Spring 2009 Volume 43
You’ve invested all of your time and resources into making your organization work. Now, imagine that all you’ve worked for goes up in smoke — literally. Or that your business is hit by a flash flood or earthquake. All of your efforts are simply “blown away” by a natural disaster.
Natural disasters can occur in every part of the country, and at any time. And don’t think it has to be a catastrophic event to pose serious risk to your business. A snowstorm can keep your customers and employees away. A pipe that bursts during a cold snap can destroy your inventory. An estimated 20% of all power outages are caused by storms. According to EMC loss control expert Larry Readout, investing the time and resources to develop a business continuity plan can make all the difference.
A Model For Business Continuity Planning
Loss professionals like Readout refer to The Standard of Disaster Emergency Management and Business Programs (NFPA 1600) as a model for helping clients safeguard their investments. “Although this was originally designed for public-sector preparedness, private organizations can benefit from the step-by-step process outlined in this standard,” notes Readout.
Step One: Obtain management support and assemble a committee from a cross section of your organization to help construct the plan’s framework.
Step Two: Determine the risks that can adversely affect your organization due to business interruption, the potential loss such events can cause, and the controls needed to avoid those outcomes.
Step Three: Identify the impacts of business interruption and techniques that can be used to quantify and qualify such impacts.
Step Four: Develop and recommend business continuity strategies that support your organization’s critical functions.
Step Five: Develop and implement procedures for a coordinated and timely response and stabilization of an emergency.
Step Six: Design, develop and implement a business continuity plan that provides continuity or recovery as identified by your organization’s requirements.
Step Seven: Prepare a program to create and maintain corporate awareness to implement the plan.
Step Eight: Establish a testing program that documents plan exercise requirements. At the same time, develop a maintenance program to keep plans current.
Step Nine: Develop and document an action plan to facilitate communications of critical continuity information.
Step Ten: Establish policies to coordinate your activities with emergency responders and other external agencies.
Readout suggests one other important step. “Count on a loss control professional who has the knowledge, resources and a commitment to protecting your assets in the case of emergency.” In other words, Count on EMC?!
Go Online to Help Workers Quit Smoking
According to the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), smokers who attempt to quit with assistance are two to three times more successful than those who attempt it alone. Based on that data, NBGH launched a website to help you assist your employees in kicking the habit. To learn about successful smoking cessation programs in the workplace, visit .
Workplace Homicides Up 13%
Workplace homicides rose 13% to 608 after reaching a low of 540 in 2006, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest risk for workplace homicide is observed among males, the self-employed and those employed in grocery stores, eating and drinking establishments, gas service stations, taxicab services and government service. For the complete study, visit .
New OSHA Pages and Tools
- Nanotechnology web page — Identifies the health risks related to nanotechnology, as well as applicable OSHA standards.
- MRSA eTool — Provides information of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant staph infection on the skin; the number of cases has been rising since the mid-1970s.
When thinking about spring, most people tend to think about blooming flowers, tuning up their bike and birds returning to their yard. EMC Risk Improvement Representative Larry Readout, however, thinks about a darker side of the season. “Spring is also the peak time of the year for severe weather: thunderstorms, lightning and even tornadoes,” warns Readout, who works with EMC insureds on storm preparedness training. In anticipation of the coming season, Readout has these important tips to help you, your employees and your customers safely ride out spring storms.Guidelines For Severe Storm/Tornado Shelters
- Shelter areas should typically be interior rooms and hallways, away from windows and doors, on the lowest floor possible.
- Seek out a number of smaller spaces as it may be difficult to find one large space that offers protection for all occupants.
- Avoid corridors that may become wind tunnels, particularly corridors whose exterior doors exit to the south or west.
- Avoid spaces within the “falling radius” of higher building elements, such as chimneys.
- Avoid locations where interior doors swing. When the storm hits, the doors are likely to swing violently.
- The shelter space requirements depend on the age of the occupants. Small children require only four square feet per person. Six square feet per person is adequate for adults.
