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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in OSHA

An estimated 553,000 lives have been saved since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. However, nearly 5,000 workers still die on the job each year from injuries, and another estimated 50,000 to 60,000 die from occupational illnesses.

Those figures are part of the most recent edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, a report produced by the AFL-CIO that compiles occupational injuries, illnesses and deaths for the most recent year complete U.S. statistics are available, in this case, 2015. The organization releases the report to coincide with Workers’ Memorial Day.

Read entire article - https://aflcio.org/reports/death-job-toll-neglect-2017

Tagged in: OSHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

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In this 3-part series, we’ll look at the concept of safety culture in the workplace and how your organization can leverage its commitment to safety to attract and keep talent in a competitive market.

Who is Getting Your Safety Message?

Safety is a fundamental part of every culture and has been from at least the dawn of recorded history. It is no great stretch to posit that our continued existence as a species owes at least something to our ancestors’ knowledge on what to do and what to avoid in order to live a long life and to have been able transmit that information from generation to generation.

It’s only been in the past few decades, however, that the term “safety culture” has entered into the lexicon. According to OSHA, “Safety cultures consist of shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment. Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior.”

So far so good. Based on that definition, it’s clear that every organization has a safety culture. We know that cultivating a culture of safety is an ongoing, organic process, and not one that can always be readily quantified. After all, while we could spot check people’s knowledge of a particular process or job routine, how do we accurately measure their attitudes, beliefs and values with respect to safety?

Perhaps the better question to ask: Is our safety culture as effective as it could be?

A robust safety culture might be easier to define by considering clear-cut examples of what it isn’t.

When a safety practice is successful, such as when the selection of the proper personal protective equipment for a specific task is accompanied by training an employee on its proper use, the benefit is typically identified and appreciated within the organization. But it might not necessarily become known to the “outside world.”

Conversely, asking an employee to perform a task with inadequate safety equipment would likely be viewed by anyone inside or outside that organization as a reflection of a poor safety culture. And since a cultural universal is that bad news travels fast, we can all read about apparent lapses in safety on the job daily in the news media, opinions posted on social media and job boards from employees (and former employees), and even on OSHA’s official website.

What messages is your organization sending about its safety culture?

Tagged in: OSHA safety culture

It’s time once again to look back at the year that was and, perhaps, gain perspective on the year ahead. And a handy tool for doing just that is the humble list.

During the final quarter of each year, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

OSHA’s top 10 most cited OSHA violations of 2016 cover a broad range of workplace safety categories, from falls to chemicals and from personal protective equipment to fork trucks.

One way to look at the following list is to consider it as a starting point for addressing safety at work:
1. Fall protection (1926.501, 6,929 violations)
2. Hazard communication (1910.1200, 5,677 violations):
3. Scaffolding (1926.451, 3,906 violations):
4. Respiratory protection (1910.134, 3,585 violations)
5. Lockout/tagout (1910.147, 3,414 violations)
6. Powered industrial trucks, i.e. forklifts (1910.178, 2,800 violations):
7. Ladders (1926.1053, 2,639 violations
8. Machine guarding (1910.212, 2,451 violations)
9. Electrical wiring methods (1910.305, 1,940 violations):
10. Electrical general requirements (1910.303, 1,704 violations)

One of the more salient points about that list is that rankings change little from year to year.

According to OSHA, more than 4,500 workers die on the job each year, and approximately 3 million are injured. This, the agency wrote in a recent blog post, is “despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.”

With that in mind, OSHA recently updated its Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs (available at https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/). The agency said the guidelines, first published three decades, now reflect changes that have taken place the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The new section on Recommended Practices is aimed at use in a variety of small and medium-sized business settings, the agency said.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

OSHA announced in December it would give those interested an extra month to comment on several proposed revisions to its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards as part of its Standards Improvement Project. That new cut-off date – Jan. 4 – replaces the original deadline of Dec. 5. The agency stated in a press release that the proposed rule would streamline standards “that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.”

The proposed revisions are based on responses to a public Request for Information issued in 2012 and recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA staff, and the Office of Management and Budget. They include the following:

1. Reporting job-related hearing loss — Codifies current enforcement policy and clarifies that a determination whether an employee's hearing loss is "work-related" must be made using specific, clear criteria, which are set out in OSHA regulations.
2. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) — Remove the term "unexpected" to reflect OSHA's original intent and eliminate confusion regarding applicability of the standard.
3. Chest X-Ray (CXR) Requirements — Removes the requirement for periodic CXR in the standards for inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and acrylonitrile.
4. X-Ray Storage — Permits storage of x-rays in digital formats.
5. Lung-function testing — Updates the lung-function testing (spirometry) requirements for the cotton dust standard to make them consistent with current medical practices and technology.
6. Feral Cats — Deletes the term "feral cats" from the definition of vermin in the Shipyard Employment standard.
7. 911 Emergency Services at Worksites — Requires the posting of location information at worksites in areas that do not have Enhanced 911 (which automatically supplies the caller's location information to the dispatcher).
8. Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) — Corrects and clarifies the construction PELs requirements to make this standard consistent with other OSHA PELs standards.
9. Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals — Replaces the entire thirty-one pages of regulatory text for the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) Standard for construction with a cross reference to the identical general industry standard.
10. Personal Protective Equipment — Requires employers to select PPE that properly fits each employee and clarifies the construction PPE requirements to make them consistent with general industry requirements.
11. Lanyard/lifeline Break Strength — Standardizes break-strength requirements for lanyards and lifelines throughout the construction and general industry standards.
12. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) — Updates the provisions related to traffic signs and devices, flaggers, and barricades to align with current DOT requirements. (This removes the burden on construction employers.)
13. Load Limit Postings — Exempts single family dwellings from a requirement to post maximum safe-load limits for floors in buildings under construction, reducing a burden for residential builders.
14. Excavation Hazards — Clarifies that a hazard is presumed to exist when loose rock or soil and excavated material or equipment is beside a trench.
15. MSHA Underground Construction – Diesel Engines — Updates the regulatory language to cross-reference revised Mine Safety Health Administration's (MSHA) provisions.
16. Underground Construction — Replaces outdated decompression tables used to protect employees working in pressurized underground construction sites.
17. Rollover Protective Structures — Replaces the outdated construction standard with references to the appropriate consensus standards.
18. Regulation of coke oven emissions in construction — Removes the regulation of coke oven emissions provisions from the construction standards. (Any work during operation of coke ovens is general industry work, and the standard does not fit construction work.)
19. Collection of Social Security Numbers — Comprehensively removes from general industry, construction, and maritime standards all requirements to include an employee's social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud.

