Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HSE Infographic Illustrates Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive has released statistics on workplace fatalities and injuries for 2013-2014. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has created an infographic, "Behind the Annual Statistics," to illustrate the findings.

Friday, December 12, 2014

OSHA Implements Broader Rules For Reporting Workplace Deaths

On Jan. 1, new OSHA rules will go into effect that will likely reveal higher daily death and injury counts in the workplace. Even though most workplaces are safer than they were previously, incidents still do occur, so OSHA is implementing broader reporting requirements for employers. 

The new rules will expand the list of severe work-related injuries that all employers with 10 or more employees must report to OSHA. Reports must be made within 8 hours of the event. They must be submitted within 24 hours for any work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. Previously, employers had to report only hospitalizations of three or more employees resulting from a workplace accident or illness.

Another significant change is an update of the list of industries that are exempt from routine injury and illness reporting requirements based on their “relatively low occupational injury and illness rates." Some reporting requirements could be reduced but it has yet to be determined. The rules retain the exemption from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of industry classification.

For more information on OSHA's Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements, visit here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

EPA Proposes New Smog Standards to Safeguard From Pollution

EPA is proposing to strengthen air quality standards based on recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog.

Smog forms in the atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like automobiles, industries, power plants and chemical fumes. Those most at risk include people with asthma, children and older adults, as well as those who are active or work outside. 

The agency is looking to increase the standards within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comments on a level as low as 60 ppb. The last update came in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. The existing Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every 5 years by following a set of steps and considering the advice of an expert panel.

EPA scientists examined numerous studies in its most recent review, including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last update. Those indicate that exposure below 75 ppb, which is the current level, can pose serious threats to public health, cause respiratory distress and illness, and is linked to premature death from both respiratory and cardiovascular causes. 

The new standards will also provide an added measure of protection for low income and minority families who are more likely to suffer from asthma or to live in communities that are overburdened by pollution. EPA thinks that strengthening the standard will especially help children - preventing both asthma attacks and keep them from missing school. They estimate that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs. If the standards are finalized, every dollar invested in them will return up to three dollars in health benefits.

The Clean Air Act says that depending on the severity of the problem, areas would have between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards. To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is proposing to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, so they can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.

The agency is also proposing to strengthen the “secondary” smog standard to a level within 65 to 70 ppb to protect plants, trees and ecosystems. New studies add to the evidence showing that repeated exposure stunts the growth of trees, damages plants and reduces crop yield.

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and plans to hold three public hearings. They will issue final ozone standards by Oct. 1, 2015.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ESFI Infographic: Cord Safety This Holiday Season

Electrical Safety Foundation International's (ESFI) infographic on extension cord safety lists cord-related hazards and tips to stay safe. ESFI says that although extension cord safety is a year-round concern, use of these devices is more common during the holidays. The "Pull the Plug on Cord-Related Hazards This Holiday Season," infographic provides safety guidelines and tips that can prevent dangerous mistakes and hazards. Guidelines include purchasing cords from authorized retailers, using cords for their intended use (e.g., outdoor cords must be used outside), and more. Download the infographic to see all the guidelines.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Agencies Partner to Protect Oil & Gas Industry Workers

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OSHA, NIOSH and National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network have signed a 2-year alliance to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in the exploration and production sector within the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas workers face hazards such as motor vehicle crashes, fires, electrocution, respirable silica exposure and more; BLS reported 112 worker fatalities in 2013.

The alliance plans to develop fact sheets, videos and training resources for employers and workers. In addition, alliance members will work with the National Occupational Research Agenda Oil and Gas Extraction Council to identify and implement strategies to improve workplace practices.