Friday, August 31, 2012

Are Your Employees On Board?

In the article, “Employee Onboarding: Where Safety & HR Meet” from the latest issue of ASSE's Human Resources (HR) Branch's publication HR Solutions, Trent Shuford explains how employee “onboarding” goes beyond standard new hire procedures to educate and integrate employees into an organization by introducing them to policies, procedures, personnel, rules, traditions and anything else that governs work activities.

According to Shuford, safety onboarding involves introducing employees to the organization’s occupational safety and health policies and procedures to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

How does your organization help bring new employees “on board” when it comes to safety?

NIOSH Message to the Workforce

This Labor Day, NIOSH Director John Howard takes time to thank working men and women for all that they do:
“We celebrate the pride and dedication of our working men and women. Two hundred years ago, those qualities in the American work force propelled the growth of our young nation’s trans-Atlantic trade economy. In the last century, they were indispensable in the success of our manufacturing economy. In today’s global marketplace, American ingenuity and perseverance drive the growth of advanced information and production technologies… We in the occupational safety and health community have a unique opportunity to honor the labor of our fellow Americans. We develop, disseminate and help others to use the tools and strategies that prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. By helping to prevent pain, impairment and death on the job, we help working parents to provide for their families and plan for a secure future. With a roster of healthy, capable workers, an innovative small business has a better chance of survival in a fiercely competitive global market. That same small business may be the next leader in a transformational technology that earns admiration and customers around the world, as the recent Pew survey suggests. On Labor Day 2012, I invite you to join us in recognizing the essential contributions of American workers and renewing our national commitment to safe and healthful workplaces for all.”

New Standards Increase Vehicle Fuel Efficiency

According to an EPA news release, the Obama Administration finalized new standards that will increase fuel efficiency for cars and light-duty trucks to 54.5 mpg by model year 2025. The new standards, along with previous standards, will almost double the fuel efficiency of new cars compared to current cars.

"This historic agreement builds on the progress we've already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption," says U.S. President Barack Obama. "By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It'll strengthen our nations' energy security, it's god for middle class families and it will help create an economy build to last."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New ASSE Fact Sheet Is Available

ASSE has updated its fact sheet, which provides key information about the Society and all it has to offer. The fact sheet is a quick reference guide for anyone interested in the organization and occupational safety and health. Key topics include professional development, practices and standards, ASSE publications, membership and additional information. The resource also provides information on the ASSE Foundation, Center for Safety & Health Sustainability, International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organisations and NAOSH Week.

VPPPA Appoints New Executive Director

The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) National Board of Directors has appointed a new executive director: Susan J. Sikes. She succeeds R. Davis Layne, former VPPPA executive director, who retired from the position in July.

"In our search for a replacement for Davis Layne our attention quickly turned to someone all of us have known for numerous years, but who also brings great experience and knowledge along with her passion for VPP," says VPPPA Chair Mike Maddox.

Sikes has 27 years' experience in occupational safety and health, including 21 years with OSHA where she worked as a regional training and grants officer, compliance safety and health enforcement officer, safety and health program management expert, and regional Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) manager. Sikes joined Plexus Scientific Corp. in 2006, where she assisted the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army in establishing the Department of Defense VPP Center of Excellence.

"I look forward to the endless opportunities before me and to serving multitudes of passionate and professional people who share the vision of achieving occupational safety and health excellence," says Sikes. "The national VPPPA staff and I are committed to achieving OSHA VPP Star approval in our headquarters and to working diligently to increase and promote VPPPA member services. We will continue to work closely with our partners in OSHA, labor, private industries, federal and state agencies and other countries to grow VPPPA and to provide assistance in our collective efforts to reduce occupational injuries, illnesses and deaths."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Electrical Equipment Precautions

