Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Report Details Safety Culture & Climate in Construction Workshop

A new report, "Safety Culture & Climate in Construction: Bridging the Gap Between Research & Practice," reveals outcomes from a recent workshop that focused on safety culture and safety climate and how the two impact worker safety and health in the construction industry. The workshop, held by NIOSH and the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), provided sessions on ways to measure safety climate, interventions for improving safety climate, and how to define safety culture and climate in construction. In addition, the event helped identify steps that construction industry stakeholders can take to improve safety culture and safety climate. Such steps include improving site safety leadership, aligning and integrating safety as a value, optimizing management commitment and ensuring accountability.

The report includes descriptions of each session, session handouts, a list of safety culture and climate assessment tools, and results of participants' workshop evaluations. Visit CPWR's website to view the report.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Workers' Memorial Day Is Today

Today is Workers' Memorial Day. It is a day to remember and recognize those who died on the job or suffered from exposures to workplace hazards. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) says this year marks the 25th anniversary of Workers' Memorial Day in the U.S., and many events are taking place throughout the nation today to help the cause.

Visit AFL-CIO's We Are One website to discover local events, or visit the AFL-CIO Workers' Memorial Day website to download information, toolkits, posters and much more.

Friday, April 25, 2014

EPA Announces Top 100 Companies Using Green Energy

EPA announced its list of Top 100 U.S. organizations using renewable energy. Through its Green Power Partnership, the agency chose organizations that use electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar power. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says these groups are doing their part to reduce carbon pollution and succeeding in business while doing so. "Making cleaner choices to power our communities, institutions and businesses reduces the pollution that contributes to climate change, protects America's health and environments, and supports continued growth in the green power sector," McCarthy says.

Here are the top 10 organizations listed in the Top 100 list:
  1. Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA)
  2. Kohl's Department Stores (Menomonee Falls, WI)
  3. Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, WA)
  4. Whole Foods Market (Austin, TX)
  5. Google Inc. (Mountain View, CA)
  6. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Bentonville, AR)
  7. Staples (Framingham, MA)
  8. Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)
  9. City of Houston, Texas
  10. U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, DC)
Visit EPA's website to see the complete list.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

National COSH Publishes 'Preventable Deaths 2014' Report

A report released by National Council on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), "2014 Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities" says that more than 50,000 U.S. workers die each year due to occupational injuries and illnesses. Key findings include:
  • At least 4,383 workers died from sudden traumatic injuries in 2012.
  • Tens of thousands of workers die each year form long-term occupational illnesses.
  • Nearly 700 deaths can be prevented each year by adoption of a standard limiting workplace exposure to silica. 
The report also includes National COSH recommendations that address these workplace fatalities:
  • Enhance workplace safety and health programs.
  • Create stronger standards and regulations.
  • Provide more access to OSHA services in multiple languages.
  • Allow workers to file complaints.
  • Provide public access to national fatality data.
  • Strengthen and update OSHA laws.
  • Work on immigration reform.

New Guidance on Emergency Communications Strategies for Buildings

Fire Protection Research Foundation has issued “Guidance Document: Emergency Communication Strategies for Buildings.” The document is derived from a full project report by National Institute of Standards and Technology and was developed to address needs identified by NFPA's Technical Committee for Emergency Communication Systems, which created NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

“While we know that effective communication strategies are critical in the event of a building emergency, there’s been little guidance on how to best communicate to occupants and ensure an effective, safe emergency response,” says Amanda Kimball, a research project manager for the foundation. Along with providing guidelines for the planning, design, installation and use of emergency communications systems, the guidance document addresses ways to test messaging from a comprehension and occupant-response perspective. It also offers sample messaging for five different emergency scenarios.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NRC Launches New Career Opportunities Website

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) launched its new Career Opportunities website to appeal to those seeking employment. The agency redesigned the job portal site to improve on their first impression to the public with "enhanced maneuverability and the most up-to-date information, all while embodying the NRC work style and attitude." NRC reports it hires an estimated 200 new staff members each year in engineering, nuclear science and security fields.

In addition, if you're interested in beginning or expanding your SH&E career, ASSE offers its Job Board website for those seeking employment or hiring.

CSB West, TX, Investigation Highlights Regulatory Failures

CSB investigative photo from West Fertilizer explosion.
The preliminary findings of CSB's investigation of the April 17, 2013, ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizer explosion and fire in West, TX, focus on shortcomings in existing regulations, standards and guidance at the federal, state and county level. “The fire and explosion at West Fertilizer was preventable. It should never have occurred," says CSB Chair Rafael Moure-Eraso. "It resulted from the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion, and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it.”

According to investigators, one key issue is the lack of a state-level fire code. “Local authorities and specifically—local fire departments—need fire codes so they can hold industrial operators accountable for safe storage and handling of chemicals,” Moure-Eraso says. At the county level, McLennan County’s local emergency planning committee did not have an emergency response plan for West Fertilizer, leaving the community unaware of the potential hazard at West Fertilizer despite the fact that the hazards of AN fertilizer are well known, CSB explains. The group cites several cases, including a 2001 explosion in France that caused 31 fatalities, 2,500 injuries and widespread community damage. In the U.S., a 1994 incident caused 4 fatalities and 18 injuries. A July 2009 AN fire in Bryan, TX, led to a widespread evacuation of residents.

