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Richard Griffith

Richard Griffith

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

It’s a known fact poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can be hazardous to workers’ health, and there are many factors that can affect IAQ. Such factors include, but are not limited to, poor ventilation, problems controlling temperature, high or low humidity and recent remodeling and activity both inside and outside the building. For the past several months, during the pandemic, focus has been on ventilation and air cleaning to find ways to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of FAQs specific to indoor air quality and COVID-19, including the answer to where professionals who manage such buildings as offices, schools and commercial buildings can get specific information on ventilation and filtration to respond to COVID-19:

“Professionals who operate school, office, and commercial buildings should consult the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance for information on ventilation and filtration to help reduce risks from the virus that causes COVID-19. In general, increasing ventilation and filtration is usually appropriate; however, due to the complexity and diversity of building types, sizes, construction styles, HVAC system components, and other building features, a professional should interpret ASHRAE guidelines for their specific building and circumstances.”

Improvements to ventilation and air cleaning are important components in the fight against the virus, but they alone cannot eliminate the entire transmission risk. Physical distancing, wearing masks, surface cleaning and hand washing are also important in the stopping of spread of COVID. Taking steps to clear the air literally can help keep your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy.

Tagged in: IAQ Indoor Air Quality

If you have driven a recent model car, you are well acquainted with all of the bleeps, blurps and whines emitted whenever you leave a traffic lane or come too close to another vehicle. We are told these are designed to improve safety, and they are essential elements of future driverless automotive technology. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to know if that really is the case.

Read entire: https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/article/21169170/nhtsa-orders-automated-driving-system-crash-reporting

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National Indoor Air Quality Month is observed every year in October. It’s a good reminder to everyone to take a look at their homes and businesses and find ways to improve the air we all breathe as we typically spend nearly 80-90% of our time indoors.

OSHA has identified key elements that lead to IAQ complaints in the workplace:
• Improperly operated and maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Moisture infiltration and dampness
• Overcrowding
• Presence of outside air pollutants
• Presence of internally generated contaminates
• Radon

OSHA encourages businesses to think in terms of the “Three Lines of Defense” to reduce or eliminate the air quality hazards, and always apply the most effective method first, beginning with eliminating/engineering hazards and going from there.

Three Lines of Defense:
• Eliminating/Engineering Controls – removing, substituting and/or enclosing the pollutant source should always be the first option. If the source cannot be eliminated, then setting up engineering controls, such as a local exhaust, general dilution ventilation and air cleaning/filtration is the next step.
• Administrative Controls – next line of defense falls into three general categories:
  -Work schedule: eliminating or reduce the amount of time a worker is exposed to the pollutant
  -Training: educating workers on the sources and effects of the pollutants under their control, so they can proactively reduce their personal exposure
  -Housekeeping: keeping your workplace as free from dirt and pollutants through the use of mats at doors, proper storing practices, and the use of cleaning products
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – if the first two lines of defense are not feasible or enough to eliminate or lessen the exposure and keep your workers safe and healthy, then PPE should be used to control your workers’ exposure, including the use of respirators, gloves, protective clothing, eyewear, and footwear where necessary.

The Candidate List of substances of very high concern now contains 219 chemicals that may harm people or the environment.

Read entire article: https://echa.europa.eu/-/candidate-list-updated-with-eight-hazardous-chemicals

For almost 100 years, Fire Prevention Week is observed during the week of October 9 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This year’s observation will be held October 3-9, 2021, and the theme will be “Learn the Sound of Fire Safety,” and the hope is to better educate the public about the sounds of smoke alarms, what those sounds mean, and how to respond.

Some basic safety tips when it comes to smoke/fire/CO alarms:
• Continuous set of three loud beeps means smoke or fire, so get out, call 911 and stay out – four beeps for carbon monoxide alarms
• A single chirp, every 30 or 60 seconds, means the battery is low and should be changed
• Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the unit should be replaced as it is not functioning properly and at the end of its life (do not disconnect and forget about it)
• All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years
• Test all smoke and CO alarms monthly by pressing the test button
• Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all, including those with sensory and/or physical disabilities (ie – install bed shaker and strobe light alarms)
When thinking about workplace safety, here are some helpful tips to avoid fire in your facility or building:
• Keep your workplace as clean as possible – emptying trash regularly and don’t block any fire exits or equipment.
• Maintain electrical equipment to prevent any machines and equipment from overheating and keeping friction sparks to a minimum. Turn off lights and computers after work hours.
• Check faulty electrical wiring on a monthly basis, as faulty wiring is the most common source of workplace fires.
• Store hazardous chemicals properly – make sure each container is labelled correctly and placed in a safe storage.
• Assign designated smoking areas in your workplace and have policies in place and visible, so they can follow to avoid any fire safety issues
• Always have fire extinguishers all over the workplace – and do routine inspections to make sure they are fully charged.
• Conduct fire drills once a year with your employees
• Schedule training sessions with your employees on the proper way to use a fire extinguisher and other fire prevention equipment, as well as promote fire safety and education on fire exit routes and safety planning
• Post emergency hotline numbers in visible places – special bulletin boards, break room refrigerators, etc.
• Follow the Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) - provided by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19. The agency launched the NEP on March 12, 2021, to focus on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions or exercise other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Read entire article: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/07082021-0

National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is held every September as an important reminder to all that natural and man-made disasters can happen anytime. Having a planned response is critical for your safety, no matter if you are at home, at work or anywhere. Our last blog focused on having a strategic evacuation plan in place for those emergencies when you need to exit the facility.

Even though a large majority of emergencies may indeed mean vacating the area, let’s talk about medical emergencies. Work-related accidents or medical emergencies require an immediate response. There are many types of medical emergencies, which could include but definitely not limited to heart attacks, choking, strokes, seizures, falls, burns, and cuts. It is important to prepare for all types of medical emergencies that can happen in a workplace and have a designated group of employees trained to assist – sometimes referred to as designated first aiders.