- All employees should understand any lighting safety plans that are in place.
- If you hear thunder, the associated lightning is within 8 miles so suspend activities, allowing sufficient time to get to shelter.
- Safe shelters include substantial buildings and full metal vehicles with windows up.
- If caught outside during a close-in lighting storm with no available shelter, remove all metal objects, place your feet together, duck your head and crouch down low, in the baseball catcher’s stance, with hands covering ears.
- Wait a minimum of 30 minutes from the last observed lighting or thunder before resuming normal work activities. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining.
- If someone has been struck by lighting, get emergency help promptly and apply first aid. It is a myth that lighting victims carry a charge after the strike. They are safe to handle and will need help immediately.
Readout recommends the following online resources for additional information on storm safety:
- EMC Tech Sheets: and
- The National Lighting Safety Institute at
- The National Safety Council at
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at
- The American Meteorological Society at
New information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration comes across our desk on a daily basis. Here are a few items that may be of interest to you. For more details about any of these rulings, visit.
Employee Access Regarding Digital Versions of Written Programs
Employers must make sure there are no barriers to employee access to written safety programs. Although electronic access to safety materials could be beneficial, OSHA will allow these materials to be in either paper or electronic format, as long as they meet all other requirements of the standard in question.
Final Rule on Employers’ Duty to Provide PPE
For employers to be in compliance with OSHA, they must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazards training for each employee covered by the PPE standard. In addition, each instance of noncompliance may be considered a separate violation subject to a separate penalty.
OSHA is currently working on the following initiatives:
- Establishing health standards related to worker exposures to crystalline silica, a substance widely found in the workplace that may cause a debilitating respiratory disease and perhaps cancer as well.
- Revising the Hazard Communication Standard to adopt provisions to make it consistent with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
- Updating the 1971 Cranes and Derricks Standards to keep them current with changing work processes and crane technology.
According to Larry Readout, a well-developed emergency action plan may result in fewer severe injuries to building occupants and less structural damage. Elements of that plan should include:
- Preferred procedures for identifying and reporting emergencies
- Description of the alarm/communication systems to notify employees of emergencies
- Incident response procedures, sheltering locations and escape route assignments
- Specific roles and responsibilities of employees who are involved in responding to emergency situations
- Names and responsibilities of employees assigned with rescue and medical tasks
- Procedures to account for employees after evacuation or sheltering
- Description of how employees will be informed and trained on the plan
- Identification of employees who can be contacted for information on the plan
- Contact information of personnel who should be contacted during off-hour emergencies
A well-designed facility layout can benefit your organization by reducing employee injuries associated with material handling and increasing overall productivity. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, EMC consultants will give you a bird’s-eye-view of safe and efficient ways to organize your space.
The location of tools, equipment and storage and safety issues such as sprinkler clearances and access to emergency exits will all be taken into consideration in the design of a floor plan to help you eliminate unnecessary material handling tasks that make your organization less efficient.
Whether your project involves rearranging just a few racks or redesigning the entire factory floor, EMC loss control experts are ready to assist you with your facility planning project. To set up a facility planning or material handling consultation, contact your independent insurance agent, local EMC loss control representative or email.
If you have suggestions for articles to appear in EMC’s Loss Control Insights, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us about some of the loss control challenges your organization faces. Share some of your loss control best practices. Send us a question that you’ve been struggling with. Your insights will help make our Insights even better. Send your ideas, suggestions and questions to.
High winds associated with severe weather can wreak havoc on your facility’s roof. Fortunately, proper roof design and maintenance can help minimize wind-related roof damage.
There is no debate as to the importance of proper roof edge securement. The following quotations from a number of roofing professionals address the importance of the roof edge.
