Friday, January 31, 2014

AIHA Publishes 2013 Compensation Survey Report

AIHA has compiled the results of its 2013 Compensation Survey and published it in a report, which is now available in the AIHA Marketplace. Designed to allow industrial hygienists to evaluate their compensation as compared to the industry average, the report breaks down data by factors such as industry, education, experience, certifications held, scope of responsibility and geographic location.

EPA Releases Guidance for Moisture Control in Buildings

EPA's publication "Moisture Control Guidance for Building Design, Construction & Maintenance," includes information on water behavior basics in buildings, how dampness can affect health, how to design effective moisture controls, and how to operate and maintain moisture-controlled environments. The publication is ideal for professionals who design, build, operate or maintain buildings, as well those who deal with heating, ventilation and air condition equipment.

The publication also includes a roof inspection checklist, an HVAC inspection checklist, and various resources that help evaluate the effectiveness of moisture control.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New CSB Video Illustrates Fatal Explosion at Tesoro Refinery

CSB released a new safety video today detailing a 2010 fatal explosion and fire at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes, WA. The five-minute animation breaks down the process of "high temperature hydrogen attack," which over the years damaged and weakened a nearly forty-year-old carbon steel heat exchanger, leading to a catastrophic rupture in April 2010. The video follows the release of a CSB investigation that concluded that the incident at Tesoro could have been prevented had the company replaced the weakened heat exchangers with inherently safer alloys.

According to CSB Chair Rafael Moure-Eraso, “The accident at Tesoro could have been prevented had the company applied inherent safety principles and used HTHA resistant construction materials to prevent the heat exchanger cracking. This accident is very similar to the one that occurred at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California in August 2012, where corrosion of piping went undetected for decades until it ruptured, endangering the lives of 19 workers caught in a vapor cloud and sending 15,000 community members to the hospital. Companies must do a better job of preventing refinery accidents, which occur all too frequently.”

The report, released this week, offers wide spread recommendations to the EPA and the Governor and State Legislature of the State of Washington to more rigorously protect workers and communities from these types of potentially catastrophic chemical releases.

For more information and to view the video, visit the CSB website.



Are Your Cosmetics, Soaps & Skincare Products Safe? Find Out Using New Database

A new database compiled by the California Safe Cosmetics Program allows users to search for the cosmetic products they use or provide to their customers or employees and gain information about the chemical ingredients of those products.

All cosmetic products sold in the state of California that contain hazardous or potentially hazardous ingredients must be reported and are then listed in the database. These products include all non-soap products that are applied to the body for cleansing, beautifying and/or altering appearance. Additionally, soaps, shampoos, shower gels and other similar products must be reported if they claim cometic enhancements such as softening, moisturizing or deodorizing.

When viewing a particular product listed in the database, consumers can find a list of ingredients that may be harmful, as well as information about the potential health risks associated with those ingredients and the uses of the product that pose the most significant hazards to users. For example, some products contain ingredients that are hazardous only when absorbed by the skin while others are most hazardous when inhaled.

Find the database here.

Applications for NASA Women in STEM High School Program Due Feb. 3

NASA's 2014 Women in STEM High School (WISH) Aerospace Scholars program encourages young women to get a head start on their careers and explore the possibilities within the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Applications for the 2014 WISH program are due Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Program participants (approximately 30 will be chosen) will chart a course for human exploration of space and interact with NASA female role models, NASA scientists and others who can serve as mentors.

Visit NASA's website to learn more about qualifications and how to apply.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

FMCSA Finalizes Rule to Shut Down Carriers Based on Patterns of Safety Violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a patterns of safety violations rule, which implements the agency’s authority to shut down a bus or truck company if the company, or a company officer, has a history of purposely violating federal safety regulations. The rule is one new enforcement tool the agency has developed in recent years to target high-risk carriers that endanger travelers by avoiding or covering up their negative history of safety compliance.

FMCSA intends to apply the rule in egregious cases in which it finds that a motor carrier has committed a pattern of unsafe practices, even if that particular investigation alone does not result in a downgrade of the carrier’s safety fitness rating. The new rule complements a rule adopted by the agency in 2012 to apply out-of-service orders to reincarnated or chameleon carriers and to consolidate their enforcement histories. This rule goes one step further by authorizing a complete revocation of the motor carrier’s authority to operate. Click here for more information.

Survey Shows Stress is Overlooked in Health and Safety Occupations

A new study by MySafetySign revealed that stress and overworking are among the most overlooked workplace concerns. The 2014 MySafetySign Health & Safety Industry Survey, MySafetySign's first annual survey, explores issues in health and safety in hopes of gaining deeper insight into the main challenges facing SH&E professionals today.

