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As an opening salvo of an initiative to conduct a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances, OSHA has announced the publication of a Request for Information (RFI) to stakeholders and others requesting recommendations on how the agency might update its permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hundreds of chemicals. PELs are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, and are meant to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. This opening stage is seeking stakeholder input on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating PELs, a number of which have exposure limits that date back to the early 1970s.

The RFI was scheduled to be published in the Oct. 10 Federal Register.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26841

The revised set of labels brought about by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) isn’t the only recent development in a move toward more comprehensive – and comprehensible ¬ – product descriptions for chemicals.

On the consumer front, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is redesigning its Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Label to better convey that products bearing the label meet the program’s “rigorous standard to be safer for people and the environment,” according to a news release.

“We want consumers to be able to easily find safer products that work well,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement. “The agency wants to hear from the American people on which designs will help people identify household cleaning and other products that are safer for families and the environment.”

The redesigned label is aimed at helping consumers, businesses and institutional buyers recognize products that have attained the EPA Safer Product Label. According to the agency, all ingredients in products bearing the DfE logo have been evaluated by the EPA to make sure they qualify as high-performing and be packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. The criteria address potential health and environmental concerns, including, for example, if an ingredient is associated with causing cancer or reproductive harm, and if it accumulates in human tissue or in the environment. As a condition of the label, all ingredients must be disclosed either on the product or the manufacturer’s website. In effect, the EPA says, when people choose to use these products, they are protecting their families and the environment by making safer chemical choices. In addition to informing consumers, a stated goal of the program is to help partners drive change by providing technical tools, methodologies, and expertise to move toward safer, more sustainable formulations.

According to the agency, more than 2500 products have earned the DfE label to date. A complete list of those products is available at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/formulat/formpart.htm .

From now until Oct. 31, the agency is asking the chemical and product manufacturing industry, retailers, consumers and environmental organizations to share their thoughts on four proposed label designs up until Oct. 31, 2014 at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/label .

When we think of accidental falls, we often think of work at-height. But fall accidents can happen anywhere there is a change in level – and that includes confined spaces.

Many industries have tight spaces that are considered by OSHA to be "confined" because they are configured in such a way as to hinder the activities of anyone who is called upon to enter, work in, and exit them.

Obviously, not only do confined spaces vary in size, shape and location, but they can come with their own set of challenging conditions, including limited movement, hazardous air, and risk of engulfment.

OSHA identifies a broad range of confined spaces, including that ubiquitous example: the manhole. As soon as the cover from a manhole is removed, any lack of proper safety equipment puts anyone at an increased risk of falling through an unguarded opening. Once within that particular type of confined space, there exists the risk of falling still deeper. Outdated ladders or stairs, inadequate lighting, and the physical challenges posed by restricted movement are all potential contributing factors to fall injuries within confined spaces. Fumes – a major safety consideration for any kind of confined space – have the potential to overwhelm anyone working near the area, leading to a loss of consciousness and the likelihood of a fall.

Other types of confined spaces defined as such by OSHA include ducts, tanks, vessels, storage bins, vaults, tunnels, and silos, to name a few. What is consistent for all of them is a need to consider the same level of fall protection as for any above-ground work involving changes in level. Even in confined spaces, having an effective fall protection system can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Depending on the situation, safeguards such as barriers, guardrails, and devices such as self-retracting lifelines or lanyards can prevent or halt accidental falls. In determining whether a confined space calls for the use of such equipment, it is necessary to evaluate both the area within the confined space and its access point.

Workplace Safety & Health can help.

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

Read entire article - http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3735.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

An Ohio company has been cited for four repeat and nine serious safety and health violations after OSHA received a complaint alleging unsafe handling of hazardous chemicals at an Avon Lake facility that manufactures fiberglass pipes and tanks. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Perry Fiberglass Products Inc. there on Feb. 5, 2014. Proposed penalties total $53,130.

The investigation found repeat violations of OSHA's hazard communication standard, which requires employers to provide an effective training program with understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. Perry Fiberglass Products failed to label containers to identify and warn of the hazardous chemicals contained inside, use self-closing valves on containers with flammable liquids and ensure a bonding system was used when dispensing flammable chemicals into secondary containers. The company failed to provide and maintain suitable eyewash stations.

The company was cited for similar violations in 2010.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26547

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