5 Critical Areas for Workplace Safety

The SEAM Group Approach to Workplace Safety

When it comes to workplace safety and operational performance, good enough is not an option. There is a difference between comprehensive safety and just checking a compliance box.

 

The risks and costs of safety cannot be underestimated. There are serious consequences to workers (such as loss of life, injury, economic impact to families and to community) and also serious consequences to organizations, including direct costs (such as worker’s compensation, medical and legal services), indirect costs (such as training replacement employees, accident investigations, implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment), as well as brand and reputation damage.

Different stakeholders in organizations have different challenges and pain points, including:

  • I know that incidents happen, and I understand the serious consequences. How do I prepare my company?

  • How do I effectively measure the costs and benefits of my investments in safety?

  • How do I get the incident probability down with the least cost to the business?

  • It is hard to prove the link between workplace safety, operational excellence, and productivity.

  • The total cost of safety continues to rise. But it is hard to effectively evaluate it.

  • Direct costs: worker’s compensation, medical and legal services expenses

  • Indirect safety costs such as training replacement employees, accident investigation, implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment

  • and property.

EHS VP / Director

  • I have many different responsibilities and I am spread too thin – ‘wear too many hats’

  • There are serious consequences if the job is not well done.

  • EHS is a mile-wide and an inch-deep job: so many areas of environmental, health, and safety. I have broad responsibility and limited time. I also need specialized knowledge.

  • There are many companies in the market that provide safety services. How do I choose on that works for my company and our budget?

  • The work is changing / evolving and so are the risks. What should I focus on?

  • Safety is viewed as cost. I am often forced to manage to a predefined budget.

  • I know that workplaces that have safety problems have lower productivity, lower employee  morale, and higher absenteeism. But I can’t see how to tie safety to them.

  • There are lot of companies in the market that provide safety services. How do I choose one that works for my company and our budget?

EHS Manager / Safety Manager

  • How are risks changing as work processes and equipment change and improve?

  • How to keep the team safe while managing other KPIs and priorities?

  • How to make safety part of those priorities and contributing to them positively?

  • Proving that dollars spent on site safety is part of the work and bring results.

  • Creating a culture where safety is an integral part of the work.

  • Ensuring that safety is actively practiced at the individual employee level as well as the
    teams and organization as a whole.

Plant/Field Operations Manager

Do these challenges feel familiar? How do you tackle them?

Effective mitigation of workplace safety risks requires critical areas to be properly addressed, from strategy to planning and execution. It also requires leaders to embrace and support the creation of a strong safety culture in their organizations.

5 Critical Areas of a Comprehensive & Effective Workplace Safety Approach

SEAM Group’s comprehensive approach to workplace safety is focused on understanding and mitigating risks at a broader organizational level. It includes 5 critical areas: Safety Program, Hazard Assessment, Hazard Prevention, Hazard Mitigation, and Safety Training. In this white paper, we will look at them in the context of NFPA 70E, where the focus is on the safety of employees who are exposed to electrical hazards arising from the use of electricity. But the same approach can be used in the context of other hazards, such as combustible dust and others.

 

1. Electrical Safety Program: First and foremost, the employer needs to establish a company-wide, all-encompassing safety program. NFPA 70E, Section 110.1 requires an Electrical Safety Program, a written document that directs activity appropriate for the risk associated with electrical hazards. Its scope includes safety principles, policies, procedures, controls, awareness of hazards, risk assessments, job safety plans/job briefings, audits, incidents investigation, and training, among others.

 

The Safety Program directs activity appropriate to the risk associated with safety hazards. It is an all-encompassing umbrella that provides guidance and includes all other 4 areas. For it to be effective, this program must be properly communicated to, and understood by, everyone in the organization.

 

2. Hazard Assessment: Section 130.2 requires that electrical equipment operating at voltages greater than 50 volts be put into an electrically safe working condition (disconnected from energized parts, locked/tagged, tested for absence of voltage, and grounded if necessary) before a worker performs work on the equipment. Organizations need to establish an effective Lockout/Tagout program to address this requirement.

 

When an electrically safe working condition cannot be established, electrically safe work practices must be used before any worker is exposed to hazards. Section 130.5 requires an arc flash assessment to be performed to determine the risks, the safe work practices required, the arc flash boundary, the incident energy exposure level at the working distance, and additional protective measures required, including the use of PPE. When work is performed under these conditions, an energized electrical work permit is required if the work is performed within the restricted approach boundary.

 

There can be confusion regarding the requirements and best approach to accomplish an effective arc flash assessment. There are a large number of standards and the various methods that can be used to calculate and quantify arc flash hazards. It is important to realize that not all arc flash assessments are equal and can vary in scope from high-level view to ensure all points are thoroughly assessed. Some assessments may be are less costly, but also less effective in determining possible hazards.

