Monday, October 31, 2011

Application Provides Toxics Release Inventory Data

EPA's myRight-to-know (myRTK) app for mobile devices will help users locate facilities that may be releasing harmful toxins or chemicals. By using the myRTK app, users will be able to find Toxics Release Inventory data that could affect their community. Available in English and Spanish, myRTK app provides information on what chemicals are being released into the water, land and air, and what health affects are associated with those chemicals.

Grainger Offers Tips to Protect Against CO Exposure

CDC estimates that 15,000 people each year are killed by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the U.S. in incidents not linked to fire. Cold weather brings increased risk of CO poisoning, and Grainger offers tips to help protect against exposure to CO during months of frequent furnace use.
  • Install CO monitors at work and home. Suggested locations are in each bedroom and living level of a home.
  • Check the expiration dates of your CO monitors. After about 5 to 7 years, the sensor will fail.
  • Check gas appliances periodically for proper operation and venting.
  • Ensure that chimneys, flues and vents are clear of debris.
  • Do not use unvented gas and wood stoves or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Do not permit vehicles or other gas-powered equipment to run indoors without proper exhaust ventilation.
  • Do not run vehicles inside a garage attached to your house or business facility, even with the door open.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you are experiencing CO poisoning. Symptoms of low-level CO poisoning include headaches, nausea, weakness, dizziness and confusion.

First Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System Is Nov. 9

The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on Nov. 9. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the test will help assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism. EAS participants currently do state-level monthly tests and local-level weekly tests, but no top-down review of the entire system has ever been undertaken. FCC along with Federal Emergency Management Agency, will use the results of the test to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism, and will work together with EAS stakeholders to improve the system as appropriate. Learn more here.

MSDSonline Presents "GHS is Coming Soon – Are You Prepared

Last Tuesday OSHA submitted a final rule to OMB that would revise the Hazard Communication standard to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Because OMB must review the rule within 90 days, approval of a revised standard could be less than three months away. At this year’s National Safety Council Congress and Expo in Philadelphia, MSDSonline President and CEO Glenn Trout and VP of Sales Chuck Haling will be giving a presentation on GHS this Wednesday, November 2. It will cover the major changes U.S. companies can expect from the revised standard, including important changes to safety labels and material safety data sheets. It will also cover obligations chemical manufacturers and distributors have around hazard classification and MSDS authoring. OSHA Director Dr. David Michaels is expected to attend this year's Congress and Expo as well.

Six Leadership Strategies

In his October 2011 Leading Thoughts column in Professional Safety, Robert Pater shares six safety leadership strategies for energizing and sustaining safety performance and culture. These strategies, he says "can elicit prized multiple gains: turning around safety disinterest into safety advocacy; redirecting certain workers' 'I'm an accident waiting to happen' mentality to one of surefootedness and self-control; changing the norm from lackadaisical, leery or left out to confident, concentrated and committed." His strategies: 1) select a path; 2) project forward; 3) energize internally; 4) harness inertia; 5) maintain liquidity; and 6) condition for momentum. Read his column here. What's been your experience implementing these or similar strategies in your workplace?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ford Implements Technology to Wake Up Drowsy Drivers

Starting in early 2012, Ford Motor Co. will introduce its new Lane Keeping System, which can detect drowsy driving and help drivers stay alert at the wheel. The system monitors the vehicle’s lane position, and notifies the driver with a dashboard warning light, vibrating steering wheel and warning chime. In addition, the system applies torque at the steering wheel to direct the vehicle back into the lane. Ford has produced an animation that demonstrates how the new system works.

Don’t Miss ASSE’s PTD Webinar

ASSE will host a webinar on the new ANSI/ASSE Z590.3 standard, Prevention Through Design (PTD): Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Risks in Design and Redesign Processes. The new standard provides guidance on applying PTD concepts in an occupational safety and health management system. It covers the four key stages of occupational risk management: preoperational, operational, post-incident and post-operational. The webinar will educate participants on the scope of the standard, and provide real world examples of its application from two industry leaders who were instrumental in the development of the standard.

The webinar will be held Nov. 30, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. CST. Registrants will receive an electronic copy of the standard, the ANSI/ASSE PTD technical report and materials related to the standard, as well as earn 0.2 CEUs.

