Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Insight From Leading Business Thinkers Jack & Suzy Welch

OSH professionals often cite topics such as business fundamentals, career management and organizational culture as knowledge they need to advance in the profession. Here's a resource that may help. Jack Welch Management Institute has launched "WelchCast," a free weekly podcast featuring career and business insight from Jack and Suzy Welch, authors of The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team and Growing Your Career, and Daily Mail CEO Jon Steinberg. Jack Welch is also the well-known former CEO of General Electric and Suzy Welch is a former editor-in-chief of Harvard Business Review.

“Jack and Suzy are drawing on their own experiences in business to provide direct and candid career advice,” says Steinberg, who adds that the podcast "gets their insights in front of  people thinking about their careers and jobs while stuck in cars commuting to and from work."

The first episode covers job-hopping, career growth and learning what it takes to get promoted in your company’s culture. The second episode, “Fear and Fearlessness in Business,” will be released on June 29, with a third episode on how to share candid feedback with your boss, peers and reports expected in early July.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Infographic: Putting the Health Into Safety & Health

Despite major improvements in occupational safety and health over the past 20 years, work-related illnesses are still increasing. As part of Health and Safety Week 2015, 3M released this infographic to highlight the importance of health in OSH.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Safety Lately 6/26/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This show covers recycling, hearing conservation in the music industry and EPA’s new Chemical Safety Advisory Committee.

You can download the podcast here.

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

NIOSH Mobile App Addresses Ladder Safety

The NIOSH Ladder Safety smart phone app aims to reduce injuries and keep workers safe while working with extension ladders. Using visual and audio signals and a specially designed angle-of-inclination indicator, the app provides feedback on safe positioning of extension ladders, making it easy to set ladders at the proper angle.

According to the agency, falls from ladders are a common source of preventable construction injuries. The Ladder Safety app targets the major causes of ladder falls and provides users with a number of interactive and easy-to-use tools including a safety guide for extension ladder selection, inspection, accessorizing and use.

The app is available free download in both English and Spanish on the NIOSH websiteApple App-store and Android Market.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Know Your UV Exposure

As part of its No Time to Lose campaign against occupational cancer, IOSH is reminding workers (and the public) that even on cloudy days it's important to know the UV index if working outdoors. Follow the campaign on Twitter at @_NTTL.

Report: Recycling Workers Exposed to Safety Hazards & High Injury Rates

©iStockphoto.com/Andrey Prokhorov
A new study, by environmental, occupational safety and community benefits experts in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, indicates that recycling workers are more than twice as likely to be injured on the job.

Safe & Sustainable Recycling: Protecting Workers who Protect the Planet, finds that recycling work is unnecessarily hazardous to workers’ safety and health. Seventeen recycling workers died on the job between 2011-2013 as a result of unsafe working conditions including exposure to hazardous objects on the sort line (like used needles, toxic chemicals, broken glass and animal carcasses) and working around heavy machinery. Additionally, many recycling companies rely heavily on temporary workers, who are less likely to be proper trained or informed of their legal right to a safe and healthy workplace.

To address these issues and ensure safety and health compliance across the industry, the authors of this study recommend using municipal best practices and prohibiting the use of temporary employees, who are at the greatest risk of injury on the job.

Cities have the power to create safer jobs by contracting solely with responsible recycling companies that maintain rigorous health and safety programs and educating communities about correct separation of recyclable materials.

The report notes that unionized workers, with negotiated contracts in place enjoy more effective enforcement of legally mandated health and safety protections and also have the ability to bargain for additional safeguards to improve working conditions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NIOSH Finds Practical Solution to Controlling Hazardous Dust

A new NIOSH publication recommends attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw to produce a low-cost solution for reducing exposure to hazardous dust produced when construction workers cut fiber-cement siding.

According to the agency, the use of fiber-cement siding in construction is growing rapidly. Fiber-cement products can contain as much as 50% crystalline silica that, when cut, can create fine dust particles that a worker can inhale. Breathing dust that contains crystalline silica can lead
to a deadly lung disease called silicosis, which kills nearly 100 people each year. Although relatively dust-free methods exist for cutting fiber-cement products, a power saw is the quickest and most precise method for cutting fiber-cement siding.

