Monday, December 29, 2014

Making Sense of Risk Tolerance

Risk tolerance is both challenging and complicated, and there are plenty of moving parts.

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Personalities, past experiences, fatigue and mood have all been shown to affect a person’s tolerance for risk. Other than trying to change individuals feelings toward risk taking, a new post from The RAD Group says there is a lot to help minimize risk tolerance in any given context.

The piece presents the idea of "local rationality" and states that actions and decisions are heavily influenced by the factors that are most obvious, pressing and significant in immediate context - people do what makes sense in the moment. The piece also suggests that when people are in a position of power relative to others in their context, they tend to be more risk tolerant.

However, if the person in power also feels a sense of responsibility for the well being of others in that context, s/he becomes more risk averse. The article uses parents as an example, as they are power-position relative to their children and aware of their role in protecting them, so they they are less likely to do risky things. "If you want to limit the effects of relative power-positioning on certain individuals’ risk tolerance – think supervisors, team leads, mentors and veteran employees – help them gain a clear sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of others around them," the post says.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ANSI 2015 Student Paper Competition Accepting Entries

ANSI's 4th annual student paper competition is accepting entries until 5 p.m. on April 30, 2015. This year's theme, "Standards Inspire Innovation," will have participants demonstrate how standards boost business innovation in the U.S. and around the world. Entries must be less than 2,000 words and formatted as indicated in the submission criteria. ANSI reports that submissions will be reviewed by industry experts and winning papers will be published on, and

In addition, ANSI says prizes will be given to first- and second-place papers; winning papers will be announced in late May or early June 2015.

ECHA Adds Six Chemicals to REACH Candidate List

European Chemical Agency (ECHA) recently added six new substances of very high concern to the for Authorization. ECHA also updated an existing entry to address an additional reason for inclusion. The entire list now contains 161 chemicals of known risk. Companies may have legal obligations resulting from the inclusion of substances in the list. These obligations refer not only to the listed substances on their own or in mixtures, but also to their presence in articles.

View the REACH Candidate List.

Monday, December 22, 2014

New House Bill Would Limit Scientific Research Available to EPA

In November, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would limit the type of scientific Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 restricts the EPA from using any science that is "hidden and flawed," according to its sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
©Diadem Images/Jonathan P. Larsen
research available to EPA for use when creating regulations. The

Smith's colleagues say the bill is necessary to increase transparency so the public can independently check EPA's basis for creating and issuing regulations. Many within the scientific community have criticized the it, noting that the bill does not recognize why some scientific data are hidden and confidential, namely to protect the privacy of the voluntary test subjects, trade secrets and industry data. Republicans claim that the bill would not require personal data or trade secrets to be made public.

Currently, EPA uses more than 50,000 scientific studies per year. “In short, the bill would undermine EPA’s ability to protect the health of Americans, would impose expensive new mandates on EPA and could impose substantial litigation costs on the federal government,” a White House memo states. The memo warns that it could impede EPA’s reliance on the best available science. The White House has stated that if the bill is passed by the Senate, President Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Indiana Company Sees Corporate Wellness Program Success

Batesville, IN-based casket maker Hillenbrand Inc. has seen significant amounts of weight lost by
employees by telling them to eat more.

Six months ago, the company instituted a program called Target Metabolism among 125 employees. Based on early results, Hillenbrand is considering expanding the program to all 900 of its workers in Batesville and possibly to the rest of its 6,000 workers worldwide.

Run by On Target Health LLC, the program helps participants drop weight by losing only fat tissue, not muscle or other "lean body mass." On Target does this determining each participant’s ideal level of daily calorie intake and encouraging them to hit that target. The company found that nearly half the participants weren’t eating enough, especially during their meeting-filled work days.

On Target determines calorie targets by conducting two tests: An indirect calorimeter sees how fast each person’s body burns calories, and the company also uses a machine called a BodPod to see how many pounds of fat each person has. The company then gauges success by measuring participants’ fat content every 2 weeks, and checking their blood sugar and cholesterol every 3 months. participants have lost an average of 9.5 lb—or a total of 1,300 lb.

Hillenbrand represents a key test of corporate wellness because it offers one of the most comprehensive sets of healthcare services to employees in corporate America and is doing so at a time employers—about 95% of which have some sort of wellness program—are doubling down on the concept because they’re desperate to save money on fast-rising benefits costs. Also, the Affordable Care Act is giving employers even more tax incentives to institute wellness programs.
However, recent research suggests the efforts have almost universally failed and that they influence only a tiny percentage of all spending on healthcare. The challenge for Hillenbrand will be to see if the early results hold up for the long term.

Read more about the program and an analysis of the potential challenges it faces. For more information, visit ASSE's Health & Wellness Branch and NIOSH's Total Worker Health program site. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Former Massey Energy CEO Indicted in 2010 Explosion

Don Blankenship, former chief executive of Massey Energy, was indicted Nov. 13, 2014, on four criminal charges relating to a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

The April 5, 2010 explosion, at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine at Montcoal, WV, was the deadliest U.S. coal-mining incident in 40 years. A 2011 investigation by MSHA found that broken equipment failed to douse a small methane gas fire, which ignited coal dust in a giant blast.

