Have you planned your Stand-Down to Prevent Falls event yet?

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Quick question: Do you know the most frequently cited violation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? Don’t peek at the link. The answer is lack of proper fall protection.

Injuries from falls have plagued workplaces of all types for centuries, and they remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry. The most unfortunate part is many of these injuries and fatalities could have been prevented with proper equipment, training and awareness.

To raise the level of awareness, OSHA promotes an annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls, and encourages employers across the nation to hold events in conjunction with the multi-day event. This year’s stand-down dates are May 8-12. As always, the stand-down encourages employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, safety demonstrations, and trainings in hazard recognition and fall prevention.

It’s not too late for your company or organization to plan a stand-down event. We’re here if you need help planning your activity. Just call 1-800-644-6292 for assistance.

We’re also promoting stand-down events in two locations – one in Pickerington at the Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health (OCOSH); the other in Austintown. More may be added in the coming weeks. To see other events in Ohio and across the nation, visit the OSHA’s Stand-Down events page.

Honeywell Safety Products will provide the free training at the May 12 event at OCOSH. It will feature a fall protection trailer demonstration and classroom instruction. Learn more here.

The May 10 Austintown event (hosted by BOAK and Sons, Inc.) starts at 7:30 a.m. For more information, contact BWC’s David Costantino at 330-301-5825 or via email at David.C.12@bwc.state.oh.us.

Finally, don’t forget the BWC Library also offers an extensive collection of audiovisual materials related to fall hazards and fall prevention.

Let’s all take a stand-down to prevent falls in Ohio!

For more information
OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls webpage
CPWR’s Stop Construction Falls webpage

Do you want to know Ohio’s best kept workplace safety secret?

By Ranzy Brown, Safety and Health Consultant, OSHA On-Site Consultation Program

Last month, I had the pleasure of teaching a class called The Best Kept Secret in Ohio at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo.  My presentation let the audience in on this secret: BWC’s OSHA On-Site Consultation Program. Most of the almost 60 people in the room had never heard of us or what we do.

I began the session with a brief history of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the consultation program, then explained who is eligible to receive our free and confidential services. Basically, all employers covered by OSHA regulations can request an On-Site consultation. The program gives priority to privately-owned smaller businesses, and those in high-hazard industries. Typically, a grant from OSHA funds 90 percent of the program while BWC covers the other 10 percent (this year it’s closer to an 86-14 split). This means there is never any charge to use our services.

Most of the questions focused on the relationship between consultation and enforcement. I believe most employers want to do the right thing and provide a safe workplace; sometimes they are simply unaware of hazards that exist in their businesses. Our consultants point out these hazards with the understanding that the employer will abate the serious ones.  Our services are confidential from OSHA, however, if an employer refuses to abate serious hazards, we can refer them for possible enforcement action. While an employer is actively working with OSHA On-Site Consultation, they have “visit in progress” status, which means OSHA cannot open a programmed enforcement inspection.

Additionally, businesses that have an exemplary safety and health program can qualify for the programmed inspection exemption for up to three years by becoming a SHARP employer. SHARP – Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program – companies have demonstrated excellence in all aspects of managing safety and health.

I ended the class by sharing information about how attendees can contact the OSHA On-Site Consultation program to ask questions or request a consultation. I also covered how recent OSHA standard revisions (e.g., walking and working surfaces or recordkeeping) could impact their workplaces. Developing a relationship with an On-Site consultant can make it easier to keep up with changes and make staying in compliance easier.

After the session, I had a good conversation with several people regarding work policies and practices that could be OSHA violations in their workplaces. My fellow consultants want to help your business too.

Don’t be shocked or surprised – use lockout/tagout

By Cari Gray, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a standard called the Control of Hazardous Energy – most folks know it as lockout/tagout. This standard is one of the most important in all of OSHA’s regulations; still many do not understand or do not follow the rules. In 1990, this rule became law in a response to 122 fatalities and approximately 50,000 injuries per year. This OSHA law is 29 CFR 1901.147.

The theory behind the law is simple: if you have workers exposed to hazardous energy, you must stop the energy and lock out the energy source to prevent accidental releases that can cause injury.

OK, maybe that doesn’t sound simple – so let me give you an example. If you are changing a ballast in a light fixture, you must lock out the breaker or disconnect it while doing the work so others do not accidently turn it on. Or if you are repairing a large fan, you must put a lock on the energy source (like a breaker) so your co-worker cannot turn the fan on while your hands (and maybe your head) are in the machine.

That sounds pretty important, right? There is plenty of potential for fatalities while working on any type of equipment, this standard and these rules can keep you safe, maybe even alive, to work another day.

From a regulation standpoint, there are multiple parts to the standard. The scope of the standard defines what is included and not included. Example: the standard does not cover work on live electrical. You should never work on live electrical. However, if you do, you must follow OSHA Subpart S and the NFPA 70E standards. There are also definitions covering who the players are and their roles.

