Friday, October 31, 2014

10 Elements for a Safe Driving Program

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

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

Occupational Safety in Home/Community Care

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CPSC Selects Winners of Safety Apps Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Protecting Healthcare Workers From Splashes

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ASTM Developing Manufacturing Waste Standard

Currently, no widely recognized standard exists for classifying manufacturing waste. A proposed ASTM International standard is being developed that will help manufacturers address waste classification issues. ASTM WK38312, Classification for Waste From Manufacturing Facilities and Associated Support Facilities, covers all waste created in manufacturing facilities, including office and production waste. Both hazardous and nonhazardous wastes will be covered by the standard. It will provide definitions and methods that will help to eliminate confusion that currently exists regarding manufacturing waste.

"At first, this sounds like a very simple issue and you may ask why is a standard required," says ASTM member Amy Costello. "But it is more complicated than that." Costello cites the following questions that arise when classifying manufacturing waste:

  • Is waste that is generated at a facility, and then sold, actually waste, or is it a byproduct?
  • If this same material is given to another to use, is it still waste or a byproduct?
  • What if the material is waste from one process, but is used somewhere else on the manufacturing site, such as wood dust that is burned in a boiler for energy?
  • Is waste material generated during capital projects considered manufacturing waste?

The standard is being developed by Subcommittee E60.13 on Sustainable Manufacturing, part of ASTM Committee E60 on Sustainability. ASTM invites all interested parties to participate in the committee's standards development activities.

EPA Guidance Helps Improve, Protect Indoor Air Quality During School Renovations

A new guidance from EPA helps protect and improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools during building renovations, upgrades and energy efficiency upgrades. The document, "Energy Savings Plus Health: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades," addresses 23 issues and contaminants that are usually associated with building upgrades, which include moisture control, mold, asbestos and exhaust ventilation. EPA says the guide also covers topics such as lead, building products and materials emissions, and outdoor air ventilation.

The guidance aims to help school facility managers, building operators and risk managers prevent and control harmful conditions that may occur during construction activities. As EPA reports, both IAQ and energy management are important considerations during such projects.

FCC, DOL Partnership Announced for Telecom Workers

Responding to a recent spike in telecommunications tower worker fatalities, FCC
© Sadura
and DOL announced a new apprenticeship program for telecommunications tower technicians. The Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) is a public-private partnerships designed to improve worker safety and workforce opportunities. The program will develop DOL-credentialed apprentice programs for telecommunications professionals. The core belief behind the effort is that apprenticeships improve workplace safety and helps workers develop professionally.

The announcement follows 2 years of an upward trend in fatalities in the telecommunications industry, including 13 workers killed in 2013 and 11 so far in 2014. According to data from, the average number of fatalities associated with communications towers from 2003 through 2013 was 10 annually. The most fatalities occurred in 2006, with 19 total, while 2012 saw the fewest, with only 1 fatality recorded for the year.

Per the program’s official guidelines, “The mission of the [program] is to partner with government and industry stakeholders to promote safety, enhance quality, and enable education and advancement opportunities in the telecommunications workforce.”

"Saving workers lives starts by making sure safety is a key part of any training program,” says OSHA Administrator David Michaels. “I have no doubt that new tower technicians trained by TIRAP and the companies that employ them will provide a shining example for the whole industry, how for perform work safely and to make sure we don't see any more deaths."

CSB Releases Safety Video About Tesoro Refinery Accident

CSB has released a safety video about the fatal April 2010 explosion and fire at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes, WA. The incident occurred during startup of the refinery’s naphtha hydrotreater unit after a maintenance shut down. An almost 40-year-old heat exchanger ruptured, causing an explosion and fire that killed seven workers – the largest loss of life at a U.S. refinery since 2005.

The agency's 14-minute video, "Behind the Curve," includes a 3D animation of the events that led up the explosion and includes interviews with investigators and the CSB chair.

CSB's investigation found an immediate cause of the tragedy to be a long-term, undetected high temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA) of the steel equipment, which led to the vessel rupture. The agency found the industry’s standard for determining vulnerability of equipment to HTHA to be inadequate.

In the video, investigator Lauren Grim discusses HTHA, stating: “High temperature hydrogen attack, or HTHA, – is a common hazard that has long been known within the petrochemical industry. However, Tesoro engineers and corrosion experts did not believe it could occur within the heat exchanger that ultimately failed.”

Approved in May 2014, CSB's report is one of the most extensive and complex refinery explosion investigations. The investigators also reported their findings of a substandard safety culture at Tesoro, which led to a complacent attitude toward flammable leaks and occasional fires over the years. CSB found that the complexity of the startup procedure typically required more than just the one outside operator. Yet operating procedures were not updated to account for the role of additional personnel during the hazardous non-routine work.

Visit CSB's Tesoro Refinery accident page to learn more.

Z359 Committee Continues Important Work to Prevent Occupational Falls

Members of the Z359 ASC work to create consensus
standards to prevent falls from heights.

The ANSI/ASSE Z359 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) met Tuesday, Oct. 28, at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, IL. More than 90 people were present to hear updates from members of the ASC's various subgroups. The meeting also featured presentations on topics such as safe practices for rope access work, managed fall protection programs, safety requirements for self-retracting devices for personal fall arrest and rescue systems, lightweight workers and energy-absorbing lanyards, and descending devices. "It is impressive to see so many companies, organizations, labor unions and governmental agencies here to work on standards addressing ways to stop fatalities and injuries resulting from falls from heights," says Randy Wingfield, Z359 ASC chair and president of Gravitec Systems Inc. ASSE is secretariat of the committee and producer of the widely used Z359 Fall Protection Code.