Friday, December 28, 2012

Agencies Provide Tips to Prevent Fires During Winter

NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration are reminding the public that home fires tend to happen more during the winter months than any other season because of an increase in heating fires and cooking. The agencies provide helpful tips and resources to help "put a freeze on winter fires." Resources include a family heating safety checklist, a community outreach kit and public service announcements.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Health IT Safety Plan Open for Public Comment

A health information technology safety plan released by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is open for public comment until Feb. 4, 2013. The Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan outlines the agency's commitment to patient safety and how health information technology can help eliminate medical errors, protect patients, improve care quality and increase efficiency within the system.

Friday, December 21, 2012

ASSE Foundation Announces Next Generation Board

ASSE Foundation is happy to announce its Next Generation Board, a collaboration between the Foundation Board of Trustees and young ASSE members looking to support the profession while advancing their own careers. The Foundation is seeking members between the ages of 23 and 35 who are currently in the workforce and have at least 2 years of work experience in occupational health and safety (interested students should first become involved in their student section and apply after graduation). The Next Generation Board will: 
  • Increase awareness of the Foundation’s purpose;
  • encourage participation in the Foundation’s programs;
  • cultivate intergenerational connections within the Foundation community.
Applications will close this Feb. 1 and the Next Generation Board members will be announced on April 1, 2013. If interested, apply hereFor more information, click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tips for Selecting a Hearing Conservation Partner

Hearing loss is an invisible threat in many workplaces, according to John Amann, Vice President at Cintas. He suggests must-have attributes for selecting a hearing conservation partner for testing, training and hearing protection equipment: 
  • Industry knowledge. Partners should understand workplace hazards and be positioned to share that expertise with customers' employees through onsite training sessions.
  • Onsite testing. Partners with mobile testing units simplify the process by bringing testing directly to worksites. Onsite testing also allows organizations to see results right away.
  • An extensive database. Since hearing loss is often gradual, it’s important to track the progression of employees’ hearing health over time.  Partners can assist by using a secure database to keep baseline exam results on file to compare with new test results. Employers should have 24/7 access to test results and reports and understand how employee testing results compare to industry standards.
  • Testing in a calibrated environment. Hearing conservation partners can ensure results are precise by continuously monitoring the test environment during testing.
  • Proper certifications. Individuals should have knowledge of OSHA, MSHA and FRA hearing regulations.
  • National reach. Consistent testing is important, especially for organizations with locations that span across cities and states. Partners with national reach can conduct testing at each location and compare results from one area to another. This allows companies to determine which locations need to improve hearing conservation efforts.
  • PPE options. PPE, such as hearing earmuffs and earplugs, keeps employees safe in noisy environments. A partner should be able to recommend the correct type of protection, have a variety of options to fit different needs and people, and regularly replenish inventory so stock is never low.  
According to Cintas, organizations should look for partners with testing in alternate languages as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Health Promotion Sheet for Road Transport Sector Available in 24 Languages

E-fact 47, EU-OSHA's online informative sheet on health promotion in the road transport sector, is now available online in 24 languages. According to EU-OSHA, there are many migrant workers in this sector, so translated information sheets are essential to provide important information on worker safety and health. The sheet discusses being healthy at work, at home and in between the two.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ICMM Publishes Conference Presentations

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has published the presentations from the ICMM2012 Health and Safety Conference, held last fall in Santiago, Chile. More than 300 SH&E experts, and mining and metals executives attended the conference, which featured 60 speakers discussing topics such as leadership, worker health programs, community health management, safety in operations and eliminating fatalities.

Key takeaways from the conference included:

  • SH&E is a collaborative issue not a competitive one.
  • SH&E is about building trust and promoting human life and wellbeing.
  • Systems are only as effective as the integrity of the people applying them, which in turn is linked to leadership.
  • SH&E needs to be considered in the context of all aspects of a person’s life (e.g., at home and in the community, as well as at work).
  • The safety and business cases interdependent, as safety is good for business.
  • Leadership is critical at all levels, particularly with regard to changing behavior.
  • To succeed, the values of SH&E need ownership by all levels of an organization, including CEOs, senior management, employees and contractors.

According to ICMM, the results of the conference will influence the group’s 2013-2015 safety and health strategy.

