Thursday, March 31, 2011

Protective Measures


One way to safeguard individuals from electrically energized wires and parts is through insulation. An insulator is any material with high resistance to electric current. To be effective, the insulation must be appropriate for the voltage, and the insulating material must be undamaged, clean, and dry.

Insulators — such as glass, mica, rubber, and plastic — are put on conductors to prevent shock, fires, and short circuits. Before employees prepare to work with electric equipment, it is always a good idea for them to check the insulation before making a connection to a power source to be sure there are no exposed wires. The insulation of flexible cords, such as extension cords, is particularly vulnerable to damage.

The insulation that covers conductors is regulated by Subpart S, Part 1910.302, Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems. Subpart S generally requires that circuit conductors (the material through which current flows) be insulated to prevent people from coming into accidental contact with the current. Also, the insulation should be suitable for the voltage and existing conditions, such as temperature, moisture, oil, gasoline, or corrosive fumes. All these factors must be evaluated before the proper choice of insulation can be made.

Conductors and cables are marked by the manufacturer to show the maximum voltage and American Wire Gage size, the type letter of the insulation, and the manufacturer’s name or trademark. Insulation is often color coded. In general, insulated wires used as equipment grounding conductors are either continuous green or green with yellow stripes. The grounded conductors that complete a circuit are generally covered with continuous white or natural gray-colored insulation. The ungrounded conductors, or “hot wires,” may be any color other than green, white, or gray. They are often colored black or red.


Live parts of electric equipment operating at 50 volts or more must be guarded against accidental contact. Guarding of live parts may be accomplished by:

  • Location in a room, vault, or similar enclosure accessible only to qualified persons.

  • Use of permanent, substantial partitions or screens to exclude unqualified persons.

  • Location on a suitable balcony, gallery, or platform elevated and arranged to exclude unqualified persons; or

  • Elevation of 8 feet (2.44 meters) or more above the floor.

Entrances to rooms and other guarded locations containing exposed live parts must be marked with conspicuous warning signs forbidding unqualified persons to enter.

Indoor electric wiring more than 600 volts and that is open to unqualified persons must be made with metal-enclosed equipment or enclosed in a vault or area controlled by a lock. In addition, equipment must be marked with appropriate caution signs.


Grounding is another method of protecting employees from electric shock; however, it is normally a secondary protective measure. The ten-n “ground” refers to a conductive body, usually the earth, and means a conductive connection, whether intentional or accidental, by which an electric circuit or equipment is connected to earth or the ground plane.

By “grounding” a tool or electrical system, a low-resistance path to the earth is intentionally created. When properly done, this path offers sufficiently low resistance and has sufficient current carrying capacity to prevent the buildup of voltages that may result in a personnel hazard. This does not guarantee that no one will receive a shock, be injured, or be killed. It will, however, substantially reduce the possibility of such accidents, especially when used in combination with other safety measures discussed in this section.

There are two kinds of grounds required in OSHA’s electrical standard. One of these is called the “service or system ground.” In this instance, one wire, called “the neutral conductor” or “grounded conductor,” is grounded. In an ordinary low-voltage circuit, the white (or gray) wire is grounded at the generator or trans-former and again at the service entrance of the building. This type of ground is primarily designed to protect machines, tools, and insulation against damage.

To offer enhanced protection to the workers themselves, an additional ground, called the “equipment ground,” must be furnished by providing another path from the tool or machine through which the current can flow to the ground. This additional ground safeguards the electric equipment operator in the event that a malfunction causes the metal frame of the tool to become accidentally energized. The resulting heavy surge of current will then activate the circuit protection devices and open the circuit.

Circuit protection devices

Circuit protection devices are designed to automatically limit or shut off the flow of electricity in the event of a ground-fault, overload, or short circuit in the wiring system. Fuses, circuit breakers, and ground-fault circuit interrupters are three well known examples of such devices.

