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“Are Americans worrying too much about the wrong things?”

That’s the title of a press release from the National Safety Council (NSC), which marked June as National Safety Month. The aim is to draw attention to the fact that unintentional–or accidental– injuries are the fifth most common cause of death in the United States.

Within the category of unintentional injuries, the NSC notes that the top three causes of unintentional injury in the U.S. are:

  1. Poisoning (with a majority of cases attributed to prescription drug abuse);
  2. Motor vehicle crashes (with 26 percent of all crashes estimated to involve cell phone use while driving), and;
  3. Falls.

The NSC points out that by taking some simple steps, both on and off the job, it’s possible to reduce the number of deaths by accidental injury. Some examples include properly storing medication, not talking on the cell phone – hands-on or hands-free while driving, and using slip-resistant mats on floors.

As for the top four leading causes of death in the U.S., according to data compiled by the CDC/NHS, National Vital Statistics System, they are:

  1. Diseases of the heart (28.5 percent of total)
  2. Malignant tumors (22.8 percent of total)
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases (6.7 percent of total)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (5.1 percent of total)

Placing behind unintentional injuries, which account for 4.4 percent of the total causes of death, is diabetes mellitus, at 3.0 percent of the total. Interestingly, murders are more far more likely than to make the news than unintentional injuries, despite the fact that homicides shared the number 15 ranking with Parkinson’s disease (0.7 percent of the total) among the most common causes of death in the United States.

b2ap3_thumbnail_survey-says.jpgHave you ever wondered what your employees think about your organization’s severe emergency preparedness?

According to recent national survey, only about half of employees polled believe that their workplaces are prepared for a severe emergency. And almost two-thirds of respondents said recent natural disasters have not caused their employers to reassess company safety plans.

The workplace safety survey, conducted online by Staples, Inc. in May in honor of National Safety Month, posed a series of questions about general office safety to more than 400 office workers and 400 decision makers at organizations of all sizes across the United States. The results showed that in the past six months, nearly half of businesses have closed due to severe weather, costing the economy nearly $50 billion in lost productivity.

Slips, Trips and Falls: One in five respondents reported slipping, tripping or falling at work as their biggest concern.

Natural disasters and storms: Less than half of employees say their employers have the plans or equipment in place for snow and ice storms, or catastrophic events such as tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes.

Fire: Fire is one of the most common safety incidents, but most employees feel their companies are well prepared. Three-fourths say their employers have a plan and equipment in place for a fire emergency.

Other findings pointed to disparities between employees at small businesses (defined as those as with 50 or less employees) compared with those at larger companies. In general, small business employees feel more at risk to emergencies and disasters than did employees at larger companies.

The survey finds workers in small businesses were less aware or less sure about who is in charge of emergency planning than employees at larger companies. Employees from smaller companies reported having less emergency equipment or plans in place, are less likely to do safety reviews or drills, and were less prepared for severe emergencies than their counterparts at bigger organizations.

If there is any question whether confined spaces can be hazardous places, consider the following news item.

In Xinxiang, China, a young woman accidentally dropped her new cell phone into a cesspit when she used the open-pit toilet.
Her husband jumped into the pit to find the phone – worth about the equivalent of $320 in the United States ¬– and lost consciousness.
His mother jumped in to save him, and she, too, lost consciousness.
The woman who dropped the phone then entered the pit, and fainted.
Next, the husband’s father went into the pit and became stuck. Two neighbors who responded to calls for help also jumped into the pit ¬– and fainted.
The husband and his mother died in the hospital. The man’s wife, her father-in-law and a neighbor were also injured in the incident.
According to a newspaper article, eyewitnesses said the victims were all no more than knee-deep in the pit’s contents and for no longer than five minutes (1). 

While there are numerous potential lessons here (including that no piece of equipment is worth risking ones’ life to retrieve from a hazardous confined space), the overarching theme is that confined spaces are often inherently dangerous, and in short, if you’re not properly trained, stay out of them.
Even OSHA has commented on the incident. After examining its records on accident investigations for fatal confined space incidents, the agency concluded that when there were multiple deaths, the majority of the victims in each event died trying to rescue the original entrant from a confined space (2).

This is consistent the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finding that would-be “rescuers” accounted for more than 60 percent of the fatalities in confined spaces.

Some examples of confined spaces in workplace environments are storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, pits and trenches. Such spaces require a permit for entry. In fact, in the United States, any pit or trench with a depth equal to or greater than 4 feet is classified as a permit-required confined space.

When determining if an area constitutes a confined space by OSHA definitions, it is always best to err on the side of caution. The experience of Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. consultants can be employed to identify confined spaces and assess whether they should be listed as “permit-required.” In some cases, permit-required confined spaces can be reclassified to non-permit spaces if all hazards can be completely eliminated.


Sources
1. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1521835/two-die-cesspit-after-woman-accidentally-drops-her-phone-while-going
2. (https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=PREAMBLES&p_id=839 )

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_nhtsa.jpgThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. According to a press release from the administration, the new rule will significantly reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

The rule will require all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, to come equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backover incidents.

Read entire article - http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2014/NHTSA+Announces+Final+Rule+Requiring+Rear+Visibility+Technology

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_ilo.jpgThe International Labour Organization has announced its annual Safety and Health in the Use Of Chemicals at Work in conjunction with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28. The report reviews the present situation on the use of chemicals and their impact in workplaces and the environment, including various national, regional, and international efforts to address them.

The report also presents the elements for establishing national and enterprise level programs that contribute to ensure the sound management of chemicals at work. The report also calls on governments, employers, workers and their organizations to collaborate in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies aimed at the sound management of chemicals at work.

Read entire article here.

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