MySafetySign surveyed 470 SH&E professionals from a wide range of industries including manufacturing, construction, health services, and oil and gas. According to survey results, psycho-social issues make-up 3 of the top 5 safety concerns not being given enough consideration the workplace. Responses show 24% of professionals cite stress and 20% cite overworking as the leading issues being overlooked in their facility, and an additional 8% indicate that bullying and harassment also need more attention.

"Physical dangers are typically well covered by health and safety training and processes," says Krissa Cavouras, knowledge manager of MySafetySign. "What our report has highlighted is a lack of focus on more hidden dangers like stress, overwork, and bullying."
Click here to view the full survey .

DOE Infographic Explains Home Heating to Consumers

A portion of the
Energy Saver 101 infographic
The Energy Saver 101 infographic, from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is a resource to help consumers learn about home heating. From how heating systems work to the different types available to proper maintenance, the infographic is a visual tool that aims to makes sense out of staying warm in a home. The infographic also provides tips to decrease heating costs (e.g., use a programmable thermostat) and to save energy (e.g., clean the electric baseboards' heating coils). Visit the DOE website to view the infographic.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HSE Offers Simplified Guidance For Working at Height


Falls from height continue to be a leading cause of workplace injuries and deaths. As part of an ongoing effort to make improves in this area, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has overhauled its guidance for working at height, providing simplified advice, debunking common myths, offering targeted advice for risk management and helping workers realize their own responsibilities for working safely at height.

Without changing regulations, HSE has launched simplified guidance for working at height. New web pages offer users resources such as, industry specific information, a step-by-step guide for risk management, FAQs, the Work At Height, Access equipment Information Toolkit (WAIT), and brief guides for ladder use and work at height.

ANSI Student Paper Competition 2014 Deadline Is April 30

ANSI's 2014 student paper competition is open to students currently enrolled at the associate, undergraduate or graduate level at an academic institute of higher learning. All papers must be submitted by 5 p.m. (EST) on April 30. This year, students are asked the question, How are standards and conformity assessment critical components in addressing emerging business challenges?

According to ANSI, all entries will be reviewed by industry experts and winning selections will be published on ANSI.org, StandardsBoostBusiness.org, StandardsLearn.org and other potential outlets. For more information on how to enter, view the paper competition flyer.

NPR Reports on Spike in Oil & Gas Industry Deaths

NPR’s “All Things Considered” recently reported on the increase in fatalities in the oil and gas industry. That industry’s fatality rate is 8 times higher than the overall rate, and in 2012, the industry had 100% more worker deaths than in 2009. The authors, Andrew Schneider and Marilyn Geewax, discuss the issues surrounding the increase, including the demanding work of that industry and increased hiring due to retiring baby boomers and new hydraulic fracturing technology, which adds up to fewer experienced workers and more inexperienced workers.

Read the article or listen to the story, and then tell us what you think. What can government agencies do to address this problem? Is enforcement enough? What else can industry do to improve the survival of its workers?

Monday, January 27, 2014

OECD Says Switzerland Needs to Improve Its Approach to Mental Health Issues in the Workforce

According to a new OECD report, Switzerland needs to do more to help people with mental illnesses find a job or stay employed.

In Switzerland, about one in three people on unemployment, disability or social assistance benefit has a mental illness. The unemployment rate of people with mental illnesses is more than double the overall rate.

A more effective approach would help workers and firms alike: mental health issues are estimated to cost the Swiss economy billions, equivalent to 3.2% of gross domestic product per year, in lost productivity, healthcare and social spending.

OECD says employers should be given more responsibility to address mental health issues in the workplace and should work together with insurers: comprehensive employee follow-up and return-to-work planning can reduce absence days. Employers should also be required to contact the disability insurer quickly when health issues arise for one of their employees.

Employment services also need to play an active role, says the report. They need to identify and address jobseekers' mental health issues early on in close cooperation with the health sector. 

Disability benefit reforms in the past decade successfully reduced the number of new benefit claims. However, the disability benefit caseload remains high, and reforms aimed at bringing current claimants back into the labor market, especially those with a mental illness, have yet to deliver better outcomes.

According to the OECD report, health services are accessible in Switzerland, and the number of treating psychiatrists is much higher than in any other OECD country. However, treating people with the aim of helping them get back to work is not widespread, and no link exists between health and employment services or between workplaces and doctors. Other countries are experimenting successfully in this field.

