform is ground to the structure. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions when performing this type of work.
  • Do not operate or use suspended scaffolds in high winds or hazardous weather conditions.

Commercial policyholders can refer to the Technical Information Sheets in the Loss Control section on emcins.com for more safety tips on the proper construction, use and dismantling of scaffolds.

According to the National Equipment Register Inc.’s Theft Report, the estimated total value of construction equipment stolen annually ranges between $300 million and $1 billion. Learn about techniques to help reverse this costly trend.

Heavy Equipment Theft Prevention
Despite the best efforts of owners and operators of heavy equipment, almost 500 pieces of heavy equipment are stolen in the United States each week. Only 10 to 15 percent of stolen equipment is ever recovered. Although the cost of equipment theft is not precisely known, the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that close to $1 billion a year is lost nationwide due to the theft of heavy construction equipment.

A survey by Equipment World magazine revealed that almost 70% of the respondents had experienced equipment theft. Equipment theft accounts for more than 50% of all heavy equipment losses, much higher than collision (10%) and vandalism (6%).

US Map

[Source: National Equipment Register 2006 Equipment Theft Report]

Why Is Equipment Stolen?
The answer is quite simple. The reward for the thief far outweighs the risk. Heavy equipment has little physical security (mechanical or site), and it is valuable and easy to resell. The low rate of recovery is also a clear indication of the low risk for the thief. Even if an item is recovered, an arrest may not be made. When an arrest is made, a conviction is not guaranteed. Even when a conviction occurs, the penalty is usually light. Thieves are also attracted to heavy equipment for the following reasons:

  • Registration of off-road vehicles and equipment is not required.
  • Equipment is identified by product identification numbers, not the standards used for cars and trucks.
  • A high demand for heavy equipment.

What Types of Equipment Are Stolen?
Three types of equipment account for 79% of the losses: skid-steers (33%), backhoe/loaders (29%) and loaders (17%). Generators and air compressors are becoming popular targets for thieves as well.

Rented equipment is stolen in larger numbers than owned equipment for the following reasons:

  • Operators and company owners are less likely to make efforts to enhance physical security.
  • Retailers often do not allow renters to add physical security measures to the equipment.
  • Rental equipment is often in transit or left unattended while on a trailer.
  • Thieves use false identities to rent and steal equipment.
Pie Chart

[Source: National Equipment Register 2006 Equipment Theft Report]

What Can You Do To Prevent Theft?
To help reduce the frequency of heavy equipment theft, a comprehensive theft prevention program should be implemented. The components of a program should include, but are not limited to the following recommendations:

  • Record the make, model, serial number and/or VIN numbers for each piece of equipment. This documentation should be stored in a secure location away from the jobsite.
  • Register all heavy equipment through local law enforcement efforts(Operating Identification), the National Equipment Register or the National Crime Information Center.
  • Fence all job sites with a minimum six-foot chain link fence and secure all gates with heavy chains or locks.
  • Secure all mobile equipment through installation of mechanical means such as tire locks, drive control locks, trailer hitch locks, hydraulic bypasses, fuel cutoffs, hydraulic arm locks, ignition bypasses, etc.
  • Store all portable tools in lockable gang boxes that are secured to a structure or other sturdy object.
  • Track all heavy equipment using electronic GPS systems.

For large jobsites that contain large numbers of high value equipment and tools, consideration should be given to hiring a security guard service to randomly or routinely patrol the site during all nonworking hours.

Local Governments

Regardless of the outcome of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule for construction in confined spaces, EMC loss control specialists recommend taking all appropriate precautions to keep workers safe and healthy when in these environments.

Do not enter a confined space until you have considered every item on the checklist, and have determined the space to be safe.

Purpose Of Entry

  • Entry is necessary and cannot be avoided.

Testing

  • All instruments are properly calibrated.
  • The atmosphere in the confined space has been tested.
  • The oxygen level is between 19.5% and 22%.
  • Toxic, flammable or oxygen-displaced chemicals have been removed or controlled.

Monitoring

  • The confined space atmosphere is monitored while work is conducted.
  • Continuously?
  • Periodically? If so, state interval:

Cleaning

  • The space has been cleaned or verified as clean before entry.
  • The space was checked to see if it should be steamed.
  • If steamed, the space temperature is acceptable.

Ventilation

  • The space was ventilated before entry.
  • Ventilation is continued during entry.
  • The air intake for the ventilator is away from potential contaminants.
  • The unacceptable space was ventilated and retested before entry.

Isolation

  • The space is isolated from other systems.
  • Electrical equipment is locked out.
  • Disconnects are used where possible.
  • Mechanical equipment is blocked, chocked or disengaged where necessary.
  • Pressurized lines are blanked and bled.

