Monday, December 29, 2014

Making Sense of Risk Tolerance

Risk tolerance is both challenging and complicated, and there are plenty of moving parts.

© ├Âner
Personalities, past experiences, fatigue and mood have all been shown to affect a person’s tolerance for risk. Other than trying to change individuals feelings toward risk taking, a new post from The RAD Group says there is a lot to help minimize risk tolerance in any given context.

The piece presents the idea of "local rationality" and states that actions and decisions are heavily influenced by the factors that are most obvious, pressing and significant in immediate context - people do what makes sense in the moment. The piece also suggests that when people are in a position of power relative to others in their context, they tend to be more risk tolerant.

However, if the person in power also feels a sense of responsibility for the well being of others in that context, s/he becomes more risk averse. The article uses parents as an example, as they are power-position relative to their children and aware of their role in protecting them, so they they are less likely to do risky things. "If you want to limit the effects of relative power-positioning on certain individuals’ risk tolerance – think supervisors, team leads, mentors and veteran employees – help them gain a clear sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of others around them," the post says.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ANSI 2015 Student Paper Competition Accepting Entries

ANSI's 4th annual student paper competition is accepting entries until 5 p.m. on April 30, 2015. This year's theme, "Standards Inspire Innovation," will have participants demonstrate how standards boost business innovation in the U.S. and around the world. Entries must be less than 2,000 words and formatted as indicated in the submission criteria. ANSI reports that submissions will be reviewed by industry experts and winning papers will be published on, and

In addition, ANSI says prizes will be given to first- and second-place papers; winning papers will be announced in late May or early June 2015.

ECHA Adds Six Chemicals to REACH Candidate List

European Chemical Agency (ECHA) recently added six new substances of very high concern to the for Authorization. ECHA also updated an existing entry to address an additional reason for inclusion. The entire list now contains 161 chemicals of known risk. Companies may have legal obligations resulting from the inclusion of substances in the list. These obligations refer not only to the listed substances on their own or in mixtures, but also to their presence in articles.

View the REACH Candidate List.

Monday, December 22, 2014

New House Bill Would Limit Scientific Research Available to EPA

In November, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would limit the type of scientific Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 restricts the EPA from using any science that is "hidden and flawed," according to its sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
©Diadem Images/Jonathan P. Larsen
research available to EPA for use when creating regulations. The

Smith's colleagues say the bill is necessary to increase transparency so the public can independently check EPA's basis for creating and issuing regulations. Many within the scientific community have criticized the it, noting that the bill does not recognize why some scientific data are hidden and confidential, namely to protect the privacy of the voluntary test subjects, trade secrets and industry data. Republicans claim that the bill would not require personal data or trade secrets to be made public.

Currently, EPA uses more than 50,000 scientific studies per year. “In short, the bill would undermine EPA’s ability to protect the health of Americans, would impose expensive new mandates on EPA and could impose substantial litigation costs on the federal government,” a White House memo states. The memo warns that it could impede EPA’s reliance on the best available science. The White House has stated that if the bill is passed by the Senate, President Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Indiana Company Sees Corporate Wellness Program Success

Batesville, IN-based casket maker Hillenbrand Inc. has seen significant amounts of weight lost by
employees by telling them to eat more.

Six months ago, the company instituted a program called Target Metabolism among 125 employees. Based on early results, Hillenbrand is considering expanding the program to all 900 of its workers in Batesville and possibly to the rest of its 6,000 workers worldwide.

Run by On Target Health LLC, the program helps participants drop weight by losing only fat tissue, not muscle or other "lean body mass." On Target does this determining each participant’s ideal level of daily calorie intake and encouraging them to hit that target. The company found that nearly half the participants weren’t eating enough, especially during their meeting-filled work days.

On Target determines calorie targets by conducting two tests: An indirect calorimeter sees how fast each person’s body burns calories, and the company also uses a machine called a BodPod to see how many pounds of fat each person has. The company then gauges success by measuring participants’ fat content every 2 weeks, and checking their blood sugar and cholesterol every 3 months. participants have lost an average of 9.5 lb—or a total of 1,300 lb.

Hillenbrand represents a key test of corporate wellness because it offers one of the most comprehensive sets of healthcare services to employees in corporate America and is doing so at a time employers—about 95% of which have some sort of wellness program—are doubling down on the concept because they’re desperate to save money on fast-rising benefits costs. Also, the Affordable Care Act is giving employers even more tax incentives to institute wellness programs.
However, recent research suggests the efforts have almost universally failed and that they influence only a tiny percentage of all spending on healthcare. The challenge for Hillenbrand will be to see if the early results hold up for the long term.