During the 16-month indictment period, from Jan. 1, 2008 through April 9, 2010, the Upper Big Branch-South mine was cited 835 times for safety violations. The indictment alleges that during this time, Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to impede and hinder federal mine safety officials from carrying out their duties at the site by providing advance warning of federal mine inspections. According MSHA's investigation, these safety violations contributed to the fatal explosion.

Blankenship allegedly committed these and other crimes in order to produce more coal, reduce cost and make a higher profit. If convicted of all charges, he could face up to 31 years in prison. 

Blankenship pled innocent to all charges.

Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HSE Infographic Illustrates Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive has released statistics on workplace fatalities and injuries for 2013-2014. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has created an infographic, "Behind the Annual Statistics," to illustrate the findings.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

EPA Proposes New Smog Standards to Safeguard From Pollution

EPA is proposing to strengthen air quality standards based on recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog.

Smog forms in the atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like automobiles, industries, power plants and chemical fumes. Those most at risk include people with asthma, children and older adults, as well as those who are active or work outside. 

The agency is looking to increase the standards within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comments on a level as low as 60 ppb. The last update came in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. The existing Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every 5 years by following a set of steps and considering the advice of an expert panel.

EPA scientists examined numerous studies in its most recent review, including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last update. Those indicate that exposure below 75 ppb, which is the current level, can pose serious threats to public health, cause respiratory distress and illness, and is linked to premature death from both respiratory and cardiovascular causes. 

The new standards will also provide an added measure of protection for low income and minority families who are more likely to suffer from asthma or to live in communities that are overburdened by pollution. EPA thinks that strengthening the standard will especially help children - preventing both asthma attacks and keep them from missing school. They estimate that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs. If the standards are finalized, every dollar invested in them will return up to three dollars in health benefits.

The Clean Air Act says that depending on the severity of the problem, areas would have between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards. To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is proposing to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, so they can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.

The agency is also proposing to strengthen the “secondary” smog standard to a level within 65 to 70 ppb to protect plants, trees and ecosystems. New studies add to the evidence showing that repeated exposure stunts the growth of trees, damages plants and reduces crop yield.

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and plans to hold three public hearings. They will issue final ozone standards by Oct. 1, 2015.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ESFI Infographic: Cord Safety This Holiday Season

Electrical Safety Foundation International's (ESFI) infographic on extension cord safety lists cord-related hazards and tips to stay safe. ESFI says that although extension cord safety is a year-round concern, use of these devices is more common during the holidays. The "Pull the Plug on Cord-Related Hazards This Holiday Season," infographic provides safety guidelines and tips that can prevent dangerous mistakes and hazards. Guidelines include purchasing cords from authorized retailers, using cords for their intended use (e.g., outdoor cords must be used outside), and more. Download the infographic to see all the guidelines.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Agencies Partner to Protect Oil & Gas Industry Workers

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OSHA, NIOSH and National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network have signed a 2-year alliance to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in the exploration and production sector within the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas workers face hazards such as motor vehicle crashes, fires, electrocution, respirable silica exposure and more; BLS reported 112 worker fatalities in 2013.

The alliance plans to develop fact sheets, videos and training resources for employers and workers. In addition, alliance members will work with the National Occupational Research Agenda Oil and Gas Extraction Council to identify and implement strategies to improve workplace practices.

New NIOSH Training to Reduce Risks for Emergency Responders Working Long Hours

NIOSH has released a free web-based training that will help emergency responders and
managers better cope with emergency operations when deployed to a disaster site. Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours is designed for emergency workers who respond to epidemics such as Ebola, weather-related disasters and other catastrophic events.

The program provides strategies to reduce the safety and health risks that are linked to working long hours during the daytime which coupled with the high physical and emotional strain associated with emergency response and recovery operations can prevent responders from getting enough sleep. The lack of sleep creates greater risk for fatigue-related mistakes that can lead to injuries and death.

The training is designed to increase knowledge and promote better personal behaviors and workplace systems and covers the following:

  • dangers of working while sleepy and fatigued;
  • basic information about sleep and fatigue;
  • personal factors that could lead to higher health and safety risks;
  • better work schedule design and other management strategies;
  • signs and symptoms of fatigue in response workers;
  • tips for improving sleep at night and alertness on the job;
  • preventing fatigue from strain to muscles and joints;
  • protecting from fatigue due to excessive heat.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Study Shows Lane-Splitting Safe, But Speed Increases Risk

Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by riding between them along the lane line. Allowed only in California, the practice was the subject of a recent study by University of California-Berkeley and the state Office of Traffic Safety. The research teams found that 62% of motorcyclists say they lane-split on both freeways and other roads.

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Seventy-five percent of riders between ages 18 and 24 report they lane-split on all roads, including freeways. Technically, state law doesn’t prohibit or permit the practice, but it has caused controversy as drivers complain that it is difficult to spot motorcycle riders who speed in between cars, which can increase the risk of crashes. 

