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Ergonomics is the scientific study of human work conditions, especially the interaction between man and machine. The term itself is taken from the Greek word “ergon” meaning work, and “nomos” meaning natural laws. The thought and goal behind it – a way to work smarter, not harder by designing tools, equipment, workstations and tasks to fit the job to the worker, not the worker to the job. It’s making work more comfortable, which improves both health and productivity of your employees.

Per OSHA, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. This definitely includes the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These MSDs can occur in such situations as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same type of tasks repetitively. These disorders are the fastest-growing category of work-related illness – and account for up to 63% of the illnesses reported to OSHA. The majority of these are caused by ergonomic work-related injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, muscle strains, and low back injuries.

The implementation of ergonomics safety as part of an overall workplace safety program improves both the employees’ lives and the overall efficiency of your business, by helping to reduce costs, prevent other incidents and injuries, improves overall productivity – and in today’s great resignation, it shows your employees you are committed to their safety and health, which can foster employee engagement.

Workplace Safety & Health Company is here to help assist you with your ergonomic safety program. Take a look at our Ergonomic brochure. We specialize in evaluating employee workstations, assessing potential for injury, prioritizing stations based on risk, and making appropriate recommendations in order to reduce or eliminate work ergo-related risk as a whole. Contact us for more information – 317-253-9737 or www.workplacesafety.net.  

This final rule provides the statutorily-prescribed 2022 adjustment to civil penalty amounts that may be imposed for violations of certain DOT regulations. In addition, this rule notes new DOT civil penalties authority provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL, enacted as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act).

PDF: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-03-21/pdf/2022-04456.pdf

Tagged in: fmcsa workplace safety

Posted by on in Noise Measurement

Did you know 22 million workers in America are exposed to potentially harmful level of noise every year at their workplace? It is also estimated that 1 in 4 adults aged 20-69 have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Most people think of workplace safety as fall prevention or other such hazards that can cause immediate and severe injury, but one of the most common safety concerns in the workplace is the risk of hearing loss. May is designated as Better Hearing Month to raise awareness and help you take steps to protect your workers’ ears!

When looking at noise and hearing loss prevention, there are two main types of noise that cause hazards to your hearing – impulse sound and continuous exposure.

  • Impulse sound – sudden, loud noise that is typically brief in nature. In the work environment, this is usually a machine that activates quickly making a loud noise.
  • Continuous Exposure – this is much more common in the workplace. It may not be extremely loud, but it’s constant, and people tend to get used to it, but it is causing ongoing damage.

One of the best ways to help prevent hearing loss is to make sure you are providing proper personal protection equipment (PPE) for noise reduction. Here are the most common options:

  • Ear Plugs – effective and inexpensive way to block out the majority of the damaging noise
  • Traditional Ear Muffs – for louder locations, ear protection that goes over the ears is most beneficial
  • Electronic Ear Muffs – these can drown out all the background noise, but capture the voices and conversations and play them back into your ear

Giving your employees options that they are comfortable with means they will most likely use them on a regular basis. Cultivating a safe workplace is an employer’s responsibility, and a sound investment (see what we did there?) is to implement hearing programs and protections. At Workplace Safety, we can help you establish a hearing conservation program or conduct noise surveys to see where in the organization hearing protection is a must. Give us a call at 317-253-9737 and check out our noise measurement section of our website. 

In January 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively struck down President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate, which was to be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the wake of the High Court’s decision, OSHA may retreat somewhat from the headlines, but you can still expect the agency to exercise a major impact on how America’s employers manage their workforces this year.
 

 

Posted by on in Uncategorized

The North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week is held every year during the first full week of May. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) partners with the Canadian Society of Safety Professionals (CSSP) to raise public awareness about occupational safety, health and environment in an effort to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

Statistics show that every 99 minutes, a worker dies from a work-related injury. Workplace injuries are a significant risk for any business, and they definitely lead to such things as costly medical bills, lost productivity, possible large fines, and increased insurance premiums. Employers should always be looking for strategies to implement and improve upon to reduce the number of workplace injuries.

Here are just a few strategies to get you started:
• Regularly examine your workplace for ways to reduce the chance of injury
• Provide regular training to both managers and employees regarding risks for workplace injuries, including ways to reduce or avoid injuries, recognizing workplace risks, ways to mitigate those risks, and how to seek medical attention for you or your fellow employees – training should be done annually and during orientations
• Make sure you have administrative recommendations/requirements to help keep your employees safe, such as shift lengths, limiting overtime, scheduling more breaks, and rotating workers when jobs are physically taxing
• Develop and revisit policies that support good health, safety and injury management, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training on how to properly use it, workplace safety programs, return-to-work programs, and ergonomic workplace initiatives

NAOSH Week is a great time to revisit those policies, take a field trip around the workplace, chat with your team members on workplace safety ideas, and make a point to focus on ways to prevent workplace injuries and death. Check out Safety and Health Week website for more information and events to participate in.

Tagged in: naosh workplace safety

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm. Under unprecedented circumstances, employers were forced to make decisions that may impact their workforce for years. Skilled leadership took center stage during these tumultuous times. Great leaders thrived.

This session will explore best leadership practices from the pandemic and what employers can glean from this time to lead a workplace forever changed.

Watch Webinar: Webinar: The Workplace After COVID-19 | EHS Today

Posted by on in Uncategorized

We are heading into Spring, better known for those who suffer from seasoning allergies as the season of headaches, sneezing, itchy eyes and skin, as well as congestion. Allergies affect one in five Americans, and studies show allergies significantly impact workplace productivity, with one study reporting that Americans lose 3.5 million workdays each year due to allergies.

While you can’t cure your employees’ allergies, you can help limit the impact of allergens in their workplace. What is an allergy? It’s being hypersensitive to a substance – those who suffer have an overreaction from their immune system to the allergen, which can cause a physical response that outweighs the substance’s harm. There are several varieties of workplace allergens to consider, including:
• Animal dander and debris
• Food
• Industrial chemicals, such as solvents, bleaches and even cleaning products
• Latex
• Perfumes and odorants
• Pollen
• Dust
• Mold
• Wood dust and resins

It’s important for employers and employees to both understand the allergens specific to their workplace, including identifying triggers and best allergy treatment. Making sure work areas are very well-ventilated, have lower humidity to minimize mold and are kept clean and dust-free on a regular basis are great steps to lessening allergens. While it is near to impossible to keep all allergens out of a workplace, here is a list of some common and relatively inexpensive modifications that could improve your workplace health:
• Run the AC system during peak allergy season (do not open windows even though the weather seems perfect, the trees are releasing lots of pollen!)
• Use HEPA air filters – and change them regularly (monthly or more during peak allergy season)
• Make sure your workplace areas are cleaned regularly – and encourage your employees to clean and dusty their workspaces regularly as well
• Identify and repair any water damage – it doesn’t take long for mold to start growing
• Remove carpet and other absorbent materials that are known collectors of allergens
• Provide appropriate protective gear, such as respirators, face shields and gloves, when employees handle industrial chemicals or other irritants

Spring is a great time to jumpstart cleaning, hence the term Spring Cleaning! Keep your most important assets – your employees – as safe and healthy this spring and throughout the rest of the year. And keeping allergens at bay as much as possible is one great way to do just that!

The guidance states that health plans must cover over-the-counter test purchases without requiring a health care provider's order or clinical assessment. Health plans may set limits on the number or frequency of OTC COVID-19 tests covered without cost-sharing but must allow up to 8 tests per 30-day period (or per calendar month).

Read entire article: Employer Health Plans Soon Must Pay for At-Home COVID-19 Tests (shrm.org)

It only takes a sliver of metal, particle of dust or a splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage, and there are more than 700,000 work-related eye injuries every year. Eye wellness is important all year round, and it’s a good reminder every March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month to revisit eye protection in the workplace.

Here are some injury prevention tips to keep your employees’ eyes safe and healthy when it comes to the workplace:
• Make eye safety a part of your employee training and new hire orientation
• Conduct regular vision testing, as uncorrected vision does cause accidents
• Establish a mandatory eye protection program in all operation areas
• Do regular inspections of plant operations, work areas, access routes and equipment, and study injury patterns to see where accidents are occurring – and take steps to mitigate those accidents
• Select protective eyewear based on specific duties or hazards – and make sure managers and executives are setting the example by wearing them wherever it’s supposed to be worn by employees
• Establish first-aid protocol and procedures for eye injuries – making sure you have eyewash stations available, especially where chemicals are in use

OSHA’s eye and face protections standard states “the employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.” Workplace Safety is here to help you keep your employees safe, so contact us with any questions or needs – 317-253-9737. We look forward to serving you.

 

On January 14, the Department of Labor (DOL), including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), adjusted its civil penalties for inflation (87 Federal Register (FR) 2328). Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a driver apprenticeship pilot program to allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce (87 FR 2477).

Read entire article - OSHA Raises Penalties, FMCSA Pilots Young Driver Program - EHS Daily Advisor (blr.com)

Tagged in: fmcsa OSHA

Ladders are common pieces of equipment – most homes and offices have them as they are useful from changing out light bulbs to cleaning gutters. What else is quite common? Falls from ladders! As we mentioned in our last blog, American Ladder Institute’s Ladder Safety Program Explained, fall protection is OSHA’s number one repeat offender on the yearly Top Ten Violations list and March is National Ladder Safety Month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 people are treated annually for ladder-related accidents. Understanding and communicating safe ladder practices are very important to keep your employees safe both at work and at home, and may save you from costly OSHA fines from failing to follow proper ladder safety protocol.

OSHA provides some helpful tips to keep in mind when using a ladder:
• Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
• Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
• Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.
• Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.
• Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
• Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.
• Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
• Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
• Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
• Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
• Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
• An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support (do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder).
• The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
• A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
• Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
• Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder's load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.

As an employer, it’s important to train your team to take ladder safety seriously. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a ladder safety app for mobile devices. Another useful tip is to create a ladder safety checklist to review before each use, and have that checklist printed out and with the ladders to remind your team to review.

EHS Today’s annual profile of the companies that demonstrate excellence in safety leadership.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/americas-safest-companies-awards/article/21179980/americas-safest-companies-2021

Tagged in: workplace safety

Year after year, Fall Protection shows up as number one on OSHA’s yearly Top Ten Violations list. It is one of the top three most disabling workplace injuries, and it costs lives and livelihoods, as well as more than $17 billion is spent each year on falls at the jobsite.

To bring awareness to this, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) designates March as National Ladder Safety Month. Each week in March has a theme, and this year’s themes are as follows:
Week One: Choosing Your Ladder
Week Two: Safety Before the First Step (Inspection and Set Up)
Week Three: Safety While Climbing
Week Four: Safety at the Top

In many cases, ladder injuries are caused by people using them incorrectly. As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep your employees safe. One such way is making ladder safety training an integral part of employee training, including it as part of new hire training as well as an annual refresher. ALI offers free online video ladder safety training, which includes four videos providing education on the selection, safe use, and care of most frequently used ladders. Through the program, supervisors can monitor team members’ training progress through end-of-video quizzes – and each employee who scores a 90 percent or higher will earn a ladder safety certificate.

What’s in it for you besides a well-trained and safer team when it comes to ladder safety? ALI recognizes organizations that show their commitment to employee safety through its Ladder Safety Ambassador program. To find out more, please visit the American Ladder Institute: National Ladder Safety Month.