Change is also needed in other areas, says the report, notably the education system. Youth with mental illnesses who drop out from upper-secondary education or vocational school do not receive any support. Job prospects for the low-skilled have fallen in the past decade, and disability benefit claims of youth with a mental illness keep rising despite successful disability reforms.

OECD recommends that Swiss authorities:

--strengthen the prevention of sickness absences in the workplace and reduce the impact of absences through intensified return-to-work efforts;
--enhance the capacity of employment services and social welfare offices to address their clients' mental illnesses;
--move the disability benefit system closer to the work sphere with a focus on the role of employers and workplace-oriented early interventions;
--ensure that the mental health system is better placed to deliver good employment outcomes also by promoting a better allocation of resources toward adequate doctor training.
--place greater emphasis on ensuring that students with mental illnesses do not leave the education system early.

Click here for more information.

OSHA Extends Comment Period on Silica Rule

OSHA announced today that it is extending the comment period on its proposed silica rule to Feb. 11, 2014. The extension comes in response to an error on www.regulations.gov, the federal government's online portal for rulemaking comment submissions, which may have prevented stakeholders from successfully submitting comments.

The proposed rule was introduced in September 2013 and aims to reduce worker exposure to crystalline silica, which has been identified as a cause of lung cancer, silicosis, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease when inhaled.

To read more about the proposed rule, click here. To submit comments, visit www.regulations.gov.

MSHA Implements Corrective Actions From 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

MSHA reports it has taken corrective actions to implement the 100 recommendations that were published after the fatal Upper Big Branch mine explosion, which killed 29 miners in April 2010. The agency says the internal review aimed to identify lacking areas or shortcomings to improve mine safety and health. "The result was one of the most comprehensive internal reviews in MSHA history, and the most extensive improvements at the agency in decade," says MSHA Administrator Joseph Main.

Among the changes, the agency revised mine inspection procedure handbooks; created a centralized system for improved oversight and policy guidance; modified the Mine Plan Approval database; and created a national mine rescue organization to provide guidance on rescues. Visit MSHA's website to view a complete list of the corrective actions.

Cintas Identifies Seven Strategies for Improving PPE Performance

According to BLS data, many injured workers admit to not wearing PPE. Cintas Corp. offers seven recommendations for improving PPE performance:
  1. Keep PPE in a central location. The firm recommends investing in a PPE cabinet that is part of a managed program to keep gear adequately supplied and maintained.
  2. Ensure that ear plugs fit correctly and comfortably. Often the reason for not wearing hearing protection is that it is uncomfortable.
  3. Offer antifog eye protection, particularly in high-humidity environments.
  4. Match gloves to hazards and seasons. Organizations should match hand protection to the tasks being performing, conditions of the work and duration of use.
  5. Check protective apparel for imperfections. Arc flash gear must be checked regularly for imperfections to ensure that employees are properly protected.
  6. Provide hard hats in various types and classes, and make sure that workers know when to use each type and class.
  7. Offer safety training to supplement PPE use. Protective gear are only effective when the user is knowledgeable and responsible about the equipment. Workers should complete training that highlight job hazards, the importance of PPE and how to properly wear it.
"PPE protects workers from a wide variety of job hazards and keeps organizations in compliance with safety regulations," says Cintas’s Jay Bruscato. "However, being overprotected is just as hazardous as being underprotected. Organizations should partner with a safety provider that can provide samples, help with PPE selection and ensure PPE best practices are followed."
Photo credit: ©Cintas/Neil Beer

Friday, January 24, 2014

CPWR Publishes Training Videos Based on NIOSH FACE Reports

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) has created a series of short videos that add dimension to several NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation(FACE) reports. Each training video is based on the true story of a fatal construction incident.
 
Videos include:
  • “Look Up and Live,” about the dangers of aluminum ladders around power lines;
  • “No New Year,” about a trench collapse;
  • “A Simple Task,” about a fall from a ladder.

The videos are posted on the CPWR YouTube channel, and are accompanied by links to relevant Toolbox Talks, handouts and the original NIOSH FACE reports.

New HazCom Standard Classification of Combustible Dusts

OSHA has released a memo to address the classification of combustible dusts under the new HazCom standard. OSHA's HazCom standard was revised in March 2012, at which point it became aligned with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS does not contain a classification for combustible dust hazards, so OSHA amended the definition of "hazardous chemical" to include combustible dust in its HazCom standard.

