Friday, May 31, 2013

Lockout/Tagout Tips for Safer Mining

In his article, “Lockout/Tagout Tips for Safer Mining,” from the latest issue of the Mining Practice Specialty’s online technical publication Inside Global Mining, Matt Dudgeon states that since 1990, at least 75 fatal and 1,850 nonfatal incidents have occurred in the mining industry. MSHA classified these incidents as electrical, and many of them could have been prevented if the circuits were locked, grounded and tagged prior to any maintenance work performed.

Dudgeon emphasizes the importance of properly training employees to perform lockout procedures and provides a seven-step lockout/tagout process specific to mining operations.

For those of you in the mining industry, what methods do you use to ensure that your equipment is properly locked, grounded and tagged?

NHTSA Releases New Policy on Vehicle Automation

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released their new policy concerning vehicle automation.

While many cars today already come equipped with rear-view cameras, electronic stability control and other new technologies to make driving easier, companies in the U.S. and abroad are already developing cars that can park, steer and even drive themselves.

The policy statement, released Thursday, describes NHTSA’s research efforts on the safety issues associated with  autonomous (self-driving) vehicles as well as offers details on future research plans. As new technologies continuem to emerge, the agency wants to be prepared to establish standards should this technology become commercially available. NHTSA expected to complet the first phase of research within the next four years.

“Whether we’re talking about automated features in cars today or fully automated vehicles of the future, our top priority is to ensure these vehicles – and their occupants – are safe,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “Our research covers all levels of automation, including advances like automatic braking that may save lives in the near term, while the recommendations to states help them better oversee self-driving vehicle development, which holds promising long-term safety benefits.”

To read more about NHTSA's new policy click here,  or visit

EU-OSHA Report on Success in Culturally Diverse Workforces

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) report, Diverse Cultures at Work: Ensuring Safety and Health Through Leadership and Participation, reveals that addressing cultural diversity in the workplace can significantly improve occupational safety and health.

A growing percentage of the EU workforce consists of migrant workers, making European workplaces increasingly diverse. Yet in many workplaces, issues of employee safety and job satisfaction arise due to poor communication and misunderstanding between workers of different cultural backgrounds. For instance, as many as 80% of all maritime accidents in the EU may occur due to miscommunication based on language and other cultural differences.

The EU-OSHA report suggests creating a constructive safety climate shared by everyone in the workplace. Basic principles needed for establishing such a safety climate include:

  • A leadership style addressing the needs of culturally diverse workers. 
  • Acknowledging language barriers and taking steps to overcome them.
  • Training workers to nurture an inclusive working environment.

Find more information on EU-OSHA’s website.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

FAQ on OSHA's Crane Rule Reopening

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) has issued a Top Ten list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers regarding the reopening of OSHA’s crane rule. OSHA recently announced plans to extend the compliance date for its crane operator certification requirement to November 10, 2017. By partially reopening the crane rule, OSHA will address industry concerns over the “certifying by capacity” requirement and clarify whether certification is equivalent to qualification.

According to NCCCO, OSHA will extend the deadline soon, possibly within a month. However, publishing proposed rulemaking to reopen the rule will take significantly longer. Other questions NCCCO addresses in the Top Ten list include inquiries about whether previous CCO certifications will remain valid and whether OSHA’s crane rule affects state licensing and certification.

NCCCO announced May 29 that it is urging OSHA to pursue the rulemaking as quickly as possible.

Find more information about OSHA's crane rule on NCCO’s website.  

Ergonomics and the Aging Workforce

Humantech has published an informative video that addresses ergonomics and the aging workforce. In the 3-minute video, ergonomist Josh Kerst offers an overview of the problem and ergonomic remedies that can be applied to address those concerns.

According to Kerst, “10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, and while we think 65 is the retirement age, two-thirds of people plan to work beyond that, and nearly half tend to work in their 70s.” The video offers information that employers can apply to allow these workers to continue performing their jobs well despite their age.

USDA Provides Food Safety Tips For Weather Emergencies

In response to recent tornadoes in the Midwest, U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issues recommendations to help affected residents minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses that could be caused by power outages and compromised food storage. The agency provides steps to follow if the power goes out, after a weather emergency and to prepare for a possible weather emergency. USDA's "A Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes" is also available as a reference.