According to the agency, the proposed revisions would save employers an estimated $3.2 million per year.
Comments can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov and then entering “OSHA-2012-0007-0031” in the search bar.

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA has released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety and health in their workplaces.

The new document updates OSHA's 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, in workplaces, and also evolving safety and health issues, according to the agency, which said the recommendations feature an easier-to-use format and should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/index.html

Tagged in: OSHA

The rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the U.S. dropped in 2015 by the greatest amount since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That continues a downward trend that, with the exception of 2012, has happened over the past 13 years.

According to data released recently by the BLS, employers in private industry reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses last year. That is a decline of about 48,000 from 2014, even though there was an increase in total hours worked. The rate of cases recorded in 2015 was 3.0 per 100 full-time workers – down from 3.2 the previous year. That makes it the lowest recorded case rate since at 2002, when OSHA recordkeeping requirements were modified. In 2003, the rate was 5.0. It fell below 4.0 for the first time in 2008 when the rate reached 3.9.The last time the rate dropped by more than 0.1 was in 2009, when it fell from 3.9 in 2008 to 3.6.

The decline in total recordable cases resulted largely by decreases in two categories: those involving days away from work and other recordable cases. The rate for cases of job transfer or restriction held steady.

Six of 19 private industry sectors reported a decline in injuries:
-mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction
-manufacturing
-transportation and warehousing
-finance and insurance
-health care and social assistance, and
-accommodation and food services.

Some other highlights from the report:
-The only sector in the report to show an increase was wholesale trade. The other dozen sectors stayed flat.
-Over half of the 2.9 million injuries involved days away from work, job restriction or transfer (DART).
-The injury rate was highest among mid-size companies (50-249 employees) and lowest among the smallest employers (fewer than 11 employees).
-About three of four injuries occurred in service industries.
-Of the 41 states for which state rates are available, rates declined in nine and remained steady in 32 and the District of Columbia.

Four states registered injury rates above a 4.0:
-Maine: 4.8
-Vermont: 4.6
-Washington: 4.4, and
-Montana: 4.3.

Two state showed rates below 2.0:
-Washington, DC: 1.6, and
-Louisiana: 1.9.

"We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. “This is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day.

"Despite the decline, approximately 2.9 million private sector workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses last year. That is still far too many. At OSHA, we will continue to do all that we can to continue driving the rate down."

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's workforce by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

This is the first of three annual BLS workplace injury reports released in the fall. In November, BLS will release a report on nonfatal injuries with days away from work. In December, the agency will release its annual report on fatal injuries.

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=33360

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA and Health Canada announced recently the development of a 2016-2017 Workplace Chemical Work Plan to ensure future workplace chemical requirements are acceptable in both the United States and Canada without reducing safety.

According to a news release from OSHA, the plan involves activities to support developing materials to assist stakeholders with implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS), coordinating opinions on issues that come from international discussions on GHS, and maintaining alignment between the U.S. and Canadian requirements for implementing the GHS when revisions are made.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=33039

Tagged in: OSHA

With the "Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge” the Labor Department and OSHA are inviting entrepreneurs to develop solutions for preventing workplace hearing loss.

OSHA said the dual goals of the challenge are to inspire creative ideas and raise business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation.

According to OSHA, 22 million workers risk losing their hearing from workplace hazards every year, while hearing loss disability costs $242 million annually in worker's compensation.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=32913

Tagged in: OSHA
OSHA recently asked employers and safety professionals to share their techniques for keeping workers safe from extreme heat. The agency stated it has since received many responses and was impressed with the innovative efforts to keep workers safe during extreme heat conditions.
 
Tagged in: OSHA

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day an average of about 2,000 workers in the United States suffer job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment.

October has been designated Eye Injury Prevention Month, but reviewing eye and face protection protocols with employees and ensuring they are not only using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job but that they know how to use it correctly is a sound practice any time of year.

Injuries to the eye in the workplace can take a number of forms from chemicals or particulate matter in the eye and cuts or scrapes to the cornea. Other common causes of eye injuries are splashes, steam burns, and exposure to ultraviolet or infrared radiation.

Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators. The PPE chosen depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and a person’s vision needs.

Under OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (1), it is the responsibility of the employer to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.” That includes making sure the PPE uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (2). For those who wear prescription lenses, OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that an individual engaged in operations that involve eye hazards to wear “eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”

According to these standards, a person should always wear properly fitted eye protective gear when:

-Doing work that may produce particles, slivers, or dust from materials like wood, metal, plastic, cement, and drywall;

-Hammering, sanding, grinding, or doing masonry work;

-Working with power tools;

-Working with chemicals, including common household chemicals like ammonia, oven cleaners, and bleach;

-Using a lawnmower, riding mower, or other motorized gardening devices like string trimmers;

-Working with wet or powdered cement;

-Welding (which requires extra protection like a welding mask or helmet from sparks and UV radiation);

-“Jumping” the battery of a motor vehicle;

-Being a bystander to any of the above situations.

OSHA urges employers not to rely on PPE devices alone to protect against eye hazards. Keeping a watch on eye safety means personal protective gear should be one part of a safety environment that includes engineering controls and robust safety practices.

Tagged in: Eye Injury OSHA

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As you likely know, new maximum fines from OSHA have been in effect since the beginning of August. They are:
-$12,741 for serious and other-than-serious violations, up from $7,000
-$124,709 for repeat or willful violations, up from $70,000, and
-$12,741 per day for failure-to-abate, up from $7,000.

That 78.2% leap was made to catch up with inflation since 1990, the last time OSHA maximum fines were increased. From now on, as part of the 2016 federal budget law, Federal OSHA can increase maximum fines each year based on inflation.

If you’ve been keeping up with OSHA news, this might all be review. But what might not be is how the agency determines exact fines. The four main factors are:
-The gravity of the violation;
-The size of the company;
-A good faith effort to comply, and
-A history of previous violations.

As the name suggests, gravity carries the most weight.

According to OSHA’s existing Field Operations Manual for inspectors (https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-00-159.pdf) the gravity of each individual violation is determined before any other calculations are made, with high gravity violations holding the maximum amount for serious, repeat and willful violations. Moderate gravity carries penalties between 57% and 86% of the allowable maximum, while low gravity can have penalties of 43% to 57% of the maximum.