 

In a new study, 46% of frontline workers say they are never, rarely, or only sometimes listened to concerning safety issues.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/safety-leadership/article/21181484/frontline-workers-safety-concerns-not-being-addressed-by-companies

 

Before the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago, prioritizing workplace safety and health was crucial not only to keep your employees safe and healthy, but also to help mitigate company losses. Studies show each unhealthy employee costs employers on average 27.5 productive days per year. This stat was before we had a global pandemic!

If employee health and safety weren’t on the forefront before, it sure is now! With variants continuing to emerge and breakthrough cases becoming more commonplace, employers and employees are looking at how to stay safe. Taking a proactive approach to prioritize safety in the workplace will go a long way in helping calm the fears.

Here are some helpful tips to show your team their safety needs are being supported:
• Supply personal protective equipment and, if possible, rearrange working spaces to allow distance between employees
• Implement good hygiene practices, including hand hygiene and workplace cleaning – provide sufficient cleaning and disinfection supplies and equipment
• If you have customers visiting the workspace, they should follow the safety rules in place, and you may have additional safety rules specific to visitors
• Offer COVID-19 testing – either kits they can take home or tests they can take during work hour – and if there is a positive case, let others know of their possible exposure as quickly as possible
• If possible, allow employees to work remotely – the ability to work from home (even part-time) will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission

It’s been a long two years, but we must remain vigilant and protect workers and others at the workplace from the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that over half of noise-exposed workers didn’t use hearing protection “always” or “usually” when exposed to hazardous occupational noise. Hearing protection device (HPD) non-use was only measured in workers who reported exposure to noise on the job. The study was published online October 1, 2021 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-10-07-21.html

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Our last blog, OSHA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Cited Workplace Safety Standards for 2021, covered what OSHA calls the top ten serious violations for the fiscal year 2021. This list is defined by OSHA as “one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.”

There is another OSHA top ten list we don’t hear as much about, but is actually considered the most serious of violations – the Top 10 “Willful” Violations. A willful violation occurs when an employer intentionally disregards OSHA’s rules and regulations or has an indifference to employee health and safety. A willful violation is punishable by a minimum of a $5000 fine and a maximum of a $70,000 fine per violation. If there is an employee death because of a willful violation, it becomes a criminal offense and can be punishable by fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

There are three categories for willful violations:
Intentional Disregard Violations – employer was aware of the standards and regulations set by OSHA and had knowledge of the hazard but chose not to address it
Plain Indifference Violations – lack of concern for employee health and safety, which could be management knew of regulations, but failed to inform lower level supervisors or did not take preventative measures or place any importance to protect employees
Criminal Willful Violations – violations that were the result of a death that is caused by a hazardous situation

Many violations on the list are the same as the serious violations, including Fall Protection being number one as well.

Top 10 “Willful” Violations, fiscal year 2021:
1. Fall Protection – General Requirements: 155 violations
2. Machine Guarding: 27 violations
3. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection: 23 violations
4. Lockout/Tagout: 22 violations
5. Requirements for Protective Systems: 15 violations
6. OSH Act of 1970 Section: 13 violations
7. Scaffolding: 12 violations
Permit Required Confined Space: 12 violations
Grain Handling Facilities: 12 violations
10. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Head Protection: 8 violations

On November 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its much-anticipated mandate-or-test workplace vaccine emergency rule (“the Rule”). The Rule requires employers with 100 or more employees to either mandate covered employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or require covered employees that are not fully vaccinated to test for COVID-19 at least weekly and wear a face covering. The Rule went into effect immediately on November 5 with employers expected to comply by no later than January 4, but implementation has since been halted due to pending legal challenges.

Read entire article: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/challenged-osha-s-rule-mandating-covid-vaccinations-or-weekly-testing-employers

Tagged in: covid OSHA

It’s a new year, but one thing that will most likely stay pretty much the same is OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards as they did in 2021. Fall protection continues to remain at the top of the list – 11 years running. Followed by respiratory protection and ladders. One big change is hazard communication, which has been #2 for the past several years, but moved to #5 on this year’s list.

Here’s the list in entirety for 2021 with OSHA standard number and the total number of violations for the year and a description of each:

1. Fall protection—General requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations
- Standard outlines where fall protection is required, which systems are appropriate for given situations, the proper construction and installation of safety systems, and the proper supervision of employees to prevent falls. It’s designed to protect employees on walking/working surfaces with an unprotected side or edge above six feet.

2. Respiratory protection (1910.134): 2,527 violations
- Standard directs employers on establishing or maintaining a respiratory protection program. It lists requirements for program administration; worksite-specific procedures; respirator selection; employee training; fit testing; medical evaluation; respirator use; and respirator cleaning, maintenance and repair.

3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026 violations
- Standard covers general requirements for all ladders.

4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948 violations
- Standard covers general safety requirements for scaffolding, which should be designed by a qualified person and constructed and loaded in accordance with that design. Employers are bound to protect construction workers from falls and falling objects while working on or near scaffolding at heights of 10 feet or higher.

5. Hazard communication (1910.1200): 1,947 violations
- Standard addresses chemical hazards – both those chemicals produced in the workplace and those imported into the workplace. It also governs the communication of those hazards to workers.

6. Lockout/tagout (1910.147): 1,698 violations
- Standard outlines minimum performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment.

7. Fall protection—Training requirements (1926.503): 1,666 violations
- Standard addresses training requirements for employers in regard to fall protection.

8. Personal protective and lifesaving equipment—Eye and face protection (1926.102): 1,452 violations
- Standard addresses appropriate personal protective equipment for workers exposed to eye or face hazards, such as flying particles and chemical gases or vapors.

9. Powered industrial trucks (1910.178): 1,420 violations
- Standard covers the design, maintenance and operation of powered industrial trucks, including forklifts and motorized hand trucks. It also covers operator training requirements.

10. Machine guarding (1910.212): 1,113 violations
- Standard covers guarding of machinery to protect operators and other employees from hazards, including those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.

Tagged in: OSHA osha standards

Severe weather is just around the corner as we head into the colder winter months. Even though OSHA may not have specific standards covering working in cold environments, employers have a responsibility to provide their employees a safe working environment, including winter weather related hazards, which could cause or likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Offering training on cold stress and other winter weather related hazards they may be exposed to is important for workplace safety, as well as implementing safe workplace practices. Here are some practices to keep in mind:

  • Cold Stress
    • Recognizing the symptoms of cold stress and preventing cold stress injuries and illnesses
    • Importance of monitoring both yourself and your coworkers for symptoms
    • Applying first aid and knowing when to call for medical emergencies
    • Knowing the proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions
  • Recognizing other winter weather hazards, including but not limited to slippery surfaces, windy conditions, and even downed power lines, and how workers will be protected:
    • Engineering controls, including radiant heaters, de-icing materials
    • Implementing safe work practices, including, but not limited to providing the proper tools and equipment, developing work plans to identify potential hazards and safety measures to protect workers, providing warm areas for use during breaks, acclimating new workers or those returning after time away to the cold weather work, and monitoring weather conditions and employees who are at risk for cold stress and having a way to contact them
    • Consider providing protective clothing, such as winter coats and gloves, and educating your employees on the importance of dressing properly
      • Wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing for better insulation
      • No tight clothing as it restricts blood circulation, which helps warm blood to circulate to their extremities
      • Hat, mask, insulated gloves and waterproof boots to top it off!

Implementing these practices can help keep your employees safe (and warm) this winter!

Tagged in: winter safety tips

The frequency of OSHA inspections will greatly increase starting in 2022. So how can you be prepared when an OSHA Compliance Officer comes knocking? Take this quiz and test your knowledge.

Read entire article: https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/whitepaper/21176577/its-time-for-a-worksite-inspection-do-you-know-what-to-do

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Be it slipping and falling on ice or hurting your back from shoveling snow, there are plenty of winter weather hazards to keep in mind when thinking about workplace safety. The good news is most risks associated with winter weather are actually foreseeable. Here are some winter safety tips to help keep your workplace and your employees safer this season:
1. Monitor weather-causing threats and have a way to communicate with all your employees about weather and its disruptions, including time-sensitive information on impossible commutes, power outages and work schedule modifications.
2. Protect mobile and outdoor employees as they are especially vulnerable to weather conditions, so make sure they are properly trained on winter work safety precautions and are provided appropriate equipment and tools.
3. With remote work still being the norm for many businesses, make sure you are communicating typical risks they may face in their homes, both physically (ie. shoveling snow/slips and falls) and mentally (ie. seasonal affective disorder, feelings of isolation) and have a mechanism in place to regularly conduct employee wellness checks.
4. Take steps to prepare your facilities and worksites for winter weather as falls are one of the biggest risk people face. Making sure your parking lots, sidewalks and steps are plowed, shoveled and salted, and placing large, absorbent mats at every entrance will help prevent slips.

When thinking about winter weather, here’s a quick list of some definite “need to have” supplies:
• Rock salt and ice melt
• Shovels with heavy duty wide heads
• Snow blowers
• Floor mats – best ones are made from olefin fiber, which absorbs moisture, dries quickly and is resistant to mildew
• Caution signs – floors become wet and slippery
• Slip-resistant tape – to help with traction and prevent falls
• Drain cleaner – outdoor drains and interior floor drains can back up with all the extra water from melted snow, which mans more risk for falls
• Generator – find out which systems are essential to continue running if you were to lose power and have a generator in place capable of backing up those systems
• Surge protectors
• First-aid kits
• Emergency preparedness kit, including a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food, as well as flashlights, batteries, a radio, personal hygiene items, extra coats, gloves and hats, a cell phone and extra chargers
• Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes – flu season is here, and we are still dealing with COVID

With a little preparation and having effective communication, these winter months will be much more tolerant for you and your employees.

 

On August 31, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced another extension of a temporary policy allowing employers to inspect Form I-9 documents virtually. The temporary rule was set to expire August 31, 2021, but DHS extended the temporary rule through December 31, 2021, due to continued COVID-19 related precautions.


Read entire article: https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-announces-extension-new-employee-guidance-i-9-compliance-flexibility-1#:~:text=WASHINGTON%20%E2%80%93%20U.S.%20Immigration%20and%20Customs%20Enforcement%20%28ICE%29,extend%20this%20policy%20until%20Dec.%2031%2C%202021.

 

Tagged in: form i-9

On the first Sunday in November, millions of Americans turned their clocks back one hour to mark the end of Daylight Saving Time, an annual practice actually rooted in transportation. Even though we “gained” an hour in the fall, the disruption to our sleep pattern can cause issues, and with 50 to 70 million U.S. adults already having sleep or wakefulness disorders, there will be many sleep-deprived individuals!

Sleep is extremely vital for health and well-being, including helping your brain work properly. Not getting enough sleep may lead to difficulty in decision making and solving problems, trouble controlling your emotions and behavior, and problems coping with change. Sleep deficiency has been linked to such health issues as increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Those known with sleep disorders may experience depression, suicidal thoughts and risk-taking behaviors. All that just by not getting enough ZZZZZZ’s!

Thinking about workplace safety and productivity, one study found insomnia causes the equivalent of 11.3 lost days of productivity every year. This amounts to more than $63 billion in lost productivity across the nation each year.

Having well rested employees has been shown to have many benefits:
• Limits procrastination – sleep deprivation directly impairs employees’ ability to maintain focus and make decisions
• Improves creativity and problem solving – lack of sleep can impair cognitive skills, including creative thinking and the ability to problem solve
• Enhances work performance – getting enough sleep has been linked to higher-level brain functions that help with memory, impulse control and retaining new information
• Increases workplace safety – sleepy employees are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents
• Reduces absenteeism – chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of health issues, which then leads to employees taking days off
• Boosts morale – not getting enough sleep causes most people to be irritable, and on the other hand, those employees getting those crucial hours of sleep every night enjoy better mental and emotional well-being.