As part of the UC-Berkeley study, 80 law enforcement agencies completed a supplemental information sheet reporting on 8,262 motorcycle riders in collisions. Based on the data, researchers concluded that lane-splitting is no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in a marked lane. However, the research team also reports that lane-splitters who ride at speeds 10 mph faster than traffic they pass stand a greater risk of being in an collision. 

Last year, California Highway Patrol (CHP) published guidelines on when motorcyclists should or should not lane-split, suggesting riders should not travel more than 10 mph faster than traffic and should not lane-split at all if vehicles are traveling faster than 30 mph. CHP removed the guidelines in response to concerns that publishing constituted illegal regulations.

The research team is sharing its results with CHP and a more in-depth study is underway.

Friday, December 5, 2014

ASSE & Cintas Partner Again for 2nd Annual Safety Innovation Award

For the second year, ASSE and Cintas are teaming up to find the world's most innovative workplace
safety solutions.

ASSE announced that nominations for the 2015 Award for Innovation in Occupational Safety
Management are now open. The winner will receive $3,000, a recognition plaque and travel and accommodations for Safety 2015, ASSE’s annual professional development conference, in
Dallas in June 2015.

"When workers are engaged in developing a safe workplace culture, everyone wins," says 2014-15 ASSE President Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM. "Last year's award competition drew creative nominations from organizations spanning the globe, so we're excited to see what safety ideas will be submitted
this time around."

Entries should highlight a workplace challenge and a unique solution to the issue that was either developed or implemented within the last 5 years. Benefits associated with the innovation may include elimination or reduction of hazards, improved safety knowledge or efficiency improvements. A panel of industry experts will consider the innovation's safety and management benefits, and the potential for applying the innovation across multiple programs or sites.

Both ASSE members and non-members are eligible for the award, and nominations can be submitted by safety managers or employees on behalf of themselves or another individual. Nominations must be received by March 31, 2015. Online submissions are preferred.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

BLS Reports Steady Decline in Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

The 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reveals that nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses declined to a rate of 3.3 incidents per 100 full-time workers. This decrease continues an 11-year pattern of declines, with the exception of 2012.

Key findings of the survey include:
  • The total recordable cases incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from a year earlier.. 
  • The rate of reported injuries and illnesses declined significantly in 2013 among the manufacturing, retail trade, and utilities sectors but was statistically unchanged among all other private industry sectors compared to last year. 
  • In 2013, manufacturing continued a 16-year trend as the only private industry sector in which the rate of job transfer or restriction only cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work. 
  • The rate of injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers combined declined to 5.2 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013 compared to 5.6 cases in 2012 and remains significantly higher than the private industry rate. 
OSHA reminds employers that beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements will change. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours.

Click here to for information.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

EU-OSHA Unveils Online Tool for Managing Stress in the Workplace

As part of the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign, EU-OSHA launched an e-guide on managing stress and psychosocial risks at work. This free tool offers useful tips and information about work-related stress and psychosocial risks to foster awareness, understanding and management of these issues in the workplace.

According to the Agency, work-related stress leads to lost work days, incidents and a poor quality of life. The e-guide helps both employers and workers, particularly of small businesses, better understand and manage stress and psychosocial risks. 

The web-based tool is now available in several national versions and will eventually be adapted to the legislation, context and language of 34 countries to accommodate all EU Member States. Each version of the e-guide contains: 
  • simple explanations of work-related stress and psychosocial risks;
  • effects on businesses and workers;
  • practical examples on how to prevent and deal with psychosocial risks;
  • references to national legislation;
  • information on national resources and practical tools.
Click here to learn more.

Expert ASSE/ANSI Panel Examines Hydrogen Sulfide in Oil & Gas Industry

Members of the committee that developed ANSI/ASSE Z390, AcceptedPractices for Hydrogen Sulfide Safety Training Programs, presented today at the OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference in Houston, TX. A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to hear the experts share their insight on best practices and processes that OSH professionals can use to improve H2S safety programs in the oil and gas industry. The group also addressed major concerns and issues related to H2S hazards and exposures in the industry. Panelists included moderator Frank Perry, Chuck Simpson, Dan Brinkman and Gary Childress.

Safety Speaks: Dave Walline & Prevention Through Design

Safety Speaks is a podcast about the latest and greatest in occupational safety, covering contemporary issues in the world of OSH and providing insight from industry leaders.

Our guest for this episode is Dave Walline. He is president of Walline Consulting in Port St. Lucie, FL, and chair of ASSE’s Risk Assessment Committee. He is also the author of Prevention Through Design: Proven Solutions From the Field, a feature article in the November 2014 issue of ASSE's Professional Safety journal

If you heard our last podcast you already know the pitch for Prevention Through Design (PTD). In short, it’s designing safety elements into projects preemptively, rather than trying to address them reactively. It is a fairly straightforward concept to grasp, but execution in the real world is a completely different story.

Walline says OSH professionals need to be prepared to sell the concept of PTD to their management to have any hope of implementing it in a workplace. For that to happen, safety professionals need to  start redefining their roles, and eventually, in some ways, start redefining their profession.

You can listen here.

