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Recent blog posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: covid-19 covid19 OSHA

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by on in Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: OSHA safe + sound week

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

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

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

Tagged in: covid19 respirators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: covid19 OSHA

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

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

What is asbestos?

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

Limiting workplace exposure

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: CDC covid19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted by on in Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: covid-19 covid19 OSHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

Before cell phones, distracted driving might have brought an image of a mom yelling at her children “don’t make me stop this car!,” but today it’s much broader and affecting many drivers every day. It’s talking on the phone, texting, entering addresses for directions, trying to locate that perfect Spotify station. You may think you are only glancing down a few seconds, but studies show it’s takes an average 5-6 seconds, and a car driving 60 mph would cover an entire length of a football field in that time. Just think about that!
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but efforts to curb distracted driving are ongoing – focusing on ways to change behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education. Whether you are driving on the interstate or backing out of your driveway, a lack of focus can be fatal.
When it comes to workplace safety, distracted driving is a big issue. Workers in many industries and occupations spend much time on the road as part of their workdays. One study has shown that compared to other drivers, those who were working were more likely to be in a hurry to reach their destination, be tired or use their cell phone.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Health (CDC), employers should use the following recommendations to prevent distracted driving:
• Ban all phone use while driving a company vehicle – and apply the same rules to use of a company-issued phone while driving a personal vehicle.
• Require workers to pull over in a safe location if they must text, make a call, or look up directions.
• Prepare workers before implementing these policies by communicating:
-How distracted driving puts them at risk of a crash
-That driving requires their full attention while they are on the road
- What they need to do to comply with your company’s policies
- What action you will take if they do not follow these policies
• Consider having workers acknowledge that they have read and understand these policies.
• Provide workers with information to help them talk to their family about distracted driving.

The point is – it’s time to just drive!

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the world’s oldest professional safety organization, is urging employers to be more active in adopting voluntary national consensus standards and implementing safety and health management systems in response to newly released fatality data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reported that 5,250 fatal work injuries occurred in 2018, a 2 percent increase from the previous year’s total of 5,147. It is the fourth time in the past five years that fatal occupational injuries increased.

Read entire article - https://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/12/assp-responds-to-bls-fatality-data/

Posted by on in Uncategorized

More than 2000 people suffer from eye injuries while at work every single day, and one in ten injuries may result in one or more missed days of work. The importance of workplace eye safety is something that should be discussed regularly, so make sure your employees understand ways to keep their eyes safe while at work.

Manual labor is the most common profession for eye injuries, which include steel workers, carpenters, welders, and painters, to name a few. These professions are dealing with flying objects, chemicals and tools that raise the risk of particles entering the eye. Having proper eye protection can help keep you from being the 10-20% of those injuries that result in permanent vision loss:

  • Safety Glasses – used for light duty work as they protect your eyes from the front and sides against foreign objects
  • Goggles – provide complete coverage of the eyes and seal to your face, so more effective against chemical splashes, sprays, and sand blasting than safety glasses
  • Face Shields – these provide coverage to your entire face and should be worn when cutting tools are used as they protect from sparks or when large pieces of debris can be thrown from power tools
  • Full-face Respirators – these are the best solution when fumes, vapors or gasses are present as they prevent damage to your eyes and face, while using a spray gun in an enclosed area or mixing chemicals

Working in an office can be quite hazardous to your eyes as well, but in a different sense. The most common eye problem is Computer Vision Syndrome, which does not cause permanent damage to your vision, but it makes your eyes feel irritated and fatigued. Too much screen time and not enough breaks can cause such things as headaches, neck pain, back strain, and dry eye – and remember, screen time isn’t just the computer, but cell phones and televisions as well. Just taking these steps can help alleviate symptoms:

  • Reposition your screen – adjust your screen, so it’s angled away from any direct light source
  • Invest in an anti-glare screen and computer glasses
  • Keep in mind the 20-20-20 rule – for every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet for at least 20 seconds
  • Don’t forget to blink – this will keep your eyes from drying out
  • Use artificial tears – helps keep your eyes comfortable and prevents dryness
  • Drink water – air can be dry in the office, especially in the winter months, so drink up!
  • Get to the eye doctor regularly and have an eye exam

Knowing what the eye safety dangers are and eliminating hazards will keep your employees from becoming eye injury statistics.

With the new year comes new maximum penalty amounts for safety violations leveled by OSHA, due to an annual adjustment for inflation.

Read entire article - https://www.ishn.com/articles/112135-osha-penalties-increase-in-2020

Tagged in: OSHA

Updates concerning the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, are happening at a pretty rapid pace, which can lead to panic and misinformation. Workplace exposure is a concern, and many businesses are sending out information to their employees to limit the spread of germs and prevent infection. The basics are as follows:

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use (do not cough or sneeze in your hands) – wash your hands
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Stay home when you are sick
• Clean an disinfect doorknobs, handrails, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bathrooms – any common surfaces touched by many people
• Avoid shaking hands with people – fist bumps or elbow bumps are a good option!

Here are a few other tips for protecting the workplace and your employees:

• Remind and reinforce employees to wash their hands by placing signs around the building and especially in public areas, such as bathrooms and food preparation spaces
• Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace and provide employees with disposable wipes, so commonly used surfaces can be wiped down before each use
• If your business can operate, allow employees the flexibility to work from home
• Make sure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance – and that your employees are well aware of these policies
• Advise employees to check for travelers’ health notices in regard to their travel destinations – and postpone or cancel any business-related travel to those regions most impacted by COVID-19. For the most current list, visit the CDC website – https://www.cdc.gov/travel
• Provide open dialogue opportunities for your employees to discuss their concerns

During these uncertain times, you have most likely considered your business’s air quality. Even though we cannot test directly for Coronavirus in the air or on surfaces since the focus right now is human testing, we can test for other parameters that if they come back favorably, it would indicate that the environment is generally clean and less apt to be contaminated with viruses or other pathogens. This can provide a level of comfort to your employees, when most other current news is unsettling. Testing the air quality with respect to bacteria, mold, gases and other particles shows your employees you are concerned about providing a clean working environment. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has conducted hundreds of indoor air quality surveys and is efficient at assessing all types of occupational environments.

Your employees have a right to a safe working environment. As an employer, it is your responsibility to take steps to reduce transmission opportunities among staff and protect those who are at a higher risk for adverse health complications (older employees and those who are immune compromised). At the time of this writing, there is still much to be learned about COVID-19 and its future impact, but you can take steps now to protect your most valuable assets – your employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has made a number of changes to update its National Emphasis Programs (NEP) aimed at reducing amputations in manufacturing industries by adding a targeting methodology for segments with high employer-reported amputation statistics.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/standards/osha/article/21121136/osha-updates-amputation-enforcement

Tagged in: OSHA osha regulations

Since 1962, the National Poison Prevention Week has been observed annually the third week in March to educate Americans of all ages about poisoning risks. Even though the aim (and most marketing) doesn’t necessarily focus on workplace safety, poison prevention is something that should be discussed and steps taken in the workplace to help reduce its too frequent occurrences.

We are exposed to poisons and potentially hazardous chemicals every day, sometimes without even realizing any danger exists. The rate of fatalities due to accidental poisoning in all age groups has more than tripled in the past 55 years. Yes, a huge majority of that is due to fatal drug overdose (both legal and illegal drugs), but accidental poisoning is now the most common cause of accidental death in America.

When thinking about workplace safety and poison prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates more than 50K employees die each year from long-term occupational hazards. There are four different categories of occupational hazards classified as poison:
1) agricultural and industrial chemicals
2) drugs and healthcare products
3) radiation
4) biological poisons

Commonly found workplace environmental hazards include:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Fumes from lead, iron oxide or zinc oxide
  • Manganese fumes
  • Exposure to ammonia
  • Dust from silica and crystalline quartz

While it is impossible to mitigate every possible workplace poisoning, there are various measures you can take to prevent injuries and fatalities:

  • Comply with OSHA’s Health and Safety regulations (HazCom)
  • Request a health & safety audit to check for chemical exposure (air quality)
  • Have appropriate HR policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace
  • Educate your employees on identifying the symptoms of poisoning and know what steps to take, including calling emergency help quickly when required

Taking steps to keep your employees safe from workplace hazards, including poisoning, should be an ongoing priority. Any questions or concerns on how to do this, we are here to help at Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. – 317-253-9737.

Amazon has responded to continued scrutiny regarding the online retailer's workplace safety practices following a report from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The report stated the company's injury rate is double the national average for the warehousing industry at 9.6 serious injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2018. The industry average is 4.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/amazon-responds-criticism-high-injury-rates

Tagged in: amazon

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You may think since it’s almost springtime, you are in the clear of this year’s flu, but did you know that February usually has the highest number of cases on average of any flu season…there have been many cases of flu as late as May of any given year? Employers have a duty to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards, and yes, influenza (flu) is a hazardous contagious viral respiratory disease.

Some statistics concerning the flu that happen consistently each year:
• 5-20% of the U.S. population will get the flu
• 31.4 million outpatient visits
• Approximately 200,000 hospitalizations
• 36,000 deaths

Tips for Employees
• Get vaccinated every year
• Stay home when you are sick – and if you start feeling sick while at work, go home as soon as possible
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
• Wash your hands frequently – if water and soap are not available, then use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – as germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work, including doorknobs, keyboards, phones
• Practice healthy personal habits like getting enough sleep, be physically active, manage stress levels, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food

Tips for Employers
• Host a flu vaccination clinic in the workplace – and if you cannot do this, then allow employees to get the flu vaccine during work hours
• Encourage sick workers to stay at home
• Post signs on hand hygiene and cough etiquette as visible reminders
• Invest in “no touch” wastebaskets, disposable towels, air blower hand dryers and alcohol-based hand rubs
• Review and print free supplemental resources to post in your business to help educate employees on safe practices to prevent the flu - https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-businesses.htm

Before we know it, it will be spring and most likely the flu will be something everyone forgets about until next flu season, but until then, stay safe!

In 2017, 41 U.S. workers died on the job after a single episode of inhaling chemicals and chemical products—7 more fatal injuries than in 2016. This number ranged between 33 and 55 fatal injuries each year from 2011 to 2017, with a total of 297 fatalities across the 7-year span.

Read entire article - https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/fatal-chemical-inhalations-in-the-workplace-up-in-2017.htm

According to Center for Disease Control and Health (CDC), carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas, which is predominately produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials. Incomplete combustion occurs when insufficient oxygen is used in the fuel (hydrocarbon) burning process – causing more carbon monoxide than carbon dioxide to be emitted.

Every year, more than 400 people unintentionally die in the U.S. from this “invisible killer,” and there are more than 20,000 emergency room visits and more than 4000 are hospitalized due to exposure to carbon monoxide.

Exposure and Symptoms

Carbon monoxide is produced by burning fuel in vehicles, furnaces, power plants, forklifts, small gasoline engines, heaters, stoves, portable generators – and the list goes on. When exposed to carbon monoxide, it impedes the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to body tissues and vital organs, depriving them the oxygen needed to function properly. Common initial exposure symptoms include headache, nausea, rapid breathing, tightness in the chest, weakness, exhaustion, dizziness, and confusion. Severe oxygen deficiency due to acute CO poisoning is called hypoxia, which may cause brain or heart damage.

