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OSHA has cited the Robertson Incorporated Bridge and Grading Division in connection with the death of a 16-year-old laborer who was fatally struck by the swinging cab and boom of a crane that was being disassembled at a construction site in Delta, Mo., on June 18, 2014. An OSHA investigation found the crane operator was unaware that the teen was directed to stand in an inadequately marked danger zone. OSHA has proposed penalties of $44,730, while the department’s Wage and Hour Division also assessed civil money penalties of $11,000 for violating Hazardous Order Number 7, which prohibits minors under age 18 from operating or assisting in the operation of power-driven hoists.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=27159

Tagged in: OSHA

We know that lead exposure can be harmful to our health, which leads us to ponder how it (along with other materials known to be hazardous, such as mercury and asbestos), could ever have been so widely used. The short answer is that its usefulness outweighed any known harmful effects then known. Today, we know that lead exposure can damage organs and the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. It also can be harmful in children’s development.

Most commonly, lead is inhaled as a dust or fume or is ingested accidentally. Because it can circulate throughout the body and be deposited in organs and bodily tissues, lead is considered a cumulative and persistent toxic substance.

When we think of lead exposure in everyday items, we often think of lead-based paint. Prior to the 1960s – and even up until the late 1970s – paint used in homes was most often lead based. Traditionally, lead oxide was used as a pigment. And because of their anti-bacterial and anti-mold properties, organic compounds, such as lead naphthenate, were used in house paints in small concentrations. The EPA established lead-based paint regulations in the 1990s after it was found that millions of children in the United States had been exposed to lead poisoning from paint peeling from walls.

Lead chromate continues to be used in applications such as primers for steel bridges and in the shipbuilding industry due to its anti-corrosion properties. Similarly, lead is still used in yellow highway paints in part for its resistance to the elements.

Whether at home or in the workplace, remodeling or renovation projects such as sanding, cutting with saws or torches, and demolition work can yield hazardous lead chips and dust by disturbing lead-based paint, resulting in an unhealthy environment. OSHA’s Lead Standard for the construction industry, Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926.62, addresses lead in a various forms, including metallic lead, all inorganic lead compounds, and organic lead soaps. Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. can provide industry-standard testing for lead-based paint according to OSHA standards. Our industrial hygienists cover a wide breadth of workplace environmental concerns, from noise to air quality, from chemical exposure to asbestos and lead paint identification. We can identify and evaluate hazards, and develop corrective action plans to solve your industrial hygiene problems efficiently and economically.

Currently, there are two methods recognized by the EPA for testing paint: X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis and paint chip sampling with an analysis by an accredited laboratory. At Workplace Safety & Health, we go a step further by using AutoCAD drawings and photographs to show the location and appearance of each surface coating we analyze.

So, before beginning that next renovation or construction project that you suspect might result in lead exposure, give us a call first and know what you’re dealing with.

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Heat stress is a very real and very serious issue in workplace safety. For some occupations, so is cold stress.

Workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can lead to health emergencies in susceptible people – those without shelter, outdoor workers, and those who work in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat.

What exactly constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary from region to region. Temperatures that drop significantly below normal along with increasing wind speeds can rapidly rob the body of heat. That means that places that are relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, even near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Such weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.

"When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body's stored energy,” according to the resource-filled National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) page on the subject of cold stress, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/coldstress/. “The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. A body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and will not be able to do anything about it."

The page describes early and late hypothermia symptoms and the correct first aid measures for a worker with hypothermia:
-Alert the supervisor and request medical assistance.
-Move the victim into a warm room or shelter.
-Remove their wet clothing.
-Warm the center of their body first-chest, neck, head, and groin-using an electric blanket, if available; or use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.
-Warm beverages may help increase the body temperature, but do not give alcoholic beverages. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.
-After their body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
-If victim has no pulse, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

On its page providing guidance for interpreting its weather advisories, watches, warnings and bulletins (http://www.noaa.gov/features/03_protecting/winter.html), the National Weather Service page quotes meteorologist John Koch: "Thousands of people die every year in weather-related traffic accidents. The best way to avoid a tragedy is to be aware of weather conditions and limit travel when hazardous weather conditions exist." NWS advises motorists to do the following before driving in winter weather conditions, especially if watches or warnings or have been issued in your locale:
-Keep the gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
-Let someone know your destination, route, and when you expect to arrive.
-Keep a cell phone or other emergency communication device with you.
-Pack your vehicle with thermal blankets, extra winter clothes, basic tool kit, (including a good knife and jumper cables), an ice scraper and shovel, flashlights or battery-powered lanterns with extra batteries, and high calorie, nonperishable food and water.
-Use sand or kitty litter under your tires for extra traction, especially if you find yourself stuck in a slippery spot.

Being temporarily stuck – but safe – might only seem like cold comfort, but it’s far better than the serious health problems that can arise from cold stress.

Tagged in: cold injuries OSHA

According to the 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), last year continued a generally downward trend in the incidence of many kinds of workplace injuries.

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

-The total recordable cases (TRC) incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from 2012. The incidence rate for more serious cases – those requiring days away from work, job transfer or restriction known as DART cases – also declined to 1.7 from 1.8, a figure that had held steady from 2009 through 2012. The TRC injury and illness incidence rate stayed highest in 2013 among privately held businesses of medium size, defined as those employing between 50 and 249 workers. The TRC rate was lowest among small establishments – those that employ fewer than 11 people.

-Manufacturing in 2013 continued a 16-year trend as the only sector of private industry in which the rate of job transfer- or restriction-only cases was more than the rate of cases with days away from work. The rates for these two case types declined by 0.1 case in 2013 to 1.2 cases and 1.0 case per 100 full-time workers, respectively.

-Private industry employers reported slightly more than 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2013. The incidence rate was 3.3 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, down from 3.4 in 2011 and 2012. The rate has declined each of the last 11 years, except for 2012.

