Friday, July 31, 2015

Listen to Safety Lately 7/31/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week’s show covers fire resistant clothing, new guidance from OSHA on hazard communications, and Thom Kramer’s At-Risk symposium presentation.

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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

OSH Professionals Need to Make a Better Business Case for Fall Protection

From seasoned construction workers to inexperienced do-it-yourselfers, nearly 600 people die from injuries sustained from falls each year. The safety community, working with construction business owners, unions, trade associations and the public must do a better job of making the case that working at heights requires fall protection equipment.

Noted fall protection safety expert Thom Kramer made a compelling argument during ASSE’s At-Risk Symposium held earlier this year in Washington, DC. As he pointedly asks, if these 600 fatalities occurred at the same time, wouldn’t society do everything possible to ensure that procedures were in place so people working at heights were protected from danger?

To learn more about fall protection and available resources, be sure to read ASSE's Tech Brief on the Z359 Fall Protection Code. You can also download ANSI/ASSE Z359.0-2012, Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest, for free.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Can Time Off Improve Productivity?

In an effort to attract and keep talented staff, some companies offer unlimited vacation to employees. But according to new research, even if given time off whenever they wanted, most workers would not change how much vacation they take: 56% of workers and 72% of executives said they would take the same amount of time off if their company changed to an unlimited vacation policy.

While unlimited time off might sound great, according to Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, “In reality, many employees have trouble breaking away from the office no matter what the official policy as deadlines need to be met.”

Another survey by Robert Half showed that nearly 40% of employees don’t use all of their vacation time. The reasons? About a third of those people say they have too much work, while 38% are saving it for a rainy day. Interestingly, only 3% don’t take time off because their boss discourages it.

Balance is important, says Paul McDonald, Robert Half’s senior executive director. “All work and no play doesn’t just lead to burnout—it also erodes creativity, since stepping out of your routine frequently sparks innovation.”

“Managers should lead by example, taking time off themselves and encouraging their staff to do the same,” Domeyer says.

So get packing, boss. It’s time for a little R&R.

OSHA Issues Instruction for Consistent Enforcement of Revised HazCom Standard

OSHA has issued instructions to compliance safety and health officers on how to ensure consistent enforcement of the revised HazCom standard, which improves the quality, clarity and consistency of chemical hazard information that workers receive. OSHA revised the HazCom standard in March 2012 to align with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

According to OSHA, the instructions outline revisions to the standard, including the revised hazard classification of chemicals, standardizing label elements for containers of hazardous chemicals, and specifying the format and required content for safety data sheets. In addition, the instructions explain how the revised standard should be enforced during its transition and after the standard is fully implemented on June 1, 2016.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Top 5 Ways FR Clothing Is Improperly Worn

Flame resistant clothing can protect the wearer from a number of workplace hazards including arc flash, flash fires and molten metal splatter, provided it is worn correctly. Worn incorrectly, these garments lose their effectiveness. Workrite Uniform Co. identifies the top five mistakes workers make in the way they wear FR clothing:

  1. Wearing it with a non-FR outer layer. Even if you are wearing FR clothing, a non-FR outer layer can still ignite and burn. In cold weather conditions, workers should wear FR outerwear as well.
  2. Wearing it with a non-FR synthetic under layer. T-shirts worn to help with moisture management may be made from synthetic materials that are not flame resistant. These materials can actually melt to the skin.
  3. Rolling up sleeves. This should be avoided because it leaves arms exposed. Instead, workers should wear FR clothing made from lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric.
  4. Unzipping coveralls or unbuttoning shirts. Like rolling up sleeves, this practice also leaves the skin unprotected.
  5. Not tucking in shirttail. Heat and flames can travel under the shirt. Workers should look for FR clothing that has long shirttails to prevent this from occurring.

Friday, July 24, 2015

FHWA Launches New Tunnel Inspection Program

Just like bridges, no two tunnels are exactly the same. In an effort to standardize inspections across those environments, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is implementing a program that creates tunnel inspection standards to match those of bridge inspections.

The tunnel inspection program is modeled after FHWA's national bridge inspection program. The agency will also compile an inventory of the nation’s tunnels and develop a database much like the national bridge inventory.

FHWA has provided tunnel inspection guidance before, but the agency had no means to require tunnel owners—such as state transportation departments or other agencies—to inspect tunnels. Inspection methods have also varied widely. New standards will include revamped inspection requirements, as well as annual reports of tunnel conditions and inspection findings.

