Monday, March 31, 2014

Infographic Offers Tips to Reduce Back Pain

According to an infographic released by Dr. Paul Brisson and, lower back pain is the leading cause of workplace disability. "We've got you back"  details the importance of ergonomics in the workplace, while offerings shocking facts and preventative measures to reduce the risk of injury in your facitiy.

OSHA Publishes New HazCom Resources

OSHA has published two new resources to help employees create effective HazCom programs. "Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals" aims to help small businesses comply with OSHA's HazCom standard. It includes six steps to an effective program, a written sample of a HazCom program and a guide to training.

The other publication is a new fact sheet that describes the agency's recommended steps for implementing an effective HazCom program.

Video Touts Life-Saving Personal Flotation Devices

In 2010, the salmon skiff Paul Revere sunk in Alaskan waters. Its crew survived, thanks to the use of personal flotation devices (PFDs). Their story is recounted in new video from NIOSH, Paul Revere: A Story of Survival in Bristol Bay. The 10-minute video includes interviews with the skiff’s skipper and  crewman who survived for more than 2 hours in frigid water. According to NIOSH, a PFD eliminates the need to tread water and can insulate the body, slowing the onset of hypothermia. "With the help of PFDs, the crew was able to conserve energy for getting to shore, rather than having to expend energy to survive."

By sharing the story, NIOSH hopes to change perceptions and raise awareness of PFDs in order to reduce the number of man-overboard fatalities in commercial fishing. The agency reports that 191 commercial fisherman died in such incidents between 2000 and 2012.

Find more safety information on NIOSH Fishing Topic Page.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NSC Releases 2014 Edition of Injury Facts

This week, the National Safety Council (NSC) released the 2014 edition of Injury Facts®, which details up-to-date injury and fatality statistics and trends across the world.

By bringing together data from more than 30 different sources, Injury Facts provides safety and health managers with fast access to injury information as well as facts for benchmarking costs and creating safety programs.

According to NSC, “Injury Facts is a valuable tool to help leaders in business, government, public health, safety and the media understand that injury data are a necessary step to reducing injuries and fatalities and making our world safer for all.”

Among the more surprising statistics in the 2014 edition:
  1. Poisonings, including those from unintentional opioid prescription painkiller overdoses, were the leading cause of death in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The increase in fatalities corresponds with the national increase in deaths from drug poisonings, including those involving prescription painkillers.
  2. Cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26% of all motor vehicle crashes – up from the previous year.
  3. Nearly 5% of cell phone-related crashes involve texting, while 21% involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones
  4. In 2012, the number of teen motor vehicle occupant deaths decreased, but motor vehicle crashes remain the Number 1 cause of death for teens.
  5. Unintentional injuries cost more than $790 billion annually
  6. The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims are those involving injuries to the head or central nervous system.
  7. The number of elder adult falls has risen 112% since 1999.
  8. Motor vehicle deaths in 2012 were at their lowest level in February and at their highest in July.
  9. The three-day period around New Year’s Day was the holiday period with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving deaths.
Click here to access a free recording of a webinar addressing highlights from the 2014 edition of Injury Facts or visit for more information.

7 Steps for Returning Injured Employees to Work

Effective return-to-work programs can help reduce a company's workers' compensation costs, improve employee morale and compel employees to participate in an active recovery. Business and Legal Resources provides seven steps to help make returning to work a success.
  1. Develop a return-to-work policy for consistency.
  2. Establish a central point of contact for the injured employee.
  3. Contact the injured employee and start an interactive process.
  4. Provide information to the treating physician about the injury and the job.
  5. Research and evaluate possible accommodations, and keep in mind the needs of the employee and organization.
  6. Establish a timetable for returning to work.
  7. Encourage and support the employee's recovery. 
Visit for more information.

NIOSH Report Evaluates MSDs in Poultry Processing

NIOSH has issued the final report based on its health hazard evaluation at a South Carolina poultry processing plant. The final report reflects baseline information reported in September 2013 and incorporates further findings from follow-up data collection and analysis. NIOSH found that:
  • 42% of workers in the study had evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • 41% of workers in the study worked in jobs involving hand activity and force above recommended limits for minimizing risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Of the 131 employees who participated in both the baseline and follow-up evaluations, at follow up 32% were performing job tasks that were above the recommended limits for hand activity and force.
  • The most common reported  symptom involved the hand or wrist, with 39% of participants reporting these symptoms at both baseline and follow-up evaluations.
  • 57% of these participants reported at least one musculoskeletal symptom (not including hand or wrist symptoms) at both baseline and follow-up evaluations.
According to the report, between the baseline and follow-up visits, the plant combined two evisceration lines, each operating at 90 birds per minute, into one line operating at 175 birds per minute. This change did not affect the number of birds each worker processes per minute. NIOSH adds that the evaluation results "may not reflect the increased prevalence of adverse health effects that might be experienced by workers in other plants that use different methods of increasing line speed." 

