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The NIST Mass Spectral Library — one of the world's largest, most widely used databases used to identify unknown chemical compounds — just got bigger. In June, molecular fingerprints from more than 25,000 compounds were added to the library, bringing the total to more than 265,000.

Among the compounds whose fingerprints are included in this update are many dangerous drugs, according to NIST. They include dozens of synthetic cannabinoids and more than 30 types of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is driving an epidemic of overdoses nationwide.

Read entire article - https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2017/06/nist-upgrades-widely-used-database-molecular-fingerprints

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While a desk or computer workstation might not seem like a place fraught with health risks, it's still important to be aware of the ergonomic hazards that may be lurking there.

OSHA, which has something to say on most things related to occupational safety, states that "employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workplace for their workers." That includes desks and computer work areas. And the agency has much to offer in the way of guidance for that particular work environment.

According to OSHA, "A well-designed and appropriately-adjusted desk will provide adequate clearance for your legs, allow proper placement of computer components and accessories, and minimize awkward postures and exertions."

The agency goes on to offer the following advice on installation, setup, and configuration of workstations that are both comfortable and productive.

Desk or Work Surface Areas

The Potential Hazards

  • Limited space on the work surface may cause users to place components and devices in undesirable positions. This placement may lead to awkward postures when reaching for a pointer/mouse or looking at a monitor that is placed to the side.
  • Inadequate clearance or space under the work surface may result from poor design or excessive clutter. Regardless of the cause, it can result in discomfort and poor performance.

The Possible Solutions
•Work surface depth should allow you to:
•View the monitor at a distance of at least 20 inches (50 cm), and
•Position the monitor to achieve the appropriate viewing angle, which is generally directly in front of you.
•Using a corner rather than a straight run of desk may provide additional space and depth to accommodate large monitors or multiple items.
•The location of frequently-used devices (keyboard, phone, and mouse) should remain within the repetitive access (primary work zone)

The Potential Hazard: Edges
Some desks and computer equipment have hard, angled leading edges that come in contact with a user's arm or wrist. This can create contact stress, affecting nerves and blood vessels, possibly causing tingling and sore fingers.
Possible Solutions
To minimize contact stress,
•Pad table edges with inexpensive materials such as pipe insulation,
•Use a wrist rest, and
•Buy furniture with rounded desktop edges.
Areas Under the Desk or Work Surface

The Potential Hazards:
•Inadequate clearance or space under the work surface may result from poor design or excessive clutter. Regardless of the cause it can result in discomfort and performance inefficiencies, such as the following:
•Shoulder, back, and neck pain due to users sitting too far away from computer components, causing them to reach to perform computer tasks; and
•Generalized fatigue, circulation restrictions, and contact stress due to constriction of movement and inability to frequently change postures.

Possible Solutions
Provide, to the extent possible, adequate clearance space for users to frequently change working postures. This space should remain free of items such as files, CPUs, books, and storage.
Other tips on good working positions, what to look for when selecting workstation components, and guidance on maintaining a healthy workstation environment are available in OSHA's "Computer Workstations eTool" at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA recently published a guide to help small business employers comply with the agency’s Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. That guide, entitled Small Entity Compliance Guide for General Industry and Maritime, describes the steps employers are required to take to protect employees in general industry and maritime from the hazards associated with silica exposure. These requirements include: assessing worker exposures; using engineering and work practice controls to keep exposures below a specified safety threshold; and offering medical exams to certain highly exposed workers.

Enforcement of the final rule in general industry and maritime is scheduled to begin June 23, 2018.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3911.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

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It's natural to want to focus on our strong points, but when it comes to developing preparedness plans, it's at least as beneficial to take a hard look at our weakest links.

September 2017 marks the 14th annual observance of National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the US Department of Homeland Security.

Much of the focus for the themed month centers around being ready to deal with emergencies and disasters at home, but the occasion also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies at work.

Most businesses already have (and all should have) plans in place to deal with weather emergencies and hazardous materials. But it's just as important to have a documented response in place for things like accidents and acts of violence by people.

To do so, FEMA recommends conducting a risk assessment -- a process of identifying potential hazards, assessing vulnerabilities and considering both their potential impacts and likelihood of occurring.
Such points could range from deficiencies in the way a structure is built to its security to its fire protection or HVAC system.

Examples include things like not having a working sprinkler system to limit damage in the event of a fire, or having an inadequate system in place to alert authorities when there is one.

As important as it is, a risk assessment is just one subset of the five points FEMA prescribes in developing a preparedness program at work:
•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

What's in your plan?

The rapid development of low-cost desktop three-dimensional (3D) printers has led to a boom in popularity for goods manufacturing at home. An obvious question is whether the pollutants such as organic compounds and ultrafine particles are safe. The rapid development of low-cost desktop three-dimensional (3D) printers has led to a boom in popularity for goods manufacturing at home. An obvious question is whether the pollutants such as organic compounds and ultrafine particles are safe. 

The results of a study in published in a recent issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) show that commonly used and commercially available thermoplastic filaments (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, polylactic acid, polyethylene terephthalate, and nylon) used in these printers emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the printing process.

Read entire article - http://oeh.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15459624.2017.1285489

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