Three C’s: Medical Emergency Initial Response
• Check over the injured individual to access what type of medical emergency
• Call 911, so that emergency life support and help will arrive as soon as possible
• Care: those designated as first aiders in the workplace should provide relevant medical emergency care

All employers should have some basic supplies and resources available for medical emergencies, including the following:
• Keep a fully stocked, accessible first aid kit
• Offer CPR certification and seizure training opportunities to your employees
• Equip the facility with and train employees in the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator)

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.

Read entire article: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/default.html

This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Aug. 22-28. During Brake Safety Week, commercial motor vehicle inspectors emphasize the importance of brake systems by conducting inspections and removing commercial motor vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from our roadways.

Read entire article - https://www.cvsa.org/news/2021-brake-safety-week/

Unexpected emergencies can happen at any time! Anything from a natural disaster, a toxic chemical spill, an active shooter incident or a fallen sick team member – all can happen while at work, so it’s extremely important employees know how to respond quickly.

September is National Preparedness Month. Preparing for any type of emergency ahead of time ensures your team has the necessary equipment, knows what to do and where to go – and just knows how to keep themselves safe.

As we know, there are so many emergencies that can happen. We will focus on those emergencies where it is deemed as important to vacate the building. In these situations, it is extremely important to have a strategic evacuation plan. Establishing an emergency planning team within your organization to identify and prepare for “worst-case” scenarios is a good rule of thumb – and making sure there are written policies for all employees to read and sign off on. The emergency plan should at least include the following:

  • Emergency notification systems – make sure messages are able to reach everyone; keeping in mind those who may not speak or understand English well and those with disabilities
  • Chain of command – make sure there is a plan in place for who is assigned to send the notifications, as well as who will take the place of these workers if they are not available to complete that task
  • Evacuation routes – train your staff in proper evacuation procedure; everyone needs to know how to evacuate safely and quickly
  • Responder protocols – make sure you have some employees who have had extensive safety training be assigned to make sure operations are shut down safely and everyone is out of the building
  • Post-evacuation protocol – designate a meeting area for all employees, so there is a way to verify that everyone made it out safely; keep in mind non-employees as well that might have been in your facility

As we discussed in an earlier blog about workplace safety culture, it starts at the top. Employers must commit to creating safe workplace conditions and ensuring safe work interactions. Setting the tone that safety is a priority in your organization is key to keeping your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy!

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a compliance directive designed to ensure uniform inspection and enforcement procedures for its Emergency Temporary Standard to protect healthcare workers from occupational exposures to COVID-19.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/06302021

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Did you know that brake system was the third most cited vehicle-related factor in fatal commercial and passenger vehicle crashes, according to a recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report? Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles, which means a safer environment for those workers in those vehicle. as well as the general population using the roads.

This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for August 22-28. Focusing on the importance of brake systems, commercial motor vehicle inspectors conduct North American Standard Inspections of commercial motor vehicles and removing any vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from the roadways. This is a great opportunity for those in the motor carrier business to also educate their drivers and maintenance service providers on the importance of brake system safety.

Last year’s findings during Brake Safety Week saw 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected did indeed have brake-related violation and were placed out-of-service. Having a vehicle taken out of commission is a costly business expense, so routine maintenance is essential to ensure your brake system efficiency doesn’t fall below the minimum of 43.5%. Special attention is paid to brake hoses and tubing during inspections to make sure they are properly attached, undamaged, without leaks, appropriately flexible, and free from leaks, corrosion and other damage.

Some common areas you should be visually inspecting on a regular basis to keep your commercial vehicles safe on the road:
• Air brake chamber
• Brake hoses and tubing
• Cotter pins
• Clevis pings
• Slack adjuster
• Air lines

Brake Safety Week is a great reminder to proactively check and service your vehicles, which should be part of your process all year long. Here’s a Brake Inspection Checklist from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), which is a nonprofit whose mission is to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and uniformity throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico by providing guidance and education to enforcement, industry and policy makers.

The AIHA announced new guidelines for developing health metrics in workplaces to help prevent illness and injury.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/industrial-hygiene/article/21165463/occupational-health-experts-offer-guidelines-to-prevent-workplace-illness-and-injury

Tagged in: aiha workplace safety

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We are in the middle of summer, and heat stress in the workplace affects too many workers every year in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1992 and 2016, 783 workers died and more than 69,000 workers suffered serious injuries due to heat exposure on the job, which this number is challenged by labor advocates who say numbers are much higher because of under-reporting or not being classified as a work-related illness or death.

In our last blog, we covered all the terms associated with heat stress and its subsequent illnesses, but to recap - heat stress is a series of conditions where the body is under stress from overheating. Symptoms can range from profuse sweating to dizziness, cessation of sweating, and eventually collapse. Of course, high temperatures increase heat stress, but also increased relative humidity, decreased air movement, or lack of shading from direct heat can all contribute to heat stress.

Supervisor’s Role in Preventing Heat Stress
• Allow time for employees to adjust to hot jobs when possible (heat tolerance), which can take 2-3 weeks for an employee to become acclimated to the hot environment
• When possible, adjust the work schedule with heavier work assigned on cooler days or during the cooler part of the day
• On hot days, reduce the workload – and increase the use of equipment to reduce physical labor
• Establish a schedule for work and rest periods during hot days
• Train workers to recognize signs and symptoms of heat stress illnesses and be prepared to give first aid, if necessary
• Avoid placing "high risk" employees in hot work environments for extended time periods (older, overweight, heart disease, high blood pressure, take medication that may be affected by extreme heat)
• Provide auxiliary body cooling and protective clothing

Worker’s Role in Preventing Heat Stress
• Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat stress – and take adequate rest periods (in shade or cooler environment)
• Use adequate fans for ventilation and cooling, especially when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Wear light-colored, loose clothing (unless working around equipment with moving parts).
• Keep shaded from direct heat whenever possible - wear a hat in direct sunshine, find a shaded area when on breaks, etc.
• Drink plenty of water – the body requires more water than usual in hot environments

According to several media sources, there appears to be a degree of confusion about the purpose of HIPAA, who it applies to, and whether asking someone if they have had a COVID-19 vaccine constitutes a HIPAA violation.