CSB’s investigation also reveals that lessons learned during emergency responses to AN incidents—in which firefighters perished—have not been effectively disseminated to firefighters and emergency responders in other communities where AN is stored and utilized. "On April 17, 2013, West volunteer firefighters were not aware of the explosion hazard from the AN stored at West Fertilizer and were caught in harm’s way when the blast occurred," the agency states. CSB also believes guidance from groups such as NFPA and DOT is vague and in need of greater harmonization.

During the news conference to announce the preliminary findings, Moure-Eraso acknowledged several positive steps in the industry following the disaster. The Fertilizer Institute has established ResponsibleAg, an auditing and outreach program for fertilizer retailers. The Institute also partnered with Agricultural Retailers Association to distribute “Safety and Security Guidelines for the Storage and Transportation of Fertilizer Grade Ammonium Nitrate at Fertilizer Retail Facilities,” which also contains recommendations for first responders in the event of a fire. "However," Moure-Eraso explains, "there is no substitute for an efficient regulatory system that ensures that all companies are operating to the same high standards. We cannot depend on voluntary compliance.”

NFPA Reports on Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires

Although smoke alarms are known to save lives, nearly 5 million households still do not have smoke alarms installed. In fact, according to an NFPA report, three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" also reports:

  • 96% of U.S. households have at least one smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms were present in 73% of all reported home fires, but were functioning in only 52% of all reported home fires.
  • 37% of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms.
  • 23% of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate.

NFPA offers several tips for testing and maintaining smoke alarms:

  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms.
  • Replace smoke alarms after 10 years.
  • Test smoke alarms every month.
  • In smoke alarms with long-life batteries, if the alarm chirps, replace the entire device. Batteries of other types should be replaced every year.
  • Ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are more responsive to smoldering fires. A combination of both types is recommended for the best protection.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

EPA Updates 'How's My Waterway' website

With EPA's updated version of the How's My Waterway website, users can check the water quality of U.S. lakes, rivers and streams. The online tools use GPS technology or a zip code or city name provided by the user to provide quality information. EPA reports the new version includes data on local water drinking sources, watersheds and efforts to protect waterways. It also provides a map-oriented version that is designed for touch screens, museum kiosks and displays.

The agency will host a free public webinar on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at 2 p.m. (EDT) to explain the new features.

CSB to Release Deepwater Horizon Report June 5

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard/Atlanta Area
As part of a statement issued to recognize the fourth anniversary of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, CSB Chair Rafael Moure-Eraso announced that the first two volumes of the agency’s investigation report on the explosion will be released June 5. “The forthcoming CSB investigation report has a singular focus: preventing such an accident from happening again,” Moure-Eraso said, adding this report will explore issues not fully covered elsewhere, such as:
  • new findings concerning the failures of a key piece of safety equipment (the blowout preventer); 
  • a comparison of the attributes of regulatory regimes in other parts of the world to that of the existing framework and the safety regulations established in the U.S. offshore since Macondo. 
  • in-depth analysis of needed safety improvements in organizational factors, such as the industry’s approach to risk management, corporate governance of safety management for major incident prevention and workforce involvement through the life cycle of hazardous operations.
Volume 1 will summarize events leading up to the explosions and fire on the rig, while Volume 2 will present several new critical technical findings. CSB expects to issue Volume 3 (regulatory oversight of the offshore industry) and Volume 4 (contributing organizational and cultural factors) later in 2014. For the latest updates, visit

Rana Plaza 1 Year Later

Gilbert Huongbo, International Labor Organization Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, is in Bangladesh to mark the 1-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers. In a video from ILO News, Huongbo talks about the challenges facing employers, government and the international community, and what can be done to help improve the safety and health of workers not only in Bangladesh, but in other developing regions as well.

Look for the Best Practices article, “Supply Chain Safety: Emerging Initiatives in the Aftermath of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh,” by Bethany Harvey, in the upcoming May 2014 issue of ProfessionalSafety, to read perspectives about what can be done to improve safety and health for workers in the Bangladesh garment industry and other developing countries.

OSHA Safety Stand-Down Aims to Prevent Falls in Construction

Guest Post From Jim Maddux, OSHA
On May 17, 2012, 28-year-old temporary worker Adrien Zamora was sent up a scaffold to do restoration work on the façade of an 11-story luxury building in New York City. He was working in an area that was not protected with guardrails and should have been wearing a safety harness secured to an anchorage point. But he was not wearing any fall protection gear. His employer had not even provided him with required training on routine safety measures like fall prevention.
At the end of a hard day of work, Zamora and his coworkers were cleaning up when he slipped from the unguarded scaffolding and plunged 40 ft, landing headfirst on a construction shed below and losing his life. His wife and two young daughters will never forget the day he didn’t come home from work.
Stories like this are not uncommon. In fact, falls remain the leading cause of death in construction, accounting for more than one-third of deaths in the industry. In 2012 alone, 269 workers died from falls in construction. For those who survive a fall, injuries can be extremely painful and costly, preventing them from continuing to work. For employers, the cost of falls can be so burdensome that their business is jeopardized. National Council for Compensation reports that these falls can result in such serious injuries that the average workers' compensation for a lost-time claim is close to $100,000 per case.