According to a NIOSH study, uncontrolled exposure to respirable crystalline silica while cutting fiber-cement board can result in an exposure up to 2.6 times the NIOSH recommended limit. Attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw can reduce that exposure and protect workers from a potentially deadly disease.

Workplace Solutions: Reducing Hazardous Dust Exposure when Cutting Fiber-Cement Siding” offers additional controls regarding the local exhaust ventilation system, circular saws and circular saw blades, work practices and respirators and is available on NIOSH’s website.

OSHA & Health Canada Continue Partnership to Align Regulatory Approaches

OSHA and Health Canada have announced it will continue their Regulatory Cooperation Council
partnership. The goal of the partnership is to align U.S. and Canadian regulatory approaches regarding labelling and classification requirements for workplace chemicals.

In 2013, both organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to promote ongoing collaboration on implementing the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling. OSHA aligned its HazCom standard with the GHS in 2012, and Canada published a similar regulation in February of this year.

For more information visit OSHA's Hazard Communication page. It includes links the revised HazCom standard and guidance materials.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NIOSH Publication Provides Hearing Protection Guidance to Music Industry

©iStockphoto.com/Andrey Prokhorov
Due to the nature of their profession, musicians and others in the music industry are at risk for developing permanent hearing loss, ringing in the ears and additional hearing disorders from exposure to loud music. To help educate these professionals about such dangers, NIOSH has published a new guidance, “Workplace Solutions: Reducing the Risk ofHearing Disorders Among Musicians.”

NIOSH reports that exposures to noise exceeding 85 decibels more than 8 hours (dBA) are hazardous, and if noise reaches 100 dBA, just 15 minutes of exposure can cause permanent damage. NIOSH’s Chuck Kardous says that sound levels on stage at rock concerts or during orchestral performances can exceed the recommended 85 dBA exposure limit. “It’s important for musicians to be aware of the risk for permanent hearing damage and takes steps, such as those outlined in the Workplace Solutions document, to protect themselves,” Kardous says. 

The guidance provides recommendations based on studies with musicians and music schools, and a health hazard evaluation where NIOSH researchers measured sound levels during school music classes.
Recommendations for employers, music venue operators, schools and colleges include:
  • Consider implementing a hearing conservation program that includes annual testing and training in workplaces that have noise levels exceeding 85 dBA.
  • Encourage participation in educational awareness campaigns on music-induced hearing loss.
  • Increase distances between individuals and instruments when feasible.
  • Conduct regular sound-level assessments.
  • Identify hearing protection solutions that work best for the individual musicians or affected workers.
Recommendations for musicians include:
  • Play music at lower levels during rehearsals whenever possible.
  • Wear hearing protection when appropriate.
  • Have hearing evaluated annually by an experienced audiologist.
  • Give ears some rest; take advantage of breaks in quiet areas when possible.

Nano-Enabled Products in Construction & Demolition: Exploring the OSH Risks

Nanotechnology has been a topic of interest to OSH professionals for several years, particularly because of it's simply not known how these particles may affect worker safety and health. Researchers at Loughborough University in the U.K. are working to identify products used in construction that contain nano materials or were developed using nanotechnology.

"We are exploring the potential health impact of these products, particularly for those involved during demolition, to provide guidance for OSH professionals and others involved with the built environment," explains Dr. Wendy Jones. While use of nano materials in the construction process is limited, Jones notes that "it is difficult to identify exactly what is being used and in what way, as the labelling of nano-enabled products is poor and many safety data sheets provide very limited information."

For the next phase of research, the team aims to expose some nano products to demolition-type processes. "This will enable us to provide guidance on recommended risk control measures for those installing these products into buildings or removing them at the end of a building’s life," Jones says.

NIOSH has a dedicated webpage addressing OSH and nanotechnology, as do OSHA and the U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive.

EPA Establishes Chemical Safety Advisory Committee

As required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, EPA recently established the Chemical Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC). The purpose of CSAC is to provide expert scientific advice, information and recommendations to the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, which manages
programs under the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Pollution Prevention Act.

The committee will provide advice and recommendations on the scientific basis for risk assessments, methodologies, and pollution prevention measures or approaches. It will consist of 10 members who will serve as regular government employees or special government employees. The committee plans to meet either in person or by phone, videoconference or webcast three to four times a year. EPA is inviting the public to nominate experts to be considered for the committee. Nominations must be received on or before July 13. Nominations can be submitted by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching for docket number EPA–HQ–OPPT–2015–0233.

