Friday, September 30, 2011

Call for Abstracts, ISSA-C Construction Symposium

The Construction Section of the International Social Security Association (ISSA-C) has issued a call for abstracts for its International Symposium on Safety and Health in the Construction Industry, slated to run Oct. 16-18, 2012, in Boston. Held every 3 years, this year’s symposium topic is Strategies for Integrating Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Process: Research, Innovation, Best Practices. ISSA-C is seeking abstracts for oral and poster presentations by the deadline of January 15. The conference will focus on two topics: safety and health in the life-cycle of the construction industry (preconstruction, construction, post-construction); and safety and health at work training (learning, aims, efficiency).

Photo credit: Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Handling Patients Safely in Healthcare

Healthcare settings pose a multitude of hazards—from exposure to pathogens and handling sharps and medications, to latex allergies and more. One of the most pervasive hazards involves patient lifting, which can expose caregivers to overexertion injuries and related musculoskeletal discomforts and disorders. Nursing staff in particular have high rates of back and shoulder injuries. In 2009, more than 23,000 lost-time cases of work-related back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis were reported in the Healthcare and Social Assistance sector by BLS; of these, BLS reports that more than 44% were among healthcare support occupations such as aides and assistants. NIOSH has updated its topics page on safe patient handling. The site includes links to featured resources, NIOSH publications, NIOSH blogs, patient lifting legislation in the U.S., additional resources and upcoming conferences.

Scholarships & Grants Available From ASSE Foundation

Students looking at careers in SH&E, and current practitioners seeking to advance their careers have a great opportunity. ASSE Foundation (ASSEF) will award nearly $170,000 in scholarships and professional education grants for the 2012 academic year. Applications are due by Dec. 1, 2011. Scholarships are for students pursuing a safety-related degree, while professional education grants are for safety professionals working to advance their education or obtain professional credentials. Find a complete list of scholarships, eligibility requirements and applications here. For a list of grants and related information, click here.

Mobile App to Prevent Texting Behind the Wheels

AT&T’s new mobile application DriveMode automatically sends a customizable auto-reply to incoming texts, notifying senders that the user is driving and unable to respond. It also allows disabling of emails, incoming and outgoing calls and Web browsing. Customers can manually enable the app prior to driving, and once it is turned off, users can view the calls, messages and emails as they normally would. DriveMode offers additional safety and convenience features, including an “Allow List” that lets users select up to five contact numbers to send and receive calls while the app is running. For more information, visit

New Fall Protection Standard Available Free From ASSE, White Paper Published by MSA

Since it was first published in 2007, the Fall Protection Code has garnered much interest in the SH&E community. The code originally include five standards; three more were added in 2009; and, in 2011, ANSI/ASSE Z359.7, Qualification and Verification Testing of Fall Protection Products, was added. The standard is available as a free download here. In addition, MSA, which participated in the development of the new standard, has published a white paper that summarizes and explains the standard. Download the white paper here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

GM Introduces Front Center Air Bag

General Motors has introduced the industry’s first front center air bag, an inflatable restraint designed to help protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes where the affected occupant is on the opposite, nonstruck side of the vehicle. According to GM, the device deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat and positions itself between the front row seats near the center of the vehicle. The tethered, tubular air bag is designed to provide restraint during passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only front occupant, and also acts as an energy absorbing cushion between driver and front passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes. GM says the air bag also will provide benefit in rollovers. Check out some other images and information here.

JHA: It's Not Just for Work Anymore

Job hazard analysis (JHA) is a well-known risk assessment technique that most SH&E professionals use regularly. Recently, ASSE member Paul Schuberg, safety and risk officer for the City of Portland, has seen JHA in a new light. He's spent the last month in a nonwalking cast, making life "an endless series of mental JHAs" as he works his way around his house and through day-to-day activities. "Whether you’re temporarily disabled or engaged in complex activities, nothing saves lives or prevents injuries better then a well-executed plan," he says. Read his story here.