Fuses and circuit breakers are over-current devices that are placed in circuits to monitor the amount of current that the circuit will carry. They automatically open or break the circuit when the amount of current flow becomes excessive and therefore unsafe. Fuses are designed to melt when too much current flows through them. Circuit breakers, on the other hand, are designed to trip open the circuit by electro-mechanical means.

Fuses and circuit breakers are intended primarily for the protection of conductors and equipment. They prevent over-heating of wires and components that might otherwise create hazards for operators. They also open the circuit under certain hazardous ground-fault conditions.

The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is designed to shutoff electric power within as little as !/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to electric equipment against the amount of current returning from the equipment along the circuit conductors. If the current difference exceeds six milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current quickly enough to prevent electrocution. The GFCI is used in high-risk areas such as wet locations and construction sites.

Safe work practices

Employees and others working with electric equipment need to use safe work practices. Electrical safety-related work practice requirements are contained in Subpart S, Sections 1910.331-1910.335. These include:

  • Deenergizing electric equipment before inspecting or making repairs,

  • Using electric tools that are in good repair,

  • Using good judgment when working near energized lines, and

  • Using appropriate protective equipment.


To ensure that they use safe work practices, employees must be aware of the electrical hazards to which they will be exposed. Employees must be trained in safety-related work practices as well as any other procedures necessary for safety from electrical hazards.

Deenergizing electrical equipment

The accidental or unexpected sudden starting of electrical equipment can cause severe injury or death. Before ANY inspections or repairs are made — even on the so-called low-voltage circuits — the current must be turned off at the switch box and the switch padlocked in the OFF position. At the same time, the switch or controls of the machine or other equipment being locked out of service must be securely tagged to show which equipment or circuits are being worked on.

Maintenance employees should be qualified electricians who have been well instructed in lockout procedures. No two locks should be alike; each key should fit only one lock, and only one key should be issued to each maintenance employee. If more than one employee is repairing a piece of equipment, each should lock out the switch with his or her own lock and never permit anyone else to remove it. The maintenance worker should at all times be certain that he or she is not exposing other employees to danger.

Overhead lines

If work is to be performed near overhead power lines, the lines must be deenergized and grounded by the owner or operator of the lines, or other protective measures must be provided before work is started. Protective measures (such as guarding or insulating the lines) must be designed to prevent employees from contacting the lines.
Unqualified employees and mechanical equipment must stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. If the voltage is more than 50,000 volts, the clearance must be increased by 4 inches for each additional 10,000 volts.

When mechanical equipment is being operated near overhead lines, employees standing on the ground may not contact the equipment unless it is located so that the required clearance cannot be violated even at the maximum reach of the equipment.

Protective equipment

Employees whose occupations require them to work directly with electricity must use the personal protective equipment required for the jobs they perform. This equipment may consist of rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hose, and industrial protective helmets.


To maximize his or her own safety, an employee should always use tools that work properly. Tools must be inspected before use, and those found questionable, removed from service and properly tagged. Tools and other equipment should be regularly maintained. Inadequate maintenance can cause equipment to deteriorate, resulting in an unsafe condition.

Tools that are used by employees to handle energized conductors must be designed and constructed to withstand the voltages and stresses to which they are exposed.

Good judgment

Perhaps the single most successful defense against electrical accidents is the continuous exercising of good judgment or common sense. All employees should be thoroughly familiar with the safety procedures for their particular jobs. When work is performed on electrical equipment, for example, some basic procedures are:

  • Have the equipment deenergized;

  • Ensure that the equipment remains deenergized by using some type of lockout and tag procedure;

  • Use insulating protective equipment; and

  • Keep a safe distance from energized parts.

The control of electrical hazards is an important part of every safety and health program. The measures suggested in this section should be of help in establishing such a program of control. The responsibility for this program should be delegated to individuals who have a complete knowledge of electricity, electrical work practices, and the appropriate OSHA Training standards for installation and performance.

Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment. Through cooperative efforts, employers and employees can learn to identify and eliminate or control electrical hazards.

This article was originally posted at

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Apple?s iPad: Is it a perfect e-learning tool?

