Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Study Finds Oil & Gas Extraction Workers Exposed to Respirable Crystalline Silica

Researchers from the NIOSH Western States Office and the Division of Applied Research and Technology (DART) conducted a sample of personal breathing zones to evaluate exposures to respirable crystalline silica, a human lung carcinogen, during hydraulic fracturing. A report, "Occupational Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing," on the study was recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene and says that respirable crystalline silica is an occupational exposure hazard for oil and gas extraction workers.
The study, which claims to be the first systematic investigation of worker exposure to crystalline silica during directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, was conducted at 11 sites in five states over a 15-month period to evaluate exposures. Michael Breintenstein, of NIOSH DART, says that work in this industry does require employees to be in areas where respirable silica levels may exceed defined exposure limits and that in the study, it was found that some personal breathing zone exposures exceeded 10 times the recommended exposure limits.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Most Dangerous States to Work In

A new study from Allsup based on 2011 data from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals which states are the most dangerous to work in. Topping the list is Maine with 1.4 injuries or illnesses involving job transfers or restrictions per 100 workers.

The states with above-average serious illness and injury rates are as follows:

  1. Maine (1.4)
  2. Indiana (1.1)
  3. California (1.0)
  4. Connecticut, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Alabama (0.9)
  5. Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington (0.8)
Seven states (Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas and Utah) have rates that match the national average of 0.7 per 100 workers.

The least-dangerous states are listed below:

  1. D.C. and New York (0.1)
  2. Hawaii (0.2)
  3. Louisiana (0.3)
  4. Alaska, Delaware, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Wyoming (0.4)
  5. Maryland and New Jersey (0.5)
  6. Arkansas, Illinois, Montana, Vermont and Virginia (0.6)
Data was unavailable for Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

Read more here.

Podcasts: Chemical Inventories & Car Seat Ergonomics

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers monthly Health and Safety To Go! podcasts. Here's a preview of what's featured this month:

Workplace Chemicals - Know What's in Store
What chemicals are in your workplace? A chemical inventory is the first step in chemical safety compliance - whether it's training, environmental reporting or emergency planning. In 3:48 minutes, this podcast offers some tips for creating or improving a workplace chemical inventory program.

Car Seat Ergonomics
Dhananjai Borwankar, CCOHS technical specialist, explains how drivers can adjust their car seats to ensure proper posture and eliminate pains and strains while driving. Podcast runs 8:45 minutes.

ANSI Launches New Nanotechnology Database

ANSI's Nanotechnology Standards Panel (ANSI-NSP) has launched a new database that provides information on nanotechnology-related standards and activities. According to the agency, the database is free resource that does not directly host standards, but rather is meant to provide information on them. ANSI also adds that standards development organizations do have the option to add links to their relevant documents. ANSI-NSP Cochair Shaun Clancy says that the nanotechnology community is very productive and creates numerous methods and procedures. "Unfortunately, these are often hard to find even though they are publicly available," Clancy says. "The creation of the ANSI-NSP Nanotechnology Standards Database will make it easier to find these documents and facilitate continued improvements in productivity in the community."

For more information, visit the ANSI-NSP website or the new database.

OSHA Offers Nail Gun Safety Resources to Help Prevent Construction Injuries

Nail guns are used every day on many construction job sites. While these tools boost productivity, nail guns also cause tens of thousands of serious injuries each year, sending more construction workers to the hospital than any other tool-related injury, according to OSHA. In an effort to prevent these types of injuries, the administration introduced a new nail gun safety Web page to offer guidance for residential homebuilders and construction contractors, subcontractors and supervisors. Resources such as compliance assistance, training materials and links to relevant regulations highlight what is known about nail gun injuries and how workers can avoid such injuries.

For more information, visit

Monday, July 29, 2013

NHCA Accepting Nominations for Hearing Conservation Award

National Hearing Conservation Association's (NHCA) Media Award recognizes writers and/or producers of news features that heighten public awareness of noise hazards and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. The NHCA Media Award is also available to NHCA members who bring hearing loss prevention issues into public awareness. Nominations must be submitted no later than Aug. 30, 2013.

