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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in workplace safety

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More than 700,000 employees injure their eyes at work each year in the United States – that’s more than 2000 a day! Three hundred thousand of these injuries send employees to the emergency rooms each year, and 10-20% cause temporary or permanent vision loss. The most common causes for eye injuries are from flying bits of metal or glass, tools, particles, chemicals, harmful radiation or a combination of these hazards.

Experts believe using proper safety eyewear could have prevented, or at least lessened, 90% of the eye injuries occurring at work. Other than using the right eye protection, knowing the eye safety dangers at work is extremely important. Complete an eye hazard assessment, described in 29 CFR 1910.132 and Appendix B to Subpart I, and then eliminating hazards before starting work, such as machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls. Doing these three things can greatly reduce the likelihood of a workplace eye injury.

But what type of safety eye protection should you wear? That really depends on the hazards at your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust, you must wear at least safety glasses with side shields. If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers or fiber optics, then you must use specific eye protection for such jobs, including safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that specific task.

Here are a couple other tips to keep in mind to promote eye safety in the workplace:
• Employees should have regular comprehensive eye exams to verify their vision is adequate to complete their jobs safely.
• When an employee already has reduced vision, company provided prescription glasses or goggles would ensure more protective eyewear usage
• Make sure all employees know where the nearest eyewash station is at work and how to use it to properly clean their eyes
Your eyesight is your most critical sense. Protect it by making sure you are wearing the most appropriate and well-fitting eye safety protection – for Eye Injury Prevention Month and every month afterwards.

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized each September. Even though this push tends to be a reminder we must prepare ourselves and our families for a multitude of Mother Nature disasters and encourages us to take time to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, we must not forget the workplace.

Disasters can manifest in a variety of ways, and the workplace is definitely not exempt. Tornadoes, floods and weather-related disasters bring havoc, and do you know if your employees know what to do in such situations? What about workplace violence? A chemical spill? A fire? Taking preventative measures and planning ahead are important aspects to staying calm and keeping your employees safe.

First step is making sure there is an evacuation plan in place. Ready.gov recommends regularly testing your building’s communication system as it is of the utmost importance that employees can clearly hear instructions. If no such system is in place, have a backup plan, such as speaking through a bullhorn to relay information. Other tips include:
• Make sure every floor of the building has two exits that are kept clear
• Assign specific evacuation roles to employees to help direct co-workers to safety and to account for all employees being present
• Contact your local fire department to create an evacuation plan for workers with disabilities

Taking Shelter
Mother Nature has been on a bit of a rampage in the recent years, and while Indiana may not technically be in tornado alley, it seems we are just across the street! If severe weather is a threat, sound a distinct warning and move all workers to the strongest part of the building or structure. It is important to conduct regularly scheduled emergency drills, so employees know what to do and to ensure the building’s safe areas provide enough room for everyone.

Lockdown Situation
Workplace violence is a serious occupational hazard, ranking in the top four causes of death in the workplace for the past 15 years. Ready.gov recommends if gunfire is suspected, employees should find a hiding place and stay quiet. If possible, workers should hide in a room – under a desk and away from windows and doors – and lock and barricade the door. Employees should stay hidden until authorities, such as the police, release them.

Dangerous Materials
If you suspect a gas leak or chemical spill has occurred, National Safety Council recommends the following acronym – E.S.C.A.P.E.:
• E: Exit the area
• S: Secure the scene
• C: Call 911
• A: Assess the problem
• P: Pull your building’s fire alarm
• E: Exit the building

In honor of National Preparedness Month, make it a point to ensure the safety of your workers. Workplace Safety & Health is here to help you do just that. Give us a call – 317-253-9737.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Jax Utilities Management Inc., a Jacksonville utilities contractor, for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $271,606.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region4/03072018

Manual dexterity – the use of hands, fingers and thumbs to perform everything from very basic to very complex motions - is something we may take for granted much of the time.

But when these most intricate and useful manual appendages find themselves in harm’s way, the results are hard to ignore.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a million workers visit the emergency room with hand injuries each year. Approximately 110,000 hand injuries result in lost time at work (1) with the average hand injury resulting to six days away from the job. The average claim is about $6,000, while the average workers' compensation claim comes to about $7,500. In all, the hands account for about 13 percent of all industrial injuries each year.

Depending on the industry, some workplace injuries routinely involve the possibility of exposure to toxic materials through the skin. In fact, the Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (2) from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists approximately 450 organic substances for which skin protection is required.

As the body’s largest organ, the skin represents a major route for chemical exposure. Toxins can damage the skin directly, be absorbed into the body through the skin or enter through hand-to-mouth transfer. To complicate matters, results of numerous studies indicate that chemical absorption through the skin can go unnoticed by someone going about his or her work routine.

So, one might argue, when it comes to chemical protective clothing for the hands, why not just have workers don heavily insulated, chemically impervious mitts and be done with it? The reason, of course, is that most jobs require a level of tactility that limits the practicality of such a design, even it were possible to fabricate.

Here’s another argument for not just throwing on any old set of gloves. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Occupational Safety and Health Administration/OSHA), 30 percent of workers who suffered hand injuries were wearing gloves that were inadequate, damaged or were the wrong type for the hazard. Perhaps even more telling is that the other 70 percent who sustained a hand injury were not wearing gloves at the time of the incident (3).

When it comes to choosing chemical protective clothing, organizations should weigh factors such as cost, practicality, toxicity, and workplace exposure conditions.

OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard (1910.132) calls for a hazard assessment that includes conducting a survey of each operation, identifying specific potential hazards, organizing the data and analyzing the information. This analysis should include a determination of the level of risk and seriousness of the potential injury from each hazard found in the area.

It’s important to keep in mind that commonly available glove materials provide only limited protection against many chemicals. Gloves also represent an opportunity for sweat to build up, leading to potential discomfort and health issues. That means selecting the best fit for a particular application, which includes determining how long gloves can be worn and whether they can be reused (4).