To raise awareness on falls and provide training materials for employers, in 2012 OSHA partnered with the NIOSH to create the Fall Prevention Campaign. “Preventing falls in the construction industry benefits everyone, from the worker, to the employer, to the community at large,” says NIOSH Director John Howard. The campaign emphasizes that planning ahead, providing the right equipment and training all employees in proper use of equipment can save lives. OSHA has conducted more than 1,000 workshops on fall safety, produced low-literacy fact sheets and other publications and produced 10 fall-prevention videos in English and Spanish in an effort to reach workers all over the nation.

As part of the ongoing effort to prevent falls in construction, OSHA has announced a national safety stand-down for fall prevention in construction, June 2 to 6. During the stand-down, employers and workers are asked to pause their workday to talk about fall prevention in construction and discuss topics such as ladder safety, scaffolding safety and working on roofs. The national safety stand-down website offers information on how to conduct a successful stand-down, resources for employees and workers, and an opportunity to receive a personalized certificate of participation after completion of a stand-down.

“We’re working with employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH plans and civic and faith-based organizations to host safety stand-downs that focus on recognizing hazards and preventing falls,” says OSHA Administrator David Michaels. “We are getting the message out to America’s employers that safety pays and falls cost.” Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has also issued a video statement on the stand-down, detailing the best ways to get employers and workers involved.

ASSE is also encouraging its members to participate. "This effort provides the Society and its members with a great opportunity to demonstrate safety and health professionals’ leadership in reducing the leading cause of death in construction," ASSE says. If you have any questions about how to get involved, contact ASSE's Dave Heidorn or Tim Fisher.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Campaign Wants Pedestrians, Drivers to "See Tracks? Think Train!"

Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) has launched a new campaign to reduce fatalities around railroad tracks. The "See Tracks? Think Train!" campaign highlights common risks that pedestrians and drivers take, such as trying to beat a train at a grade crossing and walking on railroad tracks. According to OLI's Joyce Rose, people often don't realize how dangerous it is to walk on or near tracks, or how long it takes a freight train to stop. A fully loaded train can take a mile or more to completely stop, making it extremely difficult for train engineers to avoid a collision.

"Every day someone's risky behavior around railroad tracks gets them injured or killed," says OLI's Joyce Rose. "Our goal with this campaign is to make people think twice before doing something risky or unsafe."

Federal Railroad Administration data show 908 pedestrians injured or killed while walking on or near railroad tracks last year--an increase of more than 7% over the previous year. Another 1,193 people were injured or killed at railroad grade crossings, which is a 1.5% increase over the previous year.

"Transit ridership on trains, light rail and streetcars are at their highest levels since the 1950s," says Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan. "That growth carries with it a safety challenge, especially in this day and age of constant electronic distraction."

Friday, April 18, 2014

FAA Extends Final Helicopter Safety Rule Deadline

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has extended the compliance deadline for the helicopter safety rule to April 22, 2015. The agency says that the 1-year extension will provide industry personnel with necessary FAA materials and adequate time to adapt their manuals and provide training to pilots.

FAA issued the final rule to require helicopter operators to have stricter flight rules and procedures; improved communications and training; and additional on-board safety equipment. The agency reports that the extension was granted due to industry feedback and so that it can develop guidance materials.

For more information, visit the Federal Register.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Roadway Safety Guide

The Roadway Safety Foundation has published its 2014 Roadway Safety Guide: A Primer for Community Leaders. The 90-page guide is available online and addresses safety issues associated with new engineering treatments and emerging technology. Using checklists, diagrams and case studies, the guide is easy to read and navigate.

The guide includes discussion of the following:

•Safe vs. Hazardous Roadway Conditions
•Working with Local, State and Regional Highway Engineers
•Agencies Responsible for Different Types of Roads
•Roadway Departure Hazards
•Surface Conditions
•Bridges and Narrow Roadways
•Railroad Crossings
•Work Zones
•Roadway Reconfigurations
•Roadway Design Limitations
•Young Driver Safety
•Improving Older Driver Safety Through Road Design
•Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
•Building a Roadway Safety Coalition

Click here to access the guide.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

European Good Practice Awards Call for Nominations

The 12th edition of the European Good Practice Awards in Occupational Safety and Health is underway. Sponsored by European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), the awards invite applicants from European organizations or companies that are taking measures to manage stress and pshychosocial risks in their workplaces. The awards are part of EU-OSHA's Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign.

For more information, visit EU-OSHA's Healthy Workplaces Campaign website or follow it on Twitter with the hashtag #EUmanagestress.

Monday, April 14, 2014

World Steel Calls for Industry-Wide Audit to Mark Steel Safety Day

As EHS Works reported last month, World Steel Association (worldsteel) has called for an industry-wide safety audit across the industry to mark Steel Safety Day, April 28, 2014, to coincide with International Labor Organization's World Safety Day. The initiative seeks to engage the steel industry and its employees and service providers to focus attention on identifying hazards and managing risks. Worldsteel is asking organizations to perform the safety audit during the next two weeks, starting today.

According to worldsteel, the most common causes of incidents in the steel industry, along with preventive measures, are:

  • Moving machinery. Before any machinery is cleaned, serviced or adjusted, all sources of energy including gravity must be isolated, locked or pinned to prevent movement.
  • Falling from heights. Training should be provided on how to use protective equipment and work safely at heights.
  • Falling objects. Measures must be taken to prevent objects from falling and all people should be evacuated from areas where this remains a possibility.
  • Asphyxiation or gassing. Workers should be trained to ensure that they can test for and eliminate dangerous gases in confined spaces.
  • Cranes. Daily checks must be carried out on cranes before use to maintain reliable operation.

