Thursday, April 30, 2015

Identify Ergonomic Gaps With Five Key Points

Humantech’s Winnie Ip offers a video summary of her presentation at last year’s ASSE conference, Safety 2014, describing five key points when identifying gaps in your ergonomic program.
  1. Target the cause rather than consequences.
  2. Establish a common goal and encourage everyone to work toward the same goal.
  3. Ensure top-down commitment for achieving long-term sustainable success.
  4. Leverage an existing, familiar system in the ergo program.
  5. Maintain regular checkpoints to make sure you stay on track throughout the year.

For more ergonomics tips, check out Humantech’s blog, join Ip and her colleagues during their session, “Show Me the Money—Demonstrating the ROI of Your Ergonomics Program” at Safety 2015, or follow the ergonomics track when attending Safety 2015 in Dallas, TX. Learn more on the Safety 2015 website.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NIOSH-Funded Wilberg Mine Fire Documentary in the Works

© Froese
A new documentary-style training video funded by a grant from NIOSH to the University of Texas at Arlington highlights the Wilberg Mine Fire in Emory County, UT, that killed 27 people on Dec. 19, 1984. The video is an oral history of the mine and the disaster by those who survived and assisted in the rescue efforts. It also features archival footage and news clippings from the time the incident occurred.

You can view the seven-minute trailer here, as well as visiting the film's Facebook group.

Keeping Lone Workers Safe

Richard Hambrick, VP of SoloProtect, recently spoke to a group of realtors on the topic of safety, which is at the forefront of realtor’s minds because they are frequently at risk because they often work alone. In fact, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that people in the real estate industry suffered 279 work-related deaths from 2010-2013. And while nearly 2 million Americans report having been victims of violence each year, many cases go unreported.

In addressing the realtors group, Hambrick focused on promoting dynamic risk assessment among employees. He also discussed the shortcomings of GPS and cell phones, and offered best safety practices for lone workers.

“We certainly see the need for ongoing training and employee monitoring solutions for safety in our own business with so many field staff working remotely and alone,” says Hambrick.

For more on the topic of lone worker safety, Hambrick and his colleagues will deliver a presentation on at Safety 2015, “Lone Worker Protection: The Need is Here. Are You Filling It?” (session 764).

ASSE At-Risk Workers Symposium May 6 in Washington, DC

If you will be in the Washington, DC, area on Wednesday, May 6, ASSE invites you to attend the "America's At-Risk Workers: A New Perspective on Workplace Vulnerabilities" symposium. The day’s event will begin with presentation of the 2015 ASSE Triangle Award, at 10 a.m. (EDT) at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th floor. The symposium will immediately follow the award presentation and will feature panelists from labor, government and industry discussing topics such as new workers, small contractors and the at-risk worker, and protecting at-risk workers against falls.

The program is free, but attendees need to register in advance to reserve a seat.

May 3-9 is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week and May 6 is Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day. Learn more about these observances on the ASSE NAOSH Week website.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

ASSE Releases Mother's Day Public Service Announcement

Earlier today, ASSE released its first-ever video public service announcement (PSA) promoting women’s occupational safety and health in honor of Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10. The 90-second PSA features ASSE President Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM, CRIS, encouraging mothers to avoid workplace injuries so they can return home to their families each day.

“We’re our children’s first line of protection in life no matter what we do for a living; that’s why it’s so important for mothers to make safe workplace choices for ourselves and for our families,” Ennis says.

Today Marks Second Steel Safety Day

Today is the second annual Steel Safety Day, an initiative launched by World Steel Association (worldsteel). The initiative was established to reinforce awareness of the five most common causes of safety injury in the industry--moving machinery, falling from heights, falling objects, gas and asphyxiation, and moving cranes--and encourage the world's steel companies to participate in industry-wide safety audits on those causes. 

According to worldsteel, many steel producers and organizations have participated in its initiatives, including sharing information and guidelines on safety practices, performing safety audits, identifying areas for improvement and establishing action plans to prevent identified risks.