What can you do as an employer to help maintain better sleep throughout your workforce? Ensuring your employees are not being overworked, offering flexible work schedules, instructing employees to not check email or do work in the evenings, encouraging employees to take vacations and self-care days, and providing employee training on the importance of sleep.

Getting enough sleep helps your employees perform their best in every role and every aspect of the workplace! Well rested employees make happier and more productive workforce!

Occupational Safety and Health Administration is initiating enhanced measures to protect workers better in hot environments and reduce the dangers of exposure to ambient heat. While heat illness is largely preventable, and commonly under-reported, thousands of workers are sickened each year by workplace heat exposure.

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/09202021

 

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According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, nearly 30 percent of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, and more than half revealed they have driven while drowsy. Close to 100,000 crashes a year and 1500 deaths are attributed to drowsy driving. Bottom line, drowsy driving is impaired driving.

National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is November 7-13, and here are eight warning signs that you are driving drowsy and should pull over to rest:
1. Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
2. Finding it hard to focus on the road, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
3. Starting to daydream or have disconnected thoughts
4. Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
5. Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
6. Drifting from your lane, tailgating or hitting a shoulder rumble
7. Feeling restless or irritable
8. Finding it hard to keep your head up or nodding off

Some groups of drivers are at greater risk for drowsy driving crashes, and a few of these groups are specifically work-related and should be taken into account when thinking about workplace safety:
• Shift workers (working night shift can increase your risk of drowsy driving by nearly six times)
• People who work long hours consistently
• Commercial drivers, especially long-haul drivers (15%+ of all heavy truck crashes are due to drowsy driving)
• Business travelers (long hours driving or possible jet lag)

Drowsy driving can slow down your reaction time, decrease awareness, impair judgment and definitely increase your risk of crashing.

On September 9, the White House announced Executive Order 14042, which requires covered federal contracts to include a clause mandating compliance with guidance that had yet to be issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force). The Task Force released its much-anticipated guidance.

Read entire article - https://www.natlawreview.com/article/task-force-guidance-issued-federal-contractor-vaccination-mandate

It’s a known fact poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can be hazardous to workers’ health, and there are many factors that can affect IAQ. Such factors include, but are not limited to, poor ventilation, problems controlling temperature, high or low humidity and recent remodeling and activity both inside and outside the building. For the past several months, during the pandemic, focus has been on ventilation and air cleaning to find ways to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of FAQs specific to indoor air quality and COVID-19, including the answer to where professionals who manage such buildings as offices, schools and commercial buildings can get specific information on ventilation and filtration to respond to COVID-19:

“Professionals who operate school, office, and commercial buildings should consult the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance for information on ventilation and filtration to help reduce risks from the virus that causes COVID-19. In general, increasing ventilation and filtration is usually appropriate; however, due to the complexity and diversity of building types, sizes, construction styles, HVAC system components, and other building features, a professional should interpret ASHRAE guidelines for their specific building and circumstances.”

Improvements to ventilation and air cleaning are important components in the fight against the virus, but they alone cannot eliminate the entire transmission risk. Physical distancing, wearing masks, surface cleaning and hand washing are also important in the stopping of spread of COVID. Taking steps to clear the air literally can help keep your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy.

Tagged in: IAQ Indoor Air Quality

If you have driven a recent model car, you are well acquainted with all of the bleeps, blurps and whines emitted whenever you leave a traffic lane or come too close to another vehicle. We are told these are designed to improve safety, and they are essential elements of future driverless automotive technology. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to know if that really is the case.

Read entire: https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/article/21169170/nhtsa-orders-automated-driving-system-crash-reporting

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National Indoor Air Quality Month is observed every year in October. It’s a good reminder to everyone to take a look at their homes and businesses and find ways to improve the air we all breathe as we typically spend nearly 80-90% of our time indoors.

OSHA has identified key elements that lead to IAQ complaints in the workplace:
• Improperly operated and maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Moisture infiltration and dampness
• Overcrowding
• Presence of outside air pollutants
• Presence of internally generated contaminates
• Radon

OSHA encourages businesses to think in terms of the “Three Lines of Defense” to reduce or eliminate the air quality hazards, and always apply the most effective method first, beginning with eliminating/engineering hazards and going from there.

Three Lines of Defense:
• Eliminating/Engineering Controls – removing, substituting and/or enclosing the pollutant source should always be the first option. If the source cannot be eliminated, then setting up engineering controls, such as a local exhaust, general dilution ventilation and air cleaning/filtration is the next step.
• Administrative Controls – next line of defense falls into three general categories:
  -Work schedule: eliminating or reduce the amount of time a worker is exposed to the pollutant
  -Training: educating workers on the sources and effects of the pollutants under their control, so they can proactively reduce their personal exposure
  -Housekeeping: keeping your workplace as free from dirt and pollutants through the use of mats at doors, proper storing practices, and the use of cleaning products
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – if the first two lines of defense are not feasible or enough to eliminate or lessen the exposure and keep your workers safe and healthy, then PPE should be used to control your workers’ exposure, including the use of respirators, gloves, protective clothing, eyewear, and footwear where necessary.

The Candidate List of substances of very high concern now contains 219 chemicals that may harm people or the environment.

Read entire article: https://echa.europa.eu/-/candidate-list-updated-with-eight-hazardous-chemicals

For almost 100 years, Fire Prevention Week is observed during the week of October 9 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This year’s observation will be held October 3-9, 2021, and the theme will be “Learn the Sound of Fire Safety,” and the hope is to better educate the public about the sounds of smoke alarms, what those sounds mean, and how to respond.

Some basic safety tips when it comes to smoke/fire/CO alarms:
• Continuous set of three loud beeps means smoke or fire, so get out, call 911 and stay out – four beeps for carbon monoxide alarms
• A single chirp, every 30 or 60 seconds, means the battery is low and should be changed
• Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the unit should be replaced as it is not functioning properly and at the end of its life (do not disconnect and forget about it)
• All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years
• Test all smoke and CO alarms monthly by pressing the test button
• Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all, including those with sensory and/or physical disabilities (ie – install bed shaker and strobe light alarms)
When thinking about workplace safety, here are some helpful tips to avoid fire in your facility or building:
• Keep your workplace as clean as possible – emptying trash regularly and don’t block any fire exits or equipment.
• Maintain electrical equipment to prevent any machines and equipment from overheating and keeping friction sparks to a minimum. Turn off lights and computers after work hours.
• Check faulty electrical wiring on a monthly basis, as faulty wiring is the most common source of workplace fires.
• Store hazardous chemicals properly – make sure each container is labelled correctly and placed in a safe storage.
• Assign designated smoking areas in your workplace and have policies in place and visible, so they can follow to avoid any fire safety issues
• Always have fire extinguishers all over the workplace – and do routine inspections to make sure they are fully charged.
• Conduct fire drills once a year with your employees
• Schedule training sessions with your employees on the proper way to use a fire extinguisher and other fire prevention equipment, as well as promote fire safety and education on fire exit routes and safety planning
• Post emergency hotline numbers in visible places – special bulletin boards, break room refrigerators, etc.
• Follow the Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) - provided by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19. The agency launched the NEP on March 12, 2021, to focus on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/07082021-0

National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held every September as an important reminder to all that natural and man-made disasters can happen anytime. Having a planned response is critical for your safety, no matter if you are at home, at work or anywhere. Our last blog focused on having a strategic evacuation plan in place for those emergencies when you need to exit the facility.

Even though a large majority of emergencies may indeed mean vacating the area, let’s talk about medical emergencies. Work-related accidents or medical emergencies require an immediate response. There are many types of medical emergencies, which could include but definitely not limited to heart attacks, choking, strokes, seizures, falls, burns, and cuts. It is important to prepare for all types of medical emergencies that can happen in a workplace and have a designated group of employees trained to assist – sometimes referred to as designated first aiders.

Three C’s: Medical Emergency Initial Response
• Check over the injured individual to access what type of medical emergency
• Call 911, so that emergency life support and help will arrive as soon as possible
• Care: those designated as first aiders in the workplace should provide relevant medical emergency care

All employers should have some basic supplies and resources available for medical emergencies, including the following:
• Keep a fully stocked, accessible first aid kit
• Offer CPR certification and seizure training opportunities to your employees
• Equip the facility with and train employees in the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator)

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.

Read entire article: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/default.html

This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Aug. 22-28. During Brake Safety Week, commercial motor vehicle inspectors emphasize the importance of brake systems by conducting inspections and removing commercial motor vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from our roadways.

Read entire article - https://www.cvsa.org/news/2021-brake-safety-week/

Unexpected emergencies can happen at any time! Anything from a natural disaster, a toxic chemical spill, an active shooter incident or a fallen sick team member – all can happen while at work, so it’s extremely important employees know how to respond quickly.

September is National Preparedness Month. Preparing for any type of emergency ahead of time ensures your team has the necessary equipment, knows what to do and where to go – and just knows how to keep themselves safe.

As we know, there are so many emergencies that can happen. We will focus on those emergencies where it is deemed as important to vacate the building. In these situations, it is extremely important to have a strategic evacuation plan. Establishing an emergency planning team within your organization to identify and prepare for “worst-case” scenarios is a good rule of thumb – and making sure there are written policies for all employees to read and sign off on. The emergency plan should at least include the following:

  • Emergency notification systems – make sure messages are able to reach everyone; keeping in mind those who may not speak or understand English well and those with disabilities
  • Chain of command – make sure there is a plan in place for who is assigned to send the notifications, as well as who will take the place of these workers if they are not available to complete that task
  • Evacuation routes – train your staff in proper evacuation procedure; everyone needs to know how to evacuate safely and quickly
  • Responder protocols – make sure you have some employees who have had extensive safety training be assigned to make sure operations are shut down safely and everyone is out of the building
  • Post-evacuation protocol – designate a meeting area for all employees, so there is a way to verify that everyone made it out safely; keep in mind non-employees as well that might have been in your facility

As we discussed in an earlier blog about workplace safety culture, it starts at the top. Employers must commit to creating safe workplace conditions and ensuring safe work interactions. Setting the tone that safety is a priority in your organization is key to keeping your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy!

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a compliance directive designed to ensure uniform inspection and enforcement procedures for its Emergency Temporary Standard to protect healthcare workers from occupational exposures to COVID-19.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/06302021

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Did you know that brake system was the third most cited vehicle-related factor in fatal commercial and passenger vehicle crashes, according to a recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report? Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles, which means a safer environment for those workers in those vehicle. as well as the general population using the roads.

This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for August 22-28. Focusing on the importance of brake systems, commercial motor vehicle inspectors conduct North American Standard Inspections of commercial motor vehicles and removing any vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from the roadways. This is a great opportunity for those in the motor carrier business to also educate their drivers and maintenance service providers on the importance of brake system safety.

Last year’s findings during Brake Safety Week saw 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected did indeed have brake-related violation and were placed out-of-service. Having a vehicle taken out of commission is a costly business expense, so routine maintenance is essential to ensure your brake system efficiency doesn’t fall below the minimum of 43.5%. Special attention is paid to brake hoses and tubing during inspections to make sure they are properly attached, undamaged, without leaks, appropriately flexible, and free from leaks, corrosion and other damage.