-The incidence rate of injuries only among private industry workers declined to 3.1 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013, down from 3.2 cases per 100 in 2012. The incidence rate of illness cases was statistically unchanged in between those years.

-The rate of reported injuries and illnesses declined in 2013 in manufacturing, retail, and utilities, but was statistically unchanged among all other private industry sectors compared to 2012. Nearly 2.9 million (94.9 percent) of the more than 3.0 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2013 were injuries. Among them, over 2.1 million (75.5 percent) happened in service-providing industries, which employed 82.4 percent of the private industry workforce. The remaining approximately 700,000 injuries (24.5 percent) happened in goods-producing industries, which represented 17.6 percent of private industry employment in 2013.

While the news overall is encouraging, as always, the fact that many of these statistics exist at all also points to areas where there is room for improvement.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements changed. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. The agency has said it has an updated list of the industries that are required to keep injury and illness records.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/reporting.html

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA announced an enforcement case against a Nebraska company stemming from a worker's death. The 23-year-old man was found unresponsive in a tanker truck at Michael Foods Inc.'s Big Red Farms facility in Wakefield, Neb. He was conducting sampling of the tank, which contained egg products and nitrogen. OSHA has cited the company for five serious safety violations, including exposing employees to nitrogen hazards.

OSHA found that the company failed to prevent employees from entering permit-required confined spaces. The company did not ensure that emergency services were proficient in confined space rescues and that appropriate equipment for a confined space rescue could be used to perform one quickly. According to OSHA, the company also did not train workers on the health hazards related to atmospheric chemicals in the workplace; failed to evaluate respiratory hazards for employees sampling from nitrogen-filled tanks; and did not ensure employees wore appropriate eye protection when exposed to corrosive liquids.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=27093

Tagged in: Flammable vapors OSHA

While we don’t have a crystal ball at our disposal, we can still look into the future as far as some of the items on OSHA’s regulatory agenda are concerned. That includes updating some current regulations and creating new ones in 2015.

Federal agencies recently released their Fall 2014 regulatory agendas, and for its part, OSHA has said it plans to issue three final rules next year. They are:

March 2015 - Confined Spaces in Construction: Although OSHA has confined space regulations for general industry, it doesn’t have rules for construction. This proposed standard would extend protections to workers in construction.

June 2015 - Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips and Fall Prevention): The standard to protect workers from slip, trip and fall hazards has been in the rulemaking process since 1990.

August 2015 - Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses: This rule would require larger employers to submit injury and illness logs in electronic form and make them public records.

Other OSHA proposals in the works in 2015 include:

Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs): This October, OSHA issued a request for information (RFI) on how to address outdated PELs and lack of exposure limits for some chemicals. The comment period for the RFI is set to end on April 8.

Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents: OSHA issued about a year ago an RFI to “identify issues related to modernization of the Process Safety Management standard and related standards necessary to meet the goal of preventing major chemical accidents” The next step would be for OSHA to begin the review process for the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). This would involve the SBREFA panel meeting with representatives of small businesses that are directly regulated by the act. It would also represent an opportunity to provide advice and recommendations on regulatory alternatives to minimize the burden on small businesses.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA): This would involve the SBREFA panel meeting with representatives of small businesses that are directly regulated by the act. It would also represent an opportunity to provide advice and recommendations on regulatory alternatives to minimize the burden on small businesses.

Communication Towers: OSHA has noted that the fatality rate for communication tower workers is extremely high with falls the leading cause of death. OSHA has said it plans to issue an RFI in the near future on proposed regulations for these workers.

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica: This proposed regulation would update OSHA’s current rules on silica, including establishing a stricter permissible exposure limits. In 2014, OSHA held public hearings on the proposal and has said it will be done analyzing comments the hearings by June 2015.

Occupational Exposure to Beryllium: OSHA has said it expects to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to regulate occupational exposure to beryllium in January.

Tagged in: OSHA

The World Health Organization released a report in November on the global death toll from drowning – 372,000 people die each year from drowning, with those younger than 5 at the greatest risk. "Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer" shows that drowning is among the 10 leading causes of death for children and young people in every region.

Read entire article - http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/global_report_drowning/en/

Tagged in: Drowning Deaths WHO

Workers cleaning a chemical spill at Penda Corp. in Portage, Wis., had not been trained in proper cleanup procedures or provided proper personal protective equipment, according to a report from OSHA. OSHA found that workers experienced symptoms of overexposure to an isocyanates chemical used in plastics manufacturing that can cause occupational asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

OSHA cited the company for seven serious violations for lack of a hazardous materials spill response plan and failure to train workers on how to respond to spills. In addition, required PPE, such as gloves and respirators, was not provided, the agency said in a statement.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26991

Tagged in: OSHA

An early cold snap in mid-November that made most places in the United States feel like the calendar had skipped ahead a couple of months raises the issue of severe winter weather preparedness.

Last winter’s extensive use of travel warnings – in some cases, outright bans on using roadways – highlighted the fact that not everyone knew whether they really should stay at home at the risk of running into trouble with their employers, or whether they should risk the trip and face the possibility of running into trouble with law enforcement personnel in the process.

The situation underscored the need by employers to educate employees on what it is expected of them in emergencies of any kind – natural or manmade.

Here are some questions that could draw attention to existing policies at your organization and help to identify areas where new or revised policies might be in order:

Do employees know who among them is considered essential and is expected to show up for work no matter what, such as during a snow storm or other severe weather event? Do they know who is expected to stay at home during such events?
What are your organization’s expectations for employees with regard to assisting others during an emergency? What about first aid, rescue, and evacuation plans?

How effective and reliable are the systems you use to notify employees (Email, text message, in-house paging system, messengers, etc.)? Do they know whom to contact in the event of an emergency? Is contact information clearly and conspicuously posted?

How does your organization confirm that employees are accounted for in an emergency at the workplace? What about those with disability and/or unique positions – or any workers whose jobs may place them outside normal routes ¬that may keep them from hearing pages or noticing other signals of an emergency? Do exits remain clear at all times?

