A Little Prep Goes a Long Way for Fire Prevention

MSniderBy: Michael Snider
OK Regional Director

While visiting members’ yards, a common and often over-looked violation that I find is a fire extinguisher that is out of compliance. These crucial red tanks are often misplaced, blocked with stored product, and even damaged. During the tense moments of a workplace fire, extinguishers must be visible, easily accessible, and functional. If they don’t meet just one of these criteria, a small fire can quickly become a major, and sometimes even deadly, incident.  

Employers are required to have portable fire extinguishers present throughout the workplace and must ensure that all extinguishers are inspected by a professional fire extinguisher company every year. They must also have them visually inspected on a monthly basis. This can be done by an employee but must cover the following checklist items:

  • Fire extinguishers are visibly mounted in its designated area, and access is unobstructed.
  • Check the tank and hose for visible damage, corrosion, or obstructions inside the nozzle.
  • Check to see if the pressure gauge is in the operating range. (“In the Green”)
  • Verify the pull-pin is in place and the seal is intact.
  • Check the indicated professional service date on the tag. Must be within the last 12 months.
  • If the extinguisher passes all of these steps, you can initial and date the reverse side of the tag.

If any fire extinguisher does not pass inspection, it must be reported immediately, removed from service and replaced.

Remember, employers that provide portable fire extinguishers for employee use must provide training to employees when they first come on board and on an annual basis thereafter. Even if your emergency action plan or fire extinguisher policy states that employees shall not use fire extinguishers unless they have been trained. All fire extinguishers in the workplace must still be inspected. 

While there are many safety hazards that companies in the building materials industry must be aware of, fire prevention is often overlooked or pushed to the back burner—no pun intended. By following the simple steps above, you can make sure you are in compliance and will have the equipment you need in an emergency. 

Being prepared is the key.

Unwanted Visitors Bugging You? Tips for a Pest-Free Workplace

VShellVictor Shell
Director of Safety & Transportation

Seems like many have encountered snakes and other pests on their yards lately. Vermin and pests are never welcome guests in the work environment. Be sure to regularly inspect your workplace for any possible infestations. Employees should always make sure that they are doing their part to mitigate and prevent the risk of a possible invasion. Overgrown weeds along fence lines are a perfect place for pests to reside. By identifying problem areas, pest infestations can be easier to manage. For example, break rooms are nesting grounds for small critters that are attracted to leftover food and beverage spills. Flies and ants like to feed on leftover beverage splashes that are often found in break room areas.

Critters also thrive in workplace bathrooms. In most cases, flies, larvae, and silverfish enter through drains and pipes that have a higher buildup of bacteria. If there is structural damage, they can also find pathways and enter through cracks and holes. In both cases, if bugs appear, they can multiply and become a nuisance. Some of these critters may also carry bacteria and germs that can increase your employees’ chances of becoming sick.


How Do You Handle the News of an Accident?

VShellVictor Shell
Director of Safety & Transportation

Almost every time a driver reports an accident to a dispatcher or safety manager, the first question the manager asks is, “Are you all right?”

If the driver is injured, the supervisor will need information to handle the medical response. How serious is the injury? Can the driver be treated at the scene? Does he or she need to be taken to a clinic or hospital?

After dealing with the driver’s health, the supervisor will need to know the nature of the accident, if there were other injuries, what information was collected, what law enforcement officers were on the scene, and if a citation was issued. Stress can run high for both the driver and the dispatcher and make decision-making harder than normal, especially if injuries are involved.


Is Your Shop Prepared for Emergencies?

VShellVictor Shell
Director of Safety & Transportation

What would you and your staff do if an employee ran into your office or store and yelled, “Fire! Fire!"

Would you call 911?  Run to the parking lot? Or run to put out the fire? Would every employee know their role in an emergency? Do you have an organized plan? Is your plan documented and reviewed periodically?

OSHA standards require emergency action plans to ensure employee safety in the event of fire and other emergencies, and further require such action plans must be prepared in writing, kept in the workplace, and reviewed with all affected employees. Employers with 10 or fewer employees, however, may communicate the plan orally to employees.

The plan must include the following elements: escape procedures and routes, critical store/yard operations, employee accounting following an emergency evacuation, rescue and medical duties, means of reporting emergencies, and persons to be contacted for information and clarification.


How to Beat the Summertime Heat

VShellVictor Shell
Director of Safety & Transportation

Now that summer is here, I’ve noticed something consistent in my visits to your stores and lumberyards — two minutes into the visit I am drenched with sweat. With temperatures already climbing into the 90s, I want to remind CSA members to make every effort to provide adequate heat protection for your employees. 

Here are some tips to beat the heat: 

  • Have meetings about the danger of high temperatures and the importance of staying hydrated.
  • Pay attention to the high temperature each day.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fresh, cool drinking water in the work areas.
  • Designate someone to check the water throughout the day and refill as necessary.