You or Someone Else May Have Been Exposed to CO Poisoning?

If you believe you have been exposed to CO poisoning, or if you expect a co-worker is experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, these actions could save lives:

  • Immediately remove yourself or move the victim to an open area with fresh air
  • Call 911
  • If victim is breathing, use a tight-fitting mask to administer 100 percent oxygen
  • If the victim has stopped breathing, administer CPR – but only if you have been properly trained to do so on victims of carbon monoxide poisoning as you may be exposed to fatal levels in a rescue attempt

Employer Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Even though may be impossible to eliminate all risks, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of CO poisoning in the workplace.

  • Effective ventilation systems installed to remove CO from work areas, and the system should be maintained on a regular schedule (follow manufacturer’s instructions)
  • All equipment that can produce CO should be identified as such and inspected on a regular basis as well
  • Equipment powered by gasoline should be evaluated for effectiveness and never used in poorly ventilated areas – and possibly switching to equipment that is powered by compressed air, batteries, or electricity
  • Employees should be educated on safe operations of the equipment and on carbon monoxide poisoning, including symptoms of CO poisoning and the appropriate steps to take if they or someone else suspects CO poisoning
  • Provide employees with personal carbon monoxide monitors
  • Test air frequently, especially in confined spaces
  • Provide self-contained breathing apparatuses and respirators when applicable

The best way to control this workplace safety hazard is to remove it entirely from the environment. If this is not possible, taking the steps above can help protect your most important assets – your employees.

Another week, another slate of asbestos-related stories. Despite having been banned for 20 years now, asbestos seems to be cropping up in the news more than ever. From cases of sudden and debilitating illness to asbestos being improperly disposed of, it doesn’t seem like this deadly substance is going away anytime soon.

Read entire article -https://www.ehstoday.com/health/asbestos-continues-pose-health-and-safety-issues

Tagged in: asbestos

OSHA explains safety culture as shared beliefs, practices and attitudes that exist at an establishment, and the culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs and attitudes which shape the establishment’s and the team members’ behaviors.

The main goal of a workplace safety program is to prevent deaths and injuries. Organizations with a strong safety culture have established comprehensive safety programs, effectively act on them, and monitor their progress consistently.

Establishing a positive culture in any organization is imperative for the emotional and physical well-being of team members, but when it comes to safety culture, we are talking about life and death. Both effective leadership and employee engagement are critical for a safety culture to become established.

Want to see if your organization has a strong safety culture or is on the right path? Check out this list:
• Leadership commitment – what do you as a leader value in your organization? In strong safety cultures, leaders prove their safety commitment through their actions, their safety initiatives and how they empower others to keep safety in the forefront. Your safety plan clearly defines what your desired safety culture looks like.
• Safety-minded employees – employees are invested in learning about health and safety and know their roles and responsibilities. Safety is everyone’s job, and engaged employees understand this.
• Safety comes first every time – when it comes to production vs. safety, does safety win out every time? Safety should always be the priority.
• Financial investment in health and safety – safety should always be thought of as an investment, not as a cost. When safety issues are identified early on, does your organization take action right away? Are improvements made and problems solved with safety in mind before they become bigger issues?
• Safety and health communication opportunities are on-going, regular and available to all. Does your organization have a system in place to increase safety awareness across the entire organization? Is safety the first item on meeting agendas? It should be!
• Are your leaders and managers in touch with what is happening on the ground level? Are they talking to their employees and getting consistent feedback? Do they truly understand what is happening on the floor or are they stuck in an office doing administrative work and not keeping a pulse on where the work is being done?
• Do your employees feel safe to discuss safety and health issues with management? Does your organization reward and recognize positive safety behaviors?
• Are there regularly scheduled audits of the company’s health and safety programs that are conducted by an external auditor?

Can you think of any other ways to ensure a strong safety culture in your organization?

As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second best time is now. Culture change in any organization takes time and perseverance, and Workplace Safety & Health Inc is here to help you achieve a strong safety culture.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) fiscal year (FY) 2019 final statistics show a significant increase in the number of inspections and a record amount of compliance assistance to further the mission of ensuring that employers provide workplaces free of hazards.

Read entire article -https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/12032019

Tagged in: OSHA

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Bill Simpson transformed the racing world – through safety! Being a race car driver himself and having many racing friends, he understood the dangers and wanted to keep them as safe as possible. In 1958, at the young age of 18 years old, Simpson broke both arms in a drag racing crash when his dragster didn’t stop at the end of the strip, which made him seriously start thinking about his own safety. The thought of using a parachute to stop dragsters had been discussed in the racing world, but Simpson was the first to make it work.

Keeping safety in mind while he continued to race, he began the quest to find ways to combat fires as all too often, fiery crashes meant certain death or serious injuries for race car drivers. In the late 60’s, Simpson met with Apollo 12 Commander, Pete Conrad, who loved racing and introduced Simpson to the space-age material Nomex. Nomex was used in space suit construction and it transformed drive safety. Before this, such efforts as soaking t-shirts and pants in bathtubs filled with water and chemical agents designed to combat flames was the go-to “safety” step, but these garments were definitely no match for burning gasoline and oil.

Nomex wasn’t a fireproof solution, but it gave drivers those crucial extra seconds to get out of the car and roll on the ground or be reached by safety workers with fire extinguishers to stop the flames and burning before it reached the skin. He took the suit to the 1967 Indianapolis 500 where it was worn by 30 of the 33 drivers. Anyone familiar with the racing world will remember or at least had heard about or seen the ad from 1986 where Simpson set himself on fire wearing his company’s, Simpson Race Products, flameproof driver’s suit, shoes, socks, gloves and helmet.

Simpson raced in the 1968-1974 and 1976-1977 seasons with 52 career starts and qualified 12th for the 1974 Indianapolis 500 and finishing 13th, but he decided to end his racing career and focus solely on safety innovation when he realized he was thinking about a telephone call he needed to make for his business while practicing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His innovation didn’t stop with parachute and fire suits, but also included seat belts, harnesses, helmets and other safety equipment – developing over 200 racing safety products, including three generations of fire suits. When it comes to safety and the racing world, he is the man – his name is on multiple products used by virtually every race driver today. He was named to the Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2003.

E.J. “Bill” Simpson (March 14, 1940 – December 16, 2019)

A new study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine is the first to examine hearing loss prevalence and risk by industry within the Oil and Gas Extraction sector, and within most Mining sector industries. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that in many industries within these sectors, at least 25% of the workers had hearing loss. In some industries, more than 30% had hearing loss.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-08-27-19.html

Every year, at the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, OSHA releases their top ten violations. Even though the list doesn’t change very often, if at all, it’s always a good reminder as we head into the new year on what you can do at your organization to not become a part of the “Top 10” statistic. This year’s Top 10 is the same as last year’s – and for the ninth year in a row, Fall Protection is the number one violation.

Here’s the entire list and quick description along with the most common violations and violators:

1. Fall protection (construction)—general requirements (29 CFR 1926.501): common violations under this standard included failure to provide fall protection near unprotected sides or edges and on both low-slope and steep roofs. Many of the citations were issued to roofing contractors, framing contractors, masonry contractors, and new single-family housing construction contractors (6,010 violations)

2. Hazard communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): common failings included lack of a written program, inadequate training, and failing to properly develop or maintain safety data sheets (SDSs); auto repair facilities and painting contractors were among the top industries to receive hazard communication citations (3,671 violations)

3. Scaffolds (construction)—general requirements (29 CFR 1926.451): common violations included improper decking, failing to provide guardrails where required, and failure to ensure that supported scaffolds are adequately supported on a solid foundation; masonry, siding, roofing, and framing contractors are the most often cited for scaffolding violations (2,813 violations)

4. Lockout/tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): common deficiencies included failure to establish an energy control procedure altogether and failure to provide adequate employee training, conduct periodic evaluations of procedures, or use lockout/tagout devices or equipment; main culprits for these types of violations were plastics manufacturers, machine shops, and sawmills (2,606 violations)

5. Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134): most frequently cited issues included failing to establish a program, failing to perform required fit testing, and failing to provide medical evaluations; auto body refinishing, masonry contractors, painting contractors, and wall covering contractors received many citations under this standard (2,450 violations)

6. Ladders (construction) (29 CFR 1926.1053): common violations included failure to have siderails extend 3 feet (ft) beyond a landing surface, using ladders for unintended purposes, using the top step of a stepladder, and using ladders with structural defects; these violations were common among roofing, framing, siding, and painting contractors (2,345 violations)

7. Powered industrial trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): commonly cited issues included deficient or damaged forklifts that were not removed from service, failing to safely operate a forklift, failing to retain certification of training, and failing to evaluate forklift drivers every 3 years as required; several industries were cited for forklift violations, but it was predominantly prevalent in warehousing and storage facilities, fabricated and structural metal manufacturing, and among framing contractors (2,093 violations)

8. Fall protection (construction)—training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503): commonly addressed deficiencies included failing to provide training to each person required to receive it, failing to certify training in writing, inadequacies in training leading to the failure of retention by the trainee, and failing to retrain in instances where the trainee failed to retain the training content (1,773 violations)

9. Machine guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): common violations included failing to guard points of operation, failing to ensure that guards are securely attached to machinery, improper guarding of fan blades, and failing to properly anchor fixed machinery; most common offenders of these violations were machine shops and fabricated metal manufacturing (1,743 violations)

10. Personal protective and lifesaving equipment (construction)—eye and face protection (29 CFR 1926.102): frequently cited issues included failing to provide eye and face protection where employees are exposed to hazards from flying objects, failing to provide eye protection with side protection, and failing to provide protection from caustic hazards, gases, and vapors (1,411 violations)

Tagged in: OSHA

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it has recently implemented the OSHA Weighting System (OWS) for fiscal year (FY) 2020. OWS will encourage the appropriate allocation of resources to support OSHA’s balanced approach of promoting safe and healthy workplaces, and continue to develop and support a management system that focuses enforcement activities on critical and strategic areas where the agency’s efforts can have the most impact.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/09272019-0

Posted by on in Industrial Hygiene Consulting

According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), industrial hygiene is a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well- being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community. Industrial hygiene (IH) is definitely not a new concept – it’s actually been around for centuries as far back as Hippocrates noting toxicity in the mining industry in the 4th century BC. In 1700 Italy, Bernardo Ramazzini, known as the “father of industrial medicine,” published the first comprehensive book on industrial medicine (The Diseases of Workmen) that contained descriptions of the occupational diseases of most of the workers of his time.

A little closer to home and a bit more current, Dr. Alice Hamilton led efforts to improve IH in the early 20th century as she had observed first-hand the industrial conditions, had evidence of the correlations between worker illness and their exposure to toxins, and presented convincing proposals for eliminating unhealthy working conditions in such places as mines and factories. She was appointed to the first investigative commission in the United States, which was the Occupational Diseases Commission of Illinois, in 1910.

