Hellman & Associates

Allison Price

Cold Work Hazards

Working outside in cold weather can be uncomfortable. It can also be dangerous. On very cold days, employees should take adequate precautions to prevent cold-related illnesses including frostbite and hypothermia.

The First Signs of Frostbite

Since your body prioritizes keeping your internal organs warm, blood flow to your extremities decreases—blood flow that is vital to keeping that tissue alive. The fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin are the areas most likely to be affected by frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue just below the skin freeze, leading to cell death and possibly irreversible damage, with severe cases resulting in amputation.

The first signs and symptoms of frostbite are:

  • Cold
  • Tingling, stinging, or aching feeling
  • Numbness
  • Changes in skin color from red to purple to white and, eventually, blue

What You Should Do

If you are feeling the first signs of frostbite, get into a warm area as soon as possible. Wrap the affected area in a warm cloth or use a hot pack. Using body heat to warm the affected area is also effective, for example tucking cold fingers under your armpit. If the concerned extremity is your hands or feet, you may immerse them in warm water.

Warning: if you have progressed to the stage of numbness, be very careful, as you may not be able to discern the temperature of the water and accidentally scald your skin.

Warning: Do not rub your hands! Although this produces heat, it can also damage tissue. Likewise, avoid walking on possibly frostbitten feet/toes.

More Extreme Exposure: Hypothermia

In extreme cold, your body begins losing heat faster than it can produce it, resulting in a drop in body temperature called hypothermia. This can result in a medical emergency, so it is important to react as soon as possible.

The signs and symptoms of hypothermia are:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination—dropping things or tripping
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heart rate and/or breathing

What You Should Do

If you are feeling any signs of hypothermia, get to a warm area as soon as possible. At this point, you don’t just need to stop heat loss, you need to warm up your core temperature. Remove wet clothes and cover your body and head with dry clothes and blankets. Sip a warm, sugary drink, and stay lightly active.


The best treatment is to avoid frostbite and hypothermia altogether. Dressing appropriately for freezing temperatures, keeping extra clothes in the vehicle for cold snaps, and taking warm-up breaks inside or in a warm vehicle are all effective in avoiding cold work hazards.

Buddy Up!

A very low body temperature affects the brain, so people often will not notice the symptoms of hypothermia in themselves. Look out for your co-workers in cold conditions. Are they fumbling? Do they seem confused? Is their skin noticeably pale? Usher them into a warm place and help them follow the above protocols for recovery.

Food Bank of the Rockies Volunteer Day

Each quarter, as part of our wellness program, Hellman & Associates employees and their families participate in a  community outreach program. On March 6 our team volunteered at Food Bank of the Rockies. It was hard work, hoisting 30-pound bags of food, but if anyone knows how to lift safely, it’s us, and the results were incredibly rewarding. We put together 47,201 pounds of fresh food, canned and dry goods, which translated to 39,334 meals.

DOT/FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse: Register Now!

The Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (DOT/FMCSA) is introducing the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, a new program regarding drug and alcohol testing records that will go into effect on January 6, 2020. The Clearinghouse is a secure electronic database intended to replace existing error-prone processes that require employers to manually conduct inquiries and investigations regarding drug and alcohol violations for prospective drivers and existing drivers during their annual reviews. Employers, Commercial Driver License (CDL) Holders, Substance Abuse Professionals, and Consortiums/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) are encouraged to register now to be prepared to begin using the Clearinghouse as soon as it is available.

This article provides general information on the requirements of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse for the parties mentioned above.

Legacy Procedures for Drug/Alcohol Checks

The FMCSA mandates that employers hiring CDL-required CMV drivers must conduct investigations and inquiries for drug and alcohol program violations with previous employers. Employers may conduct these activities through various means, i.e., calling previous employers, faxing them a form, or using third-party organizations to request information. In addition, employers with CDL drivers are required to conduct random and other testing and maintain all records of any drug/alcohol violations. Testing results are sometimes maintained by the employer or by C/TPAs. If a CDL driver violates drug/alcohol prohibitions and seeks to be reinstated, participation in and successful completion of a return to duty (RTD) program administered by substance abuse professionals is required.

These manual requirements have proven to be cumbersome and difficult to manage, as there are multiple entities involved and extensive paperwork and data must be retained. In addition, FMCSA studies indicate that previous employers often do not respond to queries and/or records of drug/alcohol violations are not adequately transferred from one employer to another. As a result, drivers are being hired without the employer being aware of a previous drug/alcohol violation.