Read entire article - https://www.hipaajournal.com/is-it-a-hipaa-violation-to-ask-for-proof-of-vaccine-status/

 

While most workers have the comfort of an air conditioned office during the hot days of summer, many are not quite so lucky. Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments could definitely be at risk for heat stress, which can result in occupational illnesses and injuries.

Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and those working in hot environments, such as firefighters, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, bakery workers, factory workers and others. In this blog, we will cover CDC’s and NIOSH’s definitions of heat stress and the illnesses that can result from it.

Heat Stress
The net heat load to which a worker is exposed from the combined contributions of metabolic heat, environmental factors, and clothing worn which results in an increase in heat storage in the body.

Heat Strain
The physiological response to the heat load (external or internal) experienced by a person, in which the body attempts to increase heat loss to the environment in order to maintain a stable body temperature.

Heat Cramp
A heat-related illness characterized by spastic contractions of the voluntary muscles (mainly arms, hands, legs, and feet), usually associated with restricted salt intake and profuse sweating without significant body dehydration.

Heat Exhaustion
A heat-related illness characterized by elevation of core body temperature above 38°C (100.4°F) and abnormal performance of one or more organ systems, without injury to the central nervous system. Heat exhaustion may signal impending heat stroke.

Heat Stroke
An acute medical emergency caused by exposure to heat from an excessive rise in body temperature [above 41.1°C (106°F] and failure of the temperature-regulating mechanism. Injury occurs to the central nervous system characterized by a sudden and sustained loss of consciousness preceded by vertigo, nausea, headache, cerebral dysfunction, bizarre behavior, and excessive body temperature.

Heat Syncope
Collapse and/or loss of consciousness during heat exposure without an increase in body temperature or cessation of sweating, similar to vasovagal fainting except that it is heat induced.
Stay tuned as we will focus our next blog on heat stress in the workplace and what employers and employees can do to prevent heat stress.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided a three-month extension to several emergency waivers enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualifying truck and bus drivers now have through August 31, 2021, to operating under the terms of the new waivers. However, the FMCSA could terminate or modify the waivers before then.

Read entire article - https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/extension-expanded-modified-emergency-declaration-no-2020-002-under-49-cfr-ss-39025-may

Our last blog, June is National Safety Month, touched on the importance of a workplace safety culture. According to Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), employers shall provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. One of the greatest ways to impact the reduction of workplace incidents is having a strong workplace safety culture. To reiterate, a workplace safety culture is defined as a way in which safety is managed in a workplace – a combination of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes towards safety of workers and the overall safety of the work environment itself.

So how do you implement a safety culture at your organization or business? How do you as an employer help facilitate the culture of the workplace that encourages employees to think of safety as an important aspect and behave in a way that prioritizes their own safety and those around them at all times?

It starts at the top – the attitudes held by the company’s leadership. What are the daily safety practices your team is committed to doing? A strong safety culture will not happen overnight – it’s something that has to be continuously discussed. It is also extremely important to get employee buy-in as well, so make sure they understand the why behind specific aspects of any safety practices and plans being implemented - and allow them to ask questions and voice concerns. One way to get buy-in is having a group of employees be a part of the safety culture conversations and what it should look like at your organization – this will help encourage them to take personal responsibility for one another’s safety.

When thinking about your company’s safety culture and implementing new policies and practices, keep these considerations in mind:
• Identify hazards in the workplace – some possible existing hazards to think about include, but are not limited to, workplace layout, types of machinery, clothing, jewelry, even the dangers that can happen with hair length
• Create a safety program – make sure it applies to all workers, and make sure the program covers all safety hazards as well as complies with legal requirements
• Provide safety training to all workers – and make sure there is a program in place for ongoing trainings as part of the culture
• Conduct annual safety audits – take a look at how well the business is doing regarding safety and what can be done to improve
• Have a written policy for handling employee concerns – open communication will encourage workers to continue to bring safety matters to their supervisors’ attention, and part of the policy should include updates to employees on the safety issues as well as how they were resolved, and possible recourse options if the employee is not satisfied with how the safety concern was dealt with

It has been shown companies who focus and achieve a strong workplace safety culture have higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. When everyone in the company perceives workplace safety as part of their job responsibilities, everyone wins.

Tagged in: workplace safety

This guidance is intended to inform employers and workers in most workplace settings outside of healthcare to help them identify risks of being exposed to and/or contracting COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to implement.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework

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Since 1996, National Safety Month has been observed every June to highlight the top risks to health and safety and decrease the occurrence of unintentional injuries and deaths while increasing awareness of safety at work, at home, and in our communities. With many still at least in some sort of work hybrid situation, safety both inside and outside the typical workplace should be considered.

An easy acronym to help you and your team stay safe at work and at home is S.A.F.E.T.Y.
Search for hazards
Analyze the risks
Find the cause
Eliminate the cause
Tell others
You are safe

It seems our country is on the upswing from the pandemic, and we are heading into whatever this new normal will be, but one safety challenge will continue to be a major factor: mental health. According to the CDC, 41% of Americans reported having at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition associated with COVID-19. Understandably, essential workers have the highest percentage, but about one-fourth of our general population is dealing with some sort of trauma and stress-related disorder and some will turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. As our recent blog on creating safe and healthy workplaces post-pandemic discusses, it’s important for the safety of your employees and your company to establish a drug-free workplace program and it gives five key components.

Building a safety culture within your company is another way to keep safety on the forefront not just this month, but throughout the year. What is a safety culture? It’s a company-wide mindset that safety always comes first. Policies and procedures focus on promoting and enforces safety best practices, and employees are encouraged to go above and beyond to identify unsafe working conditions and behaviors – and work to correct them. According to OSHA, a strong safety culture can have the single greatest impact on the reduction of incidents, including:
• Minimizing risky employee behaviors
• Decreasing absenteeism and turnover
• Improving worker productivity
• Improving the health and well-being of employees
• And, last but definitely not least, saving lives!