BCPE Piloting Online Exam, Updating Certification Process

Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) is pilot testing an online exam for professional certification and is recruiting prospective certificants to participating in the process. Details, including a pilot packet with key, are available here. Pilot participants will have their exam fees reduced by 50%.

Key dates in the pilot process:
  • September 2013: Submit pilot exam application to BCPE. 
  • September to December 2013: Pilot exam administered at test centers nationwide. 
BCPE is also changing its requirements for applying for certification, modifying the degree requirements for applying from a minimum of a master’s to a bachelor’s.” BCPE President David Brodie explains, “[We] recognized the fundamental requirement for the academic portion of our application is a set of specific core competencies. Given the advancement of new online and continuing educational opportunities for meeting this requirement, our choice became clear on how we should evaluate applicants moving forward. The overall educational requirements for applying remain the same, but the pathways for achieving this goal are now more diverse, which is a good thing for our profession.”

Reason #11. Why I Care About Safety

Post From Guest Blogger Doug Gray

Reason #11. Graduate School.

When doing my graduate research at Dartmouth College I was obsessed with risk-taking behavior. Key questions included: Why do we intentionally embrace a known risk? What causes us to embrace more risk in academics or business or interpersonal choices? How do we encourage constructive risk tolerance, risky shift, and risk taking behavior?

At the time I was teaching high school English in a boarding school in New Hampshire. Like every faculty member, I was required to embrace the “triple threat” requirements as a teacher, dorm parent, and a coach. I supervised a dormitory house with 12 9th grade boys. I coached soccer and x-c skiing. I taught rock climbing, whitewater canoeing, winter camping, outdoor adventures. I ran a January program that was designed to “foster risk taking” in academics and socially constructive outdoor adventures, which included a 3-day mandatory winter camping expedition called “Sophomore Wilderness.” And I met a lovely woman that I was not supposed to date– because she was on the faculty. And we dated. Got engaged. Then married, on Lake Winnepausaukee. Some 23+ years ago. Like the students and other faculty, I embraced risk.

My research required that I develop an assessment of adolescent risk taking behavior. Based upon recent related research and validated approaches. Then test the questions on hundreds of adolescents at summer camps, and at two independent high schools.

I found that adolescents described self-esteem in multi-dimensions (such as physical, social, academic, etc.) But adolescents did not discriminate between types of risk in that way. They only discriminated between socially constructive risks (helping others, talking to a teacher, etc.) or socially destructive risks (taking drugs, sexual activity, etc.)

Some 25+ years later I remain fascinated by several facts:

1) Adults act like those adolescents. Adults discriminate between socially constructive and socially nonconstructive risks.

2) That instant between a stimulus/trigger and a response/action defines our career success.

3) Coaches/consultants can help adults determine what is safe or risky, and what is productive or not.

4) I remain continually surprised and puzzled by that opening question: Why do people intentionally embrace a known risk?

What do you think?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Robotic Manikin Talking Head for Respirator Fit Research

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), in collaboration with Air Force Research Laboratory and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), has developed a new robotic manikin headform, or “talking head,” which will exponentially increase opportunities in respirator fit research.

“Over five million Americans are required to wear respirators in their workplace,” says Dr. Maryann D’Alessandro, Director of NPPTL. “The talking head is an innovative scientific advance that offers transformational promise to better understanding respiratory protection and respirator fit for an increasingly diverse workforce.”

Using the measurements of nearly 4,0000 individuals, NIOSH created five digital headform sizes. From there, the talking head was built by Hanson Robotics Inc. to mimic a real human head with a silicone elastomer artificial skin and functional lip and jaw movements. Furthermore, researchers engineered a way for them to simulate all possible movements of speech and imitate the exercises a worker performs during a respirator fit test.

According to Ziqing Zhuang, Ph.D., a research team leader at NIOSH, the robotic talking head will expand the opportunities for research into potential respirator leakage and can be beneficial for respirator fit evaluation research because, unlike human subjects, it does not require human subject review board clearance or experience weight changes or fatigue.

