Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NIOSH Publication Highlights Solutions to Prevent Manual Material Handling Injuries for Retail Workers

 © Studio
NIOSH has released a new publication to highlight how retail workers can reduce strains and sprains when moving materials from the delivery truck to the sales floor. Designed for retailers and safety experts, Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers uses illustrations to show how and where retail employees would use mechanical assist devices to lift, push or pull heavy materials— tasks that can sometimes lead to musculoskeletal injuries.

According to the agency, manual material handling injuries account for 60% of the injuries and lost work in retail. While this publication focuses on the grocery sector, it may be adapted to other working situations including those work in warehouse and storage facilities. The technology presented may also support a retailer’s growing internet sales that depend on moving large quantities of merchandise often with fewer employees.

Click here for more information.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NIOSH Seeks Feedback on Proposed Total Worker Health Agenda

NIOSH is seeking stakeholder comments on its proposed National Total Worker Health agenda through Dec. 22, 2015. The proposal lists four strategic goals that intend to help advance the integration of workplace health protection and promotion; support overall vitality of the workforce; and foster national economic prosperity. The goals are:
  1. Advance and conduct etiologic, surveillance and intervention research that builds the evidence base for effectively integrating workplace health protection and health promotion activities.
  2. Increase the awareness and adoption of these types of activities.
  3. Create guidance for policies that promote integration of OSH protection and health promotion activities.
  4. Support the development, growth and maintenance of integrated OSH protection and health promotion activities in the workplace. 
NIOSH reports that it is "specifically interested to know whether the proposed agenda reflects the goals of stakeholders' organizations and whether it has any missing components." To view the agenda or comment, visit and enter "CDC-2014-0014" in the search field.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ASSE Accepting Nominations for 2015 Triangle Award for Heroic Dedication

ASSE is accepting nominations for its third annual Triangle Award for heroic dedication to the OSH profession. The Triangle Award is given in honor of the 146 garment workers who died in the 1911 New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The Award is presented to an OSH professional who, in the course of going beyond his/her normal duties, either prevents or minimizes physical injury, loss of life or substantial property damage in a workplace at which s/he has complete or shared responsibility for the safety of the people and/or security of the property.

Nominations will be accepted through April 1, 2015, and the award will be presented on May 6, 2015, in Washington, DC, during ASSE's NAOSH Week.

Monday, November 17, 2014

DOL Renews Workplace Rights Agreements With Latin American Countries

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently renewed partnership agreements with ambassadors representing Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The agreements entail DOL's enforcement agencies (i.e., OSHA, Wage and Hour Division) continuing to collaborate with the embassies and consulates to provide information about U.S. labor laws that regulate safety, health, wages and working hours to workers from these countries. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says that the partnerships represent the "shared commitment to making sure that workers from these nations are able to exercise their rights."

DOL reports that these partnerships help the department enforce U.S. labor laws more effectively, particularly in high-risk and low-wage workplaces where violations might occur more frequently. To learn more about the partnerships, visit DOL's website.

(L to R): Ambassador of Mexico Eduardo Medina Mora; Ambassador of the Dominican Republic Aníbal de Castro; Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator Laura Fortman; Ambassador of Nicaragua Francisco Campbell; Ambassador of El Salvador Francisco Altschul; U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez; Ambassador of Costa Rica Román Macaya Hayes; Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Carol Pier; and OSHA Administrator David Michaels.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tips for Preventing Carpal Tunnel From Humantech

Musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome are a leading cause of missed workdays. According to BLS, workers who suffered from fractures, multiple injuries with fractures or carpal tunnel syndrome in 2012 took a median of 30 days or more to recuperate before returning to work.

Humantech's Blake McGowan, CPE, explains the signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and shares tips on how to prevent it in the video below.