In the report, NIOSH recommends reducing the amount of hand activity and force; changing work schedule and rotation patterns and policies; and improving work practices related to tool and equipment use.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Infographic: Six Steps for Lockout/Tagout

A new infographic from OSHA Pros USA outlines the 6 basic steps of lockout/tagout as specified in OSHA standard 1910.147 on controlling hazardous energy.

TSA Report Identifies New Measures to Ensure Safety and Security of Airport Employees

A new report by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) outlines proposed changes to its policies, procedures and operations based on the Nov. 1, 2013, shooting at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 

The shooting that killed Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez and injured two other officers and a traveler at LAX prompted TSA to review its policies and procedures in an effort to enhance the safety and security at airports across the nation. The report, “Enhancing TSA Officer Safety and Security at Airports: Agency Actions and Path Forward,” outlines the actions TSA took immediately following the shooting and new procedures that will enhance the safety and security of TSA employees nationwide. With the participation and feedback from internal and external stakeholders, TSA was able to compile a comprehensive action plan that mandates active shooter training and exercises, recommends bi-annual training for airport employees and empathizes the importance of reinforcing emergency procedures.

The report outlines several significant changes that will improve security at checkpoints nationwide, including:
  • Enhanced Training, Communications and Employee Support
    • Mandatory active shooter training and exercises;
    • Recommending bi-annual training for airport operators;
    • Reinforcing emergency procedures through daily supervisor review and mandatory bi-annual evacuation drills;
    • Keeping employees informed of actions taken;
    • Providing ongoing access to grief counseling;
    • Improving Federal Air Marshals notification regarding active shooter incidents; and
    • Supporting changes to first responder policies and training in responding to active shooter incidents.
  • Equipment and Technology
    • Routinely testing existing alert notification capacity (“duress” alarms);
    • Expanding duress coverage at screening locations across the country;
    • Encouraging linkage of duress alarms to CCTV systems; and
    • Using alternate local airport emergency phone numbers.
  • Law Enforcement Officers at Checkpoints – Presence and Response
    • Issuing recommended standards for law enforcement presence at checkpoints and ticket counters during peak travel times;
    • Ensuring explicit inclusion of maximum response times in Airport Security Programs operating under a flexible response plan; and
    • Extending the temporary redeployment of certain VIPR teams to airports.

Click here to view the report.

OSHA Accepting Nominations for National OSH Advisory Committee

OSHA is seeking nominations for its National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. The committee advises the secretaries of labor, and health and human services. Twelve committee positions are available: four public representatives, two labor representatives, two management representatives, two occupational safety professional representatives and two occupational health professional representatives. Nominations are due May 27, 2014, and may be submitted to See the Federal Register notice for more information.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ten Safety Tips for MIG Welding

Metal inert gas (MIG) welding presents various hazards, including arc flash exposure, molten metal spray, dangerous metal vapors and noise hazards when grinding. However, by following these tips from MIGWelding: The DIY Guide, some of these risks can be mitigated.

  1. Protect all skin from ultraviolet light generated during welding, including arms and legs which can become severely sunburned while welding. Wear heavy clothing because light layers can be burned through by molten blobs of metal spit out by the weld.
  2. Do not look directly at a welding arc, even for a short time, as this causes the arc flash to burn the cornea, resulting in severe pain.
  3. Warn others in the area before starting to weld and use a welding screen when there is potential for passersby.
  4. Zinc coatings should be removed from galvanized steel prior to welding, as fumes from these coatings can cause heavy metal poisoning, a flu like condition that lasts several days.
  5. All welding should be performed in a well-ventilated area to protect welders from fumes that emit chromium and ozone.
  6. If extraction is not ideal, wear a vapor mask.
  7. Perform a risk assessment of the area in which you weld. Molten metal can spit several feet away, and any objects or debris, such as sawdust, that can easily catch fire must be removed from the work area.
  8. Keep a fire extinguisher next to the exit door of your workspace. This extinguisher should be ready to use, with the plastic tie removed for immediate response to a potential fire.
  9. Wear ear protection when using grinders, hammers and drills.
  10. When grinding, wear goggles with impact-resistant lenses that do not have direct air breathing holes that may allow sparks to enter.
Find more information here.    

BCSP to Embed Formulas in All Its Certification Exams

According to BCSP, formula reference sheets will no longer be needed for its certification exams because it is now embedding necessary formulas within its examinations. The organization says this practice is currently in place for the CSP and ASP exams, and "will soon apply to all certification examinations that require a formula to calculate the correct answer."

