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Richard Griffith

Richard Griffith

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

On Oct. 1, 2015, OSHA director James Maddux issued a memorandum extending the enforcement deadline for the confined spaces in construction standard for residential construction work. A temporary enforcement policy had been in effect for all employers covered by the standard through Oct. 2, 2015. OSHA is now further extending this temporary enforcement policy through Jan. 8, 2016, but only for employers engaged in residential construction work. This enforcement policy covers construction work on single-family homes, duplexes, and townhouses, not multi-unit apartment buildings.

Before Jan. 8, 2016, OSHA will not issue citations under the Confined Spaces in Construction standard to an employer engaged in residential construction work if the employer is making good faith efforts to comply with the standard, as long as the employer is in compliance with either the training requirements of the standard, found at 29 CFR 1926.1207, or the former training requirements found at 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(6)(i).

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/tempenforcementpolicy_1015.html

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

OSHA has a new webpage (https://www.osha.gov/topcases/bystate.html) that lists the most expensive fines issued by the federal and state safety agencies.

The page lists enforcement cases with initial fines above $40,000. The page allows the user to click on each state and U.S. territory for a list of cases since Jan. 1, 2015. The data are from states that operate under federal OSHA as well as those that have their own state-run occupational safety agencies.

Details include:
-name and location of company
-union or non-union shop
-type of inspection (complaint, injury, programmed, follow-up, emphasis program, etc.)
-scope (partial or complete inspection)
-number and categorization of violations
-fine per violation and total fine
-the standard cited for each violation, and
-whether the violation has been abated

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/topcases/bystate.html

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

OSHA announced recently it is instituting a new system for planning and measuring its inspections, with more weight given to those that require more time and resources. According to an Oct. 1 blog post by Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, this new Enforcement Weighting System will value routine inspections as one Enforcement Unit, while more complex categories are valued at up to eight Enforcement Units. "For example, process safety management inspections are valued at seven units, workplace violence inspections are three units, and inspections involving a chemical for which there is no permissible exposure limit are also three units. The values were set based on historical data," Michaels wrote, adding, "I want to be clear that OSHA has never set quotas for inspections and that will not change."

According to Michaels, OSHA personnel conducted 36,163 inspections and state plan states conducted another 47,217 inspections in FY2014. "Each one of those inspections was important, and potentially lifesaving. But the reality is that some required far more time and resources than others. For example, the inspection of an oil refinery or a chemical manufacturing facility is more complex and time-consuming than one of a trenching site. Those complex inspections make a big difference – showing employers, and the whole country, that we are determined to investigate serious hazards regardless of how complex or challenging those inspections may be," he wrote. "We are introducing this system to improve our strategic planning process and ensure that sufficient enforcement resources are allocated to cases that require more.

For two years, we piloted the weighted approach, running it side-by-side with our traditional inspection counting system. And we found that tracking inspections by complexity ensures that we don’t shortchange the more difficult inspections in favor of those that can be done quickly. We will continue to monitor this new approach and make adjustments as needed."

In conclusion, Michaels wrote that "I have long believed that we should not merely focus on the number of inspections that we conduct but also take into account their impact on improving health and safety. Our inspections send a message, and as a result employers abate hazards not just at the establishment we inspect but at other workplaces. This change will allow us to better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections – the ones that have the greatest impact."

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA’s annual preliminary list of top 10 most-cited safety violations – what National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman has called “a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence” – saw little change this year compared to last year’s.

The list was released Sept. 29 at the National Safety Council‘s 2015 Congress & Expo by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

And here it is (the applicable OSHA standard appears in parentheses):
1. Fall Protection in Construction (1926.501) – 6,721
2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192
3. Scaffolding in Construction (1926.451) – 4,295
4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305
5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002
6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,760
7. Ladders in Construction (1926.1053) – 2,489
8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,404
9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,295
10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 1,973

The figures are for FY 2015, which ran from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 8, 2015. The figures were to be updated after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2015.

In terms of ranking, only the categories of Electrical Wiring Methods and Ladders exchanged places in FY 2015.
The No. 2 violation continues to be a strong second, however. While the number of hazard communication violations issued by OSHA did not see a large increase from FY 2014 to FY 2015, its ranking on the list should still serve employers as an indicator of the importance of ensuring chemical hazard training is up to date with the agency’s adoption into its existing chemical standard.

Under GHS, chemical labels contain a signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category.

There are nine standardized pictograms that must be surrounded by a red border. Precautionary statements may also be included.

SDSs now have a 16-section format, with sections that include identification of the chemical, first-aid steps for exposure and disposal considerations.

As of June 1, 2015, all new chemical labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) are required to conform to GHS. However, it is possible that some of the old-style labels and SDSs will persist for some time. Under the new system, distributors may still ship products with the previous set of labels until Dec. 1, 2015.

At Workplace Safety, we stand ready to help businesses build safety into their work practices with training programs in areas including HAZMAT/HAZWOPER, lockout/tagout, confined space entry and rescue, first aid/CPR (to including AED and Bloodborne Pathogens), asbestos operations and maintenance, excavation safety and fall protection.

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA has issued policies and procedures for applying a new process for resolving whistleblower dispute according to an announcement on its website. The process is part of an early resolution process that is part of a regional Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.

The program gives whistleblower parties the change to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of a neutral, confidential OSHA rep with expertise in whistleblower investigations. The ADR Act requires that each federal agency "adopt a policy that addresses the use of alternative means of dispute resolution and case management."

"OSHA receives several thousand whistleblower complaints for investigation each year," Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. "The Alternative Dispute Resolution process can be a valuable alternative to the expensive and time consuming process of an investigation and litigation. It will provide whistleblower complainants and respondents the option of exploring voluntary resolution of their disputes outside of the traditional investigative process."

Read entire - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28596

Tagged in: OSHA whistlerblower

The final deadline by which OSHA expects U.S. employers to fully comply with its 2012 final rule revising the Hazard Communication Standard is less than eight months away – and the clock is ticking.

By June 1, 2016, employers should have their workplace labeling procedures in place and their employees trained on what the agency has termed the "right to understand" standard, differentiating it from the previous "right to know" regulation.

A May 2015 memorandum to OSHA regional administrators from the Director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Thomas Galassi, was issued three days before the most recent deadline, June 1, 2015 for manufacturers to be producing safety data sheets and labels in format that complies with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). In that document, Galassi indicated many chemical suppliers would likely miss that June 1 deadline, referring to a memorandum in February that said OSHA inspectors should take into account good-faith efforts by chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors trying to comply with the revised standard but having not received classification and safety data sheet information from suppliers upstream.

"Since issuing the guidance on February 9, 2015, OSHA has received an overwhelming number of additional questions and requests for further clarification on behalf of manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Many of the questions relate to the use of HCS 1994-compliant labels on containers packaged for shipment (i.e., existing stock)," the memo stated.

According to the revised standard, manufacturers and importers must classify the hazards of chemicals they produce or import, and distributors must transmit the required information to employers. Employers, in turn, must provide information to their employees about any hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed, using a hazard communication program, labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and information and training.

The revised standard allows distributors to continue shipping chemicals with labels that meet the old standard, though only until Dec. 1 of this year.

According to the final rule, employers are to ensure that each container of a hazardous chemical is labeled with a product identifier, signal word, hazard statement(s), pictogram(s) and precautionary statement(s). However, that does not apply to portable containers into which hazardous chemicals are being transferred from labeled containers and that are intended only for immediate use by the employee conducting the transfer.

In addition, the final rule states that employers "may use signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other such written materials in lieu of affixing labels to individual stationary process containers, as long as the alternative method identifies the containers to which it is applicable and conveys the information required . . . to be on a label."

Fortunately, OSHA has provided a great deal of information about the new standard on its website (https://www.osha.gov/dep/enforcement/hcs_guide_052015.html); examples include a "Steps to an Effective Hazard Communication Program for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals" fact sheet, a side-by-side comparison of the previous and new standards and the memos issued by Galassi.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently extended the transition period for the respirator certification standard by means of a new final rule. The standards initially established in the 2012 final rule were originally designed to take effect over a three-year transition period, during which manufacturers were allowed to continue to manufacture, label, and sell respirators certified to the prior standards. The new rule allows NIOSH to extend the concluding date until one year after the agency approves a Closed-Circuit Escape Respirator (CCER) model.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/NIOSH-Extends-Transition-Period-for-Respirator-Certification-Standard.aspx

Tagged in: NIOSH

Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed fatal work injuries increased by 2 percent in 2014 from the prior year, although the rate of 3.3 per 100,000 full-time workers stayed the same.

The preliminary total in 2014 was 4,679 fatal work injuries.

"Far too many people are still killed on the job – 13 workers every day taken from their families tragically and unnecessarily. These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires," U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.

Fatal falls, slips, and trips rose by 10 percent in 2014 from the previous year. Falls to lower level were up 9 percent to 647 from 595 in 2013, while falls on the same level increased 17 percent, according to BLS. And fatal work injuries due to transportation incidents rose slightly to 1,891 from 1,865 in 2013, with transportation incidents accounting for 40 percent of fatal workplace injuries in 2014.

Fatal work injuries due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals were lower in 2014, with 749 deaths in 2014 compared to 773 in 2013.

 

October has been declared both Eye Injury Prevention Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Home Eye Safety Month by the Prevent Blindness organization. No matter the month, though, it’s always sound practice to review eye and face protection protocols periodically with employees to ensure they are correctly using the personal protective equipment (PPE) suited to the job.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), each day an average of 2,000 workers in the United States suffers job-related eye injuries requiring medical treatment. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately three out of every five workers who experienced eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were not wearing the proper kind of eye protection for the task.

PPE selection depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and an individual’s vision needs. Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes include safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators.

According to OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (1), it is the responsibility of the employer to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.” That includes making sure the PPE selected for eye protection provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (2). For those who wear prescription lenses, the OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that each affected employee “engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”

According to these standards, a person should always wear properly fitted eye protective gear when:
-Doing work that may produce particles, slivers, or dust from materials like wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and drywall;
-Hammering, sanding, grinding, or doing masonry work;
-Working with power tools;
-Working with chemicals, including common household chemicals like ammonia, oven cleaners, and bleach;
-Using a lawnmower, riding mower, or other motorized gardening devices like string trimmers;
-Working with wet or powdered ready mix concrete, mortar mix, or repair products;
-Welding (which requires extra protection like a welding helmet from sparks and UV radiation);
-“Jumping” the battery of a motor vehicle;
-Being a bystander to any of the above situations.

OSHA urges employers not to rely on PPE devices alone to protect against eye hazards. Rather, personal protective gear should be a part of a safety environment that includes engineering controls and robust safety practices.

NIOSH has published a new recommendation that says attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw can provide a low-cost solution in order to reduce exposure to hazardous dust produced when construction workers cut fiber-cement siding.

According to a press release, the research that led to this finding was conducted in two phases. In one, researchers looked at three dust-collecting circular saws connected to an external vacuum in a laboratory setting. Further studies were conducted at construction sites where workers were cutting fiber-cement siding. Results of the field studies showed that a regular shop vacuum controlled the amount of silica-containing dust in the air to well below the NIOSH-recommended exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-06-18-15.html

Tagged in: CDC NIOSH

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Air quality is important for everyone, but it is of special concern for those who must work in confined spaces.

A total of four farmer deaths in hog manure pits in July in the Midwest show how even a routine job in a confined space can turn tragic. In the first in incident, in Wisconsin, a father and son were killed from exposure to toxic gases while trying to retrieve something dropped into a manure pit. In the more recent case, in Iowa, another father and son died from exposure to toxic gases when one attempted to rescue the other. Although the incidents occurred in agricultural operations, they illustrate the potential for the rescuers of the initial victim overcome by toxic gases in a confined space to become victims also.