Here's a quick checklist of his key tips:
☑︎Choose a computer keyboard that is as thin as possible. A thin keyboard helps keep the wrist straight when keying.
☑︎Turn down the legs of the keyboard to keep it flat on the work surface. This minimizes extended wrists while typing.
☑︎Select a keyboard that does not have the numeric key pad, if you don’t need it. Eliminating the key pad alleviates awkward or deviated postures of the right hand.
☑︎Use a mouse that requires your wrist or hand to perform the movement with your thumb pointing up. If the thumb is in a horizontal position, the wrist is likely extended and pressure in the carpal tunnel will increase.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Companies Prioritize Supply Chain Sustainability Due to Market Demand, Study Finds

According to a DNV GL survey of 2,160 professionals from businesses in different sectors in Europe, the Americas and Asia, supply chain sustainability is ranking higher on the corporate agenda as a result of greater consumer demand.

"Sustainable sourcing is a fast developing requirement, driven by customers," says DNV's Luca Crisciotti. "Companies that don't act will have a hard time competing."

Research findings show that 96% of companies consider sustainability aspects when choosing suppliers and making purchasing choices. They ranked the most important aspects as:

  • Low environmental impact (56%)
  • Worker safety and health (51%)
  • Economic aspects (43%)
  • Ethics (29%)

According to the study, 80% of companies experienced pressure from customers to demonstrate supply chain sustainability. Read more about the study and key corporate initiatives here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Idiots on Ladders Contest Brings Awareness to Ladder Misuse

The "Idiots on Ladders" contest, held by the Ladder Association is entering its third and most popular year ever. As part of the annual Ladder Exchange, the contest has received dozens of pictures highlighting both the worst and most dangerous examples of ladder misuse.

Spotlighting the importance of ladder safety and training, submissions can come from anywhere in the world. Then they are vetted by Ladder Association experts. The worst are added to the Idiots on Ladders album on the Association's Facebook page. The winning entry with the most comments and likes on Facebook by Dec. 31, 2014, will be announced in January 2015.

The Ladder Exchange campaign was initiated by Health and Safety Executive and was taken over by the Ladder Association in 2012. The program lets people trade in old ladders for new models at a discount. The group reports that the campaign is responsible for taking thousands of potentially dangerous ladders out of circulation.

Ladders can be traded through the Exchange website by contacting any of the trade-in partners participating in this year’s campaign.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

CPWR Introduces Resources for Spanish Speakers

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Hispanic construction workers are at higher risk of fatal injury than their non-Hispanic counterparts. According the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), Hispanic workers in the U.S. construction industry make up more than 20% of the workforce and approximately one-third of those workers only speak Spanish. To help address this issue, CPWR has released a number of resources for Spanish speakers. Resources include hazard alert cards, three short safety videos, a Spanish-language Day Laborers' Health and Safety Workbook, an accompanying trainer's guide and much more.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

OSHA to Hold Construction Safety & Health Advisory Committee Meeting, Accepting Nominations

OSHA will hold its next Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health meeting Dec. 3-4, 2014, in Washington, DC. Work groups will meet December 3, the full committee will meet December 4, and both meetings are open to the public. Comments and requests to speak are due by November 12 and may be submitted electronically at The agenda includes remarks from OSHA Administrator David Michaels and committee activity updates such as the communications tower initiative, and a presentation on 29 CFR part 1926, Subpart V, Power Transmission and Distribution.

In addition, OSHA is accepting nominations for eight new members to serve on the committee. Open member positions include three employee, three employer, one public, and one state safety and health agency representative(s). Nominations must be submitted by Jan. 2, 2015.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ASSE President Ennis at HSE Forum in Qatar

ASSE President Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM, (second from right) participated in an executive panel discussion at the 10th annual HSE Forum being held this week in Doha, Qatar. The event includes sessions on a range of topics, including OSH regulatory regimes, human and organizational factors, and process safety. Ennis will also be delivering a presentation on reputation risk management.

SeminarFest 2015 Preview: Achieving Business Excellence Through Risk Management

Fran Sehn, CSP, ARM, vice president and senior risk control consultant, is presenting "Achieving Business Excellence Through Risk Management" at SeminarFest 2015. Recently, Fran took some time to discuss why OSH professionals need to focus on risk management. Sehn is also the Administrator for the RMI.