Because they are not always reliable as a source of protection, gloves are not recommended by NIOSH or OSHA as a primary defense against chemical exposure.

Rather, chemical protective clothing for the hands should be one part of a comprehensive approach that includes practices such as isolation, training and environmental monitoring.

References
1. 2014 USA National Safety Council. 2014 injury data.
2. www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/
3. www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9777
4. www.cdc.gov/niosh/ncpc/default.html

What Is Safe + Sound Week? A nationwide event to raise awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs that include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in workplaces.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/safeandsoundweek/

Summer is in full swing, and that means some extremely warm weather! July and August are typically the hottest months of the year, and those who work outdoors are exposed to hours of the sun’s strong ultraviolet (UV) rays. In May’s blog, we discussed heat-related illnesses, but don’t forget another possible cause of too much sun. Since the sun is the primary cause of skin cancer, outdoor workers are at the highest risk. 
 
Even though cancers caused by a person’s work are generally taken seriously, skin cancer isn’t often thought of as an occupational disease. The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to minimize risk of harm to employees. 
 
According to the National Cancer Institute, people should protect themselves against skin cancer by:
Avoiding sun exposure as much as possible between 10am and 4pm
Wearing long sleeves, long pants and a hat that shades your face, ears, neck with a brim all around
Using broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and can filter both UVA and UVB rays
Wearing sunglasses that filter UV rays to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes
 
Some of these steps may be difficult to follow if you are an outdoor worker, which includes such occupations as construction, agriculture and landscaping. Most work hours are during the heat of the day, so what steps can employers take to help protect their outdoor workers from the harmful UV rays?
 
Here are a few strategies to increase sun protection:
Schedule breaks in the shade and allow workers to reapply sunscreen throughout their shifts
Modify the work site by increasing the amount of shade available – tents, shelters, cooling stations
Create work schedules that minimize sun exposure – schedule outdoor tasks early morning or evening time and rotate workers to reduce their UV exposure
Add sun safety to workplace policies and trainings
Provide free sunscreen, uniforms that offer ample body coverage and UV-blocking sunglasses
 
In the United States, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other forms of cancer combined with one in five Americans getting skin cancer by the age of 70. Every year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S., which costs an estimate $8.1 billion annually. It’s in the employers’ best interests, and it’s an OSHA requirement, to keep their workers safe, including keeping them safe from the intense rays of the summer sun.
 

The Consumer Products and Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of Honeywell Fibre-Metal E2 and North Peak A79 hard hats. These hats can fail to protect users from impact, posing a risk of head injury.

Read entire article - https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2018/honeywell-recalls-hard-hats-due-to-risk-of-head-injury

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Premier Behavioral Health Solutions of Florida Inc. and UHS of Delaware Inc., the operators of Bradenton-based Suncoast Behavioral Health Center, for failing to protect employees from violence in the workplace. Proposed penalties total $71,137.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region4/05022018

Back in 1982, OSHA developed the Control of Hazardous Energy regulation to help protect workers who routinely service equipment in the workplace, and it went into effect in 1989. This regulation is now commonly known as the lockout/tagout (LOTO) regulation, and it outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment (General Industry -29 CFR 1910.147).  The regulation also addresses a number of other OSHA standards, including but not limited to Marine Terminals, Construction, Electrical and Special Industries.

So what is hazardous energy? When machines or equipment are being prepared for service or maintenance, they often contain some form of hazardous energy, which is any type of energy that can be released and cause harm. Energy sources include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal and other energy sources. Failure to control such hazardous energy can cause serious injuries and death, and many injuries include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating or fracturing body parts.  Some examples of such injuries include the following:

  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases and crushes a worker who is trying to release the jam.
  • A valve is turned on somewhere along the same line where a worker is repairing a connection in the pipes, and the fluid or steam then spills on and burns the worker.
  • Internal wiring on the equipment electrically shorts, shocking the worker repairing the equipment.

Every workplace should have an energy control program in place, with LOTO safety being part of that program. A LOTO procedure should include the following six steps:

1. Preparation – the employee must investigate and have a complete understanding of all types of hazardous energy that might need to be controlled, including identifying the specific hazards and how to control that energy

2. Shut Down – shut down the machine or equipment that will be serviced and inform any employee affected by the shutdown

3. Isolation – isolate the machine or equipment from any source of energy, which may include turning power off at a breaker or shutting a valve

4. Lockout/Tagout – the employee will attach lockout/tagout devices to each energy-isolating device – these devices should not be removed by anyone except by the person performing the lockout, and the tag should include the name of the person and other needed information who is performing the LOTO

5. Stored Energy Check – hazardous energy can be “stored” within the machine, so during this step, any potentially hazardous stored or residual energy must be released, disconnected, restrained or made non-hazardous

6. Isolation Verification – doublecheck/verify that everything was done correctly, and the machine or equipment is de-energized

It is estimated there are at least three million workers who service equipment routinely, including craft workers, electricians, machine operators and laborers. Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries, and those who are injured lose an average of 24 workdays recuperating. Compliance with LOTO standards prevents on average an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. offers a Lockout/Tagout program, which includes effective programming, procedure writing and labeling, training and data management.  In the past 15 years, Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has authored over 15,000 energy control/lockout-tagout procedures for the automotive, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, medical device, and ferrous & non-ferrous metals industries. Give us a call to see how we can help you implement or update your LOTO program and train your employees on those life-saving procedures – 317-253-9737.

OSHA Fact Sheet - https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-lockout-tagout.pdf

NIOSH Alert - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-110/pdfs/99-110sum.pdf

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Did you know in the United States that cloud-to-ground lightning happens 20 to 25 million times a year? Even with such frequency, for some reason, lightning is overlooked too often as an occupational hazard. It doesn’t get the attention of other deadly weather storms, such as hurricanes, floods or tornadoes, because it doesn’t result in mass destruction or mass casualties. But anybody working outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects or near explosives or conductive materials have a significant risk to being struck by lightning.