Affected residents with questions about the safety of their food can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854. In addition, FSIS's virtual food safety expert app "Ask Karen," is available 24/7 to answer most questions. The free app is available for Android and iOS.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Abating Fall Hazards in the Oil & Gas Industry

In their article, “Abating Fall Hazards Before They Are Created,” from the latest issue of the Oil & Gas Practice Specialty’s online technical publication Well Informed, Steven Gregory and Nolan Miller use a case study to help explain the benefits of incorporating fall protection measures early in the design process. The company profiled in the case study eliminated and abated hazards, saved money and improved worker safety and productivity, all without a major impact on the existing design process.

Click here to read the full case study.

BSEE Releases Its Safety Culture Policy Statement

After collecting comments on its draft safety culture policy, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has published its final Safety Culture Policy Statement. The statement provides safety expectations and nine characteristics of a robust safety culture, but it does not create any additional regulatory requirements. The agency says, "The policy statement will inform BSSE's regulatory approach to lead the offshore oil and gas industry beyond a checklist-inspection approach toward a systematic, comprehensive approach to compliance." The nine characteristics included are:
  1. Leadership commitment to safety values and actions
  2. Hazard identification and risk management
  3. Personal accountability
  4. Work processes
  5. Continuous improvement
  6. Environment for raising concerns
  7. Effective safety and environmental communication
  8. Respectful work environment
  9. Inquiring attitude

5 Critical Emergency Communication Strategies

Last week’s tornado in Oklahoma reminds us that effective emergency communication systems are necessary in any organization. Residents of Moore, Oklahoma had only 16 minutes to prepare for the tragedy, and the average amount of time people have to move to safety before a tornado is only 10 minutes. In other disastrous situations, including school shootings, people often have even less time to prepare.

To help your organization develop an effective emergency communication plan, Occupational Health & Safety offers these 5 strategies:

1.    Prerecorded Voice Alerts. Record voice alerts giving detailed instructions about how to react in an emergency so that people don’t have to take time out to decipher the meaning of a siren. For multilingual workplaces, provide alerts in all needed languages.
2.    Remote Location Targeting. Advanced network-based communications allow workplaces to broadcast alerts using many different devices from any location. This makes it possible for alerts to be communicated to all parts of a workplace and even to remote locations, such as the other end of a large campus.
3.    Automatic Emergency Alert Activation. Technology can be used to automate emergency communications using sensors and other monitoring devices, including gas monitors and National Weather Service data streams. This technology may be crucial in the event that workers designated to activate emergency alerts are absent at the onset of an emergency.
4.    Emergency Call Tools with Built-in Location Identification. Since cell phone networks can fail during widespread emergencies, emergency call tools may be needed for reporting problems. Advanced call systems transmit the call location automatically, so responders can send help immediately.
5.    Independent Backup Networks with Automatic Switchover. Backup communication networks are necessary for ensuring that your organization’s emergency system will work. Modern emergency systems rely on communications networks operating on a site’s Local Area Network using Ethernet or wi-fi. If the local network fails in a crisis, a backup emergency network is needed for transmitting calls and alerts. One common backup option is use of wireless mesh networks that are independent of other communications channels.

Find more information at Occupational Health & Safety

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nominations for the 2013 ANSI Leadership and Service Awards Due June 28

ANSI is still accepting nominations for the 2013 ANSI Leadership and Service Awards. All members and interested stakeholders are encouraged to submit their nominations by Friday, June 28, 2013.

The 2013 ANSI Leadership and Service Awards honor those who have made significant contributions to voluntary consensus standardization and have consistently demonstrated a commitment to their industry, their nation and the enhancement of the global standards system.

Recipients will be chosen by an awards committee made up of the ANSI Board of Directors, and will be honored in October, in conjunction with World Standards Week 2013.

Visit for complete nomination information. 

Supporting Culturally Diverse Workforces & Safety

A new report from European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) concludes that addressing cultural diversity in the workplace can greatly affect occupational safety and health. "Diverse Cultures at Work: Ensuring Safety and Health Through Leadership and Participation" reports that lack of awareness of cultural differences can have serious consequences, but organizations that strive to be more inclusive can use diversity as a resource for learning, change and renewal.

"A precondition for business success is healthy and motivated employees, especially in times of growing pressure on market competition," says EU-OSHA Director Dr. Christa Sedlatschek. "Workers with a migration background have to face specific language and cultural challenges, which is also mirrored in higher accident and sick leave rates than national workers."

The report notes that poor communication and misunderstanding may arise as a result of cultural differences and can result in tension and stress, reduced job satisfaction and higher staff turnover. In addition, occupational safety and health risks may increase because individual perceptions of what is safe may vary.