Worldsteel is sharing photos, video and infographics to help support the initiative.

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 NAOSH Week Contest Winners Announced

Winners of the ASSE NAOSH Week poster and video contests have been selected.

Group 2 First Place Winner: Devan P.
The NAOSH Student Safety Awareness Art Contest was open to children ages 5 to 12. Winning artwork was chosen based on how well each child expressed workplace safety in his/her poster. The first-place winners for each age group are:
  • Group 1 (age 5-6):
    Robert M., age 5, Jacksonville, FL; 
  • Group 2 (age 7-8):
    Devan P., age 8, Terrace, BC; 
  • Group 3 (age 9-10):
    Aman P., age 10, Terrace, BC;
  • Group 4 (age 11-12):
    Talei K., age 11, Kapolei, HI. 
The NAOSH Student Safety Awareness Safety Video Contest was open to children ages 13 to 18. Winning videos were chosen based how well each student was able to promote the benefits of occupational safety. The first-place winners for each age group are:
  • Group 1 (age 13-14): Abbi H., age 14, Madison, AL;
  • Group 2 (age 15-16): Candace N., age 16, Honolulu HI;
  • Group 3 (Age 17-18): Karley C., age 17, Westminster, MD.
This year NAOSH Week will be held May 3-9. Click here to view the complete list of poster contest winners and here to view all the winning videos.

To Plan Successful Events, Plan for the Risks

In "Municipal Special Event Safety" (Professional Safety, April 2015, pp. 59), author Christopher Kittleson explains that a municipality must carefully plan special events in order to identify and control a wide range of potential hazards. Kittleson has worked with the City of North Miami on its Halloween Haunted Trail, an annual event that sees about 2,500 patrons pass through in 3 hours. Here's the basic steps that group takes to manage risk at this event.

  • Recruit volunteers.
  • Review budget and supplies (3 months prior). 
  • Consider event insurance coverage and hold harmless/indemnity agreements.
  • Clear trees, trim dead branches and evaluate pathways for clearance (1 month prior). 
  • Coordinate comprehensive structural evaluation by city engineer/building department for shop-made structures (e.g., haunted house, existing infrastructure, canal bridges) (1 month prior). 
  • Evaluate water’s edge for steepness and areas marked for fencing.
  • Mark areas for Scare Zones with paint for guidance in accordance with event plan.
  • Inspect at night to assess lighting conditions.
  • Evaluate sidewalks for slip, trip and fall hazards, and repair as required.
  • City safety officer conducts safety meeting and walkthrough to evaluate event plans on site (2 weeks prior).
  • Establish emergency evacuation locations, and identify and review exit signage and fire extinguisher stations with staff. 
  • Run through a full dress rehearsal to review Scare Zones with staff in the evening and correctly place lighting (1 week prior).
  • Conduct night training of staff and volunteers, including a full workshop on etiquette, scare tactics, safety and evacuation routes.
  • Perform final walkthrough including full lighting review/placement and evaluation of delineation of pedestrian walkways to determine whether lines are properly located as per the plan.  
  • Complete a final walkthrough (1 day prior).
  • Execute the event (day of event). 
  • Clean up and remove temporary structures (day after the event).

Find an event safety checklist on PS Extra.

New Podcast: Safety Lately

Safety Lately is a weekly podcast from ASSE, covering the latest news in OSH. The inaugural episode covers employee mental health, rulemaking for communication tower workers and proposed sea drilling regulations.

You can hear the episode here.

Like what you heard? Look for more podcasts at our multimedia page. You can also connect with ASSE on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Ringling Bros. Agrees to Improve Safety in Settlement Agreement

As part of a settlement with DOL, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus agreed to implement ongoing safety enhancements in aerial acts. The agreement concerns an OSHA citation issued in connection with last year’s incident in Providence, RI, in which eight aerialists were badly injured while performing their “Hair Hang” act. During the May 4 show, the carabiner used to support the performers failed, and they fell 15 ft to the ground, injuring a ninth employee who was struck by the falling aerialists.

