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In this 3-part series, we’ll look at the concept of safety culture in the workplace and how your organization can leverage its commitment to safety to attract and keep talent in a competitive market.

Who is Getting Your Safety Message?

Safety is a fundamental part of every culture and has been from at least the dawn of recorded history. It is no great stretch to posit that our continued existence as a species owes at least something to our ancestors’ knowledge on what to do and what to avoid in order to live a long life and to have been able transmit that information from generation to generation.

It’s only been in the past few decades, however, that the term “safety culture” has entered into the lexicon. According to OSHA, “Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment. Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior.”

So far so good. Based on that definition, it’s clear that every organization has a safety culture. We know that cultivating a culture of safety is an ongoing, organic process, and not one that can always be readily quantified. After all, while we could spot check people’s knowledge of a particular process or job routine, how do we accurately measure their attitudes, beliefs and values with respect to safety?

Perhaps the better question to ask: Is our safety culture as effective as it could be?

A robust safety culture might be easier to define by considering clear-cut examples of what it isn’t.

When a safety practice is successful, such as when the selection of the proper personal protective equipment for a specific task is accompanied by training an employee on its proper use, the benefit is typically identified and appreciated within the organization. But it might not necessarily become known to the “outside world.”

Conversely, asking an employee to perform a task with inadequate safety equipment would likely be viewed by anyone inside or outside that organization as a reflection of a poor safety culture. And since a cultural universal is that bad news travels fast, we can all read about apparent lapses in safety on the job daily in the news media, opinions posted on social media and job boards from employees (and former employees), and even on OSHA’s official website.

What messages is your organization sending about its safety culture?

Tagged in: OSHA safety culture

Pneumoconiosis among coal workers, also commonly known as “black lung disease,” has resurfaced in the U.S. in “alarming” numbers, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The disabling, often fatal occupational disease is caused by overexposure to respirable coal mine dust.

A report in a recent CDC MMWR bulletin describes a cluster of 60 cases of PMF identified in current and former coal miners at a single eastern Kentucky radiology practice from January 2015 through August 2016. This cluster was not found through the national surveillance program. That’s something the report’s authors say makes an argument for improved surveillance to promptly identify the early stages of the disease and halt its progression to PMF.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6549a1.htm?s_cid=mm6549a1_w

Tagged in: CDC NIOSH

Those words, issued as part of a statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez on the results of the most recent Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, reflect a stark reality.

Accidents will happen, of course, but many factors that affect safety in the workplace are within our control.

When it recently released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injury data for fiscal 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed that 4,836 fatal workplace injuries occurred that year. Though up only slightly from the 4,821 fatal injuries reported in 2014, it was the highest number since 2008, when there were 5,214 fatal occupational injuries. Other sobering standouts were that there were 903 deaths among Latino workers – the most in any year since 2007, when there 937 fatalities. Road fatalities were up 9 percent from 2014.

Deaths listed as resulting from exposures to electricity dropped in 2015, but fatalities stemming from exposure to temperature extremes rose. Occupational deaths from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol, unintentional overdose, went up 45 percent in 2015 to 165. There were 136 workers who died in incidents associated with confined spaces in 2015.

Falls to a lower level accounted for 81 percent of all fatal falls. Of the cases where the height of the fall was known, more than 40 percent happened at heights of 15 feet or lower. Fatal falls to a lower level accounted for nearly 40 percent of fatal work injuries in the private construction industry in 2015.

In the full statement on those data, Perez said that “These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires. We have a moral responsibility to make sure that workers who showed up to work today are still alive to punch the clock tomorrow. The fact is, we know how to prevent these deaths. The U.S. Department of Labor is – and will always be – committed to working with employers, workers, community organizations, unions and others to improve safety and health in our nation’s workplaces. This effort is essential to ensuring that no more workers are taken unnecessarily from their families."

It’s worth noting that BLS said the release is the first time that the CFOI has published a single annual release without revisions, adding this will be the only release for 2015 CFOI data. The agency said a similar schedule will be followed in subsequent years, meaning there will be no August or September preliminary releases.

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control recommends states and communities support cancer prevention, education, screening, quality of care, support for cancer survivors, and good health for all, as well as fund comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs at levels the organization recommends.

In its Vital Signs publication for November, the CDC focused on cancers related to tobacco use. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths, causing at least 12 types of cancer throughout the body, the report states.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/tobacco/cancer-and-tobacco/dpk-vs-cancer-and-tobacco.html

 

Tagged in: CDC

It’s time once again to look back at the year that was and, perhaps, gain perspective on the year ahead. And a handy tool for doing just that is the humble list.

During the final quarter of each year, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

OSHA’s top 10 most cited OSHA violations of 2016 cover a broad range of workplace safety categories, from falls to chemicals and from personal protective equipment to fork trucks.

One way to look at the following list is to consider it as a starting point for addressing safety at work:
1. Fall protection (1926.501, 6,929 violations)
2. Hazard communication (1910.1200, 5,677 violations):
3. Scaffolding (1926.451, 3,906 violations):
4. Respiratory protection (1910.134, 3,585 violations)
5. Lockout/tagout (1910.147, 3,414 violations)
6. Powered industrial trucks, i.e. forklifts (1910.178, 2,800 violations):
7. Ladders (1926.1053, 2,639 violations
8. Machine guarding (1910.212, 2,451 violations)
9. Electrical wiring methods (1910.305, 1,940 violations):
10. Electrical general requirements (1910.303, 1,704 violations)

One of the more salient points about that list is that rankings change little from year to year.

According to OSHA, more than 4,500 workers die on the job each year, and approximately 3 million are injured. This, the agency wrote in a recent blog post, is “despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.”

With that in mind, OSHA recently updated its Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs (available at https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/). The agency said the guidelines, first published three decades, now reflect changes that have taken place the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The new section on Recommended Practices is aimed at use in a variety of small and medium-sized business settings, the agency said.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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