Electrical “Roll-Up” Day Wednesday May 9, 2012
On May 7th, the 16th Annual North American Occupational Safety and Health Week
begins. Tim Irving, Compliance Assistance Specialist, for the Boston South Area
Office and the Construction Safety Roundtable of Eastern Massachusetts have
challenged all of New England to an Electrical Training/Inspection “Roll-Up”
Day, May 9, 2012. A complete description of the event can be found on
CONN-OSHA’s web site at:
Electrical equipment, cords,
power tools, etc. are used in all industrial, business, retail, healthcare,
education and construction settings to name a few. These settings require their
use and therefore employees must be trained to recognize the hazards associated
with electrical equipment. We all know this yet electrical citations were two of
the “OSHA top ten violations” last year. To bring these often overlooked,
ignored, but very dangerous hazards to the forefront, the concept of “Roll-Up”
Day was conceived.
During the allotted period of the “Roll-Up,” each participating company will
conduct an employee safety-training session addressing the topic of basic
electrical safety for employees at their location. The company will conduct a
thorough inspection of its facility/site and track the number of extension
cords, power tool cords and GFCI receptacles inspected. All employers are asked
to use this checklist to visually inspect electrical extension cords and
document GFCI tests. Participating organizations will be asked to document the
training via their own internal attendance sheets and complete a course
evaluation to assist in determining the effectiveness of this event. Please
coordinate the totals for your facility/site and have one course evaluation
completed per facility/site:
States will be compared to each other to determine the level of employer
Electrical hazard training aids in the form of a power points and an OSHA fact
sheet can be found on the CONN-OSHA link above and also at:
For more information about the Construction Safety Roundtable of Eastern
Massachusetts go to:
Hazard Corner ... Dust and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Office Environments by
Brian Sauvageau, RS
When asked to make a writing contribution to the Hazard Corner of the CONN-OSHA
Quarterly I wanted to address something that would have an immediate impact for
those who work in office building environments. I wanted to write about Indoor
Air Quality (IAQ) and dust.
Controlling IAQ is extremely important to both our short term and long term
health. The conditions described, when found during a CONN-OSHA inspection,
could be considered an apparent violation of OSHA housekeeping standard,
1910.141(a)(3). The reader is encouraged to check their workplace for the
conditions described below. You may be surprised at what you find. It is not
hard to recognize and correct the problem thereby immediately enhancing
workplace air quality. IAQ problems in the workplace can be controlled.
Over the past fourteen months CONN-OSHA has investigated twenty workplaces with
IAQ complaints where the complainant considered mold to be the source of the
problem. Yet of the hundreds of indoor mold samples collected during these
investigations, only one sample was considered significant.
During these investigations, it was determined that dust was a primary factor
contributing to the symptoms of poor IAQ. Other causes were determined to be
poor air circulation and obstructions to heating system components by office
furniture, equipment, and stored materials.
When we consider IAQ and health, realize that we humans are built to exist as
hunter gatherers; to be up and on our feet, moving around outside, working to
sustain ourselves. That is how we are made; our basic evolutionary and
physiologic makeup. Our shelters were constructed to protect us from the
elements and keep us warm and dry. But that is no longer how we live.
Current research has shown that
people spend approximately 90 percent of their time living and working indoors
and there is growing evidence showing that the indoor environment is more
polluted with air contaminants than the outdoors. This is particularly the case
in the office setting. We have individual control over cleanliness and
environmental conditions in our homes. We lack this control at work. Employers,
managers, and employees should be empowered to take an active role in
controlling environmental conditions in the workplace.
Dust, commonly referred to as “house dust” is produced indoors from many
sources. There is the breakdown and release of plant and animal materials such
as paper, cotton and wool fiber. There are disintegrated synthetic materials
from upholstered furniture, stuffing materials, and carpet fibers. Human skin
scales, dust mites, cobwebs, insect parts, mold spores, the dirt we track
indoors off our shoes, outside dusts, and pollens carried in through windows are
all elements of indoor dust. Years of this accumulation becomes actual
Just walking across the floor creates air currents, which can stir up
pollutants. I use the analogy of Pigpen, the Peanuts character. Whenever he
walked he created a cloud of dust at his feet. This concept of dust carried by
indoor pedestrian air currents actually occurs albeit, less concentrated than
Pigpen’s visible dust clouds.
Respirable indoor dust is a common irritant. It can cause asthmatic and allergic
reactions and can exacerbate existing conditions. Interviews with employees may
reveal reports of medical treatment histories for exacerbated asthmatic
conditions, allergies, or sinus infections. Complaints of general malaise,
headaches, dry eyes, sore throats, and lung irritations may occur. Symptoms may
subside after periods away from work such as weekends, holidays and vacations,
and return upon returning to work. These chronic health conditions can lead to
lowered immunity and inability to fight infections. People with already weakened
immune systems and allergies are especially susceptible to poor IAQ. Health
effects may be immediate but more often they appear only after a person has been
in the workplace for years. This is a result of a sensitization reaction from
chronic exposures, which is essentially a chronic allergic immune response.