In preparation of Hurricane Isaac, Schneider Electric warns businesses to take extreme caution when dealing with electrical equipment. The following precautions help ensure employee safety and avoid costly damage both to physical equipment and the financial losses of a prolonged shutdown:
  • Electrical equipment that has been submerged or come into contact with water must be replaced, though there are exceptions to this rule for larger equipment, which may be able to be reconditioned by trained factory service personnel.
  • Attempting to dry out the equipment may leave portions of the current-carrying parts with damp or wet surfaces. These surfaces may be in contact with insulators or other materials that prevent them from being properly dried out and cleaned of debris.
  • Residual debris or wet surfaces may result in a loss of dielectric spacing within the equipment. This could present a hazard when reenergizing.
Non-emerged equipment should be inspected carefully by a qualified person to determine whether moisture has entered the enclosure. If any signs of moisture or damage exist, the equipment should be replaced or repaired. In addition, equipment with field replaceable interior components can be replaced as a unit. In this case, there is a possibility that enclosures can be reused if they have not been subjected to physical damage, and if they have been properly cleaned of all debris and foreign materials. According to Schneider Electric, cleaning agents, especially petroleum-based, should not be applied to the current-carrying portions of electrical equipment to remove foreign debris, residues and other substances. Some cleaning and lubricating compounds can cause deterioration of the non-metallic insulating or structural portions of the equipment. Do not use abrasives such as sandpaper or steel wool to clean current-carrying parts of the equipment because these materials may remove plating or other conductive surfaces from the parts, which could result in a hazard when the equipment is reenergized. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bechtel Supports STEM Education Through Ocean Exploration Program

In support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, Bechtel is sponsoring nine teachers and five students participating in a pair of 2012 Ocean Exploration Trust programs that promote STEM education to a global audience.

The Educator-at-Sea Program and the Honors Research Program combine classroom learning with ocean exploration and provide students with an opportunity to learn more about careers that incorporate STEM.

"The mission of the trust is to inspire the next generation of explorers,” says Robert Ballard, president of Ocean Exploration Trust. “Our partnership with Bechtel supports our mutual goal of strengthening the STEM pipeline through educational and research programs."

This year, teachers and students in the programs attend the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography for several weeks, where they work with scientists and engineers to learn about oceanography and the scientific research process. After completing an onshore research project, they board the exploration vessel E/V Nautilus to study the geology, biology, archeology and chemistry of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Bechtel engineer Zenhar Marolia will participate in a portion of the at-sea expedition to share his experiences as a civil engineer with the teachers and students. Following the expedition, the teachers will develop lessons plans and classroom activities based on their firsthand experience at sea.

Labor Rights Week Is 'Everyone's Responsibility'

In recognition of Labor Rights Week, Aug. 27-31, 2012, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis reminds everyone of the week's theme, "Promoting Labor Rights is Everyone's Responsibility." Solis says the week "underscores the the importance of partnerships between the Labor Department and other countries to educate migrant workers and their employers about U.S. labor laws."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Poison Centers Issue Safety Alert for Portable Generators

In the wake of Tropical Storm Isaac, poison centers are urging people to be wary of carbon monoxide poisoning related to portable generators, says Cynthia Lewis-Younger, director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa. Referred to as a “silent killer,” carbon monoxide has no odors or symptoms that signal a problem. When generators are placed close to homes, in garages or outside bedroom windows, carbon monoxide can seep in and sicken or even kill. This is especially prevalent during and after natural disasters, Lewis-Younger adds. American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends the following tips for using portable generators safely:
·         Carefully follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions for portable generators.
·         Never use portable generators indoors, in garages or near open windows.
·         Do not siphon gasoline by mouth to fill a generator with fuel.
·         Use battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms. Be sure to test the batteries.
·         If you experience sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, weakness or your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, immediately seek fresh air and call your poison center at (800) 222-1222.
According to Lewis-Younger, many poison emergencies happen during and just after natural disasters such as tropical storms and hurricanes. These simple steps can save lives. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

ASSE Joins OSHA and NIOSH in Fall Prevention Campaign

In an effort to lower the alarming number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry each year, ASSE is teaming up with OSHA and NIOSH to support a new Fall Prevention Campaign.  The national campaign will provide updated prevention information and training materials on falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds. The literature will be translated into seven different languages and will continually be updated. In addition, the Center for Construction Research and Training has provided a new web page with further material from industry, nonprofit and academic sources on fall prevention.   