Fine reductions are possible – for example, a good-faith reduction of up to 25% is possible if a company has a written safety and health management system.

Not surprisingly, penalty reductions come with restrictions, too. Some of those are that:
-Repeat violations are reduced only for company size.
-Willful violations are reduced only for company size and history.
-High gravity serious violations are reduced only for company size and history.
- A good faith reduction is not available when a willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violation is issued.
-So-called quick fix reductions are not issued when there is a fatality or serious injury, and this type of reduction is not issued when blatant violations are easily corrected, such as simply activating a ventilation system that is already in place or by putting on a hard hat when it is readily at the work site.

Tagged in: OSHA

Posted by on in Lockout/Tagout Programs

Just about every industry has some kind of tight space that can be termed "confined" due to its size and/or shape, thereby hindering the work of anyone called upon to enter, work in, and leave it. For the purpose of rulemaking, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration refers to such an area as a "confined space."

Take a gander underneath that umbrella term, and it’s easy to see that confined spaces come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and locations. They often present not just one but a combination of challenging conditions, such as limited movement, hazardous air and a risk of engulfment.

OSHA identifies more than 20 major sectors of industry and labor with various types of confined spaces. Such spaces include:
-Tanks
-Vessels
-Silos
-Storage bins
-Hoppers
-Vaults
-Pits
-Manholes
-Tunnels
-Equipment housings
-Ductwork
-Pipelines

Just because some confined spaces aren't necessarily designed for easy access doesn’t necessarily mean workers are not expected to enter them, periodically or routinely, in order to perform their jobs. Keeping a work site safe, in and around such conditions, means having correct and up-to-date information about each confined space.

Part of that process involves having a comprehensive plan to address the uncertainties of rescue in confined spaces. That means providing the proper training and equipment so personnel can perform the assigned rescue task for a safe and effective rescue.

A robust confined space safety program should focus on a central goal: protecting workers' safety and health. A written program should include the practices used to remove or control hazards and to ensure safe operations. In addition to preventative measures, the program should discuss air quality monitoring, exit and entry methods, and fall protection/rescue systems.

At Workplace Health & Safety Co., we can help with all those aspects and more. So if you find yourself with questions about confined spaces, reach out to us. We can help in a tight spot.

Tagged in: lockout OSHA tagout

You have likely heard the rumblings for some time now, but a long-predicted increase in the maximum fine amount that can be imposed by OSHA became a reality this month.

OSHA's maximum penalties will see an increase of 78.2% as of Aug. 1. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

Specifically, the new maximum amounts for OSHA fines will be:
-$12,471 for a serious violation, up from $7,000
-$124,709 for a repeat or willful violation, up from $70,000, and
-$12,471 per day for failure-to-abate, up from $7,000.

Although that might come as a shock, it’s worth considering that the last time the maximum fines were adjusted was in 1990. OSHA said it will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year going forward based on the Consumer Price Index.

OSHA isn’t acting alone. According to the agency, the increase is in response to legislation enacted by Congress last year that requires all federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation.

There is also a trickle-down effect: States with their own OSHA will have to enact penalty increases that are at least as much as federal OSHA. Some lag time is expected for increases to show in such state-plan states, however.

OSHA will continue to provide a reduction in fines for small companies. The reduction percentage will remain the same, however, so small businesses will also see higher OSHA fines.

Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels at the June conference of the of American Society of Safety Engineers noted that OSHA’s fines are still relatively small compared to those of other federal agencies. In a slide show during a presentation at the conference, Michaels referenced a money.com headline, “Amazon fined almost nothing for failing to report workplace injuries” that referred to a maximum $7,000 for an infraction.

 

Tagged in: OSHA

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition among the general adult population in the United States, affecting more people than diabetes or cancer. And occupational hearing loss, caused mainly by exposure to noise, is the most common work-related illness in the nation. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous occupational noise. The good news is that occupational hearing loss can be prevented with hearing loss prevention strategies and technology.

We might expect workers in some types of industry to be at a higher risk than others for developing hearing loss. That is exactly what the recently published CDC Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project found. The study, the first to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss by industry sector, focused on noise-exposed workers in the U.S. from 2003 to 2012.

To do so, researchers compared the prevalence of hearing loss within nine U.S. industry sectors from more than 1.4 million worker audiograms. The audiograms came from workers who were exposed to high noise levels, defined as greater than 85 decibels on the A-scale.

The study found a prevalence of 13 percent hearing loss (from mild to complete) among the study population. In terms of the industry sectors studied, mining (17 percent), construction (16 percent), and manufacturing (14 percent) industries showed the highest prevalence of workers with any hearing impairment or moderate to severe hearing impairment. Within manufacturing sub-sectors that include wood product, apparel and machinery manufacturing, workers have occupational hearing loss risks as high as those in mining and construction. In comparison, the public safety sector, which includes police officers and firefighters, showed the lowest prevalence of workers with any hearing loss (7 percent).

Some of the results of the study supported commonplace assumptions about hearing loss in general: The severity of the loss increased with age and a greater percentage of males showed hearing impairment (14 percent) compared to females (7 percent). Another finding was that 2.5 healthy years were lost each year for every 1,000 noise-exposed U.S. workers due to hearing impairment (hearing loss that impacts day-to-day activities).

Another finding was that although occupational hearing loss has been well-established in the construction industry, present noise regulations do not require audiometric testing for construction workers. Without such testing, intervention could be delayed or simply might not happen.

In their conclusion, the authors wrote that early detection of hearing loss by yearly audiometric testing and intervention to prevent further loss – such as training – is critical. The study results support beginning rehabilitation for those at a mild level of hearing impairment to help employees’ quality of life.

According to OSHA, a personal exposure level exceeding 85 dBA requires enrollment of the exposed worker in a hearing conservation program. Companies have the responsibility to assess noise levels and determine whether adequate protections exist to maintain workers' health. Industrial hygienists are challenged to protect employees from noise exposure in all types of work environments, including variable conditions and newly commissioned facilities. In work environments that cannot be remediated to reduce levels below the OSHA action level, personal protective equipment (PPE) is required to protect employees.

Tagged in: hearing loss OSHA

OSHA encourages pre-rescue planning, communication, and effective coordination among employers and emergency service providers. In support of that goal, the agency recently published a fact sheet for employers on summoning rescue or emergency services in permit-required confined spaces. The Confined Spaces in Construction standard requires employers to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescuers for emergency situations.