Apple’s iPad has been a pathbreaker of sorts in the technological field. They were many naysayers during its launch regarding its utility, but I suppose the tremendous success of the product have shut up their mouths. The craze and euphoria has not died yet, and with the launch of iPad 2, the buzz is getting stronger. And the all-important question comes to the fore: can the iPad serve as an ideal classroom teaching device?

I strongly feel that iPad will have a part to do. It is sure to displace one-to-many teaching pedagogies in favor of interactive one-to-one studying and learning and will encourage much more participation from students.

To drive home my point about the iPad will have a role in online education for children, here is some news. It has been seen by many that those children who haven’t learned to read or write or even operate a mouse are able to operate the iPad with tremendous speed. According to an article published in Ad Age in June 2010, “How the iPad Became Child’s Play – and Learning Tool,” there were many toddlers as who were as many as 18 months old only who were trying to provoke interaction from TV sets and PC monitors as if they were touch screens like that of the iPad. This indicates clearly that the next generation will find it very easy to respond well and interact with the intuitive device.

In another study related to e-book reading, a survey result released by Student Monitor revealed that out of 1200 college students who were participants in the survey and interested in e-readers, more than 46% of them opted for iPad as the preferred e-reader rather than 38% of them who favored Amazon’s Kindle. This indicates that iPad is known among the adolescents to be much more conducive and intuitive than the Kindle.

Educators today are stressing on the need for contextual learning and user participation. Digital whiteboards have failed to encourage interactivity, and is also less on computing power. The laptop is comparatively bulky too and can be problematic to handle sometimes. The iPad then serves to be the perfect device for comfortable online learning and acts as a useful tool for referencing, collaborating, and content creation. The best part is that of the choice for personalized content for students.

Some of the kinks are there: it does not support web pages which have Flash, it does not have a telephone, it does not have a camera and it also does not have USB slots or memory card slots although there is support for dongles. These limitations are somewhat deterrent for its use but once there are updates to the device, I don’t really see a problem for the iPad to be used as a e-learning device!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Which OSHA Regulations Require Written Plans?

If OSHA Compliance came to your door, what’s one of the first things the inspector might ask to see? The answer is . . . your Hazard Communication Plan. Is your written plan up for that kind of scrutiny? How about your other safety and health plans? Are you sure you have all the required written plans you need in place?

Not all OSHA regulations require written plans, but many do. The question is which ones? Take a look at the bulleted list of general industry regulations requiring written plans. For your convenience, we’ve put them in order from most-violated down to least-violated plans, according to the latest OSHA statistics:

*  Hazard communication – 1910.1200(e)
*  Lockout/tagout (energy control procedures)- 1910.147(c)(4)
*  Respiratory protection – 1910.134(c)(1)
*  Process safety management – 1910.119(d),(e)(1),(f)(1),(j)(1),(l)(1),(m)(4),(o)(3)
*  Personal protective equipment (hazard assessment) – 1910.132(d)
*  Bloodborne pathogens – 1910.1030(c)
*  Emergency action plans – 1910.38(b)
*  Permit-required confined spaces – 1910.146(c)(4)
*  Hazardous waste operations and emergency response – 1910.120(b)(1),(l)(1),(p)(1),(q)(1)
*  Electrical safety (assured equipment grounding conductor program and lockout/tagout procedures for work with energized parts) – 1910.304(b)(3)(ii) and 1910.333(b)(2)(i)
*  Fire prevention plans – 1910.39(b)
*  Laboratory standard (chemical hygiene plan) – 1910.1450(e)
*  Commercial diving operations (safe practices manual) – 1910.420
*  Powered platforms for building maintenance (emergency action plan) – 1910.66(e)(9)

    When OSHA considers a safety or health hazard to be serious, the agency usually requires written documentation of the steps an employer takes to counteract the hazard. You can see that the above list covers some of the most serious hazards faced by workers today, including, but not limited to, chemical exposures, process explosions, fire, electrocution, and bloodborne pathogens.

    As an employer, not all of these plans will necessarily be applicable to your workplace, so you’ll want to review the scope and applicability of these regulations to see if your company falls under any of them. For the applicable ones, make sure your written plans meet all the OSHA-required elements specified in the regulations.