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Glee Sends Message: Don’t Text While Driving

Eighty‐two percent of young adult drivers (16‐24) have read a standard text message while driving, according to a national survey conducted by the Ad Council. The State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection agencies, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council launched a public service advertising (PSA) campaign aimed at young adults to discourage them from texting while driving. The PSAs communicate to teens and adults that when you text and drive, you are not multitasking, but essentially driving blind. The TV, radio, outdoor and digital PSAs drive the audience to the campaign website,, where teens and young adults can find tips and tactics for how to curb their behavior. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube social media channels were established to extend the campaign messages online.

Playing off of the popularity of Glee, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have created PSAs featuring scenes from the series in which a character was driving to her friends’ wedding when she received a text. She took her eyes off the road to read it and type a reply for a matter of seconds, but in her distraction she swerved out of her lane and was hit by an oncoming vehicle.

"This was a story we wanted to tell because we know the influence our show can have in starting conversations and raising awareness," says Glee executive producer and cocreator Ryan Murphy. "We had been looking for an opportunity to tell the story of how a few seconds of carelessness could have a devastating impact on people's lives. We've already heard from thousands of our fans how this story touched them, and we loved the idea of a PSA campaign to keep this important issue front and center."

Visit the campaign website to download audio, video, print and outdoor campaign materials, and customizable materials such as flyers, posters, postcards, blog templates, social media posts, and video and print infographics.

Track Your Community's Hurricane History With NOAA Website

On the Historical Hurricane Tracks website, from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), users can enter their zip code that brings up a map of the location that has more than 150 years of Atlantic hurricane tracking data. This data includes cyclone data, a history of cyclones, dating back to 1958 and global hurricane data dating back to 1842. Additionally, NOAA says the site provides insight to U.S. populations and infrastructures at risk for hurricanes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prevent the Spread of Illness at Work

It’s the start of back-to-school season, which means both children and adults face a greater risk for illnesses. Cintas offers tips for workers to stay healthy and prevent illness from spreading at this germ-filled time of year. 
  • Take medicine at the first signs of sickness. This will help prevent common cold symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, from contaminating work areas.
  • Avoid medications that can induce drowsiness. Especially for employees working with machinery or whose jobs require driving, non-drowsy formulas are essential. These products help maintain productivity without increasing the opportunity for accidents. Read medicine labels thoroughly to ensure drowsiness is not one of the side effects of the medicine and stop taking medicine if you feel it is affecting your ability to stay alert.
  • Stay hydrated. Regularly drink fluids in order to keep from becoming dehydrated. Water is best for fighting illness rather than coffee or soft drinks.
  • Cover cuts and abrasions with bandages.
  • Keep hands clean. Effective and regular hand washing can help prevent the spread of pathogens to coworkers. Scrub hands with hot water and soap for 20 sec. to get the best results. Use hand sanitizer to further disinfect or when hand washing is not possible.
  • Limit contact with others and communal items.
  • Take a day of rest if necessary. Getting extra sleep and limiting exertion helps bodies recuperate more quickly.
By following these tips, workers can reduce the likelihood of infecting others and keep business productivity on track. For more information, click here

3M Offers Infographic on Insulating Apparel

An infographic is available from 3M to help simplify the ANSI/ISEA 201-2012 standard for Classification of Insulating Apparel Used in Cold Work Environments. The standard helps protect workers in extreme weather and is a tool to help employers select the appropriate workwear for their specific needs.

3M developed the infographic as an easy-to-understand how-to guide that breaks down the standard for both workers and suppliers. Charts outline the different insulating values, cleaning and thermal performance categories to help a user understand how the garment will perform at various levels of exertion, and how it is expected to retain its insulating properties over time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Workplace Activity and Maintaining Good Health

A combination of sitting and standing throughout the work day can minimize the potential for adverse health consequences, according to Humantech's Blake McGowan, CPE. Research shows that sitting for long periods of time can result in higher rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and more.  However, studies also show that prolonged standing can lead to work-related MSDs in the legs, knees, lower back, feet and heart. “It is not an 'either-or' situation,” McGowan says. “Research shows that both prolonged sitting and prolonged standing are a concern.”  He proposes the following guidelines for sit/stand workstations.
  • Limit continuous (static) sitting to 4 hours per day.
  • Limit continuous (static) standing to 1 hour per day.
  • Limit cumulative standing to 4 hours per day.
  • Promote variation between sitting and standing positions throughout the day.
  • Design the workstation for active movement while sitting and standing.
By following these simple rules,  employees can minimize health consequences and burn more calories, McGowan adds. 