"The steel industry is a highly automated industry and most manual handling, heavy lifting and many operational activities have been automated," says worldsteel's Edwin Basson. "This has removed staff's exposure to many hazards and reduced safety risks in the working environment. However, safety incidents still happen in the industry today and it is our responsibility to make sure that all applicable measures have been put in place to manage the hazards."

Grainger Scholarship Program Supports Public Safety Students

Grainger has expanded its Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program to help students enrolled in public safety programs. According to Grainger, public safety is one of the fastest growing fields of study at community colleges. In fact, a 2013 report from National Center for Education Statistics found a 174% increase in students choosing homeland security, law enforcement or fire safety programs from 2000 to 2011.

Grainger says it is important to offer scholarships to students pursuing careers in law enforcement, emergency preparedness, emergency medical services and fire safety. "We have the privilege of providing products and services to many first responder and public safety organizations," says Grainger Vice President Ben Nichols. "With this comes a unique perspective and appreciation for what these women and men face on a daily basis. We are proud to expand this scholarship program, especially as interest in public safety continues to grow."

CSB to Hold Public Meeting in West, TX on April 22

CSB will hold a public meeting in West, TX, on April 22, 2014, just more than a year after the fatal explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Co. CSB will hear preliminary findings from its investigation team, insights from an expert panel and hear public comments. The meeting, to be held at the Southside Community Center, is open to the public and intends to provide residents with information on how the incident occurred and how similar future incidents can be prevented or mitigated.

Friday, April 11, 2014

NHTSA Issues Final Rule on Rear Visibility Technology

Each year, there are an average of 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries caused by vehicles striking individuals while in reverse. To help reduce these incidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles weighing less than 10,000 lb by May 2018. Affected vehicles will include small buses and trucks.

Under the rule, every vehicle must be equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the driver's field of view to include a 10-ft by 20-ft zone directly behind the vehicle. Other system requirements of the rule include specifications regarding image size, linger time, response time, durability and deactivation.

Read the final rule here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

NIOSH Offers Free Lung Screenings to Coal Miners

NIOSH has announced that beginning April 2014, it will offer a series of free and confidential health screenings to coal miners in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Utah and southern Colorado. The screenings will be aimed at detecting coal workers' pneumoconiosis, also called black lung, a serious disease caused by inhalation of respirable coal mine dust.

The screenings have been introduced as part of NIOSH's Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program and will be provided through a mobile testing unit at convenient community and mine locations.

For more information about black lung disease and the Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program, click here.

DHHS Report Shows Progress in Disease Prevention & Health

According to a progress report of its Healthy People 2020 initiative, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says the nation's health is improving in more than half of the critical measures that influence healthy lifestyles. Healthy People 2020 is the nation's current 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention.

According to DHHS, 26 leading health indicators (LHI) were identified as high priority issues (e.g., tobacco use, nutrition, child health, physical activity). "The LHI are intended to motivate action to improve the health of the whole population," says Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh. "Today's LHI progress report shows that we are doing just that."

DHHS says that 14 of the LHI have been either met or are improving:

  • Fewer adults are smoking cigarettes;
  • Fewer children are exposed to secondhand smoke;
  • More adults are meeting physical activity targets;
  • Fewer adolescents are using alcohol or illicit drugs.

Visit the DHHS web page to read the complete progress report.

Closing the Gap on Temporary Worker Safety

The temporary workforce is a rapidly growing, but as it grows, so to do injuries to temporary workers. On April 29th, 2013, OSHA launched the Temporary Workers Initiative to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards after 2011 BLS data indicated that temporary workers were suffering fatal injuries during the first days on a job, in many cases, as a result of inadequate training.  

On March 12, 2014, ASSE’s Virtual Classroom presented Temporary Workers Safety, a webinar highlighting the efforts put forth by OSHA’s Temporary Workers Initiative. Presenter Thomas Marrero Jr., national safety director of Tradesman International, discussed some of the challenges facing the staffing industry today and how this new initiative effects the staffing industry, contractors and the workforce.

Since the launch of this program, OSHA and the American Staffing Association (ASA) have been involved in stakeholders meeting and talks about forming an alliance to better understand the staffing agency/host employer relationship, as there has been some discrepancies in dual employer responsibilities.

According to Marrero, temporary workers make up about 2% of the entire non-farm U.S. workforce and are available in virtually every field. The broad range of temporary workers includes clerical workers, construction workers, technical and professional workers and everything in between, he continued, but, the staffing industry feels that the BLS data created confusion within OSHA as to the role of staffing agencies. 

According to ASA, the fatality data attributable to temporary workers in 2011 is relatively low in comparison to overall fatalities for all workers. Mean that while ASA and staffing agencies are in favor of the OSHA initiative in hopes that it gives better clarity as to the responsibilities of the host employer and staffing agency, the issue is much broader than staffing alone.

As ASA and Marrero point out, OSHA must understand how this initiative affects several different industries differently. “Staffing agencies should not be viewed or treated as contractors or sub-contractors but rather as labor providers,” Marrero said.