In July 2020, the SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317) was introduced in Congress with the express purpose “to discourage insubstantial lawsuits related to COVID-19 while preserving the ability of individuals and businesses that have suffered real injury to obtain complete relief.” The bill did not pass before the 116th Congress expired. But the need for employer protection during the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic remains. Cue the state houses.

Read entire article - https://www.foley.com/en/insights/publications/2021/01/states-employer-immunity-covid19-lawsuits

The workplace is one of the most common places people will be exposed to harmful levels of noise, putting them at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which is permanent and often progressive. If your company performs manufacturing, construction or mining activities, noise is going to be an issue that needs to be addressed.

According to OSHA’s standards, employers must implement a hearing conservation program “when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).” These programs “strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves.”

A hearing conservation program should include employers developing and carrying out plans that reduce noise in the work environment and providing equipment and materials that help workers protect themselves. Some things to keep in mind while developing a hearing conservation program include:
• Measurement of sound levels in the workplace
• Reducing noise through both engineering controls (making changes to equipment or the surrounding area) and administrative controls (making adjustments to the work schedule or workplace)
• Yearly training programs about hearing protection, as well as informing new employees of noise-induced hearing loss and other risks that occur due to noise exposure
• Within six months of employment, employees who are exposed to loud noises should be given a free baseline audiogram – and then a yearly free audiogram to compare any hearing issues
• Provide a variety of hearing protection options to those employees exposed to hearing hazards, including lower-noise power tools and ear protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs
• Records kept of employees’ varying noise exposure levels

The cost impact of a hearing conservation program can be minimized with an accurate noise survey. At Workplace Safety & Health Inc, we use top quality sound level meters and noise dosimeters to help you identify only those employees that need to be included in the program and determine if the initial cost of engineering controls is a sound investment over the on-going costs of a hearing conservation program management. We have the expertise to help you make sound decisions for noise measurement and control – 317-253-9737.

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) informs workers, employers, and occupational health professionals about workplace chemicals and their hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default.html

Tagged in: chemical hazards NIOSH

Patterns of addiction usually increase during natural disasters and pandemics. This past year, many people were quarantined and struggling with economic uncertainties, while also juggling school and work schedules and everything in between. Those who were already struggling with pre-existing mental illnesses or substance abuse issues may have turned to illicit substance use as a way to cope with the extra distress of the past year, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the opioid crisis – some studies showing that 2020 will be the worst year for opioid overdoses.

This year’s National Prevention Week is May 9-15, and this public education platform focuses on promoting prevention year-round through providing ideas, capacity building, tools, and resources to help individuals and communities make substance use prevention happen every day. Alcohol and drug use in the workplace causes many expensive problems, including lost productivity, injuries and an increase in health insurance claims – loss to companies is estimated to be $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).

According to NCADI statistics, alcohol and drug users are far less productive, use 3X as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are 5x more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim. It’s important for the safety of your employees, as well as the health of your company, to establish a drug-free workplace program. Most successful drug-free workplace programs have five key components:

1. A written policy
2. Employee education
3. Supervisor training
4. An employee assistance program (EAP)
5. Drug testing

For an explanation of these, as well as a Drug-Free Workplace Toolkit provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), check out their website. Saying this past year has been a tough year is an understatement. Taking firm steps to help keep your employees safe and healthy should be a priority.

More than one-third of business leaders say ensuring a safe workplace will be more challenging over the next 12 months.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/health/article/21154993/survey-finds-safety-top-business-priority-for-2021

Tagged in: workplace safety

Air Quality Awareness Week 2021 is celebrated May 3-7, and the theme is Healthy Air – Important to Everyone! The goal is to promote events that increase air quality awareness and encourage people to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily. Read our recent blog explaining the AQI and how to check it for your area.

While AQI is a metric to check outdoor air quality, we cannot forget about indoor air quality since it is estimated the average American spends up to 90% of their lives indoors – so we have to think about IAQ – indoor air quality – as well. The EPA has identified IAQ as one of the top five growing concerns of today.
The health impacts of poor outdoor air quality are well known, but indoor air pollution is often between 2-5x greater than outdoor – and many times, even higher.

Poor IAQ affects us in many documented ways – headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs, as well as specific diseases, such as asthma and even cancer. There are many factors that affect IAQ, including poor ventilation, high or low humidity, remodeling and even activity outside the building that can affect the fresh air coming into the building.

According to OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers are required to provide workers with a safe workplace. When thinking about Workplace IAQ, here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Keep your workplace clean – clean work areas mean less opportunity for mold, dust and allergens to be present and growing
• Use eco-friendly cleaning products to lower the amount of any harsh chemicals being released
• Use air-cleaning devices, such as air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers
• Change HVAC filters regularly and have your systems cleaned regularly
• When possible, turn off your HVAC system, open windows, and allow outdoor air to enter the building
• Add indoor plants to the office as they can help the IAQ by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air
• Conduct regular air tests as they will provide you with the right information to help you make IAQ improvements

Let us help you solve your company’s air quality and keep your most important assets – your employees – safe and healthy! Give us a call at 317-253-9737 or check out our website.

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

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

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It is estimated worldwide that air pollution kills seven million people every year, and 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds who guideline limits. Here in the United States, the stats are a bit better but we still have an estimated 107,000 fatalities a year that are contributed to air pollution.

There are five primary air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds. The sources from all of these pollutants include electricity production, industry, and transportation.

How can you take action to keep yourself and your loved ones? Pay attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI), which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s index for reporting air quality – with each pollutant given an AQI value.

The AQI is divided into six categories with each category corresponding to a different level of health concern. Each category also has a specific color. The color makes it easy for people to quickly determine whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in their communities. AQI values at or below 100 are considered satisfactory, with a value 50 or below representing good air quality, and a value over 300 representing hazardous air quality.

AQI Chart
Finding the AQI in your area is quite easy – just go to the AQI tool and type in your zip code or city/state. If your air quality isn’t as satisfactory that day or time and you were planning to spend much time outdoors, try to find less strenuous outdoor activities or plan for another time. High levels of air pollution do affect your health, so plan accordingly.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/01292021-0

On Feb. 1, the chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent letters to OSHA, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA informing them of the new investigation that follows reports of positive cases among nearly 54,000 workers at 569 meatpacking plants in the US, and 270 resulting deaths as of the end of January.