The fact sheet contains information for employers on choosing off-site emergency responders by finding a service that has the required equipment, is able to respond quickly, and is capable of handling potential hazards. In addition, the emergency responders chosen must be provided with access to all permit-required confined spaces such as a project site plan, GPS coordinates, and access routes, gates, or landmarks. The document includes information such as checklist questions for emergency service providers to help with preparation.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3849.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels was optimistic about how employers who are covered under OSHA responded to the implementation of changes in OSHA’s injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping rule last year. According to the first-year report written by the OSHA chief, although some employers tried to hide them, most employers cooperated with OSHA to correct hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/injuryreport/2015.pdf

Tagged in: OSHA

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With the wide temperature swings we’ve had here in the Midwest this spring, sometimes it can be hard to believe that summer and the heat-related health and safety concerns it brings is nearly here.

To draw attention to this fact, some states observe a Heat Safety Awareness or Heat Awareness Day each year in the mid- to late spring each year. Being aware of the health and safety risks posed by exposure to heat in the workplace is a year-round concern.

Heat stress related injuries are often the result of the body’s inability to cope with prolonged exposure to extreme heat. It is of particular concern during the hot summer months, particularly for people who work in factories, in construction, or in agriculture. In its materials – fact sheets, posters, quick cards, training guides, and wallet cards – OSHA 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. Those at greater risk of heat stress include people 65 years of age or older, those who are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take medications that can be affected by extreme heat.

Prevention of heat stress in employees is as important as any aspect of safety plan design. Employers need to train to workers to understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented. Heat can also indirectly lead to other injuries by causing sweaty palms and dizziness. With summer on our doorstep, now is a good time to review how your workplace safety plans address employee heat exposure through engineering controls and preventive work practices.

OSHA makes it clear 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. For example, being able to “take the heat” is a gradual process, 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.

For its part, the agency is continuing its 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 message contained in the campaign’s slogan “Water, Rest, Shade” has already reached nearly 11 million people since it began in 2011, according to OSHA.

Worksite training and plans should also address the steps to take both to prevent heat illness and what to do in an emergency. Prompt, proper action really can 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 head skyward.

Occupational exposure to heat can result in injuries, disease, reduced productivity, and fatality. To address this hazard, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has evaluated the scientific data on heat stress and hot environments and has updated its Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Hot Environments document.

The document was last updated in 1986, and in recent years, including during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response of 2010, questions were raised regarding the need for revision to reflect recent research and findings.
In addition, there is evidence that heat stress is an increasing problem for many workers, particularly those located in densely populated areas closer to the equator where temperatures are expected to rise in relation to the changing climate.

The revision includes:
-Additional information about the physiological changes that result from heat stress;
-Updated information from relevant studies, such as those on caffeine use;
-Evidence to redefine heat stroke and associated symptoms; and
-Updated information on physiological monitoring and personal protective equipment and clothing that can be used to control heat stress.

Tagged in: OSHA

The final deadline in OSHA’s four-step conversion to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is less than three months away. By June 1, 2016, employers, manufacturers, importers and distributors of hazardous chemicals will have to be in full compliance with the revised hazard communication standard (HCS). OSHA adopted GHS in 2012 to make labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) consistent with those used in most of the rest of the world.

Previous compliance deadlines were December 1, 2013, by when employers needed to have trained employees about the format and presentation of the new GHS labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) they will be seeing in the workplace; June 1, 2015, by which date all new labels and SDSs from manufacturers, importers and distributors needed to completed; and December 1, 2015, the date when manufacturers, importers and distributors could no longer use 1994 HCS-compliant labels.

According to the OSHA document Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals:
“If an employer identifies new hazards after December 1, 2015, due to the reclassification of the hazardous chemicals, it has six months, until June 1, 2016, to ensure that those hazards are included in the hazard communication program, workplace labeling reflects those new hazards, and employees are trained on the new hazards.”

According to that same document, OSHA inspections will be looking for at least the following aspects of an organization’s labeling approach:

-Designation of person(s) responsible for ensuring compliant labeling of shipped and inplant containers;
-Description of written alternatives to labeling of stationary process containers, if they are used;
-Appropriate labels on all workplace containers, including those received from a supplier, secondary containers, and stationary process containers;
-A description and explanation of labels on both shipped and workplace containers included in the employee training program; and,
-Procedures to review and update workplace label information when necessary.

Here is some more food for thought, even if your organization doesn’t handle chemicals: According to Federal OSHA, the HCS has been the second most violated standard it cites – 5482 times in 3055 federal OSHA inspections from October 2014 to September 2015, with a total of $3,308,262 in proposed penalties. The fall protection standard for construction took the top spot.

Tagged in: ghs OSHA

The public comment period for OSHA's updated Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines will come to a close on Feb. 15, 2016.

This revision of the voluntary guidelines first published in 1989 includes key principles such as finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness, and making sure that workers have a voice in safety and health. OSHA has said the new material should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses and address ways in which multiple employers at the same worksite can coordinate efforts to make sure all workers are protected equally.

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

Tagged in: OSHA

A non-profit organization has unveiled its new website that identifies the biggest environmental/health/safety violators in the United States since 2010.

The searchable database (Violation Tracker) and an accompanying report come from the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. The database includes penalties from EPA, OSHA and 11 other federal agencies that deal with EHS issues.

Read entire article - http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/violation-tracker

Tagged in: EPA OSHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Noise, or undesirable sound, is one of the most common health problems to be in many workplaces.

Continued exposure to more than 85 decibels (dBA) of noise may cause gradual but permanent damage to hearing. Noise can also be detrimental to job performance, increase fatigue, and cause irritability. Exposure to high levels of noise causes hearing loss and can lead to other harmful health effect as well. Perhaps the most widely known detrimental effect of noise is noise-induced hearing loss. Such losses can be either temporary or permanent; the extent of the damage is dependent mainly upon the intensity and duration of exposure.

Some of the occupations OSHA has identified as being at high risk of hearing loss are:
- Firefighters and other first responders
- Military personnel
- Disc jockeys
- Subway workers
- Construction workers
- Musicians
- Factory workers
- Mine workers

Those categories might not come as a surprise, but they do serve to illustrate the range of jobs that routinely involve exposure to high and potentially damaging levels of noise.

Practically all companies directly involved in manufacturing, construction, or mining create noise as a by- product. While it cannot be totally eliminated, the negative health effects of noise can be limited by wearing the proper personal protective equipment and, in some instances, implementing engineering and/or administrative controls.