The memo clarifies that where there is evidence that a product has been involved in a deflagration or dust explosion event, it should be classified as a combustible dust. Additionally, when results of accepted tests are available for a product, it should be classified in accordance with those results. When test data is unavailable and the product has not been involved in a deflagration or explosion event, manufacturers and importers may use published test data on similar materials or use information on particle size to determine the product's combustible dust hazard.

Read the complete memo here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

NHTSA Proposes New Side Impact Test for Car Seats


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed upgrades to the federal motor vehicle safety standard on child-restraint systems to protect child passengers in side-impact vehicle crashes. 

Under the proposal, car seats would be tested using a specially designed sled test that simulates a “T-bone” crash. This first-ever side impact test simulates both the acceleration of the vehicle and the vehicle door crushing toward the car seat in order to provide parents and car-seat manufacturers with new data on how car seats perform in side crashesAccording to the proposal, car seats must demonstrate their ability to safely restrain a child, preventing head contact with an intruding vehicle door and reducing force trauma to the child’s head and chest. NHTSA estimates that the proposal would save five lives and prevent 64 injuries every year.

The agency has proposed a 3-year timeframe for manufacturers compliance upon final rule publication. Members of the public have an opportunity to comment on the agency's proposal for 90 days. Visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/ for more information.



Study Examines Older Firefighters' Ability to Handle Heat Stress

According to a study published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, older firefighters may be better able to tolerate longer periods of work in arduous environments before they feel affected by the heat, as compared to non-heat-exposed workers who would need to stop work sooner. Prior to this study, research had been conducted examining the physiological strain in young and middle-aged firefighters, but responses of older and more experienced firefighters had not been studied.

“We found that the firefighters experienced reduced subjective feelings of thermal and cardiovascular strain during exercise compared to the non-firefighters,” says Glen Kenny, Ph.D., School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, in Ontario, Canada. He says this is “potentially indicative of greater heat resilience in firefighters due to the nature of their occupation.”

Interestingly, the researchers found no difference in the levels of thermal and cardiovascular strain between the older heat-exposed firefighters and non-heat-exposed older workers. However, the non-heat-exposed workers felt more heat stressed relative to the older firefighters, and felt that the work performed was physically more challenging.

“If you have older workers who work in the heat, they are in a better position to handle working in the heat as compared to their non-heat-exposed counterparts,” says Kenny. “Our discovery is especially important given recent findings that aging can decrease an individual’s ability to dissipate heat and therefore work in hot environments,” Kenny concludes.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/debibishop

Nominations Open for ASSE Triangle Award

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for his or her heroism and dedication to colleagues and the SH&E profession? If so, submit your nomination for the ASSE Triangle Award, which honors those who go above and beyond to protect people, property and the environment. In its second year, the award was created to honor the 146 victims of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York, NY.

Nominations are due March 15, 2014. The award will be presented in conjunction with 2014 NAOSH Week on May 7, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Natural Disaster Preparation Checklist for the Workplace

Though the threat of certain types of natural disasters varies by location, every workplace runs the risk of being hit by an unexpected event caused by weather or other environmental factors. In the January 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety, a checklist provides workplaces with the following tips to prepare for a natural disaster:

  • Be aware of the natural disasters that could occur in your area. These include floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, severe storms, extreme cold, extreme heat, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis and wildfires.
  • Have your facility evaluated by a trained safety or emergency management professional for potential hazards.
  • Look into the history of your location to see which types of natural disasters have occurred in the past and how frequently.
  • Create an evacuation plan and practice it often. Asking for employee suggestions and insight can help make employees feel involved in the process and therefore more enthusiastic about participating.
  • Write your plan so that copies can be distributed to all employees, including those in remote locations.
  • Ensure that you have the appropriate supplies on hand to deal with a natural disaster.
  • In the event that your business is spread out (e.g., employees are working on an oil rig or a construction site), have a system in place that uses apps, text messages, phone calls and sirens to alert employees of imminent danger.
  • Have a media relations policy in place in the event that information needs to be released after a catastrophic event. Prepare press releases ahead of time that can easily be tweaked during an emergency.
  • Ensure that all data is backed up on a regular basis and have a set of approved vendors in place for quick replacements of equipment and bringing on temporary employees, if necessary.
  • Ensure your company has the proper insurance policy in the event that a natural disaster does occur.
  • Most importantly, evaluate and update your plan on a regular basis. Having a plan that was created years ago may not be sufficiently up to date to deal with the most serious risks.