Some common areas you should be visually inspecting on a regular basis to keep your commercial vehicles safe on the road:
• Air brake chamber
• Brake hoses and tubing
• Cotter pins
• Clevis pings
• Slack adjuster
• Air lines

Brake Safety Week is a great reminder to proactively check and service your vehicles, which should be part of your process all year long. Here’s a Brake Inspection Checklist from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), which is a nonprofit whose mission is to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and uniformity throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico by providing guidance and education to enforcement, industry and policy makers.

The AIHA announced new guidelines for developing health metrics in workplaces to help prevent illness and injury.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/industrial-hygiene/article/21165463/occupational-health-experts-offer-guidelines-to-prevent-workplace-illness-and-injury

Tagged in: aiha workplace safety

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We are in the middle of summer, and heat stress in the workplace affects too many workers every year in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1992 and 2016, 783 workers died and more than 69,000 workers suffered serious injuries due to heat exposure on the job, which this number is challenged by labor advocates who say numbers are much higher because of under-reporting or not being classified as a work-related illness or death.

In our last blog, we covered all the terms associated with heat stress and its subsequent illnesses, but to recap - heat stress is a series of conditions where the body is under stress from overheating. Symptoms can range from profuse sweating to dizziness, cessation of sweating, and eventually collapse. Of course, high temperatures increase heat stress, but also increased relative humidity, decreased air movement, or lack of shading from direct heat can all contribute to heat stress.

Supervisor’s Role in Preventing Heat Stress
• Allow time for employees to adjust to hot jobs when possible (heat tolerance), which can take 2-3 weeks for an employee to become acclimated to the hot environment
• When possible, adjust the work schedule with heavier work assigned on cooler days or during the cooler part of the day
• On hot days, reduce the workload – and increase the use of equipment to reduce physical labor
• Establish a schedule for work and rest periods during hot days
• Train workers to recognize signs and symptoms of heat stress illnesses and be prepared to give first aid, if necessary
• Avoid placing "high risk" employees in hot work environments for extended time periods (older, overweight, heart disease, high blood pressure, take medication that may be affected by extreme heat)
• Provide auxiliary body cooling and protective clothing

Worker’s Role in Preventing Heat Stress
• Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat stress – and take adequate rest periods (in shade or cooler environment)
• Use adequate fans for ventilation and cooling, especially when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Wear light-colored, loose clothing (unless working around equipment with moving parts).
• Keep shaded from direct heat whenever possible - wear a hat in direct sunshine, find a shaded area when on breaks, etc.
• Drink plenty of water – the body requires more water than usual in hot environments

According to several media sources, there appears to be a degree of confusion about the purpose of HIPAA, who it applies to, and whether asking someone if they have had a COVID-19 vaccine constitutes a HIPAA violation.

Read entire article - https://www.hipaajournal.com/is-it-a-hipaa-violation-to-ask-for-proof-of-vaccine-status/

 

While most workers have the comfort of an air conditioned office during the hot days of summer, many are not quite so lucky. Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments could definitely be at risk for heat stress, which can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.

Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and those working in hot environments, such as firefighters, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, bakery workers, factory workers and others. In this blog, we will cover CDC’s and NIOSH’s definitions of heat stress and the illnesses that can result from it.

Heat Stress
The net heat load to which a worker is exposed from the combined contributions of metabolic heat, environmental factors, and clothing worn which results in an increase in heat storage in the body.

Heat Strain
The physiological response to the heat load (external or internal) experienced by a person, in which the body attempts to increase heat loss to the environment in order to maintain a stable body temperature.

Heat Cramp
A heat-related illness characterized by spastic contractions of the voluntary muscles (mainly arms, hands, legs, and feet), usually associated with restricted salt intake and profuse sweating without significant body dehydration.

Heat Exhaustion
A heat-related illness characterized by elevation of core body temperature above 38°C (100.4°F) and abnormal performance of one or more organ systems, without injury to the central nervous system. Heat exhaustion may signal impending heat stroke.

Heat Stroke
An acute medical emergency caused by exposure to heat from an excessive rise in body temperature [above 41.1°C (106°F] and failure of the temperature-regulating mechanism. Injury occurs to the central nervous system characterized by a sudden and sustained loss of consciousness preceded by vertigo, nausea, headache, cerebral dysfunction, bizarre behavior, and excessive body temperature.

Heat Syncope
Collapse and/or loss of consciousness during heat exposure without an increase in body temperature or cessation of sweating, similar to vasovagal fainting except that it is heat induced.
Stay tuned as we will focus our next blog on heat stress in the workplace and what employers and employees can do to prevent heat stress.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided a three-month extension to several emergency waivers enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying truck and bus drivers now have through August 31, 2021, to operating under the terms of the new waivers. However, the FMCSA could terminate or modify the waivers before then.

Read entire article - https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/extension-expanded-modified-emergency-declaration-no-2020-002-under-49-cfr-ss-39025-may

Our last blog, June is National Safety Month, touched on the importance of a workplace safety culture. According to Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), employers shall provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. One of the greatest ways to impact the reduction of workplace incidents is having a strong workplace safety culture. To reiterate, a workplace safety culture is defined as a way in which safety is managed in a workplace – a combination of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes towards safety of workers and the overall safety of the work environment itself.

So how do you implement a safety culture at your organization or business? How do you as an employer help facilitate the culture of the workplace that encourages employees to think of safety as an important aspect and behave in a way that prioritizes their own safety and those around them at all times?

It starts at the top – the attitudes held by the company’s leadership. What are the daily safety practices your team is committed to doing? A strong safety culture will not happen overnight – it’s something that has to be continuously discussed. It is also extremely important to get employee buy-in as well, so make sure they understand the why behind specific aspects of any safety practices and plans being implemented - and allow them to ask questions and voice concerns. One way to get buy-in is having a group of employees be a part of the safety culture conversations and what it should look like at your organization – this will help encourage them to take personal responsibility for one another’s safety.

When thinking about your company’s safety culture and implementing new policies and practices, keep these considerations in mind:
• Identify hazards in the workplace – some possible existing hazards to think about include, but are not limited to, workplace layout, types of machinery, clothing, jewelry, even the dangers that can happen with hair length
• Create a safety program – make sure it applies to all workers, and make sure the program covers all safety hazards as well as complies with legal requirements
• Provide safety training to all workers – and make sure there is a program in place for ongoing trainings as part of the culture
• Conduct annual safety audits – take a look at how well the business is doing regarding safety and what can be done to improve
• Have a written policy for handling employee concerns – open communication will encourage workers to continue to bring safety matters to their supervisors’ attention, and part of the policy should include updates to employees on the safety issues as well as how they were resolved, and possible recourse options if the employee is not satisfied with how the safety concern was dealt with

It has been shown companies who focus and achieve a strong workplace safety culture have higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. When everyone in the company perceives workplace safety as part of their job responsibilities, everyone wins.

Tagged in: workplace safety

This guidance is intended to inform employers and workers in most workplace settings outside of healthcare to help them identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to implement.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework

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Since 1996, National Safety Month has been observed every June to highlight the top risks to health and safety and decrease the occurrence of unintentional injuries and deaths while increasing awareness of safety at work, at home, and in our communities. With many still at least in some sort of work hybrid situation, safety both inside and outside the typical workplace should be considered.

An easy acronym to help you and your team stay safe at work and at home is S.A.F.E.T.Y.
Search for hazards
Analyze the risks
Find the cause
Eliminate the cause
Tell others
You are safe

It seems our country is on the upswing from the pandemic, and we are heading into whatever this new normal will be, but one safety challenge will continue to be a major factor: mental health. According to the CDC, 41% of Americans reported having at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition associated with COVID-19. Understandably, essential workers have the highest percentage, but about one-fourth of our general population is dealing with some sort of trauma and stress-related disorder and some will turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. As our recent blog on creating safe and healthy workplaces post-pandemic discusses, it’s important for the safety of your employees and your company to establish a drug-free workplace program and it gives five key components.

Building a safety culture within your company is another way to keep safety on the forefront not just this month, but throughout the year. What is a safety culture? It’s a company-wide mindset that safety always comes first. Policies and procedures focus on promoting and enforces safety best practices, and employees are encouraged to go above and beyond to identify unsafe working conditions and behaviors – and work to correct them. According to OSHA, a strong safety culture can have the single greatest impact on the reduction of incidents, including:
• Minimizing risky employee behaviors
• Decreasing absenteeism and turnover
• Improving worker productivity
• Improving the health and well-being of employees
• And, last but definitely not least, saving lives!

In July 2020, the SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317) was introduced in Congress with the express purpose “to discourage insubstantial lawsuits related to COVID-19 while preserving the ability of individuals and businesses that have suffered real injury to obtain complete relief.” The bill did not pass before the 116th Congress expired. But the need for employer protection during the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic remains. Cue the state houses.

Read entire article - https://www.foley.com/en/insights/publications/2021/01/states-employer-immunity-covid19-lawsuits

The workplace is one of the most common places people will be exposed to harmful levels of noise, putting them at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which is permanent and often progressive. If your company performs manufacturing, construction or mining activities, noise is going to be an issue that needs to be addressed.

According to OSHA’s standards, employers must implement a hearing conservation program “when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).” These programs “strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves.”

A hearing conservation program should include employers developing and carrying out plans that reduce noise in the work environment and providing equipment and materials that help workers protect themselves. Some things to keep in mind while developing a hearing conservation program include:
• Measurement of sound levels in the workplace
• Reducing noise through both engineering controls (making changes to equipment or the surrounding area) and administrative controls (making adjustments to the work schedule or workplace)
• Yearly training programs about hearing protection, as well as informing new employees of noise-induced hearing loss and other risks that occur due to noise exposure
• Within six months of employment, employees who are exposed to loud noises should be given a free baseline audiogram – and then a yearly free audiogram to compare any hearing issues
• Provide a variety of hearing protection options to those employees exposed to hearing hazards, including lower-noise power tools and ear protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs
• Records kept of employees’ varying noise exposure levels

The cost impact of a hearing conservation program can be minimized with an accurate noise survey. At Workplace Safety & Health Inc, we use top quality sound level meters and noise dosimeters to help you identify only those employees that need to be included in the program and determine if the initial cost of engineering controls is a sound investment over the on-going costs of a hearing conservation program management. We have the expertise to help you make sound decisions for noise measurement and control – 317-253-9737.

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) informs workers, employers, and occupational health professionals about workplace chemicals and their hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default.html

Tagged in: chemical hazards NIOSH

Patterns of addiction usually increase during natural disasters and pandemics. This past year, many people were quarantined and struggling with economic uncertainties, while also juggling school and work schedules and everything in between. Those who were already struggling with pre-existing mental illnesses or substance abuse issues may have turned to illicit substance use as a way to cope with the extra distress of the past year, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the opioid crisis – some studies showing that 2020 will be the worst year for opioid overdoses.

This year’s National Prevention Week is May 9-15, and this public education platform focuses on promoting prevention year-round through providing ideas, capacity building, tools, and resources to help individuals and communities make substance use prevention happen every day. Alcohol and drug use in the workplace causes many expensive problems, including lost productivity, injuries and an increase in health insurance claims – loss to companies is estimated to be $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).

According to NCADI statistics, alcohol and drug users are far less productive, use 3X as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are 5x more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim. It’s important for the safety of your employees, as well as the health of your company, to establish a drug-free workplace program. Most successful drug-free workplace programs have five key components:

1. A written policy
2. Employee education
3. Supervisor training
4. An employee assistance program (EAP)
5. Drug testing

For an explanation of these, as well as a Drug-Free Workplace Toolkit provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), check out their website. Saying this past year has been a tough year is an understatement. Taking firm steps to help keep your employees safe and healthy should be a priority.