The main parts of the standard are the written program, energy control procedures, periodic inspections and training. There are very specific requirements about the equipment workers use for lockout/tagout as well as detailed instructions for group lockout, shift changes and outside personnel. I’ll focus on the four main sections I listed above.

Written program
First, a written program: This is a must and required by any company that has an energy source that could cause harm. Even if you do not perform the work internally, you must have a plan in place to ensure injuries do not occur. The written program – OSHA calls it the Energy Control Program – must be in writing and be an overview of your plan. This plan includes roles, responsibilities, procedures, inspections and training. This is the overview of how you plan to manage your program.

Energy control procedures
Energy control procedures, oh energy control procedures. This may be the most difficult and tedious of the requirements, but it is oh so important. Develop, document and use the procedures when an employee performs work that could cause the release of hazardous energy. There is a defined list of requirements you must include in the procedures, including, scope, purpose, authorization, rules, enforcement and techniques for actually performing lockouts.

Periodic inspections
Periodic inspections is code for ANNUAL inspections, and don’t forget to do them. The purpose of the annual inspection is to check the written program, the energy control procedures and the training effectiveness. So yes, you need to look at all the written documentation and watch authorized employees actually lock out some of the equipment.

You’ll need to provide some level of training to all employees. Affected employees (those that can be impacted by lockout, but don’t actually do it) must have basic training on what lockout is and what to do if they are affected by a piece of equipment other workers are locking out (aka leave it alone). Authorized employees get the most training because they are responsible for locking out the equipment so they can stay safe. There is no annual requirement for retraining. However, there are many circumstances where employees need retraining, like changes and failure to follow the rules.

The importance of locking out can’t be shouted loud enough. There are too many examples of workers not using lockout with horrific consequences. The 18-year-old caught in a large shredder. A 50-something accidentally pulled into a washer. The maintenance worker electrocuted while changing a live outlet at a nursing home. Unfortunately, I could go on for hours. Accidents can strike any industry, any age and any employee skill level. If a company’s management doesn’t take lockout/tagout seriously, neither will workers.

Don’t feel helpless if you don’t have a program or you’re worried yours isn’t up to par. Our Division of Safety & Hygiene offers classes, videos and expert safety consultants to help you develop or evaluate your program. Just contact them!

Promote driving safety at your company and at home

By Jennifer Morgan, BWC Fleet Supervisor

The other day I was driving to work on a three-lane freeway when a silver Honda in front of me swerved left of center, which caused the mid-sized Ford in the left lane to jerk quickly to avoid making contact with the Honda. The Ford’s appropriate instinct caused a chain reaction in the left lane.

Meanwhile the Honda nonchalantly weaved back into its lane and then into the far right lane (without using signals). When I passed the Honda minutes later, I noticed that the driver was seemingly unaware of what just happened and what kind of trouble he caused. Of course, the driver of the Honda was on his phone, likely for the entire incident.

Last week, a driver – who acknowledged to witnesses that he was texting while driving – collided with a church minibus in an accident that killed 13 people in rural Texas. Last year, approximately 40,000 people died in a vehicle crash, the most deaths in nine years. Many sources say the cause of the crash increase is due to driving distracted – mainly cell phones.

As an agency that strives to prevent accidents and strives to promote safe environments, we encourage you to review your driving habits at home and at work. Especially if your company maintains a fleet, there are practices that you can help implement to make everyone safer.

Driver training
As Fleet Supervisor for BWC, I am responsible for making sure our employees are safe on the road. With 309 vehicles in our fleet, a lot of driving occurs throughout Ohio. That’s why, in addition to driving background checks, we require all assigned drivers to complete a four-hour defensive driving course. The course is online so they can complete the course over a period of time, at their convenience.

Every year, drivers are required to complete an updated training program that gives them a reminder that safe driving is a good practice for everyone.

Take the pledge
In addition to training, we require drivers to sign a no texting pledge because we believe it is an important part of holding our drivers accountable for avoiding this distracting and unsafe behavior. You can encourage anyone to take the pledge for any type of driving, personal or work-related. The National Safety Council has a user-friendly pledge form here.

Be aware
This time of year, we send reminders to our drivers that warmer weather brings potential hazards to the roadways. More pedestrians are out walking around. Children are riding their bikes in the street and more bikers in general are riding on the roads. More motorcyclists take to the roads this time of year as well. Drivers need to pay special attention and share the road. A quick reminder to your co-workers about these potential hazards can have a beneficial outcome, including saving a life. If you need advice determining what safety programs you can implement in your fleet, please call me at 614-441-0763.

BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene’s consultants are also available to answer your questions and assist your safe driving efforts. Call 1-800-644-6292 for more information.