Such pits can release methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide as well as hydrogen sulfide when disturbed, risking exposure that can lead to unconsciousness and death. Farm safety experts commonly recommend the use of some form of breathing apparatus when working in that environment for those reasons.

Some other examples of confined spaces include storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, and trenches. A permit-required confined space has to have one or more specific characteristics, one being that it contains a hazardous atmosphere. These are classified into three categories: toxic; asphyxiating; and flammable or explosive atmospheres. Depending on the chemicals present and their concentration, such environments can present multiple atmospheric hazards.

For those reasons, it is recommended that employers in a number of industries test and monitor their confined spaces at multiple levels with instruments that will detect aspects of hazardous atmospheres encountered by anyone who plans to enter. The ability to perform non-entry rescue is also critical to prevent the loss of would-be rescuers. This involves the entrant wearing a full body harness connected to a confined space-applicable retrieval device mounted outside the space, so that the attendant can remove an unconscious entrant without having to enter the confined space.

The practice of atmospheric testing in confined spaces to determine potential hazards is not new – bringing a caged canary into a coalmine is perhaps the best known example from history. Today’s testing equipment and procedures skip the canary, but they serve a similar purpose. Modern sensor and battery technology has improved the reliability of these instruments and has made them easier to use at a lower price point. For the occasional user, they can be rented from a number of safety equipment rental companies. This approach is sound since the rental companies will maintain and calibrate the instruments as recommended by the manufacturer. Using an unreliable and out-of-calibration toxic and combustible gas meter can almost be worse than using none at all since a faulty meter may provide a false sense of security.

Workplace Safety & Health Co. is equipped to identify and assess the hazards of suspected confined spaces in your facility, determine whether each meets the OSHA criteria for a confined space, and if so, whether it should be permit-required. Workplace Safety & Health Co. can also pre-test the atmosphere in accessible spaces to provide advanced warning that additional precautions may be needed prior to entering a confined space.

With our experience in assessing thousands of confined spaces in a wide range of industries, Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help your organization attain a “best practice” level of compliance. Give us a call or visit our website today to learn more.

Tagged in: air quality OSHA

OSHA announced in July it will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with a new Construction Confined Space Rule until Oct. 2.

"The agency is postponing full enforcement of the new standard to Oct. 2, 2015, in response to requests for additional time to train and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard," an OSHA announcement stated. "During this 60-day temporary enforcement period, OSHA will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the new standard. Employers must be in compliance with either the training requirements of the new standard or the previous standard. Employers who fail to train their employees consistent with either of these two standards will be cited."

The announcement also spells out what factors OSHA will accept as indicating employers are making good-faith efforts to comply, stating that these factors "include: scheduling training for employees as required by the new standard; ordering the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard; and taking alternative measures to educate and protect employees from confined space hazards."

The final rule – issued May 4 – is similar to the OSHA general industry standard. A major difference is that the construction standard will require employers on multi-employer sites to share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28236

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

Posted by on in Uncategorized

How prepared is your organization in the event of an emergency or disaster?

What might seem like a simple, straightforward question is often a very complex issue to answer.

September 2015 marks the twelfth annual National Preparedness Month. A central goal of the observance is educating the public on how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters. This year’s theme is “Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”

Much of the focus of each year’s observance is on being ready to deal with emergencies and disasters at home, but the observance also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies at work. In 2004, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unveiled Ready Business, an extension of the national Ready campaign that focuses on business preparedness. The business preparedness section of the website Ready.gov recommends that the planning process take an “all hazards” approach. That is, taking into account different types of threats and hazards and their likelihood of occurring.

As part of the planning process, the website recommends developing strategies for prevention/deterrence and risk mitigation. This should include threats or hazards that can be classified as probable as well as hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact.

Developing an all hazards preparedness plan includes identifying potential hazards, assessing vulnerabilities and considering potential impacts. A risk assessment identifies threats or hazards and opportunities for hazard prevention, deterrence, and risk mitigation. Human injuries should be the consideration of highest priority in a risk assessment, of course, but other assets in the assessment could range from buildings and machinery to raw materials and finished products.

In conducting a risk assessment, the Ready.gov recommends looking for vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that would make an asset more susceptible to (and contribute to the severity of) damage from a hazard. Such vulnerabilities could range from deficiencies in the way a structure is built to its security or protection system. A simple example of such a deficiency is not having a working sprinkler system in place to limit damage in the event of a fire.

For more information on putting together emergency plans for the workplace, visit http://www.ready.gov/business

As part of National Safety Month in June, the National Safety Council updated its annual list of the Odds of Dying from various causes.

Some key comparisons of lifetime odds of dying from common activities are:
-Motor vehicle crash (1-in-112) vs. commercial airplane crash (1-in-96,566)
-Overdosing on opioid prescription painkillers (1-in-234) vs. being electrocuted (1-in-12,200)
-Falling (1-in-144) vs. a catastrophic storm (1-in-6,780)
-Being a passenger in a car (1-in-470) vs. a lightning strike (1-in-164,968)
-Walking along or crossing the street (1-in-704) vs. a bee, wasp or hornet sting (1-in-55,764), and
-Complications from surgical or medical are (1-in-1,532) vs. an earthquake (1-in-179,965).

http://www.nsc.org/act/events/Pages/Odds-of-Dying-2015.aspx

When making sure first aids kits are properly stocked, it’s also a good idea to make sure they are up to date. As part of a revision to the 2014 edition, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has received American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval for ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015, American National Standard-Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies.

The standard was put together by members of ISEA’s First Aid Group and industry stakeholders and was approved by a consensus review panel of health and safety experts, unions, construction industry and other user groups, test labs, and government agencies. According to ISEA, the 2015 revision corrects a minor measurement conversion error with respect to the U.S. measurement for minimum application for antibiotic and antiseptic supplies that appeared in the 2014 edition.The effective date of the new standard is June 2016.

A major change from previous editions is the introduction of a multi-tiered approach to kit designations. According to ISEA, the new designations were based on a review of workplace injuries in which first aid was administered and a consideration of current practices in treating them. The revision introduces two classes of first aid kits, further divided into four types.

The classes are based on the assortment and quantity of the supplies the kits contain. Class A kits are aimed at dealing with most common workplace injuries, including minor cuts, abrasions and sprains. Class B kits are designed with a broader range and quantity of supplies to deal with injuries in more complex or high-risk environments.

First aid kits are further designated by Type (I, II, III or IV) depending on the work environment in which they are to be used. A Type I kit is meant for indoor use and for and permanent mounting to a wall or other structure. In contrast, Type IV kits are suitable for outdoor use and required to pass corrosion-, moisture- and impact-resistance tests.

Many of the first aid supplies previously identified as being recommendations in the 2009 standard are now required for both of the newly-designated kit types. In addition, scissors are to be included in both classes of kits and a splint and a tourniquet are both required for a Class B first aid kit.

For more information, visit www.safetyequipment.org

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in late May that it will continue its partnership with Health Canada to align United States and Canadian regulatory approaches to labeling and classification requirements for workplace chemicals.

OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the GHS in March 2012 to provide a common, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Canada published a similar regulation in February 2015.

The goal of the partnership is to implement a system allowing the use of one label and one safety data sheet (SDS) that would be acceptable in both countries. In 2013, OSHA and Health Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in their respective jurisdictions.

https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/trade-20150528.html

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA recently published a new document in its Fatal Facts series. Titled Asphyxiation in a Sewer Line, the document emphasizes employers’ responsibilities to protect workers from confined space hazards while working in sewer line manholes. The document includes references to the new Confined Spaces in Construction Standard that takes effect on Aug. 3, 2015.

OSHA uses the term “fatal facts” to describe cases that are representative of employers who failed to identify and correct hazardous working conditions leading to fatalities at their worksites. The fact sheets offer ideas on how to correct these hazards and educate workers about safe work practices. The Asphyxiation in a Sewer Line fact document is based on a case in which a construction worker suffocated after entering a manhole. OSHA says the worker died from asphyxiation after entering a manhole with an uncontrolled hazardous atmosphere.
According to OSHA, although the manhole was newly constructed and was not yet connected to an active sewer system at the time of the incident, it contained a hazardous atmosphere that led to asphyxiation. The employer had not ensured that atmospheric hazards were identified and precautions for safe operations implemented before starting work at the site.

Additionally, OSHA says that:
-Workers were not trained to recognize confined space hazards and to take appropriate protective measures.
-The atmosphere in the manhole was not assessed to determine if conditions were acceptable before or during entry.
-Proper ventilation was not used to control atmospheric hazards in the manhole.
-Protective and emergency equipment was not provided at the worksite.
-An attendant was not stationed outside the manhole to monitor the situation and call for emergency services.
To prevent similar occurrences, OSHA advises that employers whose workers who will enter one or more permit-required confined space (PRCS) must implement a PRCS program for safe permit space entry operations (29 CFR 1926.1203(d), 29 CFR 1926.1204). Such programs include the following requirements:
-Provide training to workers at no cost to them in a language and vocabulary they understand, as required in 29 CFR 1926.1207, on how to safely perform permit space duties before their first assignment and as necessary.
-Prohibit entry into permit spaces until hazardous conditions (atmospheric and physical) present are identified, evaluated, and addressed (29 CFR 1926.1204(b)&(c)).
-Eliminate or control atmospheric hazards by ventilating, purging, inerting or flushing the permit space as necessary (29 CFR 1926.1204(c)(4)).
-Perform pre-entry testing for oxygen content, flammable gases and vapors, and potential toxic air contaminants (29 CFR 1926.1204(e)(3).
-Continuously monitor the permit space to verify that atmospheric conditions remain acceptable during entry (29 CFR 1926.1204(e)(1)(ii)).
-Provide essential equipment to workers with training on proper use, including: •Personal protective equipment when necessary (29 CFR 1926.1204(d)(4)).
-Rescue and emergency equipment to authorized workers, or implement procedures for rescue and emergency services (29 CFR 1926.1204(d)(8)&(i), 29 CFR 1926.1211).
-Station at least one trained attendant outside a permit space to perform all attendant’s duties (29 CFR 1926.1204(f); 29 CFR 1926.1209).

The full Fatal Facts document is available (along with other fact sheets on oil and gas, agriculture, construction, and engulfment) at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/fatalfacts.html

Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help you understand the definition of a confined space and a permit-required confined space and how it might apply to your workplace.

Tagged in: OSHA

The National Safety Council (NSC) has added its voice to the call for companies to use the latest science and not just OSHA’s limits when it comes to protecting workers from hazardous chemicals.

For Workers’ Memorial Day this year, the NSC urged employers to address workplace illnesses and to “consider the latest scientific research … which should go beyond OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).”

Workplace illnesses result in 53,000 deaths and 427,000 nonfatal injuries each year, compared to workplace injuries which lead to 4,500 deaths and 4.8 million injuries requiring medical attention annually.

The NSC issued a new policy position recommending that employers:
-Use consensus standards, employer best practices and information from the American Conference of Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for determining the most effective control strategies, which should go beyond OSHA’s PELs, Hazard Communication Standard and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
-Improve reporting and tracking of occupational illnesses
-Share information and practices on prevention of occupational illnesses
-Reduce risks of exposure to chemicals by using the hierarchy of controls
-Contribute to the review and update of existing standards that protect workers from harmful exposure to chemicals, and
-Consider total worker health factors that may exacerbate occupational illness exposures.

OSHA just closed the comment period in its Request for Information on revising PELs. The next step is for the agency to publish the results of the RFI, which could happen before the close of 2015.

http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/Occupational-Illness-125.pdf

 

Tagged in: OSHA

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives recently would codify the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), a safety and health program overseen by OSHA. The programs are aimed at preventing workplace injuries and fatalities while increasing productivity, employee engagement and lowering costs for companies and taxpayers.

The Programs recognize employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, and management commitment and worker involvement.