Do you have and maintain a comprehensive inventory of substance that are potentially dangerous, as well as a list of the proper cleanup/containment equipment? Do you hold emergency response drills?

Do your emergency preparedness plans exist in multiple copies on multiple media?

Emergency operations plans should provide clear and definitive answers to these and a number of related questions. Rather than being locked away and allowed to collect dust, they should be viewed as dynamic documents, subject to revision as needed. Safety at your workplace could well depend on it.

Most workers in the United States are not likely to be exposed to the Ebola, or to come in contact with someone who has contracted Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF). Even so, employers in a broad range of industries are understandably concerned about protecting their employees from the virus.

Healthcare workers obviously are more likely to be at risk of coming in contact with virus than those of other fields. However, those who work in medical laboratory testing or death care are also at risk. So too are those who work in the travel industry, from airline service personnel to border and custom workers to emergency responders. In fact, anyone who works with equipment arriving into the United States from countries with outbreaks of EHF stands an elevated risk of being exposed to the virus.

OSHA has said that precautionary measures for preventing exposure to the Ebola virus depend on the nature of the work, potential for Ebola-virus contamination of the work environment, and what is known about other potential exposure hazards. In some instances, infection control strategies may have to be modified to include additional personal protective equipment (PPE), administrative controls, and/or safe work practices. OSHA has also developed interim guidance to help prevent worker exposure to Ebola virus and individuals with EHF.

According to OSHA, several existing standards apply in keeping employees who may come in contact with the Ebola virus safe.

Because it is a contact-transmissible disease, Ebola virus exposure is covered by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard (1910.1030). And because workers could be exposed to bioaerosols containing Ebola virus, employers must also follow OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (1910.134). OSHA has said that employers should follow recognized and generally accepted good infection control practices, and must meet applicable requirements in the Personal Protective Equipment standard (29 CFR 1910.132, general requirements), as well.

The following are OSHA’s requirements and recommendations for protecting workers whose work activities are conducted in an environment that is known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with Ebola virus (such as due to contamination with blood or other potentially infectious material). (These general guidelines are not intended to cover workers who have direct contact with individuals with EHF, however).

•Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and good hand hygiene protocols to avoid exposure to infected blood and body fluids, contaminated objects, or other contaminated environmental surfaces.
•Wear gloves, wash hands with soap and water after removing gloves, and discard used gloves in properly labeled waste containers.
•Workers who may be splashed, sprayed, or spattered with blood or body fluids from environmental surfaces where Ebola virus contamination is possible must wear face and eye protection, such as a full-face shield or surgical masks with goggles. Aprons or other fluid-resistant protective clothing must also be worn in these situations to prevent the worker's clothes from being soiled with infectious material.

Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide additional guidance and recommendations for preventing worker exposure to Ebola, for both healthcare workers and others at increased risk of exposure.

Tagged in: CDC ebola NIOSH

Fires in the United States last year cost the country $11.5 billion in property damage. As staggering as that total is, it’s down from the estimated $12.4 billion recorded by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for 2012.

That’s just one finding contained in "Fire Loss in the United States in 2013", the most recent annual report released by the NFPA. The report compiles data on civilian fire deaths and injuries, property damage and intentionally set fires reported to the NFPA by fire departments that responded to the 2013 National Fire Experience Survey.

Last year, there were 1,240,000 fires reported in the U.S., down from the 1,375,500 fires responded to by public fire departments in 2012. It also represents the lowest rate of incidence since 1977-78 when the association began using its current survey methodology.

Of the fires reported in 2013, 487,500 involved structures, up about 1.5 percent from 2012. Nonresidential structure fires amounted to 100,500 in 2013, an increase of about 1 percent from the previous year. This category also included 70 civilian deaths, an increase of 7.7 percent from the previous year. The report defines the term “civilian” as “anyone other than a firefighter, and covers public service personnel such as police officers, civil defense staff, non-fire service medical personnel, and utility company employees.” Overall civilian deaths were up last year, too, from 2,855 in 2012 to 3,240 in 2013, with fires in the home accounting for about 85 percent. There were also 1,500 civilian injuries in nonresidential structures last year, a decrease of about 1.6 percent from 2012.

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

Until last year, the number of structure fires had declined steadily, from a peak in 1977 of 1,098,000 to 480,500 in 2012. Whether last year’s numbers are a blip on the radar or represent the start of another trend remains to be seen, and it’s important to note that structure fires are just one part of a larger picture.

The report states there were an estimated 300 civilians who died in highway vehicle fires, statistically unchanged since 2012. From 1977 to 2013, the number of vehicle deaths on the nation’s roads has decreased 60 percent.
By region, the Midwest and the Northeast tied for the highest fire incident rate per thousand people (4.4), while the Midwest had the highest civilian death rate per million people (13.4).

The Northeast showed the highest civilian injury rate per million people (70.2), while the Midwest had the highest property loss per capita rate ($42.10).

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

Tagged in: NFPA workplace fires

Posted by on in Uncategorized

October was National Indoor Air Quality Month, an observance aimed at drawing attention to the quality of the air we breathe at home and at work.

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

In general, most indoor air quality problems in the workplace can be pinpointed to six main sources:
• Inadequate Ventilation – These problems involve lack of adequate fresh air and uneven distribution of fresh air within a structure.
• Humidity and Temperature – These concerns involve levels outside the normal range of human comfort.
• Inside Contamination – Possible sources of contamination include office equipment such as copy machines, office and cleaning supplies, and chemicals that are stored indoors.
• Outside Contamination – As the name suggests, this includes contaminants brought into a work environment, such through improper air intake or even changes in wind conditions (for example, vehicle exhaust fumes from a parking garage or loading dock drawn into a ventilation system).
• Microbial Contamination – This is typically associated with water leaks, water infiltration, increased humidity indoors, humidifiers, and contaminated ventilation ductwork – places that can harbor and encourage the growth of microbes.
• New Building Materials – The results from building materials that have just been installed (such as the familiar gas emissions from new carpeting). Such problems can be dissipated by increasing ventilation and typically resolve over time.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices – and that includes helping to identify and manage safety and health risks posed by air quality. Whether your employees’ work environment is predominately indoors or outdoors, our consultants can solve your business's air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air contaminant exposure assessment. So give us a call –and breathe easier.

