Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Arc Flash White Paper Explains New Labeling Procedures

Brady has released a white paper titled “Improve Safety With Arc Flash Labeling.” It explains
what needs to be labeled and what should be on the labels and the labeling tools needed to comply
© Asch
with the updated 2015 NFPA 70E arc flash regulation.

“To keep employees safe and avoid the costs associated with noncompliance, facilities should properly train employees and label any arc flash hazards,” says Tom Smith, product marketing specialist for Brady. “It clearly explains how to follow the standard to create a safe workplace, free from arc flash danger.”

NFPA 70E gets updated every 3 years. This update includes revision to arc flash warning label content, selecting appropriate PPE, and minor terminology changes (such as "work shoes" becoming"footwear”) among others.

“Arc flash is a common hazard that could lead to serious injury or death. To increase safety, it’s important to understand the latest regulations and create a visually instructive workplace that clearly identifies potential hazards,” adds Smith.

The white paper is available for download at the following link.

Monday, February 23, 2015

FEMA Offers Cold Weather Safety Tips

With temperatures dropping to record lows in some places, FEMA is offering safety tips for individuals and families faced with the dangers of extremely cold temperatures.

© lugaresi
“Whether traveling or at home, subfreezing temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don't take the proper precautions,” says FEMA's Andrew Velasquez III. “FEMA continues to urge people throughout the Midwest to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe.”

Some tips that FEMA offers include staying indoors as much as possible, dressing in layers and keeping dry, and being aware of the symptoms of cold-related health issues like frostbite and hypothermia. The site also offers tips how to winterize both your vehicle and home. 

For a full list of resources, visit here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

OSHA Plans Second Construction Fall Safety Stand-Down

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and lack of proper fall protection is OSHA’s most frequently cited violation. To bring attention to this hazard, the agency is holding its second Fall Safety Stand-Down from May 4 to 15, 2015.

“With the economy on the rebound and housing starts on the rise, now is the time to for all of us to renew our commitment to sending workers home safe every night,” says Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “Last year’s Stand-Down showed us what employers and workers sharing that commitment can accomplish. Responsible employers understand that safety is not a luxury—it is a necessity.”

As part of the event employers and workers will pause during their workday for topic discussion, demonstrations and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails and other means to protect workers from falls.

The event is part of OSHA’s fall prevention campaign, launched 3 years ago with NIOSH, NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda and the Center for Construction Research and Training. Additional partners include ASSE, National Safety Council, National Construction Safety Executives, the U.S. Air Force, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. 

Additional resources are available at the National Safety Stand-Down 2015 website.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 Award for Innovation in Occupational Safety Management: Nominations Due March 31

Nominations for ASSE's Award for Innovation in Occupational Safety Management, sponsored by Cintas, are due March 31, 2015. The award recognizes individuals who have addressed workplace safety challenges in innovative ways. The winner will receive a $3,000 cash prize and be recognized at Safety 2015 in Dallas, TX, June 7-10.

“As a profession, we need to look to develop other tools, more predictive measures, of when and where a workplace injury might occur, and how we can then have better information to act on to prevent that injury or illness,” says Richard Gerlach, senior director of safety and health at Cintas Corp. “It’s time for the safety profession to embrace the idea of technology in a bigger way to help us do our jobs better.”

Submissions for the award should highlight a workplace challenge and an employee’s unique solution to the issue, which was either developed or implemented within the last 5 years. For example, Ali Husan Al-Failakawi, of Kuwait Oil Co. won the 2014 Award for Innovation for implementing a road safety program that helped reduce motor vehicle accidents. 

Another 2014 submission, which received honorable mention, was NextEra Energy’s Power Generation Division’s app for reporting near-misses and unsafe conditions. Kevin O’Donnell, principal safety professional for the company, says that the development of the innovation project was a team effort and support of management played an important role. “The support from both senior management and field personnel was critical to the overall success,” O’Donnell says.

Both ASSE members and nonmembers are eligible for the award, and nominations may be submitted by safety managers or employees on behalf of themselves or another person.

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

Visit the Innovate 2015 website for details on nomination criteria.

Monday, February 16, 2015

ASSE's Latest Virtual Event Focuses on Protecting Temporary Workers


ASSE will host its latest virtual symposium Feb. 19-20, 2015, this time addressing a problem that is plaguing industry in many settings--Protecting Temporary and Nontraditional Workers. These workers fill a niche and are vital to economic growth, but due to lack of experience, poor training and other factors, they often face tremendous occupational risks.

One key problem has been confusion about who is responsible for these workers' safety--the staffing agency or the host employer. In video remarks he recently shared with ASSE, OSHA Administrator David Michaels says the symposium meets an important need--namely to help OSH professionals better educate host employers and staffing agencies of the need to work together to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. Improving these lines of communication and ensuring that everyone involved performs their roles will go a long way toward protecting the more than 3 million temporary employees currently working in the U.S., he says. The agency launched an initiative on temporary worker safety in 2013, and continues to focus on achieving better protection for these workers.

