Thursday, July 31, 2014

NRC Releases Safe Science Report: Safety in Academic Laboratories

A report entitled "Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research" by National Research Council (NRC) says that everyone involved in academic chemical research, from researchers to university leadership, plays an important role in promoting a culture of safety, and calls for constant commitment to safety throughout the organization. Simply establishing rules and fixing blame when the rules are not followed is not acceptable, NRC says. Rather, organizations should emphasize identifying and solving problems.

“The shift away from mere compliance and toward promoting a strong, positive safety culture has already yielded benefits in industries such as aviation and health care,” says H. Holden Thorp, provost at Washington University in St. Louis, who chairs the committee that wrote the report. “We hope our recommendations help move academic chemical research in a similar fashion--toward the adoption of a culture of safety in laboratories that goes beyond inspections, standard operating procedures and chemical safety plans, all with the ultimate goal of protecting the lives and health of those who work there.”

The report identifies five major stakeholder groups at universities and recommends actions they should take to support a strong safety culture:
  • Presidents, chancellors and provosts should demonstrate that safety is a core value of their institutions by discussing safety frequently and publicly, and encouraging others to do so as well.  They should use university resources in ways that support safety, for example by paying for PPE and hazardous waste disposal. They also should have in place a comprehensive risk management plan for lab safety that addresses prevention, mitigation and emergency response.
  • Vice presidents for research and deans should ensure that their institutions only undertake areas of research that they can carry out safely. They also should make sure everyone involved in the research knows his/her role in supporting safety and should develop reporting structures that better integrate safety management into overall research management.
  • Principal investigators and department chairs are responsible for establishing a strong, positive safety culture in the laboratories they oversee by demonstrating safe practices and wearing PPE, ensuring researchers are properly trained in safety before they begin any work and encouraging open, ongoing dialogue about safety concerns.
  • Researchers have a responsibility for supporting safety culture in the laboratories where they work and should be encouraged to take on leadership roles, such as serving on safety committees and taking part in non-punitive, walk-through inspections of other laboratories. Institutions should provide researchers with the equipment, training, systems and support they need to work safely. 
  • SH&E staff should partner with administrators, faculty and researchers to go beyond compliance and support these groups as they undertake actions to establish a strong, positive safety culture.

The report also says that laboratories should conduct analyses to help them identify and mitigate hazards, and recommends collecting and reporting data on near misses as a key approach to recognizing these hazards before they cause harm. The report also recommends that comprehensive, ongoing lab-centric training that ensures understanding of potential hazards and risks, as well as protective measures and mitigation techniques.

Download a free PDF of the report or order a prepublication copy from the National Academies Press website.

MSHA Proposes Rule to Increase Emphasis on Serious Safety Conditions

MSHA is seeking to amend existing civil penalty regulations by simplifying the criteria for assessing safety and health violations and increasing emphasis on serious safety and health conditions. The proposed rule will be published in today's Federal Register.

MSHA Administrator Joseph Main says the proposed rule will "simplify the process and increase consistency, objectivity and efficiency in the citations and orders that inspectors issue." He says it will also help improve compliance and resolve enforcement issues quickly.

By increasing penalties for unwarrantable failure violations (i.e., those that constitute more than just ordinary negligence), according to the agency, the rule will encourage mine operators to be more accountable and proactive in addressing mine safety and health conditions.

The proposed rule is open for comment for 60 days following its July 31 publication.

Taking Safety to the Office

A article and video published online by the Wall Street Journal, "Safety Cops Patrol the Office for High Heels: Companies Move Mandates Indoors; 'Avoid Bread,'" takes a light-hearted look at how companies like Chevron are taking safety rules from the field and applying them to office environments. According to WSJ reporters Alexandra Berzon and Rachel Feintzeig, "Field-inspired safety protocols are migrating to the office, where hazards include dripping umbrellas, the height of high heels and hot cups of coffee." How do you engage your office employees in safety?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take Part in Humantech's Ergonomics & Technology Survey

Until Aug. 31, 2014, Humantech is conducting a survey on using technology to manage ergonomics programs. The confidential survey is open to any company that has an established ergonomic program. Survey questions address hardware, software and devices that companies use to manage parts of their ergo programs, including training, assessments, planning improvements, tracking metrics and documentation. Humantech says it will publish the results in a study that will determine current trends and best practices used to manage data and results of effective ergonomics programs. Survey participants will receive a copy of the report.