To participate, employers are required to submit an application to OSHA and undergo an onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals. Union support is required for applicants represented by a bargaining unit. Program participants are re-evaluated every three to five years to remain in the programs. VPP participants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.

The bipartisan Voluntary Protection Program Act (H.R. 2500) was introduced by Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-AL). In presenting the bill to the House, the representatives highlighted VPP's track record of improving safety and health at worksites across the U.S.

"We all want to ensure worker safety, and VPP seeks to achieve that through partnerships, not penalties,” Roby said in a statement. “VPP helps companies become compliant with workplace safety rules on the front end to avoid costly fines and harmful penalties on the back end. VPP is a smart way to ensure a safe and productive workplace, and I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan legislation to finally codify it."

"VPP has been a great success in Indiana, including worksites like Cintas in Frankfort and Nucor in Crawfordsville,” said Rokita in a statement. “It is one federal program that works well, fostering cooperation between private businesses and a government regulator. This collaboration is good for employees, employers, and the American economy."

According to a statement from Rokita’s office, VPP currently covers nearly a million employees. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are saved annually through VPP, calculating government savings to be more than $59 million a year. Private sector savings total more than $300 million annually.
For more information on the programs, navigate to https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/vpp/.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced it is seeking public review and comments by June 15 on five new projects. They include a new standard to set protocols for aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) response to accidents at public air shows, a standard on required competencies of responders to derailments of high-hazard flammable trains carrying crude oil, ethanol, and other Class 3 products, and an EMS Officer standard.

Comments may be submitted to the Codes and Standards Administration Department, NFPA, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471.

Read entire article - http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/standards-development-process/new-projects

Keeping cool during the summer months can seem like a chore unto itself, but it’s important to keep in mind that heat-related illnesses can happen year round in the work environment.

The body’s inability to adequately cool itself is a common cause of heat-related illnesses outdoors during the summer months, but this situation can occur throughout the year indoors as well. External sources of heat on the job can include direct contact with steam or a hot surface, and the body’s natural reactions to heat exposure (sweaty palms, fogged eyewear, and lightheadedness, for example) can also lead to an increased risk of accidents.

To help keep employees safe when things heat up at work, training should include ways to limit heat exposure and how to identify signs of heat-related illness. Worksite procedures should emphasize the importance of acclimatization and how it is developed, particularly for workers who are new to working in the heat or those who are returning after a week or more away from the job.

The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler, where possible. This could take the form of engineering controls such as air conditioning, cooling fans, insulating hot surfaces, ventilating hot air, eliminating steam leaks, etc., to reduce exposure.

OSHA recommends the following practices for managing work in a hot environment – whether they are outdoors or indoors:

-Employers should have an emergency plan in place that specifies what to do if a worker has signs of heat-related illness, and ensures that medical services are available if needed.
-Employers should take steps that help workers become acclimatized (gradually build up resistance to heat exposure), especially workers who are new to working in a hot environment or have been away from work for a week or more. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work.
-Workers must have adequate potable water close to the work area, and should drink small amounts frequently.
-Rather than being exposed to heat for extended periods of time, workers should, wherever possible, be permitted to distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work/rest cycles.
-If possible, physical demands should be reduced during hot weather, or heavier work scheduled for cooler times of the day.
-Rotating job functions among workers can help minimize overexertion and heat exposure.
-Workers should watch out for each other for symptoms of heat-related illness and administer appropriate first aid to anyone who is developing a heat-related illness.
-In some situations, employers may need to conduct physiological monitoring of workers. (The NIOSH/OSHA/USCG/EPA Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities, Chapter 8 (1985) (available as a pdf at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/complinks/OSHG-HazWaste/all-in-one.pdf) contains guidance on performing physiological monitoring of workers at hot worksites.)

To help determine the heat index for a given worksite, a number that can be used to calculate workers’ level of risk for heat-related illnesses, OSHA has developed a free mobile device application (available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html) in both English and Spanish. Based on the heat index figure, the” Heat Safety Tool” displays the level of risk to outdoor workers and allows the user to access reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness.

Tagged in: OSHA

In early May, OSHA published a long-awaited final rule on construction confined spaces. The agency has been working on the rule for more than two decades and ultimately decided, based on stakeholders' comments, to make it more like OSHA's general industry confined spaces standard than originally planned. Some provisions do address construction-specific hazards, including requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and continuously monitor air contaminant and engulfment hazards. That’s something the agency says is possible because of technology developed in the years since the general industry standard took effect.


The rule will take effect on Aug. 3. OSHA has established a new website (https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/index.html) that includes compliance resources.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=25127

Tagged in: OSHA

The National Safety Council called on employers this Workers' Memorial Day, observed April 28, to better understand and identify the risks associated with occupational illnesses.

The organization has issued a new policy position (http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/Occupational-Illness-125.pdf) with recommendations for employers to better address illnesses. Some of those include considering the latest available scientific research, consensus standards, employer best practices and other reliable sources of information for determining the most effective control strategies and determining how to improve reporting and tracking of occupational illnesses to support better understanding, prioritization, progress measurement and research.

The NSC has stated workplace-related illnesses are estimated to result in 53,000 deaths and 427,000 nonfatal illnesses each year, compared to workplace-related injuries, which are estimated to result in almost 4,000 deaths and 4.8 million injured requiring medical attention each year.

Read entire article - http://www.nsc.org/learn/about/Pages/NSC-urges-employers-to-address-workplace-illnesses.aspx?var=homepage1

The federal government recently released its revised, final number of workplace fatalities in the U.S. for 2013. The overall count is down from the previous year, though not by much.

The final count of workplace fatalities in 2013 – the most recent year for which data were available – was 4584, a decrease of 44 (or 0.95%) from 4628 in 2012. The preliminary count for 2013 was 4405. Thirty four states and Washington, DC, revised their counts upward since that time.

The final numbers reflect updates to the 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) file made following the release of preliminary results in September 2014. Revisions and additions to the 2013 CFOI numbers come from both the identification of new cases and the revision of existing cases based on source documents received after the release of preliminary results.

After a trend toward a decreasing number of fatalities from 2006 to 2009, specifically 5840, 5657, 5214 and 4551, the number increased to nearly 4700 in 2010 and has shown slight decreases since then.

Workplace deaths by cause of event in 2013 were:
• transportation incidents: 41%
• violence and other injuries by persons or animals: 17%
• contact with objects and equipment: 16%
• slips, trips and falls: 16%
• exposure to harmful substances or environments: 7%, and
• fire and explosions: 3%.

Two types of events that rose in 2013 from 2012 were slips, trips and falls and fires and explosions. In fact, after the updates to the 2013 preliminary numbers, fatal work injuries as a result of slips, trips, and falls increased by 25 cases, raising the total to 724.

The overall fatality rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2013 was 3.3, down from a range of 3.4 to 3.6 from 2009 to 2012. However, the number of fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers rose to 817 after updates, a 9 percent increase compared to the total in 2012 of 748. The fatal injury rate for Hispanic or Latino workers also rose to 3.9 per 100,000 FTE workers in 2013 from 3.7 in 2012. The number of non-Hispanic Blacks or African-Americans fatally injured at work in 2013 rose 6 percent from the preliminary count of 414 to the revised count of 439. The total for non-Hispanic white workers rose by 4 percent following the updates.

In the construction sector, there were 32 more fatalities in 2013 compared to 2012, a 3% increase and the largest number since 2009.

The total number of fatal injuries for contractors on the job in 2013 rose from 734 to 749 after updates. They accounted for 16 percent of all fatal work injuries that year.

Roadway deaths were higher by 108 cases (11 percent) from the preliminary count for 2013, increasing the total number of fatal work-related roadway incidents in 2013 to 1,099 cases. However, the final 2013 total showed a 5 percent decrease from the final 2012 count.

OSHA is requesting information from the public about worker safety hazards in communication tower construction and maintenance activities. The agency says the information will assist it in determining what measures to take to prevent worker injuries and fatalities.

Increasingly, antennas are being installed on structures other than communication towers, such as on water towers, on electrical and telephone poles, and on the roofs of buildings. These alternative structures are often used in more densely populated areas where the construction of large communication towers is impractical or impossible, for example, due to zoning restrictions.

Workers often climb from 100 to 2,000 feet In order to erect or maintain communication towers. Communication tower workers face the risk of falls from such heights, structural collapses, electrical hazards, and hazards associated with inclement weather.

In the request for information, OSHA is seeking data about the causes of the employee injuries and fatalities that are occurring among employees working on communication towers. That includes collecting information from wireless carriers, tower workers, engineering and construction management firms, tower owners, and tower construction and maintenance companies about the causes of employee injuries and fatalities and for information about the best practices used by employers in the industry to address these hazards. The agency is also seeking comments on safe work practices for communication tower activities, training and certification practices for communication tower workers, and potential approaches OSHA might take to address the hazards associated with work on communication towers.

The deadline for submitting comments is June 15, 2015. Interested parties may submit comments and additional materials electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments may also be mailed or faxed. See the Federal Register notice for details.

Read entire article: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=OSHA-2014-0018-0001

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The month of June marks the official beginning of summer, and it might come as no surprise that it is also National Safety Month. The summer months are traditionally when people spend the most time outdoors, so June is an appropriate time to consider the special health and safety concerns that accompany the season.

National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in the home and communities. This year, the month’s special focus areas are prescription painkiller abuse, transportation safety, ergonomics, emergency preparedness and slips, trips and falls.

At Workplace Safety & Health Company, we are committed to helping to make workplaces safer the whole year round. Our specialized consulting services are based upon the specific needs of each client, and we stand ready to assist with industrial hygiene, confined space hazard, and qualitative exposure assessments, job safety analyses, confined space evaluations, indoor air monitoring, vapor intrusion monitoring, lockout/tagout surveys or industrial noise monitoring and mapping. Our goal is to help our customers prevent injuries and illnesses while promoting profitability by means of sound health and safety management practices.

Some of the training courses available from Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. include:
• Complying with OSHA 30-hour/ 10-hour courses
• Lockout/Tagout
• HAZMAT / HAZWOPER
• Confined Space Entry and Rescue
• First Aid /CPR (to include AED and Bloodborne Pathogens)
• Asbestos Operations and Maintenance
• Incident Command
• Fall Protection

Whatever your workplace safety concern, contact us – we’re here to help.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

OSHA announced recently that it has extended the comment period on its Request for Information on Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits to Oct. 9, 2015 from its original deadline of .April 8, 2015. The RFI, issued Oct. 10, 2014, seeks stakeholders' input about more effective and efficient approaches to address workplace conditions where workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals. OSHA said the decision to extend the period was the result of many requests from stakeholders so they can research and formulate responses to questions included in the RFI.

In the RFI, OSHA says that it "is reviewing its overall approach to managing chemical exposures in the workplace and seeks stakeholder input about more effective and efficient approaches that addresses challenges found with the current regulatory approach. This review involves considering issues related to updating permissible exposure limits (PELs), as well as examining other strategies that could be implemented to address workplace conditions where workers are exposed to chemicals." The agency said the request is concerned primarily with chemicals that cause adverse health effects from long-term occupational exposure and is unrelated to activities being conducted under Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, which was issued by the president in response to the ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas. Comments may be submitted by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching for Docket No. OSHA-2012-0023-0001.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/trade-20150317A.html

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What started as a single day’s observance in 2005 to highlight the health risks of exposure to asbestos and to prevent asbestos-related disease has grown into National Asbestos Awareness Week – which is the first week of April each year. In its resolution declaring the observance in 2015, the United States Senate has urged the surgeon general to warn and educate people about the public health issue of asbestos exposure. And with good reason: Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause several types of lung disease, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and cancer – conditions that may not develop until years after someone is exposed. According to The Mesothelioma Center, an estimated 2500 to 3000 people in the United States die each year from some form of cancer caused by asbestos.