    This article was originally posted at

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Ipad for e-learning

    The Dynabook represented the earliest idea of mobile learning. The geneses of a personal computing device began with an educational vision. Today, with the Apple iPad, that vision is edging towards reality. Across the U.S., the iPad is highly regarded as the device that will truly elevate classroom education into a new era, and particularly, the digital era.
    The iPad appears to be the perfect device for information at your fingertips, which places it in the role to ignite change.” – Greg Smith, CIO at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon

    iPad champions is inspired to initiate the change that will soon displace one-to-many teaching pedagogies in favor of one-to-one, always-on learning that will encourage more participative learning among students. In addition, educators feel that tablets will revolutionize education because they dovetail with the purposes and goals of education in the digital age.

    Lets check out some interesting features of the iPad that makes it a great learning device

    #1 – Its Touch Screen!!

    The touch screen feature of the iPad has extended Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in a manner that imitates human gestures. It enables intuitive touch to interact with computers, sidestepping mouse-click and PC learning requirements, and getting straight into the action.

    Children who haven’t learned to read or operate a remote are picking up the iPad’s interface with remarkable speed. According to the June 2010 Ad Age article, “How the iPad Became Child’s Play – and Learning Tool,” after using the device, toddlers as young as 18 months attempt to interface with TVs and monitors as though they were touch screens too, indicating how intuitive this technology may be to the this new iPad generation.

    #2 – It’s a better E-Reader than the Kindle!

    The iPad’s Book Reader is one of its most popular features and is already outpacing its predecessor – the Amazon’s Kindle. According to a survey ressult released by Student Monitor, a firm that researches consumption trends among college student,1,200 students at 100 colleges indicates that of students who reported interest in buying an eReader, 46% said they favored the iPad, versus 38% for Kindle. Given that the iPad provides better screen resolution, and more importantly a colored interface, it makes reading more conducive and appealing as compared to the Kindle

    #3 – Convergence and Productivity

    The iPad provides every kind of elearning essentials and requirement without any sort of external devices like a mouse or keyboard. Educators today are voicing the need for more contextual and engaging learning. Mobile phones and digital whiteboards does indeed improve interactivity, but falls short in computing power, and a laptop is relatively bulky and inconvenient at times.The iPad fills this void by enabling a host of activities such as referencing, collaborating, and creating content. In addition, the iPad provides personalized choice of content, which is a huge plus for student users.

    This article was originally posted at

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Patient info lost on subway earns MGH $1 million HIPAA fine

    Massachusetts General Hospital will pay the U.S. government $1 million to settle what the feds are calling "potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule," according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The case involves patient information that an employee left on the subway.

    This marks the second fine related to HIPAA noncompliance in a week. The first fine, imposed on Cignet Health, was a $4.3 million civil penalty, mostly for failing to cooperate with an investigation.

    The settlement follows a probe by HHS' Office for Civil Rights, which enforces HIPAA rules that require healthcare providers to protect the privacy of patient information through administrative, physical and technical safeguards.

    "We hope the healthcare industry will take a close look at this agreement and recognize that OCR is serious about HIPAA enforcement. It is a covered entity's responsibility to protect its patients' health information," OCR Director Georgina Verdugo said in a statement.

    The possible HIPAA violation occurred after a Mass General employee left the documents on a subway in March 2009. The documents consisted of protected health information for 192 patients of MGH's Infectious Disease Associates outpatient practice, which includes HIV/AIDS patients. The investigation found that Mass General failed to implement "reasonable, appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of PHI" removed from Mass General's premises and disclosed, potentially violating the HIPAA rule.

    A patient schedule containing names and medical records numbers, as well as billing forms that included names, dates of birth, diagnoses, insurer policy numbers and providers, were among documents lost.

    As part of a corrective action plan, MGH has promised to develop comprehensive policies and procedures to ensure PHI is protected when removed from the MGH premises, train its workforce on the policies and send twice-yearly reports to HHS for three years.
    This article was originally posted at

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Knowing about Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act

    The regulation implementing the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) was published on November 21, 2008, and became effective on January 19, 2009.