A New, Centralized System

Beginning January 6, 2020, use of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is mandatory for all employers that have CDL-required drivers, as well as for medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, C/TPAs, and state driver licensing agencies—although things won’t become easier just yet. Because investigations and inquiries must be sought from previous employers for the past three years, employers will be required to use both the Clearinghouse and legacy methods to conduct investigations and inquiries until January, 2023. After that, the full three years of data will be available in the system and all investigations and inquiries related to drug/alcohol violations will be conducted using the Clearinghouse.

Information Contained in the Clearinghouse

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will contain information on all CDL drivers’ drug/alcohol program violations after January 6, 2020. These include:

  • Testing positive for use of specified drugs;
  • Refusing to submit to a required drug and/or alcohol test;
  • Alcohol use within eight hours of an accident, or until a post-accident test has been completed, whichever occurs first;
  • Alcohol use while performing, or within four hours of performing, a safety-sensitive function, e.g., operating a CDL-required vehicle; and
  • Reporting for duty or remaining on duty for safety-sensitive functions with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater or while using any drug specified in the regulations.

Requirements for Various Parties Using the Clearinghouse

Employers must report violations of drug/alcohol program requirements by CDL-required drivers and check that no current or prospective employee is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions due to a drug/alcohol program violation for which a driver has not successfully completed an RTD program. Note there are two different types of queries that employers can perform (see next section). If drivers do not provide consent to the employer, the employer is prohibited from allowing the driver to perform safety-sensitive functions.

Medical Review Officers must report verified positive drug test results and test refusals.

Substance Abuse Professionals must report RTD initial assessments and eligibility status for RTD.

C/TPAs, on behalf of the employer, must report drug/alcohol program violations and perform driver queries from the Clearinghouse.

State Driver Licensing Agencies must query the Clearinghouse prior to completing licensing transactions for CDL holders.

Clearinghouse Queries—Limited and Full

Beginning January 6, 2020, employers or their designated C/TPAs will be required to conduct queries to check if current or prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a CDL-required CMV, due to an unresolved drug/alcohol program violation. There are two types of queries, limited and full, both of which require the driver’s consent.

Limited queries are used to conduct annual checks or periodic checks on currently employed drivers. Consent is obtained “outside of the Clearinghouse.” In other words, the employer obtains written consent from the employee. The consent form should be retained in the driver qualification file or electronically. If no records are found in the Clearinghouse, no further action is necessary. If the limited query indicates there are records available on the driver, a full query is required. If the full query is not conducted within 24-hours, the driver must be removed from safety-sensitive functions.

Full queries are used for pre-employment checks, periodic checks on currently employed drivers, and/or to follow up on limited queries as described above. Consent from the driver must be obtained electronically within the Clearinghouse. If the driver has a violation and no negative RTD test result, the driver must be removed from safety-sensitive functions. If a driver has no violations or a violation and a negative RTD test result, no further action is necessary.

While CDL Drivers are not immediately required to register, registered drivers can view their own records in the Clearinghouse, provide consent for current or prospective employers to access details about any drug/alcohol program violations, and select a substance abuse professional, if needed. Drivers who are seeking positions with new employers must register because the employer is required to perform a full query. For existing drivers, employers only have to perform limited queries during annual driver reviews. As such, those drivers provide consent outside of the Clearinghouse and do not need to be registered.

Query Costs and Plans for Employers

Employers must purchase a query plan to ensure they or their designated C/TPAs can conduct queries from the Clearinghouse. C/TPAs cannot purchase query plans on behalf of employers.  FMCSA has established a flat rate for queries (limited or full) and bundles can be purchased depending on an employer’s anticipated needs. A single query costs $1.25, 10 are $12.50, and 100 are $125.00. Employers may also buy in bulk for convenience. Bundles of 7,500 can be purchased for $9,375 and additional options are available for high-volume users. Additional bundles may be purchased at any time and bundles do not expire. 

Implementation Period

From January 6, 2020 through January 6, 2023, employers will be required to use the Clearinghouse and the legacy procedures (email, phone calls, fax, etc.) to conduct investigations and inquiries regarding drug/alcohol program violations when considering hiring a new CDL-required driver. This is necessary because of the requirement to examine three years of history for prospective drivers.

Assistance from Hellman & Associates

Experts at Hellman & Associates can provide guidance and assistance regarding compliance with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse as well as other FMCSA requirements. If you have questions, please contact us at (303) 384-9828.

October 28-29, Rocky Mountain Safety Conference

The Rocky Mountains are our playground, so we are proud to be a part of the 2019 Rocky Mountain Safety Conference at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center, October 28-29. The hot topics of the conference–safety and compliance–are our specialty. Set up a meeting with us at the show to discuss how we can help you maintain compliance, guaranteed.