In the early 1980s, OSHA announced a hearing conservation amendment (29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure Standard) that requires hearing conservation programs for all employees exposed to noise on an eight-hour, time weighted average (TWA) in excess of 85 decibels measured on an A-weighted scale (85 dBA). The permissible exposure limit is 90 dBA for an eight-hour TWA.

The first move toward protecting your employees’ hearing is to establish a hearing conservation program. Such a program includes provisions for measuring noise, implementing engineering and/or administrative controls of noise, conducting hearing tests for individual employees, and supplying the proper personal hearing protectors as needed.

OSHA requires a five-part minimum hearing conservation program for industry. It includes:
-Noise Monitoring: Sound levels must be measured to determine what safeguards are needed.
-Hearing Testing: All employees in a hearing conservation program must be tested annually.
-Employee Training and Education: Employees in a hearing conservation program must be trained every year on hearing protection.
-Hearing Protectors: Hearing protection devices should be made available to all employees according to the noise risks identified.
-Record Keeping: A company must maintain records on sound level results, equipment calibration results, and hearing test records of employees, along with its educational activities.

A noise survey of the workplace environment can be used to map what areas are most prone to noise, leading to a more efficient hearing conservation program. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can provide this service and help identify employees who need to be included in the noise control program. The results can be used to determine if an initial cost of engineering controls is a prudent investment in comparison to the ongoing costs of hearing conservation program management for your organization –helping you make decisions that are safe for sound.

Tagged in: noise measurement OSHA

A regulation to change how companies report injury data to OSHA appears to be edging toward reality. The rule as proposed would also make companies’ injury data available on a publicly searchable website.

The proposal (https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/proposed_data_form.html ) was announced two years ago, but it wasn’t until early October that OSHA’s “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” draft final rule arrived at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The National Law Review says this means “OSHA anticipates publication of this final rule very soon.” According to that publication, it could go into effect as soon as January 2016. Even if it doesn’t, putting it on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)’s desk increases the likelihood of the proposed rule taking effect before the close of 2016.

The rule would see several new electronic reporting requirements for companies:
-Establishments that are already required to keep injury and illness records and had 250 or more employees in the previous calendar year will have to electronically submit information from these records to OSHA on a quarterly basis.
-Establishments that are already required to keep injury and illness records and had 20 or more employees in the previous calendar year, and are in certain designated industries, will have to electronically submit the information from the OSHA annual summary Form 300A to OSHA.
-All employers who receive notification from OSHA will have to electronically submit specified information from their injury and illness records to OSHA.
The data OSHA collects that it intends to make public on its website may come from:
-All data fields from the OSHA Form 300A (Summary form)
-All data fields from the OSHA Form 300 (Log) with the exception of the employee’s name
-The data fields on the right side of the OSHA Form 301 (Incident report), such as the case number, date of injury or illness, time employee began work, time of event, what the employee was doing just before the incident occurred, what happened, what the injury or illness was, what object or substance directly harmed the employee, and the date of death if applicable.

Not surprisingly, there have been mixed reactions from industry and worker advocacy groups.
In its comments on the proposed rule, the National Association of Manufacturers has said that “without proper context, the raw data may result in unfair conclusions or judgments about a company or particular industry based on information that is not indicative of the actual safety record.”

Three weeks after the proposed rule was delivered to OIRA for review , another organization – the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First – had unveiled its own new website that identifies the biggest environmental/health/safety violators in the United States since 2010 (http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/violation-tracker). Its database includes penalties from EPA, OSHA and 11 other federal agencies that are involved with EHS issues.

Tagged in: OSHA

On Oct. 1, 2015, OSHA director James Maddux issued a memorandum extending the enforcement deadline for the confined spaces in construction standard for residential construction work. A temporary enforcement policy had been in effect for all employers covered by the standard through Oct. 2, 2015. OSHA is now further extending this temporary enforcement policy through Jan. 8, 2016, but only for employers engaged in residential construction work. This enforcement policy covers construction work on single-family homes, duplexes, and townhouses, not multi-unit apartment buildings.

Before Jan. 8, 2016, OSHA will not issue citations under the Confined Spaces in Construction standard to an employer engaged in residential construction work if the employer is making good faith efforts to comply with the standard, as long as the employer is in compliance with either the training requirements of the standard, found at 29 CFR 1926.1207, or the former training requirements found at 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(6)(i).

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/tempenforcementpolicy_1015.html

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

OSHA announced recently it is instituting a new system for planning and measuring its inspections, with more weight given to those that require more time and resources. According to an Oct. 1 blog post by Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, this new Enforcement Weighting System will value routine inspections as one Enforcement Unit, while more complex categories are valued at up to eight Enforcement Units. "For example, process safety management inspections are valued at seven units, workplace violence inspections are three units, and inspections involving a chemical for which there is no permissible exposure limit are also three units. The values were set based on historical data," Michaels wrote, adding, "I want to be clear that OSHA has never set quotas for inspections and that will not change."

According to Michaels, OSHA personnel conducted 36,163 inspections and state plan states conducted another 47,217 inspections in FY2014. "Each one of those inspections was important, and potentially lifesaving. But the reality is that some required far more time and resources than others. For example, the inspection of an oil refinery or a chemical manufacturing facility is more complex and time-consuming than one of a trenching site. Those complex inspections make a big difference – showing employers, and the whole country, that we are determined to investigate serious hazards regardless of how complex or challenging those inspections may be," he wrote. "We are introducing this system to improve our strategic planning process and ensure that sufficient enforcement resources are allocated to cases that require more.

For two years, we piloted the weighted approach, running it side-by-side with our traditional inspection counting system. And we found that tracking inspections by complexity ensures that we don’t shortchange the more difficult inspections in favor of those that can be done quickly. We will continue to monitor this new approach and make adjustments as needed."

In conclusion, Michaels wrote that "I have long believed that we should not merely focus on the number of inspections that we conduct but also take into account their impact on improving health and safety. Our inspections send a message, and as a result employers abate hazards not just at the establishment we inspect but at other workplaces. This change will allow us to better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections – the ones that have the greatest impact."

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA’s annual preliminary list of top 10 most-cited safety violations – what National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman has called “a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence” – saw little change this year compared to last year’s.

The list was released Sept. 29 at the National Safety Council‘s 2015 Congress & Expo by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

And here it is (the applicable OSHA standard appears in parentheses):
1. Fall Protection in Construction (1926.501) – 6,721
2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192
3. Scaffolding in Construction (1926.451) – 4,295
4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305
5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002
6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,760
7. Ladders in Construction (1926.1053) – 2,489
8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,404
9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,295
10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 1,973

The figures are for FY 2015, which ran from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 8, 2015. The figures were to be updated after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2015.