OSHA Issues Hazard Alert in Grain Storage Bins

OSHA has issued a Hazard Alert and wallet card explaining the dangers of working inside grain storage bins, commonly used to store bulk raw agricultural commodities such as corn, wheat and oats. The alert describes how workers may become engulfed in grain bins and lists the precautions that employers must take under OSHA’s Grain Handling Facility standard to protect workers. Precautions include disconnecting equipment that presents a danger, prohibiting workers from walking on the grain to make it flow, providing workers with personal protective equipment and requiring an observer outside the bin who can perform rescue operations. The wallet hazard card is an abbreviated version of the bulletin.

Worker Safety & Health Program Has New Name

Did you know that NIOSH's WorkLife Program has changed its name to Total Worker Health? The change was made to address a wider range of factors that may influence employees' safety, health, ability to work and well-being in every aspect of their lives. With this change, NIOSH has begun to build intramural programs to protect worker safety on the job along with health promotion and wellness. The agency will focus on protecting and promoting the program through partnerships, research and interventions. Check out the website to learn more about efforts that hope to create environments and policies in tune with Total Worker Health.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Comment Period Extended on Proposed Revisions to Recordkeeping Rule

OSHA has extended—until Oct. 28—the comment period on revising the recordkeeping and reporting requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses. Under the revised proposal, employers would have to report any work-related fatalities and all in-patient hospitalizations within 8 hours and work-related amputations within 24 hours.OSHA also wants to update Appendix A of the recordkeeping rule that lists industries partially exempt from the requirements based on their relatively low injury and illness rates.You can submit comments online at Be sure to reference Docket Number OSHA-2010-0019.

Standards Cover Safety Signs, Colors & Symbols

National Electrical Manufacturers Association has created the ANSI Z535 series in an effort to better communicate safety information in public spaces and the workplace, as well as for industrial and consumer products. This comprehensive collection of standards guides the design, evaluation and use of safety signs, colors and symbols intended to prevent personal injury. To learn more about the ANSI Z535 series, click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tech Brief on ASSE's New PTD Standard

Last week, we posted an item about the recently approved ANSI/ASSE Z590.3-2011 standard on Prevention Through Design. Today, ASSE posted a 10-page Tech Brief on the standard. The brief outlines the scope of the standard, and includes the full table of contents and key definitions presented in the standard. Read the brief here. The standard will be published in October.

Only 28% of Families Prepared for Fire, Liberty Mutual Study Finds

The 2011 Liberty Mutual Insurance Fire Safety Study found that only 28% of families with children under age 12 have conducted a home fire drill, and that 38% have never created or discussed a fire plan. The study of 500 parents highlights several reasons why parents don’t prepare for home fires, which kills an average of seven people every day. Most parents (61%) say developing an escape plan hasn’t occurred to them.

Liberty Mutual is presenting National Family Fire Drill Day on Oct. 1. “Any day is a good day to create a fire escape plan, but National Family Fire Drill Day is a perfect moment in time to make fire safety in the home a priority,” says Liberty Mutual’s Tom Harned. The group has also developed an online fire safety site,, to help families prepare. The site includes tips to help parents eliminate hazards and craft an escape plan.

Risks of Driving in Adverse Weather

The Air Force urges both airmen and the public to be aware of the risks of driving during the fall and winter months. According to the Department of Transportation, about one quarter of annual vehicle crashes are weather related. Weather-related crashes are defined as those crashes that occur in adverse weather – rain, sleet, snow or fog – or on pavement covered in water, snow or ice. Despite being mindful of factors that are beyond a vehicle operator's control, vehicle maintenance and awareness can also limit potential mishaps. If you suspect there might be adverse weather during your travels, check local road conditions and weather advisories before departing. Be as prepared as possible for road conditions, leave plenty of time to get to your destination and always pack an emergency kit. Read the full story here.