BCSP still encourages candidates to study the formulas that are applicable to the Blueprint areas from various references and know now to correctly use or modify the formulas when necessary.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NFPA Music Videos Teach Kids About Fire Safety

To help kids learn about the importance of fire safety, NFPA has released two new music videos featuring Public Broadcasting System's Steve Rosnolek of SteveSongs and the children's band Recess Monkey. The videos "Little Rosalie" and "What's That Sound?" educate young children about the importance of fire safety and help them remember what to do in the event of a fire.

"Little Rosalie" is about a young girl and her brother who learn the four essential steps to take when they hear a smoke alarm go off. "What's That Sound?" features a flying smoke alarm that takes kids on a ride of musical genres while teaching them what to do when they hear a smoke alarm.

The videos are available on the Sparky School House website.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Preventing Eyestrain in the Office

According to a report by the Vision Council, nearly 70% of U.S. adults experience some form of digital eyestrain caused by prolonged use of computers, TVs, tablets and smartphones. Common symptoms of digital eyestrain include dry eyes, blurred vision, headache and neck, back and shoulder pain. Although  60% of adults spend more than 6 hours in front of digital devices daily, 41% have never tried to reduce their digital eye strain, often because they do not know how to.

To prevent eyestrain, office workers can use these methods provided by Vision Council and Prevent Blindness:

•Adjust the brightness of your device and change background colors from bright white to cool gray. Attaching a glare reduction filter to the computer screen can also be beneficial.
•Frequently dust and wipe screens to reduce glare.
•Adjust the screen so that it is directly in front of your face and slightly below eye level.
•Position yourself and your device so that there is sufficient distance (20 to 26 in.) between your eyes and the screen.
•Use an adjustable chair.
•Choose screens that can tilt and swivel.
•Use a document holder placed next to your computer screen. It should be close enough to prevent considerable head movement or change in eye focus.
•Use lights that lessen glare and reflections.
•Reduce the amount of overhead and surrounding light that is competing with your device's screen.
•Increase text size to better define the content on your screen and adjust settings until your eyes feel comfortable.
•Remind yourself to blink often. Star
ing at screens can affect blinking frequency, causing eyes to dry.
•Take a 20-20-20 break. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
•Visit an eye doctor for a dilated eye exam to ensure that you are seeing clearly and to detect any potential vision issues.

EU-OSHA to Focus on Key OSH Research Areas to Reach Its 2020 Goals

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has determined four areas for occupational safety and health (OSH) research that will help it reach its 2020 goals, as outlined in a report titled "Priorities for Occupational Safety and Health Research in Europe: 2013-2020." The four areas are demographic change; globalization and the changing working world; safe new technologies; and new or increasing occupational exposure to chemical and biological agents.

Of the key areas, EH-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatscheck says, "EU-OSHA has a key role to play in ensuring that high-level OSH research is translated into practical, grassroots workplace solutions. It is vital that the agency coordinates the research and communicates the risks to both workers and employers," she says. As the agency follows-up with the report, it will host a seminar this year to discuss further OSH research priorities and next steps.

Visit the EU-OSHA website to learn more.

Friday, March 21, 2014

NIOSH Seeks Participants for Disaster Research Initiative

The NIOSH Disaster Science Research Initiative (DSRI) was launched early this year to help ensure the safety and health of disaster responders. The agency says it is creating an approach to timely and measurable responder-based research that can be used before, during and after large-scale disasters.

Visit the NIOSH website to learn how you can participate in the DSRI.

OSHA's National Safety Stand Down on Falls

Falls from elevation continue to be the leading cause of worker fatalities in construction, accounting for 269 of the 775 construction fatalities recorded in 2012. To help prevent future incidents, OSHA has declared the week of June 2, 2014, a national safety stand down to prevent falls in construction. OSHA encourages employers and workers alike to take time during that week to discuss fall prevention topics, such as ladder safety, scaffolding safety and roofing safety.

OSHA has launched a website to provide guidance on conducting a successful stand down at individual workplaces. The site provides various educational resources, including:

OSHA's fall prevention training guide.
•Fall prevention fact sheets in English, Spanish, Polish and Russian.
•Posters in English and Spanish.
•Fall prevention wallet cards in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
•English/Spanish ladder safety booklet.
Scaffolding e-tool.
•Videos in both English and Spanish covering topics such as floor openings, fixed scaffolds, bridge decking, reroofing and leading edge work.