ASSE Receives IACET Reaccreditation

ASSE has received reaccreditation from International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) to continue to provide continuing education units. The renewal period extends for 5 years and covers all ASSE programs offered or created within those years. Such programs include SeminarFest, ASSE's annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition, and continuing education programs, such as webinars, on-site training and more.

"Our renewed partnership with IACET is a demonstration of our commitment to lifelong learning and high standards for all of our programs," says ASSE Vice President of Professional Development Christine Sullivan, CSP, ARM. "We are pleased to join such a prestigious organization, as well as an elite group of organizations, that offer excellent continuing education and training programs."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bad Reaction to Cosmetics? Report It

The FDA is asking all consumers to report any bad reaction to cosmetics, whether that be a negative reaction to makeup or a personal hygiene product. Though most personal care products are safe, some cause problems, even fatal ones, and that’s when the the agency needs to get involved. “Even though these products are widely used, most don’t require FDA approval before they’re sold in stores, salons and at makeup counters,” says Linda Katz, M.D., director of the agency’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. “Consumers are one of FDA’s most important resources when it comes to identifying problems.” 

The FDA defines “cosmetics” as products that are intended to be applied to the body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance. If you have any concerns about a cosmetic, contact MedWatch or call 1-800-332-1088. You can also contact the consumer complaint coordinator in your area. Katz suggests including the report the age, gender and  ethnicity of the user, as well as the name of the product and description of the reaction. For more information, click here

ISO Improves Its Standards Browsing Platform

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has revamped its Online Browsing Platform. The agency improved it's website to provide users with a "simpler, faster and better way to use ISO standards and publications."

Users can search and access more than 1,000 ISO standards and their translations (if applicable), codes, symbols, and terms an definitions. The agency reports additional standards will become available for preview as they are converted to the XML format and the entire portfolio will be online by the end of 2013.

Friday, August 17, 2012

OSHA Issues Rule on Cranes and Derricks in Construction

OSHA has issued a direct final rule applying the requirements of the August 2010 cranes and derricks in construction standard to demolition work and underground construction. This rule, which hopes to protect workers from hazards associated with hoisting equipment, is already in use by other construction sectors. It will become effective November 15, 2012, unless the agency receives a significant adverse comment by September 17, to which it will continue the notice-and-comment component of the rulemaking by withdrawing the direct final rule. Individuals may submit comments electronically at, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent via facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register for details.

DOT Safety Bulletin Discusses Motorcoach Safety, Tire Blowouts

DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a safety bulletin that reminds motorcoach companies to take action to prevent tire blowouts and safety risks. The agency, along with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has examined recent incidents involving blowouts on passenger buses, due to the exceeding tire weight limits and overloading. Risks may be avoided by properly loading passengers and cargo, and increasing tire pressure in the rear wheels.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Test Your Disaster Preparedness

Take a brief Red Cross quiz to see if you're ready for a disaster. For other preparedness tips, click here.

Free Resource For Fire Service Members Explains Unwanted Fire Alarms

NFPA and International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) have released a 17-page document, available for download, that offers guidance on how to respond to unwanted fire alarms. The "Fire Service Guide to Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarms" provides knowledge for firefighters, fire officers and fire prevention personnel on how alarm systems and devices work and what could cause them to go off when no emergency situation is apparent. According to NFPA, an unwanted alarm is "any alarm that occurs that is not the result of a potentially hazardous condition."