Read entire article - https://www.manufacturing.net/laws-regulations/video/21259910/house-panel-investigating-meat-plant-deaths-infections

It only takes a tiny sliver of metal, particle of dust or a splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage, according to the National Safety Council. Every March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and it is a good time to remind your employees of eye safety tips.

More than 700,000 work-related eye injuries occur every year – and that isn’t even taken into account the eye strains caused by too much computer screen time. When thinking about on-the-job eye injuries from metal, dust or chemicals, here are some injury-prevention tips to keep in mind:
• Study injury patterns to see where accidents are occurring, looking at plant operations, work areas, access routes and equipment. Notice any patterns? Take action if you do!
• Conduct regular vision testing for your employees
• Select the correct protective eyewear, depending on the specific tasks or hazards
• Establish and enforce a mandatory eye protection program in all operation areas
• Establish first-aid procedures for eye injuries, and make sure there are eyewash stations available nearby, especially where chemicals are in use
• Include eye safety as part of your employee orientation and ongoing training and regularly review and revise policies to stay with the times and equipment changes
• Display a copy of the policies where all employees can see them
• Set the example by having all managers and supervisors wearing protective eyewear when expected of employees

Workplace eye hazards don’t disappear just because you might not be around machinery where metal slivers or chemicals might play a role. Many employees are dealing with eye strain when it comes to spending so many hours in the day staring at computer screens or mobile phone screens. Prolonged exposure can lead to digital eye strain, dry and irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, neck and back pain, and headaches. Biggest rule for these employees is the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, make sure to look at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. Educating your employees on this rule can help decrease digital eye strain and maintain better eye health.

Employees don’t feel safe going to the workplace. According to a new study, 68% of workers globally do not feel completely safe working in their employer’s buildings.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21152575/employees-dont-feel-safe-going-to-work-study-finds

Every year, there are over 300 people who die from ladder-related accidents, while thousands suffer disabling injuries. National Ladder Safety Month is designated every March to hopefully end what is believed to be completely avoidable accidents.

Each week will focus on a key theme:
Week One: Choosing Your Ladder
Week Two: Safety Before the First Step (inspection and Set Up)
Week Three: Safety While Climbing
Week Four: Safety at the Top
Week Five: Ladder Safety Misconceptions

The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are as follows:
• Decrease number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
• Increase the number of ladder safety training certificates issued
• Increase the frequency that ladder safety training modules are viewed on www.laddersafetytraining.org
• Lower the rankings of ladder-related safety citations on OSHA’s yearly “Top 10 Citations List”
• Increase the number of in-person ladder trainings
• Increase the number of companies and individuals that inspect and properly dispose of old, damaged or obsolete ladders

Want some basic ladder safety tips? Here’s a good start from the American Ladder Institute - https://www.americanladderinstitute.org/page/BasicLadderSafety. We all can do our part to prevent the unnecessary harm and deaths from ladder usage, both at home and at work, by becoming more aware of the dangers and by making sure you’re putting the right foot forward before taking that first step up the ladder.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will continue to apply to some employees who seek treatment through telemedicine. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor in late December confirmed that its temporary policy will be extended for the foreseeable future.

Read entire article - https://www.benefitspro.com/2021/01/06/dol-extends-policy-allowing-fmla-to-cover-some-telemedicine-visits/?slreturn=20210018181249

Tagged in: fmla fmla and covid

With the COVID-19 vaccine slowly making its way to our most at-risk citizens, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a long way to go before the pandemic is behind us. We have surpassed 485,000 deaths linked to this pandemic at the time of this writing.

Businesses have a moral responsibility to continue to keep their employees as safe as possible – and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whether your employees have returned to the office or continue to work remotely, everyone should be reminded to continue taking precautions.

While you may have taken steps early on and educated your employees on safety measures, it’s almost been a year since COVID became an issue here in the United States, and a refresher is a good idea. Unless they themselves or a friend or family member has contracted COVID-19, your employees may not really understand the severity of this virus. One action step that helps continue the education conversation is to include employees who have been affected by this virus share their experiences and management should be encouraged to share their stories as well.

Employees need to understand and adhere to the rules put in place to keep themselves and their co-workers safe. Setting ground rules and expectations – and following up on those rules if employees fail to comply - is important for the overall health of your team. Any rules that are in place should be fully explained and revisited on a regular basis through this pandemic. It’s the ultimate responsibility of the employees to adhere to the rules, but leaders set the stage by leading by example, communicating the rules and expectations, and reprimanding those who are not following them.

During this past year, many families have struggled on several different levels, and employee mental health should be a top priority for any business. Providing mental health support, including talking about the statistics and creating a culture that removes the stigma around mental health is extremely important, as well as encouraging employees to use such resources as Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

This has been such a unique year for businesses – a worldwide pandemic is not something most of us ever would have imagined or planned for. But until that light at the end of the tunnel gets closer and brighter, let’s do our part to keep our most valuable assets – our employees – as safe and healthy as possible when it comes to COVID-19.

Federal OSHA is raising its maximum penalty amounts for 2021 based on cost-of-living adjustments for the year. Maximum penalties for serious and other-than serious violations will increase from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation, while willful or repeat violations will increase from $134,937 to $136,532 per violation.

Read entire article - https://www.safetynewsalert.com/news/osha-raises-maximum-penalty-amounts-2021/

Tagged in: OSHA

In last month’s blog, we covered steps employers can take to help stop cyber security breaches, including using secure access points and installing updates across all devices and systems on a regular basis. But when it comes to cybersecurity and mobile phones, we must all take an active stance to protect our mobile devices and your company’s data.

In today’s world, our smartphones have so many advanced capabilities – just like our computers, and we check our emails and bank accounts, search the internet pretty much whenever we want, and our phones allow us to continuing working in many cases when we are not sitting at our office or business. The security, though, is usually not set up as strongly as it is on our work computers.

