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National Preparedness Month— sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security each September since 2003 — encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their communities – whether they occur at home, at school, or at work.

Though much of the focus for National Preparedness Month is on being ready to deal with emergent situations at home, 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 regularly review your company’s safety plans and policies and keep them up to date.

FEMA lists the steps in developing a preparedness program at work as:
-Program Management
-Planning
-Implementation
-Testing and Exercises
-Program Improvement

The business preparedness section of the Ready.gov website (www.ready.gov) from the DHS and FEMA recommends that the planning process take an “all hazards” approach. As the term suggests, that means taking into account different types of threats and hazards and their likelihood of happening.

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. Of course, human injuries should be highest priority consideration in a risk assessment, but other assets could include everything from buildings and equipment to raw materials and finished products.

In conducting a risk assessment, the Ready.gov site recommends looking for vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that would make an asset more susceptible to (and possibly contribute to the severity of) damage from a hazard. Such vulnerabilities could range from deficiencies in a building’s structural integrity to its security or protection system – having a working sprinkler system in place to limit damage in the event of a fire, for example.

More information on putting together emergency plans for the workplace is available at http://www.ready.gov/business.

NIOSH has helped a military facility develop a sampling strategy for aircraft hangars used to maintain, repair, and restore active and historic aircraft. The workers in the hangars use paint and paint removers on a variety of surfaces using low-pressure spray guns and rollers.

According to the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation report, this activity could cause polyurethanes, solvents, or metals to enter the atmosphere. Based on findings, the agency recommends the staff focus on areas of low airflow near exhaust fans in the hangars, as well as repairing and maintaining all fans connected to the ventilation system.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/NIOSH-Evaluation-of-Aircraft-Hangars-Identifies-Sampling-Strategy.aspx

Tagged in: NIOSH

Research into more than 1.5 million workers’ comp claims over a period of five years provided data for a report on workplace injuries published recently by The Travelers Companies.

According to the Travelers Injury Impact Report, the most frequent causes of workplace injuries for the period from 2010 to 2014 were material handling (32 percent); slips, trips and falls (16 percent); being struck by or colliding with an object (10 percent); incidents involving tools (7 percent) and traumas occurring over time such as when a body part is injured by overuse or strain (4 percent).

All other causes accounted for the remaining 31 percent of workplace injuries.

Read entire article - 
http://investor.travelers.com/Cache/1500085614.PDF?O=PDF&T=&Y=&D=&FID=1500085614&iid=4055530

A new survey from the National Safety Council (NSC) reveals many U.S. workers think their companies place productivity ahead of safety on the priorities list. The NSC surveyed 2,000 employees across the U.S. and found 33 percent believe their companies put production before safety. The percentage was higher among workers in high-risk industries.

Read entire article - http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=124

You have likely heard the rumblings for some time now, but a long-predicted increase in the maximum fine amount that can be imposed by OSHA became a reality this month.

OSHA's maximum penalties will see an increase of 78.2% as of Aug. 1. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

Specifically, the new maximum amounts for OSHA fines will be:
-$12,471 for a serious violation, up from $7,000
-$124,709 for a repeat or willful violation, up from $70,000, and
-$12,471 per day for failure-to-abate, up from $7,000.

Although that might come as a shock, it’s worth considering that the last time the maximum fines were adjusted was in 1990. OSHA said it will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year going forward based on the Consumer Price Index.

OSHA isn’t acting alone. According to the agency, the increase is in response to legislation enacted by Congress last year that requires all federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation.

There is also a trickle-down effect: States with their own OSHA will have to enact penalty increases that are at least as much as federal OSHA. Some lag time is expected for increases to show in such state-plan states, however.

OSHA will continue to provide a reduction in fines for small companies. The reduction percentage will remain the same, however, so small businesses will also see higher OSHA fines.

Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels at the June conference of the of American Society of Safety Engineers noted that OSHA’s fines are still relatively small compared to those of other federal agencies. In a slide show during a presentation at the conference, Michaels referenced a money.com headline, “Amazon fined almost nothing for failing to report workplace injuries” that referred to a maximum $7,000 for an infraction.

 

Tagged in: OSHA

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