Archive for Paul Volkmer

How to Improve Safety Performance and TRIR

How to Improve Safety Performance and TRIRKeeping people injury free at work and at the job site is always the top priority. With that said, Total Recordable Injury Rate, commonly known as TRIR, is a number that can help your company assess your safety performance and how other companies assess you.

TRIR is determined using the following calculation:

Total OSHA recordable injuries x 200,000 / total hours worked = TRIR

With this in mind, here are a few tips on how to improve your TRIR with a Safety Performance Plan.

Safety Performance

Some suggest that awareness alone is sufficient for a safe workplace. But it’s important to make the distinction between awareness and performance. Awareness is needed to identify hazards; however’ a person must perform the act of reporting or correcting the unsafe condition to truly keep people safe and reach the ultimate safety performance goal of zero work related injuries.

Risk Tolerance

Hazard recognition and awareness do not equal risk tolerance. One may be aware and recognize a hazard but disregard the risk. Risk tolerance can be simply defined as unsafe work behaviors, or how much risk will a worker will take before an incident is certain. Workers should have high hazard recognition and a low risk tolerance to ensure they are working safely. It’s a good practice to have workers consider the worst possible outcome before performing a task.


Safety training should be an ongoing part of your Safety Performance Plan to ensure workers are “competent” as defined by OSHA. OSHA defines a “competent person” as: By way of training and/or experience, one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in their surroundings or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees and has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

New workers should be taught the full spectrum of safety protocols before entering any job site. Experienced workers should receive regular refresher training. Subject matter and frequency is the key to success with training.


Effective safety communication and management must be ongoing with safety being equally important as all other aspects of one’s job. Workers should be encouraged to communicate safety concerns with their supervisors. Conduct regular safety meetings to discuss and correct safety concerns and hazards. Ensure effective communication between workers by 2-way radio, the buddy system, signals, signs, barricades or other means.


Make sure you have all training documentation, certifications, licenses and any other paperwork in place and available before the job starts to ensure all workers are properly trained and competent in performing their job task.

As prospective clients consider your business for new lucrative projects, TRIR is often a deciding factor in awarding the business. By following these simple procedures, you can reduce your TRIR over time, or better yet, keep it low from the start. Either way, the result is safe workers and the ability to win more projects.

Learn more about improving your TRIR here.

Roles and Responsibilities for Communicating Safety Hazards at Construction Sites

Roles and Responsibilities for Communicating Safety Hazards at the Job SiteWith full enforcement of OSHA’s new rule for construction work in confined spaces set for October 2, 2015, construction firms large and small need to understand their roles and responsibilities for communicating safety hazards at construction sites.


Understanding the roles of all parties involved is an essential element of hazard communication. It’s sometimes unclear, even for seasoned construction pros.

The three basic roles, as defined by OSHA, are:

Host Employer

This is usually the owner of the site, but may be a firm representing the owner, such as a general contractor.

Controlling Employer

This party manages the job site as a whole, including firms hired for specific work. In Read more

New OSHA Smartphone App Gauges Risk of Heat Illness

New OSHA Smartphone App Gauges Risk of Heat IllnessThe heat is on. And anyone working outdoors or in confined spaces is at risk for heat-related illness, such as heat stroke. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is combating heat illness with an App that gives iPhone and Android users real-time analysis of rising temps.

According to OSHA, the App calculates the heat index and displays a risk level for outdoor workers. The App also lists preventative measures that should be taken to protect workers at risk and the symptoms of heat-related illness.

Learn more and download the App from Also see Tips for Preventing Heat Illness.

The OSHA App changes to red
in “Extreme Risk” situations.

Simple Tools That Improve Worksite Safety

Eliminating hazards in the factory or on the jobsite can be as easy as selecting the best tool for the job. As we recognize National Safety Month, here are a couple tools that can reduce your risk without blowing your budget.

Self-retracting Cutters

Cutters with “Smart Knife Technology” retract the blade automatically when it loses contact with the material it’s cutting. The blade will self-retract even if the user tries to override the safety system by leaving the slider in the forward position. Cutters with Smart Knife Technology cost slightly more than conventional cutters but can prevent injuries making them well worth the investment.

Tool Lanyards

This may be the easiest way to prevent falling object injuries on a worksite. Tool lanyards are elastic straps that connect tools to a tool belt or personal fall protection.