Monday, June 22, 2015

OSHA Compliance Officers to Collect Employer Data During Inspections

On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13673: Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, the purpose of which is to ensure that employers who contract with the federal government worth more than $500,000 are compliant with various labor laws, and that employers who are not complaint are not awarded federal contracts. This means employers may find OSHA compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) asking for additional information during the course of an OSHA inspection.

According to a recent memorandum, this change marks “the first time that the DOL and other federal agencies will have access to the labor law compliance record of employers bidding on government contracts.” The memorandum also instructs CSHOs to request additional data from employers during OSHA inspections. According to the agency, the information is "necessary to provide a unified means of identifying companies on a government-wide database." CSHOs may collect information at any time during the inspection and if it is not available, they should note that, as well as if it was unknown or did not exist.

The information will be entered into the OSHA Information System and transferred nightly to a new central DOL data repository. Employers should note that if they cannot provide the information, the inspection should proceed as normal and that their inability to provide the information will not have an adverse impact on inspection findings.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Safety Lately 6/19/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This show covers the dangers of walking and talking, OSHA’s new heat safety app, and space-age technology that could keep firefighters safe on earth.

You can download the podcast here.

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

Red Cross Pushes Swim Safety Awareness

Summer heat is setting in across the U.S., and it is as good a time as any to hit the water and cool off. However, Red Cross research suggests that Americans believe they are better swimmers than they actually are. An April 2014 survey found that while 80% of Americans said they could swim, only 56% of the self-described swimmers could perform all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water.

As part of its national drowning prevention campaign, the Red Cross is promoting those basic skills, which include:
  • stepping or jumping into the water over one's head; 
  • returning to the surface and floating or treading water for one minute; 
  • turning around in a full circle and finding an exit; 
  • swimming 25 yards to an exit; and exiting from the water; 
  • if in a pool, exit without using a ladder.
Learn more at the Red Cross website.

Safety as a Business Output

Phil La Duke’s article, Safety As A Business Output, published in the June issue of Michigan Manufacturers Magazine, challenges OSH professionals to look at safety differently. Instead of viewing workplace safety as the absences of injuries, he suggests viewing it as outcome of comprehensive business practices.

According to La Duke, organizations must built an infrastructure that hardwires safety into the key business processes that can influence safer outcomes:
  • Operations ownership: Organizations must consider safety a controllable component of the operations management system. It should be viewed as an indicator of the overall efficiency of the organization.
  • Competency: Employees cannot do their jobs safely without the proper skills. Recruiting, screening and selecting people best suited to the positions will increase the likelihood that they will be able to work safely. 
  • Process capability: Processes are important. People who work outside of the process, or who use a process that is over-complicated are at increase risk of injuries. 
  • Hazard management: Operations should identify, contain and correct hazards before an incident occurs. 
  • Accountability: Someone must be held accountable for keeping the workplace safe even though everyone plays a role in workplace safety. 
  • Engagement: Employees who are engaged will do the right thing because they have a sense of pride in their jobs. 
According to La Duke, managing safety as a business outcome can greatly increase both safety and efficiency. Read the full article here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wildland Firefighters Could Benefit From NASA Technology

A video from NASA's Langley Research Center highlights flame-retardant material that could be valuable in firefighting.

The Verge reports that NASA has invested heavily in heat-resistant materials that protect spacecraft returning to Earth. Back on the ground, firefighters need as much protection as possible, especially with wildfires on the rise.

You can see the video from NASA below.

OSHA Updates Heat Safety Tool App

OSHA recently updated its Heat Safety Tool app, first introduced in 2011. The update gives workers and supervisors the ability to calculate the heat index for their worksite, then displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Users will get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to prevent heat-related illness. These include drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks as well as emergency preparedness and training on heat illness signs and symptoms.

The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices in English and Spanish. For more information about safety while working in the heat, see OSHA's heat illness page.

Federal Chemical Facility Safety Group Issues Updates

©iStockphoto.com/Tim Pohl
A working group of federal agencies has released a fact sheet showcasing progress made to help improve safety and security in U.S. chemical facilities.

President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security” on Aug. 1, 2013. The order directed 6 government agencies to coordinate their efforts to prevent chemical plant disasters.