Highway Safety Group Grades States on Safety Laws

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety has published its 2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. The report rates states’ highway safety based on how many optimal laws they have enacted. Advocates has identified 15 optimal highway laws on which to base its rating system. New in this year’s report is the inclusion of a primary enforcement seat belt law covering passengers in the rear seating positions. States are given ratings of green (good), yellow (caution) and red (danger).

“The release of this report provides states with a clear roadmap to close deadly loopholes in traffic safety laws,” says Catherine Chase, Advocates’ Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “Governors and state elected officials have no excuse as to where they should focus their safety priorities.”

Encouraging news is that in 2014, three states were upgraded from yellow to green: Hawaii, Indiana and Maine. At the other end of the spectrum, seven states (Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee) were downgraded from green to yellow, while five states slid into the red: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Dakota.

Along with the report, Advocates names its best and worst states when it comes to highway safety.

The best:
District of Columbia
Illinois
Oregon
Delaware
Hawaii
Indiana
Maine
Rhode Island
Washington
California
Louisiana

The worst:
South Dakota
Mississippi
Arizona
Iowa
Montana
Nebraska
Alabama
Florida
New Hampshire
North Dakota
Wyoming

“The tragic and life-altering consequences of motor vehicle crashes are predictable, preventable and perilous,” says Georges Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association. “States have the solutions at hand—they are right here in Advocates’ Roadmap Report. Yet, inaction in passing basic, commonsense laws continues to jeopardize the lives and well-being of our nation’s motorists.”


EPA Closer to Implementing Electronic Tracking System

EPA issued a final rule that allows the use of an electronic manifest (e-Manifests) system to track hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The e-Manifest system will replace the current paper-based system. Overall, the system is used to to track shipments of hazardous waste from a generator's site to the ultimate disposal site or waste management facility. EPA's Mathy Stanislaus says the agency's action "is a key step in bringing the oversight of these potentially dangerous materials into the 21st century."

EPA reports the e-Manifest system could potentially reduce preparation of shipping manifests between 300,000 and 700,000 hours, saving more than $75 million per year for states and the industry. The agency also reports that the final rule establishes the legal and policy framework, but several additional steps must be taken before total implementation. Visit EPA's e-Manifest website for complete information.


NTSB Releases Top 10 Most Wanted List for 2014

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its 2014 Most Wanted List, the agency’s top 10 advocacy and awareness priorities for 2014. For the first time, the list includes improving operational safety in rail mass transit. Many of the agency’s investigation reports on mass transit have identified the need for safety improvements, particularly regarding safety culture and operational practices.

"The traveling public relies on a safe and efficient transportation system. Yet, every year, we see over 35,000 fatalities," says NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "That's why we have the Most Wanted List: Steps we can take today so that more people make it home tonight."

The complete list:
  • address unique characteristics of helicopter operations;
  • advance passenger vessel safety;
  • eliminate distraction in transportation;
  • eliminate substance-impaired driving;
  • enhance pipeline safety;
  • improve fire safety in transportation;
  • general aviation: identify and communicate hazardous weather;
  • implement positive train control systems;
  • promote operational safety in rail mass transit;
  • strengthen occupant protection in transportation.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

State Farm Survey Shows Drivers Unprepared for Roadside Emergency

Two-thirds of drivers admit to having junk in their trunks instead of items that could be of use during a roadside emergency. That’s what State Farm found when it conducted a survey with the help of KRC Research. Among the more strange items in people’s trunks: an old gorilla costume, an inflatable sheep and a wedding dress.

What should be there instead? According to State Farm, these emergency roadside items are essential for helping drivers stay safe in the event that they become stranded on the road, particularly during winter months.
  • hazard triangle (with reflectors) or road flares;
  • first-aid kit;
  • jumper cables;
  • windshield scraper and brush;
  • spare tire;
  • blankets and extra warm clothing;
  • cell phone and charger;
  • high-calorie, nonperishable food;
  • road salt or cat litter to help with tire traction;
  • brightly colored distress sign or flag (“Help” or “Call Police”);
  • candle/matches, lighter and/or flashlight;
  • tarp for sitting or kneeling in the snow for exterior work such as changing a tire change.

Visit the State Farm website for more information about winter roadside safety.


OSHA Extends Nominations Deadline for FACOSH

The public now has until March 10, 2014, to submit nominations for OSHA's Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH). The agency is seeking to fill positions for two federal agency management representatives and three labor organization representatives. Members of FACOSH will advise the secretary of labor on OSH matters including how to reduce injuries and illnesses within the federal workforce, and how to create and maintain effective OSH programs. Find more information in the Federal Register notice.