OSHA Issues Memo on Temp Workers

OSHA recently reminded its compliance staff of the agency’s long-standing enforcement policy regarding temporary workers. The agency has had a laser-focus on temporary worker safety in the past year.

“In general, OSHA will consider the staffing agency and host employer to be ‘joint employers’ of the worker in this situation,” the memo states. “Joint employment is a legal concept recognizing that, in some situations, the key attributes of the traditional employer-employee relationship are shared by two or more employers in such a manner that they each bear responsibility for compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.

“As joint employers, both the host employer and the staffing agency have responsibilities for protecting the safety and health of the temporary worker under the OSH Act. In assessing compliance in any inspection where temporary workers are encountered, compliance officers must consider whether each employer has met its responsibility.”

The memo also provides details on general and site-specific training, hazard and risk assessment, communication about injuries and illnesses, whistleblowing and inspection initiation.

To assist compliance officers, the agency has published a recordkeeping bulletin, and plans to publish additional resources on topics such as whistleblower protection rights, PPE, HazCom, hearing conservation, heat exposure and forklifts.

NSC Publishes Guide for Managing Workplace Opioid Use

National Safety Council (NSC) has released a guide for employers, “The proactive role employers can take: opioids in the workplace,” which outlines how opioid use or abuse can affect business and best practices in mitigating the issue.

The guide lists staggering statistics regarding mounting drug distribution in the U.S.

Drug distribution through the pharmaceutical supply chain was the equivalent of 96 mg of morphine per person in 1997 and approximately 700 mg per person in 2007,” the report reads. “[This is] an increase of more than 600% and the incidences of opioid use disorders and abuse have proliferated. Per capita, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of opioid use in the world.”

The report notes that drug overdoses–chiefly caused by opioids–have surpassed car crashes as the foremost cause of unintentional death in the U.S. The number of Americans killed by prescription opioid abuse is more than total U.S. casualties in the Vietnam War.

The report implores medical providers to avoid prescribing opioid pain medications whenever possible. NSC posits that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are more cost-effective and pose less of a threat of habit formation or hyperalgesia, an increase in pain sensitivity associated with long-term opioid usage.

NSC offers a toolkit to help employers optimize their existing drug policies. Visit

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New OSHA Directive Aims to Keep Communication Tower Workers Safe

OSHA reports that more fatalities occurred in the communication tower industry in 2013 than in the previous 2 years combined. In addition, 2014 has reported nine worker fatalities so far. These statistics led the agency to update its Communication Tower directive on the use of hoist systems used to move workers to and from workstations on communication towers.The new directive:
  • explains the proper use of fall arrest systems and details how to hoist people safely;
  • updates a 2002 enforcement policy, which only covered the hoisting of workers to workstations during new tower erection activities;
  • covers any work on a communication tower, including maintenance and new construction, that involves the use of a hoist to lift workers from one elevated workstation to another.
”This directive ensures that communication tower workers are protected regardless of the type of work they are doing on communication towers,” says OSHA Administrator David Michaels. “Employers and cell tower owners and operators must make sure workers are trained and protected.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

First Draft of ISO 45001 Available

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced that the committee draft stage is complete of the ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems—Requirements. The standard, available for purchase, gives stakeholders a chance to review it before its publication is finalized, which is slated for late 2016. ISO reports the draft standard is designed to help companies and organizations across the globe ensure the safety and health of workers.

For more information on ISO 45001, read the PS Standards Insider interview with Vic Toy, CSP, CIH, chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the ISO Project Committee 283, ISO 45001.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vote on Your Favorite Engineering Video

Last December, we told you about the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE's) Engineering for You (E4U) video contest that asked for submissions in six categories to submit a 1- to 2-minute video focusing on how the field of engineering serves society. The committee of E4U judges has selected 15 finalists for the People's Choice Award, and is asking the public to vote on its favorite video. The video with the most "likes" on the site during the contest period will earn a $5,000 prize and will be shown at the NAE 50th anniversary celebration at the 2014 NAE annual meeting at the end of September.

Vote for your favorite video before Sept. 1, 2014.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Increasing Teen Seat Belt Use the Focus of GHSA Report

It's well known that wearing a seat belt dramatically increases one's chances of surviving a crash. Yet, more than half of teen drivers killed during 2012 did not wear one. And 20% fewer teen passengers killed in crashes use a seat belt than their driving counterparts.

Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Allstate Foundation partnered to identify initiatives to reverse these trends and offer tools to help states combat these trends by highlighting programs across the country that can serve as models to increase seat belt use rates.