Tips for Preventing Falling Object Injuries: 

  1. Use tool lanyards.Simple Tools That Improve Worksite Safety
  2. Keep all material at least 3 feet from a leading edge, other than material specifically required for work in process.
  3. Remove items from loose or unsealed pockets, especially top shirt pockets, such as phones, pens, and tools.
  4. Do not hang objects over guardrails.
  5. Secure all objects when working on an elevated surface.
  6. Ensure toe boards are present and inspect toe boards frequently. They should be at least 4 inches high and continuous. 4 inches is the minimum height with a maximum ¼-inch clearance from the working surface.
  7. Require hardhats and other relevant PPE for everyone in areas at risk for falling objects—no exceptions. Make sure that this is effectively communicated.
  8. Rope off the area, if possible, where fall/drop hazards may exist – especially if work is being performed on a ladder.
  9. Work as a team to avoid complacency and remain vigilant of these procedures at all times.
  10. Ensure hardhats and other required PPE is inspected prior to use and is used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

2 Commonly Overlooked Job Site Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Construction Site SafetyJune is National Safety Month, so we’ll be posting a series of safety tips, policy updates and other useful information to help you and your team stay safe on the job site, in the factory or wherever hazards may be.

Here are two hazards that tend to fly under many project managers’ radars. Both pose serious threats to individuals and are entirely avoidable.

Working Alone

Limited perception and limited number of hands can result in workers overlooking or missing hazards altogether. To minimize the risks associated with working alone, a Hazard Read more

New OSHA Confined Spaces Rule Starts August 3

OHSA Confined Spaces RuleA new rule from Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulating how the construction industry operates in confined spaces will go into effect on August 3, 2015.

“This rule will save lives of construction workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels.

OSHA says that confined spaces put workers at heightened risk for face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, Read more

Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2014

Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2014Fall Protection remains the most commonly cited OSHA standard according to the recently released top 10 OSHA violations in 2014. The annual list from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is intended to help employers identify safety concerns so they can take corrective action to avoid citations, injuries or worse.

Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2014

(as of October 28, 2014)

  1. Fall Protection – 1926.501 – 2013 Rank: 1
  2. Hazard Communication – 1910.1200 – 2013 Rank: 2
  3. Scaffolding – 1926.451 – 2013 Rank: 3
  4. Respiratory Protection – 1910.134 – 2013 Rank: 4
  5. Powered Industrial Trucks – 1910.178 – 2013 Rank: 6
  6. Lockout/Tagout – 1910.147 – 2013 Rank: 8
  7. Ladders – 1926.1053 – 2013 Rank: 7
  8. Electrical, Wire Methods – 1910.305 – 2013 Rank: 5
  9. Machine Guarding – 1910.212 – 2013 Rank: 10
  10. Electrical, General Requirements – 1910.303 – 2013 Rank: 9

Read more

10 Tips for Preventing Falling Object Injuries

10 Tips for Preventing Falling Object InjuriesEarlier this month a man was killed at a construction site New Jersey when a 1-pound tape measure fell 50 stories and struck him in the head. This tragedy is a stark reminder that falling object injuries can and do occur. It could also be considered a call for an industry-wide effort to prevent these incidents in the future.

Falling Object Statistics

  • A solid object dropped from 64 feet will hit the ground in 2 seconds at a speed of 43.8 miles per hour.
  • The same object dropped at 106 feet will hit the ground in 3 seconds at a speed of 65.8 miles per hour.
  • A 2-ounce pen dropped from 230 feet has the potential to penetrate a hardhat.

Tips for Preventing Falling Object Injuries

Read more

Important OSHA Injury Reporting Changes for 2015

Important Changes to OSHA Injury Reporting for 2015Effective January 1, 2015, OSHA has revamped its requirements for reporting specific injuries and hospitalizations. In addition to notifying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, employers under federal OSHA will be required to notify the administration within 24 hours when an employee suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. This new rule resembles the CAL/OSHA rule already in place.

Current regulations require an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of 3 or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye is not required.

Learn more about the new notification requirements now at

The Real Cost of Construction Site Accidents

Construction Site SafetyOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards can sometimes be expensive, appear unnecessary or extreme, or even just a pain. But when faced with the alternative, a robust safety program is the far better option. Here are just a few factors to consider every time your team heads out to the construction site.

Insurance Hike

Workers’ compensation insurance is frequently a contractors single largest expense next to payroll and materials. Even a single claim can result in a huge rate hike that is sure to put a dent in your bottom line.

Read more