According to the report, a constructive safety climate shared by all in the workforce is needed. "Leadership and worker participation are key to improving safety and health in culturally diverse workplaces," the report suggests, adding that managers must adapt their leadership style, address language barriers, effectively train workers to overcome intercultural issues and nurture an inclusive working environment.

Download the report here.

Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program Is on Facebook

NIOSH's Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP) is on Facebook. "Like" them on Facebook and receive updates on CWHSP, publications, scheduled survey sites, photos from those surveys and future plans for surveys.

Monday, May 27, 2013

How GHS Will Affect Semiotics in the Workplace

According to Geoffrey Peckham, CEO of Clarion Safety Systems, LLC, “Global consistency is important to safety communications for the simple reason that we live in an increasingly interconnected world.” Peckham believes OSHA’s final rule to revise its hazard communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) will not only “signal to the world that the U.S. is on board with the idea that safety matters, but also begins the process of accepting internationally standardized graphical symbols as the means to improve the communication of critically important safety information.”

Click here to read a complete interview with Geoffrey Peckham from the latest issue of Safely Made, the Manufacturing Practice Specialty’s online technical publication.

What steps is your organization taking to prepare for GHS? We want to hear from you!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ergonomics & the Mobile Environment

In her article, “Ergonomics & the Mobile Environment,” from the latest issue of the Ergonomics Practice Specialty’s online technical publication Interface, Tina Minter asserts that mobile and telecommuting computing environments have introduced new areas of ergonomic concern that may threaten workers’ well-being and lead to increased health costs in the workplace. To maintain employee health and reduce potential corporate liability, Minter suggests that risk and safety professionals develop telecommuting processes, standards and program elements using employee input from many corporate disciplines.

How do you ensure that your employees have the proper equipment, workstation setup and tools to work productively and safely, both at the office and at home?

NFPA Urges Grillers to Take Caution

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial kick-off to summer, but before you break out the burgers and fire up the grill, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) would like to remind you practice safe grilling.

Outdoor grills contribute to an average of 8,300 house fires annually, according to a 2012 NFPA report. It is important to remember that all grills pose a risk for fires and burns. Hanna Storm, anchor for ESPNSportsCenter, knows this all to well after being severely burned in a grill fire late last year.

Recently, Storm worked with NFPA to record several shorts videos to share her story and to help raise awareness for grilling safety in hopes of helping others avoid similar incidents. 

In addition to a PSA by Storm, NFPA offers these tips for grilling safety:
  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before igniting it.
  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.
 Charcoal grills
  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
For more information, visit

Workplace Safety Checklist to Prevent Anaphylaxis

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has released a safety checklist to help employers and employees alike address concerns about anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can cause adverse or even fatal outcomes. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by many different allergens, including allergies to latex, bee stings, medications and certain foods, and the frequency of anaphylactic reactions is on the rise for unknown reasons.

Risk of anaphylaxis is present in many workplaces, especially those in which food is prepared or workers are wearing latex gloves or are exposed to outdoor environments where venomous insects are found, so ACOEM offers these tips:

  • Be Aware of the Dangers of Anaphylaxis.
          Employers: Hold educational programs to teach employees about avoiding allergens and 
          recognizing and responding to signs of anaphylaxis.
          Employees: Participate in educational programs. If you have an allergy, talk with your 
          doctor about how to avoid allergens and tell your employer about any personal concerns you

  • Work Practice Policies.      
          Employers: Review and enact policies regarding allergy management in the workplace, 
          including policies regarding cleaning/sanitizing of equipment and precautions employees should
          take when eating or preparing food at work.

          Employees: Read food labels carefully, and when bringing food to work to share, also bring a
          list of all ingredients used.

  • First Aid Training.
          Employers: Provide workers with first aid training regarding anaphylaxis in accordance with 
          state laws and OSHA law.
          Employees: Participate in first aid training programs and learn the signs and symptoms of 
          anaphylactic reactions so that you can call for emergency help at the onset of a reaction.

  • Handwashing.
          Employers: Post signs that encourage handwashing and provide adequate supplies, including
          alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

          Employees: Wash hands frequently, including before eating, after eating, and before arriving at
          work if you know a coworker has allergies.

  • Cleaning & Disinfecting Work Areas.
          Employers: Schedule regular cleanings of food preparation areas, serving areas and restrooms.

          Employees: Keep your worksite clean and disinfected, and report any soiled surfaces in other
          areas of your workplace.

For more detailed information and tips on how to prevent anaphylaxis at home and while traveling, visit the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's website.