Transit Groups Receive Funds for Improvement Projects

U.S transit providers will receive their share of $928.5 million in federal funds for public transportation projects. DOT reports that the funds will cover more than 300 projects in suburban, urban and rural areas. Projects include renovating old facilities, manufacturing clean-fuel buses and conducting research to help communities plan future transit needs.Visit for a complete list of selected projects.

CCOHS Supports Air Quality

With allergy season underway, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has launched a series of tools and resources organizations can use to transition to a scent-free workplace. The “Scent-Free Zone” helps employers designate work areas as fragrance free, and reminds employees and visitors not to wear perfume, cologne, aftershave and other fragrances, and to use unscented personal care products. The “Air Aware” poster informs employees about the issue of scent sensitivities and how fragrances can impact the health of their coworkers. Download these posters for free on the CCOHS website or purchase them as glossy prints. “I’m Air Aware” buttons can also be purchased for use as part of an air awareness campaign.

Leadership Connection

As an SH&E professional, you've learned firsthand the power of networking and information exchange. Joining ASSE connects you to a multitude of resources, tools and information. Have you thought about how you can contribute to the continued growth and influence of the Society, and expand the stature of the SH&E profession? How about increasing the time you volunteer to the Society by joining a committee or becoming a chapter or region leader? By taking on a leadership role, you can help the Society grow while improving your leadership, presentation, business, strategic planning and motivation skills—all of which can contribute to career advancement. Learn more about the opportunities ASSE offers here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Help Prevent Home Fire Deaths, Check Smoke Alarms

NFPA's report, "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires," reveals that two-thirds of the deaths caused by home fires were a result of those homes not having working smoke alarms. The report, which analyzed data from 2005 to 2009, also revealed that hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than battery powered alarms and that 38% of all home fire deaths resulted from fires where no smoke alarms were present.

"We know you can have as little as 3 minutes to get out if you have a fire before it becomes deadly," says NFPA's Lorraine Carli. "The early warning provided by smoke alarms give you extra time to escape." To  help ensure home fire safety, the agency recommends interconnecting all smoke alarms in the home; using a combination of photoelectric (responsive to smoldering fires) and ionization (responsive to flaming fires) alarms; and testing all alarms at least once a month.

Faces of Distracted Driving

As part of its ongoing efforts to build awareness about the hazards of distracted driving, DOT offers a series of videos, "Faces of Distracted Driving," that share stories about families who have lost loved ones in incidents involving a distracted driver. The videos are poignant reminders that texting or calling while driving are potentially deadly choices. As one mom says, "That one phone call is not worth it." Find the entire series here.

CSB Investigative Study: “Public Safety at Oil and Gas Storage Facilities”

Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a study of explosions at oil and gas production sites across the U.S., identifying 26 incidents since 1983 that killed 44 members of the public and injured 25 others under the age of 25. The report found that children and young adults frequently socialize at oil sites in rural areas, unaware of the explosion hazards from storage tanks that contain flammable hydrocarbons like crude oil and natural gas condensate. CSB identified regulatory gaps at the federal and state levels and called on the EPA and state regulatory bodies to improve current safety and security measures at exploration and production sites, such as warning signs, full fencing, locked gates, locks on tank hatches and other physical barriers. “As the demand for domestic energy resources continues to grow and the number of active extraction and production sites continues to rise steadily, it is important to ensure that these sites have the appropriate safeguards to save young people’s lives,” says CSB Chair Moure-Eraso.

Advance Notice Addresses Injuries From Table Saws

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued an advance notice of proposed rule making to address serious hand and finger injuries that occur from table saws. In its 2007-08 study, CPSC reports that about 67,300 injuries from blade contact were medically treated each year, totaling $2.36 billion of associated costs each year. The public is invited to submit comments on the proposal and on the injury risks that table saws present.

“Ask Dave” Blog Shares Gas Detection Knowledge

Have you checked out Industrial Scientific’s new interactive blog? “Ask Dave,” authored by Dave Wagner, the firm’s director of product knowledge, brings Wagner’s extensive knowledge about gas detection to more end users, safety professionals and those interested in learning more about gas detection. The site hosts engaging topics related to the company’s vision of eliminating workplace fatalities, and visitors can ask any question related to gas detection.