Clothing/Equipment

  • Necessary protective clothing is provided.
  • Special equipment is available (e.g. rescue equipment, communications equipment).
  • The required tools are available.

Respiratory Protection

  • Appropriate and approved respirators are available.
  • The entrance is adequate in size for entry while wearing the respirator or for emergency rescue equipment.

Training

  • Entrants are trained in the proper use of the respirator.
  • Attendants and entrants know confined space entry and emergency procedures.
  • Employees can recognize the hazards within the space.

Standby/Rescue

  • The attendant is in place and responsibilities are known.
  • The attendant has constant visual or auditory communication with entrants.
  • The attendant is trained in rescue procedures.
  • Safety lines and harness are required for retrieval.
  • Pressurized lines are blanked and bled.
  • An emergency plan is in place.
  • Emergency rescue procedure and equipment is available.
  • Emergency contacts and a rescue team are available in the event of an accident.

Permit

  • A written and authorized permit has been completed.
  • The permit contains emergency contacts and their telephone numbers.

Read what the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recommends for a bridge safety program to ensure an adequate and economical approach to the inspection, evaluation, maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement of our nation’s bridges.

For the continued safety of the nation’s bridges, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) advocates that a bridge safety program for both public and private bridges be established, fully funded and consistently operated to upgrade or replace deficient bridges and to properly maintain all others. This program should preserve full functionality of all bridges to support the operation of safe, reliable and efficient transportation systems, and to allow these systems to be utilized to their full capacity.

At a minimum, such programs should include:

  • Regular programs of inspection and evaluation that incorporate state-of-the-art investigative and analytical techniques, especially of older bridges that were not designed and constructed to current design loading and geometric standards.
  • Posting of weight and speed limits on deficient structures.
  • Implementing and adequately funding regular system-wide maintenance programs that are the most cost-effective means of ensuring the safety and adequacy of existing bridges.
  • Establishing a comprehensive program for prioritizing and adequately funding the replacement of functionally obsolete and structurally deficient bridges.
  • Set a national goal that fewer than 15% of the nation’s bridges be classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by 2010.

Continued neglect and lack of adequate maintenance will ultimately result in higher annual life-cycle costs of bridges due to shortened service life. Therefore, investment to improve the condition and functionality of the nation’s bridges will reduce the required investment in the future.

There has been some improvement in the condition and performance of the transportation infrastructure. As of 2005, 156,335 of the nation’s 595,363 bridges, or 26.3%, were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, as compared to 34.6% of all bridges in 1992. However, despite this improvement, functionally obsolete or structurally deficient bridges on the nation’s transportation systems continue to constitute significant potential hazards, which may jeopardize the safe, reliable and efficient operation of these.

To simply maintain the current condition of these bridges will require an annual $7.3 billion investment. To eliminate all bridge deficiencies will require $9.4 billion annually for a period of 20 years. Total bridge expenditure by all levels of government for capital outlays (including system preservation and system expansion) was at $8.8 billion in 2003. Additional funding beyond that level will therefore be needed to continue to reduce the backlog of structurally deficient bridges, and prevent more bridges from becoming structurally deficient.

[This article reprinted courtesy of the American Society of Civil Engineers.]

Petroleum Marketers

Learn how the Department of Transportation is addressing incidents associated with loading and unloading operations involving bulk packages used to transport hazardous materials.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed recommended practices on Jan. 4 for loading and unloading operations involving bulk packages used to transport hazmats. The DOT agency said in its Federal Register notice that its review of recent incidents showed about 25 to 50% of all serious hazmat incidents may be associated with such operations with cargo tank trucks and rail tank cars. PHMSA asked for comments from stakeholders by Feb. 8.

The agency also looked at recent CSB and NTSB investigations. What it has found indicates “there may be opportunities to enhance the safety of such operations,” it said, inviting comments on whether there are gaps or overlaps in regulations PHMSA, OSHA, EPA, and Coast Guard regulations that reduced the safety of these operations.

Last February, PHMSA issued a summary report that showed 27% of all 2004-2006 serious incidents occurred during bulk loading and unloading operations, and hazmat shipments moving by highway and rail in bulk packaging were involved in about 90% of high-consequence events during that period.

The proposed recommended practices ask shippers, carriers and facility operators to conduct a thorough hazard analysis, then develop a step-by-step guide to loading and unloading that is clear, concise and appropriate to the level of training and knowledge of their employees. Inspections, security, bonding and grounding, temperature monitoring, flow control, training, emergency response and other factors also are addressed in the recommendations, which were issued over the signature of Theodore L. Willke, PHMSA’s associate administrator for hazardous materials safety.

