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OSHA in mid-June posted a memo for the General Public asking for input on its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The agency is opening a docket for the public to submit documents and comments on the VPP.OSHA in mid-June posted a memo for the General Public asking for input on its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The agency is opening a docket for the public to submit documents and comments on the VPP.

OSHA’s VPP recognizes and rewards employers in private industry and federal agencies that have implemented effective safety and health management systems. Eligible employers must maintain injury and illness rates below national averages for their sectors.

The agency said it is looking for information on the future direction of the programs. According to a release, “OSHA is seeking to reshape the VPP so that it continues to represent safety and health excellence, leverages partner resources, further recognizes the successes of long-term participants, and support small program growth.”

To comment on OSHA’s VPP programs, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal ( and use Docket No. OSHA-2017-0009. The docket will remain open until Sept. 15, 2017.

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The early 21st century brought about a major change in the way we communicate using mobile electronics. The advent of the cell phone and its descendant, the smartphone, meant we were no longer bound to a nearby telephone receiver to hold voice conversations, send and receive text messages and email, post comments on social media and browse the internet. And yet, with this new freedom came new health and safety issues.  

By now, we're likely all familiar with the dangers of driving while talking or texting on a cell phone. But research into smartphone use over the past decade or so shows that distracted driving isn’t the only hazard faced when going mobile with mobile devices.  

More than four out of five adults in the U.S. (86 percent) report that they constantly or often check their email, texts and social media accounts, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) report "Stress in America™: Coping with Change" released earlier this year. The report’s findings suggest that attachment to devices and the constant use of technology is associated with higher stress levels among those who participated in the study.

This excessive technology and social media use has given rise to the “constant checker” — a person who checks his or her email, texts and social media accounts on a constant basis. The survey found that stress level is higher, on average, for constant checkers than for those who do not engage with technology as frequently. 

On a 10-point scale, where one equates “little or no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress,” the average reported overall stress level for constant checkers is 5.3, compared with 4.4 for those who don’t check as frequently. Among the ranks of the employed in the United States who check their work email constantly on their days off, the reported overall stress level is even higher – 6.0.

Just under two-thirds of those surveyed (65 percent) indicated that they somewhat or strongly agree that periodically “unplugging” or taking a “digital detox” is important for their mental health. However, only 28 percent of those who say this actually report doing so. Other commonly reported strategies used by people in the U.S. to manage their technology usage include not allowing cell phones at the dinner table (28 percent) and turning of notifications for social media apps (19 percent).

For the past decade, the American Psychological Association has commissioned The Stress in America™ survey to measure attitudes and perceptions of stress among the general public and identifies leading sources of stress, common behaviors used to manage stress and the impact of stress on people’s lives. 

The full report of the most recent study is available at

Tagged in: technology

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

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Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: workplace safety

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently announced its support of the Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act. The bill, H.R. 2428, would reinstate the OSHA recordkeeping rule overturned this year by use of the Congressional Review Act. The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act would allow OSHA to issue citations where violations of recordkeeping requirements continued for more than six months.

AIHA says accurate injury and illness records are essential in identifying and correcting workplace hazards.

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