Nowadays, OSHA regulates hundreds of chemicals, and understanding these chemical and identifying potential chemical or physical exposures, evaluating their severity and assisting in controlling or eliminating the hazard in the workplace is the job for a certified industrial hygienist. These hazards can be anything from air quality, hazardous and toxic agents such as asbestos, radon gas, and pesticides, exposure to chemicals and lead, hazardous waste management and more.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc., we have conducted industrial hygiene consulting to many different industries, including automotive manufacturing and supply facilities, aerospace companies, high-rise commercial buildings, hospitals, surface and subsurface mines, gray iron and non-ferrous foundries, fiberglass manufacturers, rare earth metal alloy manufacturers, food and beverage processing facilities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, ship-building operations and steel mills.

Our IH services include the following:
• Chemical and Particulate Air Monitoring
• Noise Monitoring
• Indoor Air Quality Assessments
• Qualitative Exposure Assessments
• Hazard Communication
• Vapor Intrusion Monitoring
• Ventilation System Assessments
• Employee Training

Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is ready to help you incorporate a solid IH program to protect your employees from both acute and chronic health issues, which will help your company thrive in many ways.

With more than 5,000 workplace fatalities per year, a comprehensive safe and health management system is crucial to reducing that number across all industries. The revised ANSI/ASSP Z10.0-2019 standard guides implementation of safety and health management systems is now available from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) after recently being approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/assp-releases-revised-z10-standard

Tagged in: assp workplace safety

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The beautiful colors of fall have given way to the gray and white and sometimes dreary colors of winter – and for some, this dreariness drags on. Days are getting colder, it’s dark when you leave for work in the morning and when you get home in the evening, it seems you are stuck indoors too often because of the weather. If these thoughts give you some anxiety, you may be prone to the winter blues. Winter isn’t really the cause of blues, it’s the symptom of being cooped up inside with really low amounts of sunlight.

Winter blues in the workplace affect 1 in 4 people, especially women. It manifests in such ways as sleepiness, moodiness, lack of energy, and depression. These symptoms make it more difficult to get to work on time, be more productive while at work or even engage with co-workers.

Whether you suffer from the winter blues or not, when the weather is miserable and you haven’t seen the sun for days, just getting motivated to work can be difficult. Here are some ways to get through the winter months while staying as positive and productive as possible:
• Go outside – if the day is pretty, encourage your employees to take a break from working and walk outside for a bit – maybe even do group walks around the building or work site
• Let in the light – open the blinds and encourage your team to keep the lights bright during the winter
• Encourage your employees to get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and get some physical activity – having a routine can really help combat the winter funk
• Chocolate – yes, chocolate! Chocolate is a natural mood booster, so help out your employees by keeping small, individually wrapped chocolates around the workplace
• Volunteer opportunities – find ways to give back to the community within working hours or do group volunteer projects as the odds of describing yourself as a “very happy person” increases by 7-12% for those who regularly volunteer

Winter blues are very common, so helping your team get through the dreariness of winter will result in a more productive workforce once spring is here!

*While winter blues are common and can be lessened, it is not the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is more severe and may require medical attention - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

At the 2019 National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, California, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the agency’s top 10 violations for fiscal year (FY) 2019 to a standing-room-only crowd of safety professionals. The order may have changed slightly, but the list remain remains the same as last year.

https://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/09/osha-reveals-latest-top-10-list-of-violations-at-nsc-2019/

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Every year about 100,000 police-reported crashes involve drowsy driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Low estimates say these crashes result in more than 1550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries, as it’s difficult to determine if someone was drowsy at the time of the crash. Some estimates say it’s as high as 328,000 crashes annually with 109,000 injuries and 6400 fatalities!

To heighten awareness of drowsy driving, this year’s National Sleep Foundation’s annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is November 3-10. According to the Foundation, about half of U.S. adult drivers admit to consistently driving while feeling drowsy, and 20% admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past year.

Driving while drowsy is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol when it comes to reaction times, awareness of hazards and ability to sustain attention all being compromised when feeling sleepy. Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08%, the U.S. legal limit.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states the following are signs and symptoms of drowsy driving:
• Frequent yawning or difficulty keeping your eyes open
• “Nodding off” or having trouble keeping your head up
• Inability to remember driving the last few miles
• Missing road signs and turns
• Difficulty maintaining your speed
• Drifting out of your lane
• Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road

Drowsy driving is a major hazard, especially for long-distance truckers, delivery people, and other who drive regularly for work. Employers of such jobs should be emphasizing in their trainings about the risks of drowsy driving, the importance of getting enough sleep and refraining from or taking a break from driving if you are feeling drowsy.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited two employers for serious accident-related safety and health violations after workers were poisoned by carbon monoxide while working in a confined space at San Francisco International Airport. The state agency cited both the host employer, Gate Gourmet, Inc., and a contractor, Gladiator Rooter & Plumbing.

 Read entire article - https://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/07/employers-cited-by-cal-osha-for-carbon-monoxide-poisoning/

Everyone understands there are basic needs in life, including food, water, shelter and air, but what if one of those is contaminated? Let’s take the air in your workplace, for example. Many factors affect indoor air quality (IAQ), including poor ventilation, temperature fluctuation, humidity levels and anything that might be happening outside the workplace, like remodeling or construction work, where that air is being circulated into the building.
Poor IAQ affects our health in a variety of ways, including headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. The common pollutants causing the majority of the poor IAQ are as follows:

• Biological – Excess moisture and damp indoor environments support the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi, which can lead to a multitude of respiratory issues. Other common biological pollutants include dust mites, animal dander, Legionella, and pollen. These pollutants are found in many indoor workplaces to a certain degree, but inadequate maintenance and upkeep of building ventilation systems can exacerbate the issue.
• Chemical – Gases and vapors are the main sources of chemical pollutants, and they come from five main categories: products used in the building, products that can be pulled from outside into the HVAC system (including sub-slab vapor intrusion), accidental spills, products used during construction activities, and byproducts of combustion such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.
• Particles – Non-biological particles can be anything solid or liquid suspended in the air that could present a respiratory hazard. In most cases, it could be airborne dust drawn into the building’s ventilation system, or if there is indoor construction under way, there will be dust from drywall sanding, wood sawing, etc.

As you can see, there are multiple sources for indoor air pollutants, and OSHA recommends the “Three Lines of Defense” when applying specific actions in the workplace to eliminate potential exposures. The first line of defense, which is the most effective, is eliminating and engineering the hazards out. This would include removal, substitution, and enclosure of pollutant sources – and if the hazard cannot be eliminated, then control the exposure. The second line of defense includes administrative controls, such as limiting the exposure through work schedules, training, and housekeeping. The third line of defense would be the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – meaning the use of respirators, gloves, protective clothing, eyewear, and footwear.

Good indoor air quality should be a given for your employees. Take some time this month, during IAQ Awareness Month, and make sure your workplace air is healthy and not harmful for your most important assets – your employees! Need help keeping your employees healthy and safe? Then call on us at Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. – 317-253-9737.

A new final rule announced by EPA on June 21 will revise the federal limits for lead in dust on floors and windowsills. The rule will lower the agency’s dust-lead hazard standards from 40 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on windowsills. The new limits will apply to houses built before 1978 and to buildings where children spend many hours, such as daycare centers and kindergarten facilities.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/EPA-Lowers-Limits-on-Lead-in-Dust-on-Floors-and-Windowsills.aspx

We’ve heard the news stories of major companies having data breaches – including credit card companies, hospitals, and airlines. The list goes on! Most breaches occur in North America with an estimated average cost of a data breach being over $150 million by 2020. Creating a culture of cybersecurity is critical for all organizations, and one of the first steps to protecting your business from a cyberattack is implementing a cybersecurity checklist with all the necessary precautions in place. Keeping these steps in mind can save you and your employees in a world full of hackers:

• Limit physical access to your sensitive information – make sure your servers are not accessible to visitors or employees without security clearance
• Physically secure network access points – i.e. employee workstations, WiFi outlets. If you allow guests to use your company WiFi, make sure they have no access to your inner network and that your router and other devices are password protected
• Conduct employee background checks – it is important to take potential insider threats into account as your own employees can pose the biggest threat to your company’s data
• Educate your employees on the risks of cyber threats and proper habits/best practices to keeping not only the company’s data out of harm’s way, but their own sensitive data – make sure they know who to contact in case they suspect a security breach while at work or on work computers
• Configure and maintain firewall and anti-virus protection – and always keep it up-to-date; also a good idea to limit and filter out questionable websites which could be havens for dangerous malware
• All communications should be encrypted and monitored, including traffic monitoring which can detect suspicious network activity
• Maintain redundant connections for critical systems, so your network can continue to run if your security is compromised
• Establish regular backups and store them in a secure manner – preferably in an inaccessible location separate from your main network

These steps help create a security perimeter and safeguard your data from such attacks as malware, ransomware and other external breaches. Protecting your business’s data is just all-around good business as your customers are at risk when your business is hacked or has a security breach. Creating a culture of privacy is a win-win for all – except the hackers! And that’s fine with us!

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a chemical management strategy that can quickly and accurately assign chemicals into categories, or "bands" in order to protect workers on the job, according to a press release from the agency.

Read entire article - https://ohsonline.com/articles/2019/07/11/new-niosh-report-process-for-chemical-management.aspx

Tagged in: NIOSH workplace safety

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 claimed the lives of approximately 300 people, destroyed over 3 square miles of property, and left more than 100,000 people homeless. Why the quick history lesson? The Fire Marshall’s Association of North America decided in 1911 to make the Great Chicago Fire anniversary a way to promote fire safety and help prevent future tragic events from occurring. This year’s Fire Prevention Week is October 6-12, and its theme is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cap. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” Employers can use this week to focus on fire safety at the workplace and at home.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as 1-2 minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. It’s not a lot of time, but with careful planning and practicing for such an event, it will save lives – at home and at work. Employers can help educate and train their staff on fire safety by using these helpful tips:
• Update signage as necessary – make sure fire escapes are well-marked and routes are posted throughout the facility.
• Make sure fire extinguishers are readily accessible and fully functioning. A fire extinguisher may go years without being used, so make sure fire extinguishers are tested on a regular basis.
• Make sure dangerous equipment or flammable materials are labeled (bilingual signage as well, if possible).
• Practice workplace fire drills on a regular basis and provide training, emails and pamphlets detailing safe fire practices and procedures.
• Encourage or offer incentives for completing online training courses or attending classes.
• Offer to cover training for certification trainings through NFPA, which include such trainings as electrical safety, fire protection, fire inspector and fire plan examiner.
• Provide specific training by inviting certified professionals to speak with employees or send your employees to relevant seminars.
For work and home fire safety, it’s really about the planning:
• Plan your escape route – map your home or workplace and show all available exits from rooms
• Test all smoke alarms on a regular basis – working smoke detectors cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half, and many workplace smoke detector systems can send out an automatic notification to the fire department if left unchecked after a certain amount of time.
• Choose an outside meeting place that is always stationary, like a tree, a building, a parking lot
• Make sure the plan is available to everyone – for the workplace, included in the employee handbook is a good place
• Practice fire drills – for the home, it is recommended to practice twice a year. For the workplace, it might be best to do it more often to train new employees

Employers are responsible for helping to ensure their workplace remains safe. Taking advantage of Fire Prevention Week to heighten the awareness of fire safety is a great way to educate your staff and to keep your employees safe.