NIOSH will focus on using the talking head with certified N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), 
commonly used in the healthcare industry to reduce exposure to respiratory pathogens like influenza for the initial fit evaluation research.  

More information can be found at click here to watch a video of the “talking head.”

EPA Identifies 119 Safer Fragrance Chemicals for Cleaning Products

EPA has expanded its Safer Chemicals Ingredients List to include 130 chemicals that had not previously been listed. Of those, 119 are fragrance chemicals commonly used in commercial and consumer cleaning products.

The list now identifies 602 chemicals that consumers and companies can use without putting themselves and their workers at significant risk. The list separates chemicals into 13 categories, including colorants, enzymes and enzyme stabilizers, oxidants and oxidant stabilizers, polymers, preservatives and antioxidants, solvents and specialized industrial chemicals.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

OSHA Response "Unacceptable," CSB Says

In a public meeting today, members of the CSB declared the response by OSHA to seven longstanding recommendations–on combustible dust, fuel gas and the Process Safety Management standard–to be “unacceptable.” CSB also voted to make adoption of a combustible dust standard for general industry a first priority in the agency's "Most Wanted Safety Improvements” program.

“Over the years, CSB has made a number of recommendations to OSHA in the aftermath of tragic accidents that have killed dozens of workers, injured hundreds more, and caused millions of dollars in property damage," explains CSB Chair Rafael Moure-Eraso. "We are particularly concerned with the lack of action on a much-needed combustible dust standard. . . . Today’s vote designating OSHA’s responses to be 'open-unacceptable' means that we strongly believe these recommended regulatory changes are still needed to save lives and prevent accidents in the chemical industry.”

Learn more about CSB's recommendations here.   

Hearing Health for Kids

3M Corp., National Hearing Conservation Association and the Dangerous Decibels will host three free events Oct. 15-18 in St. Paul, MN, to teach kids and educators about the hazards of noise. You can find the conference program here, and the call for posters application here. Posters are due Aug. 16, 2013.

What's on tap for the 3 days?

Innovations in Noise-induced Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Prevention in Kids
Oct. 15-16, 3M Innovation Center, St. Paul, MN
Participants will learn the latest information on noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus in children, and state-of-the-art interventions and preventive measures.

How Loud Is Your Music? A Jolene Family Reunion & a U-Build Jolene Workshop
Oct. 16 (evening), Tartan Park, St. Paul, MN
According to 3M, Jolene is a mannequin with a sound level meter attached to her ear who shows how loud “kids” are listening to their MP3 players. Twenty participants will also get to build their own Jolene.

Dangerous Decibels Educator Training Workshop
Oct. 17-18, 3M Innovation Center, St. Paul, MN

Educators will get the resources to present a 50-minute program designed to change young people's knowledge, attitudes and intended behaviors regarding hearing health. Complete educator kit contains graphics, simulations, supplies, a sound level meter and a script. According to 3M, the workshop will be led by experts from Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University and University of Northern Colorado.

ANSI and ASSE Seeking U.S. Stakeholders to Support Development of New Standard

The collapse of Rana Plaza, in Bangladesh earlier this year was a crude reminder as to the lack of uniformity in occupational safety and health standards worldwide. Following the loss of thousands of garment factory workers around the world just this year, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced plans to develop a new standard for global occupational health and safety (OSH). The initiative, overseen by ISO Project Committee (PC) 283Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements, will provide governmental agencies and industry stakeholders with effective, usable guidance to improve worker safety across all borders.

“This proposed occupational health and safety standard represents one of the most significant consensus standards activities in the last 50 years,” said S. Joe Bhatia, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) president and CEO. “It has the potential to significantly and positively impact occupational health and safety management on a global level.”

ANSI and ASSE are lending a hand by seeking participants for a U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ISO PC 283. All U.S OSH management experts and other stakeholders are encouraged to get involved.

The U.S. TAG will advise ANSI on voting positions relevant to the proposed standard and will participate in discussions related to its development. As the U.S. member body to ISO, ANSI accredits U.S. TAGs to develop and transmit U.S. positions on ISO technical activities. Following the TAG’s accreditation by ANSI, ASSE will serve as the U.S. TAG administrator to ISO PC 283.