    PSQIA establishes a voluntary reporting system to enhance the data available to assess and resolve patient safety and health care quality issues. To encourage the reporting and analysis of medical errors, PSQIA provides Federal privilege and confidentiality protections for patient safety information called patient safety work product. Patient safety work product includes information collected and created during the reporting and analysis of patient safety events.

    PSQIA authorizes HHS to impose civil money penalties for violations of patient safety confidentiality.  PSQIA also authorizes the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to list patient safety organizations (PSOs).  PSOs are the external experts that collect and review patient safety information.

    The confidentiality provisions will improve patient safety outcomes by creating an environment where providers may report and examine patient safety events without fear of increased liability risk.  Greater reporting and analysis of patient safety events will yield increased data and better understanding of patient safety events.

    OCR works in close collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) which has responsibility for listing patient safety organizations (PSOs), the external experts established by the Patient Safety Act to collect and analyze patient safety information.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Schneider Electric Site Named VPP Star in Lincoln, Nebraska

    OSHA has recognized the management and employees of Schneider Electric USA Inc. by naming the company’s facility in Lincoln, Neb. a star site in the Voluntary Protection Programs. Schneider Electric USA manufactures miniature circuit breakers, earned it after a comprehensive on-site evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.

    “From the top down, Schneider Electric USA has displayed outstanding effort in implementing a comprehensive safety and health management system,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “The company is an exemplar of workplace safety.” The Lincoln, Nebraska facility employs more than 250 workers, according to OSHA.

    VPP recognizes sites with effective safety and health management systems for maintaining injury and illness rates below the national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their industries. Employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo the on-site evaluation to be eligible.

    For information about VPP and other cooperative programs, visit this website.

    RMC rewarded for workplace safety

    Making the workplace safe for employees paid off handsomely for the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties recently when it received a check for $229,852 from Palmetto Hospital Trust, the workers' compensation self-insurance pool in which it participates.

    Edisto Regional Health Services Inc., an affiliate of the RMC, was also recognized for workplace safety and received a check for $5,400.

    "The Regional Medical Center, Edisto Regional Health Services Inc. and other Palmetto Hospital Trust members are reaping the rewards of effective loss prevention strategies," said Larry W. Gray, AIC, executive vice president, claims and risk management at PHT Services Ltd. in Columbia. "These include embracing the trust's emphasis on preventing lifting injuries and widespread implementation of transitional duty programs. PHT members are also diligent about reporting claims promptly."

    PHTS administers the workers' compensation program for the RMC, ERHS and other South Carolina hospitals and health systems participating in Palmetto Hospital Trust.

    PHT and its members are known for their emphasis on preventing lifting injuries, trips and falls, injuries from sharp objects and for helping injured workers return to work as soon as their condition permits. All of these loss-prevention techniques have been instrumental in helping PHT members earn refunds for their contribution to the group self-insurance program's success.

    Palmetto Hospital Trust was founded in 1977 by South Carolina health care executives as a group workers' compensation self-insurance pool. Trust members include hospitals, continuing care retirement centers, organizations dealing with special needs individuals and other health care organizations.

    Schneider Electric Site Named VPP Star in Lincoln, Nebraska

    OSHA has recognized the management and employees of Schneider Electric USA Inc. by naming the company’s facility in Lincoln, Neb. a star site in the Voluntary Protection Programs. Schneider Electric USA manufactures miniature circuit breakers, earned it after a comprehensive on-site evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.

    “From the top down, Schneider Electric USA has displayed outstanding effort in implementing a comprehensive safety and health management system,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “The company is an exemplar of workplace safety.” The Lincoln, Nebraska facility employs more than 250 workers, according to OSHA.

    VPP recognizes sites with effective safety and health management systems for maintaining injury and illness rates below the national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their industries. Employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo the on-site evaluation to be eligible.

    For information about VPP and other cooperative programs, visit this website.