Workers performing activities in high temperatures and humid conditions are at risk for heat-related illness. Symptoms of heat-related illness include fainting, dizziness, nausea, and muscle spasms. Keep workers safe by following these simple safety practices.

PDF - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3975.pd

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Each September, National Preparedness Month is recognized to promote family and community disaster awareness and remind people to plan for emergencies. This year’s theme is Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters, and each week in September is dedicated to a certain safety topic.

Week 1 – September 1-7: Save Early for Disaster Costs
Week 2 – September 8-14: Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters
Week 3 – September 15 – 21: Teach Youth to Prepare for Disasters
Week 4 – September 22- Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness

Even though here at Workplace Safety & Health, Inc., we focus specifically on safety in the workplace, your employees, which are your best assets, have homes, families and personal lives. Helping your employees have the awareness for general preparedness is a win-win for everyone! Here are some general preparedness tips to keep in mind and share with your employees:
• Make a family emergency plan – and don’t forget to include your pets in the plan
• Make a communication plan, so your family knows how to reconnect and reunite when a disaster strikes – include an out-of-town emergency contact who can let family and friends know where you are and how to reach you
• Review insurance policies – checking to make sure you are covered for all sorts of disasters, including, but not limited to, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes
• Keep copies of important documents in a secure place
• Build or restock your emergency preparedness kits for home, work and your vehicle – make sure you include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies
• Create an emergency savings fund and keep cash on hand for emergencies
• Download the FEMA app and set up local alerts

September is as good a time as any month to make sure you are prepared, not scared! Take some time this month to get you and your family ready for a disaster! Preparation is key.

The impact of drug overdoses in the workplace can be better understood in a study recently published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), particularly as drug overdose fatalities increase across the country. The study, published online in the journal of Injury Prevention, describes drug overdose deaths of workers occurring in US workplaces between 2011-2016.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-05-14-19.html

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Drug abuse in the United States is an increasing problem, and the workplace is definitely not immune to this epidemic. Even though illicit drugs, such as cocaine and and heroin, account for the majority of workplace overdose deaths, prescription pain relievers containing opioids are of a major concern as well. Every single day, more than 130 people die in the United States after overdosing on opioids, which includes prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

Nearly half of workplace overdose deaths occur in three industries: transportation and warehousing, construction, and healthcare and social assistance. A survey conducted by the National Safety Council found that 75% of employers said their organizations have been directly affected by opioids, contributing to workplace overdoses and injuries, positive drug tests, and absenteeism.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a fact sheet to help employers and workers understand the risk of opioid overdose and help them decide if they should establish a workplace naloxone availability and use program. If you do decide a workplace naloxone availability and use program should be established, here are some quick bullets from the fact sheet to help your organization get started with policies and procedures needed:

• Conduct a risk assessment before implementing a naloxone program
• Involve workplace safety committee and include worker representatives in the discussions
• Need a plan to purchase, store and administer naloxone in case of overdose
• Consider liability and other legal issues related to such a program
• Include formal procedures for documenting incidents and managing those records
• Define clear roles and responsibilities for all persons designated to respond to a suspected overdose
• Store personal protective equipment (PPE) close to the naloxone for quick response
• Develop a plan for immediate care by professional healthcare providers, referral for follow-up care, and ongoing support for any worker who has overdosed
• Re-evaluate the program periodically – including assessing new risks, maintaining equipment and restocking of naloxone and other first aid supplies

 

Tagged in: drug overdose opioids

OSHA has issued a final rule revising 14 provisions in its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards that might be outdated, confusing, or unnecessary. According to the agency's Federal Register notice, the rule “reduces regulatory burden while maintaining or enhancing worker safety and health, and improving privacy protections.” OSHA also stated in a press release that the changes are expected to save employers an estimated total of $6.1 million per year.

Read entire article - https://ohsonline.com/articles/2019/05/14/osha-issues-final-rule-revising-requirements-in-safety-and-health-standards.aspx

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Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, the rate of work deaths and reported injuries in the United States has decreased more than 60 percent. Even though is this great news, there are still too many deaths and injuries in the workplace. Every year, more than 5000 workers are killed on the job – that’s still 14 a day! Also, more than 3.6 million suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.

Implementing a safety and health program at your business can not only save lives, but can help your business by reducing costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums, increase productivity, engage workers, and enhance overall business operations. Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event that celebrates businesses who have successfully implemented safety and health programs in the workplace, and this year’s event is August 12-18.

Safe + Sound Week is a great time to raise awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs. The annual event highlights businesses that show their commitment to safety by focusing on such initiatives as management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in workplaces.

Don’t have an established safety and health program at your business or maybe it’s time to update your current program? We are a leading provider of industrial hygiene, safety, and risk management services; industrial hygiene and safety data management; and occupational safety training courses. and workplace risk management. Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is helping you protect your most valuable asset – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737 or check out our website at www.workplace-safety.net. We look forward to working with you.

A Kansas aircraft manufacturer exposed its employees to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, and failed to monitor exposure levels, according to OSHA, which has assessed citations and fines against Spirit Aerosystems Inc.

Read entire - https://www.ishn.com/articles/110779-kansas-manufacturer-exposes-employees-to-known-carcinogen

Tagged in: OSHA osha regulations

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an average of 92 fatalities occur every year due to confined spaces, with the most frequent cause of death being asphyxiation or a lack of oxygen. Only six percent of the victims have received safety training specific to confined spaces, and 60% of those who have died were trying to rescue their team members who were trapped.

OSHA, in 29 CFR 1910.146, defines a “confined space” as a potential work space which, by design, is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; AND, has limited or restricted means for entry or exit; AND, is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. A key word here is “AND”, meaning each of these descriptions must be true for a work space to be considered an OSHA-defined confined space. Typical confined spaces include, but are not limited to:
• Storage tanks
• Compartments of ships
• Process vessels
• Pits
• Silos
• Vats
• Degreasers
• Reaction vessels
• Boilers
• Ventilation and exhaust ducts
• Sewers
• Tunnels
• Underground utility vaults
• Pipelines

A confined space permit is needed when a space that presents such hazards or has the potential to present such hazards – including the potential for toxic air contaminants or reduced oxygen, material that could engulf a person, walls that taper into a smaller area causing entrapment, unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, heat and many other potential hazards.

OSHA requires employers to provide rescue and emergency services (either in-house or a contracted team) that can be summoned and the means to contact those services, but calling 911 should not be the only rescue plan as most workers who die in confined spaces do so because of lack of oxygen. Rescuers only have 4-6 minutes to provide oxygen before the worker begins to lose brain function.

OSHA’s regulation requires the facility to select a rescuer who is:
• Able to perform a rescue in a “timely” manner
• Equipped with the necessary tools to perform a non-entry rescue in the specified type of confined space
• Proficient with rescue-related tasks and equipment

Standard Permit-Required Confined Spaces procedures and practices should include evaluating workplaces to determine if permit spaces exist and informing employees where these confined spaces are. Employers should also prevent workers from entering such spaces, or if they are expected to enter the space, there should be a strong confined space safety program in place.

Workplace Safety can help you improve your confined space program. We offer a variety of confined space services including: confined space identification and logging, developing a confined space locator drawing in AutoCAD™, assessing the hazards of each confined space, labeling of each space, developing a cloud-based application to assist in program management and the ability to issue and manage permits, and training of confined space supervisors, entrants and attendants on how to use the system. Check out our Confined Spaces Services brochure and contact us at 317-253-9737 with any of your questions.

OSHA wants to hear from employers about how they’ve been using control circuit-type devices to isolate energy and about evolving technology for robotics. The information request is for a possible update of the agency’s Control of Hazardous Energy Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard.

Read entire article - https://www.ishn.com/articles/110804-osha-considering-changes-to-lockouttagout-standard

All workers have the right to a safe and healthy work environment, no matter if they are permanent employees or temporary workers, but unfortunately, research has shown that temporary workers are about twice the risk of being injured on the job. This is especially true of workers in the manufacturing and construction industries.

To help combat this statistic, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established the Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI), which requires that all workers receive the same safety training and equipment, regardless of their employment status.
The staffing agency and the host employer are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers. To ensure both parties have a clear understanding of each employer’s role in protecting employees, OSHA recommends the staffing agency and the host employer have each of these responsibilities spelled out in their contract based on compliance with applicable OSHA standards. For example, staffing agencies might provide general safety and health training while the host employers would provide specific training to that particular workplace’s equipment and hazards.

Both staffing agencies and host employers must:
• Enforce OSHA requirements for training, hazard communication (HAZCOM) and recordkeeping
• Communicate with each other
• Provide training to temporary employees
• Have a safety and health program to reduce injuries and illnesses
• Investigate injuries and illnesses, as well as near-misses

Staffing agencies must:
• Ensure they are sending workers to a safe workplace, including the host employer has fulfilled all requirements for a safe workplace
• Be aware of their worker’s assigned duties so they can provide proper training
• Instruct workers on how to report an injury and how to receive medical treatment for it
• Keep in contact with temporary workers on extended assignments

Host employers must:
• Treat temporary workers like all other employees in terms of training and safety and health protections, including how to use and maintain any applicable personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Train temporary workers on emergency procedures and exit routes

For a more in-depth look at recommended practices, take a look at this brochure published by OSHA and NIOSH. Have any questions, contact us at 317-253-9737. Workplace Safety & Health is here to help you keep your employees safe and healthy!

Female nurses who administer antineoplastic drugs – medications used to treat cancer – do not always wear protective clothing, according to a new NIOSH study published onine in the American Journal of Nursing. It is one of the first studies to explore the use of antineoplastic drugs and PPE among non-pregnant and pregnant female nurses.

Read entire article - https://ohsonline.com/articles/2019/01/10/nurses-need-more-training.aspx

Tagged in: NIOSH PPE

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Cloud-to-ground lightning occurs 20 to 25 million times a year in the United States! But what exactly is a lightning strike? As thunderstorms develop, many small particles of ice within the storm clouds collide, which create a positive charge at the top of the cloud and a negative charge of at the bottom.

As this continues, a second positive charge builds up on the ground beneath the cloud, and when the difference between the electrical charge in the cloud and on the ground becomes great enough to overcome the resistance of the insulating air between them…an electrical current flows instantly – a lightning strike! The electrical potential can be as much as 100 million volts!