Why risk? Why is it the new thing for safety professionals?
I think there are several reasons. As a profession one of the areas we have missed an opportunity is really assessing risk in its pure sense. Hazards have been the focal point for much of our profession for many, many years. Now when we start to drill into the uncertainties that create management issues and safety issues, I think risk is kind of the way to go. That’s where we need to be; we’re getting there, slowly. It’s just the mindset for so many years has been focused on the hazard identification process and correction, and now we need to take a leap forward – a leap of faith in some degree. I’m encouraged by it. I’ve been in this business for over 40 years and I have to say it’s about time.

What do you consider a successful risk management program?
Let’s look at it two ways. You can look at a risk management program that is involved in insurance purchasing and applying risk management to a variety of operations within the organization. That’s one thing – or you can take it from the perspective of the safety professional (that) looks at it as being sort of an ‘outside looking in’. Now we have to say, “Let’s integrate the safety profession as part of the entire risk management process.” Let’s identify risk, let’s treat risk, let’s deal with it from the perspective of minimizing and reducing it, and that’s where our opportunity is from the safety perspective. I think that’s where it really lies; the two tying together will move us in the right direction.

How do safety managers prove their ability to manage risk?
The safety manager now has to take a little different view of the entire safety management process. Here’s one of the opportunities we have – two ANSI standards, the ANSI/ASSE Z10 standard, and what we’re going to see with ISO 45001, a global standard for safety management, a major component of both is risk and risk assessment. I think the safety manager has to engage that part of the process in order to organizationally look at a variety of things. Branding, the business itself, how the business perceived – (they) are really challenged to say how do we look at risk differently than we have in the past…It’s going to change the perception of how the profession is going to be viewed. I think that’s a good thing. My personal goal is to help change the profession.

What ways do you think safety professionals can make inroads with business leaders to show their value as risk managers?

We have to get to the table with these guys, but we have to show the return on investment for safety. There’s no question in my mind. In addition to that, we have to talk the language of business. We have to look at the pieces like operational accountability, and how that impacts safety and the management systems, we have to look at it from the financial perspective and how safety is a cost. Instead of looking at it as a good thing for compliance, how can reduce risk and the cost of risk and therefore reducing our bottom-line cost as an organization. I think that’s been missing in many cases. We are now moving there. That’s a good thing.

How would you say safety professionals get out of compliance and into risk management?
I think it’s still an education process and I mean that sincerely. We have to come to events like SeminarFest and PDC’s and avail ourselves. Don’t go to them with things you’ve done in the past. Instead, look at how risk management and risk control and risk assessment will affect the safety component.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Characteristics of Successful Wellness Programs, Part 1

Wellness programs are proven to be an effective tool in lowering the cost of healthcare, boosting company moral and improving employee self esteem. According to Don Powell, president and CEO of American Institute for Preventive Medicine, companies that place a strong emphasis on wellness programs have proven to be more successful.
© Prikhodko

Unfortunately, there are some challenges associated with implementing a workplace wellness program, including low participation, employee engagement and resistance from upper level management. To help alleviate these issues Powell has identified 20 characteristics for successful employee wellness programs including support of key leadership, good communication and employee education.

Here are the first ten.

1) Health is a core business value. Companies that list health as a priority tend to have the most successful wellness programs Powell says. “Companies that are truly committed to comprehensive health and productivity programs will even have the health and well-being of employees as part of their mission statement,” he says.

2) Leadership involvement. Company leadership sets an example of good health. Active participation from leaders will encourage employee involvement.

3) Grassroots wellness champions. Anyone in the organization who has a strong interest in wellness can act as a leader for the rest of the organization.

4) Employees are proactively encouraged to access resources to live healthy lifestyles. Successful companies offer resources to encourage a healthy lifestyle as well as create a culture that allows employees to participate in wellness activities both on and off company time. 

5) Workplace environment. Workplace wellness initiatives are enhanced by an environment that makes it easy, convenient and acceptable to engage in healthy behavior. Incorporating healthy snack options in vending machines or offering heart-healthy options in the cafeteria can help create an environment that makes wellness the default option in the organization.