"Unwanted fire alarms are a drain on fire department resources and pose a significant safety hazard to both responders and the public," says IAFC President Hank Clemmensen. The guide will reportedly be able to help fire service members create strategies to best manage responses to these alarms.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DOE Report Shows Growth in Wind Energy

A report from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory discusses  "strong growth" during 2011 in the U.S. wind energy industry. The report says that by the end of 2011, wind power capacity reached 47,000 megawatts and has since increased to 50,000 megawatts, which is enough to power 12 million homes each year.

DOE also reports that as technology for wind power improves, the costs decrease due to increasing efficiency and performance. Visit DOE's website for more information.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Webcast on NFPA 70E

ASSE’s Virtual Classroom will feature a webcast on the application NFPA 70E to real-world situations. Speaker Daryn Lewellyn of Lewellyn Technology will discuss what employers and safety managers can do to keep employees safe from electrical hazards at the workplace. The online class will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 11:00 AM CENTRAL. A live Q&A with the speaker will follow. Click here to sign up.

ASSE Nominations Due Tomorrow, August 15

ASSE is accepting nominations for qualified professional members to serve on its Board of Directions and/or Regional Operating Committees in the 2013 Society Elections. This is a great opportunity to volunteer your time and talents to the Society. Nominations are due Aug. 15, 2012.

In addition to Regional/Area positions, the following are up for election:

  • Senior Vice President
  • Vice President-Professional Affairs
  • Vice President-Professional Development.

For nomination packets and more information, contact ASSE Customer Service at (847) 699-2929 or

Monday, August 13, 2012

Working Safely at Home & Remotely

Although the concept of telecommuting has existed for more than 35 years, it has only recently gained popularity as companies look to telecommuting as a way to improve their corporate sustainability programs and to reduce their carbon footprint. However, according to Jessica K. Ellison’s article, “Ergonomics for Telecommuters & Other Remote Workers” from the Vol. 2 No. 1 issue of the Ergonomics Practice Specialty's publication Interface, many companies have not established a system to address the ergonomic issues telecommuting may pose or are struggling to find cost-effective ways to manage ergonomics in remote and home offices.

If you telecommute regularly, what are your tips for staying productive and working safely?

CSB to Investigate Chevron Refinery Fire

CSB announced it is investigating the recent fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, CA, which took place on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012. In what the agency is calling "the most serious U.S. refinery incidents in recent years," no lives were lost, however, many workers were engulfed in a vapor cloud created from a combustible hydrocarbon liquid or "gas-oil" leaked. "These workers might have been killed or severely injured, had they not escaped the cloud as the release rate escalated and the cloud ignited, shortly thereafter," CSB's Dan Tillema says.

The agency has reportedly sent seven investigators to the site and has been interviewing witnesses and examining documents related to the incident. CSB is finding so far that the incident has greatly impacted the community with "hundreds of emergency room visits by community members to reported effects of the release and fire, with symptoms ranging from anxiety to respiratory distress."

Updated Directive Addresses Hazards of Marine Cargo Handling

OSHA has issued a revised directive providing enforcement guidance for inspections of longshoring operations and at marine terminals, also known as the marine cargo handling industry. The directive  addresses updated requirements for PPE and the safe operation of vertical tandem lifts (VTLs). In 2010, BLS data show that seven workers died and more than 2,900 were injured performing marine cargo handling operations.

According to OSHA, the revisions:
  • clarify PPE that employers must provide at no cost, when employers must pay for replacement PPE, and when employers are not required to pay for PPE; 
  • provide guidance on VTL regulations and a court ruling on an industry challeng to those regulations; 
  • update answers to commonly asked industry questions; 
  • deliver safety and health information in a web-based format with electronic links. 
The directive is available on OSHA’s Maritime Industry Safety and Health Topics page, along with maritime compliance information, standards and outreach training resources.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hearing Loss Protection

When it comes to hearing loss, there is a lot of room for improvement, says 3M Business Director Brian McGinley. Understanding the source of hearing loss and what unsafe decibel levels are can help combat the situation, he adds. Noise levels above 85 decibels (dB) are classified as dangerously high and require hearing protection. Here are some examples of noise levels:
               --  City Traffic Noise – 80 dB
               -- Chainsaw – 110 dB
              -- Rock Concert – 100-120 dB

Once the source for hearing loss is identified, protection (use proper protection), training (discuss products) and validation (validate that protection works) are the next steps in prevention, McGinley says. For more information, click here

European Agency Puts Spotlight on Hotel & Restaurant Worker Safety

The hotel, restaurant and catering sector creates many job around the world. In Europe, this sector employs more than 7.8 million people, and features a wide range of tasks and on-the-job risks. To help employers and employees recognize and address these risks, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has released “Protecting Workers in Hotels, Restaurants and Catering.” The report presents statistics on occupational accidents and diseases; examines policy initiatives to reduce safety risks.

