Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fracking & Drilling Hazards: Beyond Respirable Silica

An OSHA hazard alert indicates that increased fracking and drilling may increase worker exposure to hazards other than respirable silica, including ergonomic issues, chemical exposure and potentially flammable atmospheres. The alert, “Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica,” states that more workers are potentially exposed to the hazards created by hydraulic fracturing and flowback operations due to the large increase in the number of such operations in the past decade. Approximately 35,000 wells are hydraulically fractured in the U.S., per the hazard alert.

Fracking operations increased concurrently with horizontal well development, which requires multiple stimulation stages per well, according to OSHA. OSHA and EPA each have dedicated websites that provide additional information on these processes. Download the alert here to learn more about acceptable exposure levels and recommended mitigation strategies.

Beyond Traffic: DOT Looks Ahead to 2045

U.S. DOT has released a study, “Beyond Traffic,” that anticipates trends and choices facing the U.S. transportation system over the next 3 decades. It paints a bleak picture for the future of U.S. transportation if current developments remain unchanged. The report notes that existing transportation infrastructure, already unable to accommodate swelling populations, is in disrepair. U.S. demand for freight is growing, and it is projected to be $1.6 billion of the nation’s total gross domestic product in 2045. Funding is scarce and declining at a time when research by groups such as The Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that the system as a whole needs investment. The report also warns that the development of renewable energy strategies is not keeping pace with the overall demands on transportation systems.

Not all the news is bad, however. DOT highlights recent developments such as ride sharing and self-driving cars as a sign of hope that could reduce strain on the environment and infrastructure. The agency also indicates that it does not consider the study to be prescriptive. Instead, it hopes to ignite conversation among industry leaders. “Beyond Traffic is an invitation to the American public—including the users, developers, owners and operators of the transportation network and the policy officials who shape it—to have a frank conversation about the shape, size and condition of that syystem and how it will meet the needs and goals of our nation for decades to come,” the agency says. Learn more at the Beyond Traffic website. View the report here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Arc Flash White Paper Explains New Labeling Procedures

Brady has released a white paper titled “Improve Safety With Arc Flash Labeling.” It explains
what needs to be labeled and what should be on the labels and the labeling tools needed to comply
©iStockphoto.com/David Asch
with the updated 2015 NFPA 70E arc flash regulation.

“To keep employees safe and avoid the costs associated with noncompliance, facilities should properly train employees and label any arc flash hazards,” says Tom Smith, product marketing specialist for Brady. “It clearly explains how to follow the standard to create a safe workplace, free from arc flash danger.”

NFPA 70E gets updated every 3 years. This update includes revision to arc flash warning label content, selecting appropriate PPE, and minor terminology changes (such as "work shoes" becoming"footwear”) among others.

“Arc flash is a common hazard that could lead to serious injury or death. To increase safety, it’s important to understand the latest regulations and create a visually instructive workplace that clearly identifies potential hazards,” adds Smith.

The white paper is available for download at the following link.

Monday, February 23, 2015

FEMA Offers Cold Weather Safety Tips

With temperatures dropping to record lows in some places, FEMA is offering safety tips for individuals and families faced with the dangers of extremely cold temperatures.

©iStockphoto.com/michele lugaresi
“Whether traveling or at home, subfreezing temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don't take the proper precautions,” says FEMA's Andrew Velasquez III. “FEMA continues to urge people throughout the Midwest to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe.”

Some tips that FEMA offers include staying indoors as much as possible, dressing in layers and keeping dry, and being aware of the symptoms of cold-related health issues like frostbite and hypothermia. The site also offers tips how to winterize both your vehicle and home. 

For a full list of resources, visit here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

OSHA Plans Second Construction Fall Safety Stand-Down

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and lack of proper fall protection is OSHA’s most frequently cited violation. To bring attention to this hazard, the agency is holding its second Fall Safety Stand-Down from May 4 to 15, 2015.

“With the economy on the rebound and housing starts on the rise, now is the time to for all of us to renew our commitment to sending workers home safe every night,” says Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “Last year’s Stand-Down showed us what employers and workers sharing that commitment can accomplish. Responsible employers understand that safety is not a luxury—it is a necessity.”

As part of the event employers and workers will pause during their workday for topic discussion, demonstrations and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails and other means to protect workers from falls.

The event is part of OSHA’s fall prevention campaign, launched 3 years ago with NIOSH, NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda and the Center for Construction Research and Training. Additional partners include ASSE, National Safety Council, National Construction Safety Executives, the U.S. Air Force, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. 

Additional resources are available at the National Safety Stand-Down 2015 website.