“The blog provides an opportunity to open a worldwide dialogue on gas detection,” says Wagner. “We’ll cover what’s new, the latest trends, best practices and hopefully open up some interesting debates on topics that benefit all users.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DHHS App Contest Deadline Is Near

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recognizes that after disasters occur, people use Facebook to share information and keep friends and family up to date. The agency is hoping to help enhance that practice and also give people tools to help them prepare in the first place. To that end, DHHS is sponsoring a contest to create new Facebook apps that would help people prepare for and seek help following an emergency.

The contest ends on Nov. 4, 2011, and the winner will receive $10,000 from DHHS, free admission to the 2012 Health 2.0 conference and will be invited to a DHHS event. Second place will receive $5,000 and third place receives $1,000.

Campaign Focuses on Spreader Plates & Outriggers

International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has launched “Spread the load!” a safety campaign the group hopes will increase awareness about properly assessing ground conditions and correctly using stabilizers, outriggers and spreader plates. According to IPAF:
  • Spreader plates should always be used with boom-type aerial work platforms (AWP) when fully supported on their outriggers.
  • Spreader plates should be used with all other AWP that have outriggers unless a risk assessment indicates that they are not necessary.
Find campaign tools, including leaflets, posters, stickers and a video here.

Driver Fatigue: New Report from Europe

The European Agency for Safety and Health has released, “Tackling Fatigue: EU Social Rules and Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers,” a report that offers insight on tackling fatigue among HGV drivers. The report looks at HGVs and their involvement in collisions as well as collision causation factors including fatigue. It also discusses how fatigue risk management can improve road safety. Read the report here.

Take Action Before and After a Natural Disaster

From the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa to Hurricane Irene, natural disasters strike new areas and dress front page news almost monthly nowadays. Anticipating the storm before it hits and knowing what to do afterwards are extremely important, as is insurance for flooding and storm damage, says Hon. Nancy Harvey Steorts, Former Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Most people think they’re covered [by insurance providers] and realize too late that they are not.” People were in hurricanes that have never been in a hurricane before she says, adding that this is why everyone needs to have a separate flood insurance policy. Steorts highly recommends that homeowners thoroughly inspect their foundation after a natural disaster occurs and keep both written and photographed records of any damage. Once the damage has been evaluated and maintenance is deemed necessary, Steorts says to be wary of contractors. “All kinds of people will show up at your house. Only allow those who are licensed, certified, bonded and insured to fix your home,” she says. “And check their licenses!”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keep Kids Free From Lead Poisoning

In an effort to help prevent lead poisoning in kids, EPA’s theme of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 23-29) is Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future. The agency suggests these three tips to help the cause and to help kids stay protected:
  • Get your home inspected if it was built before 1978.
  • Test your children. Even if they seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead.
  • Educate yourself by visiting or call (800) 424-5323.

Ergonomics… A Piece of Cake

Even cake decorating has its job hazards. Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., recently held an ergonomic design workshop led by Humantech’s certified professional ergonomist, Kent Hatcher. Through observation and evaluation, participants learned how to redesign and reengineer the tools and/or their environment to fit the person who will be using them. Common movements of a bread and pastry maker include lifting and pouring bulk-sized bags of ingredients such as flour or sugar, body twisting and extended reaching when stirring large vats of batter, and inserting and removing items from deep industrial-sized ovens. All of these tasks may cause overexertion injuries which are attached to an annual cost of over 50 billion dollars in workers’ compensation fees. “Ergonomics has everything to do with maintaining safety and efficiency in the workplace,” says James Good, President of Humantech. “If people are given the right tools and the capability of performing their jobs, they will be efficient.”

ISO Publishes Standard for Pedestrian Impact Test Method

Car meeting pedestrian rarely leads to a good outcome. In fact, incidents involving pedestrians hit by an oncoming vehicle account for 15% of fatalities each year, according to International Organization for Standardization. That’s a stat ISO hopes to change with ISO 11096:2011, Road Vehicles: Pedestrian Protection–Impact Test Method for Pedestrian Thigh, Leg and Knee. The standard presents a test method to assess the protection of an adult pedestrian by simulating the leg-impact conditions sustained during the car-to-pedestrian crash. The test can assess the most hazardous areas of the bumper, bonnet leading edge and bonnet of each model. ISO expects the data gathered via the test method to inform work being done by International Harmonized Research Activities Pedestrian Safety Working Group and the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations Pedestrian Safety global technical regulation. Learn more here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

IUP Launches Safety Sciences Doctoral Program

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s (IUP) Safety Sciences program has graduated. Beginning summer 2013, the program will now offer a doctoral degree.