“The majority of roof covering failures resulting from windstorms involve improperly designed or constructed perimeter flashings.” (1)
“Wind’s effect on metal components is not new information. It has long been widely recognized that the edge condition is vitally important.” (2)
“The most common initiating conditions for wind damage is lifting of edge metal.” (3)
“As with past windstorm events, many roofing failures are directly related to inadequate attachment of metal edge flashings. . .” (4)
The securement of the roof at the perimeter, whether it be by gravel stop, nosing or coping, has long been recognized as one of the most important elements in maintaining the integrity of a roof system during high wind conditions. Yet, despite this recognized fact, it has only been recently that standards for edge securement have been established. Prior to this standard, the design and fabrication of this most important element was usually left up to the roofing contractor, or in reality, his sheet metal foreman.
As with the other elements of the roof, proper roof edge design takes into account the building location and specific building attributes such as wind speed, height, size and roof edge configuration. The components of the edge design must be of sufficient strength and configuration to withstand the wind forces for a specific building and location. Even with this level of detail, how do we know a design will withstand the wind loads placed upon it
The 2003 International Building Code addresses this issue. Under Section 1504 “Edge securement for low-sloped roofs,” paragraph 1504.5 states: “Low-slope membrane roof systems metal edge securement, except gutters, . . . .shall be designed in accordance with ANSI/SPRI ES-1.”
The ANSI/SPRI ES-1* standard establishes criteria for determining local basic wind speeds, uplift pressures and the criteria for static testing of fabricated roof edge assemblies.
The International Building Code has been adopted in all 50 states and Washington DC. Under the code, if the roofing contractor designs, fabricates and installs a metal edge, coping or fascia that has not been tested to the ES-1 criteria, the detail is in violation of the building code.
If an architect or consultant designs an edge component that has not been tested and the contractor installs the untested design, the edge securement is also in violation of the code. Several companies do manufacture pre-fabricated metal edge components that are tested and meet the ES-1 standard. In some cases, they are tested to wind speeds greater than 170 mph. However, these components tend to be substantially more expensive than shop fabricated components.
What this means is that the roofing contractor cannot fabricate and install a roof edge based on “how they have always done it,” or the design professional cannot be vague in the edge metal design. The edge pressures must first be calculated and an appropriate tested design must be fabricated and installed as detailed.
Currently the sources of the tested designs are:
- National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA)
- Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA)
- Other entities that have tested their designs (Benchmark)
Pre-manufactured edge systems can also be purchased that can meet the design standards. Two of the manufacturers are:
- Metal Era
- W.P. Hickman
In our opinion, this positive change to the Building Code is meant to strengthen the weakest and under-designed area of the roof and roof edge.
1. FM Global Data Sheet 1-49
2. Thomas Smith, AIA: “Hurricane Hugo’s Effect on Metal Edge Flashings”
3. RCI Interface, February 2005, “Lessons learned from Florida hurricanes.”
4. “Wind Loads on Metal Edge Flashings”, by James McDonald, Proposal Paper, October 1992
*ANSI - American National Standards Institute
SPRI - Single-ply Roofing Industry
ES-1 - Edge Securement 1 test
The Small Business Administration estimates that 40 percent of small businesses close their doors permanently after experiencing a disaster. Whether it’s a man-made or natural disaster, businesses of any size are less likely to recover without effective disaster planning
Avoiding Landscape Industry Hazards
Between 2003 and 2006, an average of 197 landscape services workers died from on-the-job injuries. What can you do to avoid hazardous conditions?
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an average of 197 landscape services workers died from on-the-job injuries each year between 2003 and 2006. The most common event resulting in landscape services worker fatalities was transportation, the report noted. Landscape services workers are also more likely to die due to falls to a lower level, being struck by falling objects and electrocutions, than the overall U.S. workforce.
EMC loss control experts agree with NIOSH’s conclusion that most, if not all, occupational fatalities are preventable through hazard recognition and control, effective employee training and appropriate selection and use of personal protective equipment. If your business is involved in landscape services, EMC encourages you to implement the following NIOSH guidelines for the prevention of traumatic injuries.
- Understand and comply with all OSHA regulations that apply to landscape services operations and tasks.
- Develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes written rules and safe work procedures. A joint health and safety committee with employees and supervisors should be considered.
- Conduct an initial and daily jobsite survey before beginning work to identify all hazards and implement appropriate controls.
- Provide specific training for hazards such as power lines and other sources of electricity, tree trimming and felling, falls from heights, roadway vehicle operations and hand and portable power tool use.
- Train operators of off-road machinery and other specialized equipment to follow manufacturers’ recommended procedures for safe operation, service and maintenance.
- Monitor workers during periods of high heat stress/strain and remind workers of the signs of heat-related illness and the need to consume sufficient water during hot conditions.
Working with Portland Cement
OSHA offers new guidelines to help prevent skin-related problems in cement-related industries.
Any employee who has skin contact with wet Portland cement has the potential to develop skin problems related to cement burns. These caustic burns may result in blisters, dead or hardened skin, or black or green skin. In severe cases, these burns may extend to the bone and cause disfiguring scars or disability. Employees cannot rely on pain or discomfort to alert them to cement burns because cement burns may not cause immediate pain or discomfort. By the time an employee becomes aware of a cement burn, much damage has already been done. Skin contact with wet Portland cement can also cause inflammation of the skin, referred to as dermatitis. Signs and symptoms of dermatitis can include itching, redness, swelling, blisters, scaling and other changes in the normal condition of the skin.
Preventing Cement-Related Skin Problems
The best way to prevent cement-related skin problems is to minimize skin contact with wet Portland cement. Compliance with OSHA’s requirements for the provision of personal protective equipment, washing facilities, hazard communication and safety training, along with good skin hygiene, will protect against hazardous contact with wet cement. The following work practices recommended by OSHA can make a difference.
Glove Selection and Use
Provide the proper gloves for employees who may come into contact with wet Portland cement. Follow proper procedures for putting on and removing gloves and throw out grossly contaminated or worn-out gloves.
Use of Boots and Other Protective Clothing and Equipment
Wear waterproof boots when necessary to prevent wet cement from coming into contact with skin. Tuck pants inside and wrap duct tape around the top of boots to prevent wet cement from entering. Change protective boots and any work clothes that become contaminated with wet cement. Keep contaminated work clothes separate from your street clothes. Waterproof kneepads or dry kneeboards and proper eye protection are also a must.
Use Proper Skin Care Techniques
Wash areas of the skin that come into contact with wet cement in clean, cool water. Use a pH-neutral or slightly acidic soap. Diluted vinegar or a buffering solution should be used to neutralize caustic residues of cement on the skin. Do not use lanolin, petroleum jelly, or other skin softening products. These substances can seal cement residue to the skin, increase the skin's ability to absorb contaminants and irritate the skin.
Seek Medical Attention
Employees who work with wet Portland cement and experience skin problems, including seemingly minor ones, are advised to see a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment.
OSHA’s “Preventing Skin Problems from Working with Portland Cement,” is available at.
Rising Hispanic Workplace Injuries
Involvement in high-risk work and the potential for miscommunications are making it more important than ever to protect Hispanic employees from work-related fatalities.
The death rate for Hispanic workers was consistently higher than the rates for all other U.S. workers, according to analysis of data from 1992 to 2006 collected by the Centers for Disease Control, Bureau of Labor and several state agencies. According to the study, homicide, highway incidents and falls to lower levels were some of the most common fatal events among Hispanic workers.
An organization known as the Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce (SPALW) noted two main concerns for employers with a Hispanic workforce — the ability to effectively communicate due to differences in language and literacy levels and cultural differences that lead to misinterpretation of directions.
Employers who need help reaching out to their Spanish-speaking employees can turn to OSHA for assistance. The OSHA website (www.osha.gov) offers numerous Spanish-language compliance assistance tools and resources including:
- , which identifies Spanish-language compliance assistance resources available from OSHA as well as other federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
- , which helps identify OSHA Spanish-language resources, details how to work cooperatively with OSHA and provides a list of contacts for additional information.