During the past 30 years, about 50 people, on average, have been killed by lightning strikes every year, and many more suffer permanent disabilities, including memory loss, fatigue, chronic pain, dizziness, sleeping difficulty, and the inability to complete several tasks at one time. Worker activities at higher risk for lightning hazards include:
• Logging
• Explosives handling or storage
• Heavy equipment operations
• Roofing
• Construction
• Building maintenance
• Power utility field repair
• Steel erection/telecommunications
• Farming and field labor
• Lawn services/landscaping
• Airport ground personnel operations
• Pool and beach lifeguarding

Following these simple safety practices can help keep your outdoor workers safer during thunderstorms and lightning strikes:
• Designate a worker per shift to monitor daily weather forecasts, observe local weather conditions and alert all other workers when a possible lightning threat develops.
• When a storm moves nearby, don’t start or continue any work that cannot be stopped immediately
• Anticipate and take action early by moving everyone to a low-risk location. Don’t wait until you see lightning.
• Good motto: If you see it (lightning), flee it. If you hear it (thunder), clear it. Either one, get indoors and to a safe location!
• Remain in a safe location for 30 minutes after the last sight of lightning or the last sound of thunder. The safest location is inside a fully enclosed building. If that is unavailable, the second safest location is inside a full enclosed car, van, truck or bus with a metal roof and metal sides.

In July 2018, a sweltering heat wave hit California led to the state's hottest month in 124 years of recorded history.

A 63-year-old Woodland Hills, Calif. mail carrier was found dead in a postal vehicle one record-setting 117-degree-Fahrenheit day that month. The United States Postal Service (USPS) now is facing $149,664 in fines for not addressing worker safety in high-heat conditions.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/osha-cites-usps-heat-related-fatality

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National Safety Month is observed annually in June, and it focuses on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. Each week in June highlights a safety topic, which is discussed below.

Week 1: Hazard Recognition
Accidents don’t just happen. Usually there is an error that is within the control of one or more people once you get to the bottom of things. Even when workers have been properly trained and all the proper materials and tools are available, accidents happen often because of haste and poor planning. Best practice is to not take safety shortcuts, make sure you plan ahead, and identify hazards.

Week 2: Slips, Trips and Falls
The third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death is falls, and depending on the industry, for example construction, falls can actually be the leading cause of death. When thinking about slips, trips and falls, most, if not all, are 100% preventable. It’s important to plan ahead, assess the risk and use the right equipment.

Week 3: Fatigue
Occupational fatigue can occur because of long work hours, a heavy workload, lack of sleep, environmental factors, and medical conditions. Effects of fatigue can include slower reaction time, more errors and decreased cognitive ability. Fatigue can occur in all industries, but those affected most often are shift workers, health care workers and drivers. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and safety performance decreases as employees become tired.

Week 4: Impairment
Reasons for impairment on the job can vary, including lack of sleep, medical condition, or substance use. When thinking about substance use, including legal and illegal drugs, it is estimated that nearly 21 million Americans are living with a substance use disorder, and three-quarters of those struggling with addiction are employed.

This might be National Safety Month, but it goes without saying that safety should be a priority every month. Have questions about these four topics or other safety concerns, Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is here to help. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

Despite growing concerns in the trucking industry over a rise in the legal use of marijuana, there is a general lack of research on the relationship between use of the drug and crashes, as well as a need for better law-enforcement tools and training to detect impaired-driver use of the drug, according to new research by the American Transportation Research Institute.

Read entire article - https://www.ttnews.com/articles/marijuana-impairment-emerges-safety-issue-trucking-atri-study-says

Occupational hearing loss (OHL) is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States with about 22 million workers exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, 10 million exposed to solvents, and an unknown number exposed to other ototoxicants that can lead to OHL. According to the National Institute for Occupational and Safety Health (NIOSH), noise is considered loud (hazardous) when it reaches 85 decibels or higher or if someone has to raise his/her voice to speak with someone 3 feet away (arm’s length). Ototoxic chemical exposure includes such chemicals as organic solvents (styrene, trichloroethylene and such mixtures), heavy metals (mercury, lead, trimethyltin), asphyxiants (carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide), and pesticides.

NIOSH has always considered hearing loss prevention as one of its top priorities as OHL is permanent, but also nearly always preventable. The best solution to dangerous noise levels in the workplace is to reduce the source of the noise, if feasible. One NIOSH initiative is to encourage companies to “Buy Quiet,” meaning to develop a plan to take noise levels into consideration when making purchasing decisions.

If this is not technically feasible, workers must use hearing protection devices (HPDs), which when properly selected and correctly worn, these devices will minimize the chance of developing a hearing loss. When considering hearing loss due to ototoxicants, it has been shown that some of these chemicals can cause hearing loss in conjunction with noise levels, but some can cause hearing loss without simultaneous excessive noise exposure.

Virtually all companies that perform manufacturing, construction, or mining activities create noise, so the first step to protecting your employees’ hearing is to establish a hearing conservation program. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. can help your business establish such a program, which would include provisions for noise measurement, engineering and/or administrative control of noise, audiometric (individual employee hearing) testing and provision of hearing protectors.

Noise exposure crosses all industries and affects many workers, and many workers are unaware that their hearing loss may be an OHL, and in most cases, happens gradually. Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. is ready to help you protect your employees’ hearing. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

It may be obvious when people get injured at work, but it may not always be apparent when people acquire infections resulting from exposures at work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently published a study conducting a review of infectious disease investigations in workplaces across the U.S. to better understand the range of cases, the risk factors for workers, and the ways to prevent infectious disease transmission on the job.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-02-21-19.html

Unhealthy employees cost companies money in many ways – from the unmotivated employee to the seriously ill. Your employees are your number one resources, and it’s much better for the bottom line when those resources are healthy. Global Employee Health and Fitness Month is every May, and it’s a great opportunity for companies to educate their employees on the benefits of adopting healthy habits and behaviors into their daily routine.

Employees who believe their employer cares about their health feel more engaged and invested in their company, which then leads to higher employee satisfaction. Higher employee satisfaction has been shown to save companies money, have higher productivity, and a more positive company image. A win-win in so many areas!

It has been documented that healthy employees reduce a company’s tangible and intangible costs in the following ways:
• Accidents – healthier employees are more focused and aware, so not as prone to accidents from inattentiveness
• Work-related illnesses – better fitness decreases stress, increases strength and boosts immunity
• Sick pay and absenteeism– healthier employees don’t get sick as often, saving companies money lost to sick pay and lessened productivity
• Insurance costs – healthy employees often qualify for lower health insurance rates
• Workers compensation claims – healthy and fit employees file less claims whereas overweight employees file twice as many claims and cost U.S. companies around $73.1 billion a year
• Turnover – happy employees tend to stay longer at a job and less likely to seek other employment
• Stress – healthy lifestyles include more awareness of and need for work-life balance and making sure they are taking care of themselves, so they can be more productive, which leads to lowered stress levels
If a full wellness program is not an option, companies can jumpstart a healthier environment for employees by offering these tips and incentives:
• Encourage employees to take the stairs and encourage them to walk around and stretch their legs throughout the day – it’s not really the amount of time, it’s just a commitment to be more active, which helps improve overall fitness, decreases stress, and strengthens mindset
• Invest in a fitness tracker – provide incentives for those who consistently reach that heart-healthy 10,000 steps or more a day
• Provide a gym membership or pay a large percentage of a gym membership as part of your company’s benefit package
• Take a walk outside for that morning business meeting, which has been shown to boost the mood and creativity

Progressive employers understand their greatest asset is their employees. Investing in their health is essential for managing health care costs, increasing your company’s productivity, and improving employee morale.

Beginning in April 2019, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will offer a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners as part of the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP). The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease in coal miners caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-02-14-19.html

Tagged in: coal miners NIOSH

The goal of Air Quality Awareness Week, which is Monday, April 29-Friday, May 3 this year, is to promote events that increase air quality awareness and inspire people to take steps, big and small ones, to reduce their contribution to air pollution. Air pollution is not just outdoor motor vehicle and factory emissions, but inside as well, and frequently, indoor air can contain higher concentrations of hazardous pollutants than outdoor air.

So, let’s take a look at some of the top indoor air pollutants affecting workplace health and some tips on what you can do to help eliminate them.

Mold

Molds are all around us and are part of the natural environment, playing an important role in breaking down organic matter, such as decomposing organic matter. We would not have certain foods or even medicines without mold, but mold growth indoors can negatively affect a facility or workplace in many ways. Toxic mold can cause health problems such as itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, skin rashes, headaches, fatigue, and can even cause respiratory issues including wheezing and asthma.

Mold is often times hidden – thriving in damp, dark places such as attics, crawl spaces, behind walls, in ceilings, underneath sinks and appliances and beneath wallpaper and carpet. To combat this indoor air pollutant, the facility should schedule regular mold inspections with a qualified mold specialist.

Dust and Allergens

Dust and indoor allergens are plentiful, and an estimated 50 million Americans are allergic to everything from dust and dander, to mold and mites. Allergy symptoms include sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes.

Best steps to help lessen indoor allergens is to have a clean office space, including frequent vacuuming (HEPA vacuuming can be even more effective). For the individual worker, cleaning around your work area on a regular basis with a wet cloth can significantly reduce the build-up of dust and allergens.

Cleaning Products and Chemicals

While cleaning your office is essential to cut down on dust and indoor allergens, the cleaning products being used often contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your skin and affect your breathing. In many cases, office cleaning happens when most of the staff is not at work, but if you are present or if you are the one performing the cleaning, you may want to wear protective eyewear and gloves.

Smoke

Nowadays smoking is not allowed in most office buildings, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into cigarette smoke while walking in and out of the buildings as people take their smoking breaks. You may also be exposed to different types of smoke that can negatively affect your health, including working with equipment that can emit carbon monoxide and other toxic agents. In such situations, proper ventilation is necessary.

Everyone deserves to live and work in a healthy environment, which definitely includes safe breathing air. Airborne irritants and toxic chemicals can certainly affect employees’ health and their productivity. It is essential for everyone to be aware of the types of indoor air pollutants that may be present and take steps to combat their negative effects.

Al Shenouda, former federal protective security advisor, talks about the importance of training employees to be prepared for active shooting incidents.

Read entire article: https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/back-basics-why-workplace-violence-programs-matter

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National Facial Protection Month really started as a way to raise public awareness and remind parents, caregivers, coaches and athletes to wear certain safety products to protect their mouth and face while playing sports.  But it’s also a great reminder for workplace safety as eye and face injuries are very common in a variety of workplaces. Eye and face injuries are commonly caused by flying or falling objects, and different types of hazards require different types of protection. In other words, not all personal protective equipment (PPE) is appropriate for every situation!

When thinking about the most appropriate eye and face protection equipment for certain situations, one should answer these basic questions:

  • Does this equipment protect against specific workplace hazards?
  • Does it fit properly and is it reasonably comfortable to wear?
  • Does it provide unrestricted vision and movement?
  • Is it durable and cleanable?
  • Does it allow unrestricted functioning of any other required PPE?

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide eye and face protection whenever workers are exposed to related hazards. It addresses these requirements in several standards, including General Industry (29 CFR 1910) Construction Industry (20 CFR 1926), Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915) and Longshoring (29 CFR 1918).