[Courtesy of Occupational Health & Safety, www.ohsonline.com, Dallas, TX, (c)2008, 1105 Media Inc., Chatsworth, CA.]

Read more about a study on new seat belt technologies and what they could mean to the safety of your drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Safety Belt Technology Countermeasures Study has released Safety Belt Technology Countermeasures Study, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The report evaluates promising safety belt technologies and analyzes actual crash data to estimate the costs and benefits of increasing safety belt use among large truck drivers. The study looks at 13 technologies in three categories — reminder systems, comfort strategies and enforcement strategies.

Four technologies are identified as promising improved driver safety belt use. An enhanced audio reminder (similar to that currently used in cars) and brightly colored safety belts (bright orange gaining wider acceptance in fleet use) are considered cost effective. The enhanced audio reminder has a benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) of 1.7 for all large trucks and a BCR of 4.5 for class 7 (GVW 26,001 – 33,000 lbs) and class 8 (GVW over 33,000 lbs) trucks. Bright safety belts have a BCR of 2.6 for all trucks and 6.9 for class 7 and 8 trucks. Safety belt tension adjusters are widely available but require considerable driver training. Seat-integrated restraint systems are costly and do not currently provide a cost-beneficial solution.

Putting the BCR into dollar terms, the report indicated that a 15% increase in safety belt use justifies a per-vehicle cost of $273 for all large trucks (over 10,000 lbs GVW0, and $725 per vehicle for class 7 and 8 trucks alone. A 5% increase in safety belt use justifies a per-vehicle cost of $91 for all large trucks and $240 per vehicle for class 7 and 8 trucks alone.

The study also looks at safety belt use in rollover accidents. Crash statistics show that a rollover is the most common large truck driver fatality accident type. The study concludes that 39% of large truck rollover fatalities could be prevented with safety belt use, while 47 to 71% of moderate to severe injuries resulting from rollovers could be lessened with safety belt use.

On average, nearly 700 truck drivers are killed in traffic crashes in the United States each year according to FMCSA. This tragic statistic is made worse by the fact that, on average, only 59% of professional truck drivers wear their safety belts. New technologies identified in this recent study will have an impact on both safety belt usage and driver safety.

For the complete Safety Belt Technology Countermeasures Study, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

[Courtesy of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America]

Schools

A study notes that violent and property crime rates at the nation’s schools during 2005 were statistically unchanged from 2004. Despite the study, several states are promoting bills that would allow students, faculty and staff to carry concealed firearms on campus. Safety professionals, who question such actions, were relieved to learn that an Alabama Senate committee recently blocked such a gun bill.

Violent and property crime rates at the nation’s schools during 2005 — 57 such crimes per 1,000 students age 12 or older — were statistically unchanged from the 2004 rate of 55 crimes per 1,000 students, according to a new report by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The crimes measured were rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault and theft.

During 2005, older students (ages 15 to 18) were less likely than younger students (ages 12 to 14) to be victims of crime at school, but older students were more likely than younger students to be victims of crime away from school.

From July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006, there were 14 school-associated homicides involving school-aged children. Other BJS data show that youths are over 50 times more likely to be murdered away from school than at school.

The rates for other serious violent crimes, including rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault, were lower at school than away from school for every survey year from 1992 through 2005.

In 2005, nearly all (99%) students ages 12 to 18 observed the use of at least one security measure listed in the report at their school. The percentage of students who observed the use of security cameras at their school increased from 39% in 2001 to 58% in 2005.

During 2005, an estimated 90% of students reported observing school staff or other adult supervision in the hallway, and 68% of students reported the presence of security guards and/or assigned police officers at their school.

Fewer students are avoiding places in the school because of fear for their safety. Between 1995 and 2005, the percentage of students who reported avoiding one or more places in the school declined from 9% to 4%.

Among students in grades 9 through 12, an estimated 43% reported drinking alcohol, and 4% reported drinking at school during the 30 days prior to the 2005 survey. There were no detectable differences in percentages across grade levels in the likelihood of drinking on school property, but, in general, students in higher grades were more likely than students in lower grades to report drinking alcohol. In 2005, 25% of students reported that someone had offered, sold or given them illegal drugs on school property in the 12 months prior to the survey.

The percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 who reported carrying a weapon to school in the preceding 30 days declined from 12% in 1993 to 6% in 2005. In 2005, 24% of students reported that there were gangs at their schools, compared to 21% of students in 2003.

Twenty-eight percent of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school during the last six months. Of those students who reported being bullied, 24% reported that they had sustained an injury as a result of the incident.