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As we transition from warmer to cooler weather this season, it’s worth remembering that lower temperatures bring with them their own particular health and safety risks.

That was underscored recently by a recent study that found that cold weather is 20 times as deadly as hot weather. The study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, corroborates another study that found cold kills more than twice the number of people in the United States than does heat.

On the surface, such findings might not seem surprising. Low temperatures can pose more problems for our cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Still, media accounts of health problems caused by summer heat waves, often in large urban areas, dominate much of our collective attention to weather’s harsher effects.

As we know, direct exposure to freezing temperatures can be a safety hazard. So, too, can any precipitation that comes with them. Snow and ice can quickly change surface conditions, making everyday activities like as walking and driving a challenge. And things like overexertion from clearing snow from paths and roofs, carbon monoxide exposure from indoor generators, and fires from misplaced or misused supplemental heating devices are all part of the cold weather hazards landscape.

To cut down on the risk of slips and spills on snow, employers should clear snow and ice from- and spread deicer on walking surfaces as soon as possible after a winter storm. But wintertime pedestrians should also be prepared to dress accordingly. OSHA recommends that a "pair of insulated and water resistant boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months. Take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction, when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway."

Those manually removing snow from walkways can quickly become exhausted or dehydrated. Common injuries from shoveling snow involve the muscles of the back. For those attacking the white stuff head on, a simple best practice is to scoop small amounts of snow at a time and shove it rather than heave it. "The use of proper lifting technique is necessary to avoid back and other injuries when shoveling snow: keep the back straight, lift with the legs and do not turn or twist the body," recommends OSHA. The agency also recommends making sure powered equipment, such as snow blowers, are properly grounded to prevent electric shock or electrocution.

When removing snow from rooftops and working at height, OSHA recommends employers first evaluate snow removal tasks for hazards. That includes making a plan, such as looking for ways to do the job without actually setting foot on the rooftop. Just as important, employers should identify the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job and ensure that workers are trained on how to use it correctly.

OSHA’s online resource about winter hazards, https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/hazards_precautions.html, includes guidance for driving, dealing with stranded vehicles, shoveling snow and using powered equipment such as snow blowers, preventing slips on snow and ice, working near or repairing downed or damaged power lines, and removing fallen limbs or trees.

The Ready.gov webpage at https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather offers a number of precautions to take before driving in winter weather, especially if there are watches or warnings in effect. Some of those tips are:
-Keeping the gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
-Letting someone know your destination, route, and when you expect to arrive.
-Keeping a cell phone or other emergency communication device with you.
-Packing your vehicle with an emergency kit that includes thermal blankets, extra winter clothes, a 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.
-Having a supply of material such as rock salt or sand for extra traction under tires.

With the ever-growing use of social media, it might come as no surprise that Ready.gov also offers a Winter Weather Safety Social Media Toolkit (https://www.ready.gov/winter-toolkit) with winter weather safety and preparedness messages to be shared through social media channels.

A new report from ASSE's Center for Safety and Health Sustainability covers its second analysis of how recognized "sustainable" companies report occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Entitled "The Need for Standardized Sustainability Reporting Practices," the report recommends global initiatives that index corporate sustainability should include companies' commitment to safe and healthy for workers.

http://www.centershs.org/assets/docs/NeedForSustainabilityReporting-Final-August.pdf

Tagged in: sustainability

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Lists can be useful for many things, perhaps most especially when they offer insight into ways to do something better. In what has become an annual tradition, OSHA recently released its preliminary list of top 10 safety violations for the federal fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

In general, the list changes little from year to year. FY 2017 was no exception. The top five most-cited violations – Fall Protection, Hazard Communication, Scaffolding, Respiratory Protection and Lockout/Tagout, respectively, ranked the same as they did in FY 2016. The sole new entry to the top-10 list for FY 2017 was Fall Protection Training Requirements, which came in at No. 9.

The announcement of the most recent preliminary list came during the National Safety Council (NSC) Congress & Expo 2017 in Indianapolis.

The agency noted that not all violations had been added to its reporting system, but said that the final list was not anticipated to change.

From greatest to least, the top 10 work safety violations as compiled by OSHA for FY 2017 were:
1. Fall Protection in construction (29 CFR 1926.501): 6,072 violations
This category’s frequently violated requirements included unprotected edges and open sides in residential construction and failure to provide fall protection on low-slope roofs.
2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): 4,176 violations
Topping the list of violations in Hazard Communication was not having a hazard communication program. The next most frequently violated requirement within this category was not having or not providing access to safety data sheets.
3. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451): 3,288 violations
Common violations in this category included improper access to surfaces and lack of guardrails.
4. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134): 3,097 violations
At the top of the list in this category was failure to establish a respiratory protection program. That was followed by failure to provide medical evaluations.
5. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): 2,877 violations
Inadequate worker training and inspections not completed accounted for the most frequent violations in this category in FY 2017.
6. Ladders in construction (29 CFR 1926.1053): 2,241 violations
Improper use of ladders, damaged ladders, and using the top step were the most violations recorded by OSHA as it closed its books on FY 2017.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): 2,162 violations
Inadequate worker training and refresher training violations included topped the list in this category.
8. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): 1,933 violations
Exposure to points of operation were at the top of the types of violations within this category.
9. Fall Protection—training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503): 1,523 violations
Making its debut on the top 10 list, common violations in Fall Protection included failure to train workers in identifying fall hazards and proper use of fall protection equipment.
10. Electrical—wiring methods (29 CFR 1910.305): 1,405 violations

Violations of this standard came from most general industry sectors, including food and beverage, retail, and manufacturing.
Beyond its place as a historical record, the list can be viewed as a tool for shaping future efforts.

“I encourage folks to use this list and look at your own workplace,” said Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, who helped announce the top-10 list at the conference.

Tagged in: fall protection OSHA

NIOSH recently announced a mobile app aimed at calculating the risks involved in performing lifting tasks. The NIOSH Lifting Equation mobile application, NLE Calc, is a tool to calculate the overall risk index for single and multiple manual lifting tasks. The application provides risk estimates to help evaluate lifting tasks and reduce the incidence of low back injuries in workers.

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ergonomics/nlecalc.html

Tagged in: NIOSH

Nearly half of U.S. workers surveyed in a recent report say they are exposed to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions.

The American Working Conditions Survey, conducted by the Rand Corporation, collected detailed information on a broad range of working conditions in the American workplace. The survey also found that negative conditions aren’t just physical: Nearly one in five workers in the U.S. said they are exposed to a hostile or threatening social environment at work.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2014.html

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