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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

Tagged in: OSHA

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