“In terms of occupational accidents, slips, trips and falls, as well as cuts and burns represent the largest share,” the agency explains. “In the field of occupational diseases, musculoskeletal diseases and skin diseases predominate.” The report also describes 18 practical actions at workplace level, as well as several case studies to show the range of different risks encountered in the sector. Find the report here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Employers Use Incentives to Improve Health & Wellness, Survey Shows

U.S. employers are increasingly relying on incentives to drive participation in health programs and encouraging workers and their families to take better care of themselves, according to findings of a survey by Aon Hewitt.

The survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. employers found that 84% offer incentives to employees for participating in a health risk questionnaire (HRQ) and 64% offer an incentive for participation in biometric screenings. Just over half (51%) provide incentives to those who participate in health improvement and wellness programs. Monetary incentives, in particular, have seen a sharp increase: In 2012, 59% of employers used monetary incentives to promote participation in health and wellness programs, compared to 37% in 2011, while the use of monetary incentives for participating in disease/condition management programs rose from 17% in 2011 to 54% in 2012.

According to Aon Hewitt, the survey also shows more employers linking incentives to a result, rather than just participation. “To truly impact employee behavior change, more and more organizations realize they need to closely tie rewards to outcomes and better results rather than just enrollment," says Aon Hewitt’s Jim Winkler.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pedestrian Fatalities Increase, NHTSA Urges All to Walk Safe

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2010 shows that pedestrian fatalities increased by 4%. The agency urges the public to "walk with care," use crosswalks wherever possible and urges drives to be conscious of pedestrians at all times. Safety recommendations for both pedestrians and drivers are available on NHTSA's website, as are additional statistics and information.

NIOSH Proposes Study on Musculoskeletal Disorders

NIOSH has proposed a study on the effectiveness and cost-benefit of OSH interventions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among workers in the manufacturing sector. The study will focus on two intervention strategies for reducing MSD symptoms and pain:

      1. Articulating spring-tensioned tool support device that unloads from the worker the weight of the tool that would otherwise be manually supported;
      2. a targeted exercise program intended to increase individual employees' strength and endurance in the shoulder and upper arm stabilizing muscle group.

Both of these intervention approaches have been used in the manufacturing sector and evidence suggests that they work. However, in order to have tested and complete evidence, NIOSH, in partnership with Toyota, plans to assess the effectiveness of these interventions through controlled trials. The study will be conducted using a randomized group and controlled trial multi-time series design, and NIOSH expects to complete data collection by 2014. To comment on this prospective study, visit the Federal Register.  

Lights Out: Are You Ready for Energy-Efficient Lighting Changes?