Following the stand down, employers will have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience and receive a certificate of participation.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

FEMA Offers Tips to Help Americans Protect Homes and Businesses During Floods

As part of National Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 16-22), FEMA is offering practical advice and recommendations the to help homeowners prepare for floods:

  • Get flood insurance. Most policies have a 30-day waiting period before a policy can take effect. If you live in an area prone to flooding, consider investing in an insurance policy early.
  • Keep drains, gutters and downspouts clear of debris. Unclear draining systems can lead to backups that can increase you risk for flooding. Ensure all downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area.
  • Elevate your appliances and electric panel. If you live in an area with a high flod risk, consider installing your furnace, water heater, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 in. above the projected flood elevation. All electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) should also be raised at least 12 in. above the home's projected flood elevation.
  • Have an escape plan. Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family.
  • Build an emergency kit. Disaster supply kits should have basic items you may need in the event of an emergency including food, water and other supplies that can last for at least 72 hours.  Kits should include insurance documents, medications and critical items in case you need to leave your home for a few days.
  • Have a family contact. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case your family is separated during a flood. Everyone should know the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
Additional flood preparedness resources and materials are available at

FMCSA Proposes to Log Driver Hours Electronically

DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a proposal that would require commercial truck and bus companies to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to better comply with regulations that determine how many hours a driver can work. FMCSA reports the electronic reporting would not only improve the quality of logbook data, but it would reduce the heavy paperwork load and driver fatigue. In addition, the agency reports the ELDs would "ultimately reduce hours-of-service violations by making it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their time and avoid detection by FMCSA and law enforcement personnel."

Visit FMCSA's website for more information.

ASSE to Host Safety in Manufacturing Virtual Symposium

With the resurgence of manufacturing, we're likely to see growth in the nearly 12 million people who work in this sector. With that growth comes a greater need for safety professionals to focus their attention on the unique safety issues found in a manufacturing setting.

To address this need, next week ASSE will host Safety in Manufacturing: Management Techniques and Technical Best Practices, a virtual symposium featuring experts from the manufacturing sector. The live 3-day event will take place online March 25-27. The sessions will be recorded, so if you can't make all of the live sessions you can watch the recordings at your convenience.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fire Safety and Green Buildings

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding new research by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute to examine and reduce fire safety concerns regarding green buildings. The three-year project is a follow-up to a 2012 report by Worcester Polytechnic Institute researchers that was commissioned by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The initial research identified 78 common features of green buildings that can potentially pose fire-related risks. Green building attributes identified in the report generally fell into 8 categories:

•structural materials and systems, such as lightweight construction materials and extended solar roof panels;
•exterior materials and systems, including structural integrated panels and PVC rainwater catchment;
•facade attributes;
•interior materials, such as wood panels;
•interior space attributes;
•building systems and issues, including high-volume, low-speed fans and refrigerant materials;
•alternative energy systems;
•site issues, such as permeable concrete systems.

Potential hazards identified in the report include:

•Lightweight engineered lumber that uses less material than typical lumber could present additional risks during fires because it may collapse more quickly than conventional timber construction.
•Vegetative roof systems present a flames spread concern and may affect firefighter access and operations.
•Rigid foam insulation and spray-applied foam insulation present several hazards, including that they are readily ignitable, produce significant smoke, show a faster fire growth rate, and potentially cause toxicity and explosion hazards.
•Exterior solar shades and awnings may affect occupant evacuation during a fire.
•Double-skin facades and cavity walls have the potential to cause additional spread of smoke and flames if system failure occurs.

An article in NFPA Journal provides more information.

NIOSH Highlights Silica Research

During an OSHA public hearing on the proposed rule for establishing new permissible exposure limits for respirable crystalline silica, NIOSH researchers talked about health effects of exposure to respirable crystalline silica and the agency's work to develop recommendations and controls for preventing worker exposures. Dr. Paul Schulte, director of NIOSH’s Education and Information Division, led NIOSH panel.

In 1974, NIOSH published the “Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica,” recommending that the exposure limit be reduced to 50 μg/m3, the level indicated in OSHA’s proposed rule. Since the, NIOSH researchers has studied the use of engineering control technology in areas such as grinding concrete, sandblasting, rock drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), cutting fiber cement siding, tuck pointing and asphalt milling. Occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica are related to long-lasting adverse health effects such as silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), airways diseases, autoimmune disorders, chronic renal disease, and other adverse health effects. These adverse effects are preventable, NIOSH says.

"As NIOSH research has shown, the proposed OSHA standard is measurable by techniques that are valid, reproducible, attainable with existing technologies, and available to industry and government agencies," the agency concludes.

OSHA has created and posted its Deadly Dust video, which you can view below, and ASSE has also weighed in on the proposed rulemaking

LIA Revises Standard for Safe Use of Lasers

For the first time in 7 years, Laser Institute of America (LIA) has updated ANSI Z136.1, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers. The standard provides guidance on the safe use of lasers and laser systems by defining control measures for the seven laser hazard classifications.