The report says current focal points are strengthening community preparedness, better federal operational coordination and better data management, among others.

Highlights from the report include: 
  • Data and information technology experts are working to create a unified federal chemical facility data clearinghouse.
  • Department of Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency are working with 10 counties with the highest combination of chemical facility anti-terrorism standards and risk management program facilities to ensure they are using the integrated public alert and warning system, which provides public notification of incidents at local chemical facilities.
  • A docket was established for stakeholders to submit feedback, and correspondence is being accepted at EO.Chemical@HQ.DHS.gov.
The fact sheet is available on OSHA's website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NSC Report Highlights the Threat of Distracted Walking

The perils of checking your phone behind the wheel are well-documented, but a new report from NSC suggests that trying to walk and talk (or text) is asking for trouble as well.

The recent NSC report InjuryFacts says that the use of cellphones has increased eightfold since 2000, and more people are getting distracted and getting hurt. Using a phone as a pedestrian reduces situational awareness and actively distracts users.

The report analyzes emergency department data from 2000 to 2011. More than half of cellphone distracted walking injuries happened at home, and 68% of patients were female. Individuals 40 years old or younger were 54% of cases.

“This is impacting all age groups, not just the heavy users you’d expect” says Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at NSC.

Common injuries included dislocation, fracture, sprains or strains. Surprisingly, talking beat texting as the most prevalent activity at the time of injury, at 62% and 12%, respectively.

Monday, June 15, 2015

CSB Says Inadequate Storage Management Caused 2009 CAPECO Explosion

CSB has released its draft investigation report into the 2009 explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum
Photo Courtesy: CSB
Corporation (CAPECO) terminal facility in Bayamón, PR. It includes proposed recommendations for addressing regulatory gaps in safety oversight of petroleum storage facilities by OSHA and EPA. The
proposed regulatory changes would affect the EPA’s Risk Management Program; Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules; and OSHA’s Flammable and Combustible Liquids standard.

On Oct. 23, 2009, gasoline overflowed and sprayed out from a large aboveground storage tank at the facility, forming a 107-acre vapor cloud that ignited. No one was killed, but the explosion damaged approximately 300 nearby homes and businesses, and petroleum leaked into the surrounding soil, waterways and wetlands.

The measuring devices used to determine the liquid levels in the tanks were poorly maintained and in many cases not working. The facility primarily measured tank levels using simple mechanical devices consisting of a float and automatic measuring tape. An electronic transmitter card was supposed to send the liquid level measurements to the control room. The transmitter card on one tank was out of service, requiring operators to manually record the hourly tank level readings.

CSB Board Member Mark Griffon says, “CSB’s investigation determined that there are a number of shortcomings in regulations that cover petroleum storage facilities. Facilities such as CAPECO, which store large quantities of gasoline and other flammables, are not required to conduct a risk assessment of potential dangers to the nearby community from their operations.”

The report also says that an independent, high-level alarm could have detected and alerted operators to the danger of an overfill, even if the primary system for measuring the tank level failed. An automatic overfill prevention system, which CAPECO did not use, can shut off or divert the flow into a tank when the tank level is critically high.

It also recommends that EPA adopt new regulations for facilities like CAPECO to require that flammable storage tanks be equipped with automatic overfill protection systems, and to require regular testing and inspection as well as risk assessments. CSB is also suggesting similar recommendations to OSHA, American Petroleum Institute, and two key fire code organizations.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

From Safety 2015: Business Lessons: What CEOs Want From Safety

In his June 10 session during Safety 2015, “Business Lessons: What CEOs and the C-Suite Want From Safety,” Mark Hansen, P.E., CSP, CPE, CPSA, CPEA, conveys some of the wisdom gained over a career spanning many jobs, roles and industries, in which he interfaced with CEOs and various types and styles of senior management.

By understanding CEOs and senior management, whether working with those who “get it” or those who do not, OSH professionals can find ways to connect with them and learn how to manage their expectations to allow them to significantly improve safety in the workplace and achieve the best outcome for their organizations.