The program is designed to prepare SH&E professionals with advanced skills in the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control and prevention of workplace SH&E hazards.

“IUP’s program is unique in that it is designed to be a very comprehensive offering, not just focused on one or two aspects of the safety curriculum and not focused on an engineering curriculum,” says IUP’s Chris Janicak, coordinator of the graduate program. “This program will help to fill the need for safety educators, which is growing throughout the nation.”

The IUP doctoral program joins the Safety Sciences’ existing bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, which have graduated more than 1,700 students since 1973.

Groups Partner on Workplace Violence Prevention Consensus Standard

Workplace violence is a challenging security and safety concerns today. To help companies and organizations respond to and become better prepared for such challenges, ASIS International and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), have partnered on ASIS/SHRM WVP.1-2011, Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention. The standard establishes policies, processes and protocols that organizations can adopt to identify and prevent threatening behavior and violence affecting the workplace, and to better address and resolve threats and violence that have occurred. “Practitioners can use the standard to evaluate whether their organization is taking sufficient steps to protect employees from a wide range of problematic behaviors that can compromise workplace safety,” says ASIS’s Rebecca Speer. “It helps to answer the tough questions: ‘Are we doing enough?’ ‘Are we doing the right things?’”

OSHA has posted workplace violence prevention resources here and NIOSH offers resources here. Read a 2004 white paper from ASSE here.

MSDS Pocket Dictionary App

The MSDS Apptionary, published by Genium Group Inc., provides more than 1,000 MSDS-related definitions for workers and emergency response personnel. In addition to definitions, the app also provides resources for users who may need additional hazard, regulatory and environmental information about a certain chemical. The app is available for iPhone and iPad users, and Genium Group Inc. reports that it also will be releasing e-book versions of the MSDS Pocket Dictionary in the near future.

Preventing Campus Fires

A demonstration at West Virginia University’s (WVU) campus this September showed that a fire can destroy a dorm room in less than three minutes. The smoke and heat that is produced becomes highly toxic and overbearing in a matter of moments. It is safest to get down and crawl out of a smoke-filled room because, as WVU students observed, the air is cleanest near the ground. “Your body’s not made to breathe smoke, you’re going to start coughing and you’re going to start choking,” says Morgantown Fire Chief Mark Caravasos. “If this smoke has had any heat exposed to it for a while, you’re going to inhale the heat through that smoke. That’s going to cause burns inside of the respiratory system, inside of the lungs.” According to National Fire Protection Association, from 2000 to the present at least 146 students have died in a combination of off-campus, residence hall and fraternity/sorority fires. The ASSE Fire Protection Practice Specialty suggests tips to prevent these fires.

National Strategy for Nanotechnology Released

The federal government has issued a national strategy for ensuring that SH&E research needs are fully identified and addressed in the fast-growing field of nanotechnology. The 2011 NNI Environmental, Health and Safety Research Strategy provides an integrated research framework to guide federal agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The strategy is designed to help NNI leverage federal resources and infrastructure to produce research data that can be used to protect public health and the environment, while continuing to fuel innovations and capture the value of those innovations.

The strategy identifies six core categories of research that together can contribute to the responsible development of nanotechnology: 1) nanomaterial measurement infrastructure; 2) human exposure assessment; 3) human health; 4) environment; 5) risk assessment and risk management; and 6) informatics and modeling. The strategy also aims to address the ethical, legal and societal implications of the technology.

Read and download a copy of the strategy here. Register for and view a free webinar that discusses the strategy and offers additional insight here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

ASSE Launches Body of Knowledge Resource

ASSE's Body of Knowledge (BOK) project has launched. The BOK is the collected wisdom, experience, processes and facts that both inform the profession and provide the solid foundation from which continuous improvements and innovative change can occur. Be sure to check it out here and bookmark the page for quick reference in the future.