According to LIA, secretariat of the standard, changes to the standard are extensive, and focus on improving usability. "Significant increases in the maximum permissible exposure in the near-infrared will enable a plethora of new laser applications," says Ben Rockwell, chair of the Accredited Standards Committee Z136 Standards Subcommittee 1. "Several sections were rewritten to reorganize, update and improve technical content to allow for easier access to information necessary for everyday laser safety implementation."

The standard is available through LIA's online store.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Infographic: Do You Get Enough Sleep to Stay Alert?

National Sleep Foundation has released an infographic on the importance of sleep and how sleep debt can affect one's alertness. A 2008 study by National Sleep Foundation found that 29% of respondents had fallen asleep or experienced severe sleepiness at work in the past month and 36% had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving.

MSHA Offers Ladder Safety Resource for Metal/Nonmetal Industry

MSHA has published a guide on ladder safety for the metal/nonmetal mining industry to help ensure that inspectors, miners and operators are all working with the same information. The guide was developed in response to stakeholder inquiries seeking clarification about ladders and their use.

"Improper use and maintenance of ladders in metal/nonmetal mines can have serious consequences, including injury and death," says MSHA Administrator Joseph Main. "As with other compliance initiatives undertaken by the agency in recent years, I expect our ladder safety guide will result in improved compliance, more consistent enforcement, and, ultimately, reduced injuries and deaths of miners."

Available in PowerPoint and PDF formats, the guide covers ladder construction and maintenance; requirements specific to fixed and portable ladders; underground ladders and travelways; and the differentiation between ladder standards and safe access standards.

The guide, along with other stakeholder material, is published on the MSHA website.


NFPA App Provides First Responders With Guidance on Electric/Hybrid Vehicles

NFPA has created a new mobile app for first responders on how to handle incidents involving electric and hybrid vehicles. NFPA says that such vehicles present "their own layout of batteries and cables that can be hazardous unless you know here to find the safe points to cut during an extrication."

The agency's NFPA EV Guide app or the NFPA/Moditech Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Emergency Field Guide (as titled in Apple iTunes), is designed for electric and hybrid vehicle incidents involving damaged high-voltage batteries, battery fixes, extrication challenges, submersion and charging stations. According to NFPA, the app features 32 new vehicles and updated technical data provided by manufacturers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

OSHA: New Educational Resource on Injury Recording Requirements for Temporary Workers

Last week as part of an ongoing effort to improve the safety and health of temporary workers, OSHA released an educational bulletin detailing requirements for both staffing agencies and host employers for injury recording of temporary worker injuries and illnesses.

The Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first in a series of guidance materials to be released as part of OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative to raise awareness about OSHA requirements for temporary workers that ensures temporary workers receive the same training and protection as existing workers. According to the agency, this bulletin will help businesses determine who is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log.

With support of the American Staffing Association, OSHA will continue its effort to produce and provide valuable information for both host employers and staffing agencies on how they can work together to make sure their workers are properly trained and protected.

For more information and resources on temporary workers visit

EU-OSHA Publishes Report on OSH Risks in the Hairdressing Sector

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has published a report on OSH risks in the hairdressing sector. According to the agency, more than 1 million people work across 400,000 salons across this industry. These workers face risks such as skin disorders, work-related asthma, musculoskeletal disorders and chemical exposure. The report discusses the nature of the industry and its workers, and the industry's occupational safety and health risks, as well as outlines an agreement between European groups and the actions they are taking to address risk prevention and worker protection in this sector.

EPA Finalizes Fuel & Vehicle Standards to Reduce Emissions, Improve Public Health

After extensive research and more than 200,000 public comments, EPA has finalized emission standards for cars and gasoline that will reduce harmful pollution and increase efficiency. These standards are part of the agency's Tier 3 Program, which is a comprehensive approach to reducing the impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and the public health. EPA reports the standards are an "important component" of its national program, and once the standards are in place, they will help avoid up to 2,000 premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory aliments of children.

Additional benefits of the standards include:
  • Fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards covering model year vehicles from 2012 to 2025 are projected to save Americans more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.
  • A reduction in vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants will by up to 30%.
  • By 2018, EPA estimates the program will annually prevent between 225 and 610 premature deaths and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by about 260,000 tons.
  • By 2030, total health-related benefits will be between $6.7 and $19 billion annually. 
Visit EPA's website for more information.

Friday, March 14, 2014

NIOSH Calls for Abstracts for Total Worker Health Symposium

NIOSH has issued a call for abstracts for its First International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health, which is slated to run Oct. 6-8, 2014, in Bethesda, MD. Abstract submission deadline is March 24, 2014.

According to the agency, the symposium will explore research, practices, programs and policies that advance the overall safety, health and well-being of workers through integrating occupational safety and health protection with health promotion, to prevent worker injury and illness and to advance health and well-being.