New Health Advisory Details Food Flavoring & Scent Ingredient Manufacturing Concerns

The new “Occupational Disease Investigation: Food and Consumer Goods Flavorings,” advisory from ESIS examines food and consumer goods flavorings and scent ingredients and recommends several steps manufacturers can take to help protect their workers and mitigate claims and losses. Serious concerns have been raised about the health risks associated with employee exposure to a growing class of chemical compounds used to enhance scents and flavorings. These compounds can result in employee complaints and claims of developing respiratory conditions.

More than a decade ago, diacetyl, an additive commonly known as a buttery flavor in popcorn and other foods was linked with a serious lung condition in workers exposed to it. Since then, food processors have attempted to replace diacetyl with other flavorings. One of these new flavorings, 2, 3-Pentanedione, has also been linked to respiratory health concerns. According to NIOSH, the industry counts at least 1,000 ingredients as potential respiratory hazards. Any consumer goods business that uses scent or flavoring agents may be exposing its workers to similar compounds.

They can be complex and volatile combinations of natural and man-made chemicals, which evaporate from solids or liquids or become powders or dusts during production, and then become accessible for inhalation by workers.

In the advisory, ESIS recommends the following seven-step plan--which should remind OSH professionals of the widely used hierarchy of controls:
  1. Substitution. If a compound has proven links to health concerns, consider substituting a less hazardous ingredient with a safer alternative, whenever possible.
  2. Accommodation. If a substitution is not possible, consider alternate work assignments for workers who are particularly sensitive to certain chemical compounds.
  3. Engineering. Limit exposure by engineering closed production processes that minimize employees’ exposure to potentially dangerous chemical compounds.
  4. Education. Implement work practices and training programs to ensure safe handling and storage of these compounds.
  5. PPE. Make aprons, goggles, gloves or masks available for workers who remain at risk of exposure. 
  6. Exposure Monitoring. Monitor the effects of employee exposure through regular testing of their breathing capacity and air concentration.
  7. Partnership. Work with a claims and risk management company to gain access to additional occupational disease management resources.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Give the Gift of Safety

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued holiday gift recommendations to help
© Kelly
recipients protect family and friends during emergencies. 

"A gift to help prepare for emergencies could be life-saving for friends and family," says Janet Odeshoo, FEMA Region V acting regional administrator. "These gift ideas provide a great starting point for being prepared for an emergency or disaster."

FEMA’s recommended supplies for an emergency preparedness kit include:

• battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert;
• flashlight with extra batteries;
• solar-powered cell phone charger;
• smoke detector and/or carbon monoxide detectors;
• first-aid kit;
• fire extinguisher and fire escape ladder;
• enrollment in a CPR or first-aid class;
• books, coloring books, crayons and board games for kids, in case of power loss;
• personal hygiene comfort kit, including shampoo, body wash, wash cloth, hairbrush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant;
• waterproof pouch or backpack containing any the listed items, or with such things as a rain poncho, moist towelettes, work gloves, batteries, duct tape, whistle or food bars.

Holiday shoppers might also consider gifting a winter car kit, equipped with a shovel, ice scraper, emergency flares, fluorescent distress flags and jumper cables.

The gift of preparedness might save the life of a friend or family member. For more information, preparedness tips or more gift ideas, visit

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NIOSH Publication Highlights Solutions to Prevent Manual Material Handling Injuries for Retail Workers

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NIOSH has released a new publication to highlight how retail workers can reduce strains and sprains when moving materials from the delivery truck to the sales floor. Designed for retailers and safety experts, Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers uses illustrations to show how and where retail employees would use mechanical assist devices to lift, push or pull heavy materials— tasks that can sometimes lead to musculoskeletal injuries.

According to the agency, manual material handling injuries account for 60% of the injuries and lost work in retail. While this publication focuses on the grocery sector, it may be adapted to other working situations including those work in warehouse and storage facilities. The technology presented may also support a retailer’s growing internet sales that depend on moving large quantities of merchandise often with fewer employees.

Click here for more information.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NIOSH Seeks Feedback on Proposed Total Worker Health Agenda

NIOSH is seeking stakeholder comments on its proposed National Total Worker Health agenda through Dec. 22, 2015. The proposal lists four strategic goals that intend to help advance the integration of workplace health protection and promotion; support overall vitality of the workforce; and foster national economic prosperity. The goals are:
  1. Advance and conduct etiologic, surveillance and intervention research that builds the evidence base for effectively integrating workplace health protection and health promotion activities.
  2. Increase the awareness and adoption of these types of activities.
  3. Create guidance for policies that promote integration of OSH protection and health promotion activities.
  4. Support the development, growth and maintenance of integrated OSH protection and health promotion activities in the workplace. 
NIOSH reports that it is "specifically interested to know whether the proposed agenda reflects the goals of stakeholders' organizations and whether it has any missing components." To view the agenda or comment, visit and enter "CDC-2014-0014" in the search field.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ASSE Accepting Nominations for 2015 Triangle Award for Heroic Dedication

ASSE is accepting nominations for its third annual Triangle Award for heroic dedication to the OSH profession. The Triangle Award is given in honor of the 146 garment workers who died in the 1911 New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The Award is presented to an OSH professional who, in the course of going beyond his/her normal duties, either prevents or minimizes physical injury, loss of life or substantial property damage in a workplace at which s/he has complete or shared responsibility for the safety of the people and/or security of the property.