While the naturally occurring mineral fiber has long been valued for its durability and flame resistance, it wasn't until the industrial revolution that these properties received widespread application. At about the same time, asbestos became associated with a number of respiratory problems. Today, it is well-documented as a cause of a number of respiratory ailments and as a carcinogen.

Exposure to asbestos is a concern for those who work construction and demolition, but it is also poses a year-round health risk for those who work or live in buildings that contain the material. Although the use of asbestos is now banned in some products by regulations such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Consumer Product Safety Act, many older commercial and residential buildings still harbor asbestos-containing materials. And because asbestos fibers of certain sizes and types are not easily exhaled, even short-term exposure to greater than naturally occurring levels of the material may lead to health problems.

Building and facility owners are required by law to assess asbestos hazards before beginning any renovation, maintenance or demolition work. A written report must be furnished to contractors and any others who work around any project that involves asbestos. This requirement applies to both newly installed and existing materials.

Product information on labels and safety data sheets often include information on asbestos content when it constitutes more than one percent of a material. However, the absence of asbestos information on a label does not always mean that asbestos is not present. So when handling products that may contain asbestos, it should be assumed that it is present unless the manufacturer or a testing laboratory has certified the material to be asbestos free. When in doubt, a thorough building survey with bulk material sampling and analysis by accredited personnel is the only way to prove that a presumed asbestos containing material (PACM) does not contain asbestos.

An accurate asbestos inventory is the foundation for managing a successful operations and maintenance (O&M) program. Site-specific asbestos abatement policies, periodic inspections and exposure monitoring are robust ways for building owners to control asbestos exposure risks to building occupants, contractors and visitors. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has the expertise and the experience to partner with you to control the risk of asbestos exposure. Contact us for more information.

Tagged in: asbestos

A top OSHA official recently gave an overview of where the agency stands with creating new and updating existing regulations.
OSHA deputy administrator Jordan Barab updated attendees at a U.S. Small Business Labor Safety Roundtable. An attendee presented an overview of Barab’s presentation in The National Law Review.
Barab said these four rules pending final agency action are on top of OSHA’s to-do list:
-Confined Space in Construction
-Silica
-Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems, and
-Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses (electronic recordkeeping).
Of those four, Barab said Confined Space in Construction would be released first. That standard would align closely with the confined space standard for general industry.

Read entire article - http://www.natlawreview.com/article/jordan-barab-gives-regulatory-update-small-business-association-sba-roundtable-meeti

OSHA recently announced it is accepting applications for targeted-topic training grants and capacity-building training grants through the 2015 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. The annual grant program is named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, a former director in OSHA's Office of Risk Assessment. Harwood’s 17 years of service with the agency led to the development of worker protection standards for exposure to bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos and lead.

The grants fund the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs and the development of materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or are temporary workers. The grants will fund training and education for workers and employers to help them identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards.

The types of grants solicited vary from year to year. This year, two types of capacity-building grants are offered: capacity-building pilot and capacity-building developmental grants. Capacity-building pilot grants are aimed at assisting organizations in assessing their needs and formulating a capacity-building plan before launching a full-scale safety and health education program. Capacity-building developmental grants are intended to be used to improve and expand an organization's capacity to provide safety and health training, education and related assistance to target audiences. Capacity-building developmental grant recipients may be eligible for up to three additional 12-month follow-on grants, based on satisfactory performance.

Funding opportunity announcements can be found at http://www.grants.gov, where new applicants must register and returning applicants must confirm accuracy of their registration information before completing the application. OSHA states that the registration process generally takes three to five business days, though it may take as long as four weeks if all steps are not completed in a timely manner. OSHA recommends that organizations new to the System for Award Management allow for an additional 14 days for registration to obtain a commercial and government entity code.

With that in mind, applicants are encouraged to begin the registering with www.grants.gov as soon as possible. Applications for both targeted topic training grants (SHTG-FY-15-01) and capacity building grants (SHTG-FY-15-02) must be submitted electronically, no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on June 2, 2015. No extensions will be granted.
Short OSHA-developed webinars aimed at helping prospective applicants understand the application process can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s most recent National Roadside Survey shows declines in drunk driving but an increase in use of marijuana and prescription drugs on the nation’s roadways.

The survey found the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007 and by more than three-quarters since 1973.

Yet, the same study found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs, with one in four drivers testing positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.

Read entire article: http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-releases-2-impaired-driving-studies-02-2015

Posted by on in Noise Measurement

Noise, or undesirable sound, is one of the most common health problems in many workplaces. Practically all companies involved in manufacturing, construction, or mining create noise. And because noise is inherent in many work processes, it cannot be totally removed. However, its adverse effects on health can be limited by knowing where to implement engineering controls, administrative controls and the use of proper personal protective equipment.

Perhaps the most widely known detrimental effect of noise is hearing loss, which can be either temporary or permanent. The extent of the damage depends primarily upon the intensity and duration of exposure. In addition to hearing loss, excessive noise levels can also lead to hazardous situations at work, such as an inability to hear warnings, a decrease in the ability to communicate with other employees, and impaired concentration.

In the early 1980s, OSHA established a hearing conservation amendment (29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure Standard) that requires hearing conservation programs for all employees exposed to noise on an eight-hour, time weighted average (TWA) in excess of 85 decibels measured on an A-weighted scale (85 dBA). The permissible exposure limit is 90 dBA for an eight-hour TWA. (Something to keep in mind is that some states also have regulations that are at least as stringent as OSHA’s.)

Determining whether or not to use engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protection devices or some combination to meet those requirements involves recognizing that a noise problem may exist, followed by identifying its source or sources and evaluating the extent of the problem. In some cases, identifying both the problem and its source can be obvious, such as when it is apparent that employees aren’t able to talk with one another at a reasonable distance near certain machinery. In many other cases, however, the source can’t be traced so easily, such as in places where multiple machines are in use.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help identify sources of noise in a work environment by conducting a noise survey, which normally includes personal noise exposure sampling using dosimeters and developing a noise contour map, clearly identifying noisy areas. The results can be used to locate specific noise sources, identify which employees should be included in a hearing conservation program, and then determine what form or forms of noise control are best suited to the situation. It all makes for a hearing conservation program that is both compliant and efficient.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is seeking public comment from partners and the public to help evaluate the impact of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). Feedback will be accepted until the federal docket is closed on March 24, 2015.

NORA is a partnership program to identify and address the most critical issues in workplace safety and health. It began in 1996 and by 2006 had a new sector-based structure. NIOSH is reviewing the accomplishments of NORA’s second decade and is preparing for the third decade, which starts next year.

To view the notice and provide comment, visit www.regulations.gov. Enter CDC-2015-0002 in the search field and then click ‘‘Search”.

Read entire article: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nora/

Tagged in: NIOSH

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Driving to...Distractions

When we think of safety at work, it’s important to consider that for many employees on their way to, from, or for work, safety centers around staying focused on driving. Yet distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of transportation-related accidents.

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, 3,328 people in the United States were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,360 in 2011. Another 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9 percent increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011.

Each April, the National Safety Council – a nonprofit organization chartered by Congress – promotes Distracted Driving Awareness Month and encourages motorists to drive cell phone free. The NSC maintains that one concern contributing is the amount of communication devices built into some of today’s vehicles as well as those brought along for the ride. It isn’t the devices that are the problem, the NSC says: It’s the state of mental distraction to which they can contribute.

Distracted driving can come in a variety of forms and arise from a variety of causes, from eating or drinking to adjusting a radio or media player to reaching for an object. But perhaps the distraction most closely linked with the use of technology is the use of cell phones, particularly to send and receive text messages.

A popular notion is that cell phone improves productivity at work by cutting down on the “down time” experienced on the road. Yet, a 2009 survey of NSC members showed that 99 percent of companies with policies that prohibit the use of cell phones and messaging devices while driving saw no decreases in productivity – with some experiencing an increase in productivity – after the policies took effect.

Curiously, according to another poll conducted by the NSC, 53 percent of respondents indicated they believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into cars and trucks. The poll also found that 80 percent of respondents believe hands-free cell phones are safer to use while driving than hand-held models. Also, of the respondents who indicated that they using hands-free devices while driving, 70 percent indicated they do so for safety reasons.

The NSC recommends that companies ban all types of cell phone use while driving, including texting, hand-held conversations and hands-free conversations. All-out bans concerning cell phones continue to be a thorny subject, however. Something that might help to sell the concept to the private sector ahead of government is the issue of liability. For example, when an employee is injured off-site while using a cell phone for company business, does the incident trigger workers’ compensation coverage? If so, it will likely raise workers’ compensation rates – and insurance companies will likely offer strong defenses against such claims.

It’s all something to think about – just maybe not while driving.

 

Tagged in: Distracted driving NSC

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), has presented two companies with the 2015 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ – a way to recognize organizations that have shown dedication to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss through excellent hearing loss prevention practices in the workplace.

Read entire article: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-02-19-15.html

A new, 24-page downloadable booklet from NIOSH employs illustrations to show how and where employees in a retail setting could use mechanical assist devices to lift, push, or pull heavy materials.

According to NIOSH, manual material handling injuries, or overexertion injuries, account for 60 percent of the injuries and lost work in some types of retail business.

The booklet was inspired by a NIOSH/CalOSHA booklet, Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling (2007-131), NIOSH stated. The new document was published in response to a recognized need by members of the NORA Wholesale and Retail Trade Sector for informational materials showing interventions in work settings that were familiar to employers and employees.

Read entire article: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2015-100/

Top 10 lists can be entertaining, but they can also be eye-opening and informative. Take, for example, the 10 leading causes of workplace injuries in the United States.

The 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index shows that the 10 most disabling injuries added up to $59.58 billion a year in direct workers’ compensation costs. That equates to well over $1 billion per week.

The index, compiled by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, used information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance from 2012 – the most recent year for which the data were available – to find which events caused employees to miss six or more days of work and then ranked those causes by total workers’ compensation costs.

Below is the list of 10 leading injury causes, followed by the percentage accounted for by each, and then the total costs in billions:
1. Overexertion involving outside source (lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, throwing): 25.3%; $15.1
2. Falls on same level: 15.4%; $9.19
3. Struck by object of equipment: 8.9%; $5.3
4. Falls to lower level: 8.6%; $5.12
5. Other exertions or bodily reactions (bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, stepping, kneeling, sitting, standing, walking): 7.2%; $4.27
6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle: 5.3%; $3.18
7. Slip or trip without fall: 3.6%; $2.17
8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects: 3.5%; $2.1
9. Repetitive motions including micro-tasks: 3.1%; $1.84, and
10. Struck against object or equipment: 2.9%; $1.76.

It should be noted that these categories account for 83.8% because there are additional categories beyond the top 10.

The previous index from Liberty Mutual stated that the top 10 injuries in 2011 accounted for $55.4 billion a year in workers’ comp costs – making an increase of 7.55% from year to year.

Tagged in: OSHA

The National Fire Protection Association is seeking comments on a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) to NFPA 1999. Standard on Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations. According to a press release, this TIA follows work conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other organizations and federal agencies that recognized the need for a national standard on personal protective equipment to protect emergency first responders from exposure to liquid-borne pathogens.

Read entire article - http://www.nfpa.org/press-room/news-releases/2014/nfpa-seeks-comments-to-help-protect-first-responders-from-ebola-virus

Each day, an average of 2000 workers in the United States suffer job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Even though March has been designated Workplace Eye Wellness Month, any time is a good time to review eye and face protection protocols with employees and ensure they are correctly using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task at hand.

According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately three out of every five workers who experienced eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were not wearing the proper kind of eye protection for the job. Perhaps even more eye-opening was that the workers surveyed most often reported that they did not believe the situation called for protective eyewear.

Common eye injuries in the workplace are exposure to chemicals or particulate matter and cuts or scrapes to the cornea. Other common sources of eye injuries are splashes, steam burns, and exposure to ultraviolet or infrared radiation.