In a typical year, the central Ohio Valley, including Indiana, sees some of the most frequent lightning activity across the United States. Summertime is the peak season for lightning and a great time to educate your employees about lightning and what precautions should be taken to prevent worker exposure to this dangerous natural force.

Lightning 101 – When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

  • Lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from its parent thunderstorm – much farther out from the area of rainfall within the storm.
  • Thunderstorms always include lightning – any thunder you hear is caused by lightning.
  • Nowhere outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area.
  • If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance.
  • Seek safe shelter and stay there until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
  • Don’t use corded phones as this is one of the leading causes of indoor lightning injuries – cordless and cell phones are safe to use as long as they are not being charged.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Don’t touch electrical equipment or cords as anything using electricity is susceptible to a lightning strike.
  • Avoid plumbing as metal plumbing and the water inside are both very good conductors of electricity.
  • Refrain from touching concrete surfaces – lightning can travel through the metal wires and bars in concrete walls and flooring, such as in a basement or garage.

Remember, there is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm, so seek full-enclosed, substantial buildings with interior wiring and plumbing as these will act as an earth ground. But what if workers are caught outdoors?  These are National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) recommendations to decrease the risk of being struck:

  • Lightning will likely strike the tallest objects in the area, so make sure it’s not you.
  • Avoid such things as isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell phone towers, cranes, large equipment, ladders, scaffolding or rooftops.
  • Avoid open areas, such as fields, and never lie flat on the ground.
  • If you must be near trees, find a dense area of smaller trees that are surrounded by larger trees or retreat to low-lying areas.
  • Avoid water – immediately get out of and away from such places as pools, lakes or oceans.
  • Avoid wiring, plumbing and fencing as lightning can travel long distances through metal.

Many people often wonder about the safety of their own vehicle during lightning. There have been enough reported incidences and injuries to know the myth of being completely safe in a car is just that - a myth. If you find yourself in your car during a lightning storm, it is best to pull off to the side of the road, turn on your emergency blinkers, turn off the engine and put your hands on your lap until the storm passes. Do not touch door or window handles, radio dials, CB microphones, gearshifts, steering wheels and other inside-to-outside metal objects.

On the other hand, heavy equipment, such as backhoes, bulldozers, loaders, graders, scrapers and mowers, which have an enclosed rollover system canopy (ROPS) are considered safe, so you should shut down the equipment, close the doors and sit with hands in lap until the storm has passed. Smaller equipment without ROPS, such as small riding mowers, golf carts and utility wagons, are not safe, and you should leave these vehicles for safe shelter.

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees, which includes but is not limited to having an Emergency Action Plan that addresses lightning safety protocol for outdoor workers, posting information about lightning safety at outdoor worksites and offering safety training to their employees. Workplace Safety & Health Co. is here to help you keep your employees safer in thunderstorms and in all kinds of weather. 

High cholesterol and high blood pressure are more common among workers exposed to loud noise at work, according to a NIOSH study recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Researchers found that a quarter of U.S. workers reported a history of noise exposure at work.

NIOSH researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty, and heart conditions within U.S. industries and occupations. The researchers also examined the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease.

Read entire article - https://ohsonline.com/articles/2018/03/23/cdc-study-shows-association-between-noise-exposure-and-heart-disease-risk-factors.aspx

 

National Safety Month is observed annually every June to promote safety throughout the country and focus on reducing leading causes of death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), nearly 5200 American workers died while doing their job in 2016.  That averages to more than 14 people per day! It’s a 7 percent increase from 2015, and it’s the first time in nearly a decade the number has surpassed 5000. 

More workers lost their lives in transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about one out of every four fatal injuries. Workplace violence injuries increased by 23 percent, which made it the second most common cause of workplace fatality. With the nation’s opioid crisis, drug abuse and deaths have entered the workplace at an alarming rate.  A BLS’s report from December showed the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32 percent in 2016, and the number of drug-related fatalities has increased by at least 25 percent annually since 2012. Even though these three are significant, workplace deaths are increasing percentage-wise among many different demographics. 

Safety in the workplace is vital, and employers must take bigger steps to encourage and increase workplace safety. Here are some basic ways employers can help ensure the safety of all workers:

Staff Training

Employees may roll their eyes when they are required to attend regularly scheduled safety trainings, but proper training is a necessity – not only for your employees’ safety, but you will be held liable for the incidences. During these trainings, encourage your employees to share ideas on how to improve safety.  One great topic for a staff training – first aid training. 

Develop a Workplace Safety and Health Plan

Identifying hazards in your workplace and taking steps to eliminate or minimize them are great first steps in keeping work spaces safer, but also take it further by developing a safety plan listing such hazards, telling your employees what you will do to ensure their safety and what you expect from them. Make sure your employees have access to a first aid kit and the AED equipment.

Inspect Your Workplace

Regularly scheduled workplace inspections are very important. Check tools and equipment to make sure they are well maintained and safe. Make sure your workplace is relatively clean and clutter-free. When properly carried out, these inspections can help you proactively identify and address hazards before they cause safety issues.

Reward Safety

Are you rewarding employees for completely a job before deadlines, under budget or high productivity? This mentality to get it done quickly could compromise safety. Why not reward those who have followed all your safety rules and have consistently provided efficient work? This puts the emphasis on safety instead of productivity.

Want more ideas on how to promote a safer work environment? Contact us at Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. at 317-253-9737.

It’s been a long winter – and a cold spring, but summer is just around the corner, which means hot weather is on its way. For the many people exposed to higher temperatures as part of their job duties, it’s time to review how to prevent heat-related illnesses (HRI’s). Every year, thousands of workers in the United States suffer from serious HRI’s, which if not addressed can quickly turn from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, which has killed on average 30 people every year since 2003. Jobs that are at a higher risk of HRI’s include, but are not limited to, firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers and factory workers.