The next phase of DOE’s energy-efficient lighting legislation went into effect last month, leaving some businesses uncertain on how to best proceed in adopting energy-efficient lighting. Is your company ready for changes to lighting laws? Grainger has developed a “Test-Your-Readiness” questionnaire to help businesses assess how well they are prepared to adapt to DOE legislation:
  1. Did you know that DOE granted a deadline extension on certain products? While T12 and halogen PAR lamps were impacted by the July 14, 2012, deadline, DOE granted extension requests of some manufacturers on T8 products, with a new stop-manufacture date of July 14, 2014.
  2. Did you know that there is a cost to waiting to make the switch to efficient lighting? Many lighting categories were impacted by the legislation effective July 14, 2012, and by 2014, most standard medium screw-base incandescent light bulbs will no longer be manufactured and most general service lamps will need to meet minimum energy-efficiency standards. The value of implementing retrofits and lighting programs in the near term is that firms can immediately realize energy savings and take advantage of government incentive programs.
  3. Do you know what lumen equivalent to look for when replacing inefficient lamps? Lumens are the key to finding replacement lamps using the energy-efficient standards. Lumens measure lamp brightness while watts refer to how much energy it uses. For example, a CFL producing 800 to 850 lumens is generally the equivalent of a 60 W incandescent lamp.
  4. Do you know the lifespan of LED vs. CFL vs. halogen and incandescent bulbs? Depending on usage, LEDs can last up to 25 years and some CFLs can last more than 10 years, while many halogen and incandescent bulbs last generally about 1 year.
  5. Did you know that switching out old incandescent exit signs can quickly help save on a facility’s energy costs? LED signs have an average life of 11 years, which saves both energy and maintenance costs. This is one of many ways firms can start making changes on a small scale.
  6. Did you know that facilities can significantly save on long-term costs by replacing inefficient lighting with energy-efficient alternatives? Even though initial replacement costs may be high if a full retrofit is needed, facilities can realize substantial savings on long-term energy costs and reduce labor required to change out lamps.
  7. Have you explored your lighting retrofit options? Some lighting in commercial buildings will require full retrofits to accommodate the new ballasts and energy-efficient lamps. It is important to understand what lighting within a facility will require a retrofit so advanced planning and budgeting can be put in place to ease into the transition.
Answering “no” to any of these questions, Grainger says, presents an opportunity to better understand the upcoming legislation and determine what energy-efficient lighting plan will be the best fit for an organization.

“Grainger has been following the legislation closely in partnership with our lighting suppliers to ensure we’re helping our customers prepare for the changes,” says Grainger’s Meeta Kratz. “Even with the recent deadline extensions, the second phase of the legislation is still a very important milestone for efficient lighting and presents a huge opportunity for businesses to improve their energy management practices.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Returning Home After a Disaster: Safety Checks

Just because a disaster has been controlled, does not mean the area is safe, warns the CDC. Carbon monoxide poisoning, contaminated food and water, and electrical injuries are just a few of the many harmful agents that accompany a catastrophe. Click here to read the Center’s tips for keeping safe after a disaster. 

OSHA Publishes Tools on Mercury Exposure in Fluorescent Bulbs

When a fluorescent bulb breaks, mercury in the glass tube is released and mercury vapor enters the air. A small amount of liquid mercury that falls to the ground will continue to evaporate, forming a vapor. Breathing this vapor or skin contact with mercury create exposures. OSHA has published two new educational materials to help protect workers against mercury exposure in fluorescent bulbs:

  • A QuickCard alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on the proper cleanup of broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize exposure.
  • A fact sheet  explains how workers can be exposed, types of engineering controls and PPE they need, and proper use of these controls and equipment.

As the fact sheet explains, health effects of mercury exposure depend on the exposure route, duration and level of exposure. Effects of mercury exposure can range from mild tremors, and impaired memory and coordination, to nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and severe tremors with exposure to higher levels of mercury.

Monday, August 6, 2012

MSHA Rule Took Effect Today: Underground Coal Mine Operators Must Identify, Correct Hazardous Conditions

MSHA's final rule, Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standards, which was published April 6, 2012, became effective today, Aug. 6, 2012. The rule requires mine operators to identify and correct hazardous conditions and violations of nine health and safety standards that pose the greatest risk to miners.

The nine standards address such issues as ventilation, methane, roof control, combustible materials, rock dust and equipment guarding. According to MSHA, these standards are the types of violations cited as contributing to the cause of the deadly Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that occurred in April 2010. A memorial to the 29 miners who died in that explosion was dedicated last week in West Virginia.

"These repeated violations expose miners to unnecessary safety and health risks that should be found and corrected by mine operators," says Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The final rule, effective today, will increase the identification and correction of unsafe conditions in mines earlier, removing many of the conditions that could lead to danger, and improve protection for miners in underground coal mines."