Traffic Safety Campaign for Kids

NHTSA is partnering with the Chuggington animated series to teach kids how to be safe around cars. Geared toward kids age 2 to 7, the campaign aims to get kids developing good traffic safety habits, such as wearing bike helmets, looking both ways, and buckling up. Kids can take a safety pledge, and parents can download tips and activities to use with children.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Global Clean Air Challenge

In many cities, air pollution is reaching levels that threaten people's health, according to a new compilation of air quality data from World Health Organization (WHO). WHO gathered data from nearly 1,100 cities across 91 countries, including capital cities and cities with more than 100 000 residents. WHO estimates more than 2 million people die every year from breathing in tiny particles present in indoor and outdoor air pollution. In both developed and developing countries, the largest contributors to urban outdoor air pollution include motor transport, small-scale manufacturers and other industries, burning of biomass and coal for cooking and heating, as well as coal-fired power plants, WHO says, adding that residential wood and coal burning for space heating is an important contributor to air pollution, especially in rural areas during colder months. The agency is calling for greater awareness of health risks caused by urban air pollution, implementation of effective policies and closer monitoring. View the data and related information here.

Passenger Vehicle Inspections Continue, New App to Come

DOT reports its surprise safety inspections of motor coaches, tour buses, school buses and other passenger vehicles will continue through Oct. 7, 2011. The inspections, which began this past Friday in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Motorcoach Safety Summit, hope to ensure and strengthen safety within the industry.

FMCSA also plans to release a smartphone application in November 2011 that will allow consumers to access a motor coach company's safety record before booking a trip. In addition, the app will allow consumers to submit safety violations to FMCSA's compliant database.

Kids' Poster Contest Supports NAOSH Week

ASSE's Safety-on-the-Job kids' poster contest is underway. The contest is open through Feb. 14, 2012. Consider asking your local school to include a flyer on the contest in its parent newsletter, or talk to your child's teacher to see whether creating posters might become a school project. It's a great way for kids to learn more about working safely and what it means to be an SH&E professional. Click here, here and here for rules, entry forms and a presentation that you can use to explain the contest. Learn more about NAOSH Week 2012, May 6-12, here.

Learn About Safety's History

Whether you're interested in ASSE history or the history of occupational safety and health, ASSE's "This Month in Safety" virtual tool hits on on key milestones from1911 to the present. According to ASSE, these events, some tragic, some reflective of technological advancements and business changes, represent a legacy of advancement in workplace safety and health.Check out the month of September here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

OSHA Says NY Supermarket Locked in Night Workers

One hundred years after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which spurred the modern safety movement and led to the founding of ASSE, OSHA finds locked and blocked exits. Check out this story from FairWarningView the OSHA news release here.

ASSE Seeks Voice for Its Members in Silica Rulemaking

In a Sept. 22 letter to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), ASSE urged OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein to do everything possible to advance OSHA's rulemaking on occupational exposure to crystalline silica so that ASSE members can play a meaningful part in seeing that the agency promulgates an appropriate standard. ASSE has no position on the rulemaking at this time, but the Society is concerned that OIRA is engaged in a conversation about the rulemaking with only select stakeholders, as the OIRA meeting record indicates. According to ASSE, its members already know how to protect workers from silica risks far above the current standard without being overly burdensome to employers, yet they aren't currently being given the opportunity to tell OSHA how a standard can do the same. Read ASSE's letter here and the OIRA meeting record here.

Guidance on Sustainable Building Operations

Siemens Industry and Green Seal have published The Green Building Operationsand Maintenance Manual: A Guide for Public Housing Authorities. The free document provides insights on reducing the use of energy, water and toxic chemicals and tips for operating facilities in a more sustainable, healthy manner. According to Siemens, the guidance "transcends the 'how' and reveals 'why' these recommended actions are important for the longevity of the housing developments they manage." The company also says that while targeted at public housing management, any building owner or maintenance staff can use the guidance to implement more sustainable, energy efficient and healthier practices. The manual covers a broad range of best practices for HVAC systems, plumbing fixtures, lighting, landscaping and recycling, and discusses ways to engage residents and encourage them to participate in improving sustainability. Download it here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

NFPA Celebrates Sparky’s 60th Birthday

NFPA has teamed up with Emmy-award winning and best-selling author Don Hoffman and illustrator Todd Dakins to create a Sparky the Fire Dog picture book to be released Oct. 1, 2011, in celebration of the NFPA mascot’s 60th birthday. The story offers an entertaining and educational adventure filled with lessons and fire safety messages for youngsters.