It is estimated that most facial and eye injuries could be prevented or made less severe with the right protection and safety processes in place. Workplace Safety & Health is here to help you protect your most valuable asset – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737 for a PPE assessment at your workplace.

In a recent address to the International Safety Equipment Association, Loren Sweatt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, provided a number of rulemaking updates.

Read entire article - https://www.ishn.com/articles/109861-dols-sweatt-talks-silica-enforcement-trenching-safety-to-isea

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On average, over 2000 in the United States suffer an eye injury every single day! Almost one million Americans have experienced some vision loss due to eye injury, which results in more than $300 million in lost work time, medical expenses and workman’s compensation. Close to 70% of these accidents occur because of a flying or falling objects, with most of those objects being smaller than the head of a pin!

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and it’s the perfect time to review current safety guidelines and implement wellness and safety protocol for eye health. It’s also a good idea to have an eye safety checklist. Don’t have one? Here’s a quick eye safety checklist to get you started:

Evaluate Safety Hazards and Create Safe Work Environment
• Identify safety hazards and minimize any hazards from falling or unstable objects
• Eliminate hazards by using machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls
• Check equipment and tools on a regular basis to make sure they are working properly and that safety features are in place
• Train employees how to use tools properly – including re-training employees on a regular basis to make sure they are continuing to keep safety top of mind
• Make sure eyewash stations are stocked and properly functioning – and employees are trained on how to use these stations
• Keep all nonessential people away from hazardous areas – and if they must be in the area, make sure they have essential safety equipment such as hardhats and safety goggles

Wear Proper Eye and Face Protection
• Make sure to have the correct forms of eye protection that fit right and stay in place
• Check to make sure goggles and safety glasses are clean and not scratched
• Use anti-dust or anti-fog sprays to prevent build-up, and replace damaged lenses or shields

Instill Workplace Safety Practices
• Always brush, shake or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats, hair, forehead and brow before removing protective eyewear
• Do not rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing
• Clean eyewear regularly

Even so-called minor eye injuries can cause life-long vision problems and suffering. Workplace eye safety is imperative! Protect your employees from becoming an eye injury statistic!

Tagged in: Eye Injury eye safety

Working in trenches and excavations can be hazardous, and trench collapses pose great risk to workers. To raise awareness of preventable incidents, compliance assistance specialists with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Southeast are conducting outreach to educate employers and employees on the hazards associated with trenching and excavation work.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region4/11282018

Two million poisonings are reported to poison centers across the United States each year, and since 1961, the third week in March has been dedicated as National Poison Prevention Week to create awareness. Even though childhood fatalities from accidental poisoning has dropped significantly through the years, the rate of fatalities due to accidental poisoning in all age groups has more than tripled in the past 50 years. Accidental poisoning is now the most common cause of accidental death in America.

Much of the increase is attributed to fatal drug overdoses, both legal and illegal drugs. Our blog, The Opioid Crisis and the Workplace, discussed how this crisis is affecting the workplace. Even though the number of what one would classify as a workplace fatality to poisoning is relatively small when compared to unintentional drug overdoses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates more than 50,000 employees die each year from long-term occupational hazards such as chemical exposures.

There are four different categories of occupational hazards classified as poisons:
1. Agricultural and industrial chemicals
2. Drugs and healthcare products
3. Radiation
4. Biological poisons

When thinking about these four possible poisons, there are few industries that could completely escape exposing their employees to them, so keep these tips in mind to protect your employees:
• Ventilate work areas where hazardous substances are used and stored
• Enclose hazardous operations to prevent dangerous vapors from escaping into areas where employees are, so they do not breath in such vapors
• Restrict entry into hazardous areas to only those who are authorized, trained and properly equipped to do so
• Require the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) specifically designed to protect one against the specific hazardous substance employees are working with
• Use proper decontamination procedures to prevent exposures to poisons and the risk of spreading contamination throughout the workplace…or even into your employees’ homes, affecting their families

Each year, OSHA comes out with their Top 10 Violations, and both Hazard Communication and Respiratory Protection are consistently on this list, so even though National Poison Prevention Week is touted as March 17-23 this year, it’s something we all should be doing every week. Need help or guidance? Workplace Safety and Health, Inc. is ready – call us at 317-253-9737.

In September, a miner died from burn injuries sustained while operating a rock truck. Two weeks later, two additional fires occurred. MSHA personnel will look at fire suppression systems on these types of surface mining vehicles.  They will check critical portions of fire suppression systems and will discuss key requirements of proper installation and maintenance of these systems. 

Read entire article - https://www.msha.gov/news-media/special-initiatives/2018/10/04/fire-suppression-system-initiative

 

 

Tagged in: fire suppression MSHA

Believe it or not, spring really is just right around the corner! And for over 50 million Americans that means those budding leaves and flowers bring a host of misery, including relentless sneezing, runny and congested noses, watery eyes, sore throat and headaches by way of pollen. Spring allergies can begin as early as February in the Midwest with tree pollen followed by grass a bit later.

For those in the workforce who suffer from spring allergies, this time of year can make it difficult to focus on the job or on proper safety measures for two reasons: the allergy symptoms themselves and the medications taken to combat them.

Here are some workplace and lifestyle tips to help win the war against springtime allergies:

Workplace
• Make sure your work areas are well ventilated and have proper humidity
• Regularly dust work areas
• Change air filters frequently
• Clean or replace soiled, dusty or moldy carpet – pollen and other allergens get transferred easily from clothing and shoes
• Working outside:
o Wear NIOSH-approved masks, which can filter at least 95 percent of pollen and other airborne allergens 
o Wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves to protect your skin from allergens
o Work when cloudy skies and calm winds, if possible – pollen counts are higher on sunny, breezy days
• Take antihistamines that are low- or non-sedating during the day, including Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), Fexofenadine (Allegra) or Desloratadine (Clarinex) – there are also many nasal sprays and even allergy shots that can help alleviate symptoms

Lifestyle
• Wash and change your clothes frequently as pollen clings to clothing
• Cover up when working outside – long pants, long sleeves, gloves and masks
• Install HEPA filters to capture pollen in your home
• Keep your furry family members off the furniture as pollen gets trapped in pet hair and then transfers onto your couch, bed and chairs
• Do not line dry your clothing outside – dry clothes indoors
Monitor pollen levels daily throughout spring and summer 
• When pollen levels are high, keep your windows closed and limit your outdoor activity

It is estimated that missed work and reduced productivity due to allergies cost U.S. companies more than $250 million a year. Taking these steps both in the workplace and personally can combat the effects of spring allergies and make for happier and safer employees!

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) renewed a national strategic partnership agreement with the Electrical Transmission and Distribution (ET&D) Construction Contractors; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and related trade associations to protect the safety and health of line workers, and other electrical transmission and distribution industry workers.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/10302018

 

Tagged in: OSHA osha regulations

There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017. Where do these numbers come from? As part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements, many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Those injuries deemed minor and only requiring first aid do not need to be recorded, and certain low-risk industries are exempted unless OSHA asks them to report. Keep in mind, though, even if you are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA records, all employers are still required to report any workplace incident that results in a serious injury, illness or death. For any fatality, you must report within 8 hours of being informed of the fatality, and for any in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees, amputation, or loss of an eye, you must report within 24 hours of being informed.

Many employers are also required to post summaries of all work-related injuries and illnesses from the previous year between the dates of February 1 through April 30. OSHA’s injury summary posting requirement is one way they remind employers and employees about the importance of workplace safety by highlighting the need to address potential hazards. This information is crucial to help employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards, which then helps prevent future workplace injuries and illnesses.

Form 300A, which is a summary form template that employers must post is available online. The summary must be posted in an easily accessible and discernable area, and even if your business was fortunate and had no injuries or illnesses in the past year, the form must still be posted. These records must be kept for five years, and if requested, copies must be provided to current and former employees or their representatives.

Have questions concerning OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements? Workplace Safety & Health Inc. is just a phone call away – 317-253-9737.

Almost 60 per cent of truck drivers in a recent Canadian study reported experiencing musculoskeletal (MSD) pain and discomfort on the job, even though it may be preventable. "Given the fact that MSDs account for nearly one-half of all work-related illnesses and the transportation sector makes up a significant portion of that, understanding the risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders is important," said lead author Sonja Senthanar, a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Health and Health System.

Read entire article - https://www.news-medical.net/news/20181030/Almost-6025-of-truck-drivers-experience-musculoskeletal-pain-finds-Canadian-study.aspx

When we think of typical New Year’s resolutions, spending time with family and friends, working out more, losing weight, getting fit, or quitting smoking usually come to mind, but have you thought about how to improve your health and safety while on the job?

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time on-the-job, so incorporating some steps both personally and professionally to keep yourself healthy and safe every day will help us keep those more personal resolutions on track as well!
Improving the safety and security of your workplace should be on everyone’s list, not just company management! Here are some workplace safety resolutions to keep in mind as an employee:

Don’t Repeat the Same Mistakes
Review the accidents from the previous year. Has your company put things in place to ensure those same issues will not happen again? Did they offer sufficient safety training to new and current employees? If not, decide right now to make changes to prevent the same accidents from occurring and discuss with management how together you can make 2019 the year of safety.

Review Company Policies
In many cases, company policies are only possibly read when you start employment, but it’s a good habit to review policies every year as situations change and new rules and laws are imposed. Also, if you know of a new rule or regulation that has not been included in your company’s policies, be proactive and inform them about it. It could save you or one of your co-worker’s lives.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
If you are wondering about something, chances are others are as well, so ask those questions. Asking questions allows more open communication between the workers and management and may even prompt them to modify safety rules and regulations they did not consider being a safety hazard.

Make It a Habit to Personally Check Your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Making sure your PPE is in top working order is something you should be checking throughout the year, so make it a habit to personally check to make sure your safety vest still properly fits or that your shoes still have intact soles to keep your feet from slipping. What about that helmet or those safety glasses? Are they still in great shape or do they need to be replaced?

Your company should be consistently looking at their workplace safety plans to make sure they are keeping you as safe and healthy as possible while on the job, but you as an employee can take steps as well to ensure your own personal safety while working. By following the above four resolutions, you are not only making sure you are safe on the job, but you are probably helping to make those more personal resolutions such as spending more time with family and friends ring true as well during the New Year! By the way, everyone at Workplace Safety and Health Inc. wishes you and yours a very safe 2019!

Tagged in: workplace safety

Back in August, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a factual update into its ongoing investigation of the April 26, 2018, explosion and subsequent fires at the Husky Superior Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. The initial explosion occurred in the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) at approximately 10:00 am while the refinery was shutting down the FCCU for periodic maintenance and inspection.

Read entire article - https://www.csb.gov/csb-releases-factual-update-on-explosion-and-fire-at-husky-refinery-located-in-superior-wisconsin/

It’s the new year! Time for a fresh start or at least a great time to reassess and reevaluate the safety and security of your workplace. Time to evaluate those emergency plans and your facility’s security, schedule and conduct drills and training exercises, as well as review last year’s accidents and make sure your company has put steps in place to ensure they are less likely to happen again.