The PPE selected depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and an individual's vision needs. Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes include safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators.

According to OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(1), it is up the employer to "ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards." That includes making sure the PPE eye protection provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(2). For those who wear prescription lenses, OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that each affected employee "engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses."

Important and effective as they are in protecting against eye hazards, PPE devices are just one part of a safety environment that should include guards, engineering controls, and strong safety practices.
How is your workplace keeping an eye on employee eye safety?

OSHA has cited the Robertson Incorporated Bridge and Grading Division in connection with the death of a 16-year-old laborer who was fatally struck by the swinging cab and boom of a crane that was being disassembled at a construction site in Delta, Mo., on June 18, 2014. An OSHA investigation found the crane operator was unaware that the teen was directed to stand in an inadequately marked danger zone. OSHA has proposed penalties of $44,730, while the department’s Wage and Hour Division also assessed civil money penalties of $11,000 for violating Hazardous Order Number 7, which prohibits minors under age 18 from operating or assisting in the operation of power-driven hoists.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=27159

Tagged in: OSHA

We know that lead exposure can be harmful to our health, which leads us to ponder how it (along with other materials known to be hazardous, such as mercury and asbestos), could ever have been so widely used. The short answer is that its usefulness outweighed any known harmful effects then known. Today, we know that lead exposure can damage organs and the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. It also can be harmful in children’s development.

Most commonly, lead is inhaled as a dust or fume or is ingested accidentally. Because it can circulate throughout the body and be deposited in organs and bodily tissues, lead is considered a cumulative and persistent toxic substance.

When we think of lead exposure in everyday items, we often think of lead-based paint. Prior to the 1960s – and even up until the late 1970s – paint used in homes was most often lead based. Traditionally, lead oxide was used as a pigment. And because of their anti-bacterial and anti-mold properties, organic compounds, such as lead naphthenate, were used in house paints in small concentrations. The EPA established lead-based paint regulations in the 1990s after it was found that millions of children in the United States had been exposed to lead poisoning from paint peeling from walls.

Lead chromate continues to be used in applications such as primers for steel bridges and in the shipbuilding industry due to its anti-corrosion properties. Similarly, lead is still used in yellow highway paints in part for its resistance to the elements.

Whether at home or in the workplace, remodeling or renovation projects such as sanding, cutting with saws or torches, and demolition work can yield hazardous lead chips and dust by disturbing lead-based paint, resulting in an unhealthy environment. OSHA’s Lead Standard for the construction industry, Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926.62, addresses lead in a various forms, including metallic lead, all inorganic lead compounds, and organic lead soaps. Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. can provide industry-standard testing for lead-based paint according to OSHA standards. Our industrial hygienists cover a wide breadth of workplace environmental concerns, from noise to air quality, from chemical exposure to asbestos and lead paint identification. We can identify and evaluate hazards, and develop corrective action plans to solve your industrial hygiene problems efficiently and economically.

Currently, there are two methods recognized by the EPA for testing paint: X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis and paint chip sampling with an analysis by an accredited laboratory. At Workplace Safety & Health, we go a step further by using AutoCAD drawings and photographs to show the location and appearance of each surface coating we analyze.

So, before beginning that next renovation or construction project that you suspect might result in lead exposure, give us a call first and know what you’re dealing with.

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Heat stress is a very real and very serious issue in workplace safety. For some occupations, so is cold stress.

Workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can lead to health emergencies in susceptible people – those without shelter, outdoor workers, and those who work in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat.

What exactly constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary from region to region. Temperatures that drop significantly below normal along with increasing wind speeds can rapidly rob the body of heat. That means that places that are relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, even near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Such weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.

"When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body's stored energy,” according to the resource-filled National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) page on the subject of cold stress, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/coldstress/. “The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. A body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and will not be able to do anything about it."

The page describes early and late hypothermia symptoms and the correct first aid measures for a worker with hypothermia:
-Alert the supervisor and request medical assistance.
-Move the victim into a warm room or shelter.
-Remove their wet clothing.
-Warm the center of their body first-chest, neck, head, and groin-using an electric blanket, if available; or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
-Warm beverages may help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
-After their body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
-If victim has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

On its page providing guidance for interpreting its weather advisories, watches, warnings and bulletins (http://www.noaa.gov/features/03_protecting/winter.html), the National Weather Service page quotes meteorologist John Koch: "Thousands of people die every year in weather-related traffic accidents. The best way to avoid a tragedy is to be aware of weather conditions and limit travel when hazardous weather conditions exist." NWS advises motorists to do the following before driving in winter weather conditions, especially if watches or warnings or have been issued in your locale:
-Keep the gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
-Let someone know your destination, route, and when you expect to arrive.
-Keep a cell phone or other emergency communication device with you.
-Pack your vehicle with thermal blankets, extra winter clothes, basic tool kit, (including a good knife and jumper cables), an ice scraper and shovel, flashlights or battery-powered lanterns with extra batteries, and high calorie, nonperishable food and water.
-Use sand or kitty litter under your tires for extra traction, especially if you find yourself stuck in a slippery spot.

Being temporarily stuck – but safe – might only seem like cold comfort, but it’s far better than the serious health problems that can arise from cold stress.

Tagged in: cold injuries OSHA

According to the 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), last year continued a generally downward trend in the incidence of many kinds of workplace injuries.

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

-The total recordable cases (TRC) incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from 2012. The incidence rate for more serious cases – those requiring days away from work, job transfer or restriction known as DART cases – also declined to 1.7 from 1.8, a figure that had held steady from 2009 through 2012. The TRC injury and illness incidence rate stayed highest in 2013 among privately held businesses of medium size, defined as those employing between 50 and 249 workers. The TRC rate was lowest among small establishments – those that employ fewer than 11 people.

-Manufacturing in 2013 continued a 16-year trend as the only sector of private industry in which the rate of job transfer- or restriction-only cases was more than the rate of cases with days away from work. The rates for these two case types declined by 0.1 case in 2013 to 1.2 cases and 1.0 case per 100 full-time workers, respectively.

-Private industry employers reported slightly more than 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2013. The incidence rate was 3.3 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, down from 3.4 in 2011 and 2012. The rate has declined each of the last 11 years, except for 2012.

-The incidence rate of injuries only among private industry workers declined to 3.1 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013, down from 3.2 cases per 100 in 2012. The incidence rate of illness cases was statistically unchanged in between those years.

-The rate of reported injuries and illnesses declined in 2013 in manufacturing, retail, and utilities, but was statistically unchanged among all other private industry sectors compared to 2012. Nearly 2.9 million (94.9 percent) of the more than 3.0 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2013 were injuries. Among them, over 2.1 million (75.5 percent) happened in service-providing industries, which employed 82.4 percent of the private industry workforce. The remaining approximately 700,000 injuries (24.5 percent) happened in goods-producing industries, which represented 17.6 percent of private industry employment in 2013.

While the news overall is encouraging, as always, the fact that many of these statistics exist at all also points to areas where there is room for improvement.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements changed. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. The agency has said it has an updated list of the industries that are required to keep injury and illness records.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/reporting.html

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA announced an enforcement case against a Nebraska company stemming from a worker's death. The 23-year-old man was found unresponsive in a tanker truck at Michael Foods Inc.'s Big Red Farms facility in Wakefield, Neb. He was conducting sampling of the tank, which contained egg products and nitrogen. OSHA has cited the company for five serious safety violations, including exposing employees to nitrogen hazards.

OSHA found that the company failed to prevent employees from entering permit-required confined spaces. The company did not ensure that emergency services were proficient in confined space rescues and that appropriate equipment for a confined space rescue could be used to perform one quickly. According to OSHA, the company also did not train workers on the health hazards related to atmospheric chemicals in the workplace; failed to evaluate respiratory hazards for employees sampling from nitrogen-filled tanks; and did not ensure employees wore appropriate eye protection when exposed to corrosive liquids.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=27093

Tagged in: Flammable vapors OSHA

While we don’t have a crystal ball at our disposal, we can still look into the future as far as some of the items on OSHA’s regulatory agenda are concerned. That includes updating some current regulations and creating new ones in 2015.

Federal agencies recently released their Fall 2014 regulatory agendas, and for its part, OSHA has said it plans to issue three final rules next year. They are:

March 2015 - Confined Spaces in Construction: Although OSHA has confined space regulations for general industry, it doesn’t have rules for construction. This proposed standard would extend protections to workers in construction.

June 2015 - Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips and Fall Prevention): The standard to protect workers from slip, trip and fall hazards has been in the rulemaking process since 1990.

August 2015 - Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses: This rule would require larger employers to submit injury and illness logs in electronic form and make them public records.

Other OSHA proposals in the works in 2015 include:

Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs): This October, OSHA issued a request for information (RFI) on how to address outdated PELs and lack of exposure limits for some chemicals. The comment period for the RFI is set to end on April 8.

Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents: OSHA issued about a year ago an RFI to “identify issues related to modernization of the Process Safety Management standard and related standards necessary to meet the goal of preventing major chemical accidents” The next step would be for OSHA to begin the review process for the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). This would involve the SBREFA panel meeting with representatives of small businesses that are directly regulated by the act. It would also represent an opportunity to provide advice and recommendations on regulatory alternatives to minimize the burden on small businesses.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA): This would involve the SBREFA panel meeting with representatives of small businesses that are directly regulated by the act. It would also represent an opportunity to provide advice and recommendations on regulatory alternatives to minimize the burden on small businesses.

Communication Towers: OSHA has noted that the fatality rate for communication tower workers is extremely high with falls the leading cause of death. OSHA has said it plans to issue an RFI in the near future on proposed regulations for these workers.

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica: This proposed regulation would update OSHA’s current rules on silica, including establishing a stricter permissible exposure limits. In 2014, OSHA held public hearings on the proposal and has said it will be done analyzing comments the hearings by June 2015.

Occupational Exposure to Beryllium: OSHA has said it expects to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to regulate occupational exposure to beryllium in January.

Tagged in: OSHA

The World Health Organization released a report in November on the global death toll from drowning – 372,000 people die each year from drowning, with those younger than 5 at the greatest risk. "Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer" shows that drowning is among the 10 leading causes of death for children and young people in every region.

Read entire article - http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/global_report_drowning/en/

Tagged in: Drowning Deaths WHO

Workers cleaning a chemical spill at Penda Corp. in Portage, Wis., had not been trained in proper cleanup procedures or provided proper personal protective equipment, according to a report from OSHA. OSHA found that workers experienced symptoms of overexposure to an isocyanates chemical used in plastics manufacturing that can cause occupational asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

OSHA cited the company for seven serious violations for lack of a hazardous materials spill response plan and failure to train workers on how to respond to spills. In addition, required PPE, such as gloves and respirators, was not provided, the agency said in a statement.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26991

Tagged in: OSHA

An early cold snap in mid-November that made most places in the United States feel like the calendar had skipped ahead a couple of months raises the issue of severe winter weather preparedness.

Last winter’s extensive use of travel warnings – in some cases, outright bans on using roadways – highlighted the fact that not everyone knew whether they really should stay at home at the risk of running into trouble with their employers, or whether they should risk the trip and face the possibility of running into trouble with law enforcement personnel in the process.

The situation underscored the need by employers to educate employees on what it is expected of them in emergencies of any kind – natural or manmade.

Here are some questions that could draw attention to existing policies at your organization and help to identify areas where new or revised policies might be in order:

Do employees know who among them is considered essential and is expected to show up for work no matter what, such as during a snow storm or other severe weather event? Do they know who is expected to stay at home during such events?
What are your organization’s expectations for employees with regard to assisting others during an emergency? What about first aid, rescue, and evacuation plans?

How effective and reliable are the systems you use to notify employees (Email, text message, in-house paging system, messengers, etc.)? Do they know whom to contact in the event of an emergency? Is contact information clearly and conspicuously posted?