Are You Keeping Up with OSHA’s Fall Protection Requirements?

Updated Walking-Working Surfaces Standards for General Industry
(29 CFR 1910 – Subpart D)

To better protect workers from slip, trip, and fall hazards, OSHA updated Subpart D in January 2017 to revise and add measures that incorporate advancements in industry best practices, as the general industry work environment has changed since OSHA adopted Subpart D in 1971. It has come to our attention that many organizations are not aware of which changes are already in effect and which are being phased in, such as fixed ladder fall protection requirements.

This article summarizes the updated requirements for 29 CFR 1910 – Subpart D, – Walking-Working Surfaces, which address the following:

  • Ladders
  • Step bolts & manhole steps
  • Stairways
  • Dockboards
  • Scaffolds and rope descent systems
  • Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection
  • Fall protection systems and falling object projection – criteria & practices
  • Training

These revisions also created an increased harmonization between OSHA general industry and construction standards, most prevalent with regard to scaffolds, fall protection, stairways, and ladders. 

Notable Changes (29 CFR 1910 – Subpart D)


  • The most significant changes to the ladder regulations for general industry pertain to combining the requirements for portable wooden ladders, portable metal ladders, fixed ladders, and mobile ladder stands (scaffolds) into a single standard. In doing so, all of the ladder regulations have been amended to match the 29 CFR 1926.1053, construction standards. 
  • Fixed ladders that extend above 24 feet are required to have personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) in place. The Final Rule states that by Nov. 18, 2018 all new fixed ladders and fixed ladders without any form of fall prevention are required to have PFAS. In addition, all fixed ladders will need to be compliant by Nov. 18, 2036 in order to phase out ladder cages and phase in PFAS.
  • Exemptions to the new ladder changes in Subpart D include emergency operations such as firefighting, rescue, tactical law enforcement operations, training for these operations, and ladders designed into or as an integral part of a machine or piece of equipment.

Step Bolts & Manhole Steps

  • Each step bolt installed on or after Jan. 17, 2017 in an environment where corrosion may occur must constructed of, or coated with, material that protects against corrosion;
  • By Jan. 17, 2017 each step bolt must be capable of supporting its maximum intended load;
  • Each step bolt installed on or after Jan. 17, 2017 must be capable of supporting at least four times its maximum intended load; and
  • The employer must ensure that each manhole step installed on or after Jan. 17, 2017 meets the required design regulations listed in 1910.24 (b) to prevent non-compliance.


  • When a door or gate opens directly on a stairway, a platform must be provided and the swing of the door or gate does must not reduce the platform’s effective usable depth to less than 20 inches for platforms installed before Jan. 17, 2017 and less than 22 inches for platforms installed on or after Jan. 17, 2017.
  • Exemptions can be found in 1910.25(c)(5) for stairs installed prior to Jan. 17, 2017 as long as they meet the requirements specified in Table D-1 of this section.


  • Dockboards put into initial service on or after Jan. 17, 2017 are designed, constructed, and maintained to prevent transfer vehicles from running off the dockboard edge.
  • Exemptions exist when an employer can demonstrate there is no hazard of transfer vehicles running off the dockboard edge, and then the employer may use dockboards that do not have run-off protection.

Scaffolds & Rope Descent Systems

  • All scaffolding rules and regulations for general industry now refer to the construction standard scaffolding rules. These rules and regulations can be found in 29 CFR 1926 – Subpart L.
  • Rope descent systems are required to be identified, tested, certified, maintained, and capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds in any direction for each employee attached. To meet these requirements, all the aforementioned regulations need to be in writing, tested every 10 years after the initial certification by a qualified person, and all rope descent systems are required to meet these regulations by Nov. 20, 2017

Duty to Have Fall Protection and Falling Object Protection

  • Employers are to protect workers from all fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least four feet above a lower level. This can be done through the utilization of guarding, safety net systems, PFAS, travel restraint systems, and ladder safety systems. This rule is applicable to scaffolding and ladders unless otherwise mentioned as exempt or not feasible.
  • When working on low-slope roofs or when performing roofing work the employer is required to provide guarding, safety net systems, travel restraint systems, or PFAS when work is performed less than 6 feet from the roof edge. Roof edges include skylights and other openings.
  • When work is performed 15 feet or more from a roof edge the employer must implement and enforce a work rule prohibiting employees form going within 15 feet or the roof edge without using fall protection in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.28(b)(13)(i) & (ii).
  • When the employer can demonstrate that it is not feasible or creates a greater hazard to use guardrail, safety net, or personal fall protection systems on residential roofs, the employer must develop and implement a fall protection plan that meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502(K) and training that meets the requirements of the 29 CFR 1926.503 (a) & (c) construction standard.
  • Exemptions include: Portable ladders, inspections of work conducted, investigations of work conducted, assessments of work conducted, entertainment stages, exposed perimeters of rail-station platforms, powered platforms, aerial lifts, telecommunication work, electric power generation, electric power distribution, and electric transmission.