OSHA Wants Information on Preventing Vehicle Backovers

OSHA has scheduled a few informal meetings to gather comments on preventing fatalities and injuries from vehicle backovers. OSHA says the purpose of these meetings is to collect information from various industries on such incidents and determine how or if backovers can be prevented by new technology or additional methods. Meetings will be held on Jan. 8-9, 2013, in Washington, D.C., and Feb. 5, 2013, in Arlington, TX.

Monday, December 17, 2012

VPPPA Partners With UAB to Offer Certificate Program

The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) has partnered with University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to offer the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Excellence in Safety Certificate Program at UAB. The online program allows full-time workers in the safety field to learn the fundamentals of safety best practices and earn the specialized certificate. The program will be offered by the UAB Office of eLearning and Professional Studies beginning June 2013.

"We are very excited to be partnering with UAB in this effort,"says VPPPA Chair Mike Maddox. "We hope that instilling a culture of safety excellence in participants of this certificate program will help spread the principles of VPP to an ever-increasing number of worksites."

The academic program focuses on the four elements of VPP:

  • management commitment and employee involvement;
  • worksite analysis;
  • hazard recognition and control;
  • training.

To earn the certificate, students must complete six 3-week courses, which provide academic credit. The program is the first time in VPPPA history that it has partnered with a university to develop and offer courses in best practices for safety and health education.

"UAB is delighted to partner with a world-class professional association like VPPPA, which shares our commitment to push the boundaries of excellence in safety innovation to the highest possible levels," says Martha Bidez, Ph.D., director of UAB's master's level program in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management.

For more information about the program, send an e-mail to

Friday, December 14, 2012

SAE Issues Standard for Emergency Response to Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

As hybrid and electric vehicles become more prevalent, emergency responders need to be aware of the proper procedures for responding to crashes and emergency situations that involve vehicles equipped with high voltage electrical systems. SAE International has published a standard to address this concern. The standard, J2990-Hybrid and EV First and Second Responder Recommended Practice, recommends practices for emergency personnel responding to incidents involving hybrid or electric vehicles.

"It's an appropriate time to recognize best practices that facilitate a safe response when [electric vehicles] are in an accident," says Todd Mackintosh, chair of the SAE Hybrid Technical Committee that developed the standard.

Recommended practices in the standard include:
  • A procedure for vehicle labeling placed at standardized, consistent locations on the vehicle to identify that it contains high voltage systems.
  • A quick reference guide for first responders, helping them identify high voltage components and safely disable them.
  • Recommendation that manufacturers follow common standards for disabling high voltage circuits.
  • Manufacturer guidelines for creating second responder (e.g., tow truck operator) safety instructions for handling damaged hybrid or electric vehicles.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Green Bike Lanes Double in 2012

If you live or work in an urban area, you've probably seen a bike lane. In six major U.S. cities, the standard bike lane, with its white paint outline, is getting a makeover, thanks to the Green Lane Project, a program launched by the Bikes Belong Foundation. The improved space, called a "green lane," adds physical separation between moving cars and bikes, such as a curb, parked cars or plastic posts, to better protect cyclists.

Protected bike lanes have been widely used in Europe for a long time, but only recently have they gained traction in the U.S. A recent report shows the number of protected green lanes in the U.S. has nearly doubled this year. What's more, the project expects the number to double again next year.

"Increasingly, U.S. cities want to make riding a bike a practical and comfortable way to get around for short trips," says Martha Roskowski, Green Lane Project director. "The numbers make it very clear that if we change how the streets work, we change how people travel. "Building safe, appealing places to ride is the number one way we can encourage more people to hop on a bike."

According to the project, 60% of Americans say they would bike more often if they had a safe place, like a green lane, to ride. This point was validated by a recent study in Washington, DC, that revealed bicycling increased 200% on Pennsylvania Avenue after green lanes were installed.

Visit the Green Lane Project website to find out about the current inventory of green lanes, and for details about existing and future protected green lanes.