Nominations will be accepted through April 1, 2015, and the award will be presented on May 6, 2015, in Washington, DC, during ASSE's NAOSH Week.

Monday, November 17, 2014

DOL Renews Workplace Rights Agreements With Latin American Countries

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently renewed partnership agreements with ambassadors representing Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The agreements entail DOL's enforcement agencies (i.e., OSHA, Wage and Hour Division) continuing to collaborate with the embassies and consulates to provide information about U.S. labor laws that regulate safety, health, wages and working hours to workers from these countries. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says that the partnerships represent the "shared commitment to making sure that workers from these nations are able to exercise their rights."

DOL reports that these partnerships help the department enforce U.S. labor laws more effectively, particularly in high-risk and low-wage workplaces where violations might occur more frequently. To learn more about the partnerships, visit DOL's website.

(L to R): Ambassador of Mexico Eduardo Medina Mora; Ambassador of the Dominican Republic Aníbal de Castro; Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator Laura Fortman; Ambassador of Nicaragua Francisco Campbell; Ambassador of El Salvador Francisco Altschul; U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez; Ambassador of Costa Rica Román Macaya Hayes; Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Carol Pier; and OSHA Administrator David Michaels.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tips for Preventing Carpal Tunnel From Humantech

Musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome are a leading cause of missed workdays. According to BLS, workers who suffered from fractures, multiple injuries with fractures or carpal tunnel syndrome in 2012 took a median of 30 days or more to recuperate before returning to work.

Humantech's Blake McGowan, CPE, explains the signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and shares tips on how to prevent it in the video below.

Here's a quick checklist of his key tips:
☑︎Choose a computer keyboard that is as thin as possible. A thin keyboard helps keep the wrist straight when keying.
☑︎Turn down the legs of the keyboard to keep it flat on the work surface. This minimizes extended wrists while typing.
☑︎Select a keyboard that does not have the numeric key pad, if you don’t need it. Eliminating the key pad alleviates awkward or deviated postures of the right hand.
☑︎Use a mouse that requires your wrist or hand to perform the movement with your thumb pointing up. If the thumb is in a horizontal position, the wrist is likely extended and pressure in the carpal tunnel will increase.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Companies Prioritize Supply Chain Sustainability Due to Market Demand, Study Finds

According to a DNV GL survey of 2,160 professionals from businesses in different sectors in Europe, the Americas and Asia, supply chain sustainability is ranking higher on the corporate agenda as a result of greater consumer demand.

"Sustainable sourcing is a fast developing requirement, driven by customers," says DNV's Luca Crisciotti. "Companies that don't act will have a hard time competing."

Research findings show that 96% of companies consider sustainability aspects when choosing suppliers and making purchasing choices. They ranked the most important aspects as:

  • Low environmental impact (56%)
  • Worker safety and health (51%)
  • Economic aspects (43%)
  • Ethics (29%)

According to the study, 80% of companies experienced pressure from customers to demonstrate supply chain sustainability. Read more about the study and key corporate initiatives here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Idiots on Ladders Contest Brings Awareness to Ladder Misuse

The "Idiots on Ladders" contest, held by the Ladder Association is entering its third and most popular year ever. As part of the annual Ladder Exchange, the contest has received dozens of pictures highlighting both the worst and most dangerous examples of ladder misuse.

Spotlighting the importance of ladder safety and training, submissions can come from anywhere in the world. Then they are vetted by Ladder Association experts. The worst are added to the Idiots on Ladders album on the Association's Facebook page. The winning entry with the most comments and likes on Facebook by Dec. 31, 2014, will be announced in January 2015.

The Ladder Exchange campaign was initiated by Health and Safety Executive and was taken over by the Ladder Association in 2012. The program lets people trade in old ladders for new models at a discount. The group reports that the campaign is responsible for taking thousands of potentially dangerous ladders out of circulation.

Ladders can be traded through the Exchange website by contacting any of the trade-in partners participating in this year’s campaign.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

CPWR Introduces Resources for Spanish Speakers

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Hispanic construction workers are at higher risk of fatal injury than their non-Hispanic counterparts. According the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), Hispanic workers in the U.S. construction industry make up more than 20% of the workforce and approximately one-third of those workers only speak Spanish. To help address this issue, CPWR has released a number of resources for Spanish speakers. Resources include hazard alert cards, three short safety videos, a Spanish-language Day Laborers' Health and Safety Workbook, an accompanying trainer's guide and much more.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

OSHA to Hold Construction Safety & Health Advisory Committee Meeting, Accepting Nominations

OSHA will hold its next Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health meeting Dec. 3-4, 2014, in Washington, DC. Work groups will meet December 3, the full committee will meet December 4, and both meetings are open to the public. Comments and requests to speak are due by November 12 and may be submitted electronically at The agenda includes remarks from OSHA Administrator David Michaels and committee activity updates such as the communications tower initiative, and a presentation on 29 CFR part 1926, Subpart V, Power Transmission and Distribution.

