Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vote For the Next Top Energy Innovator

Visit the America's Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge website to cast your vote by "liking" the companies that you think could make the greatest positive impact to the country's economic and energy future. In addition to the public votes, an expert panel from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will weigh in their votes. The top three companies will receive a free registration to the 2012 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit and a chance to present their ideas at the technology showcase. According to DOE, voting closes at 8:59 a.m. (EST) on Monday, Feb. 6.

Videos from OSHA Show Proper Use of Respirators

OSHA has posted a series of 17 short videos in both English and Spanish to help workers learn about the proper use of respirators on the job. With topics ranging from OSHA’s Respiratory Standard to detecting counterfeit respirators, the videos provide valuable information to workers in general industry and construction. In addition, the Agency’s page on Respiratory Protection provides more training materials, information about occupational respiratory hazards in different industries and details of their Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134 and 29 CFR 1926.103).

BST’s Workplace Safety Conference Celebrates 25 Years

This year, BST's Safety in Action Conference is celebrating 25 years of bringing together experts and organizations from diverse industries to collaborate on workplace safety issues and solutions. Since its inception in 1987 as a way of bringing companies together to get employees involved in safety improvement, the event has grown from a handful of participants to an attendance of more than 2,500 professionals, covering everything from safety leadership, culture and behavioral science to the latest research in injury and fatality prevention.

Held Mar. 15-17, 2012, in San Antonio, TX, the event features focused breakout sessions, an Executive Forum, and Best Practices Showcase, a networking event where organizations share results and ideas from their safety processes.

Safety in Action 2011 Highlights from BST on Vimeo.

ASTD Issues State of the Learning/Development Industry Report

Employers spent more on employees than ever  before in 2011, according to American Society of Training and Development's (ASTD) 2011 State of the Industry Report. Organizations in the U.S. spent $171.5 billion on employee learning in 2010, up from $125.8 billion in 2009.

Overall, ASTD says, the findings demonstrate "that despite current economic challenges, senior executives understand that a highly skilled workforce is a strategic differentiator and they are investing in the development of their employees." Other key findings"
  • 60% of expenditures were on internal expenses ($103 billion)
  • Per-employee spending increased 13.5% in 2010 ($1,081 in 2009, $1,228 in 2010)
  • There was an increased expenditure on tuition reimbursement.
  • About 70% of all training was delivered by an instructor in a classroom, up 3% from 2009; 60% of this instruction was delivered by live instruction
  • Technology-based delivery of instruction declined from 36.3% in 2009 to 29.1% in 2010.
  • Managerial and supervisory training was the most offered content (12.8%) followed by profession- or industry-specific content (11.3%), and mandatory and compliance content (10%)

Monday, January 30, 2012

NFL Urges Fans to Drive Safely

The National Football League has partnered with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition to remind everyone who may consume alcohol while watching the Super Bowl to create a game plan to get home safely.

In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. "One way to avoid impaired driving crashes is to designate a sober driver to safely transport their friends and family, who have been drinking, home," the partners say.

More than 175,000 NFL fans pledged to be designated drivers this season--a new record. Learn more about the campaign here.

Pedestrians: Headphones Are a Safety Hazard

According to researchers at University of Maryland, serious injuries to pedestrians wearing headphones have more than tripled in the past 6 years. Often pedestrians wearing headphones cannot hear environmental cues such as car or train horns, which leads to fatalities almost three-quarters of the time, the researchers conclude. Published in Injury Prevention online, the study reviewed 116 cases from 2004 to 2011 in which injured pedestrians were wearing headphones. In 70% of those cases, the pedestrian was killed.

“Everybody is aware of the risk of cell phones and texting in automobiles, but I see more and more teens distracted with the latest devices and headphones in their ears,” says lead author Richard Lichenstein, M.D. “Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases.”

NEMA Publishes Standard for Electric Power Systems

NEMA’s new standard, ANSI C84.1 Electric Power Systems and Equipment – Voltage Ratings (60 Hertz), establishes nominal voltage ratings and operating tolerances for 60-hertz electric power systems above 100 volts. It includes preferred voltage ratings up to and including 1200 kV maximum system voltage. A hard or electronic copy may be purchased for $68 by visiting global.ihs.com or by contacting IHS at 800-854-7179 or 303-397-7956 (international).