Titled "Getting It to Click: Connecting Teens and Seat Belts," the report examines elements of effective teen seat belt programs, highlights programs implemented by 12 states that show promise, and offers recommendations that can improve the success of such programs.

The report identifies seven elements that effective programs have in common, with the most successful programs using a multifaceted approach:

  • laws and enforcement;
  • peer-to-peer efforts;
  • parental participation;
  • community involvement;
  • social media;
  • incentives;
  • resources useful to diverse audiences.

"Developing innovative, engaging approaches to teen safe driving reduces injuries and ultimately helps save lives," says Allstate's Steve Sorenson. "We hope that highlighting effective programs already underway in states and cities across the country will help expand their reach and encourage everyone in the car to buckle up on every trip."

Friday, July 18, 2014

ISEA Updates Coveralls Standard

International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has received ANSI approval for ANSI/ISEA 101-2014, American National Standard for Limited Use and Disposable Coveralls--Size and Labeling Requirements.

The standard provides minimum size, packaging and labeling requirements for limited-use and disposable coveralls. Such garments are used in grain and milling operations, auto repair, painting and dry chemical applications, abrasive blasting, food processing and construction work. The key update to the standard, which was revised last in 1996, is the expansion of the sizing chart to accommodate most of the working population that wears these garments. The standard also identifies test movements that users can perform to verify the appropriate size selection.

"Properly fitted clothing can help reduce the risk of exposure to chemical spills or unwanted particulates that can injure workers," says Brian Lyons, chair of the ISEA Protective Apparel Group that prepared the standard. "Safety apparel manufacturers are very cognizant of the ever-changing population and demographics represented in the workforce and view this as an opportunity for us to ensure they are provided with garments that fit well."

ASP to Become Certification, BCSP Says

BCSP has announced the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) will become an independent certification in the fourth quarter of 2014. Currently, ASP is a designation toward achieving the Certified Safety Professional (CSP). The organization says with this change, the ASP will remain as the first of two exams to obtain the CSP, but will enable ASP credential holders to keep it as a certification.

To obtain the ASP certification, safety professionals will need a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in any field or an Associate's degree in safety, health, environmental or a related field. Also, at least 1 year of experience at a professional level having safety duties is required.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CSB Reiterates Need for Combustible Dust Standard

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a report reiterating its 2006 recommendation that OSHA establish a general industry standard for combustible dust.

The report focuses on a combustible dust explosion at an AL Solutions metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, WV, that killed three employees and injured a contractor. An inadequately repaired metal blender is believed to be the source of the initial fire, which triggered an explosion that ignited additional nearby combustible dust into a second, more devastating blaze.

The incident is 1 of 9 of its type under investigation by the CSB since 2003. Such explosions and fires have caused 36 deaths and 128 injuries in that time.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso says, “Preventable combustible dust explosions continue to occur, causing worker deaths and injuries. The CSB believes it is imperative for OSHA to issue a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry with clear control requirements to prevent dust fires and explosions.”

The CSB report notes that most solid organic materials will explode if particles are small enough and at a sufficient concentration in a confined space near an ignition source.

CSB’s investigation revealed that the AL Solutions facility had experienced fatal fires and combustible dust explosions in 1995 and 2006. Between 1993 and 2010, at least 7 fires at the facility had required response from the local fire department.

“Had a national standard for combustible dust been in place in 2006 – and if industry had followed the requirements – many of the severe dust incidents that followed, including AL Solutions, may have been prevented. The time is now for OSHA to take action to prevent these tragic accidents.” Moure-Eraso says.

Monday, July 14, 2014

New EPA Tool to Help Communities Deal With Floods

EPA has developed a new tool—the Flood Resilience Checklist—to help communities better prepare for, deal with and recover from floods. The agency reports the checklist will help flood-prone communities think about these issues and develop the best solutions that work for them. It provides strategies that communities can apply, such as land conservation in flood-prone areas, directing new development to safer areas and applying green infrastructure approaches (e.g., rain gardens) to manage rain water.

The checklist is part of a new report, "Planning for Flood Recovery and Long-Term Resilience in Vermont: Smart Growth Approaches for Disaster-Resilient Communities." EPA says although the project focused on Vermont, the checklist and policy options can certainly help any community that is seeking to become more flood resilient.

Friday, July 11, 2014

ISEA Offers Heat Stress Prevention Tips

International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) urges outdoor workers to stay hydrated to help prevent dehydration, the primary cause of heat exhaustion and cramps. Taking breaks to cool down, ISEA says, as well as wearing protective gear, can help reduce heat-related illnesses.ISEA’s Buyer’s Guide offers a list of suggested manufacturers and distributors of heat stress solutions.

