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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)

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