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Question icon I work in a high-rise building and am concerned about my safety during an emergency. What do I need to do to protect myself?

Answer icon The most important thing to do in an emergency is to leave the area quickly but in an orderly manner, following your worksite's emergency evacuation plan. Go directly to the nearest fire- and smoke-free stairwell, recognizing that in some circumstances, the only available exit route may contain limited amounts of smoke or fire. Listen carefully for instructions over the building's public address system. Crawl low, under the smoke, to breathe clearer air if there is a fire. Test doors for heat before opening them by placing the back of your hand against the door so you don't burn your palm and fingers. If the door is hot, find another exit route. Keep "fire doors" closed to slow the spread of smoke and fire. Avoid using elevators when evacuating a burning building. Once outside, report to the designated meeting place and don't re-enter the building until directed by authorities.

A new OSHA fact sheet, "Evacuating High-Rise Buildings," provides more information, including what workers should know beforean emergency, how employers can help ensure safe evacuations, and what employers and employees should do during an emergency. The fact sheet is available on the OSHA website at www.osha.gov.

Question icon My worksite uses cranes to lift workers to an elevated worksite. What requirements does OSHA have to ensure these cranes are operated safely?

Answer iconWhen conventional means of access, such as scaffolds and ladders, are unsafe, OSHA allows employers to use personnel hoisting operations. However, because using cranes or derricks to hoist workers poses a serious risk to the employees being lifted, the hoisting operations must comply with Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910.180(h)(3)(v).

In general, cranes and derricks used to hoist personnel must be placed on a firm foundation, be uniformly level within 1 percent of level grade, have rotation-resistant rope with a minimum safety factor of 10, and be capable of supporting seven times the maximum intended load. Operators must move the personnel platform slowly and cautiously without any sudden jerking of the crane, derrick, or platform and set the brakes and locking devices on the crane or derrick when the occupied personnel platform is in a stationary working position.

More detailed information is provided in the OSHA standard and in a newly revised publication, "Crane or Derrick Suspended Personnel Platforms" (OSHA 3100), both available on the agency website at www.osha.gov.

Question icon I want to start a drug-free workplace program in my company. What constitutes a good program and who can help?

Answer iconA comprehensive drug-free workplace program generally includes five components: a drug-free workplace policy, supervisor training, employee education, employee assistance, and drug testing. Although employers may choose not to include all five components, OSHA recommends that all be considered when developing a program. Research shows that more components may lead to a more effective program.

Employers should also examine the needs of their workforce and organization and take steps to ensure the program they design will work well in their company. Because every business is unique, there is no one right way to establish a program. Each organization's program should match its specific needs. A careful assessment will determine which program elements are the most feasible and beneficial, as well as which may be unnecessary or unsuitable. Furthermore, many companies find it helpful to ask for input from employees during this process.

OSHA encourages employers to establish drug-free workplace programs to complement other initiatives that help ensure safe and healthful workplaces. The Department of Labor's Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace program offers a variety of resources to help in getting started. All Working Partners tools and resources—including information about how to develop a drug-free workplace policy from start to finish and ready-to-use supervisor training and employee education materials—are available online at www.dol.gov/dol/workingpartners.htm. The Working Partners staff can also be reached by phone at (202) 693-5919 or email at webwp@dol.gov. JSHQ