You might wonder how does excessive heat affect the body? Our bodies usually maintain a stable internal temperature by circulating blood to the skin and through sweating, but when the outside temperature is close to or even warmer than normal body temperature, sweat may not be able to evaporate, so it’s less effective. If the body cannot get rid of the excess heat, it stores it, which causes an increase in core temperature and heart rate. If the body continues to store heat, you begin to lose concentration and have difficulty focusing, you may become irritable or sick and lose your desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even possibly death. The body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes!

Five Categories of Heat-Related Illnesses

  1. Heat Rash – caused by skin being constantly wet from sweat and plugged sweat glands (raised, red blistery rash)
  2. Heat Cramps – caused by excessive loss of water and electrolytes, with cramps occurring in the legs and abdomen
  3. Heat Syncope – caused by prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or laying position (includes fainting or dizziness)
  4. Heat Exhaustion – symptoms are pale skin, excessive sweating, headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and dizziness, with the potential for fainting
  5. Heat Stroke – symptoms are dry hot skin and a very high body temperature, skin is red but without sweat, and the person is incoherent or unconscious

Preventative Actions to Protect Employees

  • Train and educate workers and supervisors on risk factors and early warning signs of HRI’s
  • Provide cool drinking water near work areas and promote regular hydration before feeling thirsty
  • Monitor temperature and humidity levels near work areas – incorporate a variety of engineering controls that can reduce workers’ exposure to hear including air conditioning, increase general ventilation, cooling fans, local exhaust ventilation, reflective shields to redirect radiant heat, insulation of hot surfaces, and elimination of steam leaks
  • Implement a heat management program, so everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency
  • Allow workers to distribute the workload evenly over the day, to rotate job functions and incorporate work/rest cycles, including if possible to allow heavier work scheduled for cooler times of the day
  • Use the “buddy system” to monitor worker conditions
  • Use safety supplies such as special cooling devices when using certain personal protective equipment
  • Acclimate workers by exposing them for progressively longer periods of time to hot work conditions

Hot Weather Safety Tips for Employees

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid dehydrating liquids, including alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing when possible
  • Pace yourself and schedule frequent breaks in a shaded or air-conditioned area
  • Use a damp rag to wipe your face or put around your neck
  • Avoid direct sun and getting sunburnt – use sunscreen and wear a hat
  • Be alert for signs of HRI’s
  • Eat smaller meals – eat fruits high in fiber and natural juices and avoid high protein foods

Just take a look at OSHA’s Fat Cat report and the most common theme on the fatality report is a fall, usually from some sort of construction job site. Fall from heights is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction, accounting for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S., more than 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured, and the statistics for 2016 show that of the 991 construction fatalities, falls accounted for 370. 

Overall, fatality injuries in construction are higher than any other industry in the United States, with the majority of them occurring in establishments with fewer than 20 employees. About two-thirds of those fatal falls were from roofs, scaffolds and ladders. 

Many, if not all, of these deaths could have been prevented with these common-sense safety precautions* including:

Planning ahead to do the job safely before starting each and every job.

Providing the right equipment for working at heights.

Training workers to use the equipment properly and to work safely on roofs, ladders and scaffolds

Preventing Roof Falls

Do's:

Wear a harness and always stay connected

Make sure your harness fits

Use guardrails or lifelines

Guard or cover all holes, openings and skylights

Don’t’s

Don’t disconnect from the lifeline

Don’t work around unprotected openings or skylights

Don’t use defective equipment

Preventing Ladder Falls

Do’s

Choose the right ladder for the job

Maintain three points of contact

Secure the ladder

Always face the ladder

Don’t’s

Don’t overreach

Don’t stand on top or on the top step of a stepladder

Don’t place the ladder on unlevel footing

Preventing Scaffolds Falls

Do’s

Use fully planked scaffolds

Ensure proper access to scaffolds

Plumb and level

Complete all guardrails

Ensure stable footing

Inspect before use

Don’t’s

Don’t use a ladder on top of the scaffold

Don’t stand on guardrails

Don’t climb cross-braces

*DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 2012-142, Fall Prevention Fact Sheet - http://stopconstructionfalls.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Campaign-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Even though construction falls are the majority of fatality-related falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 261,000 private industry and state and local government workers miss one or more days of work yearly due to injuries from falls on the same level or to lower levels. Fall injuries are a big financial burden, accounting for an estimated $70 billion annually in the United States through workers’ compensation and medical costs associated with occupational fall incidences. 

To increase awareness for fall prevention, OSHA incorporated National Safety Stand-Down Week five years ago. This year’s event takes place May 7-11. OSHA is asking employers to set some time aside during that week to have an open discussion with employees about falls and how to prevent them. Workplace Safety and Health Co. is here to help you lower employee injury rates. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

Clocks will spring forward on Sunday, March 11 as we begin Daylight Saving Time. Even though we welcome the bright mornings as a signal that winter is finally coming to an end, we do miss that lost hour of sleep and we might even have to deal with our body clock disruption.

Now you may think one hour of lost sleep isn’t much, but many of us deal with lack of sleep on a regular basis. The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives, including workplace safety.

March is Sleep Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to remind people that getting a good night’s sleep is a necessity. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation and drowsiness on the job can be a major safety issue, especially in safety-critical positions that involve operating machinery, driving or other tasks that require alertness.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but 63 percent of Americans reported their sleep needs are not being met each week. According to Circadian (link to website - http://www.circadian.com/), a global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock, sleep deprivation is frequently the root cause of decreased productivity, accidents, incidents and mistakes which cost companies billions of dollars each year.

Sleep deprived individuals are poor communicators, have decreased vigilance and slower response time, become distracted easily, and are more prone to engage in risky decision making. Interesting point is if you have four or more nights of less than seven hours of sleep per night, it can be the equivalent to a total night of sleep deprivation and that can affect your functioning for up to two weeks.

