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Posted by on in Uncategorized

What started as a single day’s observance in 2005 to highlight the health risks of exposure to asbestos and to prevent asbestos-related disease has grown into National Asbestos Awareness Week – which is the first week of April each year. In its resolution declaring the observance in 2015, the United States Senate has urged the surgeon general to warn and educate people about the public health issue of asbestos exposure. And with good reason: Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause several types of lung disease, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and cancer – conditions that may not develop until years after someone is exposed. According to The Mesothelioma Center, an estimated 2500 to 3000 people in the United States die each year from some form of cancer caused by asbestos.

While the naturally occurring mineral fiber has long been valued for its durability and flame resistance, it wasn't until the industrial revolution that these properties received widespread application. At about the same time, asbestos became associated with a number of respiratory problems. Today, it is well-documented as a cause of a number of respiratory ailments and as a carcinogen.

Exposure to asbestos is a concern for those who work construction and demolition, but it is also poses a year-round health risk for those who work or live in buildings that contain the material. Although the use of asbestos is now banned in some products by regulations such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Consumer Product Safety Act, many older commercial and residential buildings still harbor asbestos-containing materials. And because asbestos fibers of certain sizes and types are not easily exhaled, even short-term exposure to greater than naturally occurring levels of the material may lead to health problems.

Building and facility owners are required by law to assess asbestos hazards before beginning any renovation, maintenance or demolition work. A written report must be furnished to contractors and any others who work around any project that involves asbestos. This requirement applies to both newly installed and existing materials.

Product information on labels and safety data sheets often include information on asbestos content when it constitutes more than one percent of a material. However, the absence of asbestos information on a label does not always mean that asbestos is not present. So when handling products that may contain asbestos, it should be assumed that it is present unless the manufacturer or a testing laboratory has certified the material to be asbestos free. When in doubt, a thorough building survey with bulk material sampling and analysis by accredited personnel is the only way to prove that a presumed asbestos containing material (PACM) does not contain asbestos.

An accurate asbestos inventory is the foundation for managing a successful operations and maintenance (O&M) program. Site-specific asbestos abatement policies, periodic inspections and exposure monitoring are robust ways for building owners to control asbestos exposure risks to building occupants, contractors and visitors. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has the expertise and the experience to partner with you to control the risk of asbestos exposure. Contact us for more information.

Tagged in: asbestos

A top OSHA official recently gave an overview of where the agency stands with creating new and updating existing regulations.
OSHA deputy administrator Jordan Barab updated attendees at a U.S. Small Business Labor Safety Roundtable. An attendee presented an overview of Barab’s presentation in The National Law Review.
Barab said these four rules pending final agency action are on top of OSHA’s to-do list:
-Confined Space in Construction
-Silica
-Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems, and
-Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses (electronic recordkeeping).
Of those four, Barab said Confined Space in Construction would be released first. That standard would align closely with the confined space standard for general industry.

Read entire article - http://www.natlawreview.com/article/jordan-barab-gives-regulatory-update-small-business-association-sba-roundtable-meeti

OSHA recently announced it is accepting applications for targeted-topic training grants and capacity-building training grants through the 2015 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. The annual grant program is named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, a former director in OSHA's Office of Risk Assessment. Harwood’s 17 years of service with the agency led to the development of worker protection standards for exposure to bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos and lead.

The grants fund the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs and the development of materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or are temporary workers. The grants will fund training and education for workers and employers to help them identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards.

The types of grants solicited vary from year to year. This year, two types of capacity-building grants are offered: capacity-building pilot and capacity-building developmental grants. Capacity-building pilot grants are aimed at assisting organizations in assessing their needs and formulating a capacity-building plan before launching a full-scale safety and health education program. Capacity-building developmental grants are intended to be used to improve and expand an organization's capacity to provide safety and health training, education and related assistance to target audiences. Capacity-building developmental grant recipients may be eligible for up to three additional 12-month follow-on grants, based on satisfactory performance.

Funding opportunity announcements can be found at http://www.grants.gov, where new applicants must register and returning applicants must confirm accuracy of their registration information before completing the application. OSHA states that the registration process generally takes three to five business days, though it may take as long as four weeks if all steps are not completed in a timely manner. OSHA recommends that organizations new to the System for Award Management allow for an additional 14 days for registration to obtain a commercial and government entity code.

With that in mind, applicants are encouraged to begin the registering with www.grants.gov as soon as possible. Applications for both targeted topic training grants (SHTG-FY-15-01) and capacity building grants (SHTG-FY-15-02) must be submitted electronically, no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on June 2, 2015. No extensions will be granted.
Short OSHA-developed webinars aimed at helping prospective applicants understand the application process can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s most recent National Roadside Survey shows declines in drunk driving but an increase in use of marijuana and prescription drugs on the nation’s roadways.

The survey found the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007 and by more than three-quarters since 1973.

Yet, the same study found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs, with one in four drivers testing positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.

Read entire article: http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-releases-2-impaired-driving-studies-02-2015

Posted by on in Noise Measurement

Noise, or undesirable sound, is one of the most common health problems in many workplaces. Practically all companies involved in manufacturing, construction, or mining create noise. And because noise is inherent in many work processes, it cannot be totally removed. However, its adverse effects on health can be limited by knowing where to implement engineering controls, administrative controls and the use of proper personal protective equipment.

Perhaps the most widely known detrimental effect of noise is hearing loss, which can be either temporary or permanent. The extent of the damage depends primarily upon the intensity and duration of exposure. In addition to hearing loss, excessive noise levels can also lead to hazardous situations at work, such as an inability to hear warnings, a decrease in the ability to communicate with other employees, and impaired concentration.

In the early 1980s, OSHA established a hearing conservation amendment (29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure Standard) that requires hearing conservation programs for all employees exposed to noise on an eight-hour, time weighted average (TWA) in excess of 85 decibels measured on an A-weighted scale (85 dBA). The permissible exposure limit is 90 dBA for an eight-hour TWA. (Something to keep in mind is that some states also have regulations that are at least as stringent as OSHA’s.)

Determining whether or not to use engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protection devices or some combination to meet those requirements involves recognizing that a noise problem may exist, followed by identifying its source or sources and evaluating the extent of the problem. In some cases, identifying both the problem and its source can be obvious, such as when it is apparent that employees aren’t able to talk with one another at a reasonable distance near certain machinery. In many other cases, however, the source can’t be traced so easily, such as in places where multiple machines are in use.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help identify sources of noise in a work environment by conducting a noise survey, which normally includes personal noise exposure sampling using dosimeters and developing a noise contour map, clearly identifying noisy areas. The results can be used to locate specific noise sources, identify which employees should be included in a hearing conservation program, and then determine what form or forms of noise control are best suited to the situation. It all makes for a hearing conservation program that is both compliant and efficient.

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