Need some more concrete ideas on those safety and security resolutions? Here’s a list of some of the more common ways you can improve your company’s workplace safety:

• Test your notification and alarm systems

• Conduct annual safety training drills with all your staff, making sure you cover a variety of emergency situations, including weather issues, fires, workplace violence, spills, falls, etc.

• Review, reassess and update your crisis management response plan, including who is in charge of certain aspects and remind them of their responsibilities, and involve local law enforcement and health professionals as they may have insight you did not consider

• Upgrade your facility’s security, which could include revising visitor badges and staff access cards, upgrading the locking systems for doors and windows, upgrading or maintaining all security monitoring systems, and if possible, hire security professionals

• Create or evaluate your current internal system for employees to voice concern or make suggestions about workplace safety and security, making sure they feel safe bringing up ideas

• Create an employee health and wellness program to help your team members have an avenue to deal with life stressors, which affect their work habits

• Bring in experienced workplace safety professionals to conduct a workplace safety risk assessment

As an occupational health and safety consulting firm, Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. specializes in risk management. Our primary concern is helping our customers reduce health risks, injuries, and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices. We are here now and throughout 2019 to make this year a safer year for you and your team members. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

 

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed two sets of factsheets—one for structural firefighters and their healthcare providers and another for wildland firefighters and their healthcare providers—to increase awareness about the signs and symptoms of rhabdomyolysis and help fire fighters get early treatment to prevent more serious medical problems.

Entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-08-21-18.html

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), an independent, non-regulatory federal agency appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, is responsible for investigating the root causes of major industrial chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities with the vision of having a nation safe from chemical disasters. The agency, which consists of chemical and mechanical engineers, industrial safety experts and others with many years of chemical industry experience, was created under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

While the agency does not issue fines or citations, it does make recommendations to plants, regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry organizations and labor groups. In its almost 30-year history, the agency has deployed to over 130 chemical incidents and issued more than 800 recommendations that have led to many safety improvements for a variety of industries. In addition to specific accident investigations, the agency also reviews more general chemical accident hazard issues, which has led to new recommendations to OSHA and EPA for regulatory changes.

From years of investigating chemical accidents, the CSB has found that effective emergency response training and planning, along with better communication between the company, emergency responders and the community, are critical to preventing injuries and fatalities. Here are some responsibilities for each of those key groups to ensure a better response in case of a chemical accident:

Companies’ Responsibilities:
• Maintain current emergency response plans
• Communicate frequently and openly with residents, businesses, and emergency management officials about chemical hazards in their community and emergency response plans
• Train employees to respond properly to chemical emergencies and to evacuate when appropriate

First Responders’ Responsibilities:
• Have proper hazmat training and equipment
• Conduct frequent drills and exercise plans to respond to possible chemical releases
• Communicate with companies in their communities that deal with chemicals
• Know the key facility contacts in case of an emergency

Communities’ Responsibilities:
• Understand the hazards of the chemicals used at local facilities
• Support and maintain active local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) and up-to-date community response plans and teams
• Develop detailed evacuation and shelter-in-place plans that identify when and how community members are to respond to different types of emergencies
• Establish redundant communication systems to notify residents of a chemical emergency

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries or illnesses that result from overexertion or repetitive motion. They include soft-tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, tears, hernias, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders that result in days away from work most commonly involve the back alone.

Entire article - https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/back-injuries-prominent-in-work-related-musculoskeletal-disorder-cases-in-2016.htm

Every year, OSHA unveils the agency’s top 10 violations for the previous fiscal year during the National Safety Council Congress & Expo, which is the largest annual gathering of safety professionals. The preliminary data collected covers violations cited between October 1, 2017 through September 30th, 2018.

Most of the list does not vary much through the years, with the top seven being the same as last year’s listing, but this year saw one brand new violation make it into the top ten – Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment/Ear and Eye Protection, which replaced Electrical Wiring Methods.

Here’s this year’s OSHA’s Top Ten Violations:

1) Fall Protection – General Requirements (7,270 violations): This violation has held onto the top of the OSHA’s annual list for several years and includes failure to provide proper fall protection near unprotected sides and edges and low-slope/steep roofs.

2) Hazard Communication (4,552 violations): Holding onto the number two spot for several years, this citation is due to lack of a written program, inadequate training, and failure to properly develop or maintain safety data sheets.

3) Scaffolds (3,336 violations): Holding tight to this ranking for the past few years, this violation includes lack of proper decking, failure to provide personal fall arrest systems and/or guardrails where required, and failure to ensure that supported scaffolds are supported adequately on a solid foundation.

4) Respiratory Protection (3,118 violations): In many cases, citations were issued at facilities for providing ill-fitting equipment, failing to implement a proper program or failing to provide medical evaluations.

5) Lockout/Tagout (2,944 violations): Most citations for this violation were for failing to establish any kind of energy control procedure, and other violations included for poor employee training, failure to develop machine-specific procedures, and lack of proper lockout/tagout equipment.

6) Ladders (2,812 violations): Common citations include failure to have side rails extend three feet beyond a landing surface, using the top step of a stepladder, using ladders for unintended purposes and using ladders with broken steps or rails.

7) Powered Industrial Trucks (2,294 violations): In this category, citations were usually issued for such violations as fork trucks and similar vehicles that were not up to code or damaged and still being used, improper training or certification for those operating forklifts, and failure to recertify forklift operators.

8) Fall Protection (1,982 violations): This violation focuses on the training aspect, including all required persons received training and by a competent person. It also includes failure to certify training in writing and failure to train the proper use of guardrails and personal fall arrest systems.

9) Machine Guarding (1,972 violations): These citations usually include such violations as failing to guard points of operation and ensuring such guards are securely attached to machinery or properly anchoring fixed machinery.

10) Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment/Ear and Eye Protection (1,536 violations): New to the top 10 list, this violation is usually cited concerning the failure to provide eye and face protection from flying objects as well as caustic hazards, gases and vapors. Another common citation includes allowing employees to wear their own prescription lenses in addition to protective equipment, which led to obscured views.

These ten violations represent about 60 percent of the total incidents for 2018, and even though most safety professionals are not surprised by OSHA’s annual listing, what is pretty concerning is that the total number of violations on this list represent a 10.19 percent increase, or 2,942 more violations than in 2017. Everyone here at Workplace Safety & Health Co. would love to see a decrease in violations in 2019, and we are here to help you do just that. Contact us at 317-253-9737 to talk about how we can help you keep your employees - your most valuable assets - safe on the job.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

NIOSH has issued a guide intended to help employers select appropriate air-purifying respirators based on the environment and contaminants at specific jobsites.

See PDF - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2018-176/pdfs/2018-176-508.pdf?id=10.26616/NIOSHPUB2018176

Posted by on in Uncategorized

The winter months are upon us, and what that means is colder weather, maybe some snow and ice and the flu. Between 5-20 percent of Americans catch the flu annually, and it is estimated that 70 million workdays are missed every year as a result, costing employers between $3 billion and $12 billion per year.

The flu season usually runs from December to March, and CDC data from 1982 through 2016 shows the flu peaked in February for 14 of those seasons and in December for seven of them, and a for the rest of the years, it was between March and January. That means the flu season lasts one-third of every year, so what can you do to protect yourself and help reduce the spread of the seasonal flu in workplaces? Here are few recommendations by CDC:

1. Get the flu vaccine every year, especially if you are considered increased risk
Although the flu vaccine’s effectiveness varies from year to year, it has been proven to keep you from getting the flu, makes the flu less severe if you do get it, and keeps you from spreading the flu to your co-workers, family and others. Those usually considered high risk are the elderly, pregnant women, small children, persons with certain medical conditions (i.e. asthma, lung disease, heart disease, etc.).

2. Stay at home if you are sick
If you have a fever and respiratory symptoms, please stay home until 24 hours after your fever ends without the use of medications. But realize too that not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. Other symptoms may include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea or vomiting.

3. Use basic hygiene to stop the spread of germs and viruses
Basic hygiene includes all the things our parents and kindergarten teachers stressed! Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (sing the happy birthday song, if you aren’t sure just how long 20 seconds is), and if there is no soap and water available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing rub. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve(s). After your sneezes and coughs, wash those hands!

4. Wipe down common work areas with a disinfectant
Any work area that is frequently touched, including telephones, computer equipment, copiers, etc, should be cleaned with a disinfectant regularly. Refrain from using coworkers’ desks, phones, computers or other work equipment, and if you must use them, consider cleaning it first with a disinfectant.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers provide working conditions that are free from known dangers, including sicknesses such as the flu. All employers should implement a program that combines the above recommendations to protect workers and reduce the transmission of the seasonal flu virus in the workplace. Need help establishing such a program at your workplace? Workplace Safety & Health, Inc. is just a phone call away – 317-253-9737.

Tagged in: CDC

A notice published by NIOSH last month updates the agency’s position regarding facial hair and the selection and use of respiratory protective devices and clarifies the NIOSH definition of respirator-sealing surfaces. The notice applies to all primary seals of tight-fitting full- and half-facepiece respirators and to tight-fitting respirator designs that rely on a neck dam seal.

Read more - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/NIOSH-Updates-Position-on-Facial-Hair,-Respirator-Use.aspx

 

Posted by on in Industrial Hygiene Consulting

Since the energy crisis of the mid-1970s, indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a common discussion point when it comes to keeping workplaces safe and healthy for their employees. In a past blog, we discussed the main sources of IAQ in the workplace, including building location, inadequate ventilation and hazardous material. OSHA also identifies these key attributes that lead to IAQ complaints:

• Improperly operated and maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Overcrowding
• Radon
• Moisture incursion and dampness
• Presence of outside air pollutants
• Presence of internally generated contaminates

Here are some typical Frequently Asked Questions concerning IAQ according to OSHA:

1. What is “Indoor Air Quality”?
Indoor air quality, also called indoor environmental quality, describes how the inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort and ability to work. It can include temperature, humidity, poor ventilation (lack of outside air), mold or exposure to other chemicals.

2. What are the most common causes of IAQ problems?
The most common causes are not enough ventilation, which includes not allowing enough fresh outdoor air to come in or contaminated air being brought into the building; poor upkeep of ventilation and HVAC systems; dampness and moisture due to water damage or high humidity; construction or remodeling; and indoor and outdoor contaminated air.

3. How can I tell if there is an IAQ issue at my workplace?
Do you notice your own symptoms, such as headaches and sinus issues, when you are at work, but they clear up after you leave the building? This could be a sign that the air contains contaminants. A couple other signs include unpleasant or musty odors, or the building is hot and stuffy.

4. Is there a test that can find an IAQ problem?
Even though there are specific tests for asbestos and radon, the majority of IAQ issues requires more measurements being checked, including temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide concentrations and air flow, as well as inspections and testing of the ventilation and HVAC systems. It’s also a good idea to do a building walk-through to check for odors and look for leaks and water damage.