The event will seek to advance the tenets of NIOSH's Total Worker Health Program. This approach recognizes that work-related factors, as well as those beyond the workplace, jointly contribute to the various safety and health challenges facing workers. The NIOSH Total Worker Health strategy champions interventions that address all of those factors comprehensively, in a harmonized way, and supports the idea that coordinating and combining programs that address these factors can achieve greater effectiveness.

OSHA Extends Comment Period for Chemical Safety Standards

OSHA has extended the comment deadline on potential revisions to its process safety management standard, related standards and other policy options related to chemical incidents. Stakeholders now have until March 31 to submit comments regarding potential changes to the following:

Find more information here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Safety Services Co. Offers Free Poster, Consultation on Sleep Awareness in the Workplace

To help employers combat workplace fatigue, Safety Services Co., which provides safety and compliance training products and services, has created a free downloadable poster on workplace sleep awareness. "Fatigue is a major issue facing workplaces today," says Safety Services Co.'s Michael Rich. "It not only reduces productivity, but increases the possibility of injury. We hope this poster will remind workers of some of the important steps they can take to battle fatigue."

In addition to the poster, the company is offering complimentary consultations on fatigue management policy development through the end of March 2014. For more information, call (877) 201-8923, or visit the website to download the poster.

NIOSH Study Reveals Health Care Workers Lack Training on Hazardous Chemicals

A new study released by NIOSH found that healthcare workers who routinely come in contact with hazardous chemicals lack the training and awareness necessary to effectively protect themselves from exposure.

In 2011, more than 12,000 healthcare workers participated in a web-based study administered by NIOSH, which indicated that there is an overall  lack of awareness of employer procedures and information available on safe handling practices associated with use of hazardous chemicals.

This study is the first of a series of reports, which describes current practices used by healthcare workers to minimize chemical exposures as well as challenges associated with using recommended personal protective equipment. The agents NIOSH studied were antineoplastic agents, high level disinfectants, aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, surgical smoke and chemical sterilants.

Study findings include:
  • Workers administering aerosolized antibiotics were the least likely to have received training on their safe use (48 percent reported they were never trained), followed closely by those exposed to surgical smoke.
  • Workers most likely to have received training were those who administered antineoplastic drugs (95 percent) and those who used hydrogen peroxide gas plasma as a chemical sterilant (92 percent).
  • For those exposed to surgical smoke, 40 percent did not know if their employers had safe-handling procedures. For those exposed to anesthetic gases, 25 percent did not know.
  • Those who administered antineoplastic drugs were least likely to report that they did not know whether their employer had procedures for minimizing employees' exposure (3 percent).
  • Chemical-specific training and awareness of employer safe-handling procedures varied by employer work setting (ambulatory health care services versus hospital).
According to NIOSH, the findings from this study will to help the agency and other stakeholders better understand current health and safety practices related to working with hazardous chemical agents, identify knowledge gaps and design further research to bridge those gaps. The study results are published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ASSE Urges OSHA to Withdraw Electronic Reporting Proposed Rule

In comments submitted for the record, ASSE urged OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, until it develops clearer objectives and a stronger rationale for requiring establishments with 250 or more employees to submit quarterly electronically their injury and illness records and summary data annually; establishments with 20 or more employees to submit electronically the annual summary form; and certain employers to submit electronically other information on notification from OSHA.

In its comments, ASSE stated that it did not believe OSHA has explained adequately how collecting the information will actually improve workplace safety or how OSHA will manage the information collected. ASSE also said that publishing the information collected will hinder efforts by EHS professionals to focus companies on preventing hazards rather than reporting of injuries. On Jan. 9, ASSE Government Affairs Committee Chair James Thornton shared similar comments during OSHA’s public meeting on the proposed rule.

Tips to Identify Employee Drug Abuse

According to National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc., employers spend $81 billion annually as a result of employee drug abuse. Drug abuse costs to employers include those associated with lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft, low employee morale, health care increases, legal liability increases and workers' compensation costs.

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine have collaborated to study workplace safety and health issues associated with worker impairment from drugs. The study will take place over the next several months and aims to address new concerns regarding medicinal marijuana use as well as the effects of other mind-altering substances.

Meanwhile, an article in EHS Today presents the following signs of employee drug problems that employers and safety professionals should watch for:

  • Changes in job performance.
  • Inconsistent work quality.
  • Poor concentration and lack of focus.
  • Lowered productivity or erratic work patterns.
  • Increased absenteeism or on-the-job presenteeism.
  • Unexplained disappearances from the jobsite.
  • Carelessness, mistakes or errors in judgment.
  • Needless risk taking.
  • Disregard for safety of self and others.
  • Extended lunch periods and early departures.
  • Other workplace behavior changes.
  • Frequent financial problems.
  • Avoidance of friends and colleagues.
  • Blaming others for one's own problems and shortcomings.
  • Complaints about problems at home.
  • Deterioration in personal appearance or personal hygiene.
  • Complaints, excuses and time off for vaguely defined illnesses or family problems.