Photo courtesy of Green Lane Project/Bikes Belong

Residential Construction Rule Enforcement Postponed Until March 2013

OSHA has announced that enforcement of tits residential roofing fall prevention standard has been delayed until March 16, 2013. The agency reports the 3-month extension will give officials more time to educate employers on compliance with the new rule. OSHA also reports these officials will keep inspecting residential construction sites that are using the 2010 compliance directive.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

OSHA's New Tool Protects Workers Against Cadium

OSHA has developed the Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor to help protect workers exposed to cadmium, a silver-white metal used in many industries. Exposure occurs through the smelting and refining of metals or from air in industrial plants that manufacture batteries, coatings or plastics. It can cause weakness, fever, headache, chills, sweating and muscular pain. Cadium exposure can even result in kidney damage and cancer of the lung or prostate. The new tool determines the biological monitoring and medical surveillance requirements that must be met under OSHA’s cadmium standard (29 CFR 1910.1027). These requirements include the frequency of additional monitoring and other mandatory components of the employer’s medical surveillance program.

The cadmium advisor is intended for use by experienced medical professionals who assess workers’ cadmium exposure. It may also be useful as an educational tool by providing information on what constitutes overexposure to cadmium and what to do to prevent exposure on the job. For more information, click here

U.K. Ladder Association Identifies Biggest "Ladder Idiot"

The U.K. Ladder Association’s Idiots on Ladders campaign has a winner. Selected by the public via Facebook, the photo (right) shows a worker reaching up to the top of a chimney with a gaping fall directly below him. "Not only could the fall have killed him, but one commenter pointed out that his ladder still did not reach high enough to keep him from stretching upwards," the association explains. He also wedged a bucket between the ladder and the wall it is resting against.

According to Ladder Association Chair Cameron Clow, “Ladders are arguably the most common type of equipment used for work at height. This competition was all about raising awareness and ran alongside the Ladder Exchange, which offers people and businesses the chance to trade in unsafe ladders for new, compliant ones. We wanted to show together two of the biggest dangers in the workplace–people using their ladders in an unsafe way and people using equipment that is unfit for purpose."

View the complete Idiots on Ladders album here. Professional Safety's Safety Photo of the Month gallery also features many photos of dangerous ladder use. Check it out here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Preparedness Lessons Following Hurricane Sandy

Omnilert’s recent survey of customers from the company's Amerilert and e2Campus services shows that most respondents were prepared for Hurricane Sandy. Active emergency preparedness programs and implemented emergency notification systems made a great impact on these organizations. The use of interactive communication across a variety of media, such as text messaging, social media and PA systems, helped keep communities safe, informed and aware of the situation. Other preparedness lessons include taking forecasts seriously, updating data before the event occurs, sending clear and frequent communications, and securing materials and supplies in advance. Encouraging personal preparedness and springing into action lessened potential damage as well. 
For more information and to download the free report, click here

Safety 2013 Registration Is Open

Safety 2013, ASSE's premier professional development conference and exposition, is open for registration. Scheduled for June 24-27, in Las Vegas, NV, this year's event features 245 sessions covering 25 topic tracks, roundtable discussions, the Executive Summit Panel, an exposition with more than 350 exhibitors and much more. Visit the site for early registration and for more information.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ASSE, AIHA & NSC Urge Congress to Support Funding for Worker Safety

In a joint letter to Senator Tom Harkin, ASSE, AIHA and National Safety Council expressed the urgency for continued support in the funding of OSHA and NIOSH to prevent worker injuries and illnesses. The agencies expressed concern that if funds are reduced, efforts to protect workers will be jeopardized. A recent press release states that the funding will help prevent proposed efforts to eliminate funding for several vital programs including NIOSH's Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector program and Education and Research Centers.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Less Crashes for Fleets With Stricter Policies

The safest fleet vehicles have written policies that restrict the use of mobile devices and check mobile phone records after all collisions regardless of severity, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety 2012 fleet safety benchmark study. The study Strength in Numbers, which involved a collective fleet of 521,000 vehicles and 9.8 billion miles traveled, also found that companies with the lowest crash rates include:
  • Tracking completions of ongoing driver training on a fleet safety scorecard;
  • conducting commentary drives with new hires and high-risk drivers;
  • communicating fleet safety messages via senior management presentations at meetings.
Respondents were surveyed on more than 25 fleet safety program elements, such as cell phone policies, training and the use of in-vehicle monitoring technology. For more information, click here

Monday, December 3, 2012

OSHA Fact Sheet Provides PPE Guidance for Hurricane Cleanup Efforts

As cleanup efforts for Hurricane Sandy are still underway, OSHA has issued a fact sheet that provides guidance as to what PPE to use in what hazardous situation. The "Hurricane Sandy Cleanup PPE Matrix" lists potential hazards that workers may encounter and also provides the appropriate PPE workers should wear to best protect themselves. "All PPE has limitations and is the control method of last resort, OSHA says. "Workers using PPE must be trained to recognize these limitations as well as how to put on and remove PPE, properly store it, take care of it and know when it is time to replace it."