Sparky the Fire Dog was created for NFPA in 1951 as its official mascot and spokesdog. Sparky visits schools and participates in community events to spread fire safety messages, often accompanied by his firefighter friends.

“Sparky plays an important role in communicating fire safety to kids and families,” says NFPA’s Lorraine Carli. “This book is the perfect addition to the Sparky-themed website (, games, and other children’s activities that help children and their caretakers learn important safety messages in a fun and entertaining way.”

Find out about Sparky’s book at NFPA’s website.

OSHA Updates Formaldehyde Hazard Alert

OSHA has revised its hazard alert to hair salon owners and workers on the dangers of exposure to formaldehyde as a result of working with certain products used for smoothing and straightening hair. The manufacturer of one such product recently sentt factually incorrect information to salons, and owners are urged to review the OSHA alert.

Air tests at salons using certain products found hazardous levels of formaldehyde. OSHA cited two manufacturers and two distributors for violations including failing to list formaldehyde on product labels, as well as on accompanying MSDS.

“Misleading or inadequate information on hazardous product labels is unacceptable,” says OSHA Administrator David Michaels. “Salon owners and workers have the right to know the risks associated with the chemicals with which they work and how to protect themselves.”

CSB Calls for Safer Handling of Highly Toxic Gas

U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) approved a final report and a video on a series of incidents that occurred in January 2010 at DuPont Corp.’s Belle, WV, chemical manufacturing plant, including a fatal release of deadly phosgene gas.

The final report shows how a series of preventable safety shortcomings—including failure to maintain the mechanical integrity of a critical phosgene hose—led to the accidents. CSB also released a safety video, Fatal Exposure: Tragedy at DuPont, based on the investigation, which features an animation depicting the sequence of events leading to the death of a worker when a phosgene hose suddenly burst. The video explains the causes of two other toxic chemical releases detailed in the report as well.

In the report, CSB recommends that DuPont enclose its phosgene production and storage areas so that any releases of phosgene will be contained. CSB also recommends that OSHA revise its standard for compressed gases to be at least as effective as NFPA Code 55 (Compressed Gases and Cryogenics Fluids Code). 

The Importance of Leading Indicators

According to Miles Ewing, Principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP, leading indicators are valuable because they provide insight into future events where history may not. To apply this to safety performance, Ewing says he would begin by looking at past performance to identify what metrics seem to be correlated with safety incidents. From there, you can model the relationship to be used as a forecast method for safety incidents based on the leading indicator. “You have to monitor to begin to develop your leading indicators. If you’re not measuring stuff, it’s hard to figure out what is actually happening,” he says. To gain management buy-in, trends and measurements must be available. “The ability to present data and to show trends and improvement is how you get management involved,” he says. “Then you can educate in a way they understand and can take action on.” To read the full interview, click here.

Prevention Through Design Standard Approved

ANSI/ASSE Z590.3, “Prevention Through Design: Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes” has been approved. The new standard provides guidance on including prevention through design concepts within an occupational safety and health management system. It focuses on the avoidance, elimination, reduction and control of occupational safety and health hazards and risks in the design and redesign process. It also provides guidance for life-cycle assessments and a design model that balances environmental and occupational safety and health goals over the life span of a facility, process or product. Look for the new standard soon in print and digital format. Read more here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cell Phone Use & Employer Liability

Attention all employers, did you know that if an employee is in a cell-phone-related car crash while on the job you are liable? According to Attorney Todd Clement, the law of respondeat superior, which is followed in most states, says that an employer is legally responsible for the negligent acts of its employee committed while that employee is in the course and scope of his/her employment. This is called derivative liability.

In addition, an employer can be independently liable for failing to have proper cell phone or texting while driving policies or failing to enforce those already in place. This is called direct liability and can give rise to punitive damages if the company is also found grossly negligent, meaning the company knew the risks involved and proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety and the welfare of others. Clement says the best way to protect employers, employees and the public is through a combination of policy, education and enforcement. Read the full story here.