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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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