Following this statement, OSHA issued an updated memorandum on Sept. 5, 2013, to regional administrators that stated, “as reminder, as stated in the previous memorandum please note that, for the purposes of the Temporary Worker Initiative, a ‘temporary worker’ is one who is working under a host employer/staffing agency employment structure. It does not include day laborers or seasonal workers who are hired directly by a single employer, nor contractor/subcontractor relationships.”

“It is important that OSHA understands how staffing firms operate on a day-by-day basis and that they do not overestimate the staffing firms’ ability to evaluate and remedy host employers jobsite hazards,” Marrero said. 

Staffing firms have limited control of a job site once an employee is discharged. “We do evaluate job conditions, but as many you know, especially within construction, job sites change by the minute and there is limited level of control that we can exercise when we are not present on the job," he said. "We, in essence, have to entrust our clients with our employees and have to trust that hazards are being mitigated and also have to trust that our employees will address hazards or at the very least bring it to a staffing agencies attention.”

Since the launch of the initiative, ASA has provided education to its members and urged OSHA to focus on the education of client or host employer communities about their responsibilities, Marrero said. OSHA has been focused on education and awareness promoting compliance assistance nationally and locally; identifying best practices; meeting with stakeholders; developing outreach materials for both staffing agencies and host employers; and even launching a Temporary Workers webpage laying out what they feel the issues are.

For more information on this initiative and recommendations available, visit

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blog Helps DIYers Stay Safe

Spring usually means cleanup around the yard, fix-up projects around the house and, with them, an increase in DIY injuries. Leviton's website offers tools and information to help DIYers learn how to stay safe as they take on projects around the house. Learn It at Leviton features a library of resources including installation videos, blogs, interactive tools, courses and FAQs to help homeowners tackle their spring projects safely. Topics include energy savings, installation of receptacles, GFCIs, single pole and three-way switches, selection of dimmers, sensors and lighting control devices, home automation and cable management. The site also provides links to additional resources for electrical safety.
Photo credit: ca2hill/iStock/Thinkstock

NIOSH Follows Workers as They Age & Creates New Topic Page to Promote Healthy Aging

NIOSH has released a new topic page that offers a worker-focused perspective on safety and health and chronic disease issues related to aging. This is one of the first NIOSH topic pages to coalign with the existing Total Worker Health webpage.

Employers increasingly see the value that older workers bring to the job, including greater institutional knowledge and wealth of experience, productive work habits, lower stress and higher likelihood of getting along with their colleagues. Older workers also tend to be more cautious on the job and are more likely to follow safety rules and regulations. As older workers experience chronic conditions, their safety and health on the job are jeopardized.

The new topic page, Healthy Aging at Work, along with its associated subpages, features a compilation of recommendations for healthy aging in the workplace as well as NIOSH research on the subject. Future planned updates include expanding on research needs as well as information specific to health risks such as hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders. The page also features simple strategies and workplace solutions for an age-friendly workplace.

Click here for more information.

New Resources Available From OSHA and AIHA on Safe Patient Handling

OSHA and AIHA have recently developed two new resources to provide SH&E professionals with information on safe patient handling.

According to OSHA, many care givers are at risk of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders from the excessive on-the-job physical demands of manually handling patients. The brochure, Safe Patient Handling: Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in Nursing Homes addresses the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders among nursing home and residential care workers and explains how implementing a safe patient-handling program can reduce or prevent the number and severity of these  hazards. 

To further help SH&E professionals identify these hazards, AIHA has developed a new “QuickTips” sheet to provide information and steps to protect workers.

For more information about safe patient handling and on protecting healthcare workers, visit OSHA's Healthcare Web page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Organizations Develop Proposed Revision of Green Building Standard

ASHRAEInternational Code Council (ICC) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) are developing the proposed 2015 revision of ANSI/ICC 700, National Green Building Standard. ANSI reports this is the first standard to cover green residential construction, development and remodeling. ANSI/ICC 700 became a standard in 2009, and ICC and NAHB were involved with the first two editions. This will be the first time ASHRAE participates in a revision.

Childcare Worker Safety Training

An article in the April 2014 issue of Occupational Health and Safety highlights the importance of safety training for childcare workers. Untrained care providers are often unprepared for the challenges of keeping kids safe, especially when presented with unexpected incidents such as choking and injury. The article identifies four key steps to safety for childcare workers:

  • Prevention. Preventing incidents by mitigating hazards is necessary. Electrical outlets must be protected, child seats in cars must be properly installed and hazardous objects must be kept away rom children.
  • Being safe. During emergency response, ensure that additional individuals will not be endangered. For example, if a child has experienced electrical shock, make sure that the power is shut down at the main breaker box before touching the injured child.
  • Calling 911. This seemingly simple act may require training depending on the setup of classroom and daycare center phones. Emergency response plans should also identify a capable individual to administer first aid and an individual who will be responsible for calling 911.
  • Taking action. Before an emergency occurs, ensure that healthcare workers have been trained on CPR, choking and how to respond to common injuries and illnesses. 
Read the entire article here. For a detailed list of hazards found in childcare settings and mitigation strategies, click here

NFPA Seeking Public Comments on Four Projects

NFPA Standards Council is seeking public review and comment by June 23, 2014, on these four projects:
  • Community Risk Reduction Plan Comment
  • Offshore LNG Facilities Comment
  • Professional Practices for Facility Fire Safety Planning and Fire Safety Directors Comment
  • Selection, Care, and Maintenance (SCAM) of Wildland Fire Fighting Clothing and Equipment Comment
If you're interested in more resources and information on fire protection, be sure to check out the homepage of ASSE's Fire Protection Practice Specialty.