More than one-third of business leaders say ensuring a safe workplace will be more challenging over the next 12 months.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/health/article/21154993/survey-finds-safety-top-business-priority-for-2021

Tagged in: workplace safety

Air Quality Awareness Week 2021 is celebrated May 3-7, and the theme is Healthy Air – Important to Everyone! The goal is to promote events that increase air quality awareness and encourage people to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily. Read our recent blog explaining the AQI and how to check it for your area.

While AQI is a metric to check outdoor air quality, we cannot forget about indoor air quality since it is estimated the average American spends up to 90% of their lives indoors – so we have to think about IAQ – indoor air quality – as well. The EPA has identified IAQ as one of the top five growing concerns of today.
The health impacts of poor outdoor air quality are well known, but indoor air pollution is often between 2-5x greater than outdoor – and many times, even higher.

Poor IAQ affects us in many documented ways – headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs, as well as specific diseases, such as asthma and even cancer. There are many factors that affect IAQ, including poor ventilation, high or low humidity, remodeling and even activity outside the building that can affect the fresh air coming into the building.

According to OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers are required to provide workers with a safe workplace. When thinking about Workplace IAQ, here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Keep your workplace clean – clean work areas mean less opportunity for mold, dust and allergens to be present and growing
• Use eco-friendly cleaning products to lower the amount of any harsh chemicals being released
• Use air-cleaning devices, such as air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers
• Change HVAC filters regularly and have your systems cleaned regularly
• When possible, turn off your HVAC system, open windows, and allow outdoor air to enter the building
• Add indoor plants to the office as they can help the IAQ by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air
• Conduct regular air tests as they will provide you with the right information to help you make IAQ improvements

Let us help you solve your company’s air quality and keep your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy! Give us a call at 317-253-9737 or check out our website.

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

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

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It is estimated worldwide that air pollution kills seven million people every year, and 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds who guideline limits. Here in the United States, the stats are a bit better but we still have an estimated 107,000 fatalities a year that are contributed to air pollution.

There are five primary air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds. The sources from all of these pollutants include electricity production, industry, and transportation.

How can you take action to keep yourself and your loved ones? Pay attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI), which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s index for reporting air quality – with each pollutant given an AQI value.

The AQI is divided into six categories with each category corresponding to a different level of health concern. Each category also has a specific color. The color makes it easy for people to quickly determine whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in their communities. AQI values at or below 100 are considered satisfactory, with a value 50 or below representing good air quality, and a value over 300 representing hazardous air quality.

AQI Chart
Finding the AQI in your area is quite easy – just go to the AQI tool and type in your zip code or city/state. If your air quality isn’t as satisfactory that day or time and you were planning to spend much time outdoors, try to find less strenuous outdoor activities or plan for another time. High levels of air pollution do affect your health, so plan accordingly.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/01292021-0

On Feb. 1, the chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent letters to OSHA, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA informing them of the new investigation that follows reports of positive cases among nearly 54,000 workers at 569 meatpacking plants in the US, and 270 resulting deaths as of the end of January.

Read entire article - https://www.manufacturing.net/laws-regulations/video/21259910/house-panel-investigating-meat-plant-deaths-infections

It only takes a tiny sliver of metal, particle of dust or a splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage, according to the National Safety Council. Every March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and it is a good time to remind your employees of eye safety tips.

More than 700,000 work-related eye injuries occur every year – and that isn’t even taken into account the eye strains caused by too much computer screen time. When thinking about on-the-job eye injuries from metal, dust or chemicals, here are some injury-prevention tips to keep in mind:
• Study injury patterns to see where accidents are occurring, looking at plant operations, work areas, access routes and equipment. Notice any patterns? Take action if you do!
• Conduct regular vision testing for your employees
• Select the correct protective eyewear, depending on the specific tasks or hazards
• Establish and enforce a mandatory eye protection program in all operation areas
• Establish first-aid procedures for eye injuries, and make sure there are eyewash stations available nearby, especially where chemicals are in use
• Include eye safety as part of your employee orientation and ongoing training and regularly review and revise policies to stay with the times and equipment changes
• Display a copy of the policies where all employees can see them
• Set the example by having all managers and supervisors wearing protective eyewear when expected of employees

Workplace eye hazards don’t disappear just because you might not be around machinery where metal slivers or chemicals might play a role. Many employees are dealing with eye strain when it comes to spending so many hours in the day staring at computer screens or mobile phone screens. Prolonged exposure can lead to digital eye strain, dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and back pain, and headaches. Biggest rule for these employees is the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, make sure to look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Educating your employees on this rule can help decrease digital eye strain and maintain better eye health.

Employees don’t feel safe going to the workplace. According to a new study, 68% of workers globally do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21152575/employees-dont-feel-safe-going-to-work-study-finds

Every year, there are over 300 people who die from ladder-related accidents, while thousands suffer disabling injuries. National Ladder Safety Month is designated every March to hopefully end what is believed to be completely avoidable accidents.

Each week will focus on a key theme:
Week One: Choosing Your Ladder
Week Two: Safety Before the First Step (inspection and Set Up)
Week Three: Safety While Climbing
Week Four: Safety at the Top
Week Five: Ladder Safety Misconceptions

The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are as follows:
• Decrease number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
• Increase the number of ladder safety training certificates issued
• Increase the frequency that ladder safety training modules are viewed on www.laddersafetytraining.org
• Lower the rankings of ladder-related safety citations on OSHA’s yearly “Top 10 Citations List”
• Increase the number of in-person ladder trainings
• Increase the number of companies and individuals that inspect and properly dispose of old, damaged or obsolete ladders

Want some basic ladder safety tips? Here’s a good start from the American Ladder Institute - https://www.americanladderinstitute.org/page/BasicLadderSafety. We all can do our part to prevent the unnecessary harm and deaths from ladder usage, both at home and at work, by becoming more aware of the dangers and by making sure you’re putting the right foot forward before taking that first step up the ladder.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will continue to apply to some employees who seek treatment through telemedicine. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor in late December confirmed that its temporary policy will be extended for the foreseeable future.

Read entire article - https://www.benefitspro.com/2021/01/06/dol-extends-policy-allowing-fmla-to-cover-some-telemedicine-visits/?slreturn=20210018181249

Tagged in: fmla fmla and covid

With the COVID-19 vaccine slowly making its way to our most at-risk citizens, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a long way to go before the pandemic is behind us. We have surpassed 485,000 deaths linked to this pandemic at the time of this writing.

Businesses have a moral responsibility to continue to keep their employees as safe as possible – and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whether your employees have returned to the office or continue to work remotely, everyone should be reminded to continue taking precautions.

While you may have taken steps early on and educated your employees on safety measures, it’s almost been a year since COVID became an issue here in the United States, and a refresher is a good idea. Unless they themselves or a friend or family member has contracted COVID-19, your employees may not really understand the severity of this virus. One action step that helps continue the education conversation is to include employees who have been affected by this virus share their experiences and management should be encouraged to share their stories as well.

Employees need to understand and adhere to the rules put in place to keep themselves and their co-workers safe. Setting ground rules and expectations – and following up on those rules if employees fail to comply - is important for the overall health of your team. Any rules that are in place should be fully explained and revisited on a regular basis through this pandemic. It’s the ultimate responsibility of the employees to adhere to the rules, but leaders set the stage by leading by example, communicating the rules and expectations, and reprimanding those who are not following them.

During this past year, many families have struggled on several different levels, and employee mental health should be a top priority for any business. Providing mental health support, including talking about the statistics and creating a culture that removes the stigma around mental health is extremely important, as well as encouraging employees to use such resources as Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

This has been such a unique year for businesses – a worldwide pandemic is not something most of us ever would have imagined or planned for. But until that light at the end of the tunnel gets closer and brighter, let’s do our part to keep our most valuable assets – our employees – as safe and healthy as possible when it comes to COVID-19.

Federal OSHA is raising its maximum penalty amounts for 2021 based on cost-of-living adjustments for the year. Maximum penalties for serious and other-than serious violations will increase from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation, while willful or repeat violations will increase from $134,937 to $136,532 per violation.

Read entire article - https://www.safetynewsalert.com/news/osha-raises-maximum-penalty-amounts-2021/

Tagged in: OSHA

In last month’s blog, we covered steps employers can take to help stop cyber security breaches, including using secure access points and installing updates across all devices and systems on a regular basis. But when it comes to cybersecurity and mobile phones, we must all take an active stance to protect our mobile devices and your company’s data.

In today’s world, our smartphones have so many advanced capabilities – just like our computers, and we check our emails and bank accounts, search the internet pretty much whenever we want, and our phones allow us to continuing working in many cases when we are not sitting at our office or business. The security, though, is usually not set up as strongly as it is on our work computers.

There are some steps you can do to protect your mobile phone:
• Consider the safety features when choosing your mobile phone – such things as file encryption, finding and wiping the data remotely, ability to delete known malicious apps remotely and authentication features such as device access passwords
• Configure the device to be more secure, including enabling the password feature that locks the device until the PIN or password is entered – or even a thumbprint or face scan! There may even be a feature that after 10 failed attempts to login, the phone is wiped clean
• Do not click on links sent in suspicious emails or text messages
• Use caution before posting your mobile phone number anywhere
• Be careful what information you want stored on your phone
• Do your research before selecting and installing apps, including “repackaged apps” that may seem like updates to your current apps – and keep in mind, your social networking apps may reveal more personal information than you know, including location, birthday, etc.
• Disable interfaces that are not currently in use, such as Bluetooth and WiFi – and while you are at it, set Bluetooth-enabled devices to non-discoverable, so it is not visible to other devices
• Avoid joining unknown WiFi networks and using public Wi-Fi hotspots as attackers have been known to create fake hotspots

If your mobile phone is stolen or lost, notify your mobile service provider. If it’s a company phone or you do business on your personal mobile phone, contact your company ASAP. They can usually revoke all credentials that were stored to keep your company’s information safe. And if need be, have the mobile phone company remotely delete all data on the phone.

Mobile phone cyber threats are definitely on the rise. A little bit of time and effort on your end keeping these steps in mind can help lessen the opportunity of attackers targeting you.

CDC’s Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 FFRs were written to follow a continuum using the surge capacity approach in the order of conventional (everyday practice), contingency (expected shortages), and crisis (known shortages) capacities. N95 FFRs are meant to be disposed after each use. CDC developed contingency and crisis strategies to help healthcare facilities conserve their supplies in the face of shortages.

Read entire article - 
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/decontamination-reuse-respirators.html

 

Even before the COVID era and remote working becoming so prevalent, many employees were using their mobile phones to access company email, networks or data. This “bring your own device” work culture is definitely a security risk to not only your employees, but to your company as well.

Smartphone security has not kept up with traditional computer security, and your employees may be vigilant when it comes to security breaches on their desktop or laptop, but we are all more distracted when it comes to our mobile devices as we quickly scan through emails, text multiple people and scroll through different social media, usually all at the same time. This makes our phones very attractive targets for scammers – tricking us into joining rogue Wi-Fi networks or tapping fake emails without even thinking.

A 2019 study on the mobile threat found that 57% of companies have experienced a mobile phishing incident. Phishing is the most common cyber threat, especially for companies. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 data breaches start with a phishing attack, and when we are on our smartphones, we tend to not pay as much attention to what we are clicking – plus the smaller screens make red flag less noticeable.