How does your organization confirm that employees are accounted for in an emergency at the workplace? What about those with disability and/or unique positions – or any workers whose jobs may place them outside normal routes ¬that may keep them from hearing pages or noticing other signals of an emergency? Do exits remain clear at all times?

Do you have and maintain a comprehensive inventory of substance that are potentially dangerous, as well as a list of the proper cleanup/containment equipment? Do you hold emergency response drills?

Do your emergency preparedness plans exist in multiple copies on multiple media?

Emergency operations plans should provide clear and definitive answers to these and a number of related questions. Rather than being locked away and allowed to collect dust, they should be viewed as dynamic documents, subject to revision as needed. Safety at your workplace could well depend on it.

Most workers in the United States are not likely to be exposed to the Ebola, or to come in contact with someone who has contracted Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF). Even so, employers in a broad range of industries are understandably concerned about protecting their employees from the virus.

Healthcare workers obviously are more likely to be at risk of coming in contact with virus than those of other fields. However, those who work in medical laboratory testing or death care are also at risk. So too are those who work in the travel industry, from airline service personnel to border and custom workers to emergency responders. In fact, anyone who works with equipment arriving into the United States from countries with outbreaks of EHF stands an elevated risk of being exposed to the virus.

OSHA has said that precautionary measures for preventing exposure to the Ebola virus depend on the nature of the work, potential for Ebola-virus contamination of the work environment, and what is known about other potential exposure hazards. In some instances, infection control strategies may have to be modified to include additional personal protective equipment (PPE), administrative controls, and/or safe work practices. OSHA has also developed interim guidance to help prevent worker exposure to Ebola virus and individuals with EHF.

According to OSHA, several existing standards apply in keeping employees who may come in contact with the Ebola virus safe.

Because it is a contact-transmissible disease, Ebola virus exposure is covered by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard (1910.1030). And because workers could be exposed to bioaerosols containing Ebola virus, employers must also follow OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (1910.134). OSHA has said that employers should follow recognized and generally accepted good infection control practices, and must meet applicable requirements in the Personal Protective Equipment standard (29 CFR 1910.132, general requirements), as well.

The following are OSHA’s requirements and recommendations for protecting workers whose work activities are conducted in an environment that is known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with Ebola virus (such as due to contamination with blood or other potentially infectious material). (These general guidelines are not intended to cover workers who have direct contact with individuals with EHF, however).

•Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and good hand hygiene protocols to avoid exposure to infected blood and body fluids, contaminated objects, or other contaminated environmental surfaces.
•Wear gloves, wash hands with soap and water after removing gloves, and discard used gloves in properly labeled waste containers.
•Workers who may be splashed, sprayed, or spattered with blood or body fluids from environmental surfaces where Ebola virus contamination is possible must wear face and eye protection, such as a full-face shield or surgical masks with goggles. Aprons or other fluid-resistant protective clothing must also be worn in these situations to prevent the worker's clothes from being soiled with infectious material.

Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional guidance and recommendations for preventing worker exposure to Ebola, for both healthcare workers and others at increased risk of exposure.

Tagged in: CDC ebola NIOSH

Fires in the United States last year cost the country $11.5 billion in property damage. As staggering as that total is, it’s down from the estimated $12.4 billion recorded by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for 2012.

That’s just one finding contained in "Fire Loss in the United States in 2013", the most recent annual report released by the NFPA. The report compiles data on civilian fire deaths and injuries, property damage and intentionally set fires reported to the NFPA by fire departments that responded to the 2013 National Fire Experience Survey.

Last year, there were 1,240,000 fires reported in the U.S., down from the 1,375,500 fires responded to by public fire departments in 2012. It also represents the lowest rate of incidence since 1977-78 when the association began using its current survey methodology.

Of the fires reported in 2013, 487,500 involved structures, up about 1.5 percent from 2012. Nonresidential structure fires amounted to 100,500 in 2013, an increase of about 1 percent from the previous year. This category also included 70 civilian deaths, an increase of 7.7 percent from the previous year. The report defines the term “civilian” as “anyone other than a firefighter, and covers public service personnel such as police officers, civil defense staff, non-fire service medical personnel, and utility company employees.” Overall civilian deaths were up last year, too, from 2,855 in 2012 to 3,240 in 2013, with fires in the home accounting for about 85 percent. There were also 1,500 civilian injuries in nonresidential structures last year, a decrease of about 1.6 percent from 2012.

Estimates of civilian fire injuries are on the low side, the NFPA cautions, because many injuries are not reported to the responding fire service. This can occur at small fires to which fire departments don’t respond, or when fire departments aren’t aware of injured persons whom they didn’t transport to medical facilities.

Until last year, the number of structure fires had declined steadily, from a peak in 1977 of 1,098,000 to 480,500 in 2012. Whether last year’s numbers are a blip on the radar or represent the start of another trend remains to be seen, and it’s important to note that structure fires are just one part of a larger picture.

The report states there were an estimated 300 civilians who died in highway vehicle fires, statistically unchanged since 2012. From 1977 to 2013, the number of vehicle deaths on the nation’s roads has decreased 60 percent.
By region, the Midwest and the Northeast tied for the highest fire incident rate per thousand people (4.4), while the Midwest had the highest civilian death rate per million people (13.4).

The Northeast showed the highest civilian injury rate per million people (70.2), while the Midwest had the highest property loss per capita rate ($42.10).

The NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All of those codes and standards can be found at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess .

Tagged in: NFPA workplace fires

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October was National Indoor Air Quality Month, an observance aimed at drawing attention to the quality of the air we breathe at home and at work.

Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comparing the risks of environmental threats to public health list indoor air pollution from sources such as secondhand smoke, radon, organic compounds, and biological pollutants among the top five risks on a consistent basis.

In general, most indoor air quality problems in the workplace can be pinpointed to six main sources:
• Inadequate Ventilation – These problems involve lack of adequate fresh air and uneven distribution of fresh air within a structure.
• Humidity and Temperature – These concerns involve levels outside the normal range of human comfort.
• Inside Contamination – Possible sources of contamination include office equipment such as copy machines, office and cleaning supplies, and chemicals that are stored indoors.
• Outside Contamination – As the name suggests, this includes contaminants brought into a work environment, such through improper air intake or even changes in wind conditions (for example, vehicle exhaust fumes from a parking garage or loading dock drawn into a ventilation system).
• Microbial Contamination – This is typically associated with water leaks, water infiltration, increased humidity indoors, humidifiers, and contaminated ventilation ductwork – places that can harbor and encourage the growth of microbes.
• New Building Materials – The results from building materials that have just been installed (such as the familiar gas emissions from new carpeting). Such problems can be dissipated by increasing ventilation and typically resolve over time.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices – and that includes helping to identify and manage safety and health risks posed by air quality. Whether your employees’ work environment is predominately indoors or outdoors, our consultants can solve your business's air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air contaminant exposure assessment. So give us a call –and breathe easier.

A paint manufacturer has been cited by OSHA for six safety violations that involved amputation, electrical and other safety hazards following an April 2014 inspection at the Plaid Enterprises Inc. craft paint production in Decatur, Ga. OSHA initiated the inspection there in response to a complaint.

OSHA claims that a staffing agency provided temporary workers for the Plaid Enterprises' facility, but that it neither maintained supervision at the company nor was knowledgeable about the facility's hazardous conditions. No citations were proposed for staffing company. Proposed penalties for Plaid Enterprises Inc. total $84,500.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26787

Tagged in: OSHA

As an opening salvo of an initiative to conduct a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances, OSHA has announced the publication of a Request for Information (RFI) to stakeholders and others requesting recommendations on how the agency might update its permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hundreds of chemicals. PELs are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, and are meant to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. This opening stage is seeking stakeholder input on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating PELs, a number of which have exposure limits that date back to the early 1970s.

The RFI was scheduled to be published in the Oct. 10 Federal Register.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26841

The revised set of labels brought about by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) isn’t the only recent development in a move toward more comprehensive – and comprehensible ¬ – product descriptions for chemicals.

On the consumer front, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is redesigning its Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Label to better convey that products bearing the label meet the program’s “rigorous standard to be safer for people and the environment,” according to a news release.

“We want consumers to be able to easily find safer products that work well,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement. “The agency wants to hear from the American people on which designs will help people identify household cleaning and other products that are safer for families and the environment.”

The redesigned label is aimed at helping consumers, businesses and institutional buyers recognize products that have attained the EPA Safer Product Label. According to the agency, all ingredients in products bearing the DfE logo have been evaluated by the EPA to make sure they qualify as high-performing and be packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. The criteria address potential health and environmental concerns, including, for example, if an ingredient is associated with causing cancer or reproductive harm, and if it accumulates in human tissue or in the environment. As a condition of the label, all ingredients must be disclosed either on the product or the manufacturer’s website. In effect, the EPA says, when people choose to use these products, they are protecting their families and the environment by making safer chemical choices. In addition to informing consumers, a stated goal of the program is to help partners drive change by providing technical tools, methodologies, and expertise to move toward safer, more sustainable formulations.

According to the agency, more than 2500 products have earned the DfE label to date. A complete list of those products is available at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/formulat/formpart.htm .

From now until Oct. 31, the agency is asking the chemical and product manufacturing industry, retailers, consumers and environmental organizations to share their thoughts on four proposed label designs up until Oct. 31, 2014 at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/label .

When we think of accidental falls, we often think of work at-height. But fall accidents can happen anywhere there is a change in level – and that includes confined spaces.

Many industries have tight spaces that are considered by OSHA to be "confined" because they are configured in such a way as to hinder the activities of anyone who is called upon to enter, work in, and exit them.

Obviously, not only do confined spaces vary in size, shape and location, but they can come with their own set of challenging conditions, including limited movement, hazardous air, and risk of engulfment.

OSHA identifies a broad range of confined spaces, including that ubiquitous example: the manhole. As soon as the cover from a manhole is removed, any lack of proper safety equipment puts anyone at an increased risk of falling through an unguarded opening. Once within that particular type of confined space, there exists the risk of falling still deeper. Outdated ladders or stairs, inadequate lighting, and the physical challenges posed by restricted movement are all potential contributing factors to fall injuries within confined spaces. Fumes – a major safety consideration for any kind of confined space – have the potential to overwhelm anyone working near the area, leading to a loss of consciousness and the likelihood of a fall.

Other types of confined spaces defined as such by OSHA include ducts, tanks, vessels, storage bins, vaults, tunnels, and silos, to name a few. What is consistent for all of them is a need to consider the same level of fall protection as for any above-ground work involving changes in level. Even in confined spaces, having an effective fall protection system can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Depending on the situation, safeguards such as barriers, guardrails, and devices such as self-retracting lifelines or lanyards can prevent or halt accidental falls. In determining whether a confined space calls for the use of such equipment, it is necessary to evaluate both the area within the confined space and its access point.

Workplace Safety & Health can help.

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

Read entire article - http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3735.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

An Ohio company has been cited for four repeat and nine serious safety and health violations after OSHA received a complaint alleging unsafe handling of hazardous chemicals at an Avon Lake facility that manufactures fiberglass pipes and tanks. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Perry Fiberglass Products Inc. there on Feb. 5, 2014. Proposed penalties total $53,130.

The investigation found repeat violations of OSHA's hazard communication standard, which requires employers to provide an effective training program with understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. Perry Fiberglass Products failed to label containers to identify and warn of the hazardous chemicals contained inside, use self-closing valves on containers with flammable liquids and ensure a bonding system was used when dispensing flammable chemicals into secondary containers. The company failed to provide and maintain suitable eyewash stations.

The company was cited for similar violations in 2010.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26547

A new document from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014, is the most recent version of the hazardous drug list first published by NIOSH in 2004 as an appendix to the document, NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. Hazardous drugs on the list include those used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, some bioengineered drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs.

