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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

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