“When high heat environments are unavoidable, certain types of PPE can be incorporated as preventive measures,” says ISEA president Daniel Shipp. “ISEA encourages employers to stay current on cooling products and prevention of heat stress to enable employees to protect themselves in these situations.”

ISEA recommends that outdoor workers follow several tips to stay safe:
  • Use cooling vests and other cooling clothing or accessories to help keep overall body temperature at a moderate level.
  • Wear broad-brimmed hats and lightweight clothing to reduce direct sun exposure.
  • Wear lightweight, sweat-wicking, fast-drying clothes. Sweat adds an insulating layer to the skin, causing the body to work even harder to stay cool.
  • Use OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool smartphone app.

Do You Have the Hottest Job In America? Tell Cintas & Sqwincher

Are you or someone you know feeling the heat at work--literally? Cintas Corp., a provider of on-site safety services and training solutions, and The Sqwincher Corp., a provider of electrolyte replacement drinks, have launched the “Hottest Job in America” contest for employees in high-heat environments.

Workers in indoor environments, like manufacturing facilities, and outdoor workplaces, such as construction sites, can suffer heat stress, which leads to issues such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes. The risk of injuries also increases with warmer temperatures because safety glasses can fog, surfaces can cause burns and palms can become sweaty and slippery, the companies explain, adding that staying hydrated and using the right PPE for high-heat environments help keep workers safe despite extreme temperatures.

“With summer in full swing, people such as landscapers, road workers, miners and factory workers can easily overheat,” explains Cintas's Jay Bruscato. “By rewarding a hardworking employee with prizes to beat the heat, we’re bringing awareness to the dangers of workplace heat stress and the solutions that can help alleviate it.”

Contest applicants must identify why their work environment is hotter than the average workplace. The individual with the most compelling story will receive two tickets to a 2014 season NFL game, Cintas performance polos and cooling collars, and a variety of Sqwincher products for their company. Submit an entry on the contest website by Sept. 1.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Prevention Through Design to Prevent Falls

Falls to a lower level during construction and maintenance are a frequent cause of worker death and injury. One approach to minimizing fall hazards is to install permanently embedded features into buildings and structures that minimize fall hazards and foster use of fall prevention equipment. This prevention through design approach is highlighted in NIOSH's newest publication, Preventing Falls from Heights through the Design of Embedded Safety Features. The document provides recommendations that building owners and designers can use to incorporate fall prevention features into buildings during retrofits, renovations or new construction.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

CEO Roundtable to Focus on Employee Health

CEOs from some of the largest U.S. companies have formed American Heart Association (AHA) CEO Roundtable with the goal to create a workplace culture of health. Nancy Brown, AHA CEO, Henry Kravis, Co-CEO and Co-Chair of KKR & Co. LP, Terry Lundgren, Chair and CEO of Macy’s Inc., will co-chair the group.

According to AHA, the CEOs aim to improve health by supporting employees to make simple behavior changes that produce significant results. “Our employees are what make our company great, and their health is an important part of our success,” Lundgren explains. “In the U.S., at least 200,000 deaths from heart disease could be prevented each year through changes in health habits. We need to make it easier for our employees to make these changes—to make healthy choices and lead healthy lives. That means leading by example.”

In making the announcement, AHA also released results from a Nielsen online survey among 2,004 employees showing that Americans overestimate their health—putting them at greater risk for heart disease and other serious illness. According to the survey, many people believe they are in good health, even though they actually may not be. Three-quarters of employees (74%) report being in very good or good health, but 42% of these employees have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, including high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Other key findings:
  • Employers can help when they lead by example to create a culture of health. Employees who are encouraged by senior management to participate in workplace health programs are nearly twice as likely to report improved health (61% vs. 34%), and significantly more likely to report healthy eating (60% vs. 33%), weight loss (41% vs. 27%), and reduced blood pressure (28% vs. 15%) and cholesterol (23% vs. 14%) as a result of program participation. 
  • Workplace health programs are a win-win for employees and employers. Of employees who feel encouraged to participate in workplace health programs, 69% report that those programs have a strong impact on job satisfaction and 63% cite the availability of programs as important to staying with their current employer. Half of employees (49%) say that wellness programs make a company extremely or very attractive. 
  • CEO leadership matters. More than half (55%) of survey respondents believe it’s extremely important, very important or important to see a CEO setting a good example in taking care of his/her own health. The entire organization has a role to play, but encouragement and modeling from senior management is especially important. 
The CEO Roundtable plans to focus on “Life’s Simple 7,” an evidence-based common standard for employee health programs based on the seven simple steps identified by AHA to significantly improve health. Research shows that people who meet the criteria for three to four of the measures, such as being more active and monitoring blood pressure, cut their risk of heart-related death by more than half.