American Staffing Association (ASA) also offer several resources on temporary worker safety, including this video. NIOSH and OSHA jointly issue recommended best practices as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

NTSB Releases 2015 Most Wanted List, Includes Four New Issues

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced its most wanted list of areas to improve on in 2015. The agency refers to this list as its “roadmap for 2015” and hopes it will be a road map for legislators and policy makers, as well. This year’s list includes four new issues: improve rail tank car safety; require transportation operators to be medically fit for duty; strengthen commercial trucking safety; and require pilots to strengthen procedural compliance. 

Additional improvement areas include:
  • Disconnect from deadly distractions through education, enforcement and legislation/regulation.
  • End substance impairment in transportation.
  • Enhance public helicopter safety.
  • Implement positive train control in 2015.
  • Make mass transit safer.
  • Prevent loss of control in flight in general aviation.

EngineerGirl Essay & Video Contests Open

The National Academy of Engineering's annual EngineerGirl essay contest asks students in grades 3 through 12 to write about the role of engineering in society. This year's contest asks students to write an essay focusing on the role of engineering in sports. The contest awards prizes up to $500 in each of three age categories. Submissions are due March 1, 2015.

In addition, NAE's Engineering for You video contest 2 (E4U2) asks students to create a short video that shows how achieving one or more of the NAE "Grand Challenges for Engineering" will lead to a more sustainable, healthy, secure or joyous world. The grand prize for the video contest is $25,000. Entries are due March 2.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

NTSB Calls for Tunnel Ventilation During Fire/Smoke Incidents

NTSB is urgently recommending that several transit authorities improve the ventilation procedures for tunnels when a fire or smoke incident occurs.

The agency is recommending that Federal Transit Administration (FTA) conduct a nationwide audit of transit agencies to assess the state of tunnel ventilation systems, written emergency procedures for fire and smoke events, and training to ensure compliance with those procedures. The agency issued similar recommendations to American Public Transportation Association.

NTSB issued three urgent recommendations to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to address safety issues that have come to light in the ongoing investigation into the Jan. 12, 2015, electrical arcing and smoke incident near the L'Enfant Plaza station in Washington, DC.

As part of the ongoing investigation, the NTSB found that the WMATA subway system has ventilation fans at strategic locations to remove smoke and heat from tunnels. These fans can be operated in either a supply mode that pulls fresh air into the tunnels or stations, or an exhaust mode that pulls air from the tunnels or stations to the outside. The fans can be operated either remotely from the WMATA Operation Control Center or locally from control panels located at the fans.

According to NTSB, the investigation to date has revealed that WMATA lacks the means to determine the exact location of a source of smoke in its tunnel network; that WMATA maintains no written ventilation procedures for smoke and fire events in the tunnel; and the ventilation strategy that WMATA implemented during the incident was not consistent with best practices.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

EKU Infographic: The Younger Face of Workplace Safety

Eastern Kentucky University has developed an infographic to illustrate the dangers faced by teen workers. Some scary stats:

  • One teen is hurt on the job every 9 minutes.
  • Food service is the worst industry for youth non-fatal injuries.
  • Teens make up 65% of agriculture related deaths.

The infographic also includes suggestions for creating a safe work environment:

  • Use a buddy system: Pair youth with experienced workers.
  • Allow more time: More than 30% report hurrying to finish the job.
  • Provide more training: Offer age-appropriate training.

EKU Online

Monday, February 9, 2015

Revised Standard Aims to Keep Kids Safe

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) are taking steps to advance child safety. The organizations have revised their ISO/IEC Guide 50:2014, Safety Aspects—Guidelines for Child Safety in Standards & Other Specifications. According to ISO, the revised standard provides "an extensive list of hazards children might encounter" and "proposes strategies to avoid them." It also describes certain characteristics of children that could make them more susceptible to hazards.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

EU OSHA Report Highlights Ways to Improve the Prevention of Work-Related Cancer

In response to World Cancer Day, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) released a report providing recommendations to help fill gaps and further broaden knowledge on work-related cancer.

The report concentrates on the assessment of carcinogens and occupational cancer by attempting to describe carcinogens and cancer-causing conditions in the workplace, evaluate sources of information and identify knowledge gaps, provide recommendations and describe prevention measures.

The report examines the chemical, biological, organizational and physical factors that contribute to occupational cancer. It also stresses the need to consider current work environments A key finding of the report is that there a general lack of knowledge on occupational cancer. The agency identifies several ways to broaden this knowledge including information exchange at the international level and considering new and emerging risks, such as nanomaterials, endocrine-disrupting compounds, static work, and shift and night work.

The agency provides an overview of possible solutions but stresses that the most effective measure is avoidance of exposure. Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

4 Tips for Improving Communication at Work

By Guest Blogger Vivian Ciampi

As workplace dynamics become more complex, leaders have less time than ever to coach and mentor employees. New managers are also to taught how to effectively navigate the "gray area" of an organization--the environment and culture driven by human nature, internal and external politics, industry guidelines, company protocols and market pressures, among other factors. The result? Too many employees and executives are ill-equipped to engage with an audience—any audience—with ease and intention.