Fall Protection Systems & Falling Object Protection: Criteria & Practices

This section prescribes fall protection systems to be used for the following:

  • Unprotected sides and edges
  • Hoist areas
  • Holes
  • Dockboards
  • Runways and similar walkways
  • Over dangerous equipment
  • Openings
  • Repair pits, service pits and assembly pits less than 10 feet in depth
  • Fixed ladders
  • Outdoor advertising (billboards)
  • Stairways
  • Scaffolds and rope descent systems
  • Work on low-slope roofs
  • Slaughtering facility platforms
  • Other walking working surfaces not otherwise addressed
  • Fall protection systems and falling object protection, other than PFAS, are required to meet all regulations specific to 1910.29.
  • Employers are required to provide and install all fall protection systems and falling object protection this subpart requires, and comply with the other requirements in this subpart before any employee begins work that necessitates fall protection or falling object protection.
  • Guardrail system criteria and practice requirements for guarding on scaffolds are now congruent with the 1926 – Subpart L, construction regulations and requirements. 
  • Safety net system criteria and practice requirements are now congruent with the 1926 – Subpart M, construction regulations and requirements.

Training Requirements

  • Employers are required to provide training compliant with 1910.30(a) by May 17, 2017 for fall hazards for each employee who uses a personal fall protection system.
  • Employers are required to provide training compliant with 1910.30(b) for equipment hazards in proper care, inspection, storage, and use by May 17, 2017.
  • Employers must retrain an employee when the employer has reason to believe the employee does not have the understanding and skill required by 1910.30(a) & (b). In addition, retraining should occur when previous training is obsolete/inadequate, equipment used changes rendering previous training obsolete/inadequate, or when inadequacies in an employee’s knowledge indicate that the employee no longer has the requisite understanding or skill necessary to use equipment or perform the job safely.

Enforcement Dates

Revised 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D Published Jan 17, 2017
Final Rule May 17, 2017
Training & Certifications Nov 20, 2017
Installation of Fall Protection & Fall Arrest Systems on New Fixed Ladders (over 24 feet) Nov 18, 2018
Installation of Fall Protection on Existing Fixed Ladders (over 24 feet) That Do Not Have Any Fall Protection Nov 18, 2018
Inspection & Certification of Permanent Building Anchorages for Rope Decent Systems Nov 19, 2018
Installation of Fall Protection & Fall Arrest Systems on All Fixed Ladders (over 24 feet)Nov 18, 2036

If you have any questions about your compliance with OSHA requirements for walking-working surfaces in general industry please contact Hellman & Associates at 303-384-9828.

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Today we spent time with http://www.alittlehelp.org  making an impact in our community. We value the importance of supporting our elders so they can remain a part of our community, continuing to live in the homes they have come to love and to maintaining the network of friends and neighbors they have developed over the years.  That’s why we spent our Service Saturday helping our neighbors with home maintenance.

H&A Receives VPP Zeros Heroes Award

At the VPPPA Region VIII Safety Summit, regional director Brad Baptiste presented Hellman & Associates with the Zeros Heroes award for having zero injuries.

Hellman & Associates became VPP certified in 2010 to stand behind our commitment to safety and gain first-hand understanding of what it takes to become a VPP star site. We are just one of three safety consultancies in the country to hold that honor. Since then, we have helped numerous companies achieve and maintain their VPP star status.

May 20-22, 2019 Region VII VPPPA Safety Summit, Wichita, KS

Wichita, Kansas will be the last stop on Hellman & Associates’ VPPPA Safety Summit Road Show. We’re excited to meet companies that are interested in achieving and maintaining membership in VPP, an elite group that experiences 50% fewer workplace injuries. Stop by our booth to find out more about how we can help you earn or renew your star site status. Email us to schedule a meeting during the conference.

May 15-16, 2019 Region V VPPPA Safety Summit, Grand Rapids, MI

Hellman & Associates will be traveling to Grand Rapids, Michigan on our VPPPA Safety Summit Road Show to meet with like-minded companies that put safety first. As a VPP Star Site ourselves and with four SGEs on our consulting staff, we know what it takes to achieve and retain VPP certification. Visit us at our booth to learn how we can help you with your application and/or inspection. Register now >>