A paint manufacturer has been cited by OSHA for six safety violations that involved amputation, electrical and other safety hazards following an April 2014 inspection at the Plaid Enterprises Inc. craft paint production in Decatur, Ga. OSHA initiated the inspection there in response to a complaint.

OSHA claims that a staffing agency provided temporary workers for the Plaid Enterprises' facility, but that it neither maintained supervision at the company nor was knowledgeable about the facility's hazardous conditions. No citations were proposed for staffing company. Proposed penalties for Plaid Enterprises Inc. total $84,500.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26787

Tagged in: OSHA

As an opening salvo of an initiative to conduct a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances, OSHA has announced the publication of a Request for Information (RFI) to stakeholders and others requesting recommendations on how the agency might update its permissible exposure limits (PELs) for hundreds of chemicals. PELs are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, and are meant to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. This opening stage is seeking stakeholder input on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating PELs, a number of which have exposure limits that date back to the early 1970s.

The RFI was scheduled to be published in the Oct. 10 Federal Register.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26841

The revised set of labels brought about by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) isn’t the only recent development in a move toward more comprehensive – and comprehensible ¬ – product descriptions for chemicals.

On the consumer front, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is redesigning its Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Label to better convey that products bearing the label meet the program’s “rigorous standard to be safer for people and the environment,” according to a news release.

“We want consumers to be able to easily find safer products that work well,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement. “The agency wants to hear from the American people on which designs will help people identify household cleaning and other products that are safer for families and the environment.”

The redesigned label is aimed at helping consumers, businesses and institutional buyers recognize products that have attained the EPA Safer Product Label. According to the agency, all ingredients in products bearing the DfE logo have been evaluated by the EPA to make sure they qualify as high-performing and be packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. The criteria address potential health and environmental concerns, including, for example, if an ingredient is associated with causing cancer or reproductive harm, and if it accumulates in human tissue or in the environment. As a condition of the label, all ingredients must be disclosed either on the product or the manufacturer’s website. In effect, the EPA says, when people choose to use these products, they are protecting their families and the environment by making safer chemical choices. In addition to informing consumers, a stated goal of the program is to help partners drive change by providing technical tools, methodologies, and expertise to move toward safer, more sustainable formulations.

According to the agency, more than 2500 products have earned the DfE label to date. A complete list of those products is available at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/formulat/formpart.htm .

From now until Oct. 31, the agency is asking the chemical and product manufacturing industry, retailers, consumers and environmental organizations to share their thoughts on four proposed label designs up until Oct. 31, 2014 at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/label .

When we think of accidental falls, we often think of work at-height. But fall accidents can happen anywhere there is a change in level – and that includes confined spaces.

Many industries have tight spaces that are considered by OSHA to be "confined" because they are configured in such a way as to hinder the activities of anyone who is called upon to enter, work in, and exit them.

Obviously, not only do confined spaces vary in size, shape and location, but they can come with their own set of challenging conditions, including limited movement, hazardous air, and risk of engulfment.

OSHA identifies a broad range of confined spaces, including that ubiquitous example: the manhole. As soon as the cover from a manhole is removed, any lack of proper safety equipment puts anyone at an increased risk of falling through an unguarded opening. Once within that particular type of confined space, there exists the risk of falling still deeper. Outdated ladders or stairs, inadequate lighting, and the physical challenges posed by restricted movement are all potential contributing factors to fall injuries within confined spaces. Fumes – a major safety consideration for any kind of confined space – have the potential to overwhelm anyone working near the area, leading to a loss of consciousness and the likelihood of a fall.

Other types of confined spaces defined as such by OSHA include ducts, tanks, vessels, storage bins, vaults, tunnels, and silos, to name a few. What is consistent for all of them is a need to consider the same level of fall protection as for any above-ground work involving changes in level. Even in confined spaces, having an effective fall protection system can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Depending on the situation, safeguards such as barriers, guardrails, and devices such as self-retracting lifelines or lanyards can prevent or halt accidental falls. In determining whether a confined space calls for the use of such equipment, it is necessary to evaluate both the area within the confined space and its access point.

Workplace Safety & Health can help.

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

Read entire article - http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3735.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

An Ohio company has been cited for four repeat and nine serious safety and health violations after OSHA received a complaint alleging unsafe handling of hazardous chemicals at an Avon Lake facility that manufactures fiberglass pipes and tanks. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Perry Fiberglass Products Inc. there on Feb. 5, 2014. Proposed penalties total $53,130.

The investigation found repeat violations of OSHA's hazard communication standard, which requires employers to provide an effective training program with understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. Perry Fiberglass Products failed to label containers to identify and warn of the hazardous chemicals contained inside, use self-closing valves on containers with flammable liquids and ensure a bonding system was used when dispensing flammable chemicals into secondary containers. The company failed to provide and maintain suitable eyewash stations.

The company was cited for similar violations in 2010.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26547

A new document from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014, is the most recent version of the hazardous drug list first published by NIOSH in 2004 as an appendix to the document, NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. Hazardous drugs on the list include those used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, some bioengineered drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs.

Healthcare workers who prepare or give hazardous drugs to patients, such as those used for cancer therapy, as well as support staff may face individual health risks when exposed to these drugs. The institute estimates 8 million U.S. healthcare workers are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs in the workplace.

Read entire article - www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2014-138/

Citing initial findings from a fatal explosion in July, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) – a federal safety agency – has issued a warning to companies with storage tanks.