There are some steps you can do to protect your mobile phone:
• Consider the safety features when choosing your mobile phone – such things as file encryption, finding and wiping the data remotely, ability to delete known malicious apps remotely and authentication features such as device access passwords
• Configure the device to be more secure, including enabling the password feature that locks the device until the PIN or password is entered – or even a thumbprint or face scan! There may even be a feature that after 10 failed attempts to login, the phone is wiped clean
• Do not click on links sent in suspicious emails or text messages
• Use caution before posting your mobile phone number anywhere
• Be careful what information you want stored on your phone
• Do your research before selecting and installing apps, including “repackaged apps” that may seem like updates to your current apps – and keep in mind, your social networking apps may reveal more personal information than you know, including location, birthday, etc.
• Disable interfaces that are not currently in use, such as Bluetooth and WiFi – and while you are at it, set Bluetooth-enabled devices to non-discoverable, so it is not visible to other devices
• Avoid joining unknown WiFi networks and using public Wi-Fi hotspots as attackers have been known to create fake hotspots

If your mobile phone is stolen or lost, notify your mobile service provider. If it’s a company phone or you do business on your personal mobile phone, contact your company ASAP. They can usually revoke all credentials that were stored to keep your company’s information safe. And if need be, have the mobile phone company remotely delete all data on the phone.

Mobile phone cyber threats are definitely on the rise. A little bit of time and effort on your end keeping these steps in mind can help lessen the opportunity of attackers targeting you.

CDC’s Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 FFRs were written to follow a continuum using the surge capacity approach in the order of conventional (everyday practice), contingency (expected shortages), and crisis (known shortages) capacities. N95 FFRs are meant to be disposed after each use. CDC developed contingency and crisis strategies to help healthcare facilities conserve their supplies in the face of shortages.

Read entire article - 
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/decontamination-reuse-respirators.html

 

Even before the COVID era and remote working becoming so prevalent, many employees were using their mobile phones to access company email, networks or data. This “bring your own device” work culture is definitely a security risk to not only your employees, but to your company as well.

Smartphone security has not kept up with traditional computer security, and your employees may be vigilant when it comes to security breaches on their desktop or laptop, but we are all more distracted when it comes to our mobile devices as we quickly scan through emails, text multiple people and scroll through different social media, usually all at the same time. This makes our phones very attractive targets for scammers – tricking us into joining rogue Wi-Fi networks or tapping fake emails without even thinking.

A 2019 study on the mobile threat found that 57% of companies have experienced a mobile phishing incident. Phishing is the most common cyber threat, especially for companies. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 data breaches start with a phishing attack, and when we are on our smartphones, we tend to not pay as much attention to what we are clicking – plus the smaller screens make red flag less noticeable.

Making sure your company has a strong cyber security system and communicating the importance to your employees is a must nowadays. Here are a few strategies that everyone can incorporate today that can help keep your employees and your data safe, but even these are not 100% guaranteed:
• Use secure access points, such as virtual private networks (VPNs). These allow you to extend your private network across public Wi-Fi using encrypted virtual point-to-point connection, enabling and maintaining secure access to your company’s resources.
• Have your employees create a secure network for business transactions in their home offices. Most home routers allow for the creation of multiple networks, such as a home and guest connection. Adding a password protected network for work connections means your employees can keep their families’ personal devices separate from work devices.
• Make sure your company is installing updates across all devices and systems on a regular basis. Regular updates and patches ensure your systems are protected against known vulnerabilities.
• Always make sure your employees are using strong passwords and two-factor authentication across all devices and accounts. It cannot be stressed enough that passwords should be complex, meaning they should incorporate numbers and special characters and should not be the same ones used across multiple accounts. As a business, you may want to look into a password management software to help your team keep track of their passwords.
• Be vigilant when responding to emails, especially those with links and attachments. Remind your employees to never click on those links or attachments from an unknown sender – and even if the email seems to come from a trusted source, be sure they are looking closely at the email address or website URL. Inform your employees to make sure they let your IT department or contact know of any suspicious emails right away, as well as letting them know if there is a possibility of a breach.
• Install anti-malware and anti-virus software across all devices and networks, which will stop the majority of attacks.
• Make sure your company has a Cyber Response Plan in place and that all your employees are aware of this plan – and that everyone knows who to contact if they suspect a breach, both during work hours and after-hours.

Nowadays, cybersecurity is the responsibility of all your employees, but taking these steps to protect your business can alleviate many of the breaches from ever happening. In our next blog, we will discuss more specifically on what your employees can do to make sure their mobile devices are more secure, as well as what to do if their devices are stolen.

 

Federal law entitles you to a safe workplace. Your employer must keep your workplace free of known health and safety hazards. You have the right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation.

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

Tagged in: workplace safety

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Who would have thought when thinking about Workplace Safety and 2020, when we would say “Stay Safe,” it also meant staying healthy from a worldwide pandemic! Even though COVID safety tended to take up so much of our attention, which it needed to, so we could keep our employees safe, we also needed to be concerned with emphasizing safe operations in all areas as a top business priority. So, let’s talk about how to stay safe in 2021.

An important first step – review what happened in 2020 as last year’s safety results reveal areas for improvement and help with goal setting for 2021 and coming up with a solid workplace safety plan. Two areas to make sure you review are your accident reports and training records.

Accident reports, including the “near miss” incident reports, can help you clearly define areas that should be a priority in your safety planning for the new year. Safety assessments and annual safety audits should expose any safety performance gaps and provide a meaningful understanding of workplace hazards. While you are at it, doing a safety risk assessment of every potential hazard category is important.

Ongoing training for your employees is essential to keep safety top-of-mind, as well as making sure there is on-going communication with your team on training expectations. Did your company provide adequate training? In what areas would additional training for the new year result in a safer work environment? It’s a great opportunity to ask your employees what type of training makes sense for them – getting their input can help with employee buy-in, which is always beneficial. Make sure you have adequate funding set aside for training.