In terms of ranking, only the categories of Electrical Wiring Methods and Ladders exchanged places in FY 2015.
The No. 2 violation continues to be a strong second, however. While the number of hazard communication violations issued by OSHA did not see a large increase from FY 2014 to FY 2015, its ranking on the list should still serve employers as an indicator of the importance of ensuring chemical hazard training is up to date with the agency’s adoption into its existing chemical standard.

Under GHS, chemical labels contain a signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category.

There are nine standardized pictograms that must be surrounded by a red border. Precautionary statements may also be included.

SDSs now have a 16-section format, with sections that include identification of the chemical, first-aid steps for exposure and disposal considerations.

As of June 1, 2015, all new chemical labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) are required to conform to GHS. However, it is possible that some of the old-style labels and SDSs will persist for some time. Under the new system, distributors may still ship products with the previous set of labels until Dec. 1, 2015.

At Workplace Safety, we stand ready to help businesses build safety into their work practices with training programs in areas including HAZMAT/HAZWOPER, lockout/tagout, confined space entry and rescue, first aid/CPR (to including AED and Bloodborne Pathogens), asbestos operations and maintenance, excavation safety and fall protection.

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA has issued policies and procedures for applying a new process for resolving whistleblower dispute according to an announcement on its website. The process is part of an early resolution process that is part of a regional Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.

The program gives whistleblower parties the change to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of a neutral, confidential OSHA rep with expertise in whistleblower investigations. The ADR Act requires that each federal agency "adopt a policy that addresses the use of alternative means of dispute resolution and case management."

"OSHA receives several thousand whistleblower complaints for investigation each year," Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. "The Alternative Dispute Resolution process can be a valuable alternative to the expensive and time consuming process of an investigation and litigation. It will provide whistleblower complainants and respondents the option of exploring voluntary resolution of their disputes outside of the traditional investigative process."

Read entire - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28596

Tagged in: OSHA whistlerblower

The final deadline by which OSHA expects U.S. employers to fully comply with its 2012 final rule revising the Hazard Communication Standard is less than eight months away – and the clock is ticking.

By June 1, 2016, employers should have their workplace labeling procedures in place and their employees trained on what the agency has termed the "right to understand" standard, differentiating it from the previous "right to know" regulation.

A May 2015 memorandum to OSHA regional administrators from the Director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Thomas Galassi, was issued three days before the most recent deadline, June 1, 2015 for manufacturers to be producing safety data sheets and labels in format that complies with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). In that document, Galassi indicated many chemical suppliers would likely miss that June 1 deadline, referring to a memorandum in February that said OSHA inspectors should take into account good-faith efforts by chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors trying to comply with the revised standard but having not received classification and safety data sheet information from suppliers upstream.

"Since issuing the guidance on February 9, 2015, OSHA has received an overwhelming number of additional questions and requests for further clarification on behalf of manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Many of the questions relate to the use of HCS 1994-compliant labels on containers packaged for shipment (i.e., existing stock)," the memo stated.

According to the revised standard, manufacturers and importers must classify the hazards of chemicals they produce or import, and distributors must transmit the required information to employers. Employers, in turn, must provide information to their employees about any hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed, using a hazard communication program, labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and information and training.

The revised standard allows distributors to continue shipping chemicals with labels that meet the old standard, though only until Dec. 1 of this year.

According to the final rule, employers are to ensure that each container of a hazardous chemical is labeled with a product identifier, signal word, hazard statement(s), pictogram(s) and precautionary statement(s). However, that does not apply to portable containers into which hazardous chemicals are being transferred from labeled containers and that are intended only for immediate use by the employee conducting the transfer.

In addition, the final rule states that employers "may use signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other such written materials in lieu of affixing labels to individual stationary process containers, as long as the alternative method identifies the containers to which it is applicable and conveys the information required . . . to be on a label."

Fortunately, OSHA has provided a great deal of information about the new standard on its website (https://www.osha.gov/dep/enforcement/hcs_guide_052015.html); examples include a "Steps to an Effective Hazard Communication Program for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals" fact sheet, a side-by-side comparison of the previous and new standards and the memos issued by Galassi.

October has been declared both Eye Injury Prevention Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Home Eye Safety Month by the Prevent Blindness organization. No matter the month, though, it’s always sound practice to review eye and face protection protocols periodically with employees to ensure they are correctly using the personal protective equipment (PPE) suited to the job.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), each day an average of 2,000 workers in the United States suffers job-related eye injuries requiring medical treatment. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately three out of every five workers who experienced eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were not wearing the proper kind of eye protection for the task.

PPE selection depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and an individual’s vision needs. Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes include safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators.

According to OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (1), it is the responsibility of the employer to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.” That includes making sure the PPE selected for eye protection provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (2). For those who wear prescription lenses, the OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that each affected employee “engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”

According to these standards, a person should always wear properly fitted eye protective gear when:
-Doing work that may produce particles, slivers, or dust from materials like wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and drywall;
-Hammering, sanding, grinding, or doing masonry work;
-Working with power tools;
-Working with chemicals, including common household chemicals like ammonia, oven cleaners, and bleach;
-Using a lawnmower, riding mower, or other motorized gardening devices like string trimmers;
-Working with wet or powdered ready mix concrete, mortar mix, or repair products;
-Welding (which requires extra protection like a welding helmet from sparks and UV radiation);
-“Jumping” the battery of a motor vehicle;
-Being a bystander to any of the above situations.

OSHA urges employers not to rely on PPE devices alone to protect against eye hazards. Rather, personal protective gear should be a part of a safety environment that includes engineering controls and robust safety practices.

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Air quality is important for everyone, but it is of special concern for those who must work in confined spaces.

A total of four farmer deaths in hog manure pits in July in the Midwest show how even a routine job in a confined space can turn tragic. In the first in incident, in Wisconsin, a father and son were killed from exposure to toxic gases while trying to retrieve something dropped into a manure pit. In the more recent case, in Iowa, another father and son died from exposure to toxic gases when one attempted to rescue the other. Although the incidents occurred in agricultural operations, they illustrate the potential for the rescuers of the initial victim overcome by toxic gases in a confined space to become victims also.