5. What should I do if I think there is an IAQ problem at work?
Ask your employer to check the ventilation, HVAC systems and to make sure there is no water damage. Even though OSHA does not have specific IAQ standards, under the Act, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury. You also have the right to contact OSHA and request a workplace inspection.

The importance of the air we breathe is many times taken for granted. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is essential in the workplace, and if air quality is poor, the health and productivity of your employees will most likely decrease.

A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2015 discovered that people who work in well-ventilated offices have significantly higher cognitive function scores when responding to a crisis or developing a strategy. Those working in “green” conditions, which included enhanced ventilation and conditions with increased levels of CO2 had, on average, double the cognitive function scores of those participants who worked in conventional environments.

Reduced cognitive functioning abilities aren’t the only issue when IAQ is poor. Poor air quality in the workplace also causes such symptoms as allergic reactions, physical fatigue, headaches and eye and throat irritation. These health problems are costly to a business as they often lead to higher levels of absenteeism.

The main sources of poor air quality in the workplace include the following:

Building location – if located close to a highway, on previous industrial sites or on an elevated water table can cause dust and soot particles, dampness and water leaks, as well as chemical pollutants

Hazardous materials – even though asbestos has been banned for several years, it is still present in many public buildings; it is estimated that 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos in the workplace

Inadequate ventilation – IAQ is very dependent on an effective, well-maintained ventilation system that circulates and replaces used air with fresh air; if the system is not working correctly, it can lead to increased infiltration of pollution particles and humid air

Although OSHA does not have specific IAQ standards, it does have standards about ventilation and standards on some of the air contaminants that can be involved in IAQ issues. And the General Duty Clause of the Act itself requires employers to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury.

Even though there is no single test to find an IAQ issue, there are measures that can be taken, as well as inspections on the ventilation and HVAC systems and a building walk-through to check for odors and look for tell-tale signs of water damage and leaks. Workplace Safety & Health’s mission is to provide our clients with premier occupational safety and health services designed to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, which promotes client profitability. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

 

Tagged in: IAQ Indoor Air Quality

Roadside inspectors placed nearly 1,600 trucks and buses out-of-service for brake violations during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s unannounced Brake Safety Day on April 25.
According to CVSA, a total of 11,531 roadside inspections were conducted on Brake Safety Day, and 1,595 commercial vehicles, or 13.8 percent of those inspected, were placed out-of-service.

 Read entire article - https://www.ccjdigital.com/surprise-brake-inspection-blitz-puts-1600-trucks-out-of-service/

Posted by on in Uncategorized

More than 700,000 employees injure their eyes at work each year in the United States – that’s more than 2000 a day! Three hundred thousand of these injuries send employees to the emergency rooms each year, and 10-20% cause temporary or permanent vision loss. The most common causes for eye injuries are from flying bits of metal or glass, tools, particles, chemicals, harmful radiation or a combination of these hazards.

Experts believe using proper safety eyewear could have prevented, or at least lessened, 90% of the eye injuries occurring at work. Other than using the right eye protection, knowing the eye safety dangers at work is extremely important. Complete an eye hazard assessment, described in 29 CFR 1910.132 and Appendix B to Subpart I, and then eliminating hazards before starting work, such as machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls. Doing these three things can greatly reduce the likelihood of a workplace eye injury.

But what type of safety eye protection should you wear? That really depends on the hazards at your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust, you must wear at least safety glasses with side shields. If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers or fiber optics, then you must use specific eye protection for such jobs, including safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that specific task.

Here are a couple other tips to keep in mind to promote eye safety in the workplace:
• Employees should have regular comprehensive eye exams to verify their vision is adequate to complete their jobs safely.
• When an employee already has reduced vision, company provided prescription glasses or goggles would ensure more protective eyewear usage
• Make sure all employees know where the nearest eyewash station is at work and how to use it to properly clean their eyes
Your eyesight is your most critical sense. Protect it by making sure you are wearing the most appropriate and well-fitting eye safety protection – for Eye Injury Prevention Month and every month afterwards.

Starting in July 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires businesses across the U.S. to submit workplace illness and injury reports digitally.

 Read entire article - http://www.ehstoday.com/osha/5-ways-comply-new-osha-digitized-reporting-regulations

Tagged in: OSHA osha regulations

Posted by on in Uncategorized

It is estimated one in every five American workers is over the age of 65, and in 2020, one in four will be over 55, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Silver Tsunami, as the phenomenon of the older population (aged 55 and older) being in the workforce has been named, will account for more than 25 percent of the U.S. workers by 2022, up from 14 percent in 2002.

This demographic shift has made the issue of workplace safety, especially for those of advanced age, in the forefront of many discussions, prompting safety professionals and researchers to strategize on best practices to accommodate them. The risk of injuries increases with age, and rehabilitation from an injury also increases dramatically. Data from the 2014 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses showed that among injured construction workers, the median days away from work averaged 20 for 45-54 age group, 21 for workers 55-64 years old and 37 for those 65 and older.

This same survey data showed employees aged 45 to 54 experienced musculoskeletal disorders at a rate of about 40 per 10,000 full-time workers – the highest among all demographics. Older workers were much more likely to experience trunk, back, shoulder and knee injuries than their younger counterparts. Also, the risk of fatal falls across all industries increases with age. While workers aged 20-24 years old accounted for 8.2 percent of fatal falls in 2014, the rate for older groups increases with age:
• 45-54: 16.8 percent
• 55-64: 20.7 percent
• 65 and older: 27.3 percent

Many injuries to the older population lead to disabilities as their bodies take much longer to heal or may never get back to their pre-injury state. Disability plays a big role when working with our aging population. The American Disability Act (ADA) requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals. For older workers with disabilities, reasonable, and often simple and inexpensive, workplace accommodations can promote job retention, including:
• Accessible parking spaces
• Screen magnification software
• Periodic rest breaks away from the workstation
• Part-time work schedules
• Flexible scheduling due to stamina issues or the effects of medications
• A sit-stand desk
• Time off for medical treatment
• Enhanced health and wellness programs and disability management

With trends showing the continued aging workforce increasing, employers should take initiatives to create more age-friendly workplaces. Need some help putting strategies in place, give us a call at Workplace Safety – 317-253-9737.

Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States, at an estimated annual cost of $8.1 billion. Skin cancer can be serious, expensive and sometimes deadly.

PDF - https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/pdf/skincancer_employees.pdf

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized each September. Even though this push tends to be a reminder we must prepare ourselves and our families for a multitude of Mother Nature disasters and encourages us to take time to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, we must not forget the workplace.

Disasters can manifest in a variety of ways, and the workplace is definitely not exempt. Tornadoes, floods and weather-related disasters bring havoc, and do you know if your employees know what to do in such situations? What about workplace violence? A chemical spill? A fire? Taking preventative measures and planning ahead are important aspects to staying calm and keeping your employees safe.

First step is making sure there is an evacuation plan in place. Ready.gov recommends regularly testing your building’s communication system as it is of the utmost importance that employees can clearly hear instructions. If no such system is in place, have a backup plan, such as speaking through a bullhorn to relay information. Other tips include:
• Make sure every floor of the building has two exits that are kept clear
• Assign specific evacuation roles to employees to help direct co-workers to safety and to account for all employees being present
• Contact your local fire department to create an evacuation plan for workers with disabilities

Taking Shelter
Mother Nature has been on a bit of a rampage in the recent years, and while Indiana may not technically be in tornado alley, it seems we are just across the street! If severe weather is a threat, sound a distinct warning and move all workers to the strongest part of the building or structure. It is important to conduct regularly scheduled emergency drills, so employees know what to do and to ensure the building’s safe areas provide enough room for everyone.

Lockdown Situation
Workplace violence is a serious occupational hazard, ranking in the top four causes of death in the workplace for the past 15 years. Ready.gov recommends if gunfire is suspected, employees should find a hiding place and stay quiet. If possible, workers should hide in a room – under a desk and away from windows and doors – and lock and barricade the door. Employees should stay hidden until authorities, such as the police, release them.

Dangerous Materials
If you suspect a gas leak or chemical spill has occurred, National Safety Council recommends the following acronym – E.S.C.A.P.E.:
• E: Exit the area
• S: Secure the scene
• C: Call 911
• A: Assess the problem
• P: Pull your building’s fire alarm
• E: Exit the building

In honor of National Preparedness Month, make it a point to ensure the safety of your workers. Workplace Safety & Health is here to help you do just that. Give us a call – 317-253-9737.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Jax Utilities Management Inc., a Jacksonville utilities contractor, for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $271,606.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region4/03072018

Manual dexterity – the use of hands, fingers and thumbs to perform everything from very basic to very complex motions - is something we may take for granted much of the time.

But when these most intricate and useful manual appendages find themselves in harm’s way, the results are hard to ignore.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a million workers visit the emergency room with hand injuries each year. Approximately 110,000 hand injuries result in lost time at work (1) with the average hand injury resulting to six days away from the job. The average claim is about $6,000, while the average workers' compensation claim comes to about $7,500. In all, the hands account for about 13 percent of all industrial injuries each year.

Depending on the industry, some workplace injuries routinely involve the possibility of exposure to toxic materials through the skin. In fact, the Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (2) from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists approximately 450 organic substances for which skin protection is required.

As the body’s largest organ, the skin represents a major route for chemical exposure. Toxins can damage the skin directly, be absorbed into the body through the skin or enter through hand-to-mouth transfer. To complicate matters, results of numerous studies indicate that chemical absorption through the skin can go unnoticed by someone going about his or her work routine.

So, one might argue, when it comes to chemical protective clothing for the hands, why not just have workers don heavily insulated, chemically impervious mitts and be done with it? The reason, of course, is that most jobs require a level of tactility that limits the practicality of such a design, even it were possible to fabricate.

Here’s another argument for not just throwing on any old set of gloves. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Occupational Safety and Health Administration/OSHA), 30 percent of workers who suffered hand injuries were wearing gloves that were inadequate, damaged or were the wrong type for the hazard. Perhaps even more telling is that the other 70 percent who sustained a hand injury were not wearing gloves at the time of the incident (3).

When it comes to choosing chemical protective clothing, organizations should weigh factors such as cost, practicality, toxicity, and workplace exposure conditions.

OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard (1910.132) calls for a hazard assessment that includes conducting a survey of each operation, identifying specific potential hazards, organizing the data and analyzing the information. This analysis should include a determination of the level of risk and seriousness of the potential injury from each hazard found in the area.

It’s important to keep in mind that commonly available glove materials provide only limited protection against many chemicals. Gloves also represent an opportunity for sweat to build up, leading to potential discomfort and health issues. That means selecting the best fit for a particular application, which includes determining how long gloves can be worn and whether they can be reused (4).

Because they are not always reliable as a source of protection, gloves are not recommended by NIOSH or OSHA as a primary defense against chemical exposure.

Rather, chemical protective clothing for the hands should be one part of a comprehensive approach that includes practices such as isolation, training and environmental monitoring.

References
1. 2014 USA National Safety Council. 2014 injury data.
2. www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/
3. www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9777
4. www.cdc.gov/niosh/ncpc/default.html

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