Safety 2014 Addresses Obesity in the Workplace

From 1990 to 2010 there was a drastic increase in the rate of obesity in the U.S., and as this issue continues to grow, so to does its cost. The difficulties associated with obesity have repercussions that spill over into the workplace, driving up medical costs, absenteeism and presenteeism and occupational safety risks.

At ASSE’s Safety 2014 in June, Fred Kohanna, corporate medical director for AllOne Health Resources, will present How does Obesity Impact Safety in the Workplace? During this session, Kohanna will discuss the growing epidemic of obesity in the U.S. and its effect on workplace safety. He will introduce seven areas in which obesity statistically increases worker risks and discuss prevention strategies to mitigate those risks.

Currently, more than one-third of the U.S. population is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and unlike some hazards, obesity is not limited to specific industries. Obesity is a growing epidemic that can and does impact every company, says Kohanna. 

Workers with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above face a higher risk of on-the-job fatigue, heat-related illness, slips and falls, confined-space entry hazards, hand-arm vibration syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome. 

In addition, obese workers may face difficulty finding personal protective equipment (PPE). As Kohanna explains, some PPE is not designed to fit overweight/obese workers, leaving these workers at higher risk of injury.

Excess weight can also impact employees’ work performance. Studies show obese workers are more likely to take sick leave and be less productive throughout the day, according to the CDC. Due to the many adverse health effects associated with obesity, recovery from personal injury or illnesses may take an extended period of time leading to higher medical expenses. 

“One of the challenges and one of the motivations for companies to address obesity is that their health care costs are much higher if they have a large proportion of obese employees both on the workers compensation insurance side and on the non-work-related medical cost in terms of group health insurance, short-term disability and long-term disability costs,” he says. 

Addressing obesity through wellness programs is in the best interest of the entire company, Kohanna says. "In addition to improving the quality of life for individuals suffering from obesity, encouraging weigh lost can reduce the risk for some very negative health outcomes such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other health effects such as cancer."

Programs designed to assist employees in making healthy lifestyle choices will benefit the organization, Kohanna says, but in order for it to be a successful initiative, companies must make it a priority and commit adequate resources and funding.

Session attendees will learn the key components to consider when building an obesity prevention program that targets healthful eating and physical activity as part of a strategy to make workplaces healthier and safer.

For more information on how obesity impacts safety and health in the workplace, be sure to check out Kohanna’s session at Safety 2014.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Drivers: Think Hands-Free Phones Are Safer? They're Not, NSC Warns

According to an NSC survey, 80% of drivers mistakenly think that using a hands-free device is safer than a handheld phone. The council points to dozens of studies that show hands-free devices are no safer than their handheld counterparts because the brain is distracted by the cell phone conversation. Yet, 70% of respondents to the study who use hands-free devices said safety was the reason.

"While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it's just not true," says NSC's David Teater. "The problem is the brain does not truly multitask. Just like you can't read a book and talk on the phone, you can't safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone." He says it's not a surprise that drivers are confused, with many states banning handheld devices and many new cars being equipped with hands-free technology.

As part of its distracted driving awareness month campaign, NSC has developed an infographic that illustrates that "hands-free is not risk-free."

Provided by The National Safety Council

NTSB Issues Recommendations to Correct Safety Vulnerabilities Involving Tractor-Trailers

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued seven recommendations urging National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) to take action to improve the safety of tractor-trailers. These recommendations stem from a 2013 NTSB safety study on single-unit trucks and other research, which identified issues that apply to tractor-trailers as well.

Like large single-unit trucks, tractor-trailers may have blind spots that can reduce the ability of drivers to see other vehicles and road users. Researchers found that limited field of view can increase the risk of death or injury among passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists when drivers of tractor-trailers change lanes, make turns, go straight or back up.

Collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers resulted in about 500 deaths each year, many of which involved side underride. Researchers also found that current trailer rear underride guard standards are outdated. The recommendations call on NHTSA to require that both newly manufactured truck-tractors and trailers be equipped with side underride protection systems and that revisions be made to improve trailer rear underride guard standards to better protect passenger vehicle occupants from fatalities and serious injuries.

Click here for the complete safety recommendation letter to NHTSA.

EU-OSHA Tackles Work-Related Stress

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has launched a 2-year campaign, “Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress.” EU-OSHA’s latest pan-European opinion poll indicated that 51% of workers feel work-related stress is common in their workplace and 4 in 10 workers think that stress is not handled well in their organization.

“Managing work-related stress is one of the cornerstones in ensuring the health, safety and well-being of European workers. Workplaces cannot afford to ignore work-related stress, which increases absenteeism and lowers productivity,” says EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Ando. “The forthcoming EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at work 2014-20 will underline that better protection of workers' mental health is a key factor to prevent work-related diseases.”

EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek notes that the poll also found that more than 40% of employers consider psychosocial risks more difficult to manage than “traditional” occupational safety and health risks. “With this campaign, we want to raise awareness of the problem and provide support to manage psychosocial risks,” she explains. “Work-related stress is an organizational issue and should be tackled as such by employers and workers working together.”

