A Review Of Some Key Safety Issues

Some things are worth repeating or, to be more precise, worth recapping. Of the numerous articles I have written for Welding & Gases Today, these five topics stand out as issues and subjects that apply to all of us and have the potential of having a significant impact on your safety performance. They can also enhance your bottom line. I picked these five because I strongly believe in their value and I sense that some of us are vulnerable in one or more of these areas.

If any of these article summaries grab your attention, you can find the entire article in the Welding & Gases Today archives on GAWDA’s Web site at www.gawda.org.

Cell Phone Safety (Spring 2003)
This article dealt with studies that pointed out the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, accident-related lawsuits, and the recommendation to have a written policy on cell phone use while driving. Since that article was published in the Spring 2003 issue of Welding & Gases Today, study after study has confirmed that using cell phones while driving is dangerous. Now a recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed it once again. The study reports that nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. The most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones. Do you have a written cell phone policy?

You Can Make a Difference (Summer 2003)
This article addressed the need to develop written standards that establish how things are to be done. Standards come in many forms, and without standards and consistent enforcement, employees will determine on their own how they will behave. If a standard is worth having, it must be enforced. Otherwise, the standard should be modified or discontinued. A key to a successful safety program is consistent enforcement and total 100 percent adherence to all standards all the time. You should never turn your back on an activity or behavior that does not meet a specific standard.

Weak Seat Belt Enforcement Leads to More Deaths (Fall 2004)
Do you have a written mandatory seat belt policy that has been communicated clearly to all your employees and consistently enforced? If you don’t, you should because it is a known fact that seat belts save lives. The stronger the enforcement of seat belt usage, whether by company policy or state law, the more lives are saved. To be successful, you must implement a measuring system so each employee who drives a vehicle can be measured and held accountable to ensure he/she is buckled up and that every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up as well.

OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (Spring 2005)
In general industry, the Hazard Communication Standard continues to be the most frequently cited standard by OSHA. It has consistently remained OSHA’s number one citation since the standard was expanded to include all industries in 1998. This article covers the five key elements:

  1. Written Hazard Communication Program
  2. Chemical Inventory List
  3. Labeling and other Forms of Warning
  4. Material Safety Data Sheets
  5. Employee Training and Information.

The key elements most frequently cited are: failure to have a written hazard communication program and failure to properly train employees.

Lockout/Tagout (Summer 2005)
This OSHA standard applies to all GAWDA members that have service and maintenance activity performed on their equipment and machinery. No one is exempt from this standard based on company size, complexity of equipment, or frequency of service or maintenance activity. The article explains what you must do to protect employees, what employees need to know, and what you should do now regarding your compliance with this standard.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
GAWDA OSHA & EPA Consultant Thomas W. Eynon is senior associate at B&R Compliance Associates LLC, based in Merritt, North Carolina. Members can reach him at (252) 745-7391 and at tom.eynon@brcompliance.com.