CSB investigators sent water samples from an exploded tank at the Omega Protein facility in Moss Point, Miss., to a lab for testing. Those tests revealed microbial activity in the samples and off-gassing of flammable methane and hydrogen sulfide.
The explosion at the Omega facility occurred during hot work and resulted in the death of one contract worker and severe injuries to another contract worker. The water inside of the tank had been thought to be nonhazardous, but no combustible gas testing was done on the contents before the hot work started.

The CSB says has now investigated three fatal hot work incidents since 2008 involving biological or organic matter in storage tanks. The Board says companies, contract firms and maintenance personnel should know that inside a storage tank, what might seem to be non-hazardous organic material can release gases that cause the vapor space to rise above the lower flammability limit. When that occurs, a small spark or even heat from hot work can be enough to cause an explosion.

Read entire article - http://www.csb.gov/csb-chairperson-moure-eraso-warns-about-danger-of-hot-work-on-tanks-containing-biological-or-organic-material/

Tagged in: OSHA Storage tanks

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a brief detailing what investigators found after a fire and explosions damaged two barges that were docked in Mobile, Ala., on April 24, 2013, in order for the barges' tanks to be cleaned. Flammable vapors flowed from the tank hatches into the engine room of the towing vessel and ignited, the brief says, and the fire spread to the barges alongside. Three people were seriously burned, and damage total to the towing vessel and the barges was estimated at $5.7 million, according to the report.

Read entire article: https://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2014/MAB1413.pdf

Tagged in: Flammable vapors NTSB

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a report on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's review of 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013. OSHA's analysis suggests that the primary risk factor for heat fatalities is the lack of acclimatization programs.

Of the 13 enforcement cases involving worker fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days of working on the job, while four of them occurred on the worker's first day. In all cases, heat illness prevention programs were found to be incomplete or absent and no provision was made for acclimatizing new workers to the heat.

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=26502

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How well prepared are you for an emergency or disaster? That’s one of the main questions National Preparedness Month asks of everyone, whether it’s at home or in the workplace.

September 2014 marks the eleventh annual observance of the themed month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the US Department of Homeland Security. This year’s theme is “Be Disaster Aware: Take Action to Prepare.” One goal of Homeland Security is to educate the public — including businesses – on how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks.

Much of the focus for National Preparedness Month centers around being ready to deal with emergencies and disasters at home, but the observance also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies on the job. Safety at work is a year round priority, so it’s important to periodically review your company’s safety plans and policies. Most businesses have (and all should have) plans in place to deal with weather emergencies and hazardous materials, but what about human-caused events such as accidents, acts of violence by people and acts of terrorism?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lists the five steps in developing a preparedness program at work as:

•Program Management
◦Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program
◦Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program

•Planning
◦Gather information about hazards and assess risks
◦Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
◦Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks

•Implementation
Write a preparedness plan addressing:
◦Resource management
◦Emergency response
◦Crisis communications
◦Business continuity
◦Information technology
◦Employee assistance
◦Incident management
◦Training

•Testing and Exercises
◦Test and evaluate your plan
◦Define different types of exercises
◦Learn how to conduct exercises
◦Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan

•Program Improvement
◦Identify when the preparedness program needs to be reviewed
◦Discover methods to evaluate the preparedness program
◦Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements

How do your current plans measure up?

A new executive order from President Obama will mean closer scrutiny of companies that want to obtain federal contracts. Under the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Executive Order, bidders on projects valued at more than $500,000 in goods, services, or a combination of both would be required to report violations of the OSH Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and others that they were cited for during the three years prior to the start of a bidding process.

It doesn’t seem to mean, however, that OSHA violators will necessarily be barred from being awarded federal contracts. The EO will be implemented on new contracts in stages during 2016 and does not affect contracts already in place. Companies with violations will still be eligible to receive contracts, but their violations will be weighed as part of the decision-making process.

The order looks to identify contractors with "track records of compliance," which means preference will be given to contractors who have not had administrative merits determinations, arbitral awards or decisions, or civil judgments issued by the Department of Labor in the past three years for several labor laws, including the OSH Act of 1970.

The order doesn’t seem to have been created in a vacuum. According to a report released in 2013 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, 18 federal contractors "were recipients of one of the largest 100 penalties issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor between 2007 and 2012." That same report also mentioned that eight federal contractors were found to be responsible for the deaths of 42 U.S. workers in 2012 and that taxpayers provided $3.4 billion in contracts to those companies.

But according to a fact issued by the White House, the executive order isn’t just about singling out companies: It’s also a way to identify where remediation might be in order. The order requires federal procurement officers to provide contractors with an opportunity to disclose any steps taken to correct any violations or improve compliance with labor laws, including any agreements entered into with an enforcement agency.
“Companies with labor law violations will be offered the opportunity to receive early guidance on whether those violations are potentially problematic and remedy any problems,” according to the fact sheet.
When awarding contracts, procurement officers will consider the information when deciding if a contractor is "a responsible source that has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics."

The fact sheet also says that, “Contracting officers will take into account only the most egregious violations.” Those violations must “rise to the level of a lack of integrity or business ethics.”

So, while it appears one-time, level citations from OSHA aren’t likely to bar a company from obtaining a federal contract, it’s important to remember that if agency finds similar violations again for the same company, subsequent violations could be categorized as repeat. The best policy seems to be to have a safety program in place that will not lead to an OSHA inspection due to employee injuries.

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When we think of heat-related illnesses at work, we tend to think of them occurring during the summer months. But even when work environments are indoors, heat exposure from various sources can lead to illness, accidents, and unsafe work conditions year round. According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, there were 4,420 workers who were affected by heat-related illnesses – indoors or out – and 61 workers who died from them.

The body’s inability to adequately cool itself is a common cause of heat-related illnesses outdoors during the hot summer months, but this can occur indoors, as well. External sources of heat injury on the job can include direct contact with steam or a hot surface, and the body’s natural reactions to heat exposure can also lead to an increased risk of accidents from sweaty palms, fogged eyewear, and lightheadedness.