Friday, November 30, 2012

FAA Proposal to Improve Flight Attendant Workplace Safety

A proposed policy from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would allow OSHA to enforce occupational safety and health standards that are currently not covered by FAA oversight. "Under this proposal, flight attendants would, for the first time, be able to report workplace injury and illness complaints to OSHA for response and investigation," says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. FAA reports that flight attendant workplace issues might include noise exposure, bloodborne pathogen exposure or access to hazardous chemical information.

Winter Weather & Safe Driving

Winter is looming which means icy roads, snowfall and more commuters. Motorists should take extra precaution when driving by slowing down when roads are icy or snowy, allowing extra travel time and keeping distance from other vehicles. Follow these tips to stay safe on the road this winter season:
  • Pack a winter travel safety kit. Kit should include an ice scraper and brush, a tow rope, cat litter (for use as a traction aid), blankets, a good flashlight, a candle, matches, a portable weather radio, lock de-icer and a cell phone.  
  • Keep your tires in good condition and properly inflated. Cold weather reduces tire pressure so check and adjust frequently.
  • Know how to recover from skids. When skidding, steer the vehicle gently in the direction of the skid and don’t touch the brakes.
  • Know the route and current weather conditions in advance. Check road conditions by calling the state's Department of Transportation or checking online.
  • If you get stuck, stay in your vehicle. Stay warm and wait for assistance. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any obstructions.
  • Drink plenty of water. As little as a 1% percent loss of body weight can lead to fatigue and reduced alertness, both of which can be deadly when driving in icy conditions.
It is crucial to always be prepared when traveling in the winter months.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

FDA Safety Tips Help Prevent Food-Related Illness

In the midst of holiday season, families may find their refrigerators and kitchens packed full with food,   some fresh and some leftover. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urges the public to be aware of food safety and offers tips to help prevent food-borne illnesses. The FDA website lists helpful tips for refrigerator strategies, keeping food at the proper temperature, types of food-related illnesses and how to be keep your food usable in the event of a disaster. Here are some tips provided in the refrigerator strategies topic:
  • Avoid overpacking because cold air must circulate around food to keep them properly chilled.
  • Keep food in covered containers or sealed storage bags.
  • Wipe up any spills immediately to reduce bacteria growth.

Construction Injuries & Fatalities Raise Costs in California

Construction injuries and fatalities cost California residents $2.9 billion from 2008-10, a new Public Citizen report states. “The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in California’s Construction Industry” reports that in the 3-year time frame, there were 50,700 ccupational injuries and illnesses in the construction industry and 168 deaths. 

“The economic picture is quite staggering,” says Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “We now know that construction accidents impose huge economic costs in addition to tremendous pain for individual victims.”

To help alleviate the number of injuries and fatalities, the report suggests California pass a law requiring companies to demonstrate obedience to safety standards in order to be eligible to bid for state contracts. This not only would ensure that public-sector projects are fulfilled by responsible contractors but also would provide incentives for companies to maintain clean records while working on private-sector sites.

“Implementing a stricter prequalification process for public construction projects would not address all of the industry’s safety problems,” Wrightson says. “However, such a step would help further protect workers while also yielding significant gains to the economy for minimal costs.”

For more information, click here

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ASSE NYC Hosts Hurricane Sandy Relief Event

Tomorrow the ASSE NYC Chapter will be hosting a Hurricane Sandy fundraising event, with proceeds going towards the purchase of PPE for distribution to cleanup workers. The cost of the event is $20 and includes free appetizers and a cash bar. The full admission price will be donated to Hurricane Sandy relief, and additional donations are encouraged. ASSE NYC will match up to $2,500 in donations. The event takes place tomorrow at 5:00 p.m., at Draught 55 (245 East 55th Street, New York, NY). 

If unable to attend, people can directly donate here and write in “Sandy PPE Fund.”