6) Program is branded. Creating a brand, whether it’s the name of the program, the tagline or the colors, helps employees recognize the programs available to them.

7) Multiple components. Companies that host multiple wellness events that provide a full array of activities experience the greatest return on investment for their wellness programs when compared to just one event, Powell says.

8) Communications materials. In addition to an array of activities, successful wellness programs are communicated using multiple communication methods, including emails, newsletters, calendars, posters, brochures and social media. In a large organization with multiple worksites, communication materials aid management in maintaining a consistent message that can reach all employees.

9) Maximize member participation. Use a variety of communication methods to publicize the program to engage employees and achieve the greatest level of participation. Communication with workers about wellness must be done on an ongoing, consistent basis to be effective.

10) Assessment activities. Assessments can help employers determine how unhealthy or healthy their teams are. Employers can use assessments as a tool to gauge the overall heath of the organization or to learn what motivates employees. 

Powell suggests these tips can aid organizations in the development and implementation of a high-performing, wellness program.

CSB Releases Preventing Incidents From Flammable Chemicals In Educational Demos Bulletin

CSB held a press conference on Oct. 30 to discuss the new “Key Lessons for Preventing Incidents From Flammable Chemicals in Educational Demonstrations" Bulletin.

The release details a series of key lessons learned from flash fire incidents in Reno, NV, Denver, CO, and Raymond, IL, where children were burned while observing laboratory demonstrations involving flammable liquid methanol.

The first incident explained in the bulletin is the Sept. 3, 2014, incident at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum in Reno, where 13 people, most of them children, were injured.

Just 12 days later, a similar accident occurred at the SMART Academy in Denver, severely burning a 16-year-old. Just 10 days before the bulletin’s release, three Cubs scouts and one adult were injured during a methanol demonstration in Raymond.

What all of these incidents had in common was that they involved flames with a color additive, with methanol being the flammable liquid. They all had flash backs to the methanol bulk containers and fire engulfed the audience who were not protected by any physical barriers.

The bulletin also included a segment about a 2006 incident that severely burned then-15-year-old student Calais Weber. That incident involved a demonstration of a chemical rainbow that involved combusting salts with methanol. CSB released a video about her story called After the Rainbow.

The key lessons outlined in the safety bulletin as a result of the CSB’s investigation into these incidents are as follows:

  • Due to flash fire hazards and the potential for serious injuries, do not use bulk containers of flammable chemicals in educational demonstrations when small quantities are sufficient.
  • Employers should implement strict safety controls when demonstrations necessitate handling hazardous chemicals — including written procedures, effective training, and the required use of appropriate PPE for all participants.
  • Conduct a comprehensive hazard review before performing any educational demonstration.
  • Provide a safety barrier between the demonstration and the audience.
For more information, please visit CSB’s site.

The OSH Value Proposition: “Enable Success Without Loss”

In his guest blog for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Andrew Sharman, vice chair of the board for Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, offers his take on safety and risk. Sharman, who is also the author of From Accidents to Zero, says there is a “massive misconception” that OSH professionals are “risk-averse, action-stopping do-gooders.”

“If we are to truly do our job of protecting people, planet and profit, we must face toward risk, not away from it,” he writes. He also believes that fear has skewed perceptions of safety risks. “The modern mantra associated with these safety risks is always, ‘But what if ?,’” Sharman says. Instead, OSH professionals should be asking, “What if we could?”

“The real value proposition for us as OSH professionals is our ability to take an inherently risky human endeavor and use our unique skill set to enable success without loss,” Sharman explains. “We engage employees and leaders in identifying actions that both decrease risk and increase the chance of success. We precisely define the risk problem, partner with our people to solve it and enable the satisfaction of organizational needs. We lead the effort to shift our corporate culture from polarized perspectives on risk to informed and balanced decision-making.”

Read Sharman’s complete “Shark-Infested Safety: Reevaluating Risk and Finding Freedom From Fear” post and view his video on the topic from TEDxLausanne in early 2014.