So what do CEOs want?
  • Happiness. From the C-suite perspective, Hansen explains, a happy person with a positive attitude reflects one’s ability to tackle challenges without getting discouraged.
  • Creativity. “Innovation goes a long way in maximizing your potential,” Hansen says. Creative people find new ways to solve problems, better ways to perform old tasks.
  • Hustle. “It’s not just about speed; it’s about your drive to be efficient,” he says. Executives don’t want to sacrifice quality, they just don’t want to waste time or money.
  • Honesty. “Don’t lie, period,” Hansen says. Simply put, CEOs cannot run companies without honest, dedicated support.
  • Flexibility. Execs want you to do what it takes, and that means being flexible in your position.
  • Passion. CEOs want to know that employees enjoy their jobs and are striving to improve professionally.
  • Confidence. The C-suite wants to know that you will embrace challenges, not shy away from them.

Hansen’s presentation also covered qualities needed to be a successful safety executive, a discussion of influence tactics and methods of persuasion, and how to stay relevant in the boardroom.

This session was recorded during Safety 2015 and is available for purchase on http://learn.asse.org.

From Safety 2015: Persuasion Power: How to Get It, Use It & Keep It

In his June 9 Safety 2015 session, “Persuasion Power: How to Get It, Keep It, Use It,” Michael Rega discussed organizational power and how one can leverage sources of power to expand critical business relationships.

Many OSH professionals have tremendous responsibility, but lack the positional power in their organizations to generate successful results. However, by understanding the components of power, one can learn to master it to achieve greater results. “Successful personal power creation is action, not position,” Rega says.

Rega discussed the human need to be associated with a group, and the influence that comes from belonging to a group, team or tribe. Understanding the group mentality, he says, can help us capture and implement the power of the group.

Keeping power once you have it, he explains, requires mastery of persuasion. Rega defines persuasion as “allowing people to do what you need them to do—willingly.” That willingness in others is the key to long-term retention of organizational power.

This session was recorded during Safety 2015 and is available for purchase on http://learn.asse.org.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

From Safety 2015: Leverage Safety Collaboration With Occupational Health Professionals

In his June 9 session at Safety 2015, “10 Ways to Leverage Safety Collaboration With Occupational Health Professionals,” Peter Greaney, M.D., highlighted the most prevalent obstacles to managing work-related injuries and illnesses, and suggested ways that safety practitioners can collaborate with occupational health professionals to improve health outcomes.

Greaney’s 10 recommendations:
  1. Improve your knowledge of workers’ compensation. Dive deeper into state specific rules and insurance coverage, and know the fundamentals of claims management.
  2. Use metrics to support collaboration and benchmark performance in order to overcome operational silos.
  3. Use qualified occupational health providers. Injured workers should be treated by providers with expertise in occupational medicine.
  4. Use standardized treatment protocols following evidence-based guidelines.
  5. Instill a workplace culture of safety and health, starting at the top.
  6. Recognize the factors that contribute to a disabled mind set to help avoid “medicalization.”
  7. Educate employees to establish realistic recovery expectations.
  8. Establish a return to work program. Consistently apply the return to work policy, and ensure that workers are educated about its purpose.
  9. Follow a process for effective case management.
  10. Create an environment in which innovation can flourish. This can be the most challenging task, Greaney says, “because it requires being receptive to new ways of approaching persistent problems and willingness to accept some degree of risk.”

To help minimize the impacts of injury, illness, impairment and aging in the workforce, Greaney recommends using a cross-disciplinary approach. In addition to OSH professionals, physicians and case managers, he says, the collaborative team may also include human resources and risk managers, supervisors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and behavioral health experts.

This session was recorded during Safety 2015 and is available for purchase on http://learn.asse.org.

From Safety 2015: Step Up & Be a Leader

In his June 8 Safety 2015 session, “Step Up and Be a Leader . . . Safety Needs YOU,” M.E. “Eddie” Greer talked about the difference between being a leader and being a manager. “You manage things and you lead people,” Greer says. Leadership training, he says, is one of the missing pieces for OSH professionals.

Being an effective leader requires problem solving, which is accomplished in several ways, including:
  • allowing open communication;
  • removing silos;
  • having the right people in the right place;
  • having a long-term, workable strategy;
  • modeling the way;
  • challenging the process;
  • inspiring a shared vision;
  • enabling others to act;
  • encouraging the heart.

For OSH professionals to truly create a safe work environment, Greer says, they need to step up and become effective safety leaders.

This session was recorded during Safety 2015 and is available for purchase on http://learn.asse.org.