And what about operating machinery or driving while sleepy? Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and the National Safety Council research showed:
• You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if fatigued
• Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers
• Being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk (22 hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioral performance impairment that are comparable to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level)

The loss of sleep is not only detrimental to workplace safety, it is a major player in employees’ overall health. Chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. It is estimated fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.

So, time to get some shut eye in the name of workplace safety and health!

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently published "Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices," a guidance document for industry and the FDA staff and said it is the world's first agency to provide a comprehensive technical framework to advise manufacturers creating medical products on 3D printers.

The document, available at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM499809.pdf, addresses a range of issues, from design, software, and materials (both starting materials and reuse of materials) to post-processing, device testing, biocompatibility, and labeling.

Read entire article - https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm587547.htm

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Prolonged blasts of arctic air throughout much of Eastern United States in December and January have reminded us just how severe and dangerous winter weather can be, especially for those who find themselves outdoors in it.

Anyone exposed to extreme cold, such as in a work environment, may be at risk of cold stress – when body heat is lost faster than it can be produced. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary from region to region. That means that in places typically unaccustomed to wintry weather, even near-freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Such weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.

OSHA's Cold Stress Guide at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/cold.html offers a number of tips for avoiding cold stress on the job, while reminding employers of their responsibility to keep workers safe under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

According to the guide, “Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Workers should be trained on the appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices to reduce the risk of cold stress.”

Some of these are common sense practices, like wearing inner and outer layers of clothing to stay both dry and warm, donning a hat and/or hood, and putting on waterproof and insulated gloves and boots.

Others involve taking frequent breaks in a warm area, working in pairs so either one might spot danger signs, and notifying a supervisor or calling for medical help immediately if a worker has signs or symptoms of hypothermia or another cold-related illness or injury.

Still others involve engineering controls like providing radiant heaters to warm workers in outdoor security stations, and where possible, shielding work areas from drafts or wind to cut down on wind chill.

Perhaps the two most salient points in OSHA’s Cold Stress Guide are recommendations that both employers and employees be proactive and alert, both good practices for dealing with winter – and workplace safety – in general.

There were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016, representing a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015. That’s according to the most recent Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This marked the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities and the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded by the CFOI since 2008. The fatal injury rate increased to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers from 3.4 in 2015, the highest rate since 2010.

Read entire article - https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm

There’s no mistaking the value in lifelong learning, but training courses – whether they last a few hours or a few days, can sometimes seem daunting to anyone enrolled in them.

A 2015 Microsoft study found that the average person’s attention span is about 8 seconds. While that finding and others like it might suggest that any productivity or safety message at work is playing to a sold-out crowd at Short Attention Span Theatre, a new trend known as microlearning seeks to capitalize on that apparent shortcoming.

As the name suggests, microlearning courses are shorter than traditional training: A single microlearning session aims to teach one particular lesson in a concentrated way – a single presentation typically ranges from 2 to 5 minutes. Such sessions are typically more convenient than traditional classroom settings, too: Most microlearning formats are easily accessed from smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers, while organizations can choose to offer courses either at specific times or an on-demand basis.

Considering the time many people spend watching video – one recent study found that many Millennials spend upwards of a total of three hours a day gazing into the electronic ether – the concept of brief, targeted lessons with clear-cut goals seems like a logical progression in eLearning.

In the few years since such courses have been offered, there is evidence to suggest that putting forth the effort can bear fruit. As chronicled in the 2016 Fortune magazine article "Corporate Training Gets an Upgrade for the Facebook Generation," Walmart developed an app for its warehouse workers comprised of three-minute instructional videos on performing common tasks safely. Each lesson was followed by a short test. Following a trial period of six-months, injury claims at the company’s warehouses fell by nearly half. The magazine also looked at a private Facebook group created by PayPal aimed at helping its employees help each other troubleshoot by watching videos of short classes. One major takeaway was that the number of workers who finished at least two training courses every six months doubled. During that same period, PayPal was able to reduce its training expenses by nearly a 25 percent.

It’s clear that such a method – taken by itself – has its limits. For example, a two-day personal protective equipment training course cannot adequately impart all its lessons in a single five-minute video, no matter how motivated the student and concise the course material. And instructor-led courses have the versatility of responding to students’ learning pace and questions in an organic way. However, when microlearning sessions are incorporated in the framework of a longer course in complementary ways, such as when some lessons are transferred to video as prerequisites for attending a brick-and-mortar course or when they are used in conjunction with one to introduce or reinforce concepts, it appears that the sky (or the Cloud) is the limit.

Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs) appear to be on their way to becoming as common a sight in buildings and gathering places as fire extinguishers. The potentially life-saving devices can be found in a growing number of schools, churches, courthouses and businesses – and with good reason. CPR from a trained bystander can double or even triple a heart attack victim's odds of survival.

Yet the results of two recent surveys commissioned by the American Heart Association suggest there is a gap between the people’s appreciation of these potentially live saving techniques and their ability and willingness to use them.

One survey found that while many in the workplace recognize the value of training, their good intentions haven't necessarily meant an increase in the number of people trained in comprehensive first aid, which involves both CPR and the AED use. Perhaps even more telling, 56 percent of respondents did not even know where an AED could be found where they work. 

This first survey included polled 500 general industry/labor employees, most of them working in construction or manufacturing. Forty-six percent indicated that their employers offered no first aid or CPR+AED training.

More than a third indicated that they had not received first aid or CPR+AED training through their current employer.
Forty percent said they did not believe it was necessary to learn the location of AEDs in public places such as airports and large-scale public venues.

At the same time, most of these same employees believe they or someone in the workplace will know how to perform CPR+AED or first aid in the event of an emergency.

The other AHA-commissioned survey collected responses from more than 1,000 environmental health and safety managers and human resource managers from a variety of industries.

Their responses suggested they, too, appreciate the value of workplace training during or outside of business hours: About a third indicated that someone’s life had been saved inside or outside of the workplace as a result of proper first aid and CPR+AED training from their organization.

