At no one point can a company’s safety leadership dust off their hands and say, “That’s it. Now we’re totally safe!” Simply put, worker safety isn’t a one-time event. New workers come and go. Equipment wears out. New processes create new hazards. Safer technologies emerge, such as advancements with smart, data-driven personal protection equipment (PPE).
America's safest companies are those excelling at workplace safety and limiting risk to workers. Industrial hygienists, safety managers, safety specialists, and Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) leaders are those ensuring that safe environmental working conditions are practiced. The responsibility is no easy task, from training workers in safety procedures, to countless face-to-face discussions with workers and of course, maintaining logbooks.
A safety first mindset begins with identifying all the workplace hazards that exist.
In this blog, we are going to highlight everything you need to know about a safety hazard assessment. We're also going to shine a light on MCR Safety’s 360° Protection Program, which aligns with a company’s operational and safety teams to improve overall worker safety and reducing costs. The program has helped numerous companies over the past couple years, across industries such as automotive, food, and metal fabrication. We discuss the program more in-depth below and highlight some recent industry success.
Identification, Assessment & Control
A central reason why injuries occur at work is the lack of recognizing hazards even exist. It's crucial piece to any safety program is identifying and assessing safety hazards. OSHA breaks down the stages into six action items:
- Collect Existing Information - organize information to acknowledge what types of hazards exist.
- Examine the workplace for hazards - scheduling time for the inspection of all operations.
- Recognize health hazards - a complex part of assessing hazards, but one that is absolutely needed.
- Conduct investigations - of all workplace incidents.
- Emergency and nonroutine situations - need appropriate plans established to separately address each one.
- Distinguish the nature - and develop control measures
The last stage mentioned above is an important one, as many companies see personal protective equipment (PPE) as the primary control. Within the hierarchy of controls that we outline in our Workmen's Comp blog, PPE is a last resort companies should take in removing workplace hazards.
OSHA 1910.132(d)(1) and PPE Forms
(PPE) should never be considered the primary protection in a company's safety program. it should be used in conjunction with engineering controls, administrative controls, and procedural controls. Once all three of these control measures have been pursued, and hazards still remain, is when PPE is considered.
OSHA 1910.132 mandates that employers must provide PPE at no expense to the employees. And, within the law, OSHA 1910.132(d)(1) stipulates that the employers must determine if hazards are present, which is where the safety hazard assessment becomes paramount. Also, 1910.132(d)(2) declares that a written certification must be in place certifying the evaluation has occurred. So, in short, it's a big deal that companies assess their workplace. Below are some helpful forms to utilize.
PPE Hazard Assessment Forms
University of Iowa
The University of Utah
You are not alone when in comes to performing PPE assessments. OSHA provides numerous resource and cooperative programs to help aide businesses in keeping workplace free of hazards. In addition, MCR Safety offers a program designed to assist workplaces in identifying PPE that protects against the hazards present at worksite. We will cover it more in-depth in our next sections.
As we've mentioned, it's the law to perform hazard assessments. So, when OSHA comes to call, you can gaurantee they will be looking for these certified evaluations. When they do visit, it is usually for one of two reasons.
- You’ve decided to participate in a Voluntary Protection Program, which requires a serious commitment to the very highest levels of workplace safety.
- You’ve been having problems. A serious injury, an anonymous complaint, or a previous inspection resulting in one or more violations can all trigger a visit from OSHA.
The nature and scope of most OSHA inspections depends on its purpose. Either way, you have got your work cut out for you. OSHA will review a lot of paperwork and documentation in advance. They will interview both employees and managers as needed, and complete a walkthrough of the facility. In addition, they will check historical records of workplace injuries and illnesses, and informational posters about health and safety. Finally, the OSHA inspector has a closing conference during which they explain their findings and suggest changes.
If OSHA’s purpose in visiting revolves around the second point mentioned above, a proactive 360° visit focusing on PPE and specific workplace hazards makes more sense. Many of the same OSHA practices performed occur during a 360 visit, including:
- Evaluation. This serves the same function as OSHA’s walkthrough mentioned above, with PPE as the focus.
- Measurement. Our team checks the workplace for injuries and PPE used, as does OSHA.
- Analysis. We explain our findings and recommend the appropriate PPE, just like OSHA.
While the inspection process shows some similarities, the 360° Protection Program comes without strict deadlines, citations, or punishments. We are there to help, not hand out judgement or punishment. We only want to protect people. Working with MCR Safety in a supportive environment is much less stressful on everyone and will leave you more prepared when OSHA drops by unannounced.
The question you face is whether a proactive PPE hazard assessment is preferred to a post injury OSHA inspection. Which do you prefer?
MCR Safety’s 360° Protection Program
The 360° Protection Program is a comprehensive look at your company’s current safety gear and how it’s performing for you. Are you seeing injuries? Is your safety gear being used for purposes it was not designed for? Is it becoming damaged or worn out? Is it resulting in inefficiencies or otherwise hampering workers from following industry best practices?
This holistic investigation into your PPE and safety needs follows a five-step program:
This qualitative information gathering involves meetings with stakeholders and a safety walk through the actual work environment. We assess the applications performed and PPE used in keeping workers safe.
Example from an actual 360 assessment
This step involves gathering quantitative data, including information on injuries, current costs, and product lifecycles.
