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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.

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.

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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.

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