At Workplace Safety & Health Company, we are committed to helping to make workplaces safer by offering training in First Aid/CPR (including AED and bloodborne pathogens), as well as:
-Aerial lift safety training
-Lockout/Tagout
-HAZMAT/HAZWOPER
-Confined Space Entry and Rescue
-Asbestos Operations and Maintenance
-Fall Protection
Whatever your workplace safety concern, contact us – we’re here to help.

Tagged in: AED CPR workplace safety

The present regulatory approach toward safety and health in the workplace needs improvement. That's according to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), whose “OSHA Reform Blueprint” lists 12 points outlining changes to emphasize risk management, sharpen the agency’s focus on productive policies and fill gaps that limit OSHA’s ability to protect workers.

Read entire article - http://www.asse.org/assets/1/7/ASSE_Blueprint-_Reforming_Workplace_Safety___Health.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

If investing in safety at the workplace sometimes seems costly, there are numbers that show just how expensive the alternative can be.

The most serious workplace injuries cost companies in the United States $59.9 billion per year. That's according to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, which used figures from 2014, the most recent year statistically valid injury data are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance in order to identify critical risk areas in worker safety.

The index looks at what caused employees to miss six or more days of work and then ranks those reasons by total workers’ compensation costs.

Taking the top spot in this year's index was overexertion involving outside sources. That category includes lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing objects. Such injuries accounted for 23% of the total costs, or $13.79 billion.

The remaining categories in the top 10 were:
-falls on same level, $10.62 billion, 17.7%;
-falls to lower level, $5.5 billion, 9.2%;
-being struck by object or equipment, $4.43 billion, 7.4%;
-other exertions or bodily reactions, $3.89 billion, 6.5%;
-roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle, $3.7 billion, 6.2%
-slip or trip without fall, $2.3 billion, 3.8%;
-caught in or compressed by equipment or objects, $1.95 billion, 3.3%;
-struck against object or equipment, $1.95 billion, 3.2%, and
-repetitive motions involving micro-tasks, $1.81 billion, 3.0%.

That order in among the top 10 was unchanged from the previous year. What did change from year to year, however, was the share of the top 10 causes of serious workplace accidents. In 2014, the cost of all disabling workplace accidents was 83.4 percent, up by just under 1% from 2013. The report also found that falls on the same level and roadway incidents continued to increase.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to assist customers in reducing injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through robust health and safety management practices. A mock OSHA audit from Workplace Safety & Health Co. can provide valuable insight into the presence of unsafe conditions and/or unsafe work practices that may be present at your facility. Give us a call or visit our website to learn more about how we can help.

Tagged in: workplace safety

There are significant differences in short sleep duration – less than seven hours a night – among occupational groups. That’s according to a CDC study that is believed to be the first to evaluate short sleep duration in more than 90 detailed occupation groups and across multiple states.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-03-03-17.html

Updated OSHA regulations that went into effect in January 2017 stand to have a pervasive impact on all fall protection programs going forward.

In November 2016, OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (29 CFR 1910 Subparts D & I). The 500-plus page document sets compliance dates that go out as far as 2036, but many are much more pressing. In one example, workers exposed to fall hazards or who use fall protection equipment must receive training by May 2017.

Some of the key features of the new rule are discussed below.

Roof Work
A common concern with respect to roof work involves distance, specifically, what is considered to be a safe distance from the edge of an unprotected roof.

Although OSHA's previous position is that there is no safe distance, the new rule does provide some clarification on this point. The regulation states that work at less than 6 feet from the roof edge requires conventional means of protection (such as a guardrail, personal fall arrest systems, etc.). From a distance of 6-15 feet, the new rule allows for a designated area for infrequent or temporary work. These areas are defined in more detail in the rule’s commentary section.

Some of the new features clearly reflect an alignment with regulations on construction. One is that a warning line is required beginning at 6 feet from the edge.

Under the new rule, work at a distance greater than 15 feet from an unprotected edge does not require an employer to provide any fall protection – but only if the work is both infrequent and temporary. In this situation, the rule allows for an administrative control to be used in order to keep workers from being closer than 15 feet from an unprotected edge.

Guardrails, Ladders and Stairs
The new rule contains new information on common features such as guardrails, ladders and stairs.

One key feature of the new rule with respect to these devices is a number of additional approved types: They include alternating tread-type stairs, combination ladders and mobile ladder stand platforms. The rule also now includes specific requirements for spiral stairs and ship stairs. For falls of greater than 24 feet, the new rule requires the use of ladder safety systems. Enforcement of the requirements for new ladders is set to start in November 2018, and every ladder will be required to comply with this by 2036.

General industry regulations for guardrails are now aligned with construction rules and require a height of 42 inches (plus or minus 3 inches). Under the new rule, openings are required to be no larger than 19 inches. No longer allowed is the use of chains to close off access to openings or the use of a "parapet alternative" option that involved a shorter (30-inch) barrier, provided as it was of sufficient width (18 inches).

Competent and Qualified Persons
The new regulations address more than just hardware requirements, and one subset speaks more specifically than in the previous version to the roles of “Competent and Qualified” persons.

That includes distinct training and responsibilities for personnel who have those designations. There are specific references on the need for a Qualified Person for the following job functions:
-Worker training, which in the past was linked to the Competent Person
-Instances in which correction or repair involves structural integrity of a walking-working surface
-Inspection of knots in a lanyard or vertical lifeline
-Annual inspection of rope descent anchorages
-Anchorage certification

Workplace Assessments
One of the most significant features of the new rule is the need for fall hazard assessments. 29 CFR 1910.132(d) now requires workplace assessment. That means employers must ensure the following to be in compliance:
-Determine whether hazards are present and, if so, communicate that information to employees, select types of personal protective equipment for employees, and ensure its proper fit.
-Coordinate with other entities to assess hazards for multi-employer sites.
-Document the completion of assessments, including what workplaces were evaluated, who certifies that an evaluation was performed, and the date of the assessment.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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In this second installment in a three part series on safety culture in the workplace, we look at the concept of encouraging safe behaviors through employee engagement. Read Part One - Safety Culture: Who Is Getting Your Safety Message 

Safety is a Team Win

What message is your organization sending to employees about its commitment to safety?