Example from an actual 360 assessment
During the analysis stage, we take all of that qualitative and quantitative data and examine it to figure out where you can best improve your safety program to reduce injuries, while also helping your bottom line.
Example from an actual 360 assessment
This step involves implementing the recommended changes, including making sure workers are correctly fitted and trained with their new PPE.
This step is ongoing, as we follow up with you to check on the improved safety measures and address any new concerns as they arise.
Of course, all of this starts with step 0, the decision to schedule your visit. This is perhaps the most important step, and the only one that you need to take on your own. This is when you decide that creating a safer work environment is important to you.
Which Workplaces Benefit From a 360° Visit?
There is never a bad time to take a more detailed look at safety, but there are definitely some times when it becomes especially important. Some examples include:
- You’re in an industry that requires working around significant hazards.
- You’re applying or thinking of applying to participate in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.
- You’ve seen an increase in workplace injuries in a particular department or across the company over the last year.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
- You’ve had some workers’ compensation claims and are worried about the cost of increased premiums.
- You’re hearing concerns from workers or union representatives about safety issues.
- You’ve had one or more OSHA violations and expect a follow-up inspection.
- You’ve recently had significant turnover among your health and safety officers.
- You’ve recently had significant turnover among your workers in high-risk roles.
- You’ve recently upgraded your tools or equipment, but not your PPE.
In 2020, do to COVID-19, our 360 protection program went virtual. If you would prefer conducting the initial assessment virtually, simply click the below image.
Recent 360° Protection Program Success
In early 2018, MCR Safety performed a 360° assessment at a leading metal fabrication company’s frame assembly operation. With significant injury costs rising, conducting a 360° made perfect sense and provided a fresh set of eyes to the problem.
During the evaluation and measurement stages, we discovered that the gloves used in a particular area were coming loose at the seams and thumb crotch. Less than two hours into a shift, many workers were experiencing worn out gloves. With productivity results a top priority, workers were reluctant to change out their PPE, ultimately exposing them to hazardous working conditions.
Cut injuries were costing the employer $20,000 in annual costs. After we visited, that cost went away with the correct PPE worn.
We recommended a replacement glove that offered better stitching and cut protection. While marginally more expensive, the recommended gloves lasted twice as long on average as their predecessors, leaving the company with an annual cost savings of over $100 per employee per year. In another department, exposure to solvents and friction when handling small parts was leading to damaged gloves. This in turn led to nearly $20,000 annual costs directly related to incidents. Gloves made from the proper materials protected against both mechanical and chemical hazards.
In the end, almost $90,000 in potential annual savings were identified, and this doesn’t include the savings associated with a more comfortable workforce and reduced turnover, both of which are often found in companies that invest in worker safety.
Who is responsible for assessing the potential risk of a hazard?
- A competent person, most likely a safety manager or a team of safety individuals, should complete the safety hazard assessment. In theory though, anyone who is considered with their well being at work should be on the lookout for potential hazards that may cause harm.
How often should hazard assessments be reviewed?
- They should be reviewed every three to twelve months. However, as OSHA recommends that hazards are examined regularly, as workplaces change. Appropriate time should be scheduled every week, and when incidents do occur a thorough investigation should occur.
How to perform a hazard assessment and how to assess work site hazards?
- A jobsite hazards analysis (JHA) breaks down work performed into specific steps and tasks. It should be apart of the initial proccess of identifying all hazards present. OSHA's 3071 PDF provides all the information one needs in executing a JHA. Here are some templates you can utilize:
- Maine Department of Labor JHA
- NC State JHA
- Blank Form to use
What is the last step in a hazard assessment?
- Implementing control measures is listed as OSHA's sixth and final step in identifying, assessing, and controlling hazards. PPE is always considered a last resort.
What is a general hazard assessment?
- A general assessment identifies hazards present that exist at worksites for jobs, tasks, and activities.
What is hazard assessment training?
- OSHA provides an interactive game-based training to assist employers performing assessments. As we mentioned above, it's the law. But, who say you can't have a little fun when complying with the law? You can download the tool here. Also, Oregon OSHA has a nice suite around hazard identification you should consider. Plus, there are other safety hazards training companies you may want to consider partnering with for training. Here are some:
- Convergence Training
- OSHA Campus
Before we wrap this up, we thought it would be helpful to include some checklists to print out and use while completing the JHA and PPE assessments. Each one may contain more hazards than are present at your facility, however, this may be advantageous for you as you may have skipped over a hazard.
Here are some checklists to consider printing off for using when evaluating your company's workplace hazards:
Schedule A Visit
For safety professionals, time management is essential. At MCR Safety, we have only one purpose. We Protect People! So when it comes to maintaining personal protection equipment, we are there for you. A fresh set of eyes is sometimes all that is required to guarantee workers are 100 percent protected.
As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your businesses is to get an objective third party to look at your health and safety from the ground up. Our 360° Protection Program will not only help you analyze the specific risks in your workplace, but it will also help you find the ideal safety solutions that fit your needs and budget.
If you want to take this next important step with your company’s safety program, you’re in luck: scheduling a visit has never been easier! Send us a quick note with your contact information and a little information about your company, and we will respond right away.
We welcome any comments, feedback, or suggestions for how we can best protect people at work.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on the shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. It’s all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protective equipment you need.
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.