Infographic Explains Job Hazard Analysis

A new infographic from explains the concept of a job hazard analysis (JHA). According to the website, a JHA is a step-by-step method that analyzes a job or task to determine its potential and actual dangers or hazards. "In a JHA, tasks are broken down into a series of basic steps. Each step is analyzed for hazards, and safe work practice are developed to reduce or eliminate these hazards," says the site.

The infographic aims to help personnel conduct an effective JHA and provides resources for more information. Visit to view the complete infographic.

Get Your Innovation Recognized (And Win $3K to Boot!)

Image: ©istockphoto/Ivelin Radkob
Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about innovation. He once said, "I want to put a ding in the universe." Talk about accomplishing a mission.

In many ways, EHS professionals put a ding in the universe each day as they help people stay safe on the job. Eliminating hazards, improving safety knowledge and increasing efficiency all take innovation and it's worth sharing your story. Tell the SH&E community what you've done and how its outcome has returned positive benefits by submitting an application for the inaugural Innovation Award in Occupational Safety Management. Applications for the award, from ASSE and Cintas, are due March 31 and can be submitted online.

“Only through world-class practices and continual innovation can we drive the [safety] industry forward,” says Cintas's Dan Braun. ASSE President Kathy Seabrook hopes the award will "inspire organizations around the world to create and execute on ideas that proactively promote safety and health performance."

An independent panel of industry experts will judge submissions. The winner will receive a $3,000 cash prize and commemorative plaque, which will be presented at ASSE's Safety 2014 conference in Orlando, FL.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Viral Safety: Getting Buy-In Across the Board

Image: ©
Most safety professionals can share stories of safety initiatives that were met with employee and management skepticism, or worse, just fell flat. This may have left them scratching their heads, wondering why what they thought was a can't-miss initiative didn't succeed.

In "Safety Gone Viral: How to Get Innovations Adopted" (March 2014, ASSE's Professional Safety), Dianne Stober advises EHS professionals to apply two principles from social science:
  1. know where people relate to adopting change;
  2. understand the characteristics of the innovation that will influence whether individuals will adopt or reject the change.
"People vary in how ready they are to adopt change," Stober explains. "When it comes to new initiatives or innovations within a group, individuals tend to fall into predictable categories of who adopts a change when." Citing sociologist Everett Rogers work on diffusion of innovation, Stober recommends that EHS professionals identify who in their workplaces fall into these five categories:
  1. Innovators: The first people to adopt change.
  2. Early adopters: Trendsetters who scan constantly for innovations and are willing to entertain new ideas.
  3. Early majority: Like new ideas but need observable results to adopt a change.
  4. Late majority: Less comfortable with new ideas, but typically join, somewhat reluctantly.
  5. Laggards: Find change to be risky and uncomfortable.
"Being able to identify who is in what category can improve any safety professional's plan for getting a new initiative adopted," Stober says. She also provides a case example that offers readers a clear explanation of how an innovation can be move through the different groups of adopters to achieve the all-important critical mass that's needed to achieve organizational change.

World Steel Association Launches Steel Safety Day

World Steel Association (worldsteel) announced its plans to launch a Steel Safety Day to coincide with International Labor Organization's World Safety Day on April 28. According to worldsteel, the safety day represents its commitment to the safety and health of those who work in the steel industry.

The event is intended to reinforce awareness of the five most common causes of safety incidents and to create a safer working environment globally throughout the industry.

"Worldsteel is requesting all its members as well as all related organizations within the steel industry to carry out a special audit on the five main causes of safety incidents in all plants around the world," says Worldsteel's Edwin Basson. "This should engage both employees and service providers involving as many as four million people in total."

DOT Effort to Improve Safety of HazMat Shipments by Rail

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issued a call to action to discuss how stakeholders (e.g., shippers, rail company executives) can prevent and alleviate the consequences of rail incidents that involve flammable liquids. The call to action reports that almost 1 million shipments of hazardous materials move across the U.S. each day, and while most arrive safely, accidents "can and do occur." Improvement efforts focus on operation classification, regulatory actions, safety communications and alerts, federal agency coordination, and safety education and awareness. The executive summary is available online for more information.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Still Time to Enter NAE's Student Video Contest

There are still a few weeks left to enter the National Academy of Engineering's video contest, Engineering for You (E4U), open to students in middle school and up. Contestants are invited to submit a 1- to 2-minute video that focuses on how engineering serves human welfare and the needs of society. Contestants can choose any time period between 1964 and 2064 for their video. One grand prize winner will receive $25,000, while $5,000 will go to the People’s Choice award winner. Category prizes will also be awarded. Entries to E4U are due March 31, 2014.