 

There are also misconceptions, including one that equipment supplied from a panel rated at 1.2 cal/cm2 (hazard category 0) will also be rated the same. There are scenarios where this may not be the case. The lower the fault current, the longer it will take a fuse or circuit breaker to open. If there are long cable runs, transformers, or other overcurrent protective devices, the incident energy and hazard risks can increase at panels and equipment downstream.
As stated in NFPA 70E 130.5 (H) and NEC 110.16, switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, motor control centers, and disconnect switches or circuit breakers that may be examined, adjusted, or maintained while energized must be identified and marked prominently with a label to warn qualified workers of potential electrical shock and arc flash hazards.

 

Incident energy analysis need to be reviewed whenever changes occur in the electrical distribution system that could affect the analysis results, or every 5 years, whichever occurs first.

 

3. Hazard Prevention: Preventive measures lower the probability of a scenario from happening.
Proactivity towards prevention lowers safety risks. Examples include preventive maintenance (an example, is infrared thermography) to reduce the risk of equipment failure, job safety planning / job briefings, and safety audits, among others.

 

4. Hazard Mitigation: After risks are identified, risk mitigation needs to be effectively implemented according to the hierarchy of control methods:

  • Elimination, substitution, and engineering controls are the most effective methods. They are usually applied at the source and are less likely to be affected by human error compared to awareness,  administrative controls, and PPE.

 

The potential for human error and its negative consequences on people, processes, the work environment, and equipment must be considered during the implementation of mitigation measures.

 

5. Electrical Safety Training: Training workers (employees and contractors) that are exposed to hazards is critical to workplace safety, particularly when the hazard risk is not eliminated or reduced to a safe level.  Workers need to be able to identify and understand the specific hazards associated with their respective job assignments. In the context of NFPA 70E, the training scope includes electrical safety, lockout /tagout, and emergency response in a classroom setting, on-the-job, or a combination of the two. A worker will be considered a qualified person if he/she is qualified to perform the job safely: is trained and knowledgeable about the equipment and work method, is able to identify the associated electrical hazards, and is familiar with the proper use of the precautionary procedures, techniques, tools, and PPE required to avoid them. Only qualified persons should be permitted to work exposed to electrical hazards that have not been put into an electrically safe working condition. Unqualified workers also need to be familiar with any electrical safety related practices necessary for their workplace safety. The employer is responsible for determining, at least on an annual basis, that each employee is complying with the required safety-related work practices and for documenting that each employee has received the proper training, including names, training content, and training dates. The employer also has shared responsibility for contractors.
Workplace safety is a key enabler of business continuity, operational performance, and productivity. It is also a critical factor in protecting your most important assets: your employees, facilities, and financial interests. Addressing these 5 key areas effectively will help you achieve a best-in-class safe, healthy, and productive workplace the SEAM Group Way.
 
 

Why SEAM Group?

SEAM Group is the industry leader that provides a comprehensive, high-quality approach to electrical and combustible dust workplace safety solutions, including corporate safety programs, hazard identification & assessment, hazard prevention & mitigation, education and training initiatives.

 

A combination of key factors helps make SEAM Group’s safety services unique:

The breadth of our offerings - including electrical safety, combustible dust, lockout/tagout and safety training - combined with our national footprint create a one-stop-shop opportunity for companies that appreciate the consistency and convenience of dealing with a single workplace safety provider across multiple sites. One single point of accountability with a turnkey/bundled ability simplifies monitoring and management, saving time and money.

 

The depth of technical knowledge of our safety experts, including our significant subject matter expertise in the areas that we specialize, combined with an unbiased perspective (we are not seller of other products that can influence our recommendations) combined with our experience providing comprehensive, high-quality risk assessments and recommendations to our customers enable our best- in-class approach to workplace safety.

 

Our 25 years of experience providing workplace safety solutions to thousands of companies, combined with our marquee client list and market recognition, position us as a reliable and rusted provider.

 

And our focus on people, both ours and our customers, ensures that our work is inspired by what matter most: saving lives and preventing injuries, while protecting organization’s assets, image and brands, and financial interests.

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ViewPoint On-Demand® provides access to asset information including arc flash hazards, PPE, lockout tagout and infrared inspections. A complete summary of your infrared inspection is now available anytime, anywhere.   The inspection information is on-demand on your mobile device or by simply scanning the QR code located on each asset. Once found in the ViewPoint® program inventory database, access to the asset’s current status, inspection history, and any problem details will be available directly on your mobile device. Changing status, entering repair actions or uploading post repair images for individual problems can now be accomplished from the field, and automatically updated to the web-based application.

 

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