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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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