Healthcare workers who prepare or give hazardous drugs to patients, such as those used for cancer therapy, as well as support staff may face individual health risks when exposed to these drugs. The institute estimates 8 million U.S. healthcare workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs in the workplace.

Read entire article - www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2014-138/

Citing initial findings from a fatal explosion in July, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) – a federal safety agency – has issued a warning to companies with storage tanks.

CSB investigators sent water samples from an exploded tank at the Omega Protein facility in Moss Point, Miss., to a lab for testing. Those tests revealed microbial activity in the samples and off-gassing of flammable methane and hydrogen sulfide.
The explosion at the Omega facility occurred during hot work and resulted in the death of one contract worker and severe injuries to another contract worker. The water inside of the tank had been thought to be nonhazardous, but no combustible gas testing was done on the contents before the hot work started.

The CSB says has now investigated three fatal hot work incidents since 2008 involving biological or organic matter in storage tanks. The Board says companies, contract firms and maintenance personnel should know that inside a storage tank, what might seem to be non-hazardous organic material can release gases that cause the vapor space to rise above the lower flammability limit. When that occurs, a small spark or even heat from hot work can be enough to cause an explosion.

Read entire article - http://www.csb.gov/csb-chairperson-moure-eraso-warns-about-danger-of-hot-work-on-tanks-containing-biological-or-organic-material/

Tagged in: OSHA Storage tanks

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a brief detailing what investigators found after a fire and explosions damaged two barges that were docked in Mobile, Ala., on April 24, 2013, in order for the barges' tanks to be cleaned. Flammable vapors flowed from the tank hatches into the engine room of the towing vessel and ignited, the brief says, and the fire spread to the barges alongside. Three people were seriously burned, and damage total to the towing vessel and the barges was estimated at $5.7 million, according to the report.

Read entire article: https://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2014/MAB1413.pdf

Tagged in: Flammable vapors NTSB

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a report on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's review of 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013. OSHA's analysis suggests that the primary risk factor for heat fatalities is the lack of acclimatization programs.

Of the 13 enforcement cases involving worker fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days of working on the job, while four of them occurred on the worker's first day. In all cases, heat illness prevention programs were found to be incomplete or absent and no provision was made for acclimatizing new workers to the heat.

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26502

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How well prepared are you for an emergency or disaster? That’s one of the main questions National Preparedness Month asks of everyone, whether it’s at home or in the workplace.

September 2014 marks the eleventh annual observance of the themed month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the US Department of Homeland Security. This year’s theme is “Be Disaster Aware: Take Action to Prepare.” One goal of Homeland Security is to educate the public — including businesses – on how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks.

Much of the focus for National Preparedness Month centers around being ready to deal with emergencies and disasters at home, but the observance also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies on the job. Safety at work is a year round priority, so it’s important to periodically review your company’s safety plans and policies. Most businesses have (and all should have) plans in place to deal with weather emergencies and hazardous materials, but what about human-caused events such as accidents, acts of violence by people and acts of terrorism?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lists the five steps in developing a preparedness program at work as:

•Program Management
◦Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program
◦Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program

•Planning
◦Gather information about hazards and assess risks
◦Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
◦Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks

•Implementation
Write a preparedness plan addressing:
◦Resource management
◦Emergency response
◦Crisis communications
◦Business continuity
◦Information technology
◦Employee assistance
◦Incident management
◦Training

•Testing and Exercises
◦Test and evaluate your plan
◦Define different types of exercises
◦Learn how to conduct exercises
◦Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan

•Program Improvement
◦Identify when the preparedness program needs to be reviewed
◦Discover methods to evaluate the preparedness program
◦Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements

How do your current plans measure up?

A new executive order from President Obama will mean closer scrutiny of companies that want to obtain federal contracts. Under the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Executive Order, bidders on projects valued at more than $500,000 in goods, services, or a combination of both would be required to report violations of the OSH Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and others that they were cited for during the three years prior to the start of a bidding process.

It doesn’t seem to mean, however, that OSHA violators will necessarily be barred from being awarded federal contracts. The EO will be implemented on new contracts in stages during 2016 and does not affect contracts already in place. Companies with violations will still be eligible to receive contracts, but their violations will be weighed as part of the decision-making process.

The order looks to identify contractors with "track records of compliance," which means preference will be given to contractors who have not had administrative merits determinations, arbitral awards or decisions, or civil judgments issued by the Department of Labor in the past three years for several labor laws, including the OSH Act of 1970.

The order doesn’t seem to have been created in a vacuum. According to a report released in 2013 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, 18 federal contractors "were recipients of one of the largest 100 penalties issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor between 2007 and 2012." That same report also mentioned that eight federal contractors were found to be responsible for the deaths of 42 U.S. workers in 2012 and that taxpayers provided $3.4 billion in contracts to those companies.

But according to a fact issued by the White House, the executive order isn’t just about singling out companies: It’s also a way to identify where remediation might be in order. The order requires federal procurement officers to provide contractors with an opportunity to disclose any steps taken to correct any violations or improve compliance with labor laws, including any agreements entered into with an enforcement agency.
“Companies with labor law violations will be offered the opportunity to receive early guidance on whether those violations are potentially problematic and remedy any problems,” according to the fact sheet.
When awarding contracts, procurement officers will consider the information when deciding if a contractor is "a responsible source that has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics."

The fact sheet also says that, “Contracting officers will take into account only the most egregious violations.” Those violations must “rise to the level of a lack of integrity or business ethics.”

So, while it appears one-time, level citations from OSHA aren’t likely to bar a company from obtaining a federal contract, it’s important to remember that if agency finds similar violations again for the same company, subsequent violations could be categorized as repeat. The best policy seems to be to have a safety program in place that will not lead to an OSHA inspection due to employee injuries.

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When we think of heat-related illnesses at work, we tend to think of them occurring during the summer months. But even when work environments are indoors, heat exposure from various sources can lead to illness, accidents, and unsafe work conditions year round. According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, there were 4,420 workers who were affected by heat-related illnesses – indoors or out – and 61 workers who died from them.

The body’s inability to adequately cool itself is a common cause of heat-related illnesses outdoors during the hot summer months, but this can occur indoors, as well. External sources of heat injury on the job can include direct contact with steam or a hot surface, and the body’s natural reactions to heat exposure can also lead to an increased risk of accidents from sweaty palms, fogged eyewear, and lightheadedness.

To help keep employees safe when the going gets hot, training should include ways to limit heat exposure and how to identify signs of heat-related illness. Worksite procedures should emphasize the importance of acclimatization and how it is developed, particularly for workers who are new to working in the heat or those who are returning to the job after a week or more away.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Thermometer.jpgThe best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler, where possible, such as by using engineering controls (air conditioning, cooling fans, insulating hot surfaces, eliminating steam leaks, etc.) to reduce exposure.

OSHA recommends the following practices for managing work in a hot environment, whether indoors or outdoors:

  • Employers should have an emergency plan in place that specifies what to do if a worker has signs of heat-related illness, and ensures that medical services are available if needed.
  • Employers should take steps that help workers become acclimatized (gradually build up exposure to heat), especially workers who are new to working in the heat or have been away from work for a week or more. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work.
  • Workers must have adequate potable (safe for drinking) water close to the work area, and should drink small amounts frequently.
  • Rather than being exposed to heat for extended periods of time, workers should, wherever possible, be permitted to distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work/rest cycles.
  • If possible, physical demands should be reduced during hot weather, or heavier work scheduled for cooler times of the day.
  • Rotating job functions among workers can help minimize overexertion and heat exposure.
  • Workers should watch out for each other for symptoms of heat-related illness and administer appropriate first aid to anyone who is developing a heat developing a heat-related illness.
  • In some situations, employers may need to conduct physiological monitoring of workers. (The NIOSH/OSHA/USCG/EPA Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities, Chapter 8 (1985) (available as a pdf at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/complinks/OSHG-HazWaste/all-in-one.pdf) contains guidance on performing physiological monitoring of workers at hot worksites.)

To help determine the heat index for a given worksite, a figure that can be used to calculate workers’ level of risk for heat-related illnesses, OSHA has developed a free mobile device application (available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html) in both English and Spanish. Based on the heat index figure, the” Heat Safety Tool” displays level of risk to outdoor workers and allows the user to access reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that point to protect workers from heat-related illness.

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“Are Americans worrying too much about the wrong things?”

That’s the title of a press release from the National Safety Council (NSC), which marked June as National Safety Month. The aim is to draw attention to the fact that unintentional–or accidental– injuries are the fifth most common cause of death in the United States.

Within the category of unintentional injuries, the NSC notes that the top three causes of unintentional injury in the U.S. are:

  1. Poisoning (with a majority of cases attributed to prescription drug abuse);
  2. Motor vehicle crashes (with 26 percent of all crashes estimated to involve cell phone use while driving), and;
  3. Falls.

The NSC points out that by taking some simple steps, both on and off the job, it’s possible to reduce the number of deaths by accidental injury. Some examples include properly storing medication, not talking on the cell phone – hands-on or hands-free while driving, and using slip-resistant mats on floors.

As for the top four leading causes of death in the U.S., according to data compiled by the CDC/NHS, National Vital Statistics System, they are:

  1. Diseases of the heart (28.5 percent of total)
  2. Malignant tumors (22.8 percent of total)
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases (6.7 percent of total)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (5.1 percent of total)

Placing behind unintentional injuries, which account for 4.4 percent of the total causes of death, is diabetes mellitus, at 3.0 percent of the total. Interestingly, murders are more far more likely than to make the news than unintentional injuries, despite the fact that homicides shared the number 15 ranking with Parkinson’s disease (0.7 percent of the total) among the most common causes of death in the United States.

b2ap3_thumbnail_survey-says.jpgHave you ever wondered what your employees think about your organization’s severe emergency preparedness?

According to recent national survey, only about half of employees polled believe that their workplaces are prepared for a severe emergency. And almost two-thirds of respondents said recent natural disasters have not caused their employers to reassess company safety plans.

The workplace safety survey, conducted online by Staples, Inc. in May in honor of National Safety Month, posed a series of questions about general office safety to more than 400 office workers and 400 decision makers at organizations of all sizes across the United States. The results showed that in the past six months, nearly half of businesses have closed due to severe weather, costing the economy nearly $50 billion in lost productivity.

Slips, Trips and Falls: One in five respondents reported slipping, tripping or falling at work as their biggest concern.

Natural disasters and storms: Less than half of employees say their employers have the plans or equipment in place for snow and ice storms, or catastrophic events such as tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes.

Fire: Fire is one of the most common safety incidents, but most employees feel their companies are well prepared. Three-fourths say their employers have a plan and equipment in place for a fire emergency.

Other findings pointed to disparities between employees at small businesses (defined as those as with 50 or less employees) compared with those at larger companies. In general, small business employees feel more at risk to emergencies and disasters than did employees at larger companies.

The survey finds workers in small businesses were less aware or less sure about who is in charge of emergency planning than employees at larger companies. Employees from smaller companies reported having less emergency equipment or plans in place, are less likely to do safety reviews or drills, and were less prepared for severe emergencies than their counterparts at bigger organizations.

If there is any question whether confined spaces can be hazardous places, consider the following news item.

In Xinxiang, China, a young woman accidentally dropped her new cell phone into a cesspit when she used the open-pit toilet.
Her husband jumped into the pit to find the phone – worth about the equivalent of $320 in the United States ¬– and lost consciousness.
His mother jumped in to save him, and she, too, lost consciousness.
The woman who dropped the phone then entered the pit, and fainted.
Next, the husband’s father went into the pit and became stuck. Two neighbors who responded to calls for help also jumped into the pit ¬– and fainted.
The husband and his mother died in the hospital. The man’s wife, her father-in-law and a neighbor were also injured in the incident.
According to a newspaper article, eyewitnesses said the victims were all no more than knee-deep in the pit’s contents and for no longer than five minutes (1). 