“Time and time again we’ve seen how investment in OH&S management can help to make work environments safer, while also serving to improve overall organizational performance and boosting the bottom line,” said ASSE President Kathy Seabrook.

“ISO PC 283 will be doing critically important work, and the U.S. needs to have a strong, active and engaged role in this activity,” added Mr. Bhatia. “ANSI and ASSE encourage all interested U.S. stakeholders to get involved in this significant new global standards initiative.”

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bangladesh Government Passes Factory Safety Law

Following the deadly garment factory collapse earlier this year that killed 1,129 workers, the Bangladesh government has passed a law to improve conditions for factory workers. The law strengthens permit requirements for the addition of floors to an existing building, and it mandates that factories contribute 5% of their profits to a welfare fund for employees.

However, the law has been met with concerns and criticism because it states that export-oriented factories (which account for a majority of the country’s garment factories) are exempt from the provision mandating contributions to employee welfare funds. The law also perpetuates a policy that in order to unionize, workers in Bangladesh factories need to first gather signatures from at least 30% of their company’s workers. This policy has significantly hindered the possibility for factory worker unions in Bangladesh since many employees fear termination if their supervisors find out they support unionization.

U.S. government recently suspended Bangladesh’s trade preferences over concerns for the safety of garment factory workers, and the Obama administration is now reviewing the new law before making further decisions.

BICSI Releases New Standard on Electronic Safety and Security System Design

Today, BICSI announced the release of its latest standard, ANSI/BICSI 005-2013, Electronic Safety and Security (ESS) System Design and Implementation Best Practices to support the convergence of security and cabling infrastructure.

BICSI, an international association providing the information technology systems industry with information, education and knowledge, took the opportunity to address the growing rate of converging security systems onto the network and its cabling infrastructure. The new standard is one of the first to acknowledge the complexities of security systems and the cabling infrastructure and address both communication and security requirements.

BICSI 005 looks to bridge security and communications by providing security professionals with the requirements and recommendations of a structured cabling infrastructure needed to support today's security systems while providing cabling design professionals with information on different elements within safety and security systems that affect the design. The standard also provides information on the concept of "direct attach" and how it may be used within many forms of ESS systems.

"The protection against risks and threats to life-safety, business and personal assets is and always will be a matter of great importance," said Jerry Bowman, RCDD, NTS, RTPM, CISSP, CPP, CDCDP, BICSI President. "BICSI 005 is a tremendous resource for those working on the design and implementation of electronic safety and security and related infrastructure. This standard, like all BICSI standards, establishes best practices for the supporting infrastructure for a variety of security functions and systems. We truly appreciate the efforts of all the volunteer subject matter experts who contributed to this publication."

More information regarding the BICSI Standards Program and the BICSI 005 standard can be found at

Thomas Perez Sworn in as Secretary of Labor

Thomas Perez has been sworn in as the new U.S. Secretary of Labor. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Perez has had a long career in public service and previously served as assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor's website to learn more about Perez. In addition, ASSE President Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM, has released a statement on behalf of the Society, showing support for the new appointment.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NHTSA TIps to Prevent Vehicle Theft

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released several tips to protect car owners from vehicle theft. Studies show that July and August are the months in which the highest numbers of vehicle thefts occur, and more than 40% of vehicle thefts involve mistakes made by drivers.

Motor vehicle owners are urged to take the following steps:

  • Always take your keys with you when leaving your vehicle; do not leave them on or in the vehicle.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors after parking.
  • Park only in well-lit areas.
  • If possible, keep cars in locked garages overnight.
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially not in parts of the vehicle that can be viewed through windows.
  • Never leave a running vehicle unattended.
  • Use antitheft/immobilizer devices.

NHTSA suggests that in the event of a vehicle theft, owners should contact police immediately and their insurance company quickly afterward. If the owner finds the vehicle, s/he should inform police and his/her insurance company immediately.

Find more auto theft prevention resources here.