The Healthy Workplaces Campaign will involve a range of activities, such as training sessions, conferences and workshops, poster, film and photo competitions, quizzes, suggestion schemes, advertising campaigns and press conferences. In addition, the European Good Practice Awards, which launches April 15, will highlight organizations that have implemented measures to reduce and eliminate stress.

Read more in the Campaign Guide and visit the Healthy Workplaces Campaign website to download  campaign material in 25 languages. You can also follow the campaign with the hashtag #EUmanagestress on Twitter.

Friday, April 4, 2014

CPWR Publishes Report on Safety Culture in Construction

Last June, Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and NIOSH hosted a construction-focused workshop that was part of a larger workshop on safety climate and culture. CPWR has published a report that describes the progression of the workshop and its sessions, discusses output from the discussion groups as well as the workshop as a whole, and poses follow up questions and action items. The report can be downloaded from the group's website.

New Publication on Nanomaterials

The European Chemicals Agency has released a publication on best practices for exposure assessment and risk characterization of nanomaterials for those registering nanomaterials under EU's Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals.

Issues addressed in the publication include updating registration dossiers with new nano-specific exposure information, characterizing exposure to nanomaterials during the product's lifecycle and verifying the performance and efficiency of risk management measures.

Click here to download the publication.

CCOHS Shares 10 Tips for Mental Fitness

Download the poster on the CCOHS website.
Worker well-being is an important aspect to having a safe and healthy workforce and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) reminds employees that they can take important steps toward improving their mental fitness, or promoting their own mental well-being by strengthening resilience to stress. CCOHS says, "By actively practicing mental fitness, we can elevate our health and work performance, while effectively managing varying levels of stress."
The agency suggests 10 tips for mental fitness:

  1. Schedule "me-time" daily.
  2. Reward yourself.
  3. Play to your strengths.
  4. Ask for and offer help.
  5. De-stress your diet.
  6. Press pause; downtime is good.
  7. Regularly exercise.
  8. Set goals and stay on target with a journal.
  9. Practice relaxation techniques and get enough sleep.
  10. Choose a positive attitude.

DOT Launches First-Ever National Distracted Driving Enforcement & Advertising Campaign

To kick off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced Department of Transportation’s first-ever, national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving. As part of the effort, television, radio and digital advertisements using the phrase U Drive. U Text. U Pay. will run from April 7-15, which coincides with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in states with distracted driving bans.

Foxx was joined by David Friedman, acting administrator of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which estimates that 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. The new ads remind the public of these deadly consequences, as well as the penalties for getting caught violating the state distracted driving laws. The campaign will run in English and Spanish.

This $8.5 million national advertising campaign supports the first-ever national distracted driving high-visibility enforcement crackdown, which will run from April 10 to April 15, 2014. Thousands of law enforcement personnel nationwide will use traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text and drive.

Click here for more on this new campaign.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

FMCSA Orders DND International to Shut Down

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered DND International, Inc. to immediately shut down after declaring the Naperville, IL-based trucking company to be an imminent hazard to public safety. FMCSA investigators found the carrier had committed widespread, serious violations of federal regulations that protect the safety of the motoring public. The company’s compliance with federal safety regulations has been the focus of an intensive FMCSA investigation that began immediately following a Jan. 27 crash that killed an Illinois tollway worker and seriously injured an Illinois state police trooper.

A driver for DND International, charged with multiple felony violations by state law enforcement personnel in connection with the Jan. 27 crash, was banned from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce on Feb. 11 following the first phase of an FMCSA investigation. FMCSA Investigators concluded that for a period of 26 hours during Jan. 26-27, the driver operated a tractor-trailer for approximately 1,000 miles, only resting between 3.5 to 5.5 hours, well short of the federally required rest period. Before reaching his last scheduled stop, the truck driver crashed into two fully illuminated stationary vehicles, an Illinois state police car with its emergency lights activated and an Illinois tollway vehicle with an activated warning arrow, outside of Naperville, IL, causing the fatality and life-threatening injury.

Federal safety regulations prohibit commercial truck drivers from driving for more than 11 hours each shift and/or remaining on duty after 14 hours of work. Motor carriers and their drivers are also required to retain supporting documentation such as receipts for tolls and fuel purchases.

Click here for more information.

Announcing April 24, 2014, Global Day of Action

International Labor Rights Forum has announced the observance of April 24, 2014, as a Global Day of Action to raise awareness about hazards in the Bangladesh garment industry and to help victims of the tragic Rana Plaza collapse. April 24 is the one-year anniversary of the collapse, which killed at least 1,138 individuals and injured countless others. To date, many victims still await compensation, as do the families of those who died in the incident.

While the collapse drew worldwide attention to the hazardous factory conditions found in Bangladesh, workers in the country's garment industry still face the threat of another disaster. "This is an industry that has been premised on low wages, long hours and exploitive working conditions," says Liana Foxvog, the director of organizing and communications for International Labor Rights Forum. She notes that many global brands and retailers have recently sent strong messages regarding worker safety and that more than 150 companies have taken action by signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. "But to really change that industry, factories need not only to hear from brands that safety is important, they also need to be paid enough to cover wages, operating costs and safe building practices," Foxvog says.