Read more about the program and an analysis of the potential challenges it faces. For more information, visit ASSE's Health & Wellness Branch and NIOSH's Total Worker Health program site. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Former Massey Energy CEO Indicted in 2010 Explosion

Don Blankenship, former chief executive of Massey Energy, was indicted Nov. 13, 2014, on four criminal charges relating to a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.

The April 5, 2010 explosion, at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine at Montcoal, WV, was the deadliest U.S. coal-mining incident in 40 years. A 2011 investigation by MSHA found that broken equipment failed to douse a small methane gas fire, which ignited coal dust in a giant blast.

During the 16-month indictment period, from Jan. 1, 2008 through April 9, 2010, the Upper Big Branch-South mine was cited 835 times for safety violations. The indictment alleges that during this time, Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to impede and hinder federal mine safety officials from carrying out their duties at the site by providing advance warning of federal mine inspections. According MSHA's investigation, these safety violations contributed to the fatal explosion.

Blankenship allegedly committed these and other crimes in order to produce more coal, reduce cost and make a higher profit. If convicted of all charges, he could face up to 31 years in prison. 

Blankenship pled innocent to all charges.

Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HSE Infographic Illustrates Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive has released statistics on workplace fatalities and injuries for 2013-2014. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has created an infographic, "Behind the Annual Statistics," to illustrate the findings.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

EPA Proposes New Smog Standards to Safeguard From Pollution

EPA is proposing to strengthen air quality standards based on recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog.

Smog forms in the atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like automobiles, industries, power plants and chemical fumes. Those most at risk include people with asthma, children and older adults, as well as those who are active or work outside. 

The agency is looking to increase the standards within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comments on a level as low as 60 ppb. The last update came in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. The existing Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every 5 years by following a set of steps and considering the advice of an expert panel.

EPA scientists examined numerous studies in its most recent review, including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last update. Those indicate that exposure below 75 ppb, which is the current level, can pose serious threats to public health, cause respiratory distress and illness, and is linked to premature death from both respiratory and cardiovascular causes. 

The new standards will also provide an added measure of protection for low income and minority families who are more likely to suffer from asthma or to live in communities that are overburdened by pollution. EPA thinks that strengthening the standard will especially help children - preventing both asthma attacks and keep them from missing school. They estimate that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs. If the standards are finalized, every dollar invested in them will return up to three dollars in health benefits.

The Clean Air Act says that depending on the severity of the problem, areas would have between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards. To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is proposing to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, so they can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.

The agency is also proposing to strengthen the “secondary” smog standard to a level within 65 to 70 ppb to protect plants, trees and ecosystems. New studies add to the evidence showing that repeated exposure stunts the growth of trees, damages plants and reduces crop yield.

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and plans to hold three public hearings. They will issue final ozone standards by Oct. 1, 2015.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ESFI Infographic: Cord Safety This Holiday Season

Electrical Safety Foundation International's (ESFI) infographic on extension cord safety lists cord-related hazards and tips to stay safe. ESFI says that although extension cord safety is a year-round concern, use of these devices is more common during the holidays. The "Pull the Plug on Cord-Related Hazards This Holiday Season," infographic provides safety guidelines and tips that can prevent dangerous mistakes and hazards. Guidelines include purchasing cords from authorized retailers, using cords for their intended use (e.g., outdoor cords must be used outside), and more. Download the infographic to see all the guidelines.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Agencies Partner to Protect Oil & Gas Industry Workers

© Jones
OSHA, NIOSH and National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network have signed a 2-year alliance to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in the exploration and production sector within the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas workers face hazards such as motor vehicle crashes, fires, electrocution, respirable silica exposure and more; BLS reported 112 worker fatalities in 2013.

The alliance plans to develop fact sheets, videos and training resources for employers and workers. In addition, alliance members will work with the National Occupational Research Agenda Oil and Gas Extraction Council to identify and implement strategies to improve workplace practices.

New NIOSH Training to Reduce Risks for Emergency Responders Working Long Hours

NIOSH has released a free web-based training that will help emergency responders and
managers better cope with emergency operations when deployed to a disaster site. Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours is designed for emergency workers who respond to epidemics such as Ebola, weather-related disasters and other catastrophic events.

The program provides strategies to reduce the safety and health risks that are linked to working long hours during the daytime which coupled with the high physical and emotional strain associated with emergency response and recovery operations can prevent responders from getting enough sleep. The lack of sleep creates greater risk for fatigue-related mistakes that can lead to injuries and death.