Making sure your company has a strong cyber security system and communicating the importance to your employees is a must nowadays. Here are a few strategies that everyone can incorporate today that can help keep your employees and your data safe, but even these are not 100% guaranteed:
• Use secure access points, such as virtual private networks (VPNs). These allow you to extend your private network across public Wi-Fi using encrypted virtual point-to-point connection, enabling and maintaining secure access to your company’s resources.
• Have your employees create a secure network for business transactions in their home offices. Most home routers allow for the creation of multiple networks, such as a home and guest connection. Adding a password protected network for work connections means your employees can keep their families’ personal devices separate from work devices.
• Make sure your company is installing updates across all devices and systems on a regular basis. Regular updates and patches ensure your systems are protected against known vulnerabilities.
• Always make sure your employees are using strong passwords and two-factor authentication across all devices and accounts. It cannot be stressed enough that passwords should be complex, meaning they should incorporate numbers and special characters and should not be the same ones used across multiple accounts. As a business, you may want to look into a password management software to help your team keep track of their passwords.
• Be vigilant when responding to emails, especially those with links and attachments. Remind your employees to never click on those links or attachments from an unknown sender – and even if the email seems to come from a trusted source, be sure they are looking closely at the email address or website URL. Inform your employees to make sure they let your IT department or contact know of any suspicious emails right away, as well as letting them know if there is a possibility of a breach.
• Install anti-malware and anti-virus software across all devices and networks, which will stop the majority of attacks.
• Make sure your company has a Cyber Response Plan in place and that all your employees are aware of this plan – and that everyone knows who to contact if they suspect a breach, both during work hours and after-hours.

Nowadays, cybersecurity is the responsibility of all your employees, but taking these steps to protect your business can alleviate many of the breaches from ever happening. In our next blog, we will discuss more specifically on what your employees can do to make sure their mobile devices are more secure, as well as what to do if their devices are stolen.

 

Federal law entitles you to a safe workplace. Your employer must keep your workplace free of known health and safety hazards. You have the right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation.

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

Tagged in: workplace safety

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Who would have thought when thinking about Workplace Safety and 2020, when we would say “Stay Safe,” it also meant staying healthy from a worldwide pandemic! Even though COVID safety tended to take up so much of our attention, which it needed to, so we could keep our employees safe, we also needed to be concerned with emphasizing safe operations in all areas as a top business priority. So, let’s talk about how to stay safe in 2021.

An important first step – review what happened in 2020 as last year’s safety results reveal areas for improvement and help with goal setting for 2021 and coming up with a solid workplace safety plan. Two areas to make sure you review are your accident reports and training records.

Accident reports, including the “near miss” incident reports, can help you clearly define areas that should be a priority in your safety planning for the new year. Safety assessments and annual safety audits should expose any safety performance gaps and provide a meaningful understanding of workplace hazards. While you are at it, doing a safety risk assessment of every potential hazard category is important.

Ongoing training for your employees is essential to keep safety top-of-mind, as well as making sure there is on-going communication with your team on training expectations. Did your company provide adequate training? In what areas would additional training for the new year result in a safer work environment? It’s a great opportunity to ask your employees what type of training makes sense for them – getting their input can help with employee buy-in, which is always beneficial. Make sure you have adequate funding set aside for training.

Reviewing these two areas can really help you define those safety goals for 2021. A solid workplace safety plan is essential to avoid potential harm to your employees, as well as helping to reduce the costs when it comes to worker’s compensation. Workplace Safety & Health Co. is here to help you make 2021 the safest year yet! Contact us at 317-253-9737.

When collecting employee health information during the pandemic, be transparent about how the data will be used, disclosed and retained.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21145909/data-privacy-considerations-for-employers-collecting-health-data-from-employees-during-pandemic

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Winter means shorter days and longer, darker nights - less natural sunlight. For some, it also brings what is known as the “Winter Blues” and, for some, a more complex disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This seasonal depression affects as much as 3-5 percent of the general population, and those who already are diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, they are 20 percent more likely to suffer from seasonal depression.

Add onto this, we are in the middle of a pandemic, which cases are spiking again, and more strict restrictions are happening again around the country. So more social distancing and more physical isolation, which will compound the feelings of loneliness and sadness for many. Statistics are now showing more than 1 in 400 Americans are testing positive for the coronavirus, so the likelihood of knowing someone who has the virus or even who has died because of the virus is much higher, so for some, this will make the winter months and the holiday season much more difficult.

While “Winter Blues,” which means a low mood during the winter months, can be felt by many at some point during the colder, darker days, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is defined as a regular seasonal pattern of major depressive episodes during the fall and winter months with periods of full improvement in the spring and summer. If you think you suffer from SAD, it is a good idea to talk to a your doctor or a mental health professional for support.

Experiencing periods of low moods during these winter months? Here are some mood-boosting tips – for those who are both working remotely as well as those who are still going to the workplace:
• Spend at least 30 minutes per day outdoors – sun is vital to our well-being!
• Resist sugar and excess caffeine, which tend to give many of us an emotional roller coaster ride.
• Plan at least one social interaction per week – social distancing does not have to mean social isolation, so find creative ways to connect with others but still staying safe.
• Plan some vacation time – even if it’s a staycation! Spending time doing what you love, if it’s hiking, baking, reading or getting caught up on your favorite show can help distract you and make this winter more manageable.
• Find a routine that works for you – especially in the morning. It helps get you started on the right path for the day and takes your attention away from the weather.
• Go greener – as in add plants to your office space, which studies have shown that interaction with indoor plants can reduce psychological and physiological stress, and they boost workplace productivity.
• Focus on your health by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Most experts agree the lack of sunlight during the winter season throws off the body’s rhythm and leads to hormonal changes as well as a decrease in the production of serotonin, the chemical your brain produces when you have a lot of energy and are in a good mood. Using the above tips can help you combat the winter blues – and before you know, spring will be in the air…and hopefully a COVID vaccine!

Employers will have to revise their COVID-19-related safety policies and practices to meet new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on what it means to have been in "close contact" with an infected person.

Read entire article - https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/new-cdc-guidance-makes-contact-tracing-more-difficult-for-employers.aspx

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The saying goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and that holds true when it comes to OSHA’s annual top 10 most frequently cited violations as falls tops the list again for the tenth year in a row. But some of the others tend to switch spots year to year, and some fall off one year and come back on the following year.

OSHA publishes this yearly reminder with the hope that employers will learn from these results and take steps to find and mitigate the hazards in their own workplace. It is believed most of the injuries and illnesses that happen in the workplace are preventable if safety measures are implemented and followed.

Here is OSHA’s 2020 Top Ten Violations:

1. Fall Protection (1926.501) – 8241 violations: Whenever a work is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 6156 violations: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemical they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to communicate the hazard information to their customers.

3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 5423 violations: Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3879 violations: Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3254 violations: “Lockout-Tag out” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 3340 violations: Each year, thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

7. Ladders (1926.1053) – 3311 violations: Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.

8. Electrical, Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 3452 violations: Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2701 violations: Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

10. Electrical, General Requirements (1910.303) – 2745 violations: As a repeat to #8, working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies – and many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

The Barnes & Thornburg Wage and Hour Practice Group are watching COVID-related workplace litigation in courts across the country, alleging violations of a wide variety of state and federal employment laws and regulations, and are analyzing trends in the cases filed to hopefully help business prepare for potential pitfalls.

Read entire article - https://btlaw.com/insights/publications/covid-19-related-workplace-litigation-tracker#Workplace%20Safety

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Workplace safety is a pretty hot topic in 2020. While our country continues to deal the COVID-19 pandemic, and we start to see many states start to peak again both in cases and hospital admissions, employers and businesses are working hard to navigate this new normal while trying to stay open, stay afloat in too many cases and be profitable.

A new global study shows 35% of employees and business leaders wish their offices had closed faster and safety measures for essential workers had been implemented sooner. This same survey, conducted by The Workforce Institute, showed only 20% of the workforce felt their organization met their needs during the initial months of the pandemic, but that 33% of employees globally say they trust their employer more now than before the pandemic began because of how their organizations responded. Moving forward into the last quarter of 2020 and into 2021, employers are encouraged to keep their employees’ needs and concerns in the forefront.

Surprisingly, when we think of the number one concern in the workplace during the pandemic, it isn’t having a clean and healthy workplace – it’s job security, flexibility and work-life harmony. Many are concerned about future layoffs or furloughs due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19. Many who are working say they are working either the same or more hours regularly since the start of the pandemic, and there is a concern among employees and employers of fatigue and burnout. Taking some measures to guard against burnout will go a long way with your employees.

Almost half of the surveyed employees felt quick notification of confirmed workplace cases was a top concern. Another surprise is the younger generations (Generation Z and younger Millennials) are most concerned about this. Quick notification and contact tracing can help put minds at ease.

Even though job security and quick notification of confirmed cases were the top priorities, workplace cleanliness came in a close third. Keeping in mind the workplace layout – is there the opportunity to socially distance? What safety measures have been put in place and enforced – mask wearing, hand sanitizing stations, scheduled deep cleanings, limited shared common areas and workplaces, including kitchens, bathrooms, and conference rooms?

Employees are looking for more frequent and transparent communication from their leaders during this time. The good news is that among the 33% of the employees who trust their organizations more now than before the pandemic, 70% say the company went above and beyond in their COVID-19 response. The bad news is there are many employees who are not as trusting right now. It’s time to build that trust, and putting the employee first and getting back to the basic needs every employee requires (physical safety, job stability, and flexibility) are steps to help engage your workforce and help your business succeed during these challenging times.

OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear cloth face coverings at work to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and give guidance when workers who wear cloth face coverings in hot and humid environments or while performing strenuous activities indoors find cloth face coverings to be uncomfortable.

Read entire article (pdf) - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/covid-19-cloth-coverings-indoor-heat.pdf

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Did you know around 40% of deaths in the workplace occur in transportation incidents making motor vehicle accidents overwhelmingly the leading cause of workplace deaths? Millions of workers drive or ride in a vehicle as part of their jobs, and all workers are at a risk of crashes, whether they drive light or heavy vehicles, or whether driving is their main duty or incidental job duty. From 2003-2018, more than 29,000 workers in the United Stated died in a work-related motor vehicle crash.

With so many people behind the wheel, drowsy driving, or driving while you are tired, only exacerbates this situation. It is estimated 6% of all crashes and 21% of all fatal crashes involve a fatigued driver. The first week in November is considered Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, but it’s something we all need to be preventing every single day we are on the road.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following factors contribute to drowsy driving:
• Driving on less than 7 hours of sleep
• Driving at a time when usually sleeping
• Travelling frequently through different time zones
• Having an untreated sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea
• Working multiple shifts or night shifts

Drowsy driving is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver’s reaction times, awareness of hazards and the ability to keep attention worsens when the driver is fatigued. Driving while going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which is the U.S. legal limit. If you drive while fatigued, you are 3x more likely to be in a car crash.

Employers can take steps to help keep their employees safe by implementing strong safety and health programs, including setting up a fatigue risk management system (FRMS). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has relevant information listing ways employers and employees can prevent driver fatigue. Take the steps today to keep your employees safe and healthy.

Department of Transportation officials said a recent commercial bus rule revision via the agency’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would annually reduce regulatory costs by $74 million.

