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OSHA announced in December it would give those interested an extra month to comment on several proposed revisions to its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards as part of its Standards Improvement Project. That new cut-off date – Jan. 4 – replaces the original deadline of Dec. 5. The agency stated in a press release that the proposed rule would streamline standards “that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.”

The proposed revisions are based on responses to a public Request for Information issued in 2012 and recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA staff, and the Office of Management and Budget. They include the following:

1. Reporting job-related hearing loss — Codifies current enforcement policy and clarifies that a determination whether an employee's hearing loss is "work-related" must be made using specific, clear criteria, which are set out in OSHA regulations.
2. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) — Remove the term "unexpected" to reflect OSHA's original intent and eliminate confusion regarding applicability of the standard.
3. Chest X-Ray (CXR) Requirements — Removes the requirement for periodic CXR in the standards for inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and acrylonitrile.
4. X-Ray Storage — Permits storage of x-rays in digital formats.
5. Lung-function testing — Updates the lung-function testing (spirometry) requirements for the cotton dust standard to make them consistent with current medical practices and technology.
6. Feral Cats — Deletes the term "feral cats" from the definition of vermin in the Shipyard Employment standard.
7. 911 Emergency Services at Worksites — Requires the posting of location information at worksites in areas that do not have Enhanced 911 (which automatically supplies the caller's location information to the dispatcher).
8. Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) — Corrects and clarifies the construction PELs requirements to make this standard consistent with other OSHA PELs standards.
9. Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals — Replaces the entire thirty-one pages of regulatory text for the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) Standard for construction with a cross reference to the identical general industry standard.
10. Personal Protective Equipment — Requires employers to select PPE that properly fits each employee and clarifies the construction PPE requirements to make them consistent with general industry requirements.
11. Lanyard/lifeline Break Strength — Standardizes break-strength requirements for lanyards and lifelines throughout the construction and general industry standards.
12. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) — Updates the provisions related to traffic signs and devices, flaggers, and barricades to align with current DOT requirements. (This removes the burden on construction employers.)
13. Load Limit Postings — Exempts single family dwellings from a requirement to post maximum safe-load limits for floors in buildings under construction, reducing a burden for residential builders.
14. Excavation Hazards — Clarifies that a hazard is presumed to exist when loose rock or soil and excavated material or equipment is beside a trench.
15. MSHA Underground Construction – Diesel Engines — Updates the regulatory language to cross-reference revised Mine Safety Health Administration's (MSHA) provisions.
16. Underground Construction — Replaces outdated decompression tables used to protect employees working in pressurized underground construction sites.
17. Rollover Protective Structures — Replaces the outdated construction standard with references to the appropriate consensus standards.
18. Regulation of coke oven emissions in construction — Removes the regulation of coke oven emissions provisions from the construction standards. (Any work during operation of coke ovens is general industry work, and the standard does not fit construction work.)
19. Collection of Social Security Numbers — Comprehensively removes from general industry, construction, and maritime standards all requirements to include an employee's social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud.

According to the agency, the proposed revisions would save employers an estimated $3.2 million per year.
Comments can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov and then entering “OSHA-2012-0007-0031” in the search bar.

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA has released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety and health in their workplaces.

The new document updates OSHA's 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, in workplaces, and also evolving safety and health issues, according to the agency, which said the recommendations feature an easier-to-use format and should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/index.html

Tagged in: OSHA

Reports citing statistics compiled from the previous year can help inform our decisions on how to plan for the year ahead.

Surely one of the most sobering sets of statistics involve the damage caused by fires. In the United States last year, fires cost approximately $14.3 billion in property damage – an increase of 23.2 percent from 2014. That’s according to "Fire Loss in the United States in 2015", the most recent annual report released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The report compiles data on civilian fire deaths and injuries, property damage and intentionally set fires reported to the NFPA by public fire departments that responded to the 2015 National Fire Experience Survey.

Some of the other key findings:
-Over the last 15 years, the total number of fires that local municipal fire departments reported remains on a downward trend for a decrease of 21 percent. During that same period, however, the number of structure fires has remained relatively constant.
-There was a civilian fire death every 2 hours and 40 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 33.5 minutes in 2015. Residential fires caused 2,560, or 78 percent, of the civilian fire deaths.
-Public fire departments responded to 1,345,500 fires in 2015 – a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year. Of these, 501,500 fires involved structures, a slight increase of 1.5 percent.
-In terms of calls for service to fire departments, fires accounted for four percent of the 33,602,500 total. Eight percent of the calls were false alarms, while 64 percent of the calls were for aid such as EMS.

Estimates of civilian fire injuries are on the low side, the NFPA cautions, because many injuries are not reported to the responding fire service. This can occur at small fires to which fire departments don’t respond, or in situations in which when fire departments aren’t aware of injured people whom they didn’t take to medical facilities.

The report contains overall statistics from the NFPA survey of fire departments on fires, civilian deaths and injuries, and property damage in 2015. It also includes patterns by major property class, region and community size as well as information on types of fire department calls and false alarms. Fires that occur in areas of sparse population protected primarily by state and federal land management agencies are not likely to be included in the survey results.

The NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be found at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Tagged in: NFPA

A recently published white paper from National Safety Council’s Campbell Institute highlights the importance of workplace wellbeing as a key component in an employer's safety culture.

A section on incentives shows that institute participants continue to experiment and test incentive structures to find out what works best for their employees.

Read entire article - http://www.thecampbellinstitute.org/research

The rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the U.S. dropped in 2015 by the greatest amount since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That continues a downward trend that, with the exception of 2012, has happened over the past 13 years.

According to data released recently by the BLS, employers in private industry reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses last year. That is a decline of about 48,000 from 2014, even though there was an increase in total hours worked. The rate of cases recorded in 2015 was 3.0 per 100 full-time workers – down from 3.2 the previous year. That makes it the lowest recorded case rate since at 2002, when OSHA recordkeeping requirements were modified. In 2003, the rate was 5.0. It fell below 4.0 for the first time in 2008 when the rate reached 3.9.The last time the rate dropped by more than 0.1 was in 2009, when it fell from 3.9 in 2008 to 3.6.

The decline in total recordable cases resulted largely by decreases in two categories: those involving days away from work and other recordable cases. The rate for cases of job transfer or restriction held steady.

Six of 19 private industry sectors reported a decline in injuries:
-mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
-manufacturing
-transportation and warehousing
-finance and insurance
-health care and social assistance, and
-accommodation and food services.

Some other highlights from the report:
-The only sector in the report to show an increase was wholesale trade. The other dozen sectors stayed flat.
-Over half of the 2.9 million injuries involved days away from work, job restriction or transfer (DART).
-The injury rate was highest among mid-size companies (50-249 employees) and lowest among the smallest employers (fewer than 11 employees).
-About three of four injuries occurred in service industries.
-Of the 41 states for which state rates are available, rates declined in nine and remained steady in 32 and the District of Columbia.

Four states registered injury rates above a 4.0:
-Maine: 4.8
-Vermont: 4.6
-Washington: 4.4, and
-Montana: 4.3.

Two state showed rates below 2.0:
-Washington, DC: 1.6, and
-Louisiana: 1.9.

"We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. “This is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day.

"Despite the decline, approximately 2.9 million private sector workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses last year. That is still far too many. At OSHA, we will continue to do all that we can to continue driving the rate down."

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's workforce by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

This is the first of three annual BLS workplace injury reports released in the fall. In November, BLS will release a report on nonfatal injuries with days away from work. In December, the agency will release its annual report on fatal injuries.

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=33360

Tagged in: OSHA

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