Whats Wrong With This Picture?

| OSHA, USF Safety Florida

Photographs are powerful learning tools in identifying and preventing workplace hazards. Thank you to Winfred Marrero-Pagan, our USF SafetyFlorida contributor for June. What is wrong with this picture?  A keen eye should reveal several potential problems.

Hazard:

Employee conducting landscaping activities potentially exposed to hazards associated with high levels of noise and heat stress.

Applicable Standards:

1910.95 Occupational noise exposure. Employer is required to conduct noise monitoring when the potential for noise exposure may equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 decibels.

OSH Act of 1970 Section 5(a)(1) OSHA does not have a specific regulation regarding heat stress. However, pursuant to Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Corrective Actions:

Noise Monitoring: Measure or monitor the actual noise levels in the workplace to estimate the noise exposure or “dose” received by employees during the workday. Noise monitoring or measuring must be conducted only when exposures are at or above 85 dBA.

The employer should consider any information available regarding noise emitted from specific equipment or any factor suggesting exposure to levels above the Action Level (AL) of 85 dBA such as, but not limited to employee complaints about the loudness of noise. When monitoring results indicates that employee noise exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average sound level (TWA) of 85 dBA scale or, equivalently, a dose of fifty percent, the employer shall administer a continuing, effective hearing conservation program that will consist of providing free annual hearing exams, hearing protection, and training; and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use, unless changes made to tools, equipment, and schedules result in worker noise exposure levels less than the 85 dBA.

Heat Stress: Reduce the risk of a heat illness by eliminating the use of heavy, dark, or tight-fitting clothing while working outdoors, especially in hot and humid weather, being in the sun, and conducting hard physical work. Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing. Flowing garments allow air circulation and light-colored fabrics reflect light and heat. Use natural fiber fabrics such as cotton, linen, and silk, as they work best in absorbing sweat, and allow the skin to breathe and maintain a cooler body. Loose-fitting clothing allows air to pass along the skin and exit, speeding evaporation and carrying off excess heat.

Management should prevent heat-related illnesses by recognizing the hazards associated with working in a heat environment and by,

  • Implementing changes in work practices before any exposure to heat.
  • Evaluate exposure to heat by considering daily conditions and other risk factors such as clothing, workload, etc.
  • Acclimate new and returning workers to a heat working environment.
  • Implementing engineering and administrative controls to reduce heat stress.
  • Provide training to recognize heat-related hazards, how to prevent them, and how to respond to emergencies.
  • Provide sufficient water, rest, and shade.

Landscaping and horticultural service workers are often exposed to a wide variety of occupational risks which include exposure to chemicals, noise, machinery, lifting, construction, and weather-related hazards. Small employers often lack the expertise and/or resources needed to dedicate to safety initiatives. The USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program has provided confidential compliance assistance to Florida’s business owners for over 20 years. For a no-cost, confidential consultation please visit https://www.tfaforms.com/4696809.

Winfred Marrero-Pagan
Safety Consultant
USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program