Liberty Mutual Research Fellowship Applications Due Feb. 1

ASSE Foundation's Liberty Mutual Safety Research Fellowship Program supports research projects in occupational safety and health, and provides a link between safety professionals, industry needs and quality research. Applications for the summer 2012 program are due Feb. 1.

Recipients will receive a stipend for living expenses as they spend 4 to 6 weeks at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, in Hopkinton, MA, conducting their research. Recipients also are asked to write an article for the Foundation's newsletter, The Advocate, or write an article for Professional Safety explaining the results of their research. Visit the Foundation's website for complete information and to download an application.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pocket Transportation Guide Available

The Pocket Guide to Transportation 2012 is a quick reference that provides important transportation data. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) says its 15th annual edition covers data on safety, state of good repair, system use and performance, economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability. To order a copy, visit the BTS publications page or call (800) 853-1351.

NHCA’s Hearing Loss Prevention Awards

National Hearing Conservation Association’s 2012 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards will be presented at its 37th Annual Conference this February. The award acknowledges organizations that demonstrate great achievements in hearing loss prevention and hopes to spread information on their successes. Winners are recognized not only for their documented results but also for their leadership. EHS professionals worldwide use the published success stories as real-life, high-profile examples. Nominations for the next round of awards will be accepted until Sept. 1, 2012. For further information, click here.

ASTM Announces New Slip Resistance Measurement Standard

ASTM InternationalASTM International has announced its standard for measuring slip resistance of footwear in various flooring situations—ASTM F2913, Test Method for Measuring the Coefficient of Friction for Evaluation of Slip Performance of Footwear and Test Surfaces/Flooring Using a Whole Shoe Tester. The standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F13.30 on Footwear, part of ASTM Committee F13 on Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear.

“ASTM F2913 quite simply allows for testing of the whole shoe against a myriad of flooring surface under both dry and contaminated conditions,” says Bill Ells, F13 committee vice chair. “This test method provides the user with a practical comparative set of footwear, flooring and contaminant combinations, allowing for prescreening of product prior to recommended human subject wear trails.”
ASTM International

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Report Examines Risk of Space Program

The trials and tribulations of the U.S. space program are well documented, and tragedies involving Challenger and Columbia led to reports criticizing the agency’s safety culture. The 2011 annual report from the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) also focuses on safety, highlighting issues related to costs, schedules, resources, requirements and acquisition strategies. "The pursuit of great reward often comes hand in hand with great risk, so it has always been with explorers," says ASAP Chair Joseph Dyer. "It was the panel's duty to ask, 'How safe is safe enough?' We didn't answer that question, but we did point to areas where that question may not produce the level of safety the panel expects and requires."

According to the report, critical safety issues or concerns include the International Space Station; commercial crews; the space launch system; and the agency’s alcohol use and testing policy. View the report here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NIOSH and NHCA Feature Hearing Loss Prevention in Special Supplement

Collaborating with the NHCA, NIOSH has released a supplemental issue of the International Journal of Audiology that highlights research presented at NHCA’s 36th Annual Conference in February 2011. The studies highlighted include:

  • Lessons learned from the use of new methodologies in studying hearing sensitivity after exposure to drug therapies that may cause hearing damage

  • Potential barriers to implementing engineering noise controls in manufacturing

  • NIOSH-supported research on major sources of noise in daily working life

  • NIOSH-supported research on how different hearing protection devices perform across a wide range of impulse sounds

  • The effectiveness of hearing protection-enhancement devices for gunshots

  • The history and impact of the NIOSH and NHCA Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award

NIOSH recommends removing hazardous noise from the workplace whenever possible and implementing an effective hearing loss prevention program in those situations where dangerous noise exposures have not yet been controlled or eliminated. For more information about noise and hearing loss prevention research at NIOSH, click here.

Proposed Rule Says Agencies Should Use Plain Language

A proposed bill, sponsored by Representative Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) would require federal agencies to use plain language when creating new regulations. As reported by Occupational Safety and Health Reporter, organizations, such as small businesses, may become confused with the sometimes complicated language used in regulations. Braley says the goal of the bill is to simplify in hopes of "saving small businesses time and freeing up money that can be better used investing in growing the business and creating jobs." Braley goes on to say that the law is needed because the Plain Writing Act of 2010 does not apply to regulations.