Other members of the roundtable include:
Mitch Barns, Nielsen
Bruce Broussard, Humana Inc.
David Calhoun, Executive Chair, Nielsen
D. Scott Davis, United Parcel Service
Paul Diaz, Kindred Healthcare Inc.
Ken Frazier, Merck & Co. Inc.
Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson
Milton Johnson, HCA
John Lederer, US Foods Inc.
Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Co.
Mike Mahoney, Boston Scientific Corp.
Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark Corp.
Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Co.
George Paz, Express Scripts Inc.
Dr. Ralph Shrader, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
Randall Stephenson, AT&T Inc.
Bernard J. Tyson, Kaiser Permanente
Gregory Wasson, Walgreen Co.
David West, Big Heart Pet Brands

Roof Falls Remain Leading Cause of Miner Injuries, MSHA Says

MSHA data reports that falls from roofs and ribs remain a leading cause of injuries in underground coal mines, despite improvements in roof control technology. Data shows that during 2013, 265 miners were injured in roof and rib falls, which is down from the 377 injuries in 2012. MSHA reports that even though this is a reduction, "too many coal miners are still being hurt on the job in these kinds of accidents."

To help combat these injuries, the agency implemented its Preventive Roof/Rib Outreach Program to increase awareness. The 2014 program runs through September and focuses on conditions specific to the summer months, which includes moisture-sensitive materials in rock formations in a mine roof that require additional control measures.

Monday, July 7, 2014

NIOSH Provides 'Buy Quiet' Web Resources

NIOSH’s Buy Quite initiative aims to prevent work-related noise-induced hearing loss by urging companies buy or rent quieter machinery and tools that could help reduce workplace noise exposure. In conjunction with this initiative, the agency has released new online resources that provide information and support for employers who are considering starting a Buy Quiet program. Resources include a videoposters and links to additional Buy Quiet organizations partnering with NIOSH. 

Humantech Calls for Entries to Its 2014 Find It--Fix It Challenge

Each year, Humantech holds its Find It--Fix It Challenge, which recognizes simple and effective workplace ergonomic solutions that increase productivity and reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. Open to all of the firm's past and present clients, organizations are asked to submit workplace improvements in which they've implemented a creative and sustainable ergonomic solution. Entries to the 2014 challenge are accepted through Sept. 12, 2014. Finalists will be selected in late September, from which two honorable mentions and one first-place winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Protecting Farm Kids: NIOSH Highlights Ag Injury Prevention Research

NIOSH's latest publication, "Summary of NIOSH Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Extramural Research: A Quindecennial (1997–2011) of Progress," summarizes 15 years of childhood agricultural injury data and highlights the agency’s extramural research in childhood agricultural injury prevention. The research was funded by grants from Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative (CAIPI), which NIOSH and its partners formed in 1996. Examples of the research conducted include health outcomes and interventions in small-scale operations, risk factors among seasonal farmworker children, and evaluation of school-based and other curriculum, among others.

“Dramatic progress has been made in reducing the number and rate of childhood agricultural injuries since the imple­mentation of the Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative,” says NIOSH Director John Howard. “Appropriate prioritization of childhood agricultural safety and health activities, and the development and implementation of effective prevention efforts, continues to be a priority for NIOSH and its partners in agricultural production and agricultural safety.”

OSHA Delays Enforcement Policy for Electric Power Generation Final Rule

OSHA has issued an interim enforcement policy for the new final rule Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution: Electrical Protective Equipment. The rule becomes effective on July 10, 2014, and with the agency's action enforcement of most of the new employer requirements will be delayed until Oct. 31, 2014. OSHA states that the delay is for "most new requirements for employers who are complying with the existing General Industry rule. As OSHA states in its memorandum the following policy will apply:

  • no citations will be issued under 29 CFR 1910.269 or 1926, Subpart V to employers who are in compliance with the version of 29 CFR 1910.269 that was in effect on April 11, 2014, and
  • no citations will be issued under 29 CFR 1910.137(b) or 29 CFR 1926.97(b).