If you don’t hear about IAQ complaints at work keep in mind that some people are
stoic and won’t complain about such conditions, or they are afraid to make
complaints. Some people just have a sturdy constitution and can tolerate these
assaults, where others will feel sick and miserable. Their prolonged exposures
to polluted indoor environments may become debilitating to the point where there
is no escape other than leaving the job. No one should believe that they have to
sacrifice their health or sense of wellbeing in order to work. Poor IAQ also
affects employee attendance, productivity and morale. Increased health care
visits result in increased health insurance claims as well. This is all
Dust in the workplace can remain
airborne due to the flow velocity of air handling equipment and circulating
fans. Baseboard heating units create convection air currents by
thermo-siphoning. The heavier, dust laden cold air is drawn across the floor and
into heating elements where the dust gets trapped and accumulates within or on
the heating elements or steam radiators. As the warmed air rises, dust is lifted
and rides on heated air currents. This cycle carries concentrated airborne dust
into the worker’s breathing zone. Baseboard heating units should be maintained
by removing component panels and cleaning all visible dust accumulations. A
common obstacle to maintaining baseboard and wall panel heating units is when
painting seals the fasteners and seams and they can’t be opened without
Computers and central processing units (CPU) equipment in general are magnets
for dust accumulations. Electronic equipment generates static electricity and
positively charged dust particles, causing them to stick and accumulate on, and
within the equipment. As dust is drawn into the equipment by their cooling fans,
it becomes concentrated as it is blown back into the air. The interior and
exterior components to computers and CPU equipment should be cleaned on a
regular basis to prevent airborne dust discharges. Contact your IT resources for
Other common and overlooked sources of dust in the workplace are window blind
louvers and horizontal surfaces, including base boards, trim work, window
stoops, sashes, and window wells. Carpeted and bare floor surfaces at
floor-to-wall junctures, under office furniture and directly under the heating
units are usually found with heavy accumulations of dirt, dust, cobwebs and
debris. Look at the fabric of upholstered office furniture and cubical
partitions. How long has it been since they were cleaned? Their surfaces can
become saturated with dust.
Refrigerators and refrigerated water coolers are also neglected areas as their
compressor compartments and heat exchanger coils are notorious dust magnets.
Also, condensation leaks and the drip pans of these units create a perfect
medium for mold growth. Pull your refrigerators away from the walls in your
offices and break rooms and see what you find. Look at high overhead surfaces
and ask when they were last cleaned. If you go dust hunting, use a flash light
and be prepared to get down on you hands and knees – you have to go to know.
Portable air conditioning units should be inspected and cleaned prior to
installation and routinely maintained in a clean and sanitary manner or in
accordance with manufactures specifications.
Offices should be configured to support cleaning and maintenance. In many cases
office furniture, including filing cabinets, and cubical partitions are set up
against walls and worse, up against heating components. It is impossible the
clean behind them without the effort of moving heavy furniture or dismantling
the equipment. The result is that these areas are not being cleaned.
The sources of dust are known. Heavy and sometimes gross contamination of dust
in the workplace is due to a lack of good housekeeping and custodial practices.
Observations during inspections indicate that these problems are caused by a
number of barriers. They are as follows:
Lack of a routine
cleaning and maintenance regime using check lists, and ineffective
periodic/seasonal cleaning procedures
Office culture –
personnel assume a right to privacy and do not want their personal work
spaces disturbed, or custodians are insecure about encroaching into a
Lack of performance
standards – Cleaning goes unsupervised, cleaning specifications are relaxed
or forgotten over time and attrition, lack of follow-up, lack of expectation
or knowledge of specific cleaning needs.
Office or operation
security – work areas are not routinely accessible to cleaning.
cost saving budget reductions in custodial services means the cleaning is
not getting done.
or reluctance to clean their own work spaces; “it’s not my job.”
workspaces, and work stations – surfaces obstructed, cluttered with personal
items, such as pictures and knick-knacks; inaccessible to cleaning and
causing areas to become “out of sight – out of mind.”
Managers and supervisors
should be empowered to dedicate time and direct personnel to clean and maintain
their immediate work areas; areas outside the scope and access of custodial
To view a photo gallery
of dust conditions in the work place go to the CONN-OSHA website at
CONN-OSHA offers on-site
consultation services for IAQ problems and other safety and health issues.
Requests for consultation can be made in writing or by calling (860) 263-6900.
More information on
managing IAQ in the workplace is found in “Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and
Institutional Buildings.” OSHA 3430-04 2011. Go to
www.osha.gov and select OSHA’s Publications link.
Also reference U.S. EPA
publication “An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality,”
EPA-402-k-97-003 and can be found at
Fatality & Casualty Reporting:
Classes are free and held at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard,
Wethersfield, CT in Conference Room A/B. To register, contact John Able at
firstname.lastname@example.org or Catherine
Zinsser at email@example.com.
Pre-registration is required. A Photo I.D. is required to allow entry into a
public building. For more training information, visit the CONN-OSHA web site