The OSHA inspection determined that the carabiner was not loaded per manufacturer’s instructions. Under the settlement, the circus agrees to take several ongoing actions:
  • All new and existing aerial acts will be reviewed by a registered P.E.
  • For each act, assemble and provide to each circus unit a technical book.
  • Develop a written checklist for equipment and hardware inspections for each act.
  • Each circus unit will conduct an annual safety day that will address employee safety topics.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

MSHA Issues 2014 Preliminary Mine Safety Data

Preliminary data, released by MSHA, reveal that 44 miners died in work-related incidents in 2014, an increase of two from 2013.

Despite overall improvement in injury rates and a record setting low in coal mining fatalities,

28 miners died at metal and nonmetal mines and facilities last year, six more than the previous year. Additionally, mine contractor deaths increased to 11 in 2014 from four in 2013.

Overall, 121,646 citations and orders were issued in 2014, compared to 118,279 in 2013. According to the agency, this increase was due in part to heightened enforcement at metal and non-metal mines, where citations and orders rose by 7%. Among recent efforts to improve mine safety, MSHA has conducted inspections targeting "troubled mines,” revamped Pattern of Violations enforcement for chronic violators and, in March, the agency unveiled new web tools to help step up compliance.

MSHA is expected to release final data for 2014 in July.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Video Explains How to Make the Most of Hidden Talent

According to John Baldoni, chair of leadership development at N2Growth, many managers may unknowingly be overlooking talented employees. In a video, Baldoni, explains that very often star performers lack the confidence to pursue promotions and therefore stay in their given roles. Very often these are the individuals who make an organization run smoothly, and also have the ability to take themselves and their best people with them should they leave the company.

Finding these people is not always easy; many times these employees are in positions of low visibility, making it more difficult for them to be discovered by senior managers. In fact, some talented people will only be discovered when leaders make the effort.

Baldoni suggests paying attention to teams that always meet deadlines, regardless of circumstances. Engage team leaders in conversations and ask about their approach. Often times they will talk about the efforts and skills of their team members, not complain about a lack of resources. According to Baldoni, theses are the types of leaders that should be considered for promotion.

Click here to watch the full video.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Department of the Interior Announces Proposed Regulations For Sea Drilling

U.S. Department of the Interior announced proposed regulations to better protect lives and the environment from oil spills in response to the findings of investigations into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy. The regulations come following a thorough evaluation of recommendations from industry groups, equipment manufacturers, federal agencies, academia and environmental organizations. The measures include more stringent design requirements and operational procedures for critical well control equipment used in offshore oil and gas operations.

Credit: NOAA
The proposed rule addresses the range of systems and equipment related to well control operations. The measures are designed to improve equipment reliability, building on enhanced industry standards for blowout preventers and blowout prevention technologies. The rule also includes reforms in well design, well control, casing, cementing, real-time well monitoring and subsea containment.

The well control measures would implement multiple recommendations from various investigations and reports of the Deepwater Horizon incident that includes nearly 370 specific recommendations, followed by extensive outreach to derive further enhancements from stakeholder input, academia, and industry best practices, standards and specifications.

An essential piece of safety equipment used in offshore drilling operations called the blowout preventer was a point of failure in the Deepwater Horizon incident. Other failures resulted in the loss of well control, an explosion, fire and subsequent months-long spill.

The announcement is another step in the most ambitious reform agenda in the agency’s history to strengthen, update and modernize offshore energy regulations. It has made sweeping reforms for safe and responsible development, overhauling federal oversight by restructuring to provide independent regulatory agencies that have clear missions and are better resourced to carry out their work, while keeping pace with a rapidly evolving industry.