To help keep employees safe when the going gets hot, training should include ways to limit heat exposure and how to identify signs of heat-related illness. Worksite procedures should emphasize the importance of acclimatization and how it is developed, particularly for workers who are new to working in the heat or those who are returning to the job after a week or more away.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Thermometer.jpgThe best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler, where possible, such as by using engineering controls (air conditioning, cooling fans, insulating hot surfaces, eliminating steam leaks, etc.) to reduce exposure.

OSHA recommends the following practices for managing work in a hot environment, whether indoors or outdoors:

  • Employers should have an emergency plan in place that specifies what to do if a worker has signs of heat-related illness, and ensures that medical services are available if needed.
  • Employers should take steps that help workers become acclimatized (gradually build up exposure to heat), especially workers who are new to working in the heat or have been away from work for a week or more. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work.
  • Workers must have adequate potable (safe for drinking) water close to the work area, and should drink small amounts frequently.
  • Rather than being exposed to heat for extended periods of time, workers should, wherever possible, be permitted to distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work/rest cycles.
  • If possible, physical demands should be reduced during hot weather, or heavier work scheduled for cooler times of the day.
  • Rotating job functions among workers can help minimize overexertion and heat exposure.
  • Workers should watch out for each other for symptoms of heat-related illness and administer appropriate first aid to anyone who is developing a heat developing a heat-related illness.
  • In some situations, employers may need to conduct physiological monitoring of workers. (The NIOSH/OSHA/USCG/EPA Occupational Safety and Health Guidance Manual for Hazardous Waste Site Activities, Chapter 8 (1985) (available as a pdf at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/complinks/OSHG-HazWaste/all-in-one.pdf) contains guidance on performing physiological monitoring of workers at hot worksites.)

To help determine the heat index for a given worksite, a figure that can be used to calculate workers’ level of risk for heat-related illnesses, OSHA has developed a free mobile device application (available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html) in both English and Spanish. Based on the heat index figure, the” Heat Safety Tool” displays level of risk to outdoor workers and allows the user to access reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that point to protect workers from heat-related illness.

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“Are Americans worrying too much about the wrong things?”

That’s the title of a press release from the National Safety Council (NSC), which marked June as National Safety Month. The aim is to draw attention to the fact that unintentional–or accidental– injuries are the fifth most common cause of death in the United States.

Within the category of unintentional injuries, the NSC notes that the top three causes of unintentional injury in the U.S. are:

  1. Poisoning (with a majority of cases attributed to prescription drug abuse);
  2. Motor vehicle crashes (with 26 percent of all crashes estimated to involve cell phone use while driving), and;
  3. Falls.

The NSC points out that by taking some simple steps, both on and off the job, it’s possible to reduce the number of deaths by accidental injury. Some examples include properly storing medication, not talking on the cell phone – hands-on or hands-free while driving, and using slip-resistant mats on floors.

As for the top four leading causes of death in the U.S., according to data compiled by the CDC/NHS, National Vital Statistics System, they are:

  1. Diseases of the heart (28.5 percent of total)
  2. Malignant tumors (22.8 percent of total)
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases (6.7 percent of total)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (5.1 percent of total)

Placing behind unintentional injuries, which account for 4.4 percent of the total causes of death, is diabetes mellitus, at 3.0 percent of the total. Interestingly, murders are more far more likely than to make the news than unintentional injuries, despite the fact that homicides shared the number 15 ranking with Parkinson’s disease (0.7 percent of the total) among the most common causes of death in the United States.

b2ap3_thumbnail_survey-says.jpgHave you ever wondered what your employees think about your organization’s severe emergency preparedness?

According to recent national survey, only about half of employees polled believe that their workplaces are prepared for a severe emergency. And almost two-thirds of respondents said recent natural disasters have not caused their employers to reassess company safety plans.

The workplace safety survey, conducted online by Staples, Inc. in May in honor of National Safety Month, posed a series of questions about general office safety to more than 400 office workers and 400 decision makers at organizations of all sizes across the United States. The results showed that in the past six months, nearly half of businesses have closed due to severe weather, costing the economy nearly $50 billion in lost productivity.

Slips, Trips and Falls: One in five respondents reported slipping, tripping or falling at work as their biggest concern.

Natural disasters and storms: Less than half of employees say their employers have the plans or equipment in place for snow and ice storms, or catastrophic events such as tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes.

Fire: Fire is one of the most common safety incidents, but most employees feel their companies are well prepared. Three-fourths say their employers have a plan and equipment in place for a fire emergency.

Other findings pointed to disparities between employees at small businesses (defined as those as with 50 or less employees) compared with those at larger companies. In general, small business employees feel more at risk to emergencies and disasters than did employees at larger companies.

The survey finds workers in small businesses were less aware or less sure about who is in charge of emergency planning than employees at larger companies. Employees from smaller companies reported having less emergency equipment or plans in place, are less likely to do safety reviews or drills, and were less prepared for severe emergencies than their counterparts at bigger organizations.

If there is any question whether confined spaces can be hazardous places, consider the following news item.

In Xinxiang, China, a young woman accidentally dropped her new cell phone into a cesspit when she used the open-pit toilet.
Her husband jumped into the pit to find the phone – worth about the equivalent of $320 in the United States ¬– and lost consciousness.
His mother jumped in to save him, and she, too, lost consciousness.
The woman who dropped the phone then entered the pit, and fainted.
Next, the husband’s father went into the pit and became stuck. Two neighbors who responded to calls for help also jumped into the pit ¬– and fainted.
The husband and his mother died in the hospital. The man’s wife, her father-in-law and a neighbor were also injured in the incident.
According to a newspaper article, eyewitnesses said the victims were all no more than knee-deep in the pit’s contents and for no longer than five minutes (1). 

While there are numerous potential lessons here (including that no piece of equipment is worth risking ones’ life to retrieve from a hazardous confined space), the overarching theme is that confined spaces are often inherently dangerous, and in short, if you’re not properly trained, stay out of them.
Even OSHA has commented on the incident. After examining its records on accident investigations for fatal confined space incidents, the agency concluded that when there were multiple deaths, the majority of the victims in each event died trying to rescue the original entrant from a confined space (2).