Friday, March 7, 2014

OSHA Extends Comment Period Concerning Process Safety Management Standard

According to OSHA, the public now has until March 31, 2014, to submit comments on the request for information on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard. The request for information was issued in response to an executive order concerning the April 2013 chemical disaster in West, TX. The executive order, arising from that incident, was issued to seek out chemical facility safety and security improvements. OSHA reports that the request for information also seeks information on rulemaking and polity options, and the workplace hazards they address.

Working at Height Twitter Symposium

Image courtesy Stone Technical Services/AIF
Access Industry Forum (AIF) will host the U.K.’s first-ever Twitter symposium devoted to working at height on Wednesday, April 16. During the 1-hour session, participants will be able to ask experts about everything from ladders, mobile access towers and PPE to industrial rope access, edge protection and façade access.

Questions can be submitted in advance to AIF. On the day of the event, participants will need to include the hashtag #WAHQ in their tweets, or direct their post to @AIFworkatheight. AIF director Peter Bennett says the event a convenient way for managers, supervisors and users to get answers about any aspect of working at height. Learn more on AIF’s website or check out the group's Twitter feed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Former OSHA Administrator Joe Dear Dies

Joseph A. Dear, former OSHA Administrator, died on Feb. 26, 2014. Appointed by President Clinton in 1993, Dear was OSHA Administrator until 1997.

In a statement on his passing, OSHA said that during his leadership of the agency, “Joe made a series of lasting impacts that we are still benefitting from to this very day. He was a bold and forward-thinking leader who embraced innovation, bringing technological advancements to the agency that have revolutionized the way we do our work.”

In ASSE's response to Dear's passing, ASSE President Kathy Seabrook says, "We remember Assistant Secretary Dear as a creative, dedicated leader who worked hard to advance better protections for workers and to modernize OSHA. He was instrumental in beginning an effort to partner with stakeholders like ASSE, supported the professional involvement of osha employees in professional groups like ASSE, and always valued the views of the safety, health and environmental profession."

In a piece about Dear yesterday, ISHN recalled that he led the agency during a time that reinvented OSHA as more customer focused and solution oriented, a focus it maintains two decades later.

In a statement on his passing, AIHA acknowledged Dear’s strong support of its efforts and his recognition of the importance of OSH professionals’ knowledge and expertise in protecting workers. “He will be remembered and sorely missed for his efforts to protect workers."

"Few are called to provide the highest level of leadership in the occupational safety and health community and even fewer accept that difficult challenge," says Seabrook. "We all benefited from his lifelong dedication to public service and, so, are all lessened by his loss."

New Resources for Spanish-Speaking ASSE Members & SH&E Professionals

ASSE offers information and resources to its growing membership in Latin America and Spain through its new website in Spanish. This website will better connect ASSE with diverse audiences and will expand the benefits for its Spanish-speaking members. With this new Spanish language platform, ASSE reaffirms its commitment to these audiences and aims to increase the interest in the SH&E profession.

In addition to the website, ASSE will be offering a full track of educational sessions in Spanish at Safety 2014. The general sessions will offer Spanish translation making the event more accessible to Spanish speakers and attractive to the growing Hispanic market.

Monday, March 3, 2014

ESFI Offers Power Line Safety Tips for Outdoor Workers

Overhead power lines can create a major safety hazard for anyone working outdoors with, or near, power lines. According to a study by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) at least 116 workers die each year from contact with overhead power lines, making it the most common cause of worker electrical fatalities. What’s worse is that high-voltage electricity can jump to anyone who gets too close, meaning direct contact is not entirely necessary to cause injury. ESFI recommends workers always stay at least 10 ft away from power lines and their connections, and always consider power lines to be energized and dangerous.

ESFI offers these safety tips for those working outdoors, near power lines:
  • Look up before raising a ladder, pole, truck bed, crane or any other equipment to make sure that it is within a safe distance, which is usually 10 ft, from any power lines.
  • If using a crane or derrick in construction maintain a clearance of 20 ft from power lines. Consult for clearances for all voltages.
  • Never trim trees that have high-voltage power lines going through them, or touch any tree limb that may fall into a power line.
  • Only use nonmetal and non-conductive ladders made of fiberglass or wood when working near overhead power lines.
  • Stay at least 10 ft away from a downed power line and any nearby objects, such as a fence or a tree limb.
  • Never touch a person who is in contact with a downed power line, instead, call 911 immediately.
  • Before beginning any digging project, contact your electric company to identify underground power lines.
Click here for more information on resources power line safety.