- , which assists you with Hispanic outreach activities by highlighting OSHA’s Spanish-language compliance assistance, outreach and training resources including websites, publications and cooperative programs.
- , which consist of over 2,000 general OSHA, general industry and construction industry terms.
- is a stand-alone, interactive, web based occupational safety and health training tool, which helps employers and workers identify and control hazards in the areas of electrical safety, falls, stuck-by and trenching and excavation.
- highlight employers who have implemented Hispanic worker outreach, education and training programs or established best practices, and have reported successful results.
Keeping Firefighters Safe
Catch up on the latest news regarding firefighter safety. Go to Insights Online for information about the use of high-visibility apparel on federally-funded roadways, a campaign to encourage seat belt use, the introduction of a safety blog for firefighters, and the results of a recent study about the increased risk of breast cancer among female firefighters.
Below is a summary of some of the many items that have come across our desk relating to firefighter health and safety.
Federal Highway High-Visibility Apparel Rule
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a final rule, which went into effect on Nov. 28, 2008, requiring workers on federal highways to wear high- visibility apparel that meets ANSI 107-2004 Class 2 or 3 requirements. However, some in the firefighting community expressed concerns that the required apparel could create hazards when exposed to heat from vehicle fires or if snagged on equipment. In response, FHWA determined that turnout gear covered by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is equivalent to an ANSI 107-2004 Class 2 garment for firefighters who are directly exposed to fire, heat or hazardous materials. However, when those workers are not in such situations, they must wear the apparel required by the FHWA standard.
[Source: National Safety Council]
NIOSH Endorses Firefighter Seat Belt Campaign
Between 1998 and 2007, 67 percent of the 114 fire personnel killed in vehicle crashes were known not to be wearing a seat belt or restraint system, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The Seat Belt Pledge campaign, developed by the National Fire Service, is aimed at reducing that number by encouraging all firefighters and fire departments across the country to pledge to buckle up 100 percent of the time. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is proud to join the U.S. Fire Administration, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Volunteer Fire Council, NFPA and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in support of the Seat Belt Pledge campaign.
How Safe Are Firefighter Boots?
Rubber firefighter boots, which are cheaper and heavier than leather boots, alter how firefighters walk and may cause them to expend more energy, preliminary results from a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study show. About 25 percent of the 80,100 occupational injuries suffered in 2007 were attributed to overexertion, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association. To ascertain whether or not some types of boots commonly worn by firefighters may attribute to these injuries, NIOSH scientists recruited firefighters to wear various models of leather and rubber boots and monitored their oxygen consumption, joint movement and walking patterns. The results? Heavier boots change how firefighters move and possibly affect their efficiency. Furthermore, study participants who wore the heavier boots walked slower and took wider steps, and also consumed more oxygen and had a higher heart rate than those who wore other footwear.
[Source: National Safety Council]
Firefighter Blog Introduced
Want to read the latest news about prevention, preparedness and response with respect to fire and related emergencies from the people who know it best? Check out a new interactive blog launched by the. Fire personnel are encouraged to post comments and success stories on this constantly growing blog.
Female Firefighters May Face Increased Risk Of Cancer
Exposures to certain chemicals have been identified as possible risk factors for breast cancer and, according to research by Cornell University, some of these chemicals may occur during firefighting activities. The study singles out formaldehyde and benzene as two of the most prevalent carcinogens that result from the thermal decomposition of a host of products. The study confirms the health-related value of using personal protective equipment, specifically a self-contained breathing apparatus, in all types of non-structural and structural firefighting activities. This apparatus is especially important for female firefighters. For a brochure that highlights the results of this study, visit.
Firefighter Injuries In 2007
The National Fire Protection Association tallied 80,100 line-of-duty firefighter injuries in 2007. Some key points from that study include:
- Fire departments in the Northeast had the highest rate of injuries in 2007, 4.9 per 100 fires, more than twice the rate for departments in the rest of the country.