Are Spare Tires Going the Way of the 8-Track?

Most new car buyers assume that when they drive off a dealer’s lot, there’s a spare tire onboard. But that may not always be the case, according to AAA. To meet new government fuel efficiency standards, some vehicle manufacturers are replacing spare tires with an emergency sealant and inflator kit or tires that if damaged can run reasonable distances without air.

To meet the new standards--a combined 29.7 mpg for the 2012 model year, increasing to 34.1 mpg by 2016, car makers are trying to reduce vehicle weight without compromising occupant safety. AAA reports that a spare tire, related tools and a jack can weigh more than 40 lb.

AAA offers these recommendations to consumers:
  • Inspect the car and consult the owner's manual. If the vehicle has a spare, be sure it is properly inflated and stowed. If you cannot locate a spare tire, ensure that the vehicle has an alternate solution. Options include the run-flat tires that allow the car to be driven to a safe location or an emergency sealant and inflator kit.
  • If you carry a sealant, check the date and replace it every 5 years or after use. Sealant can become less effective with age. 
Find AAA’s list of vehicles currently being sold without a spare tire here.

Retailer Urges Parents to Trade In Unsafe Baby Products

Beginning this weekend and extending through Feb. 20, Toys"R"Us Inc. is holding its “Great Trade-In,” a safety program introduced in 2009 to take unsafe children’s products out of circulation. Stores will accept used cribs, car seats, strollers and more and offer a discount on the purchase of a new baby item.

Recalled products in homes continue to pose a threat to infants and children when they are handed down or resold. According to an analysis by Kids In Danger, a safety advocacy group, one in seven product safety issues and injuries involving children’s products involved recalled products, with most incidents occurring after the item was recalled. The Great Trade-In has removed 600,000 unsafe products from circulation, according to Toys“R”Us.

The retailer’s Product Safety Vigilance Program offers a website with tools and resources for parents, including a downloadable Product Record List to help parents keep track of products in their homes, and “Eight Steps to Keep Kids Safe,” which offers information to help parents protect their kids against unsafe products.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ASSE Opposes Efforts to Restrict Who Can Perform Safety Work in California

ASSE recently voiced its opposition to reported efforts to change a bill before the California Assembly that would limit the type of professionals allowed to supervise or direct the monitoring of control methods for permissible exposure levels (PELS) in state workplaces. Amendments to the bill (AB 553) would allow only certified industrial hygienists (CIH) to perform such work and would bar employers from hiring occupational safety and health professionals to perform a job many are already doing when it comes to PELs.

“To be clear, ASSE is not opposed to CIHs supervising or directing the monitoring of the control methods for PELs, as we have many CIHs among our members,” says ASSE President Terrie Norris. “What we oppose is any effort that would, without basis, give one certification an unfair competitive advantage. Giving all CIHs the exclusive right under California law to supervise and direct such monitoring will bar a much larger group of qualified safety and health professionals from doing work they already succeed at doing.”

Norris also says the change could harm California employers and their workers. “Given how few CIHs there are in California, many workplaces could go without needed professional expertise and workers could go unprotected from the very risks your legislation is meant to address. ASSE rejects any effort to limit this work to any one occupational safety and health designation. At the very least, if CIHs are included, CSPs and CHMMs must also be included.”

According to news reports, California Industrial Hygiene Council intends to pursue this bill as part of an overall legislative effort to see the current California process for developing PELs codified.

Read ASSE's statement here.

EHS Effects of Nanomaterials: Report Proposes Plan to Address Knowledge Gap

The predicted rapid expansion of nanotechnology over the next decade brings increased concern over greater exposures to and potential health and environmental effects of engineered nanomaterials. A new report from National Research Council aims to close critical gaps in understanding the EHS risks of nanomaterials. The report presents a strategic approach for developing research and a scientific infrastructure needed to address potential EHS risks of nanomaterials.

According to the council, the committee that authored the report recognizes the considerable global effort to identify research needs for the development and safe use of nanotechnology, including those of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). However, the committee concludes that insufficient linkage exists between research and research findings and the creation of risk prevention and management strategies. Therefore, the committee says, “there is a need for a research strategy that is independent of any one stakeholder group, has human and environmental health as its primary focus, builds on past efforts, and is flexible in anticipating and adjusting to emerging challenges.”