Reviewing these two areas can really help you define those safety goals for 2021. A solid workplace safety plan is essential to avoid potential harm to your employees, as well as helping to reduce the costs when it comes to worker’s compensation. Workplace Safety & Health Co. is here to help you make 2021 the safest year yet! Contact us at 317-253-9737.

When collecting employee health information during the pandemic, be transparent about how the data will be used, disclosed and retained.

Read entire article - https://www.ehstoday.com/covid19/article/21145909/data-privacy-considerations-for-employers-collecting-health-data-from-employees-during-pandemic

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Winter means shorter days and longer, darker nights - less natural sunlight. For some, it also brings what is known as the “Winter Blues” and, for some, a more complex disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This seasonal depression affects as much as 3-5 percent of the general population, and those who already are diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, they are 20 percent more likely to suffer from seasonal depression.

Add onto this, we are in the middle of a pandemic, which cases are spiking again, and more strict restrictions are happening again around the country. So more social distancing and more physical isolation, which will compound the feelings of loneliness and sadness for many. Statistics are now showing more than 1 in 400 Americans are testing positive for the coronavirus, so the likelihood of knowing someone who has the virus or even who has died because of the virus is much higher, so for some, this will make the winter months and the holiday season much more difficult.

While “Winter Blues,” which means a low mood during the winter months, can be felt by many at some point during the colder, darker days, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is defined as a regular seasonal pattern of major depressive episodes during the fall and winter months with periods of full improvement in the spring and summer. If you think you suffer from SAD, it is a good idea to talk to a your doctor or a mental health professional for support.

Experiencing periods of low moods during these winter months? Here are some mood-boosting tips – for those who are both working remotely as well as those who are still going to the workplace:
• Spend at least 30 minutes per day outdoors – sun is vital to our well-being!
• Resist sugar and excess caffeine, which tend to give many of us an emotional roller coaster ride.
• Plan at least one social interaction per week – social distancing does not have to mean social isolation, so find creative ways to connect with others but still staying safe.
• Plan some vacation time – even if it’s a staycation! Spending time doing what you love, if it’s hiking, baking, reading or getting caught up on your favorite show can help distract you and make this winter more manageable.
• Find a routine that works for you – especially in the morning. It helps get you started on the right path for the day and takes your attention away from the weather.
• Go greener – as in add plants to your office space, which studies have shown that interaction with indoor plants can reduce psychological and physiological stress, and they boost workplace productivity.
• Focus on your health by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Most experts agree the lack of sunlight during the winter season throws off the body’s rhythm and leads to hormonal changes as well as a decrease in the production of serotonin, the chemical your brain produces when you have a lot of energy and are in a good mood. Using the above tips can help you combat the winter blues – and before you know, spring will be in the air…and hopefully a COVID vaccine!

Employers will have to revise their COVID-19-related safety policies and practices to meet new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on what it means to have been in "close contact" with an infected person.

Read entire article - https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/new-cdc-guidance-makes-contact-tracing-more-difficult-for-employers.aspx

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The saying goes “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and that holds true when it comes to OSHA’s annual top 10 most frequently cited violations as falls tops the list again for the tenth year in a row. But some of the others tend to switch spots year to year, and some fall off one year and come back on the following year.

OSHA publishes this yearly reminder with the hope that employers will learn from these results and take steps to find and mitigate the hazards in their own workplace. It is believed most of the injuries and illnesses that happen in the workplace are preventable if safety measures are implemented and followed.

Here is OSHA’s 2020 Top Ten Violations:

1. Fall Protection (1926.501) – 8241 violations: Whenever a work is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 6156 violations: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemical they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to communicate the hazard information to their customers.

3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 5423 violations: Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3879 violations: Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3254 violations: “Lockout-Tag out” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 3340 violations: Each year, thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

7. Ladders (1926.1053) – 3311 violations: Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.

8. Electrical, Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 3452 violations: Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2701 violations: Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

10. Electrical, General Requirements (1910.303) – 2745 violations: As a repeat to #8, working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies – and many other workers can be exposed indirectly to electrical hazards just by being in an office situation.

Tagged in: OSHA workplace safety

The Barnes & Thornburg Wage and Hour Practice Group are watching COVID-related workplace litigation in courts across the country, alleging violations of a wide variety of state and federal employment laws and regulations, and are analyzing trends in the cases filed to hopefully help business prepare for potential pitfalls.

Read entire article - https://btlaw.com/insights/publications/covid-19-related-workplace-litigation-tracker#Workplace%20Safety

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Workplace safety is a pretty hot topic in 2020. While our country continues to deal the COVID-19 pandemic, and we start to see many states start to peak again both in cases and hospital admissions, employers and businesses are working hard to navigate this new normal while trying to stay open, stay afloat in too many cases and be profitable.

A new global study shows 35% of employees and business leaders wish their offices had closed faster and safety measures for essential workers had been implemented sooner. This same survey, conducted by The Workforce Institute, showed only 20% of the workforce felt their organization met their needs during the initial months of the pandemic, but that 33% of employees globally say they trust their employer more now than before the pandemic began because of how their organizations responded. Moving forward into the last quarter of 2020 and into 2021, employers are encouraged to keep their employees’ needs and concerns in the forefront.

Surprisingly, when we think of the number one concern in the workplace during the pandemic, it isn’t having a clean and healthy workplace – it’s job security, flexibility and work-life harmony. Many are concerned about future layoffs or furloughs due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19. Many who are working say they are working either the same or more hours regularly since the start of the pandemic, and there is a concern among employees and employers of fatigue and burnout. Taking some measures to guard against burnout will go a long way with your employees.

Almost half of the surveyed employees felt quick notification of confirmed workplace cases was a top concern. Another surprise is the younger generations (Generation Z and younger Millennials) are most concerned about this. Quick notification and contact tracing can help put minds at ease.

Even though job security and quick notification of confirmed cases were the top priorities, workplace cleanliness came in a close third. Keeping in mind the workplace layout – is there the opportunity to socially distance? What safety measures have been put in place and enforced – mask wearing, hand sanitizing stations, scheduled deep cleanings, limited shared common areas and workplaces, including kitchens, bathrooms, and conference rooms?