MSHA Issues Hazard Alert for Conveyor Start-Ups

MSHA's recent hazard alert focuses on the dangers of unexpected conveyor belt start-ups. According to the agency, three miners lost their lives in the past 20 months when a belt conveyor started because its drive motor was not deenergized, locked and tagged. MSHA's alert provides best practices to avoid such fatalities, some of which include training miners on general tasks assigned, providing a prestart-up alarm and visually checking a conveyor before start-up.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Nominate Someone for MACOSH Committee

OSHA is accepting nominations for the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH), which will be rechartered for 2 years when the current committee expires on Jan. 25, 2013. The committee will report on issues relating to occupational safety and health programs, enforcement, new initiatives and standards for maritime industries. Nominations must be submitted by Sept. 17, 2012. Visit the MACOSH website for more information.

ASSE: Time to Update Federal OSH Job Description

It's been 32 years since the federal employee job classification for the GS-0018 Safety and Occupational Health Management job series was updated. That's way too long, ASSE says in calling on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to accept recent recommendations to update the qualifications to better reflect the job’s increased responsibilities. Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) has recommended that OPM:
  • Delete the option of using experience alone as a qualification and require education and/or professional certification such as the CSP, CIH or certified health physicist.
  • Place the GS-0018 job series in the professional series. 
  • Include the phrase “from an accredited college or university” with the education requirements, such as a bachelor’s or higher level degree, or an associate’s or higher level degree in occupational safety, from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency.
ASSE President Rick Pollock, CSP, notes that the profession has change greatly since 1980 and says that the classification needs to reflect "the increasing recognition of the vital role [safety professionals] play in advancing the bottom line mission of any organization, whether in government or the private sector. Today’s safety and health professional confronts complex risks that did not exist a decade ago, much less in 1980 when the GS-0018 series was written."

Nancy McWilliams, CSP, ARM, director of the Office of Occupational Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Commerce, a member of the FACOSH Training Subcommittee and a past ASSE president adds, “The FACOSH recommendations are specifically aimed at helping make sure that safety professionals hired into the federal workforce in the future have the sophisticated knowledge of hazards recognition, the ability to identify measures to control those hazards, the skills to defend the budgeting for and implementation of those controls to management, as well as the planning and organizational strategies to protect employees from work-related injury and illness.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Red Cross Hurricane App Brings Safety Information to Smartphones

The American Red Cross has released its free Hurricane App, which gives instant access to local and real time information on what to do before, during and after a hurricane. Other features allow people to customize weather alerts to monitor locations where loved ones reside, and share information via social media. The app is available for iPhone and Android platforms, and can be found in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross.

"This Red Cross app provides important lifesaving information to people in areas threatened by hurricanes," says David Markenson, chair of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. "People can rely on it as the information gold standard and the go to resource for people on hurricane preparedness that also can give peace of mind to travelers, people who have second homes in hurricane prone areas and those with elderly relatives or college students in coastal areas."

Features include:

  • One-touch "I'm safe" messaging that lets user broadcast via social media outlets;
  • Location-based NOAA weather alerts for the U.S. and its territories;
  • Remote monitoring of personalized weather alerts;
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters;
  • Simple steps and checklists to creating a family emergency plan;
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity;
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Proposed ASTM Standard on Protective Clothing

ASTM International has proposed a standard, dubbed ASTM WK38096, that will measure the amount of energy being absorbed by protective accessories or clothing when compared to no protection at all. The standard is currently being developed by Subcommittee F23.20 on Physical, part of ASTM International Committee F23 on Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment. All interested parties are encouraged to participate in its ongoing development. For more information, click here.

OSHA Produces New Educational Resources for Mercury Exposure

OSHA's two new educational resources are aimed to protect workers from mercury exposure while recycling or replacing fluorescent bulbs. A fact sheet provides detailed information such as how one becomes exposed and what PPE should be worn while handling the bulbs. The agency's quick card can be printed off and displayed to provide warnings of the hazards of mercury. It also explains how to properly clean up broken bulbs.

OSHA Seeking Nominations for NACOSH

OSHA is accepting nominations for four members to serve on the 12-person National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). Representatives are sought from each of the following categories: public, management, occupational safety and occupational health. Members serve a 2-year term. Nominations may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.