This is consistent the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finding that would-be “rescuers” accounted for more than 60 percent of the fatalities in confined spaces.

Some examples of confined spaces in workplace environments are storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, pits and trenches. Such spaces require a permit for entry. In fact, in the United States, any pit or trench with a depth equal to or greater than 4 feet is classified as a permit-required confined space.

When determining if an area constitutes a confined space by OSHA definitions, it is always best to err on the side of caution. The experience of Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. consultants can be employed to identify confined spaces and assess whether they should be listed as “permit-required.” In some cases, permit-required confined spaces can be reclassified to non-permit spaces if all hazards can be completely eliminated.


Sources
1. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1521835/two-die-cesspit-after-woman-accidentally-drops-her-phone-while-going
2. (https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=PREAMBLES&p_id=839 )

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_nhtsa.jpgThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. According to a press release from the administration, the new rule will significantly reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

The rule will require all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, to come equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backover incidents.

Read entire article - http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2014/NHTSA+Announces+Final+Rule+Requiring+Rear+Visibility+Technology

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_ilo.jpgThe International Labour Organization has announced its annual Safety and Health in the Use Of Chemicals at Work in conjunction with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28. The report reviews the present situation on the use of chemicals and their impact in workplaces and the environment, including various national, regional, and international efforts to address them.

The report also presents the elements for establishing national and enterprise level programs that contribute to ensure the sound management of chemicals at work. The report also calls on governments, employers, workers and their organizations to collaborate in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies aimed at the sound management of chemicals at work.

Read entire article here.

b2ap3_thumbnail_air_quality.jpgAir quality in the workplace should an ongoing concern, and that includes the quality of the air where the workplace is outdoors.

Back in April, Air Quality Awareness Week ran from April 28 – May 2. Each day of that work week, Monday through Friday, comes with its own theme. They started the week off on Monday as “Do Your Part: Reduce Your Contribution to Air Pollution”, capped off by Friday’s “Traveler’s Health”. In and among these themes are a number of tips from the Environmental Protection Agency that apply to the public outside and inside a work environment.

One measure of air quality, the Air Quality Index (AQI), can be used to help plan outdoor activities regardless of the occasion.

Finding the day’s AQI report is becoming increasingly easy. It’s available on the Web (http://www.airnow.gov), on many local television weather forecasts, and via free e-mail tools and apps (http://www.enviroflash.info and http://m.epa.gov/apps/airnow.html). After finding the forecast for a local area, checking the health recommendations can show how to reduce the amount of pollution breathed in.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices – and that includes helping to identify and manage risks posed by air quality. Whether your employees’ work environment is predominately outdoors or indoors, our consultants can solve your business’s air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air contaminant exposure assessment. So give us a call, and breathe easier.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_temperature-hot.jpgWith the wide temperature swings we experienced here in the Midwest this past spring, sometimes it can be hard to believe that the summer and the temperature-related health and safety concerns it brings is just around the corner.

To draw attention to this fact, some states observe a Heat Safety Awareness or Heat Awareness Day each year in late spring. For its part, OSHA is once again conducting a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and educate employers and workers on the hazards of working in the heat, along with steps to take in preventing heat-related illnesses and death.

The campaign’s simple slogan “Water. Rest. Shade.” has already reached more than 7 million people in the past three years, according to OSHA. In its materials–fact sheets, posters, quick cards, training guides, and wallet cards–the agency makes it clear that workers at risk include anyone who is exposed to hot and humid conditions, especially anyone performing heavy work tasks and/or using bulky personal protective equipment.

Being able to “take the heat” can take time, and some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not yet built up a tolerance to hot conditions. For those reasons, OSHA recommends allowing more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away from the job for a week or more in order to acclimatize to conditions.

According to OSHA, occupations most affected by heat-related illness are: construction, trade/transportation/utility, agriculture and building/grounds maintenance and cleaning. Other workers who may be affected by exposure to environmental heat include those involved in transportation/baggage handling, water transportation; landscaping services; greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production; and support activities for oil and gas operations.

OSHA makes it clear also that employers are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe from excessive heat. That can also include furnishing workers with water, rest and shade, as well as education about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention. Worksite training and plans should also address the steps to take both to prevent heat illness and what to do in an emergency. Prompt and proper action can truly save lives.

OSHA’s main safety points for people who work in hot environments are:

•Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty.

•Rest in the shade to cool down.

•Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.

•Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.

•Keep an eye on fellow workers.

OSHA maintains a dedicated webpage, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html, that includes a heat safety tool app, a training guide and lesson plan, and other resources all aimed at keeping worker health and safety risks low when the mercury starts to climb.

Non-profit organizations face many of the same regulations as for-profit concerns, including those that pertain to employee safety in the workplace. Holding non-profit status or having a small number of employees does not exempt a business from OSHA compliance; unless a facility is municipal- , state-, or federally-owned, it is subject to OSHA regulations so long as it has employees.

That means that many non-profits, too, need to understand their responsibilities to employees, identify and attempt to prevent hazards, and provide training to employees on their rights with respect to safety on the job. Fortunately, in mid-May OSHA announced the availability of the 2014 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. The initiative provides $7 million under to support the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs as well as materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates; and workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or who are temporary.

The grants are available to nonprofit organizations including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities and can be used to fund training and education for workers and employers to identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards. OSHA has said two types of safety and health training grants will be awarded: Targeted Topic Training and Capacity Building, with funding split evenly for each grant fund.

According to OSHA, Targeted Topic Training grants support the development of quality training materials and programs for addressing workplace hazards and prevention strategies. The Targeted Topic Training grants require applicants to address occupational safety and health topics designated by OSHA. Targeted Topic Training grants may be eligible for one additional follow-on grant, based on satisfactory performance. The deadline to submit Targeted Topic Training grants (SHTG-FY-14-01) is Monday, June 30, 2014.