Employees are looking for more frequent and transparent communication from their leaders during this time. The good news is that among the 33% of the employees who trust their organizations more now than before the pandemic, 70% say the company went above and beyond in their COVID-19 response. The bad news is there are many employees who are not as trusting right now. It’s time to build that trust, and putting the employee first and getting back to the basic needs every employee requires (physical safety, job stability, and flexibility) are steps to help engage your workforce and help your business succeed during these challenging times.

OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear cloth face coverings at work to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and give guidance when workers who wear cloth face coverings in hot and humid environments or while performing strenuous activities indoors find cloth face coverings to be uncomfortable.

Read entire article (pdf) - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/covid-19-cloth-coverings-indoor-heat.pdf

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Did you know around 40% of deaths in the workplace occur in transportation incidents making motor vehicle accidents overwhelmingly the leading cause of workplace deaths? Millions of workers drive or ride in a vehicle as part of their jobs, and all workers are at a risk of crashes, whether they drive light or heavy vehicles, or whether driving is their main duty or incidental job duty. From 2003-2018, more than 29,000 workers in the United Stated died in a work-related motor vehicle crash.

With so many people behind the wheel, drowsy driving, or driving while you are tired, only exacerbates this situation. It is estimated 6% of all crashes and 21% of all fatal crashes involve a fatigued driver. The first week in November is considered Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, but it’s something we all need to be preventing every single day we are on the road.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following factors contribute to drowsy driving:
• Driving on less than 7 hours of sleep
• Driving at a time when usually sleeping
• Travelling frequently through different time zones
• Having an untreated sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea
• Working multiple shifts or night shifts

Drowsy driving is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver’s reaction times, awareness of hazards and the ability to keep attention worsens when the driver is fatigued. Driving while going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which is the U.S. legal limit. If you drive while fatigued, you are 3x more likely to be in a car crash.

Employers can take steps to help keep their employees safe by implementing strong safety and health programs, including setting up a fatigue risk management system (FRMS). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has relevant information listing ways employers and employees can prevent driver fatigue. Take the steps today to keep your employees safe and healthy.

Department of Transportation officials said a recent commercial bus rule revision via the agency’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would annually reduce regulatory costs by $74 million.

Read entire article - https://transportationtodaynews.com/news/18935-fmcsa-issues-revised-commercial-bus-rule/#:~:text=Current%20regulations%20require%20commercial%20bus%20drivers%20to%20submit,a%20motor%20carrier%20to%20maintain%2C%20a%20no-defect%20DVIR

Tagged in: bus safety

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When we think about cybersecurity, most of us think it is a larger problem for big entities such as banks, tech companies, and the government, but truth be told, smaller companies with less than 1000 employees are at the greatest risk with 43% of all cyber attacks being aimed at small businesses? October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

Here are some pretty shocking cybersecurity statistics:
• It takes half a year to detect a data breach
• 91% of all attacks are launched with a phishing email
• A business falls victim to a ransomware attack every 14 seconds
• 38% of malicious attachments are masked as a Microsoft Office file
• Companies face an average of 22 security breaches in 2020
• The global cost of online crime is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021

In today’s world, with many companies being more open to remote work and with many employees working from their personal devices, such as checking emails from their phones, cyber threats are all too common nowadays. Being diligent with prescreen hiring, training your current employees on staying cyber safe and setting expectations for third party associates when it comes to cybersecurity are extremely important. Risks should always be accurately assessed and, when possible, minimized. Every person in your organization has a role in mitigating the risk of a cyberattack.

Here are some basic tips to keep your workplace safe when it comes to cybersecurity:
• Take inventory of all your company’s devices – all hardware and software – because you cannot defend what you don’t know you have.
• Lock up your devices – no matter where your office is located. All devices, including computers, laptops and cell phones, should be locked with a secure password.
• Use two-factor authentication if possible as it’s an extra layer beyond just a typical password. This should be a must for anyone accessing sensitive networks or data.
• For those working outside an office network, make sure your employees are never using wi-fi without a VPN (Virtualized Personal Network). Using public wi-fi networks without this extra security can expose your organization’s accounts and data to malicious cyber threats.
• Train employees on cybersecurity – and remind and empower your employees to question any suspicious looking emails, especially those with urgent subject lines and billing-related attachments. Always hover over a link before clicking to ensure you are being directed to the intended URL.

 

Workplaces can present unique challenges for COVID-19 investigation and public health action. Because many workplaces can be crowded settings, and many jobs involve a high level of interaction with the public, these settings could allow virus to be spread easily among workers.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/open-america/non-healthcare-work-settings.html

Tagged in: CDC covid-19 covid19

Did you know most people spend 90% of their time inside? The pandemic has brought indoor air quality (IAQ) front and center in the discussion on keeping people as safe as possible. IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures. Poor IAQ is not a new concept as most of us have heard of Sick Building Syndrome, where occupants may experience headaches, dry cough, dizziness, and even difficulty concentrating because of the poor air quality.

Inadequate ventilation is a key component, and right now in the COVID-era we are currently in, ventilation and air cleaning opportunities have been the talk of the town. Advanced ventilation systems allow for more airflow from the outside, as well as monitoring air quality and having air purification technologies in place to clean the contaminated air and prevent it from spreading to different areas. These technologies are becoming more commonplace, but definitely not universally adopted.

Even though COVID-19 has caused many businesses to look more in-depth at their IAQ, it’s also a chance to test for other air quality issues. There are literally hundreds of other air contaminates that cause issues in the workplace, but the most common and usually the most harmful besides the coronavirus are tobacco smoke, dust, mold and mildew, chemical pollutants and volatile organic compounds.

Concerned about the IAQ? Workplace Safety & Health Inc. can help you identify and manage risks posed by air quality through monitoring, mapping, fact-finding surveys and evaluations. Our program now includes COVID-19 testing, and our blog, Opening Back Up COVID-19 Free, lists those particular services.
During National Indoor Air Quality Month and every month, we are here to keep your most important assets safe – your employees. Contact us at 317-253-9737.

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.

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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/

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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

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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!

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