The committee identified four research categories that should be addressed within 5 years:

  • Identify and quantify nanomaterials being released and populations and environments being exposed.
  • Understand processes that affect both potential hazards and exposure.
  • Examine nanomaterial interactions in complex systems ranging from subcellular to ecosystems.
  • Support an adaptive research and knowledge infrastructure for accelerating progress and providing rapid feedback to advance research.
Although the committee calls for the integration of domestic and global particpants, including NNI, in the strategy implementation, it says that the current structure of NNI hinders effective implementation. “There is concern that dual and potentially conflicting roles of the NNI, such as developing and promoting nanotechnology while identifying and mitigating risks that arise from its use, impede application and evaluation of health and environmental risk research,” the committee says. “To carry out the research strategy effectively, a clear separation of management and budgetary authority and accountability between promoting nanotechnology and assessing potential environmental and safety risks is essential.”

Teen Passengers Still Prove Distracting to Teen Drivers

Studies done by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm identify factors that may lead teens to drive with multiple peer passengers and how those passengers may affect their driver's behavior just before a serious crash. The first study surveyed 198 teen drivers and found that teens who are most likely to drive with multiple passengers possessed a weak perception of the risks associated with driving and perceived their parents as not setting rules. The second study analyzed a sample of 677 teen drivers involved in serious crashes to compare the likelihood of driver distraction and risk-taking behaviors right before a crash when teens drive with peer passengers and when they drive alone. The study shows teen drivers with peer passengers were more likely to be distracted just before a crash, with 71% of males and 47% of females saying they were distracted directly by the actions of their passengers. Researchers also found that males with passengers were almost six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver and more than twice as likely to drive aggressively just before a crash, as compared to males driving alone. Because teen passengers can encourage unsafe driving, the study authors recommend parents set a house rule of no non-sibling teen passengers for the first six months of driving and only one non-sibling passenger for the second six months. For more information and guidance based on this research, visit teendriversource.org and teendriving.statefarm.com.

MSHA's Spring Workshop Schedule Available

MSHA's Spring Thaw 2012 schedule lists several mine safety and health workshops available to workers to raise awareness of mining hazards. MSHA reports that the courses coincide with the end of winter because data shows that incidents tend to increase in April and May. This may be because mine operations begin producing again at this time, sometimes with new employees who may be new to the mining industry, MSHA says.

The workshops are free and some will feature mining industry professionals and MSHA representatives who will share their insight.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dust Control Handbook to Help Protect Miners

The Dust Control Handbook for Industrial Minerals Mining and Processing, from CDC, NIOSH and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was created to help protect the health of miners. NIOSH says that the mining of minerals process creates large amounts of dust, and if control processes of limiting dust are not up to par, hazardous levels of dust may be exposed to workers, which can cause harmful health effects. The handbook describes the dust-generating process and necessary strategies to control the amounts of harmful dust. Download the complete handbook here.

Human Factor Named the Biggest Challenge to Offshore Safety

In a recent survey conducted by Oil & Gas iQ, nearly 75% of offshore safety professionals claimed that more pressure was placed on offshore operators regarding health and safety than in previous years. These responses are believed to be fueled by recent oil spill disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill. The survey report names problems with technology and equipment, as well as new legislation but pinpoints human factors as the biggest challenge to safety. Leading SH&E and offshore safety specialists are looking to discuss these issues at the 2nd annual Offshore Safety Summit, which includes a strategic focus day on human factors and behavioral safety. An exclusive interview with Ian Stevenson, Group QHSE Director at Technip, is also available as an advance preview of the topics to be debated. The interview hones in on key risk management and risk perception concerns for all of those operating offshore. To access the survey report, interview and other additional free learning resources, visit the Offshore Safety Summit Resource Centre.

Guidance on Green Construction Code

International Code Council and Delmar have published a new guide on the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) to be released this spring. Green Building: A Professional’s Guide to Concepts is designed to help readers better understanding how to implement and comply with green practices and regulations. Topics include how buildings and ecosystems can work together, sustainability trends, relevant codes and standards--including ASHRAE Standard 189.1--and environmental concepts.