More SH&E Professionals Needed, NIOSH Says

SH&E professionals are--and will continue to be--in demand. That’s what NIOSH is saying based on its recent survey. “Over the coming year and beyond, the national demand for occupational safety and health services will significantly outstrip the number of people with the necessary training, education and experience to provide such services,” NIOSH says. “Although employers plan to hire at least 25,000 occupational safety and health professionals over the next 5 years, only about 12,000 new graduates are expected to be available from the academic programs that provide the needed pool of expertise nationally. NIOSH Director John Howard calls the results “troubling," especially in light of changing workforce demographics and emerging technologies. “The need for an adequate supply of trained professionals is particularly great as we anticipate that growing numbers of older professionals will retire over the next decade, and as new technologies continue to enter the workplace, requiring specialized skills and knowledge," he says. Read the report, "National Assessment of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce," here.

Worker & Employer Rights Explained in OSHA Pubs

OSHA has published several new and revised documents that inform workers and employers of their rights, and provide information on how to protect against workplace hazards. Documents include:
  • Small Entity Compliance Guide for Respiratory Protection Standard, which provides checklists and a step-by-step guide to help small businesses better understand OSHA’s respiratory protection standard;
  • Workers’ Rights booklet, which describes workers’ rights under the OSH Act;
  • Employer Rights and Responsibilities, which explains rights, responsibilities and inspection information.
Other publications include information on laboratory safety, aerial lifts, permit-required confined spaces, trenching, nail gun safety and heat stress.

To obtain free copies of these materials, visit OSHA’s Publications page or call (800) 321-6742.

Mobile App Uses Games to Educate on Emergency Preparedness

CosmiCube, San Francisco’s iPhone, iPad and Android mobile application development provider, and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM), have launched SF Heroes, a free mobile app that uses game mechanics to motivate and reward people for learning about emergency preparedness. Built on the company’s new REACH Platform, the app connects with social media channels and provides information about city resources that users may need to access in the event of a disaster. The app’s modules include an evergreen emergency services map, location and event check-ins, social connections, educational quizzes, personal contacts, motivational check lists, and a leaderboard to compare achievements with friends. “One of the most important features of the application is the ability to use the emergency resources map and contact lists without being connected to the Internet. All you need is a cell phone with battery power, and you’ll have direct access to vital information during an emergency,” says Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director of SFDEM. Download the free app here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Partnership Uses Facebook to Help Job Seekers

The social jobs partnership Facebook site, developed by U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), National Association of State Workforce Agencies, DirectEmployers Association, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and Facebook, provides employment resources for job seekers. The site features training programs, job opportunities and job-search resources. According to DOL, the organizations also will conduct research to discover how recruiters and job seekers use the site, and how job posting can be shared through social media sites.

CSB Releases Final Report & Video on Academic Lab Explosion

U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has issued its final report on the January 2010 chemistry lab explosion at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. The incident occurred during the handling of explosive compounds and resulted in serious injuries to the graduate student who was handling the material.

CSB recommendations to the university include revising and expanding its chemical hygiene plan to identify and control the physical hazards of chemicals, and implementation of an incident and near miss reporting system so that lessons learned from laboratory incidents are documented and communicated.

The report also calls on OSHA to develop a bulletin on controlling physical hazards of chemicals in academic laboratories, and recommends that American Chemical Society develop guidelines for evaluating and controlling hazards in academic research labs.

CSB’svideo room features a video discussing this and other lab incidents.

Teens Aware of Dangers of Texting, Yet Carry On

Teen drivers are becoming increasingly aware of the potential dangers of texting while driving, yet it's not curbing the behavior. According to a 2011 teen driving study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), 53% of the 2,294 high-school students surveyed say they text while they drive at least sometimes, and 28% admit doing so often or very often. Despite these admissions, the study shows that more teens believe that texting while driving is a significant distraction. In 2008, only 38% of teens said texting while driving was very/extremely distracting. In 2009, that number rose to 48% and it climbed significantly to 59% in 2011.

According to the researchers, parents are a frequent recipient of these texts, which often share where/what the teen is doing. SADD's Stephen Wallace understands that it's important for parents to know where their children are and what they are doing, but "they need to take a firm stance against texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors." Liberty Mutual's Dave Melton also says parents need to take responsibility for what their teen drivers are doing. "The reality is, the 'don't talk on the phone while driving' conversation of a few years ago, must today expand to 'don't use your cell phone, MP3 player or any computer device for any reason while driving.' If you're not talking about it, chances are they will do it."