While there are numerous potential lessons here (including that no piece of equipment is worth risking ones’ life to retrieve from a hazardous confined space), the overarching theme is that confined spaces are often inherently dangerous, and in short, if you’re not properly trained, stay out of them.
Even OSHA has commented on the incident. After examining its records on accident investigations for fatal confined space incidents, the agency concluded that when there were multiple deaths, the majority of the victims in each event died trying to rescue the original entrant from a confined space (2).

This is consistent the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finding that would-be “rescuers” accounted for more than 60 percent of the fatalities in confined spaces.

Some examples of confined spaces in workplace environments are storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, pits and trenches. Such spaces require a permit for entry. In fact, in the United States, any pit or trench with a depth equal to or greater than 4 feet is classified as a permit-required confined space.

When determining if an area constitutes a confined space by OSHA definitions, it is always best to err on the side of caution. The experience of Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. consultants can be employed to identify confined spaces and assess whether they should be listed as “permit-required.” In some cases, permit-required confined spaces can be reclassified to non-permit spaces if all hazards can be completely eliminated.


Sources
1. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1521835/two-die-cesspit-after-woman-accidentally-drops-her-phone-while-going
2. (https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=PREAMBLES&p_id=839 )

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_nhtsa.jpgThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. According to a press release from the administration, the new rule will significantly reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

The rule will require all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, to come equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backover incidents.

Read entire article - http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2014/NHTSA+Announces+Final+Rule+Requiring+Rear+Visibility+Technology

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_ilo.jpgThe International Labour Organization has announced its annual Safety and Health in the Use Of Chemicals at Work in conjunction with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28. The report reviews the present situation on the use of chemicals and their impact in workplaces and the environment, including various national, regional, and international efforts to address them.

The report also presents the elements for establishing national and enterprise level programs that contribute to ensure the sound management of chemicals at work. The report also calls on governments, employers, workers and their organizations to collaborate in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies aimed at the sound management of chemicals at work.

Read entire article here.

b2ap3_thumbnail_air_quality.jpgAir quality in the workplace should an ongoing concern, and that includes the quality of the air where the workplace is outdoors.

Back in April, Air Quality Awareness Week ran from April 28 – May 2. Each day of that work week, Monday through Friday, comes with its own theme. They started the week off on Monday as “Do Your Part: Reduce Your Contribution to Air Pollution”, capped off by Friday’s “Traveler’s Health”. In and among these themes are a number of tips from the Environmental Protection Agency that apply to the public outside and inside a work environment.

One measure of air quality, the Air Quality Index (AQI), can be used to help plan outdoor activities regardless of the occasion.

Finding the day’s AQI report is becoming increasingly easy. It’s available on the Web (http://www.airnow.gov), on many local television weather forecasts, and via free e-mail tools and apps (http://www.enviroflash.info and http://m.epa.gov/apps/airnow.html). After finding the forecast for a local area, checking the health recommendations can show how to reduce the amount of pollution breathed in.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices – and that includes helping to identify and manage risks posed by air quality. Whether your employees’ work environment is predominately outdoors or indoors, our consultants can solve your business’s air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air contaminant exposure assessment. So give us a call, and breathe easier.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_temperature-hot.jpgWith the wide temperature swings we experienced here in the Midwest this past spring, sometimes it can be hard to believe that the summer and the temperature-related health and safety concerns it brings is just around the corner.

To draw attention to this fact, some states observe a Heat Safety Awareness or Heat Awareness Day each year in late spring. For its part, OSHA is once again conducting a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and educate employers and workers on the hazards of working in the heat, along with steps to take in preventing heat-related illnesses and death.

The campaign’s simple slogan “Water. Rest. Shade.” has already reached more than 7 million people in the past three years, according to OSHA. In its materials–fact sheets, posters, quick cards, training guides, and wallet cards–the agency makes it clear that workers at risk include anyone who is exposed to hot and humid conditions, especially anyone performing heavy work tasks and/or using bulky personal protective equipment.

Being able to “take the heat” can take time, and some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not yet built up a tolerance to hot conditions. For those reasons, OSHA recommends allowing more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away from the job for a week or more in order to acclimatize to conditions.

According to OSHA, occupations most affected by heat-related illness are: construction, trade/transportation/utility, agriculture and building/grounds maintenance and cleaning. Other workers who may be affected by exposure to environmental heat include those involved in transportation/baggage handling, water transportation; landscaping services; greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production; and support activities for oil and gas operations.

OSHA makes it clear also that employers are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe from excessive heat. That can also include furnishing workers with water, rest and shade, as well as education about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention. Worksite training and plans should also address the steps to take both to prevent heat illness and what to do in an emergency. Prompt and proper action can truly save lives.

OSHA’s main safety points for people who work in hot environments are:

•Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty.

•Rest in the shade to cool down.

•Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.

•Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.

•Keep an eye on fellow workers.

OSHA maintains a dedicated webpage, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html, that includes a heat safety tool app, a training guide and lesson plan, and other resources all aimed at keeping worker health and safety risks low when the mercury starts to climb.

Non-profit organizations face many of the same regulations as for-profit concerns, including those that pertain to employee safety in the workplace. Holding non-profit status or having a small number of employees does not exempt a business from OSHA compliance; unless a facility is municipal- , state-, or federally-owned, it is subject to OSHA regulations so long as it has employees.

That means that many non-profits, too, need to understand their responsibilities to employees, identify and attempt to prevent hazards, and provide training to employees on their rights with respect to safety on the job. Fortunately, in mid-May OSHA announced the availability of the 2014 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. The initiative provides $7 million under to support the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs as well as materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates; and workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or who are temporary.

The grants are available to nonprofit organizations including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities and can be used to fund training and education for workers and employers to identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards. OSHA has said two types of safety and health training grants will be awarded: Targeted Topic Training and Capacity Building, with funding split evenly for each grant fund.

According to OSHA, Targeted Topic Training grants support the development of quality training materials and programs for addressing workplace hazards and prevention strategies. The Targeted Topic Training grants require applicants to address occupational safety and health topics designated by OSHA. Targeted Topic Training grants may be eligible for one additional follow-on grant, based on satisfactory performance. The deadline to submit Targeted Topic Training grants (SHTG-FY-14-01) is Monday, June 30, 2014.

Capacity Building grants focus on developing and expanding the capacity of an organization to provide safety and health training, education, and related assistance to target audiences. Grant recipients are expected to increase occupational safety and health competence and improve organizational capacity to assist workers and employers on an ongoing basis by ensuring that services continue beyond federal financial support. Capacity Building Developmental grant recipients may be eligible for additional 12-month follow-on grants, based on satisfactory performance. The cutoff for Capacity Building grants (SHTG-FY-14-02) is Thursday, June 26, 2014.

All applications must be submitted electronically and are due no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on each grant’s due date – no extensions of the deadline will be granted.

The solicitation for both grant applications is available at http://www.grants.gov, where new applicants need to register and returning applicants must ensure their registration is accurate and current.

More information on the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, including access to a proposal webinar to assist prospective applicants in understanding the application process, is available on OSHA’s website at https://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html.

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Under OSHA Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR 1904), covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses, whether they are direct employees or those working through a staffing agency. According to OSHA, the agency’s new Temporary Worker Initiative will use enforcement, outreach, and training to make sure that temporary workers are protected in the workplace.

The agency announced the initiative to raise awareness and compliance with requirements that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive. Part of that effort is a new educational resource that focusing on requirements for injury recording of temporary worker injuries and illnesses. The measures were prompted in part by OSHA investigations in recent months into reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many of which occur within their first few days on the job.

The new Recordkeeping Bulletin (https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/OSHA_TWI_Bulletin.pdf) explains the requirements for both the staffing agency and the host employer and addresses how to identify who is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log.

Covered employers are required to record on that log any recordable injuries and illnesses of all employees on their payroll, whether those workers are classified as labor, executive, hourly, salary, part-time, seasonal, or migrant workers. Covered employers must log also any recordable injuries and illnesses that occur to employees who are not on the company payroll if these employers are supervised on a day-to-day basis.

OSHA says that the temporary worker Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first in a series of guidance documents to be released to support the initiative to raise awareness about compliance with OSHA requirements for temporary workers.

A construction worker fatality at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Ga. has resulted in five safety violations against Smiley Plaster Co. The company faces $57,000 in penalties. The 42-year-old worker fell approximately 19 feet off scaffolding to his death while applying stucco to a pre-existing building that was being renovated as a college dormitory. OSHA’s investigation into the Sept. 20, 2013 fatality found that the company failed to provide fall protection to employees who work from scaffolding at heights over 10 feet.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_astm.jpgThe American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has announced that a new international standard will be used to provide a uniform international method for recording occupational injuries and illnesses. The goal to make global performance comparisons of companies in keeping workers safe, the society said. Known as ASTM E2920, Guide for Recording Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the method developed by Subcommittee E34.80 on Industrial Health, part of ASTM International Committee E34 on Occupational Health and Safety.

In effect, ASTM E2920 establishes a common denominator system that includes injuries most countries already record, albeit with variations that do not always allow for direct comparison.

By using this approach, the ASTM says, no new system will need to be developed and existing records can be used to establish historical trends by identifying those cases that qualify under the new criteria.

According to an ASTM news release, “ASTM E2920 will be especially helpful to multinational companies by leveling the playing field by its use, regardless of company or country, and enabling globally consistent safety performance evaluation.”

Read entire article

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_osha.pngThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad Co. in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act for suspending and/or disciplining five workers following the reporting of workplace injuries or illnesses.

The department has ordered the companies to pay back wages, along with interest, punitive and compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees. The companies will also be required to remove disciplinary information from the employees’ personnel records and must provide whistleblower rights information to workers.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=25710

b2ap3_thumbnail_drive_and_text.jpgIs the drive to be more productive away from the workplace enough to drive people to distraction? The answer depends on whom you ask, but the National Safety Council (NSC) maintains that the number of communication devices packed into motor vehicles make the issue of distracted driving more pressing than ever.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and the NSC’s theme this year is “Hands-free is not risk-free.” One estimate by the NSC puts the number of crashes caused by cell phone use and texting while driving at 1.6 million each year. The underlying concern, the organization says, isn’t the devices themselves, but rather the state of mental distraction to which they contribute. In support of this, the NSC references more than 30 studies that show hands-free devices are no safer than hand-held devices. Yet public perception of the safety issues presented by cell phones seems to lag behind.

Distracted driving can come in a variety of forms and from a variety of causes from eating to adjusting a radio to reaching for an object. But perhaps the distraction most closely associated with the use of technology while driving is the use of cell phones, particularly to send and receive text messages. In addition, a growing number of vehicles come equipped with dashboard ‘infotainment’ systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls as well as send text messages, check email and post to social media accounts.

Interestingly, in a recent poll conducted by the NSC, 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into cars and trucks. That same poll also found that 80 percent of drivers surveyed found that they believe hands-free cell phones are safer to use while driving than hand-held ones. Also, of the respondents who admitted using hands-free devices while driving, 70 percent indicated they do so for safety reasons.

The NSC recommends that company bans include all types of cell phone use while driving, including texting, hand-held conversations and hands-free conversations. The NSC has materials available at http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/DDAM.aspx?utm_medium=print&utm_source=vanurl&utm_campaign=handsfree to help companies establish their own policies. At the present time, no state or municipality has passed a law banning hands-free use, but about a dozen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning handheld cell phone use while driving.

Comprehensive cell phone bans continue to be a tough sell, even if the idea has been gaining ground in some areas. Something that might help to sell the concept to businesses ahead of governments is the issue of liability. For example, is workers’ compensation coverage triggered when an employee is injured off-site while using a cell phone for company business? If it is, it will likely increase workers’ comp rates – and insurance companies will likely offer strong defenses against such claims. And there are still few legal decisions on such cases.

It’s all something to think about – just maybe not on the drive to or from work.

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