Learn more about the book here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vote for Your Favorite PS Article

The Professional Safety Readers' Choice poll is a chance for readers to vote for their favorite Professional Safety article that was published in 2011.

It's a chance for you to be the judge. Results will be announced in March 2012, so vote today.

Check Out ASSE's BoK

For a living reference that represents the collective knowledge of the SH&E profession be sure to visit ASSE’s new Body of Knowledge (BoK). Over the past century, ASSE volunteer members have created Professional Safety journal articles, conference and symposium proceeding papers, white papers, books and standards, all of which are uploaded to the site. In addition, the BoK now features digital copies of PowerPoint presentations, webinars and audio-presentation recordings, and pulls from other sources of knowledge such as OSHA, EPA, NIOSH, trade associations and consensus standard-writing bodies as well. These organizations also have articles, white papers, research and other publications that support numerous topics in the SH&E field. ASSE members are constantly scanning these sources and are in the best position to identify valuable public domain assets that can be easily uploaded into the BoK, says Chairman Jeff Camplin. He adds that this formal listing of safety and health information identifies gaps in topic areas where limited knowledge exists and will form the basis of more targeted research to fill those gaps. According to Camplin, the site’s biggest benefit is its ability to allow for member engagement and interaction on thousands of topic areas to share and create safety and health knowledge. Veteran SH&E professionals can use the BoK as a general resource for cutting-edge information on those SH&E topic areas, and can also identify their own areas of expertise and contribute their own knowledge. For students or new professionals, this site provides a learning center for those lacking critical competencies in the profession. Most importantly, Camplin says, the BoK serves as a vehicle to promote the importance of SH&E in organizations, in that it demonstrates its breadth and depth for those unaware or newly interested in the SH&E profession. For more information, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

BCSP to Present Awards of Excellence at Safety 2012

For the first time in its history, BCSP will sponsor an awards luncheon to honor certified individuals' contributions to the safety profession. The ceremony will take place June 6, 2012, during ASSE's Safety 2012 Professional Development Conference in Denver, CO. Top certificants representing the CSP, OHST, CLCS or CHST certifications will receive an award in recognition of outstanding leadership, knowledgeable expertise in their work, and voluntary commitment to advancing the SH&E practice in the field.

The deadline for applications is March 31, 2012. Find guidelines here; the nominations form here; the endorsement form here; and the petition form here.

The Aging Workforce and Workers' Compensation

Preston Diamond, executive director for IWCP, forecasts how the aging workforce will affect workers’ compensation in 2012. According to data from the Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina, 20% of workers will be 55 or older by 2020. “Although older workers tend to get injured less on the job, when they do get hurt we find larger claims and more days off the job,” Diamond says. The BLS says that older workers take an average of 15 days off per injury compared to one day off for younger workers, and require more extensive medical treatment. “Factor in the statistics showing older workers are less likely to return to work after an injury – in some cases over 80% less likely, compared to 12% for a worker in his 20s – and you see a disturbing trend,” he adds. Diamond claims that the best way to get an aging workforce back on the floor is to focus on improving and customizing the return-to-work program based on the severity of the injury, age, existing medical conditions and so on. “Ease workers back into the fold and make the workplace conducive to them, even if it’s simply making sure there is enough bright light in the work area ,” he says, adding that the eyes always seem to be the first thing to go. For more on the 2012 workers’ compensation radar from Diamond, click here.

DOL Seeks Comment on Mine Worker Survey Data Collection

DOL has published a notice requesting comment on its data collection methods for a survey that measures miners’ voice in the workplace. The pilot study will determine how to measure workers’ voice in mining workplaces under MSHA jurisdiction. The working definition for voice in the workplace is “workers’ ability to access information on their rights in the workplace, their understanding of those rights, and their ability to exercise those rights without fear of discrimination or retaliation.”

DOL is performing a pilot study to investigate the efficacy of different data collection methods and to develop a survey instrument that is appropriate for the mining community. The primary research question is “What measures of voice and perceived noncompliance, combined with what modes of data collection, could be best used to track MSHA’s worker protection outreach activity?”

DOL is soliciting comments concerning its data collection strategies:
1) Submission of paper questionnaires to be filled out by individual mine workers during offsite mining-related training sessions;
2) recruitment of miners through use of radio and paper advertisements;
3) a mail or phone survey.