In addition, OSHA is accepting nominations for eight new members to serve on the committee. Open member positions include three employee, three employer, one public, and one state safety and health agency representative(s). Nominations must be submitted by Jan. 2, 2015.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ASSE President Ennis at HSE Forum in Qatar

ASSE President Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM, (second from right) participated in an executive panel discussion at the 10th annual HSE Forum being held this week in Doha, Qatar. The event includes sessions on a range of topics, including OSH regulatory regimes, human and organizational factors, and process safety. Ennis will also be delivering a presentation on reputation risk management.

SeminarFest 2015 Preview: Achieving Business Excellence Through Risk Management

Fran Sehn, CSP, ARM, vice president and senior risk control consultant, is presenting "Achieving Business Excellence Through Risk Management" at SeminarFest 2015. Recently, Fran took some time to discuss why OSH professionals need to focus on risk management. Sehn is also the Administrator for the RMI.

Why risk? Why is it the new thing for safety professionals?
I think there are several reasons. As a profession one of the areas we have missed an opportunity is really assessing risk in its pure sense. Hazards have been the focal point for much of our profession for many, many years. Now when we start to drill into the uncertainties that create management issues and safety issues, I think risk is kind of the way to go. That’s where we need to be; we’re getting there, slowly. It’s just the mindset for so many years has been focused on the hazard identification process and correction, and now we need to take a leap forward – a leap of faith in some degree. I’m encouraged by it. I’ve been in this business for over 40 years and I have to say it’s about time.

What do you consider a successful risk management program?
Let’s look at it two ways. You can look at a risk management program that is involved in insurance purchasing and applying risk management to a variety of operations within the organization. That’s one thing – or you can take it from the perspective of the safety professional (that) looks at it as being sort of an ‘outside looking in’. Now we have to say, “Let’s integrate the safety profession as part of the entire risk management process.” Let’s identify risk, let’s treat risk, let’s deal with it from the perspective of minimizing and reducing it, and that’s where our opportunity is from the safety perspective. I think that’s where it really lies; the two tying together will move us in the right direction.

How do safety managers prove their ability to manage risk?
The safety manager now has to take a little different view of the entire safety management process. Here’s one of the opportunities we have – two ANSI standards, the ANSI/ASSE Z10 standard, and what we’re going to see with ISO 45001, a global standard for safety management, a major component of both is risk and risk assessment. I think the safety manager has to engage that part of the process in order to organizationally look at a variety of things. Branding, the business itself, how the business perceived – (they) are really challenged to say how do we look at risk differently than we have in the past…It’s going to change the perception of how the profession is going to be viewed. I think that’s a good thing. My personal goal is to help change the profession.

What ways do you think safety professionals can make inroads with business leaders to show their value as risk managers?

We have to get to the table with these guys, but we have to show the return on investment for safety. There’s no question in my mind. In addition to that, we have to talk the language of business. We have to look at the pieces like operational accountability, and how that impacts safety and the management systems, we have to look at it from the financial perspective and how safety is a cost. Instead of looking at it as a good thing for compliance, how can reduce risk and the cost of risk and therefore reducing our bottom-line cost as an organization. I think that’s been missing in many cases. We are now moving there. That’s a good thing.

How would you say safety professionals get out of compliance and into risk management?
I think it’s still an education process and I mean that sincerely. We have to come to events like SeminarFest and PDC’s and avail ourselves. Don’t go to them with things you’ve done in the past. Instead, look at how risk management and risk control and risk assessment will affect the safety component.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Characteristics of Successful Wellness Programs, Part 1

Wellness programs are proven to be an effective tool in lowering the cost of healthcare, boosting company moral and improving employee self esteem. According to Don Powell, president and CEO of American Institute for Preventive Medicine, companies that place a strong emphasis on wellness programs have proven to be more successful.
© Prikhodko

Unfortunately, there are some challenges associated with implementing a workplace wellness program, including low participation, employee engagement and resistance from upper level management. To help alleviate these issues Powell has identified 20 characteristics for successful employee wellness programs including support of key leadership, good communication and employee education.

Here are the first ten.

1) Health is a core business value. Companies that list health as a priority tend to have the most successful wellness programs Powell says. “Companies that are truly committed to comprehensive health and productivity programs will even have the health and well-being of employees as part of their mission statement,” he says.

2) Leadership involvement. Company leadership sets an example of good health. Active participation from leaders will encourage employee involvement.

3) Grassroots wellness champions. Anyone in the organization who has a strong interest in wellness can act as a leader for the rest of the organization.

4) Employees are proactively encouraged to access resources to live healthy lifestyles. Successful companies offer resources to encourage a healthy lifestyle as well as create a culture that allows employees to participate in wellness activities both on and off company time. 

5) Workplace environment. Workplace wellness initiatives are enhanced by an environment that makes it easy, convenient and acceptable to engage in healthy behavior. Incorporating healthy snack options in vending machines or offering heart-healthy options in the cafeteria can help create an environment that makes wellness the default option in the organization.

6) Program is branded. Creating a brand, whether it’s the name of the program, the tagline or the colors, helps employees recognize the programs available to them.