The training is designed to increase knowledge and promote better personal behaviors and workplace systems and covers the following:

  • dangers of working while sleepy and fatigued;
  • basic information about sleep and fatigue;
  • personal factors that could lead to higher health and safety risks;
  • better work schedule design and other management strategies;
  • signs and symptoms of fatigue in response workers;
  • tips for improving sleep at night and alertness on the job;
  • preventing fatigue from strain to muscles and joints;
  • protecting from fatigue due to excessive heat.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Study Shows Lane-Splitting Safe, But Speed Increases Risk

Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by riding between them along the lane line. Allowed only in California, the practice was the subject of a recent study by University of California-Berkeley and the state Office of Traffic Safety. The research teams found that 62% of motorcyclists say they lane-split on both freeways and other roads.

© Van Duren
Seventy-five percent of riders between ages 18 and 24 report they lane-split on all roads, including freeways. Technically, state law doesn’t prohibit or permit the practice, but it has caused controversy as drivers complain that it is difficult to spot motorcycle riders who speed in between cars, which can increase the risk of crashes. 

As part of the UC-Berkeley study, 80 law enforcement agencies completed a supplemental information sheet reporting on 8,262 motorcycle riders in collisions. Based on the data, researchers concluded that lane-splitting is no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in a marked lane. However, the research team also reports that lane-splitters who ride at speeds 10 mph faster than traffic they pass stand a greater risk of being in an collision. 

Last year, California Highway Patrol (CHP) published guidelines on when motorcyclists should or should not lane-split, suggesting riders should not travel more than 10 mph faster than traffic and should not lane-split at all if vehicles are traveling faster than 30 mph. CHP removed the guidelines in response to concerns that publishing constituted illegal regulations.

The research team is sharing its results with CHP and a more in-depth study is underway.

Friday, December 5, 2014

ASSE & Cintas Partner Again for 2nd Annual Safety Innovation Award

For the second year, ASSE and Cintas are teaming up to find the world's most innovative workplace
safety solutions.

ASSE announced that nominations for the 2015 Award for Innovation in Occupational Safety
Management are now open. The winner will receive $3,000, a recognition plaque and travel and accommodations for Safety 2015, ASSE’s annual professional development conference, in
Dallas in June 2015.

"When workers are engaged in developing a safe workplace culture, everyone wins," says 2014-15 ASSE President Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM. "Last year's award competition drew creative nominations from organizations spanning the globe, so we're excited to see what safety ideas will be submitted
this time around."

Entries should highlight a workplace challenge and a unique solution to the issue that was either developed or implemented within the last 5 years. Benefits associated with the innovation may include elimination or reduction of hazards, improved safety knowledge or efficiency improvements. A panel of industry experts will consider the innovation's safety and management benefits, and the potential for applying the innovation across multiple programs or sites.

Both ASSE members and non-members are eligible for the award, and nominations can be submitted by safety managers or employees on behalf of themselves or another individual. Nominations must be received by March 31, 2015. Online submissions are preferred.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

BLS Reports Steady Decline in Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

The 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reveals that nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses declined to a rate of 3.3 incidents per 100 full-time workers. This decrease continues an 11-year pattern of declines, with the exception of 2012.

Key findings of the survey include:
  • The total recordable cases incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from a year earlier.. 
  • The rate of reported injuries and illnesses declined significantly in 2013 among the manufacturing, retail trade, and utilities sectors but was statistically unchanged among all other private industry sectors compared to last year. 
  • In 2013, manufacturing continued a 16-year trend as the only private industry sector in which the rate of job transfer or restriction only cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work. 
  • The rate of injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers combined declined to 5.2 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013 compared to 5.6 cases in 2012 and remains significantly higher than the private industry rate. 
OSHA reminds employers that beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements will change. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours.

Click here to for information.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

EU-OSHA Unveils Online Tool for Managing Stress in the Workplace

As part of the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign, EU-OSHA launched an e-guide on managing stress and psychosocial risks at work. This free tool offers useful tips and information about work-related stress and psychosocial risks to foster awareness, understanding and management of these issues in the workplace.

According to the Agency, work-related stress leads to lost work days, incidents and a poor quality of life. The e-guide helps both employers and workers, particularly of small businesses, better understand and manage stress and psychosocial risks. 

The web-based tool is now available in several national versions and will eventually be adapted to the legislation, context and language of 34 countries to accommodate all EU Member States. Each version of the e-guide contains: 
  • simple explanations of work-related stress and psychosocial risks;
  • effects on businesses and workers;
  • practical examples on how to prevent and deal with psychosocial risks;
  • references to national legislation;
  • information on national resources and practical tools.
Click here to learn more.