Read entire article - https://transportationtodaynews.com/news/18935-fmcsa-issues-revised-commercial-bus-rule/#:~:text=Current%20regulations%20require%20commercial%20bus%20drivers%20to%20submit,a%20motor%20carrier%20to%20maintain%2C%20a%20no-defect%20DVIR

Tagged in: bus safety

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When we think about cybersecurity, most of us think it is a larger problem for big entities such as banks, tech companies, and the government, but truth be told, smaller companies with less than 1000 employees are at the greatest risk with 43% of all cyber attacks being aimed at small businesses? October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

Here are some pretty shocking cybersecurity statistics:
• It takes half a year to detect a data breach
• 91% of all attacks are launched with a phishing email
• A business falls victim to a ransomware attack every 14 seconds
• 38% of malicious attachments are masked as a Microsoft Office file
• Companies face an average of 22 security breaches in 2020
• The global cost of online crime is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021

In today’s world, with many companies being more open to remote work and with many employees working from their personal devices, such as checking emails from their phones, cyber threats are all too common nowadays. Being diligent with prescreen hiring, training your current employees on staying cyber safe and setting expectations for third party associates when it comes to cybersecurity are extremely important. Risks should always be accurately assessed and, when possible, minimized. Every person in your organization has a role in mitigating the risk of a cyberattack.

Here are some basic tips to keep your workplace safe when it comes to cybersecurity:
• Take inventory of all your company’s devices – all hardware and software – because you cannot defend what you don’t know you have.
• Lock up your devices – no matter where your office is located. All devices, including computers, laptops and cell phones, should be locked with a secure password.
• Use two-factor authentication if possible as it’s an extra layer beyond just a typical password. This should be a must for anyone accessing sensitive networks or data.
• For those working outside an office network, make sure your employees are never using wi-fi without a VPN (Virtualized Personal Network). Using public wi-fi networks without this extra security can expose your organization’s accounts and data to malicious cyber threats.
• Train employees on cybersecurity – and remind and empower your employees to question any suspicious looking emails, especially those with urgent subject lines and billing-related attachments. Always hover over a link before clicking to ensure you are being directed to the intended URL.

 

Workplaces can present unique challenges for COVID-19 investigation and public health action. Because many workplaces can be crowded settings, and many jobs involve a high level of interaction with the public, these settings could allow virus to be spread easily among workers.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/open-america/non-healthcare-work-settings.html

Tagged in: CDC covid-19 covid19

Did you know most people spend 90% of their time inside? The pandemic has brought indoor air quality (IAQ) front and center in the discussion on keeping people as safe as possible. IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures. Poor IAQ is not a new concept as most of us have heard of Sick Building Syndrome, where occupants may experience headaches, dry cough, dizziness, and even difficulty concentrating because of the poor air quality.

Inadequate ventilation is a key component, and right now in the COVID-era we are currently in, ventilation and air cleaning opportunities have been the talk of the town. Advanced ventilation systems allow for more airflow from the outside, as well as monitoring air quality and having air purification technologies in place to clean the contaminated air and prevent it from spreading to different areas. These technologies are becoming more commonplace, but definitely not universally adopted.

Even though COVID-19 has caused many businesses to look more in-depth at their IAQ, it’s also a chance to test for other air quality issues. There are literally hundreds of other air contaminates that cause issues in the workplace, but the most common and usually the most harmful besides the coronavirus are tobacco smoke, dust, mold and mildew, chemical pollutants and volatile organic compounds.

Concerned about the IAQ? Workplace Safety & Health Inc. can help you identify and manage risks posed by air quality through monitoring, mapping, fact-finding surveys and evaluations. Our program now includes COVID-19 testing, and our blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free, lists those particular services.
During National Indoor Air Quality Month and every month, we are here to keep your most important assets safe – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

Employers have to follow mask regulations in states that require face coverings in public, but what if employees don’t want to wear one? Can an employer make them wear a mask? The short answer is yes, according to legal experts.

Read entire article - https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article244101092.html

We witnessed in early August the horrific explosions in Beirut that killed at least 200 people with dozens more missing, injured 6000 people, has left 300,000 people homeless and had an estimate $10-$15 billion in damages. The blast is linked to 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate that was stored in the port without proper safety measures for six years. This should be a wake-up call at just how vulnerable your business could be.

National Fire Prevention Week, which is the second week in October, is a great time to review your company’s safety rules around fire safety. In most cases, workplace fires are caused by chemical interactions, sparks and human error of not paying attention to safety labels and the surrounding items in the work area. While some situations may not be in your control – for example, wildfires or arson – most are with some extra precautions.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind when preparing a fire safety plan:
• Identify fire risks, which can include but are not limited to cooking appliances, electrical wiring, overloaded power strips, heating appliances, arson, smoking materials -and if you work with chemicals or have chemicals in your workplace
• Assign at least one person or a team of people to oversee fire safety – tasks should include implementing and improving effective emergency procedures and having a fire safety checklist, conducting workplace walkthroughs to assess fire hazards and document/communicate those existing hazards to management, educate employees, and execute regular fire drills
• Pay particular attention to areas in the workplace that are considered fire prone, which are usually the kitchen area, common areas, and ceiling or attic areas – and for the space, make sure you have the right amount of fire extinguishers and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (check them regularly to make sure they are in good shape)
• Take into account what your specific industry’s needs and special circumstances are when it comes to fire safety
• OSHA requires that employers do whatever is within their power to keep their employees safe, and educating your employees should always be a priority, so make sure you follow OSHA’s fire safety standards

With some extra precautions and proper protocol when it comes to fire safety and basic emergency responses, businesses can lessen the likelihood of a workplace fire.

OSHA has a centralized page with commonly asked questions and answers for protecting workers from the coronavirus pandemic, explains an OSHA news release.

Read entire article - https://ohsonline.com/articles/2020/07/08/osha-publishes-frequently-asked-questions-and-answers-for-worker-safety-during-the-pandemic.aspx

Tagged in: covid-19 covid19 OSHA

What a year it has been already! Seems many have been preparing ongoing for disasters as we are still working through the COVID pandemic with social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing our workspaces. Usually when we think of disasters, we think of such emergencies as earthquake or weather-related events, but whatever the emergency, it’s important to have a planned response.

National Preparedness Month, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held every September as a reminder that natural and man-made disasters can strike any time, including while on the job. It’s extremely important to have employees who know how to respond in the event of an emergency – be it a tornado, active shooter or a hurt or unresponsive team member. This year’s theme is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

Do you have a preparedness training plan? Emergency action plans should include types of emergencies, emergency procedures, and identifying specialized emergency roles with specific training for those roles. Employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe – which means making sure they are prepared for all kinds of workplace emergencies. Well-prepared employees act more quickly and safely in a crisis, are more likely to survive without injury, as well as damage to your facility can be minimized.

Keeping your employees as safe as possible doesn’t stop at the workplace either. Help your employees be prepared at home as well. Homeland security suggests workers and their families should take these four steps:
• Get a kit of emergency supplies – should last at least three days in the event of a crisis in your area
• Make a family emergency plan 
• Be informed about the possibility of different threats that could affect your community and develop appropriate responses
• Get involved by getting first aid training

Workplace Safety & health Co., Inc is dedicated to helping its customers maintain and improve the health and well-being of their employees. We provide a full range of occupational safety training services. Let us help you during National Preparedness Month and in the future – contact us at 317-253-9737.

 

From the looks of it, COVID-19 may be the way of life for us for quite some time. Keeping your employees as safe and healthy as possible while at work should always be a top priority, and right now, this sentiment is probably weighing heavy on many within your organization and business. While every state will have its own mandates and guidelines, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help you protect your staff and others and slow the spread. Please keep in mind these guidelines are only a sample and not all inclusive, but are a good starting point:

• Create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan – the purpose is to provide basic steps to reduce the risk of worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are templates available online, and here is an example from the Western Michigan University to help you get started.

• If you have not resumed business operations, check the building to see if it’s ready for occupancy – some areas to concentrate on would be checking for hazards associated with prolonged facility shutdown, including mold growth, pests, stagnant water systems which can give rise to Legionella bacteria growth, potentially leading to a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak; and take appropriate corrective actions; check the ventilation systems; increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, as long as this doesn’t pose a safety or health risk for occupants

• Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work – conduct a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace; identify work and common areas where employees have close contact (within 6 feet) with others

• Include ALL employees in communication plans – including any contractors who might work at or visit the business to make sure they understand any new work processes and requirements to prevent transmission of COVID-19

• Develop hazard controls to reduce transmission among workers
-Isolate workers from the hazard including modifying and adjusting seats, furniture, workstations (whenever possible); install transparent shields or other physical barriers when social distancing is not an option; replace high touch communal items, such as coffee pots and bulk snacks with pre-packaged, single-serving items; improve central air filtration and consider using natural ventilation when possible
-Change the way people work including encouraging employees who have symptoms or family members who are home with COVID-19 to stay home for full quarantined time; conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks of employees before they enter the work site; implement a policy to prevent employees from gathering in groups; stagger shifts, start times, break times; post signs in parking areas and entrances to ask guests and visitors to phone from their cars and wear face coverings; clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often; establish policies and practices for social distancing

Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. is here to help you open up your business and keep it open by providing programs, ideas, and solutions to keeping your employees safe. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

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Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, the rate of worker deaths and reported injuries in the United States has decreased by more than 60 percent. Even though this decrease is encouraging, we still have a long way to go to keeping our employees safe. Every year, more than 5000 workers are killed, which equates to 14 a day, and more than 3.6 million suffer serious job-related injury or illness.

Safe + Sound Week, which is August 10-16 this year, is a nationwide event that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs while offering ideas and information on how to keep workers safe. Having strong safety and health programs in place can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury, illness or death, which is a win in all categories when it comes to business success. OSHA has many resources to help your business develop a program, as well as strengthen an existing program. Check out their Safe + Sound Week resources page

When it comes to a successful workplace health and safety environment, there must be a commitment from management leadership. When workers know safety and health are important components to the overall business success outlook, they will feel empowered to take steps to improve workplace safety.

Here are some ways management can be clear on their proactive stance and commitment to workplace safety:
• Develop and communicate a safety and health policy statement
• Provide the resources needed to implement and operate the program
• Keep safety and health on the forefront when making operational planning and decisions
• Recognize and reward safety and health contributions and achievements
• Lead by example – practice safe behaviors and make safety a part of daily conversations
• Take OSHA’s 3 in 30 Challenge
• Establish a Find and Fix program

Safe + Sound Week may be August 10-16 this year, but it’s a year-round campaign to encourage every workplace to have a safety and health program, and Workplace Safety & Health Inc. is here to help you reach that goal - 317-253-9737.

Tagged in: OSHA safe + sound week

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a new video and poster for employers and workers on how to properly wear and remove a respirator.