International Labor Rights Forum encourages everyone to take time April 24, 2014, to help urge retailers to compensate victims of the collapse and other recent incidents in the Bangladesh garment industry. The organization's website provides links to relevant petitions, as well as information on how to organize nonviolent demonstrations outside stores and otherwise raise awareness about the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster.

An upcoming article in the May 2014 issue of Professional Safety will provide more information on this subject, including steps safety professionals can take to help improve workplace conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry.  

CPWR Launched New Hand Safety Website

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) has launched a new website to help contractors and trades workers prevent common hand injuries and ailments. Developed under the guidance of the Masonry Research to Practice Partnership, provides industry specific information on the risks and how to prevent hand injuries, such as cuts, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome or skin disorders that can impact the quality of work and productivity on the job. Resources include what to look for when choosing hand tools and gloves and training materials, such as presentations, toolbox talks and handouts, are available for download.

BCSP Introduces Salary Reporting Tool for SH&E Professionals

BCSP has launched a new online salary reporting tool for SH&E professionals. The Safety Salary Source allows users to view survey data on SH&E professionals' salaries and search for salaries of professionals with or without BCSP certifications. Users can also view summary reports and apply additional search filters.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 Critical Safety Measures for Construction Workers

According to OSHA statistics, in 2012, 19.6% of workplace fatalities occurred in the construction industry. To help prevent future incidents, a post on Occupational Health & Safety's blog outlines these 5 safety measures every construction worker must take:

1. Double-check work areas. 
•When working on a scaffold, make sure it has a strong platform or base and that it has been inspected by a qualified professional.
•Check ladders thoroughly before use to ensure that they are not wobbly and that all steps are secure. If possible, the upper and lower ends of a ladder should be fastened to the ground and sturdy structures, and when this is not feasible, another worker should manually secure the ladder's ends.
2. Be vigilant with electricity and equipment.
•Lifting equipment should only be used by individuals who are aware of the equipment's safety precautions, and must not be used if signs of wear and tear have been identified. 
•When using plugged-in portable devices, such as grinders and drills, make sure that cables are protected, metal casing is grounded and the power supply is provided with an earth leakage circuit breaker. Never let electrical tools come into contact with water.
•Do not exceed permissible load levels, and never stand or work directly below a suspended load. 
•Before operating cranes and material hoists, all workers must be properly trained. Never operate material hoists without gates being properly locked, and never exceed the working load limits of a hoist. Communication between workers when operating material hoists must be clear and consistent because any misunderstanding can result in a serious incident.
3. Maintain fencing and prevent fires.
•Work must be completed within adequate fencing to prevent falls and other incidents. Areas with damaged fencing should be avoided until repaired. 
•Open flames must be kept away from construction sites due to the presence of flammable materials.
•All workers must be familiar with escape routes in the event of a fire. Workers should also be trained on how to locate and use fire extinguishers. 
4. Protective apparel and PPE.
•Employers must provide workers with proper PPE, including helmets, protective eyewear, ear plugs, protective gloves and anti-slip footwear. Fall harnesses are also critical components of any construction worker's personal equipment and must be sturdy and remain secured to a strong anchorage point during use.
•Where heavy vehicles are commonly used, workers should wear highly visible clothing, and workers must be provided with gear and clothing that is appropriate for the site's weather conditions. 
5. Keep first aid close.
•Site supervisors and contractors must ensure that first aid is always accessible to workers. Critical supplies include those used to remedy minor burns, cuts and falls so that less serious injuries can be addressed immediately without causing significant interruptions to operations.
Click here for more information.

OSHA to Issue Final Rule on Electric Power Work

To update a 40-year-old construction standard for electric power line work, OSHA has announced it plans to issue a final rule to improve workplace safety and health for those who work with electric power generation, transmission and distribution. According to OSHA, the update makes the rule "more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard." It would also revise some of the construction and general industry requirements, which would update provisions for host and contract employers to share safety-related information, and improve fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts and overhead line structures.

"This long overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually," says OSHA Administrator David Michaels. Visit OSHA's website to learn more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WHO Reports Air Pollution Is Largest Single Environmental Health Risk

A new report from World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2012, 7 million people died prematurely from air pollution exposure, making air pollution the world's largest single environmental health risk. The report also shows a stronger link between indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases. "The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes, says Director of WHO's Department of Public Health's Maria Neira. "Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe."

The new estimates are reportedly based on the most recent WHO mortality data from 2012 and evidence of health risks from air pollution exposures. To learn more about the report, read WHO's press release on the findings.

Clarion Whitepaper Explains Safety Signs

Clarion Safety Systems has published a new whitepaper, “New OSHA/ANSI Safety Sign Systems,” to help workplaces better understand OSHA’s 2013 workplace safety sign regulation update. “For decades, OSHA’s regulations for workplace safety signs were based on outdated formats that were not aligned with the latest safety communication standards,” the company explains. “But in September 2013, OSHA endorsed the latest best practices related to safety sign and tag technology by incorporating ANSI Z535-2011 into its regulations.” The whitepaper:
  • Explains why OSHA recognized the new and better warnings technology.
  • Shows how this technology better communicates safety in today’s public areas and workplaces.
  • Describes how to develop and install best practice OSHA/ANSI safety sign systems.
To access the free download, register on Clarion’s website.