You can find additional resources on helping teens become safe, responsible drivers here.

In-Vehicle Cameras Capture First Months of Solo Driving

A study done by the AAA Foundation shows teen drivers are about 50 percent more likely to crash in the first month of driving due to inattention, failure to reduce speed and failure to yield. Researchers looked at specific types of crashes in relation to how long the driver had been licensed and found that some types of crashes occurred at high rates at first and declined with experience. A second study used in-vehicle cameras to monitor teens when they were learning to drive with parents followed by the first 6 months of licensed driving without parents. Research found that while teens had their learner's permits, routine trips on familiar roads under relatively easy driving conditions accounted for the bulk of driving time. The cameras also captured a number of close calls due to simple mistakes attributed to inexperience, texting, horseplay with passengers and running red lights. "This research serves as a great reminder for parents to stay involved in the learning process even after the law allows teens to drive without a parent in the car," says Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation President and CEO. "Continued parent engagement can help teens gain needed driving experience and shape their habits for a lifetime of safe driving."

Silicosis: A Chronic Problem

In a new post to the NIOSH Science Blog, David Weissman, M.D., director of the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies and Paul Schulte, Ph.D., director of the NIOSH Education and Information Division, discuss the continued persistence of silicosis. "Hazardous silica exposures and the diseases they cause should be, and can be, made a thing of the past in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world," they say, adding that each case of silicosis "represents failure to prevent excessive exposure." Read and comment on the post here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

White Paper on Gas Detection Available

According to Industrial Scientific Corp., a company's gas detection program must monitor three factors at all times:
  • Are gas detectors working properly?
  • Are gas detectors being used correctly?
  • What gas hazards are employees exposed to?
The company's new white paper, Does Your Gas Detection Program Need a Health Check?, discusses these issues and explains how important safety data stored within gas detectors can help build a strong safety culture.

MSHA Warns About Winter Hazards

Coal-mine explosions occur most often during the colder months, October through March. MSHA’s annual winter alert campaign draws attention to the hazards of cold weather. This year’s campaign asks mine operators to “Knock Out the Risk” that winter weather brings by taking specific actions to avoid workplace hazards. In underground coal mines, mine operators are encouraged to ensure that there is adequate ventilation in the mine, apply liberal amounts of rock dust, conduct frequent and thorough examinations, and be familiar with emergency procedures that prevent coal-mine ignitions and explosions.

Comment on Diacetyl

NIOSH has extended until Nov. 18 the comment period on its draft document, Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione. Read the document here. When submitting comments be sure to reference Docket No. NIOSH-245. Submit comments online here, fax to (513) 533-8285; or send by e-mail to

Audits that Protect Employees and Business

In 2009, OSHA’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries counted 4, 551 fatal work injuries in the U.S., while the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 3.3 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses. These stats show the need for safety audits in the workplace. David Regelbrugge, Senior Manager at Environ, lists six essential steps to properly conducting a safety inspection: do initial research; perform an opening meeting and walkthrough; review written programs and records; complete a detailed walkthrough; review findings; and follow-up with the facility. These steps help the auditor properly communicate to businesses before and after s/he performs the audit. Regelbrugge says a key goal is to become familiar with the people and the processes. In addition, post-audit reviews and follow-ups effectively enable a company to improve safety standards.

MSHA Issues Trench Safety Alert

Workers entering an unprotected trench are risking their lives. Walls can collapse suddenly, leaving workers with no time to get out of the way. According to the MSHA, 350 workers died in trenching or excavation cave-ins from 2000 to 2009, and 64% of fatalities in trenches occurred at depths of less than 10 ft. To help educate workers about these preventable hazards, the agency has issued an accident prevention safety alert on excavation/trench safety. Workers should not enter a trench that does not have a protective system in place, MSHA says. The system must be designed and installed by a competent person who can identify existing and predictable hazards, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures. This and other equipment, health and safety hazard alerts are available on the MSHA website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Distracted Driving Video Contest

