Tuesday, March 31, 2015

EPA Seeking OSH Information for Nanomaterial

EPA is proposing one-time reporting and recordkeeping requirements on nanoscale chemical substances in the marketplace.

“Nanotechnology holds great promise for improving products, from TVs and vehicles to batteries and solar panels,” says Jim Jones, the agency’s assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “We want to continue to facilitate the trend toward this important technology.”

The proposal would require one-time reporting of existing exposure and OSH information from companies that manufacture or process chemical substances as nanoscale materials. The agency is proposing to use the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time to collect such information.

Companies would notify EPA of:
• certain information, including specific chemical identity;
• production volume;
• methods of manufacture; processing, use, exposure, and release information; and
• available health and safety data.

EPA says this information would facilitate its evaluation of the materials and assessment of risks and risk management. Read an EPA fact sheet on nanomaterial here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

DOL Warns Workers About Green Tobacco Sickness

Wikimedia Commons/Emw
OSHA and NIOSH jointly issued a bulletin that identifies the threat of "green tobacco sickness," which can afflict workers in the tobacco industry. The bulletin warns of the symptoms of nicotine poisoning, which include dehydration, dizziness, headaches and vomiting. Those who plant, cultivate and harvest tobacco are particularly at risk, according to the bulletin.

The publication discusses preventive measures such as effective training, hand washing and appropriate PPE, such as gloves, long sleeve shirts, pants and water-resistant apparel. The latter is particularly important because nicotine is more likely to absorb into the bloodstream when it dissolves into rainwater, dew or sweat.

OSHA Extends PELs Comment Period to October

OSHA has extended the comment period on its Request for Information on Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits to Oct. 9, 2015. The original comment deadline was April 8, 2015. In October 2014, the agency requested stakeholders' input about more effective and efficient approaches to address workplace conditions in which workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals. In announcing the extension, OSHA said it received many requests from stakeholders seeking additional time to research and formulate responses to questions included in the request for information (RFI).

OSHA's RFI said the agency "is reviewing its overall approach to managing chemical exposures in the workplace and seeks stakeholder input about more effective and efficient approaches that addresses challenges found with the current regulatory approach. This review involves considering issues related to updating permissible exposure limits (PELs), as well as examining other strategies that could be implemented to address workplace conditions where workers are exposed to chemicals." It said the request is concerned primarily with chemicals that cause adverse health effects from long-term occupational exposure.

Friday, March 27, 2015

CSB Chair Pens Op-Ed Article on Hazards to Latino Workers

2005 BP Texas City explosion (CSB)
"As the chairperson of the U.S. federal agency that investigates chemical disasters, I am concerned for all workers," says former CSB Chair Rafael Moure-Eraso in an op-ed article he authored for Houston Chronicle. "But as an immigrant from Colombia, where I first studied chemical engineering, I have a heightened concern for Latinos who work in and around chemical facilities across Texas and in the U.S. Their fatality and injury rates are disproportionately high."

The article shares a personal story of Katherine Rodriguez, whose father, Ray Gonzalez, died in a 2004 incident at a BP refinery in Texas City after a pipe burst and sprayed him with 500-degree water. This incident preceded the March 23, 2005, explosion at the same facility that killed 15 and injured hundreds. Moure-Eraso commends OSHA for its Latino outreach efforts, but says that more must be done to protect this vulnerable population, which is overrepresented in jobs with highly hazardous conditions.

ASSE & KOSHA Sign Memorandum Of Understanding

ASSE and the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will explore opportunities to collaborate, exchange technical information and conduct joint educational programs.

The landmark agreement marks the first time ASSE and KOSHA will partner to enhance work place safety in each region. Other goals include advancing issues and programs beneficial to their respective members and the occupational health and safety profession. The agreement builds on ASSE’s relationship with KOSHA as part of the International Network for Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations as well as the ISSA International Section on Prevention Culture. It also complements outreach work ASSE has done in Asia. In 2013, ASSE signed agreements with the China Occupational Safety and Health Association (COSHA) and the Industrial Safety and Health Association (ISHA) of R.O.C. (Taiwan).

“Partnering with KOSHA is an excellent opportunity for ASSE,” said ASSE Executive Director Fred Fortman, who signed the agreement along with KOSHA President Young-Soon Lee. “KOSHA is a most impressive organization. The opportunity to share expertise and exchange best practices with them will strengthen both organizations, our profession and work to assure safe and healthy workplaces throughout the world.”

KOSHA has also invited ASSE to participate in the upcoming 31st International Congress on Occupational Health, May 31 to June 5, which it will be hosting in Seoul.

View the video of the landmark signing.