Such pits can release methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide as well as hydrogen sulfide when disturbed, risking exposure that can lead to unconsciousness and death. Farm safety experts commonly recommend the use of some form of breathing apparatus when working in that environment for those reasons.

Some other examples of confined spaces include storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, and trenches. A permit-required confined space has to have one or more specific characteristics, one being that it contains a hazardous atmosphere. These are classified into three categories: toxic; asphyxiating; and flammable or explosive atmospheres. Depending on the chemicals present and their concentration, such environments can present multiple atmospheric hazards.

For those reasons, it is recommended that employers in a number of industries test and monitor their confined spaces at multiple levels with instruments that will detect aspects of hazardous atmospheres encountered by anyone who plans to enter. The ability to perform non-entry rescue is also critical to prevent the loss of would-be rescuers. This involves the entrant wearing a full body harness connected to a confined space-applicable retrieval device mounted outside the space, so that the attendant can remove an unconscious entrant without having to enter the confined space.

The practice of atmospheric testing in confined spaces to determine potential hazards is not new – bringing a caged canary into a coalmine is perhaps the best known example from history. Today’s testing equipment and procedures skip the canary, but they serve a similar purpose. Modern sensor and battery technology has improved the reliability of these instruments and has made them easier to use at a lower price point. For the occasional user, they can be rented from a number of safety equipment rental companies. This approach is sound since the rental companies will maintain and calibrate the instruments as recommended by the manufacturer. Using an unreliable and out-of-calibration toxic and combustible gas meter can almost be worse than using none at all since a faulty meter may provide a false sense of security.

Workplace Safety & Health Co. is equipped to identify and assess the hazards of suspected confined spaces in your facility, determine whether each meets the OSHA criteria for a confined space, and if so, whether it should be permit-required. Workplace Safety & Health Co. can also pre-test the atmosphere in accessible spaces to provide advanced warning that additional precautions may be needed prior to entering a confined space.

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

Tagged in: air quality OSHA

OSHA announced in July it will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with a new Construction Confined Space Rule until Oct. 2.

"The agency is postponing full enforcement of the new standard to Oct. 2, 2015, in response to requests for additional time to train and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard," an OSHA announcement stated. "During this 60-day temporary enforcement period, OSHA will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the new standard. Employers must be in compliance with either the training requirements of the new standard or the previous standard. Employers who fail to train their employees consistent with either of these two standards will be cited."

The announcement also spells out what factors OSHA will accept as indicating employers are making good-faith efforts to comply, stating that these factors "include: scheduling training for employees as required by the new standard; ordering the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard; and taking alternative measures to educate and protect employees from confined space hazards."

The final rule – issued May 4 – is similar to the OSHA general industry standard. A major difference is that the construction standard will require employers on multi-employer sites to share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28236

Tagged in: confined space OSHA

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How prepared is your organization in the event of an emergency or disaster?

What might seem like a simple, straightforward question is often a very complex issue to answer.

September 2015 marks the twelfth annual National Preparedness Month. A central goal of the observance is educating the public on how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters. This year’s theme is “Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”

Much of the focus of each year’s observance is on being ready to deal with emergencies and disasters at home, but the observance also raises the issue of being prepared for emergencies at work. In 2004, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unveiled Ready Business, an extension of the national Ready campaign that focuses on business preparedness. The business preparedness section of the website Ready.gov recommends that the planning process take an “all hazards” approach. That is, taking into account different types of threats and hazards and their likelihood of occurring.

As part of the planning process, the website recommends developing strategies for prevention/deterrence and risk mitigation. This should include threats or hazards that can be classified as probable as well as hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact.

Developing an all hazards preparedness plan includes identifying potential hazards, assessing vulnerabilities and considering potential impacts. A risk assessment identifies threats or hazards and opportunities for hazard prevention, deterrence, and risk mitigation. Human injuries should be the consideration of highest priority in a risk assessment, of course, but other assets in the assessment could range from buildings and machinery to raw materials and finished products.

In conducting a risk assessment, the Ready.gov recommends looking for vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that would make an asset more susceptible to (and contribute to the severity of) damage from a hazard. Such vulnerabilities could range from deficiencies in the way a structure is built to its security or protection system. A simple example of such a deficiency is not having a working sprinkler system in place to limit damage in the event of a fire.

For more information on putting together emergency plans for the workplace, visit http://www.ready.gov/business

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in late May that it will continue its partnership with Health Canada to align United States and Canadian regulatory approaches to labeling and classification requirements for workplace chemicals.

OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the GHS in March 2012 to provide a common, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Canada published a similar regulation in February 2015.

The goal of the partnership is to implement a system allowing the use of one label and one safety data sheet (SDS) that would be acceptable in both countries. In 2013, OSHA and Health Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in their respective jurisdictions.

https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/trade-20150528.html

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OSHA recently published a new document in its Fatal Facts series. Titled Asphyxiation in a Sewer Line, the document emphasizes employers’ responsibilities to protect workers from confined space hazards while working in sewer line manholes. The document includes references to the new Confined Spaces in Construction Standard that takes effect on Aug. 3, 2015.

OSHA uses the term “fatal facts” to describe cases that are representative of employers who failed to identify and correct hazardous working conditions leading to fatalities at their worksites. The fact sheets offer ideas on how to correct these hazards and educate workers about safe work practices. The Asphyxiation in a Sewer Line fact document is based on a case in which a construction worker suffocated after entering a manhole. OSHA says the worker died from asphyxiation after entering a manhole with an uncontrolled hazardous atmosphere.
According to OSHA, although the manhole was newly constructed and was not yet connected to an active sewer system at the time of the incident, it contained a hazardous atmosphere that led to asphyxiation. The employer had not ensured that atmospheric hazards were identified and precautions for safe operations implemented before starting work at the site.

