How to Successfully Complete a Safety Audit

Safety is the most important issue in any workplace. If a worker doesn’t feel safe in his or her job, then they’ll be unable to focus on doing a good job – and will focus on avoiding injury instead. Not only does this not contribute to a productive work environment – it’s dangerous, and is likely a sign that your place of work is not up to date on current legal requirements.

Fortunately, periodic safety checks or safety audits of your business are an easy way to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that there are no hidden safety hazards. A lot of organizations shy away from safety audits, thinking that they are only searching for things that are going drastically wrong. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right attitude and intent, anyone can carry out a productive safety audit.

Image courtesy of Boris Dzhingarov of Flickr

Image courtesy of Boris Dzhingarov of Flickr

The goals of any audit are simple, and achieving these goals is especially easy if you continue to carry out regular safety audits. A truly productive safety audit should:

  • identify the risks, and the levels of severity of said risks, within the workplace
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in your safety procedures
  • assess whether your safety procedures are legally compliant
  • compare current documentation and practices against best practice and legal obligations
  • recommend improvements in your safety procedures
  • ensure that there adequate resources available to manage Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
  • ensure that the resources devoted to health and safety are being utilized effectively

A safety audit can focus on one single activity, one segment of the organization or the overall status of the organization as a whole. It all depends on how you want to approach it.

How often should safety audits be held?

A full-on safety audit should be completed about once every 3 months. Since the process is a bit more in depth than a general safety check it doesn’t need to be done every month. However, a general safety inspection of work stations should be held weekly to ensure there are no minor safety hazards.

What specifically should you look for in a safety audit?

While you may want to add an item or two onto your site’s own safety audit list, a good audit will always check for each of the following common work hazards:

  • Safety hazards such as faulty machinery, unsafe work practices, unsafe conditions, etc.
  • Biological hazards such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.
  • Chemical hazards. This is especially important if you are frequently handling chemicals and other dangerous liquids.
  • Physical demands/conditions on the worker such as continuous repetitions of a single action, awkward posture, weather, pressure, etc.

What sorts of things should I have written up after a safety audit?

At the end of a successful audit, you should have:

  • An updated tool inventory that highlights anyh tools or machinery at your worksite, and where they are each located; this helps to keep things in their correct place and make sure that they don’t go missing.
  • An updated chemical inventory that confirms chemicals are being stored safely, securely, and in a proper location on-site, where they won’t react to the other chemicals stored around. This is imperative since a chemical reaction can be one of the most dangerous accidents in the workplace.

While not necessarily a requirement, it’s also very helpful to have an updated diagram of the workplace at the end of every safety audit. A mapping of where everything is located can help mark where certain hazards are while moving through the facilities. That way, staff and coworkers alike have to waste time struggling to remember the location of certain safety hazards while on the job.

Safety audits are necessary for every business from office jobs to garages to factories. Every workplace should complete periodic safety checks to ensure that there are no hazards that could hurt someone or even damage expensive equipment. If you continue to complete these safety audits at regular intervals, you will breeze through them and reduce on-site injuries for your workers. However, if you become lax and neglect them for a while, they become harder to complete. Keep up to date on your safety and you definitely won’t regret it.

Sources Consulted

CCOHS

Health and Safety Handbook

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What SpillFix Product Is Right For Your Business?

Image courtesy of SpillFix

Image courtesy of SpillFix

Whenever we talk about an absorbent product, we should always think of that absorbent product as a tool. Like any other tool, when it comes to cleaning up spills at work most of the time one kind of absorbent product will do a better job than another. And as with any other type of tool, different absorbent products will work better on different spills than another type of absorbent product might. Not only that, but the type of absorbent product you use will impact your company’s effectiveness, overall safety, and performance.

SpillFix is just one kind of absorbent product that you may decide to use to clean up fuel spills, chemical spills, or a range of other types of spills. But when exactly is it appropriate to use SpillFix? Today we’ll answer those questions so you can make sure you’re cleaning up spills to the best of your abilities.

What is SpillFix?

SpillFix Industrial Absorbent is a organic, non-toxic absorbent made from coir which is a renewable resource extracted from coconut husks. SpillFix is currently available in both loose, bagged form and boom sock form.

When should I use loose SpillFix absorbent product?

Loose absorbent products are used to clean up most liquid spills at work, and are particularly helpful when you need to clean up a spill that has leaked into cracks and seams that a larger, solid absorbent product couldn’t reach. While some types of loose absorbent products have a bad reputation for containing dangerous crystalline silica and for being dusty and difficult to sweep or shovel up afterwards and generally cumbersome to use, SpillFix removes dust from the equation and, as demonstrations show, is quick and easy to pick up and dispose of.

