Fall 2022 Indiana Labor Insider
The Fall season is upon us and decorating will begin for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both businesses and homeowners create beautiful, intricate, and sometimes wild yardscapes are unique and awe-inspiring. However, these creations can also introduce safety issues that need to be addressed to prevent injuries.
When first considering what to construct and where, you need to think about where existing power and service lines are located. Call your local utility or dial 811 to find out where these are located before you start to dig or place a heavy weight in one area of your yard. Consideration must also be given to any overhead or exterior power lines. Nothing should be constructed within proximity to these power sources.
The use of lights and power mean electrical cords. Many people run multiple extension cords through the yard. Place these in positions where tripping hazards are contained. Use twist ties to reduce excess cord lengths. If you have stakes holding down displays, put some colored tape or covers on them so they can be easily seen. People will be walking through the displays, consider using cord protection to prevent tripping or damage to the cords. Also, consider using energy efficient bulbs/lighting to make your decorations more energy efficient.
The following basic electrical concepts must be addressed for safety:
- Do not overload circuits, extension cords, or outlets.
- Keep the number of light strands to less than three (3) plugged in series.
- Connect the power to ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Ensure that the lights and displays are meant for outdoor use.
- Try not to have the systems running during sleep hours. Either turn them off when retiring or have them on a timer to shut off automatically.
- Inspect the light cords before use.
- Protect the electrical connections from the elements by using electrical tape or placing them in a weather-protected box.
Many modern decorations are inflatable and use blown air for inflation. These possess static electricity potential. Use caution and turn off the displays if there is an electrical storm or high wind event.
Many homes use decorations on the roof line and around windows. Usually, the placement of the decorations involves ladder work and the hazard of falls. Straight ladders should be placed one foot away from the building for every four feet of rise and must extend three feet above the edge of the roof if it is being used for roof access. Never stand on the top rung of a ladder and pay careful attention to any labelling that discusses proper use and weight restrictions for the ladder.
If you are an employer with questions about holiday decorating safety, please contact INSafe at (317) 234-2688 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
High injury and illness rates can lead to increased workers’ compensation costs, lost time, and low morale. Significant injuries can also bring increased scrutiny and penalties (fines) from Indiana OSHA when they inspect and identify violations. INSafe is here to help!
INSafe is the no-cost workplace safety and health consultation and education division of the Indiana Department of Labor. INSafe’s safety and health consultants specialize in working with employers to help bring their safety and health programs into compliance with state and federal regulations. INSafe’s consultants can review written programs, perform hazard assessments at worksites, conduct industrial hygiene sampling, and provide training on safety and health related topics at no cost to the employer.
INSafe works with employers to ensure hazards and employee exposures to hazards are minimized or eliminated. In addition to this service being free, the consultation is strictly confidential between the employer and the INSafe division.
“Our INSafe consultants are experts at helping Hoosier businesses provide safer working environments for their employees,” shares Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner David Redden. “They care about workplace safety and health and are dedicated to working with employers to develop a culture of safety on the jobsite.”
Is there a safety topic you want your employees to learn more about? INSafe is happy to lead a discussion or present, virtually or in-person, on occupational safety and health topics. Consultants can go over OSHA regulations, provide explanations and provide real-world examples of safety topics that are most relevant to your workplace.
Their education session can include hands-on training to make sure your employees understand the equipment they’re working with. This is a great opportunity to hear directly from safety experts and ensure everyone in your organization receives the same information.
To learn more about INSafe or to request a no-cost workplace safety and health consultation, call us at (317) 232-2688 or visit us online at https://www.in.gov/dol/safety-and-health-consultation/insafe-home/.
As safety consultants, we have done thousands of safety audits for Indiana employers. We find basic electrical hazards in all areas of industry and even at homes. Sometimes, you never truly know the hazard is present until it is too late.
You can conduct your own safety audit and identify and correct any simple hazards. Some of those include:
- If you’ve cut the plug off your extension cord and made a new multi-outlet strip, remove it from service and replace it with a new extension cord.
- If you use multi-outlet strips, do not overload the strip with appliances such as microwaves, vending machines, or portable heaters.
- If you have a broken ground plug on an extension cord, replace the cord.
- If an electrical outlet is missing a face plate, install a new face plate.
- If your electrical panels have unused openings where a circuit breaker used to be, install a plastic cover to prevent exposure to live electricity.
Running an electric extension cord through doorways, wall openings, or windows may only be done on a temporary basis. Replace all cords with bare or exposed wiring. Live wire contacts can cause electric shock to users, and overheating wiring can cause a fire.
110-volt power strips are very common on production floors, office settings and even construction sites. If a power strip is mounted to a work area with screws, zip ties, or even duct tape, it is considered “temporary service used as permanent wiring” and becomes a hazard according to OSHA standards.
With cooler temperatures on the way, portable heaters will be used more and more. Not only do these generate heat and create a fire hazard, but they also draw a lot of electricity. All-metal style heaters should not be used in the workplace. When using any kind of portable heater, please make sure that you’re following manufacturer’s instructions.
OSHA standards state electric equipment shall be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Safety of equipment shall be determined using the following considerations:
- Suitability for installation and use in conformity.
- Mechanical strength and durability, including, for parts designed to enclose and protect other equipment.
- Wire-bending and connection space.
- Electrical insulation.
- Heating effects under all conditions of use.
- Arcing effects.
- Classification by type, size, voltage, current capacity, and specific use; and
- Other factors that contribute to the practical safeguarding of persons using or likely to come in contact with the equipment.
Live wire contacts can cause electric shock leading to possible death. Overheating wiring can trigger a fire. Conduct a self-audit inspection, eliminate the simple hazard, and prevent injury. If you need help, call INSafe today for a free and confidential consultation at (317) 232-2688 or https://www.in.gov/dol/insafe-consultation-request-form/.