Additionally, OSHA says that:
-Workers were not trained to recognize confined space hazards and to take appropriate protective measures.
-The atmosphere in the manhole was not assessed to determine if conditions were acceptable before or during entry.
-Proper ventilation was not used to control atmospheric hazards in the manhole.
-Protective and emergency equipment was not provided at the worksite.
-An attendant was not stationed outside the manhole to monitor the situation and call for emergency services.
To prevent similar occurrences, OSHA advises that employers whose workers who will enter one or more permit-required confined space (PRCS) must implement a PRCS program for safe permit space entry operations (29 CFR 1926.1203(d), 29 CFR 1926.1204). Such programs include the following requirements:
-Provide training to workers at no cost to them in a language and vocabulary they understand, as required in 29 CFR 1926.1207, on how to safely perform permit space duties before their first assignment and as necessary.
-Prohibit entry into permit spaces until hazardous conditions (atmospheric and physical) present are identified, evaluated, and addressed (29 CFR 1926.1204(b)&(c)).
-Eliminate or control atmospheric hazards by ventilating, purging, inerting or flushing the permit space as necessary (29 CFR 1926.1204(c)(4)).
-Perform pre-entry testing for oxygen content, flammable gases and vapors, and potential toxic air contaminants (29 CFR 1926.1204(e)(3).
-Continuously monitor the permit space to verify that atmospheric conditions remain acceptable during entry (29 CFR 1926.1204(e)(1)(ii)).
-Provide essential equipment to workers with training on proper use, including: •Personal protective equipment when necessary (29 CFR 1926.1204(d)(4)).
-Rescue and emergency equipment to authorized workers, or implement procedures for rescue and emergency services (29 CFR 1926.1204(d)(8)&(i), 29 CFR 1926.1211).
-Station at least one trained attendant outside a permit space to perform all attendant’s duties (29 CFR 1926.1204(f); 29 CFR 1926.1209).

The full Fatal Facts document is available (along with other fact sheets on oil and gas, agriculture, construction, and engulfment) at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/fatalfacts.html

Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help you understand the definition of a confined space and a permit-required confined space and how it might apply to your workplace.

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The National Safety Council (NSC) has added its voice to the call for companies to use the latest science and not just OSHA’s limits when it comes to protecting workers from hazardous chemicals.

For Workers’ Memorial Day this year, the NSC urged employers to address workplace illnesses and to “consider the latest scientific research … which should go beyond OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).”

Workplace illnesses result in 53,000 deaths and 427,000 nonfatal injuries each year, compared to workplace injuries which lead to 4,500 deaths and 4.8 million injuries requiring medical attention annually.

The NSC issued a new policy position recommending that employers:
-Use consensus standards, employer best practices and information from the American Conference of Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for determining the most effective control strategies, which should go beyond OSHA’s PELs, Hazard Communication Standard and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
-Improve reporting and tracking of occupational illnesses
-Share information and practices on prevention of occupational illnesses
-Reduce risks of exposure to chemicals by using the hierarchy of controls
-Contribute to the review and update of existing standards that protect workers from harmful exposure to chemicals, and
-Consider total worker health factors that may exacerbate occupational illness exposures.

OSHA just closed the comment period in its Request for Information on revising PELs. The next step is for the agency to publish the results of the RFI, which could happen before the close of 2015.

http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/Occupational-Illness-125.pdf

 

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Keeping cool during the summer months can seem like a chore unto itself, but it’s important to keep in mind that heat-related illnesses can happen year round in the work environment.

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

To help keep employees safe when things heat up at work, 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 after a week or more away from the job.

The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler, where possible. This could take the form of engineering controls such as air conditioning, cooling fans, insulating hot surfaces, ventilating hot air, eliminating steam leaks, etc., to reduce exposure.

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

-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 resistance to heat exposure), especially workers who are new to working in a hot environment 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 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-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 number 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 the level of risk to outdoor workers and allows the user to access reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness.

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In early May, OSHA published a long-awaited final rule on construction confined spaces. The agency has been working on the rule for more than two decades and ultimately decided, based on stakeholders' comments, to make it more like OSHA's general industry confined spaces standard than originally planned. Some provisions do address construction-specific hazards, including requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and continuously monitor air contaminant and engulfment hazards. That’s something the agency says is possible because of technology developed in the years since the general industry standard took effect.


The rule will take effect on Aug. 3. OSHA has established a new website (https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/index.html) that includes compliance resources.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=25127

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OSHA is requesting information from the public about worker safety hazards in communication tower construction and maintenance activities. The agency says the information will assist it in determining what measures to take to prevent worker injuries and fatalities.

Increasingly, antennas are being installed on structures other than communication towers, such as on water towers, on electrical and telephone poles, and on the roofs of buildings. These alternative structures are often used in more densely populated areas where the construction of large communication towers is impractical or impossible, for example, due to zoning restrictions.

Workers often climb from 100 to 2,000 feet In order to erect or maintain communication towers. Communication tower workers face the risk of falls from such heights, structural collapses, electrical hazards, and hazards associated with inclement weather.

In the request for information, OSHA is seeking data about the causes of the employee injuries and fatalities that are occurring among employees working on communication towers. That includes collecting information from wireless carriers, tower workers, engineering and construction management firms, tower owners, and tower construction and maintenance companies about the causes of employee injuries and fatalities and for information about the best practices used by employers in the industry to address these hazards. The agency is also seeking comments on safe work practices for communication tower activities, training and certification practices for communication tower workers, and potential approaches OSHA might take to address the hazards associated with work on communication towers.

The deadline for submitting comments is June 15, 2015. Interested parties may submit comments and additional materials electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments may also be mailed or faxed. See the Federal Register notice for details.

Read entire article: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=OSHA-2014-0018-0001

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

Top 10 lists can be entertaining, but they can also be eye-opening and informative. Take, for example, the 10 leading causes of workplace injuries in the United States.

The 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index shows that the 10 most disabling injuries added up to $59.58 billion a year in direct workers’ compensation costs. That equates to well over $1 billion per week.

The index, compiled by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, used information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance from 2012 – the most recent year for which the data were available – to find which events caused employees to miss six or more days of work and then ranked those causes by total workers’ compensation costs.

Below is the list of 10 leading injury causes, followed by the percentage accounted for by each, and then the total costs in billions:
1. Overexertion involving outside source (lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, throwing): 25.3%; $15.1
2. Falls on same level: 15.4%; $9.19
3. Struck by object of equipment: 8.9%; $5.3
4. Falls to lower level: 8.6%; $5.12
5. Other exertions or bodily reactions (bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, stepping, kneeling, sitting, standing, walking): 7.2%; $4.27
6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle: 5.3%; $3.18
7. Slip or trip without fall: 3.6%; $2.17
8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects: 3.5%; $2.1
9. Repetitive motions including micro-tasks: 3.1%; $1.84, and
10. Struck against object or equipment: 2.9%; $1.76.

It should be noted that these categories account for 83.8% because there are additional categories beyond the top 10.

The previous index from Liberty Mutual stated that the top 10 injuries in 2011 accounted for $55.4 billion a year in workers’ comp costs – making an increase of 7.55% from year to year.

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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

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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

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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/

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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?

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