Ottawa County Safety Council members share their OSC17 experience

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

Two-hundred and forty miles total. Four hours roundtrip. Ottawa County Ohio employers didn’t let that keep them from capitalizing on the nation’s largest regional occupational safety and health conference. Several employers from Ohio’s north shore descended on Columbus a few weeks ago to find valuable information and resources at BWC’s Ohio Safety Conference & Expo 2017 (OSC17).

It’s no surprise that so many of these employers are also members of the Ottawa County Safety Council. That’s because Jessica Kowalski, manager of the safety council, keeps her membership engaged and focused on workplace safety.

Jessica works tirelessly to promote BWC programs and services through social media and more traditional means of communication, and we appreciate her partnering with us.

After OSC17, she surveyed members of the Ottawa County Safety Council to get feedback on their experience at this year’s event. Below are some of their thoughts.

Dave Barth of Bay Point Resort & Marina attended several sessions on the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s new reporting guidelines and found sessions to enhance his understanding of job assessments and their benefits. In the Expo Marketplace, he met several vendors he intends to contact about future business.

Julia Catlett of Magruder Hospital applauded BWC for providing classes that are educational from a variety of different perspectives, ranging from safety officers to human resources. She appreciates that sessions provide credit toward her certifications and give her useful information to implement in everyday processes.

Michelle Ish, Ottawa County HR Director, attended her 13th safety congress this year. She appreciates seeing other industry professionals and knows many are repeat attendees, adding, “It’s nice to network on such a large scale!”

Evan Viery of Signature Label found OSC17 to be an excellent summarization of where safety has gone in recent years and where it intends to go. He also felt it was a great opportunity to meet people from other companies and to see what fellow Ohio companies are doing to keep an edge.  “Every time I attend I am more pleased with OSC,” he says.

Tim Gerkensmeyer of Martin Industries tries to attend the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo as much as he can. He said he enjoys catching up with people who he doesn’t see often, adding that he met several new people from his own county.

Adam Holmes of The Ashley Group praised the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium. He attended the symposium for the first time, saying it covered topics related to almost every industry, and it promoted open conversation and sharing of ideas among professionals from several different backgrounds. He says, “The chance to hear first-hand from a variety of employer organizations regarding the challenges they face helps me improve as a consultant to my clients. “That in itself is invaluable and reason alone to make the trip again next year!”

No matter the distance to Columbus, employers from all over the state have many reasons to attend the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo. Make your plans to attend in 2018, March 7-9, in Columbus.

Take a STAND-Down to prevent falls in Ohio’s workplaces

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Construction, by its nature, is a dangerous industry. With much of the work happening from elevation, fall hazards are a major concern and fall protection is a must to prevent injuries and deaths.


In 2015, falls accounted for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities in the United States.* The previous year in Ohio, there were 993 falls from elevation, with 324 of these falls happening in construction. Falls don’t need to be from great heights to have serious consequences; even short falls from elevation can cause serious injuries. However, proper training and awareness can help prevent injuries and fatal accidents.

Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) looks to raise fall hazard awareness across the country with its National Fall Prevention Stand-Down. This year’s stand-down is happening May 8-12.

At this point, you might be wondering, “What exactly is a stand-down?” A safety stand-down is a voluntary event for employers to speak directly to their workers about workplace safety. Companies can conduct a stand-down event in several ways, including:

  • Short toolbox talks;
  • Distributing handouts;
  • Screening safety videos;
  • Training and demonstrations;
  • Meetings and presentations;
  • Equipment inspections/audits.

We strongly urge Ohio employers – especially those in the construction industry – to have a stand-down to discuss fall hazards and fall protection sometime between May 8 and May 12.

We can help you plan your stand-down activity. Call 1-800-644-6292 for assistance. The BWC Library also offers an extensive collection of audiovisual materials related to fall hazards and fall prevention.

Let’s take a STAND-Down to prevent falls!

For more information

 *Bureau of Labor Statistics 

OSC17 – A look back in photos

Last week’s Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC17) gave us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with our customers and find out what drives them to make their workplaces safer and healthier. In short, what is their safety motto?

This week, our message to all who attended is simple: Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are so grateful you were part of our record-setting crowd of more than 7,500 attendees. From educational sessions and a busy Expo Marketplace to inspiring general session speakers and live demonstrations, we hope you enjoyed your time at OSC17.

For a look back at last week’s events, check out our storified tweets and scroll through the photos below. We can’t wait to see you again next year!

Expo Marketplace – “before”




Expo Marketplace – “after”

Expo pics from the mobile app – thanks to all who uploaded them.

Huge turnout for the General Session in the Battelle Grand Ballroom!

OSC17 attendees voting for Safety Innovations People’s Choice award. 

Safety Innovations Awards – 1st place ($6,000 award): ICP Adhesives and Sealants.

Safety Innovations Awards – People’s Choice ($1,000 award):  Holloway, Henderson and Martin LLC.

Awesome safety selfies in the BWC booth.

Passport to Safety prizes – Thanks to our generous exhibitors!