Capacity Building grants focus on developing and expanding the capacity of an organization to provide safety and health training, education, and related assistance to target audiences. Grant recipients are expected to increase occupational safety and health competence and improve organizational capacity to assist workers and employers on an ongoing basis by ensuring that services continue beyond federal financial support. Capacity Building Developmental grant recipients may be eligible for additional 12-month follow-on grants, based on satisfactory performance. The cutoff for Capacity Building grants (SHTG-FY-14-02) is Thursday, June 26, 2014.

All applications must be submitted electronically and are due no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on each grant’s due date – no extensions of the deadline will be granted.

The solicitation for both grant applications is available at http://www.grants.gov, where new applicants need to register and returning applicants must ensure their registration is accurate and current.

More information on the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, including access to a proposal webinar to assist prospective applicants in understanding the application process, is available on OSHA’s website at https://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html.

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Under OSHA Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR 1904), covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses, whether they are direct employees or those working through a staffing agency. According to OSHA, the agency’s new Temporary Worker Initiative will use enforcement, outreach, and training to make sure that temporary workers are protected in the workplace.

The agency announced the initiative to raise awareness and compliance with requirements that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive. Part of that effort is a new educational resource that focusing on requirements for injury recording of temporary worker injuries and illnesses. The measures were prompted in part by OSHA investigations in recent months into reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many of which occur within their first few days on the job.

The new Recordkeeping Bulletin (https://www.osha.gov/temp_workers/OSHA_TWI_Bulletin.pdf) explains the requirements for both the staffing agency and the host employer and addresses how to identify who is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log.

Covered employers are required to record on that log any recordable injuries and illnesses of all employees on their payroll, whether those workers are classified as labor, executive, hourly, salary, part-time, seasonal, or migrant workers. Covered employers must log also any recordable injuries and illnesses that occur to employees who are not on the company payroll if these employers are supervised on a day-to-day basis.

OSHA says that the temporary worker Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first in a series of guidance documents to be released to support the initiative to raise awareness about compliance with OSHA requirements for temporary workers.

A construction worker fatality at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Ga. has resulted in five safety violations against Smiley Plaster Co. The company faces $57,000 in penalties. The 42-year-old worker fell approximately 19 feet off scaffolding to his death while applying stucco to a pre-existing building that was being renovated as a college dormitory. OSHA’s investigation into the Sept. 20, 2013 fatality found that the company failed to provide fall protection to employees who work from scaffolding at heights over 10 feet.

Read entire article

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_astm.jpgThe American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has announced that a new international standard will be used to provide a uniform international method for recording occupational injuries and illnesses. The goal to make global performance comparisons of companies in keeping workers safe, the society said. Known as ASTM E2920, Guide for Recording Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the method developed by Subcommittee E34.80 on Industrial Health, part of ASTM International Committee E34 on Occupational Health and Safety.

In effect, ASTM E2920 establishes a common denominator system that includes injuries most countries already record, albeit with variations that do not always allow for direct comparison.

By using this approach, the ASTM says, no new system will need to be developed and existing records can be used to establish historical trends by identifying those cases that qualify under the new criteria.

According to an ASTM news release, “ASTM E2920 will be especially helpful to multinational companies by leveling the playing field by its use, regardless of company or country, and enabling globally consistent safety performance evaluation.”

Read entire article

b2ap3_thumbnail_logo_osha.pngThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad Co. in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act for suspending and/or disciplining five workers following the reporting of workplace injuries or illnesses.

The department has ordered the companies to pay back wages, along with interest, punitive and compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees. The companies will also be required to remove disciplinary information from the employees’ personnel records and must provide whistleblower rights information to workers.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=25710

b2ap3_thumbnail_drive_and_text.jpgIs the drive to be more productive away from the workplace enough to drive people to distraction? The answer depends on whom you ask, but the National Safety Council (NSC) maintains that the number of communication devices packed into motor vehicles make the issue of distracted driving more pressing than ever.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and the NSC’s theme this year is “Hands-free is not risk-free.” One estimate by the NSC puts the number of crashes caused by cell phone use and texting while driving at 1.6 million each year. The underlying concern, the organization says, isn’t the devices themselves, but rather the state of mental distraction to which they contribute. In support of this, the NSC references more than 30 studies that show hands-free devices are no safer than hand-held devices. Yet public perception of the safety issues presented by cell phones seems to lag behind.

Distracted driving can come in a variety of forms and from a variety of causes from eating to adjusting a radio to reaching for an object. But perhaps the distraction most closely associated with the use of technology while driving is the use of cell phones, particularly to send and receive text messages. In addition, a growing number of vehicles come equipped with dashboard ‘infotainment’ systems that allow drivers to make hands-free calls as well as send text messages, check email and post to social media accounts.

Interestingly, in a recent poll conducted by the NSC, 53 percent of respondents believe hands-free devices must be safe to use if they are built into cars and trucks. That same poll also found that 80 percent of drivers surveyed found that they believe hands-free cell phones are safer to use while driving than hand-held ones. Also, of the respondents who admitted using hands-free devices while driving, 70 percent indicated they do so for safety reasons.

The NSC recommends that company bans include all types of cell phone use while driving, including texting, hand-held conversations and hands-free conversations. The NSC has materials available at http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/DDAM.aspx?utm_medium=print&utm_source=vanurl&utm_campaign=handsfree to help companies establish their own policies. At the present time, no state or municipality has passed a law banning hands-free use, but about a dozen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning handheld cell phone use while driving.

Comprehensive cell phone bans continue to be a tough sell, even if the idea has been gaining ground in some areas. Something that might help to sell the concept to businesses ahead of governments is the issue of liability. For example, is workers’ compensation coverage triggered when an employee is injured off-site while using a cell phone for company business? If it is, it will likely increase workers’ comp rates – and insurance companies will likely offer strong defenses against such claims. And there are still few legal decisions on such cases.

It’s all something to think about – just maybe not on the drive to or from work.

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