These four tactical tips can help a professional at any level become a more effective communicator:
  1. Become the “universal translator.” A successful communicator can translate facts, figures and concepts into actionable ideas that make sense and resonate with their direct network. The universal translator steps out of his/her comfort zone or discipline; let’s go of any insider department lingo or technical terms and focuses on the audience at hand; suggests specific ways others can move forward with the information relative to what is important to them; and presents the vision, plan or theory in a way that is clear, crisp confident and actionable. If others can understand, relate to and rally around what you are presenting, it is sure to yield winning results.
  2. Meet before you meet. To avoid having your message derailed, determine who your key constituents are relative to your topic ahead of time; set up one-on-one meetings with each constituent a few days in advance of the larger formal presentation; socialize the topic with each constituent and make sure you understand their perspective and answer any questions or concerns ahead of time. Through this process, you will gain valuable information to help refine your presentation. Socializing the idea ahead of time may feel like extra work, but the benefits outweigh the additional time—and the real risks of not doing so. This strategy will facilitate your ability to effectively cover a lot of ground and actually garner decisions in the meeting without playing catch-up or spending valuable time trying to get everyone on the same page. Effective communication, speed and alignment are a few of the key advantages here.
  3. Stop, ask and listen. Today’s fast-paced workplace may encourage you to rush through conversations and move on to the next task. Doing so will never yield a productive outcome. The best way to approach key conversations that need a little extra finesse or persuasion, particularly in the midst of a time-pressed schedule, are the following: Take a breath so you don’t rush into your agenda in the first 5 minutes of the conversation, then ask open-ended questions, such as “What’s going on in your department?” or “How has this system helped you? Once the person responds, listen actively and give that individual ample time to convey his/her thoughts without your interjection, direction or interruption. The key insights you gain from these conversations will help you craft a more informed response. Even if you already know the answer or have a brilliant retort, slow down and let others speak first as this puts them in a better position to take in what you say in response. When you do respond, stay focused on who your audience is and what they care about to ensure that your dialogue and key points are streamlined and succinct. This tactic also helps build more productive, trusting professional relationships. Adhering to this strategy will also garner tremendous goodwill throughout the organization as you start to hone a discipline of talking less and listening more.
  4. Converse with clarity. People are inundated with data, work under tight deadlines and talk in acronyms. Some technical people and other professionals tend to use a lot of insider jargon and industry terminology when they communicate, making it difficult for anyone outside their immediate network to understand. Rather than contributing poorly to the conversation or sitting on the sidelines as the dialogue ensues, pick the right setting and ask clarifying questions to ensure your message remains on point and resultant activities on track. If unsure where to start, the basic who, what, where, when, why and how is a sensible approach. For example, “Why are we doing this?”; “How will that work?” or “Where will this help the organization?” This strategy fosters clear dialogue, makes people accountable to answer direct questions and often uncovers problems that need to be addressed. 
Vivian Ciampi is a principal at Professional Coaching LLC, a firm that helps organizations accelerate the growth and success of their top talent. Ciampi is also a coach and facilitator in the executive education department at Harvard Business School. Prior to starting her own business, she led teams and managed businesses at JP Morgan Chase and Travelers Property Casualty. Ciampi holds an M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut, and a B.A. in Economics from Fairfield University.

New ANSI Standard Tackles Chemical Health Hazards

In Scott Schneider's article, "A New Approach to Chemical Health Hazards", the author says that although safety hazards are a major focus in construction, but far more construction workers die each year from exposure to chemical hazards than from safety hazards.

OSHA recently revised its HazCom standard to improve and standardize chemical safety information. As part of the revision, chemical manufacturers are updating their safety data sheets (SDSs) and sending them to employers who must pass that information on to employees.

ANSI/ASSE A10.49-2015, Control of Chemical Health Hazards in Construction and Demolition Operations, was developed by a subgroup of the ANSI/ASSE A10 Accredited Standards Committee. It provides users with a step-by-step framework to determine whether chemicals are of low, medium or high toxicity. It then examines key factors to sort the exposure potential into low, medium or high categories. The toxicity and exposure information is then combined to determine whether a chemical hazard control plan is needed, and if so, whether a basic, intermediate or advanced plan is called for to control the potential risks.

The approach was developed with the goal of limiting the need for exposure monitoring. Exposures can vary from day to day, meaning monitoring on one day may provide limited information on how to make decisions for the next one.

"For too long health has taken a backseat to safety in construction," says Schneider. "This new standard will hopefully focus more contractors on the health hazards their workers face and stimulate efforts to control them. Health culture belongs alongside safety culture as an element in any successful construction safety and health program."

The standard will be available soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Safety Speaks: Tim Fisher on OSH in 2015

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. 

The guest for the third episode is Tim Fisher, director of practices and standards at ASSE. Fisher talks about various issues on the horizon for the OSH profession, including the proposed ISO 45001 standard, lockout/tagout, fall protection and risk assessment. 

You can listen to the podcast here. If you like what you hear, you can find past podcasts and other multimedia offerings on ASSE’s multimedia page.