7) Multiple components. Companies that host multiple wellness events that provide a full array of activities experience the greatest return on investment for their wellness programs when compared to just one event, Powell says.

8) Communications materials. In addition to an array of activities, successful wellness programs are communicated using multiple communication methods, including emails, newsletters, calendars, posters, brochures and social media. In a large organization with multiple worksites, communication materials aid management in maintaining a consistent message that can reach all employees.

9) Maximize member participation. Use a variety of communication methods to publicize the program to engage employees and achieve the greatest level of participation. Communication with workers about wellness must be done on an ongoing, consistent basis to be effective.

10) Assessment activities. Assessments can help employers determine how unhealthy or healthy their teams are. Employers can use assessments as a tool to gauge the overall heath of the organization or to learn what motivates employees. 

Powell suggests these tips can aid organizations in the development and implementation of a high-performing, wellness program.

CSB Releases Preventing Incidents From Flammable Chemicals In Educational Demos Bulletin

CSB held a press conference on Oct. 30 to discuss the new “Key Lessons for Preventing Incidents From Flammable Chemicals in Educational Demonstrations" Bulletin.

The release details a series of key lessons learned from flash fire incidents in Reno, NV, Denver, CO, and Raymond, IL, where children were burned while observing laboratory demonstrations involving flammable liquid methanol.

The first incident explained in the bulletin is the Sept. 3, 2014, incident at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum in Reno, where 13 people, most of them children, were injured.

Just 12 days later, a similar accident occurred at the SMART Academy in Denver, severely burning a 16-year-old. Just 10 days before the bulletin’s release, three Cubs scouts and one adult were injured during a methanol demonstration in Raymond.

What all of these incidents had in common was that they involved flames with a color additive, with methanol being the flammable liquid. They all had flash backs to the methanol bulk containers and fire engulfed the audience who were not protected by any physical barriers.

The bulletin also included a segment about a 2006 incident that severely burned then-15-year-old student Calais Weber. That incident involved a demonstration of a chemical rainbow that involved combusting salts with methanol. CSB released a video about her story called After the Rainbow.

The key lessons outlined in the safety bulletin as a result of the CSB’s investigation into these incidents are as follows:

  • Due to flash fire hazards and the potential for serious injuries, do not use bulk containers of flammable chemicals in educational demonstrations when small quantities are sufficient.
  • Employers should implement strict safety controls when demonstrations necessitate handling hazardous chemicals — including written procedures, effective training, and the required use of appropriate PPE for all participants.
  • Conduct a comprehensive hazard review before performing any educational demonstration.
  • Provide a safety barrier between the demonstration and the audience.
For more information, please visit CSB’s site.

The OSH Value Proposition: “Enable Success Without Loss”

In his guest blog for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Andrew Sharman, vice chair of the board for Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, offers his take on safety and risk. Sharman, who is also the author of From Accidents to Zero, says there is a “massive misconception” that OSH professionals are “risk-averse, action-stopping do-gooders.”

“If we are to truly do our job of protecting people, planet and profit, we must face toward risk, not away from it,” he writes. He also believes that fear has skewed perceptions of safety risks. “The modern mantra associated with these safety risks is always, ‘But what if ?,’” Sharman says. Instead, OSH professionals should be asking, “What if we could?”

“The real value proposition for us as OSH professionals is our ability to take an inherently risky human endeavor and use our unique skill set to enable success without loss,” Sharman explains. “We engage employees and leaders in identifying actions that both decrease risk and increase the chance of success. We precisely define the risk problem, partner with our people to solve it and enable the satisfaction of organizational needs. We lead the effort to shift our corporate culture from polarized perspectives on risk to informed and balanced decision-making.”

Read Sharman’s complete “Shark-Infested Safety: Reevaluating Risk and Finding Freedom From Fear” post and view his video on the topic from TEDxLausanne in early 2014.

Friday, October 31, 2014

10 Elements for a Safe Driving Program

As reports, although OSHA does not regulate driving across the board, the agency has guidelines to help reduce vehicle crashes and advises employers to create a safety program that saves lives and reduces risk of injuries, protects the organization’s human and financial resources, and guards against potential company and personal liabilities. Along these guidelines, OSHA also supports Network of Employers for Traffic Safety’s program, which is centered around 10 elements.

  1. senior management commitment and employee involvement;
  2. written policies and procedures;
  3. driver agreements; 
  4. motor vehicle record checks; 
  5. crash reporting and investigation; 
  6. Select, maintain and routinely inspect company vehicles;
  7. disciplinary action;
  8. reward/incentive program;
  9. driver training and communication;
  10. regulatory compliance.

Occupational Safety in Home/Community Care

A new report from European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) focuses on emerging OSH risks in the healthcare sector, with a particular emphasis on home and community care. According to the report, the healthcare sector employs nearly 10% of the EU workforce--of which 77% are women.

Small work spaces, lack of training, and working solo with little or no supervision are just a few of the factors that contribute to the myriad hazards home healthcare workers face each day. These hazards include biological and chemical risks (such as needlestick injuries and handling hazardous substances), ergonomic risks caused by patient handling, and psychosocial risks due to long hours and potentially aggressive behavior from clients.

EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek says this focus on worker safety in the healthcare sector is overdue. "The care of patients is quite rightly the main priority—but sometimes this has been to the detriment of workers’ safety and health," she says. "We need to get the message across that, in order to achieve and maintain high-quality patient care, we must make workplace safety and health a priority." The problem is compounded by a growing shortage of skilled and experienced professionals, an aging workforce and the emergency of new care pathways to address multiple chronic conditions. The report examines all of these trends and presents several recommendations for current practice and future research.

Download the complete Current and Emerging OSH Issues in the Healthcare Sector report or review the executive summary. Learn more on healthcare worker safety on the EU-OSHA healthcare sector page.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CPSC Selects Winners of Safety Apps Challenge

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has selected the winners of its Safety Apps Challenge. The contest asked developers to create mobile apps to help users track recalls and safety incidents involving consumer products. The four winners and their apps are:

Safety Checker, by Tom Nguyen, Nashville, TN
The program gives consumers product safety information on the go. It also actively scans for matching relevant safety information to alert consumers to recalls and safety information about products they own and use regularly. Users fill out fields about a products or use scan a bar code. The app is available at  for iOS and Android.

Recall Pro, by Zech Kottilil, Germantown, MD
The app allows an online shopper to highlight a product for sale and have recall information displayed for that product.

Slice, by Slice team, Palo Alto, CA
The program analyzes e-receipts and alerts the user to delivery progress, price changes or recall information for purchased products. The program is available for iOS and Android users.

Total Recall 101, by Xian Ke, San Francisco, CA
This app checks user's e-mail for product purchases, matches referenced products against CPSC's recall list, and generates alerts, which are accessible on desktop or mobile devices.

Protecting Healthcare Workers From Splashes

In 2000, OSHA implemented the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA). NSPA is strongly enforced today and OSHA continues to require engineering and work-practice controls to effectively manage and/or minimize employee exposure.
For years, workplace safety programs in healthcare organizations have emphasized protecting healthcare workers from slips, falls and sharp objects. Although needlestick injuries, slips and falls get the most attention, non-sharps exposure poses a risk to healthcare workers as well. Splashes are another potential threat facing healthcare workers, says Jacie Volkman, board member for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) and owner of Safe Patient Surveys Inc., an infection prevention consulting company. According to Volkman, many healthcare organizations fail to address splash exposures, putting caregivers at risk of developing potentially fatal diseases.
Nurses and providers may contract infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and other pathogens from preforming daily activities. Splashes to the eyes, nose or mouth from emptying suction cups, washing bedpans, cleaning urine bottles or cutting open catheter bags poses a significant occupational hazard. A 2003 study revealed that more than more than one-third (39%) of registered nurses and one-fourth (27%) of licensed practical nurses experienced at least one of these types of mucocutaneous blood exposure in the previous 3 months.
The frequency of these types of exposures not only puts healthcare workers at risk, but it also desensitizes them to the danger and the need to take proper precautions.
“We’ve breed a culture of desensitization,” says Tom Jedowski, marketing manager at MEIKO USA Inc. “Workers would freak out if it was a pan full of blood, but because its something else people just pass it off as being part of the drudgery of care.”
The same study found that only about 73% of these splashes were reported. According to Volkman, many healthcare workers have accepted that splashes are an unavoidable part of the job, but another issue may have more to do with the time and cost that go into reporting an incident. Reporting a splash can be considered a hassle, she says. After an employee reports the incident, the worker and the patient must receive several tests, costing the hospital time and money, and if infections are found, a round of treatment is needed, costing even more time and money.
Even excluding the personally and emotional ramifications of exposure, many factors must be considered, says Volkman. Lost time, cost of exposure panels for both the patient and employee and any resulting healthcare costs are all burdens on the system.
To decrease splash exposures in a healthcare setting, which will in turn decrease organizational costs, a shift in culture is needed, says Volkman. Hospitals must change their safety culture. Senior leadership must endorse measures that will lead to a safer environment, which includes changes in systems, PPE and employee education.

  • Systems: Currently, many hospitals use a commode spray to clean urinals, bedpans or suction canisters, creating a severe risk of splash back, says Jedowski. Disinfection appliances, such as bedpan washers, can decrease the risk of splashes by eliminating the need to empty these devices into a toilet or hopper.
  • PPE: According to Volkman, PPE must be available everywhere. Having PPE readily available helps employees remember to wear it at all times. Many organizations use cabinet-type dispensers to display equipment to make it more apparent when the stock is low. Volkman also suggests using face masks with attached eye shields to help workers limit eye exposures as long as they are already protecting their nose and mouth.
  • Education: Whenever there is a change in practice, education is imperative. Compliance should be monitored as well as issues with any particular device or PPE.
Workplace safety programs have been successful in reducing injuries from slips, falls and sharp objects. With these changes, splashes risks can be reduced as well. “There is no magic bullet,” Volkman says, noting that it is up to individual organizations to understand the hazards in their facilities and design a program and environment to effectively manage these hazards to keep their workers safe.