The National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and the Ad Council are holding a nationwide scholarship program and video contest on behalf of Project Yellow Light, an organization founded in memory of Hunter Garner who was killed in a car crash. Established in 2007, its mission is to motivate, educate and encourage teens to drive safely. To enter the contest, high-school seniors can create and submit 60-second videos at A video can feature an individual, a group or an animation, and it should convey the importance of teens developing and embracing safe driving habits. If the senior is under 18, the video must be accompanied by a signature from a parent or guardian. Submissions will be accepted beginning Dec. 1, 2011, and all videos will be judged by NOYS, the Ad Council, Project Yellow Light and The Martin Agency. The winning video will be digitally distributed as a PSA by the Ad Council in May 2012 as part of National Youth Traffic Safety Month. The winner will also receive a $2,000 scholarship to the college of their choosing.

Eye2Eye Program to Improve Workplace Eye Safety

Uvex and Prevent Blindness America have launched Eye2Eye, a program that hopes to improve eye protection and safety in the workplace. The resource is available online and educates workers on how to discuss the importance of eye safety and health, and increase compliance. The program is based on industry best practices and research conducted within the U.S. and Canada. Once an employee completes the training program, s/he becomes an Eye2Eye safety ambassador, whose role will be to help communication between workers and safety managers.

Radon Awareness Week

October is a busy month for safety-related campaigns and observances. In addition to being National Teen Driver Safety Week, this week is Radon Awareness Week. Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless radioactive gas. According to EPA, one in 15 U.S. homes contains high levels of radon, and the agency estimates that exposure to radon in the home is responsible for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend that homes be tested every 2 years for radon. Find contact information on your state radon office here. Learn more about the Federal Radon Action Plan for radon here. And learn more about Radon Awareness Week here.

EPA to Award Environmental Educators

U.S. EPA has launched the 2011 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators program. The program will recognize outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

“Because the environment affects every part of our lives, environmental education should be part of everything we do and teach,” says EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “This awards program will highlight and encourage innovative ways to better integrate environmental issues into our young people’s everyday learning experiences—helping to turn environmental education into environmental action.”

Two teachers from each EPA region will be selected. Recipients will receive a commemorative plaque and a $2,000 award to be used to further their professional development in environmental education. In addition, the local education agency employing each teacher will receive a $2,000 award to further the recipient’s environmental educational activities and programs.

Application deadline is Dec. 30, 2011, and winners will be announced in spring 2012.

Photo © Keczmerski

American Council of the Blind Updates Pedestrian Safety Handbook

American Council of the Blind (ACB) has updated its Pedestrian Safety Handbook. The book addresses contemporary approaches to ensuring safe paths of travel for blind pedestrians and effective ways to advocate for accommodations such as accessible pedestrian signals, tactile warnings at the edges of curb ramps and mechanisms for routing travelers safely through problematic intersections. “The last time we updated our Pedestrian Safety Handbook, quiet cars were still driving through the imaginations of vehicle designers,” says ACB President Mitch Pomerantz. “Our role as advocates becomes more complex in ways we might never have even imagined.” Read and download the document here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

IEEE Says Intelligent Transportation Systems Could Eliminate 90% of Auto Crashes

Experts at IEEE say that 90% of all car crashes could be eliminated if existing intelligent transportation technologies were implemented in vehicles and roads. Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) include electronics and computing technologies such as sensors to detect drowsy drivers, lane departure warning systems, collision avoidance systems and automatic braking.

The recent IEEE Conference on ITS in Washington, DC, provided a venue for researchers to discuss their advanced research and ground-breaking innovations. For example, Teruo Higashino, professor of information networking at Osaka University in Japan, has focused on applying wireless networking technology for vehicle-to-vehicle communication to help detect dangerous vehicles on the road and warn nearby drivers. Learn more at the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society (ITSS) website.

Via a consortium of five auto manufacturers working with U.S. Department of Transportation, the Vehicle Safety Communications—Applications (VSC-A) project is working to develop the application of vehicle to vehicle communications to provide precrash warnings to drivers, thereby avoiding many crashes or reducing the severity of collisions. Watch DOT’s video about vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation

Reduce Spread of Workplace Flu

OSHA's seasonal flu website provides resources for workers and employers to help reduce the spread of flu at the workplace. Learn what precautions you can take, such as hand washing and infection control practices, to help ensure a healthy work environment. Site visitors also can challenge their knowledge and take the Flu I.Q. quiz.