Written comments must be received by March 19, 2012. For detailed information on submitting comments, including the desired focus of comments, view the Federal Register notice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Boost Workplace Ergonomics Program

Using the right resources and understanding how they can better a workplace are simple ways to improve an ergonomics program, says Humantech’s Greg Cresswell, CPE. He lists four steps that will advance ergonomics programs and improve workplace safety.

  • Kaizen Events: At these events, cross-functional teams commit to making changes that will improve the working conditions in a defined area of a facility within a given time frame. They are a great way to get a new ergonomics process off the ground or to revitalize a stagnant one, and typically focus on making simple, low-cost improvements to generate awareness and encourage a continuous improvement effort.

  • Risk Assessments: No matter what company or situation, it is essential to have up-to-date risk assessments of all jobs on file. Always have a Physical Demands Analysis available that details the physical requirements of each task. This can quickly determine whether a newly hired employee or a person returning to work from an injury is physically capable of performing required job tasks. A risk map is also important because it allows jobs to be put in order from highest risk to lowest risk and prioritizes where a company will focus its efforts moving forward.

  • Training: Demonstrating the value of ergonomics through effective training sessions will certainly raise awareness of the importance of having a strong ergonomics process. Types of training can range from ergonomics awareness training for hourly employees, to teaching safety leaders how to conduct risk assessments, and even to training engineers in using ergonomic design guidelines.

  • Tracking Software: A web-based system is the best way to securely store important information because it can provide varying levels of access depending on the roles and responsibilities of those using it. Online databases can also incorporate a computer-based training component, which can be a very cost-effective way of providing refresher training to a large number of employees in a short amount of time.

For more information, click here.

Hi-Tech Vehicle Safety

Driver assistance systems and electronic-based functions are becoming more common in cars today. But what about risks related to software and hardware failures related to those technologies? ISO has published ISO 26262, Road Vehicles: Functional Safety, a new standard that describes an automotive safety lifecycle (management, development, production, operation, service, decommissioning) and outlines an automotive-specific risk-based approach (automotive safety integrity levels). According to ISO, the standard can be used to avoid unreasonable residual risk, and to validate and confirm safety levels.

"With more and more electronic-based systems integrated into cars, the need increases to ensure that any potential failures are averted or mitigated," says Nicolas Becker, leader of the group that developed the standard."

Learn more about the standard here or here.

Green Button Feature Helps Consumers Save Energy

Two of California's leading utilities companies (Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric) have launched a "Green Button" feature on their websites to allow consumers access to detailed energy usage information. The feature was developed in response to the challenge that U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra presented to the utility industry to enable customers to download their energy usage with the simple click of a button.

National Institute of  Standards and Technology reports that access to such data is important in helping consumers save energy and money, and that the "Green Button" technology may support a future generation of interactive thermostats and virtual energy audits.

Chopra says that the online feature is the beginning of a new era where the public will have control over their energy use. “With the benefits of open data standards, American app developers and other innovators can apply their creativity to bring the smart grid to life for families—not only in California but in communities all across the nation,” Chopra says.

Construction Falls: What’s the Cost to Employers?

OSHA’s web page on fall protection in residential construction has recently been updated with new presentations, compliance tools and other resources, including a PowerPoint presentation, Workers’ Compensation Costs of Falls in Construction. According to OSHA, the presentation demonstrates the heavy financial cost that results from construction falls.

The page also includes compliance tools for residential construction, such as fact sheets on reducing falls, sample fall protection plan and guidance document on fall protection, as well as a link to the OSHA Fall Protection Standard.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Safety in Cold Working Conditions

In climatological terms, the cold season lasts from October through March, making it fully underway right now. Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures can cause serious health conditions, and in some cases can lead to death. It is essential, at this time of year especially, for employers and workers to take precautions to prevent and treat cold-related health problems. Workers who routinely load trucks, check incoming merchandise at a dock, clear snow from walkways or move materials in a cold storage facility, as well as outdoor workers, are all at risk of obtaining cold-related health problems while on the job. J.J. Keller & Associates Inc. has provided these guidelines to protect workers who are exposed to the cold:
  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.
  • Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions. Workers should wear at least three layers of protective clothing, a hat and insulated boots.
  • Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
  • Instruct workers to avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Ensure workers work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol. Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
  • Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.