Let’s begin with the familiar “days without an injury” statistic. The numbers speak for themselves. They may even be posted in the form of a sign for everyone at work to see. But they only tell part of the story.

We know workplace safety education and training programs positively affect employee safety. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, more than 13 people in the United States died each day as result of performing their jobs. The National Safety Council goes a step further by claiming that each of those deaths was preventable. So where do things go off track?

All the safety measures in the world are of little benefit if they are not followed. Motivating employees to use the safety protocols they've learned is therefore essential. That’s where engagement comes in. A standard dictionary definition of “engagement” is “an emotional involvement or commitment.”

The “Four Pillars of Safety,” a white paper from the Performance Improvement Council, offers a number of suggestions for recognizing employee contributions to safety and doing so in engaging ways. (“Engagement,” incidentally, is one of those four pillars, along with” recognition,” “communications” and “measurement.”)

One of those is to offer employee wellness programs. These can be as simple as encouraging employees to improve their health together and offering incentives and rewards for top achievers. Such programs have been a feature of the corporate landscape for over a decade, and according to a recent State of the Industry Survey conducted by Virgin Pulse, they are among the top priorities for responding employers in 2017. That survey, which gathered data from 600 human resources and benefits officers at global organizations, also found that those companies that invest in wellness and engagement can realize measurable improvements in business performance. Seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated employee well-being is a critical part of their business plans, while 74 percent of those with comprehensive wellness programs said their employee satisfaction has increased.

According to the NSC, employers who demonstrate that they care about the safety of their employees can see fewer injuries along with better morale, increased productivity and lower costs.

Now, back to the “days without an injury” sign. While signs and placards are good visual reminders, they tend to be passive, impersonal and monolithic. Most people tend to appreciate at least occasional face-to-face feedback and "tangible" rewards. According to the Performance Improvement Council, surveys that seek to determine why employees left a job consistently find "lack of recognition" and "compensation” as the top two reasons. Recognizing achievements and safe behaviors as they happen or soon after tells employees they are appreciated for being safe and for ensuring they keep a safe work environment.

And when all employees take ownership of their roles in safety at work, it becomes, as it should be, a team effort. Go team!

References:
1. Every Worker Deserves to Make it Home Safe from Work—Every Day, http://www.nsc.org/learn/pages/safety-at-work.aspx?var=mnd
2. Performance Improvement Council, “The Four Pillars of Safety,” white paper March 2014, http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.incentivemarketing.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Pillar-of-Safety_Mar2014_wMb.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22Four+and+Pillars+and+Safety+and+-+and+Performance+and+Improveme%22
3. State of the Industry Survey Report 2017, http://community.virginpulse.com/state-of-the-industry-2017-wc

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

NIOSH has updated its ladder safety app based on user feedback, according to a blog post from the agency. The app, introduced in 2013, had been downloaded more than 52,000 times by the end of 2015. According to the post, the app's appearance, content, and function have been improved, and it now includes stepladder safety and additional interactive tools.

Read entire article - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls/mobileapp.html/?s_cid=3ni7d2blog2016

Tagged in: NIOSH workplace safety

Last year was an eventful one for OSHA with respect to its rules for worker safety in the construction industry. A new standard for "construction work" in confined spaces – Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926 of the Code of Federal Regulations – took effect in 2015 after several years in the making. The standard is aimed at preventing construction workers’ injuries or fatalities by either eliminating or isolating hazards in confined spaces at construction sites. It applies to all construction workers who might be exposed to confined space hazards, such as those posed by features ranging from sewers to crawl spaces and from storage bins to trenches – and a host of others where spaces and their entrances are tight.

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered "confined" because although they might not be designed for extended human occupation, they are still large enough for workers to enter and perform tasks.

The new standard describes the requirements for practices and procedures to protect those involved in construction work at a job site with one or more confined spaces. The previous rules that applied to confined spaces in the construction industry required only that employees be trained to work in them. Since injuries and fatalities continued to occur, OSHA concluded there was more to be done from a regulatory standpoint and so looked at its rules for confined space work in other industries. A proposed rule for construction industry confined spaces was first published in 2007, leading to a final rule issued in May 2015 that became enforceable as of Oct. 2, 2015.The new rule expands on the training component by requiring employers to determine not only the appropriate training for employees, but to determine the kinds of environments they are working in, what hazards might exist there, how those hazards should be made safe, and to establish rescue practices.

Data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries program found that fatal injuries in confined spaces went from a low of 81 in 1998 to a high of 100 in 2000, averaging 92 fatalities per year in a five-year period. OSHA said it estimates the new rule will protect at least 800 construction workers per year from serious injuries and will help cut down on the number of life-threatening hazards they encounter in confined spaces.
Some hazards in confined spaces may be obvious and easily identified. Others, such as many atmospheric hazards, may not.

Since confined spaces often have little natural ventilation, they can harbor air contaminants that compromise the body's ability to transport or use oxygen and/or have direct toxicological effects. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide (sewer gas) can exist in a confined space due to production processes, through the natural breakdown of a substance, and/or from work activities such as welding or torch cutting performed in the space – processes that can also lead to oxygen depletion. Fortunately, such hazards can be avoided if identified and addressed before work is undertaken. Multi-gas monitoring is a practice commonly used in most confined spaces to measure levels of oxygen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide as well as combustible gas concentrations before entry is allowed.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. Whether your work environment is predominately indoors or outdoors, our consultants can determine your business's air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air assessments.

With our experience in assessing thousands of confined spaces in a wide range of industries, Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help your organization attain a “best practice” level of compliance. Give us a call or visit our website today to learn more.