Expert ASSE/ANSI Panel Examines Hydrogen Sulfide in Oil & Gas Industry

Members of the committee that developed ANSI/ASSE Z390, AcceptedPractices for Hydrogen Sulfide Safety Training Programs, presented today at the OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference in Houston, TX. A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to hear the experts share their insight on best practices and processes that OSH professionals can use to improve H2S safety programs in the oil and gas industry. The group also addressed major concerns and issues related to H2S hazards and exposures in the industry. Panelists included moderator Frank Perry, Chuck Simpson, Dan Brinkman and Gary Childress.

Safety Speaks: Dave Walline & Prevention Through Design

Safety Speaks is a podcast about the latest and greatest in occupational safety, covering contemporary issues in the world of OSH and providing insight from industry leaders.

Our guest for this episode is Dave Walline. He is president of Walline Consulting in Port St. Lucie, FL, and chair of ASSE’s Risk Assessment Committee. He is also the author of Prevention Through Design: Proven Solutions From the Field, a feature article in the November 2014 issue of ASSE's Professional Safety journal

If you heard our last podcast you already know the pitch for Prevention Through Design (PTD). In short, it’s designing safety elements into projects preemptively, rather than trying to address them reactively. It is a fairly straightforward concept to grasp, but execution in the real world is a completely different story.

Walline says OSH professionals need to be prepared to sell the concept of PTD to their management to have any hope of implementing it in a workplace. For that to happen, safety professionals need to  start redefining their roles, and eventually, in some ways, start redefining their profession.

You can listen here.

New Health Advisory Details Food Flavoring & Scent Ingredient Manufacturing Concerns

The new “Occupational Disease Investigation: Food and Consumer Goods Flavorings,” advisory from ESIS examines food and consumer goods flavorings and scent ingredients and recommends several steps manufacturers can take to help protect their workers and mitigate claims and losses. Serious concerns have been raised about the health risks associated with employee exposure to a growing class of chemical compounds used to enhance scents and flavorings. These compounds can result in employee complaints and claims of developing respiratory conditions.

More than a decade ago, diacetyl, an additive commonly known as a buttery flavor in popcorn and other foods was linked with a serious lung condition in workers exposed to it. Since then, food processors have attempted to replace diacetyl with other flavorings. One of these new flavorings, 2, 3-Pentanedione, has also been linked to respiratory health concerns. According to NIOSH, the industry counts at least 1,000 ingredients as potential respiratory hazards. Any consumer goods business that uses scent or flavoring agents may be exposing its workers to similar compounds.

They can be complex and volatile combinations of natural and man-made chemicals, which evaporate from solids or liquids or become powders or dusts during production, and then become accessible for inhalation by workers.

In the advisory, ESIS recommends the following seven-step plan--which should remind OSH professionals of the widely used hierarchy of controls:
  1. Substitution. If a compound has proven links to health concerns, consider substituting a less hazardous ingredient with a safer alternative, whenever possible.
  2. Accommodation. If a substitution is not possible, consider alternate work assignments for workers who are particularly sensitive to certain chemical compounds.
  3. Engineering. Limit exposure by engineering closed production processes that minimize employees’ exposure to potentially dangerous chemical compounds.
  4. Education. Implement work practices and training programs to ensure safe handling and storage of these compounds.
  5. PPE. Make aprons, goggles, gloves or masks available for workers who remain at risk of exposure. 
  6. Exposure Monitoring. Monitor the effects of employee exposure through regular testing of their breathing capacity and air concentration.
  7. Partnership. Work with a claims and risk management company to gain access to additional occupational disease management resources.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Give the Gift of Safety

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued holiday gift recommendations to help
© Kelly
recipients protect family and friends during emergencies. 

"A gift to help prepare for emergencies could be life-saving for friends and family," says Janet Odeshoo, FEMA Region V acting regional administrator. "These gift ideas provide a great starting point for being prepared for an emergency or disaster."

FEMA’s recommended supplies for an emergency preparedness kit include:

• battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert;
• flashlight with extra batteries;
• solar-powered cell phone charger;
• smoke detector and/or carbon monoxide detectors;
• first-aid kit;
• fire extinguisher and fire escape ladder;
• enrollment in a CPR or first-aid class;
• books, coloring books, crayons and board games for kids, in case of power loss;
• personal hygiene comfort kit, including shampoo, body wash, wash cloth, hairbrush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant;
• waterproof pouch or backpack containing any the listed items, or with such things as a rain poncho, moist towelettes, work gloves, batteries, duct tape, whistle or food bars.

Holiday shoppers might also consider gifting a winter car kit, equipped with a shovel, ice scraper, emergency flares, fluorescent distress flags and jumper cables.

The gift of preparedness might save the life of a friend or family member. For more information, preparedness tips or more gift ideas, visit