- The major types of injuries sustained during fireground operations were strains, sprains and muscular pains (45.1%); wounds, cuts, bleeding and bruises (18.2%); burns (6.9%); and smoke or gas inhalation (5.6%).
- There were 13,450 exposures to infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, meningitis and HIV in 2007.
- There were 28,300 exposures to hazardous conditions such as asbestos, radioactive materials, chemicals and fumes.
[Source: National Fire Protection Association]
A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration final rule will require states to merge commercial drivers’ licenses and drivers’ medical examination certificates into a single electronic record.
Federal law requires that drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) receive periodic physical examinations. A recent ruling of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires states to merge drivers’ medical examination certifications with commercial drivers’ licenses into a single electronic document. The new ruling was precipitated by a handful of reports released last year that found a high percentage of CMV drivers were allowed on the road despite a history of health problems.
The ruling is consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board’s 2008 “Most Wanted Transportation Safety List,” which also includes:
- Prohibiting cellular telephone use by commercial drivers of school buses and motorcoaches.
- Preventing motor carriers from operating if they put vehicles with mechanical problems on the road or unqualified drivers behind the wheel.
- Requiring all interstate commercial vehicle carriers to use electronic on-board recorders to collect data on both driver hours of operation and accident conditions.
Getting employees involved in the workplace safety process is the basic principle of EMC’s Partnership Service. See how this exclusive service led to the development of numerous loss control ideas and solutions specifically for C-stores.
Getting employees involved in the workplace safety process is the basic principle of EMC’s Partnership Service. As a result of this exclusive service, EMC now has a library of loss control best practices submitted by convenience stores around the country. We are pleased to share three of these with readers of Loss Control Insights.
Campus Fire Safety Act
How will the Campus Fire Safety Right-To-Know Act affect your school?
The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act requires colleges to report fire safety information to the U.S. Department of Education. Many of the core ideals of the Right-to-Know Act were successfully included in the recently enacted Higher Education Opportunity Act. As a result, academic institutions will be required to make annual fire safety reports available to the public. These reports must include:
- The number of fires and the cause of each fire
- The number of injuries and deaths related to a fire
- The value of property damage caused by a fire
- Descriptions of fire protection equipment (alarms/sprinklers) in each on campus housing unit
- The number of regular mandatory, supervised fire drills; policies or rules regarding fire safety education and training programs provided to students, faculty, and staff; and plans for future improvements in fire safety, if determined necessary by such institution.
[Source: Campus Fire Safety]
New Safety Requirements For Small Buses
A new federal school bus safety rule mandates higher seat backs as well as new requirements for lap and shoulder belts on smaller buses.
A new federal rule will make the nation’s 474,000 school buses safer by requiring higher seat backs, mandating lap and shoulder belts on small school buses and setting safety standards for seat belts on large school buses.
“Even though riding in school buses is the safest form of travel in America today, any accident is still a tragedy,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters. “Taken together, these steps are designed with a single purpose, making children safer.”
The new rule requires all new school buses in America to be equipped with 24-inch-high seat backs, instead of the 20-inch-high seat backs required today. Higher seat backs will help prevent taller and heavier children from being thrown over the seat in a crash, decreasing the chance of injury to them and the children in front of them. In addition, new school buses weighing less than five tons will be required to have three-point seat belts. The lap and shoulder belts better protect children in small buses, adding that smaller school buses are more vulnerable because they don’t absorb shock as well as larger buses.
Secretary Peters said the federal government is also setting new standards for seat belts on large school buses. Standards will improve seat belt safety and help lower the cost of installing the belts. She cautioned, however, that seat belts on larger buses can limit capacity and force more students to walk or ride in cars to school, which is statistically more dangerous.
“The last thing we want to do is force parents to choose other, less safe ways of getting their children to school,” she said. That is why she said the federal government will begin allowing school districts to use federal highway safety funds to pay for the cost of installing belts.
To read the new rule, visit.
[Source: Department of Transportation]