As calendar year 2015 comes to a close and 2016 begins, it’s a good time to look back on what is working and where there is room for improvement in terms of safety at the workplace.

New data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf) show mixed outcomes with respect to reducing the nation’s workplace injuries and illnesses as a whole. Though the overall numbers are down from 2013, there was little or no decrease in 2014 in what the BLS lists as more serious injury cases.

According to the BLS, the rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2014 was 3.2 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers (measured as total recordable cases, or TRC). In 2013, the rate was 3.3. The rate has gone down each year of the last 12, with the exception of 2012, when it was unchanged.

The days away from work, the rate of job transfer or restriction cases that involve more serious injuries rate stayed the same at 1.7. Other recordable cases went down from 1.6 to 1.5.

Private industries that saw a reduction in TRC in 2014 were retail, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services.

The TRC was the highest (3.9) among mid-size private industry companies (those that employed 50 to 249 workers), and lowest (1.5) among small companies (defined as having fewer than 11 workers).

Most injuries (about 75%) happened in service industries, with 25% in good-producing industries. The latter accounted for 35.6% of all occupational illnesses in 2014.

Several industries showed TRC rates above the national average of 3.2. They were:
-State and local government: 5.0
-Education and health services: 4.2
-Manufacturing: 4.0
-Natural resources and mining: 3.8
-Construction: 3.6
-Trade, transportation and utilities: 3.6, and
-Leisure and hospitality: 3.6.

Among states for which statistics are available for 2014, TRC rate for private industry declined in 10 states and was mainly unchanged in 31 states and the District of Columbia compared to the previous year. The TRC rate was higher in 19 states than the national average, was lower in 14 states and the District of Columbia, and about the same as the national rate in 8 states

Tagged in: workplace safety

OSHA has a new webpage (https://www.osha.gov/topcases/bystate.html) that lists the most expensive fines issued by the federal and state safety agencies.

The page lists enforcement cases with initial fines above $40,000. The page allows the user to click on each state and U.S. territory for a list of cases since Jan. 1, 2015. The data are from states that operate under federal OSHA as well as those that have their own state-run occupational safety agencies.

Details include:
-name and location of company
-union or non-union shop
-type of inspection (complaint, injury, programmed, follow-up, emphasis program, etc.)
-scope (partial or complete inspection)
-number and categorization of violations
-fine per violation and total fine
-the standard cited for each violation, and
-whether the violation has been abated

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/topcases/bystate.html

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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The month of June marks the official beginning of summer, and it might come as no surprise that it is also National Safety Month. The summer months are traditionally when people spend the most time outdoors, so June is an appropriate time to consider the special health and safety concerns that accompany the season.

National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in the home and communities. This year, the month’s special focus areas are prescription painkiller abuse, transportation safety, ergonomics, emergency preparedness and slips, trips and falls.

At Workplace Safety & Health Company, we are committed to helping to make workplaces safer the whole year round. Our specialized consulting services are based upon the specific needs of each client, and we stand ready to assist with industrial hygiene, confined space hazard, and qualitative exposure assessments, job safety analyses, confined space evaluations, indoor air monitoring, vapor intrusion monitoring, lockout/tagout surveys or industrial noise monitoring and mapping. Our goal is to help our customers prevent injuries and illnesses while promoting profitability by means of sound health and safety management practices.

Some of the training courses available from Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. include:
• Complying with OSHA 30-hour/ 10-hour courses
• Lockout/Tagout
• HAZMAT / HAZWOPER
• Confined Space Entry and Rescue
• First Aid /CPR (to include AED and Bloodborne Pathogens)
• Asbestos Operations and Maintenance
• Incident Command
• Fall Protection

Whatever your workplace safety concern, contact us – we’re here to help.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

Posted by on in Noise Measurement

Noise, or undesirable sound, is one of the most common health problems in many workplaces. Practically all companies involved in manufacturing, construction, or mining create noise. And because noise is inherent in many work processes, it cannot be totally removed. However, its adverse effects on health can be limited by knowing where to implement engineering controls, administrative controls and the use of proper personal protective equipment.

Perhaps the most widely known detrimental effect of noise is hearing loss, which can be either temporary or permanent. The extent of the damage depends primarily upon the intensity and duration of exposure. In addition to hearing loss, excessive noise levels can also lead to hazardous situations at work, such as an inability to hear warnings, a decrease in the ability to communicate with other employees, and impaired concentration.

In the early 1980s, OSHA established a hearing conservation amendment (29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure Standard) that requires hearing conservation programs for all employees exposed to noise on an eight-hour, time weighted average (TWA) in excess of 85 decibels measured on an A-weighted scale (85 dBA). The permissible exposure limit is 90 dBA for an eight-hour TWA. (Something to keep in mind is that some states also have regulations that are at least as stringent as OSHA’s.)

Determining whether or not to use engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protection devices or some combination to meet those requirements involves recognizing that a noise problem may exist, followed by identifying its source or sources and evaluating the extent of the problem. In some cases, identifying both the problem and its source can be obvious, such as when it is apparent that employees aren’t able to talk with one another at a reasonable distance near certain machinery. In many other cases, however, the source can’t be traced so easily, such as in places where multiple machines are in use.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help identify sources of noise in a work environment by conducting a noise survey, which normally includes personal noise exposure sampling using dosimeters and developing a noise contour map, clearly identifying noisy areas. The results can be used to locate specific noise sources, identify which employees should be included in a hearing conservation program, and then determine what form or forms of noise control are best suited to the situation. It all makes for a hearing conservation program that is both compliant and efficient.

The National Fire Protection Association is seeking comments on a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) to NFPA 1999. Standard on Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations. According to a press release, this TIA follows work conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other organizations and federal agencies that recognized the need for a national standard on personal protective equipment to protect emergency first responders from exposure to liquid-borne pathogens.

Read entire article - http://www.nfpa.org/press-room/news-releases/2014/nfpa-seeks-comments-to-help-protect-first-responders-from-ebola-virus

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