Comments on the proposed regulations during the 60-day comment period that began April 15, 2015, when the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted at

The proposed regulations are available at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Healthy Workers & Work Environment Helps Prevent Employee Burnout

A Harris Poll conducted for Virgin Pulse, a health promotion company, revealed that 98% of senior executives believe healthy living can help workers from experiencing job burnout. The survey asked executives about the relationship between health and productivity. Results showed that 97% believe that healthier employees are more productive than those who are less well and that happy employees are more productive, engaged and more likely to be loyal to the company. reports that while 9 in 10 leaders realize the importance of having best programs to address these issues, only 74% actually offer them. “As managers, we have to commit to helping our employees live healthy, less stressful lifestyles,” says Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Boyce. “Employee well-being isn’t just about lowering blood pressure or quitting smoking. It’s about helping employees find balance and replenish what life’s hectic pace depletes on a daily basis.”

NIOSH recommends strategies for organizational change, which can help prevent employee burnout:
  • Align workloads with workers’ resources and capabilities.
  • Jobs should have meaning, stimulate the workers and provide opportunities for workers to use their skills.
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities.
  • Employees should have opportunities to help make decisions that affect their jobs.
  • Communicate clearly about career development and future employment opportunities.
  • Provide employee networking opportunities.
  • Create work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.

Help Create Better Protections for Communication Tower Workers

The cell phones and other mobile devices we've all come to rely on demand greater wireless coverage and that means building and maintaining more communication towers. Those tasks put employees at risk of falls from heights, structural collapses, electrical hazards and hazards associated with inclement weather. According to OSHA, 13 communication tower workers died in 2013 and 12 died in 2014.

OSHA is seeking public comments  to help identify what measures are needed to prevent worker injuries and fatalities. “We understand the importance of this industry, but workers’ lives should not be sacrificed for a better cell phone signal," says OSHA Administrator David Michaels. Specifically, the agency is asking stakeholders to provide insight on the causes of worker injuries and fatalities, and to share best practices that address these hazards. You can submit comments on Docket No. OSHA-2014-0018 in the federal eRulemaking portal

Employees Finding Meaning In Work Can Benefit Companies, Employee Mental Health

© Kovacevic
Research reported on in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Stroke suggests that the brains of individuals who feel they have purpose and direction in life might age better than those who do not. The study suggests that having meaning might particularly help prevent cerebral infarcts, a type of stroke resulting from blood flow blockage to the brain.

“Purpose in life, the sense that life has meaning and direction, is associated with reduced risks of adverse health outcomes,” the study says

“However, it remains unknown whether purpose in life protects against the risk of cerebral infarcts among community-dwelling older people. We tested the hypothesis that greater purpose in life is associated with lower risk of cerebral infarcts.”
Researchers analyzed autopsy results of 453 people, 114 (25%) of who had clinically diagnosed stroke. At autopsy, researchers found:
  • Almost 50% had macroscopic infarcts (visible to the naked eye) or microinfarcts (visible with microscope).; 
  • Participants who had reported strong purpose in life were 44% less likely to have macroscopic infarcts. The study did not find a significant relationship between purpose and micro infarcts. 
  • The relationship between purpose in life and infarcts did not change when adjusted for vascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure, physical activity, depression and diabetes. 
  • Purpose in life was most significant in small infarcts in the subcortical blood vessels supplying deep brain structures; 
  • Alzheimer’s disease or clinically diagnosed stroke did not influence the relationship between purpose in life and infarcts. 
Meaning has an impact in the workplace as well. A 2013 Gallup report states that 70% of workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are "emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive."

To add insult to injury, a lack of meaning can also hurt employee retention. A survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and consulting firm The Energy Project suggests that companies where employees find meaning and significance in their work can see dramatic reduction in employee turnover.

“Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations—the highest single impact of any variable in our survey,” says a New York Times opinion piece penned by Energy Project representatives. “These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.”