For workers who may need to use respirators to protect themselves from coronavirus exposure, a properly worn respirator can help reduce the wearer's risk of viral exposure and help prevent its spread to others.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/05052020

Tagged in: covid19 respirators

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc., our primary concern is helping our customers reduce health risks, injuries, and illnesses while also promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. Here is a list of our services:

Asbestos Consulting
• Building Surveys
• Operations and Maintenance Programs
• Air Monitoring & Exposure Assessments
• Abatement Design & Specification Authoring
• Digital Photos & AutoCAD© Drawings of Asbestos Containing Materials
• Data Management Software
• Employee Training

Confined Space Evaluations
• Confined Space Program Evaluation
• Confined Space Identification
• Hazard Assessment and Quantification
• AutoCAD© Confined Space Locator Drawing
• Digital Photos of Entry Points and Key Hazards
• Data Management Software
• Employee Training

Data Management 
• Confined Space Manager™
• IHeAccess™
• WHAM-Lock™

Ergonomics Consulting
• Industrial Workstation Ergonomics Evaluations
• Risk Prioritization of Stations
• Ergonomics Program Setup and Assistance
• Video Documentation of Ergonomics Hazards and Suggestions for Improvement
• In-Depth Recommendations for Each Station with Attention Given to Varying Levels of Cost
• Data Management Software

Industrial Hygiene Consulting 
• Chemical and Particulate Air Monitoring
• Noise Monitoring
• Indoor Air Quality Assessments
• Qualitative Exposure Assessments
• Hazard Communication
• Vapor Intrusion Monitoring
• Ventilation System Assessments
• Employee Training

Lead-Based Paint Assessments
• Paint Sampling
• Routes of Exposure

Lockout/Tagout Programs 
• Lockout/Tagout Program Evaluation
• Machine/Equipment Evaluation
• Energy Isolation Procedure Authoring
• AutoCAD© Machine Layout
• Durable Labeling of Energy Isolating Points
• Data Management Software
• Employee Training

Noise Measurement
• Noise Surveys
• Preliminary Engineering Control Design
• Octave Band Analysis
• Hearing Conservation Program Authoring
• Audiometric Testing (with qualified vendors)
• Noise Dosimetry
• Noise Mapping
• Program Review
• Hearing Conservation Training

Training Courses and Materials
• OSHA 10 and 30 hour Compliance
• OSHA Recordkeeping
• Lockout/Tagout
• HAZMAT / HAZWOPER
• Confined Space Entry and Rescue
• First Aid /CPR (to include AED and Bloodborne Pathogens)
• Asbestos Operations and Maintenance
• Incident Command
• Excavation Safety
• Fall Protection
• Customized training topics

Contact us today to discuss how our services are designed to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, which promotes client profitability – and help you protect your most valuable asset – your employees! Call us at 317-253-9737 or click here to request a quote or for more information.

OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these unprecedented times. The agency will be issuing a series of industry-specific alerts designed to help keep workers safe.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4017.pdf

Tagged in: covid19 OSHA

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as many as 1.3 million people in the United States go to the workplace every day where they are exposed to significant amounts of asbestos. Even though asbestos was largely banned in the US in the 1970s and 1980s, it can still be found in older homes and buildings as it was used as insulation in many cases since it was fire-resistant.

Asbestos kills between 12,000-15,000 people per year in the United States. This number of annual deaths has held steady for more than a decade because asbestos-related diseases may not strike victims for decades after they are exposed. It is estimated this number may be conservative because many deaths for such things as lung cancer are not listed as being from asbestos exposure.

What is asbestos?

According to OSHA, asbestos is a name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. It has been used in over 3000 products, including insulations for pipes, fireproofing, floor tiles, various building materials, and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Nowadays, most exposures occur in the construction industry and in ship repair during renovations, repairs and demolitions as the removal of asbestos materials releases asbestos fibers into the air, which are then inhaled. These fibers are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Limiting workplace exposure

OSHA has specific standards for addressing asbestos hazards and worker exposure. These standards reduce the risk to workers by requiring employers to provide personal exposure monitoring to assess the risk, along with hazard awareness training. If asbestos is present or believed to be present, employers are required to ensure exposure is reduced by using administrative controls and provide personal protective equipment, including respiratory equipment and protective clothing. Even though there really is no ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure, OSHA regulations do define the amount of asbestos exposure that is still permissible in the workplace. The permissible exposure limit (PEL) is being exposed to a time-weighted average of 0.1 fibers of asbestos per cubic centimeter of air over an 8-hour workday and an excursion level of 1.0 fiber of asbestos per cubic centimeter of air in any 30 minute period. These are the maximum workplace exposure levels that are permissible without personal protective gear.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help keep your employees and visitors safe by assisting you in properly managing the asbestos-containing material (ACM) in your facility. We offer the following asbestos services: building surveys, operations and maintenance programs, air monitoring and exposure assessments, abatement design and specification authoring, and AutoCAD© drawings showing the amount and distribution of ACM, data management software, and employee training. We are ready to serve you – give us a call at 317-253-9737.

This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home. Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

Tagged in: CDC covid19

Although there is a certain feeling that in unprecedented times like this, employers should have more flexibility to take what could be potentially business-saving measures, no matter how drastic, it is important for employers to remember that, even during these trying times, the laws enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Read entire article - https://www.employmentlawworldview.com/eeoc-reminds-employers-antidiscrimination-laws-continue-to-apply-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-us/

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week began in 2001 to call attention to this underrated killer. Greater awareness of the dangers of lightning have dropped their fatalities by about 40%, from 50 a year to about 30.

When thinking about workplace safety and lightning, there are definitely some occupations which are more at risk. People who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, with explosives or with conductive materials such as metal have a much greater risk to being exposed to lightning dangers.

Employers should have a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP), which includes a lightning safety protocol for outdoor workers. Some items which should be included in this plan are as follows:
• Inform supervisors and workers to check the daily forecast throughout the workday and take action after hearing thunder, seeing lightning, or perceiving any other warning signs of approaching thunderstorms.
• Indicate how workers are notified about lightning safety warnings.
• Identify locations and requirements for safe shelters.
• Indicate response times necessary for all workers to reach safe shelters.
• Specify approaches for determining when to suspend outdoor work activities, and when to resume outdoor work activities.
• Account for the time required to evacuate customers and members of the public, and the time needed for workers to reach safety – don’t start a project you cannot finish quickly if a storm is approaching
• Post information about lightning safety at outdoor worksites. All employees should be trained on how to follow the EAP, including the lightning safety procedures.

When caught outside in a thunderstorm, the only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle. This should be prefaced as the only safe option. But if there could be a chance a safe location onsite is not nearby, be proactive and include some safer outdoor options including the following:
• Stay off and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles and ladders
• Stay off and away from large equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders and tractors
• Do not touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing
• Leave areas with explosives or munitions
• Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top
• Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects – in a forest, stay near the lower stand of trees
• If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current travelling between group members
• Stay away from water and wet items as they are excellent conductors of electricity

Workers who are ill with pandemic influenza or have a family member with influenza are urged to stay home to minimize the spread of the pandemic. Employers are encouraged to support these and other community mitigation strategies and should consider flexible leave policies for their employees. Read entire article -

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/pandemic

National Safety Month is observed every June to educate organizations and communities while encouraging safe behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. Right now, our country is dealing with a pandemic – a crisis like we haven’t dealt with possibly ever that is affecting so many lives and the economy. When thinking about safety nowadays, what many are thinking is how do we ensure the safe return to work and continue to keep our employees safe?
The National Safety Council released a framework summary for employers based on the recommendations from the SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns task force. The task force identified the following six critical areas employers must prioritize as they consider reopening and returning employees to traditional work environments:
• Physical Environments
• Medical Issues
• Stress, Emotional and Mental Health
• Employment and Human Resources
• Communication Needs
• External Considerations

Employers are required to make sure they provide a safe workplace, and when considering the physical environment, Workplace Safety can help by making sure your workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19 and ensure safety processes are in place to keep your workplace safer. Please check out last month’s blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free (hyperlink), for an overview of our services to ensure your business has been deemed COVID-19-free.

Workplace Safety is ready to help keep your most important assets – your employees - safe. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

The U.S. agency that enforces workplace safety laws has said it will prioritize work site inspections of healthcare facilities over other “essential” businesses that remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read entire article - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-workplace/u-s-workplace-safety-agency-will-prioritize-inspection-of-healthcare-facilities-idUSKCN21W2PE

 

Posted by on in Uncategorized

The last couple months have been unprecedented times with many businesses having to shut completely down or at least scale back considerably for the health and safety of our citizens. At some point, you as a business owner will decide it’s time to re-open, and we are seeing these steps being taken in some industries right now, including the auto industry.

How the United States will go from widespread quarantine to what is being called the “new normal” will most likely happen in waves. Even though we are unsure what this will really look like, what we can definitely speculate is there will be plenty of apprehension with our employees, and if our business is consumer-focused, such as restaurants or retail stores, for our customers as well.
Employers’ back-to-work plans will vary considerably depending on geography. Areas that saw fewer confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths will have a much easier time convincing workers it is safe to return to work than those cities hit much harder.

Employers have a duty under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to make sure they provide a safe workplace. One step employers can do no matter what industry is give their employees and their customers some peace of mind by making sure their workplace has been tested and cleared for the COVID-19, and new processes are in place including ongoing cleaning and sanitizing, keeping workers more separated, continuing to wear masks, limiting in-person meetings and even taking employee temperatures when entering facilities.

As you begin looking at specific protocol to ensure the safety of your business, Workplace Safety & Health Co has a program to help you deemed your workplace free from COVID-19. Here is a brief overview of our services:

1. Visually inspect the premises for obvious contamination;
2. Determine through interviews and observations which surfaces are most commonly touched, worked at, used by your employees, etc.;
3. Devise a strategy to select surfaces to sample for the presence or absence of COVID-19;
4. Collect environmental swab samples following specific handling protocol;
5. Send samples to an accredited laboratory;
6. Generate a full report, including but not limited to results and recommendations;
7. Oversee cleaning, if required, and
8. Retest until results are satisfactory.

Re-opening our economy sooner rather than later is a goal we all are hoping for, but we must take steps to ensure our employees and customers trust we are doing whatever we can to keep them safe. Workplace Safety & Health is ready to help you do just that – 317-253-9737.

On April 10, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued guidance clarifying certain employers’ recording requirements regarding cases of COVID-19. Under the new guidance, most employers are now exempt from the requirement to record COVID-19 cases of employees for OSHA recordkeeping purposes, absent objective evidence that a case is work-related.

Read entire article: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/osha-issues-guidance-limiting-recordkeeping-requirements-covid-19-cases-certain

Tagged in: covid-19 covid19 OSHA

Drug abuse and addiction cost United States companies $81 billion every year, accounting for absenteeism, healthcare costs and loss of productivity. Some may think those struggling with substance abuse are not holding down a job, but according to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD), more than 70 percent of those abusing illicit drugs in the United States are employed.

Another study found about 1 in 13 working adults has an alcohol use disorder, and 13 percent of men and 5 percent of women reported binge drinking at least once a week. Such occupations as emergency workers, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing and construction are at increased risk of alcohol abuse. Taking into account prescription pain medication and the opioid crisis, it is estimated that workers in construction and extraction experience the highest rates - 15.6 percent living with a substance use disorder.

National Prevention Week is recognized every May, and for this year, it is May 11-15. The three primary goals of this week are to:
1. Involve communities in raising awareness of substance use and mental health issues and implementing prevention strategies
2. Foster partnerships and collaborations with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to improving public health; and
3. Promote and disseminate quality substance use prevention and mental health promotion resources and publications.

Substance abuse in the workplace can lead to lowered productivity, physical injuries, and fatalities, and a national study found approximately 16 percent of emergency room patients injured at work were found to have alcohol in their system. Most addiction sufferers hide their drug and alcohol use from employers and coworkers, but there are known red flags including:
• Avoiding coworkers and friends and irrationally blame them for personal mistakes
• Openly talking about money problems
• A decline in personal appearance or hygiene
• Complaints of failing relationships at home
• Taking time off for vague illnesses or family problems

As an employer, reading these signs and having steps in place to help your employees is good practice for both your business’s and your team’s health and safety. Though most employed adults will not want to take time off from work for an inpatient treatment program, there are outpatient programs that can help them recover while still retaining a sense of normalcy at work. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available as a benefit for many businesses, and they can help addiction sufferers and their families by letting them know of community resources for both emotional support and treatment.

Substance abuse, be it alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medications, is costing businesses billions of dollars each year. Taking steps to offer programs and solutions for your employees is a win-win.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) with a yearlong celebration of past achievements, current efforts, and future initiatives to protect the American workforce.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region/01212020

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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