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.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NHTSA Reports Highest Seat Belt Use Percentage in 2012

Recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that seat belt use in the U.S. reached 86% in 2012. The agency reports this is an all-time high, which has been increasing since 1994. NHTSA also reports that the southern region has shown the most dramatic increases in seat belt use, rising to 85% in 2012 from 80% in 2011. In addition, the agency says that seat belt use seems to be higher in states that have primary belt laws, which allow officers to give citations solely for not using a belt.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Clean Cities Initiative Adds 20 New Projects

As part of its Clean Cities initiative, U.S. Department of Energy has added 20 projects to help U.S. cities improve fuel efficiency of vehicles, which may help communities reduce fuel costs and protect the environment. The projects include transforming community infrastructures, providing safety training for fleet operators and helping fleets incorporate petroleum reduction strategies into their transportation plans.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CDC Tips for Cooking Turkey Safely

The CDC wants everyone to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Here are simple tips for cooking a delicious and safely prepared turkey:

  • Safe Thawing. Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The "danger zone" is between 40-140°F. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely, but as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the "danger zone." Thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in a microwave oven. For instructions, see "Safe Methods for Thawing;" instructions are also available inSpanish.
  • Safe Preparation. Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces before they touch other foods.
  • Safe Stuffing. For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in foodborne illness. Follow the Food Safety and Inspection Service's steps to safely prepare, cook, remove and refrigerate stuffingSpanish language instructions are available.
  • Safe Cooking. Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan about 2-in. deep. Check the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh and wing joint using a food thermometer. Cooking times will vary. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat. For more information on safe internal temperatures,'s Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures

OMSHR Website Redesigned for Easier Use

The Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) has a newly redesigned website that helps users find the latest information about safety and health within the mining industry. The site also includes videos that detail OMSHR research projects and feature stories on current innovations. New online tools help users navigate information easier with improved search functions. Comments and suggestions about the new site are welcome.

Joint Commission Publishes Monograph to Improve Patient & Worker Safety Efforts

Preventable medical errors result in 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths each year, according to an Institute of Medicine report. These statistics are well known among patient safety professionals. However, SH&E professionals are familiar with BLS statistics, which show that healthcare workers experience some of the highest rates of nonfatal occupational illness and injury.

In an effort to understand what can be learned from these statistics about patient and worker safety in a healthcare environment, and to explore possible synergies between the efforts of patient safety and worker safety advocates, the Joint Commission has published a monograph, “Improving Patient and Worker Safety: Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration and Innovation.”

The monograph is intended to encourage greater coordination of patient and worker safety initiatives, and bridge safety-related concepts that are often siloed within the specific disciplines of patient safety, and occupational safety and health.

Topics include:

  • high reliability in healthcare organizations and benefits to improving safety for both patients and workers;
  • management principles, strategies and tools that advance patient and worker safety, and contribute to high reliability;
  • specific case examples of activities and interventions to improve safety;
  • key themes and action steps to meet challenges and achieve success.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hypothermia: Risks and Prevention

As winter approaches, it is crucial to understand the signs of hypothermia and how to prevent it. Hypothermia is caused by the body’s internal temperature being too low. Initial signs include cold, blue-colored skin, confusion or drowsiness, and shivering, while more serious signs include slow or stopped breathing and lack of coordination, according to InjuryFree. If a worker displays signs of hypothermia, immediately get him/her warm.
  • Get the worker out of the cold. Move indoors or to a sheltered area.
  • Help the worker remove wet clothing and dry off, then put on dry clothing.
  • Cover the worker’s body and head with a blanket. Do not cover the face.
  • Use a warm water bottle, warm towel or hot pack. Avoid using any hot water, or putting the person too close to a heat source.

The best way to avoid this condition is to address the issue before it occurs. InjuryFree suggests ways to reduce the risk of hypothermia at the workplace:
  • Have employees dress in layers that retain body heat.
  • Keep hands and feet warm and dry, and cover the head. Stay well-hydrated and avoid too many caffeinated beverages.
  • Have a supply of dry clothes and an emergency blanket available.
  • Ensure proper safeguards or protective equipment are used to prevent employees from falling into water.
  • Have a warm shelter for employees to take breaks during colder weather, or where a hypothermia victim can be taken in an emergency.
  • Develop a workplace wellness or fitness program. People who are physically fit are less prone to hypothermia, and a workplace wellness program pays dividends in many other areas as well.
While these tips are critical for businesses in states with harsher weather conditions, any workplace can have hypothermia risks. By alleviating these risks, businesses can maintain safety and productivity. For more information, click here

EngineerGirl Essay Contest Announced

As part of its mission to encourage young people to consider careers in engineering, the EngineerGirl program hosts an annual essay contest. This year’s contest focuses on engineering advancements for disease prevention. The 2013 Health Engineering essay contest asks students in grades 3 through 12 to choose from five diseases listed by the World Health Organization as the leading causes of death throughout the world.

Administered by the National Academy of Engineering, EngineerGirl premiered in 2000. Simultaneously, the group launched its redesigned website to help inform, inspire and support its target audience of middle school girls, with the aim of introducing them to the rewards of an engineering career. The site features blogs about what an engineer does and a section called “Try on a Career” that allows visitors to explore different engineering fields.

My Trip Calculator Helps Plan Most Efficient Drive

Those preparing to travel by car during the upcoming holidays might find the My Trip Calculator helpful when deciding the route and which vehicle to take. The online interactive tool provides routes with turn-by-turn directions, a trip map and estimated driving time. However, it also allows the user to compare fuel costs for up to three vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "The best feature of My Trip Calculator is the ability to customize fuel cost calculations for your trip." This allows users to estimate how much they will spend on fuel before the trip begins.

Monday, November 19, 2012

ASTM Launches Professor’s Tool Kit

Familiarity with standards can enhance a student’s knowledge and skills before entering the workplace. To improve technical standards education, ASTM International is offering an academic tool kit to help university professors incorporate information about technical standards into engineering and business curricula. The ASTM Professor’s Tool Kit contains informational tools to help educators promote awareness of standards in the classroom.

The kit includes supplies such as:

  • scripted PowerPoint modules;
  • sample syllabi and standards;
  • videos on the value of standards;
  • articles about standards education;
  • standards case studies.

ANSI Ergonomic Seat Standard to Improve Bus Driver Health

ANSI has released a revised standard requiring service buses to have an ergonomic and comfortable driver’s seat. ISO 16121-1:2012Road vehicles - Ergonomic requirements for the driver’s workplace in line-service buses - Part 1: General description, basic requirements, was created to reduce bus drivers’ risks of developing leg and lower-back pain. The standard requires bus designers to carefully choose the dimensions and mounting positions of a driver's seat, pedals and steering so that drivers sit at angles that comply with the given ranges of comfort. Comfortable seating options reduce MSDs and permit bus drivers to focus on their duties and the road.

The revised standard is part of ISO 16121, which includes requirements for visibility, information devices and controls, and cabin environment. For more information, click here