When should I use SpillFix booms?

If you have a large liquid spill quickly spreading that needs to be simultaneously contained and absorbed, a boom will help you get the job done. Commonly used to contain water-based oil spills, booms are also very effective to use on other kinds of spills that happen at your place of work – both indoors and outdoors. SpillFix booms are especially useful since no spill can be cleaned before it’s been properly contained, meaning that in the event of a spill a boom is a necessity.

As you can see, every worksite needs different spill products to address different spill-related needs. Assessing your workplace and deciding which products meet your safety needs is critical in determining which products to purchase to keep your worksite safe at all times.
Questions? Comments? Interested in learning more about SpillFix’s products? Find us on Facebook and Twitter!

6 Things to Consider When Storing Chemicals

When you work in an industry that handles chemicals, there are safety precautions that need to be taken. As we’ve discussed previously, having a full spill kit on hand is imperative when dealing with dangerous chemicals. However, the handling of those chemicals is equally as important. In addition to ensuring that you are meeting national and local legal requirements, exercising caution and care while managing chemicals can help protect your employees and your bottom line from the effects of a harmful spill.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

While your company may find that additional requirements will help make your workplaces safer, at least following these 6 tips will help to keep any chemicals and liquids you might be working with contained and safely stored:

  1. Use labels and keep paperwork in order. Chemical manufacturers are required Under OSHA’s Hazard Communication standards to label chemicals in the workplace based on any hazards they might pose. A Material Safety Data Sheet must also be provided for each and every chemical.
  2. Keep inventory. Keeping an updated inventory on any on-site chemicals, as well as any safety information needed for individual chemicals, will help keep track of what is stored in your facility and ensure that your staff knows how best to handle each chemical. An inventory is also needed in the event of a fire or chemical spill where the fire department has to be called. Emergency personnel will need an updated list of the chemicals in the facility to better assess how to handle the situation.
  3. Use a well organized storage system. The best storage method for keeping chemicals is to store them by type. Storing them alphabetically could cause a problem if some of the chemicals are incompatible with each other. Flammables, corrosives, and toxic chemicals are a few types of chemicals that commonly cause problems when stored with other chemicals. Storing by type can prevent any accidental contact that could cause a fire or worse, an explosion. Make sure each chemical family is separated by either a non-combustible partition or at least 20 feet of space.
  4. Use safe storage materials. Any corrosive liquids should be kept in acid containers to ensure that mutually reactive chemicals can’t accidentally come in contact with one another. They should also be kept within secondary corrosive-resistant containers.
  5. Schedule safety checks. Frequently do checkups of any containers or drums of oil and chemicals. Over time, containers or drums could develop leaks. If left unmended these can cause serious damage and possibly result in injury. In the event of a leak, use a drip pan to catch the leaked chemical until the storage unit can be properly mended or replaced entirely.
  6. Create a Chemical Hygiene Plan. A Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is another must for chemical-handling organizations. A CHP is “a written program stating the policies, procedures and responsibilities that protect workers from the health hazards associated with the hazardous chemicals used in that particular workplace.” Keeping a CHP updated and keeping everyone informed on them will prevent an unnecessary injury.

By keeping chemicals safely contained and stored, and making it easy for employees to handle and address them, you can prevent dangerous spills that could cause serious problems. Proper containment is important for preventing dangerous spills which could lead to fires and explosions. The safety of those working in the facility is of the utmost importance, therefore preventing a hazardous emergency should be the priority.

Sources Cited:

OSHA

University of California Berkley

SpillKits: Why Every Work Site Needs One

A couple of weeks ago we spoke about spill preparedness and how to best respond in the event of a chemical spill. Part of being prepared for a spill includes having the proper tools on hand to contain and then clean the spill. One of the most important tools you can have on hand in preparation for this possible need are spill kits.

Spill kits are fantastic tools for anyone working with oils, acids, fuels and other liquids that could spill or leak in any number of locations, such as warehouses, factories, refineries, auto shops, garages, and even hospitals. And that’s only a few of the places that can experience liquid spills!

If your worksite handles liquids of some sort, specifically hazardous ones, then your worksite also needs a full spill kit that can handle your site’s potential needs. To get that spill kit, it’s good practice to develop a personalized spill response emergency kit that’s designed just for your worksite.  While pre-made spill kits can be helpful, they don’t necessarily include all of the tools that cater to specific work site needs – or wants.