The full report on the research is available at the AHA website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Adding Safety to Green: PTD Credit Presents Great Opportunity

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently approved a prevention through design (PTD) pilot credit that aims to support high-performance cost-effective employee safety and health outcomes across the building life cycle through early attention to safety and health hazards. "This is a long-awaited and important step for PTD implementation in the U.S. and for the recognition of the importance that workplace safety and health has in the sustainability movement," says Michael Behm, Ph.D., CSP, an associate professor in occupational safety at East Carolina University. Behm has written often on the subject and is a long-time advocate of efforts to incorporate PTD as a way to improve safety.

The credit positively impacts NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction Sector r2p goal 13.3.2, which states, “[W]ithin 4 to 6 years, develop methods to utilize the USGBC Leadership in the Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and the sustainability movement to implement CHPtD (Construction Hazards PTD).” The NORA Construction Sector Council formed a Safe Green Jobs work group in 2011 to help inform NIOSH and help shape the credit, Behm explains. Since then, the NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health has been working with USGBC to craft and implement the credit. 

The credit includes two specific safety and health reviews. One is a safe design review aimed at building operations and maintenance; the second is a safety constructability review. "The crux of the credit is that these reviews are initiated beginning in predesign and continuing throughout the design phases," Behm says, adding that EHS professionals must be ready to work with design teams and provide assistance in anticipating hazards and risks throughout a building’s life cycle. "This is a shift in thinking," Behm explains. "The profession is expert at identifying hazards, but now must become adept at anticipating potential hazards and risks. PTD presents a great opportunity to realize the efficacy of the hierarchy of controls and the ability to utilize the higher order controls of avoid, eliminate, substitute and engineering."

Behm also notes that a significant amount of practice and research underpins this credit. "ASSE has taken leadership in recognizing the importance of workplace safety within the sustainability movement, and the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability is a major development."

Behm is the co-author of two publications the offer readers more information on this topic:
  1. "Green and Safe: Why Not Both?" a presentation by Behm and Neil Silins at ASSE's Safety 2011 conference; it's available to registered uses of ASSE's BOK
  2. "Prevention Through Design and Green Buildings: A U.S. Perspective on Collaboration," by Behm,  Thomas Lentz, Donna Heidel and John Gambatese. It was featured in Blueprints, as publication of ASSE's Construction Practice Specialty, as a reprint from the CIB W099 2009 International Conference in Melbourne

OSHA Updates Workplace Violence Guidance

April is National Workplace Violence Prevention Month. OSHA hopes to raise awareness by releasing updated guidance for healthcare and social service workers. In 2013, workers suffered more than 25,000 occupational assault injuries, most of which occurred in the healthcare and social services industries, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The updated guidance includes best practices on reducing the risk of violence. The guidelines are advisory in nature, informational in content and intended to help employers establish effective workplace violence prevention programs adapted to their specific worksites. They do not address issues related to patient care. According to OSHA, the guidelines are performance-oriented, and how employers implement them will vary based on the site's hazard analysis.

OSHA recommends creating a written violence prevention program that includes:
  • management commitment and worker participation, perhaps as part of a safety committee that hosts regular meetings;
  • work site analysis and hazard identification, which may include employee surveys;
  • hazard prevention and control, such as transferring patients with a history of violent behavior to a more secure facility;
  • training on topics such as managing assaultive behavior.
You can visit OSHA's Workplace Violence page for additional resources and information.

Monday, April 13, 2015

NTSB Says Oil Train Tank Cars Need Upgrades Now

NTSB issued a series of recommendations after several incidents revealed shortcomings
© Tremblay
in voluntary industry standards for cars hauling oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids. Fuel-hauling tank cars need retrofits to prevent more explosive train wrecks, and safety officials say the public cannot wait another industry-suggested decade for improvements.

NTSB says the cars should be replaced or retrofitted with protective systems better able to withstand fire than the bare steel construction now widely in use. That could include ceramic thermal blankets "that surround the tank and shield it from intense heat should a nearby car catch fire."

