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The EPA has issued a final rule to limit exposure to formaldehyde, a carcinogen that is used as an adhesive in a broad range of wood products, including some furniture, flooring, cabinets, bookcases and building materials such as plywood and wood panels. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects including eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and cancer. This is the first time the EPA has regulated formaldehyde - OSHA has a formaldehyde standard which is part of the federal government.

Read entire article - https://www.epa.gov/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-emission-standards-composite-wood-products-0

Tagged in: EPA

Posted by on in Uncategorized

October heralds the arrival of many things – the first full month of autumn, cooler weather, leaves changing color, football season in full swing – and Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month.

Perhaps it’s because of the very fact that it is so vital we overlook it, or (usually) so transparent that we can’t see it, but we don’t often stop to think about the air we breathe. Air quality is important for everyone at all times, and that includes the time we spend at work.

Perhaps you’ve heard of “sick building syndrome,” a term first used in the 1980s to refer to health issues linked to improperly designed and ventilated buildings. Although some buildings are now designed with indoor air quality as a consideration (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – LEED), there are many steps employers can take to cut down on the chances of air causing maladies at work regardless of how and when buildings were designed.

Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comparing the risks of environmental threats to public health show that indoor air pollution from sources such as secondhand smoke, radon, organic compounds, and biological pollutants are among the top five risks on a consistent basis.

In general, most indoor air quality problems in the workplace can be traced to six main sources: 

-Inadequate Ventilation – These problems involve lack of adequate fresh air and uneven distribution of fresh air within a structure.

-Humidity and Temperature – These concerns involve levels outside the normal range of human comfort.

-Inside Contamination – Possible sources of contamination include office equipment such as copy machines, office and cleaning supplies, and chemicals that are stored indoors. 

-Outside Contamination – As the name suggests, this includes contaminants brought into a work environment, such as by means of an improper air intake or changes in wind conditions (for example, motor vehicle exhaust gases drawn into a ventilation system).

-Microbial Contamination – This is typically associated with water leaks, water infiltration, increased humidity indoors, humidifiers, and contaminated ventilation ductwork – places that can harbor and encourage the growth of microbes.

-New Building Materials – Emissions from building materials that have just been installed (the familiar phenomenon of gasses emitted by new carpeting is one example). Such issues typically resolve over time, which can be often be lessened by increasing building ventilation.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. That includes helping to identify and manage risks posed by air quality. Whether your organization works indoors, outdoors, or both, our consultants can determine air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air contaminant exposure assessment.

Ready to know more? Give us a call and start breathing easier.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance for workers possibly exposed to Zika virus, such as outdoor workers/employers, healthcare and laboratory workers, mosquito control workers and business travelers. Some of the recommendations are listed below:

-(for employers) Provide insect repellants containing EPA-registered active ingredients and encourage their use, provide workers with clothing that covers exposed skin.

-Get rid of standing water (i.e. bottles) when possible to eliminate areas where mosquitoes can lay eggs, perform hand hygiene before and after contact with infectious material.

-Workers performing tasks related to mosquito control may need additional protection.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0422-interim-guidance-zika.html

Tagged in: CDC zika virus

Posted by on in Uncategorized

As you likely know, new maximum fines from OSHA have been in effect since the beginning of August. They are:
-$12,741 for serious and other-than-serious violations, up from $7,000
-$124,709 for repeat or willful violations, up from $70,000, and
-$12,741 per day for failure-to-abate, up from $7,000.

That 78.2% leap was made to catch up with inflation since 1990, the last time OSHA maximum fines were increased. From now on, as part of the 2016 federal budget law, Federal OSHA can increase maximum fines each year based on inflation.

If you’ve been keeping up with OSHA news, this might all be review. But what might not be is how the agency determines exact fines. The four main factors are:
-The gravity of the violation;
-The size of the company;
-A good faith effort to comply, and
-A history of previous violations.

As the name suggests, gravity carries the most weight.

According to OSHA’s existing Field Operations Manual for inspectors (https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-00-159.pdf) the gravity of each individual violation is determined before any other calculations are made, with high gravity violations holding the maximum amount for serious, repeat and willful violations. Moderate gravity carries penalties between 57% and 86% of the allowable maximum, while low gravity can have penalties of 43% to 57% of the maximum.

Fine reductions are possible – for example, a good-faith reduction of up to 25% is possible if a company has a written safety and health management system.

Not surprisingly, penalty reductions come with restrictions, too. Some of those are that:
-Repeat violations are reduced only for company size.
-Willful violations are reduced only for company size and history.
-High gravity serious violations are reduced only for company size and history.
- A good faith reduction is not available when a willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violation is issued.
-So-called quick fix reductions are not issued when there is a fatality or serious injury, and this type of reduction is not issued when blatant violations are easily corrected, such as simply activating a ventilation system that is already in place or by putting on a hard hat when it is readily at the work site.

Tagged in: OSHA

The Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration proposed a rule to improve workplace examinations, specifically in metal and nonmetal mines in the U.S.

Citing a March 2015 accident where a vehicle crashed into a pond and killed the driver, the administration said that an examination could have prevented the accident.

According to the news release, 60 percent of deaths in metal and nonmetal mines since 2010 were linked to frequent mining violations, known as “Rules to Live By.”

Read entire article - https://www.msha.gov/news-media/press-releases/2016/06/07/msha-proposes-rule-workplace-examinations-could-prevent

Tagged in: mine safety

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