To ensure that your worksite is properly prepared for a potential spill, remember to think about these things when crafting your personalized spill kit:

  • If your organization is an environmentally friendly one, or if it’s trying to become a greener workspace, a pre-made spill kit might not have the tools needed to adhere to those standards. You may be better off creating kits entirely from scratch, depending on your company’s commitment to environmental policies.
  • If your organization is looking to improve worker safety, there’s a chance that some pre-made spill kits will contain products with harmful chemicals or by-products such as silica dust, which your company may not necessarily want on-site. Take the time to research any products that are currently available before buying them.
  • If your organization handles multiple kinds of liquids, pre-made spill kits may not necessarily guarantee that every spill control product you want will be available when you need it; by making your own spill kits and restocking them with items that you know are necessary to your specific company, your organization will always have a customer spill kit that holds everything that you could possibly need.

These factors highlight why personalizing your workspace is a must for safer worksites. Though it’s tempting to just run on autopilot buy pre-made spill kits as needed, your company will be better off if it invests the time, energy and money into researching and even developing custom-made spill kits containing spill products that will meet your work site’s specific needs when used. It may be that pre-made spill kits do in fact meet your company’s every need! Ultimately, though, your company can only benefit from taking the time to ensure that its spill kits are meeting their every need – and that those kits will be enough in a worse-case scenario spill or accident.

Chemical Absorbents: What You Should Know

When you work in an industry that deals with chemicals it’s imperative that you also have the means to clean up those chemicals in the event of a spill. If you have a chemical absorbent on hand, you will protect those working with chemicals. Not only that, but you will meet legal requirements for safety and cut down on the time it would take to clean up the spill.

SpillFix

What is needed in the event of a major spill? There are many different kinds of absorbent products that can be used to clean up a spill, from pads to rolls to sorbents. Each type of product serves a different purpose and performs a different job in the event of a spill. Here at SpillFix, we offer two forms of absorbent products: boom socks and a bagged product.

Boom socks are perfect for corralling a spill before it can spread out. These long, absorbent socks can be placed in the path of a moving spill to halt the spread, preventing it from growing larger and causing bigger problems. Plus, the material used to make absorbent socks has unique wicking properties that stop the flow of the spill while absorbing the chemical up.

With two size bags of absorbent, you have the ability to soak up any size spill. The 50 litre bag has the capacity to absorb spills of up to 26 litres while the 15 litre bag has the capacity to absorb 9.5 litres. With our bags of absorbent material you can quickly soak up a spill

What to do in the event of a spill? It’s important to have an emergency procedure in place for when a chemical spill occurs.

  • Remove all nonessential personnel from the area. Anyone not involved in the cleanup should leave the area of the spill to prevent them from getting in the away and heightening the problem.
  • Do not touch the chemical spill. Until the chemical has been identified as being not harmful, it’s important not to come in contact with the spill.
  • Anyone cleaning up the spill should don the proper coverings and safety equipment.
  • Decontaminate any equipment, tools and employees who may have gotten chemicals on them or their person.

Chemical spills are serious and could be incredibly harmful to people and the environment if it makes its way down a drain. The most important thing is to be prepared. By having the right absorbent products on hand you will always be prepared for a big spill.

4 Common Workplace Distractions That Can Cause Injuries

The average worker in the U.S. loses 2.1 hours per workday due to distractions. And once interrupted it takes the average worker 23 minutes to fully get back into the task they were trying to complete. That is valuable time that could benefit the company and worker alike, but is instead wasted due to distractions and interferences.

While some distractions can’t be helped, such as important company meetings, other distractions can actually be controlled and kept to a minimum. The trick is knowing what might be keeping you from focusing on your work, and eliminating it from your work area. While we can’t account for every distraction you may be experiencing, we’re willing to bet that the following three distractions have plagued you or a coworker at some point. Our advice? Stay vigilant while on the job and know how to avoid these common attention stealers:

  1. Music: Even though listening to your iPod makes the day go faster and your work more enjoyable, it can present some serious hazards while on the job. Because of this, be sure to consult with your supervisor before donning those headphones, to make sure they won’t interfere with your ability to hear potential hazards in your work space. One alternative to headphones, if they would be problematic, is to  try playing a radio station quietly in the background. Having it at a lower volume will keep it from being a serious distraction, but will provide a little bit of background music to make the day more pleasant.
  1. Bothersome Noises: Four million workers deal with damaging or distracting noise levels or sounds at work. If your problem is that coworkers are playing their music too loudly, or that machinery is cranking away near your workstation, maybe earplugs or noise cancelling headphones would be beneficial to you. Not only would they limit your exposure to distractions, but they could also benefit your health. Consider this: the noise from a power saw is 95 decibels which is capable of causing damage to your eardrums after only 4 hours. This means that having ear plugs at the ready could prevent serious hearing loss and help you do a better job at work.
  1. Cluttered Mind and Inattentiveness: Maybe you have some exciting plans this weekend and you’re imagining all the fun you might have. Perhaps something embarrassing happened to you last night and you’re replaying it over in your mind. Both of those things can pull your attention away from the task at hand and possibly contribute to you or a coworker getting hurt at work. If you find your attention wandering back to those kinds of thoughts, consider taking a “micro-break”. Take a walk outside for a few minutes or just stand up and stretch. By taking those few minutes to pull away from your work, you can gather yourself and refocus your attention so that you are refreshed enough to focus on what you need to be doing.
  1. Messy Workspace: Workspace clutter is problematic for a number of reasons. It can be emotionally draining and stressful, but most of all, it can be dangerous. Piles of clutter can actually hide potential safety issues and, if toppled over at the wrong moment, can become a tripping hazard for you and your coworkers. To minimize clutter and the dangers associated with it, begin taking some time to clean off your workspace at the end of each day. By ending the day with a clean area, you will be able to start the next day with a clean area, which will help you focus and make your work space a safer space.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay


While some of these things might be easy to let slide, if you do, they could quickly cause a safety hazard for you and your coworkers. Taking the time to address these distractions will be much more beneficial for you in the long run. By working to stay  focused on your tasks and blocking out both mental and physical clutter, you can stay stress-free and most importantly, safe.

SpillFix A Necessary Addition To Acid Spill Clean Up Procedures

Different jobs naturally come with different risks, especially when considering how many materials are handled by different industries each day. For example, in some cases, a work hazard may include the possibility of liquid or fuel spills; at other work sites, however, the materials that could potentially be spilled or leaked could possibly even more hazardous to deal with in the wrong circumstances.

One of the other materials that potentially be spilled with hazardous results includes acids. Acids are specifically defined as chemical substances that neutralize alkalis and dissolve some metals; they are by their nature corrosive substances. It’s those corrosive properties that make the acid clean up process more complicated; Acid spills are particularly dangerous due the possibility of chemical burns or the inhalation of acid fumes; both of these incidents can result in severe damage to the skin or lungs, which will result in discomfort at least, if not  more serious medical issues.

It’s important to note that the acids SpillFix is concerned about are not to be confused with the ones naturally found in citrus fruits or in the vinegars we use for cooking; instead, when our team thinks about acids that would be involved in industry acid spill clean up procedures, we’re thinking of the more heavy duty and potentially dangerous substances. Some examples of acids we are concerned about include:

  • Those involved in the manufacture of fertilizers.
  • Those that are used to help in the manufacturing of dyes.
  • Those used within cell phone batteries.
  • Those used to treat the steel used in construction.
  • Those used by the iron and steel industry to remove rust, especially from cars.
  • Those involved in the creation of explosives.
  • Those that are used in engineering, biology and chemistry labs and have a very high corrosive element.

In all of these cases, we know that an acid spill in any location could have negative consequences. Whether that spill happens in a storage unit, during the transportation of the acid, or in a lab or other work site, once any acid begins leaking, the employees and people nearby must be ready to respond. And in addition to proper training, work sites need to always have the proper materials available in their acid spill kits.

While there are a number of acid clean up products already available, we know that sometimes, those products do not work as well as they should. Additionally, it’s been noted by customers that many booms or absorbents in particular are not as effective as they could be.

That’s why we’re proud to say that SpillFix can greatly improve the acid spill clean-up procedure and reduce the complexity of the clean-up process, particularly when dealing with mild corrosives. Consider these two points:

  • Normally, when using over-the-counter acid neutralizing products, one needs to use very specific products on very specific acid spills; this can be a nuisance in the midsts of the emergency spill situation. SpillFix, however, is a universal absorbent, meaning that it can be used to stop and absorb the worst of a spill while employees look for the proper neutralizer, if it’s still needed.
  • A common neutralizer that’s used in acid spills is a dry powder, whereas our product is not. Our experience in clean-ups is that powder-based products are difficult to use, difficult to clean-up, and are often easily inhaled, which can result in discomfort at the very least. SpillFix, however, is simple to use, is easy to clean up, and is not a powder-based product; it is also completely risk-free to use and will have no ill effect on anyone’s health.

Available at a low cost, our SpillFix absorbent products are as fast acting on chemical and acid spills as they are on oil spills. We highly recommend integrating SpillFix into the acid spill response routine. You can learn more about SpillFix by visiting our website, as well as watching this one-minute exploration of SpillFix, how it works, and why it’s the perfect product for any company that may face a spill and clean-up process of any kind at any time.

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