In 2011, the industry voluntarily adopted rules requiring sturdier tank cars for hauling flammable liquids such as oil and ethanol. Cars built to the new standard split open in at least four incidents during the past year, including oil trains that derailed and burned recently in West Virginia and Illinois.

The recommendations come as DOT considers new rules to improve tank car safety. Analysts have predicted trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an incident happens in a densely populated area. If DOT decides it would take too long to retrofit the existing fleet with new protective features, NTSB recommends the agency consider significant speed restrictions on trains as an interim measure.

Friday, April 10, 2015

White Paper Guides Transition From MSDS to SDS

white paper from SafeTec offers best practices for navigating the GHS transition in the U.S. by examining upstream manufacturers and impact on downstream users, and summarizing enforcement expectations. The company also discussed the white paper in detail in its webinar, "What You Really Need to Know About GHS."

Communicating With Clarity

By Guest Blogger Mark Vickers
© leesawatwong

OSH professionals sometimes lament the fact that “my boss [or my workers] just doesn’t get it.” Could it be that you are overwhelming your audience with information but under-messaging them.

When it comes to spoken communications, planning and preparation allow you to deliver a message more effectively, increasing the likelihood that others will respond as desired. When approaching any conversation or presentation, consider the four keys to developing clarity: substance, simplicity, structure, speed.


Focusing on substance requires an intentional effort to identify the key message and its essential elements. Ask yourself:
  1. What is the single most important message I want them to hear?
  2. What are the most important details I need to share?
  3. What do I want them to remember?
  4. What action do I want them to take?
  5. What can I say or ask that will help them take action?
  6. What story could I share to illustrate benefits?
These questions help you identify the most important substance of your presentation and form a strategic outline. While contemplating substance, you will likely encounter a degree of ego impact. But remember, people don’t care about everything you have to say. That's why you need to continually ask, “Who cares?” By removing elements that the listener doesn’t care about, you will begin to create truly powerful messages using fewer words.


Next ask yourself, “How can I deliver this in the most simplistic manner possible?” Keep in mind that when you are presenting, others are:
  • listening to you;
  • processing the information;
  • thinking about the information and what it means to them;
  • watching you;
  • distracted by their surroundings;
  • feeling their cell phone vibrating;
  • thinking about other things they need to do.
Given the level of thought and distraction occurring within the mind of your listeners, the more straightforward your message, the higher the probability it will stick with them. As you develop your message:
  • Use simple terminology, avoiding buzzwords and jargon.
  • Use shorter, more concise sentences.
  • Use a short story to illustrate a point.
The intent of simplicity is not to talk down to people but to present a message that is easy to understand, interpret and act on. Remind yourself that “fewer words = more message.”


Once clear on the key message and wording, develop the structure of the presentation. Key areas include rapport building, opening, information gathering, information sharing, story structure and placement, and closing/call to action.

You may fear you will become bored with structured presentations. When this occurs, remind yourself that the presentation is not about you; it is about the people to whom you are talking, their needs and helping them move forward.


It’s now time to deliver the presentation. Be sure to use vocal variety (tone, volume, speed) to keep the audience engaged and to emphasize critical points. Here are a few steps to help you be more intentional about using speed to create greater impact:

  1. Record yourself speaking normally to determine your baseline speed, tone and volume.
  2. Highlight points that you are excited about and practice saying those at a faster rate and slightly higher tone of voice to convey excitement.
  3. Highlight important points, and practice slowing down and lowering your tone to convey importance.
  4. Practice using pauses to allow listeners to connect to key points and think about their impact.

Initially, changing speaking patterns will feel awkward and uncomfortable. Continue practicing and recording. As you listen to the recordings, consider the power of the message your audience will hear. You will begin to realize that the improved vocal variety is improving your message.

Mark A. Vickers is a communications consultant focused on helping individuals and organizations achieve excellence through improved communication and speaking skills. Learn more at