Listen to Safety Lately 7/24/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week’s show covers the proposed ISO 45001 standard, rethinking parking signs, and standardizing tunnel inspections.

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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Speaking the Language of Business: Make Data Points Salient Points

Speaking the language of business. That's a phrase you probably have heard numerous times at ASSE's recent professional development conferences, whether from corporate leaders during the Executive Summit sessions, from Society leaders at the general sessions or expert presenters during the concurrent sessions. It's a message that reflects an ongoing knowledge need within the OSH community.

One part of that is knowing how to present data so it's meaningful. Humantech's Executive Vice President James Mallon, CPE, offers an interesting way to make your data point a salient point to executives and other key stakeholders. Take a look.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Proposed ISO 45001 Standard Moving Forward

The buzz continues to build around ISO 45001, the proposed international standard for occupational health and safety management systems. The ISO PC283 Committee recently agreed to move the standard to the next stage--as a DIS (draft international standard). This means the standard has now surmounted a major standards development step and will continue to advance. Once the DIS is submitted to the ISO Secretariat, it will be circulated to all ISO members, who get three months to vote and comment on it. From here it can either go straight to publication or go to the final draft international standard stage.

ASSE's latest Tech Brief notes that the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) submitted its vote, “no with comments,” to ISO via ANSI, which is the voting organization for the U.S. at ISO. "The TAG ratified the ongoing American position of supporting the project and wanting to see the standard move forward. . . . The TAG did not want to see the current draft move to a finalization process since the consensus is that additional work still needs to take place." ISO has also posted a briefing note on the standard.

Overall, U.S. TAG members agree that this project presents a "real opportunity for standards to play an important role in addressing compelling global occupational safety and health issues. This new standard can help us create a necessary global foundation of worker safety standards and inspections that can be used by all global supply chains, for all industries, and cover all contractors and subcontractors in all countries supplying products into these supply chains."

For technical information about this standards project or for more information about membership on the TAG, contact ASSE's Tim Fisher.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Listen to Safety Lately 7/17/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This podcast covers tuberculosis exposure, collision avoidance systems, and the West African Ebola epidemic.

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.

Rethinking the Parking Sign
Nikki Sylianteng, an interaction designer, has undertaken what she calls a guerrilla parking sign redesign project, “To Park or Not to Park?” Her goal was to make it easier to read confusing parking signs, particularly combinations of signs that restrict or allow parking during different combinations of times and conditions.

In explaining the design principles behind the project, Sylianteng says, “I’m operating on the assumption that drivers would rather be clearly told they can’t park than vaguely told they can.” Versions of Sylianteng’s signs are being tested in Los Angeles, CA, and Brisbane, Australia.

AIHA Releases New Formaldehyde Resources

AIHA has released educational materials focused on formaldehyde, focused specifically on emissions from laminate flooring and consumer safety.

These materials come after suspicions grew that some laminate flooring manufactured in China could carry high levels of formaldehyde. U.S. retailers including Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators pulled the suspect product from store shelves earlier this year.

AIHA says that the documents provide practical information for both consumers and industry professionals. The materials can be found at AIHA’s Formaldehyde Resource Center.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CDC Looks Back at 2014-15 Ebola Response

CDC has released a report about its response to the West African Ebola epidemic. The agency says the Ebola response was the largest international outbreak response in the agency’s history. More than 27,000 Ebola cases and more than 11,000 deaths were recorded over the course of the outbreak—CDC deployed more than 2,000 experts to the region, and trained more than 24,000 healthcare workers in West Africa alone.

“The West African Ebola epidemic is a vivid reminder that even in the 21st Century, disease can still threaten not only people’s health, but also the very foundations of national and international economies,” the report says.

Thousands of public health professionals in Africa and the U.S. helped stop the epidemic in Liberia and are currently working to stop it in Guinea and Sierra Leone. CDC and its partners are working toward eliminating all new Ebola cases in the affected countries and to strengthen vigilance throughout the region.

Read more at CDC’s Ebola webpage.

NTSB Calls for Collision Avoidance Systems for Vehicles

© giniewicz
In a NationalTransportation Safety Board (NTSB) report, the agency recommends that manufacturers include collision avoidance systems as standard equipment in newly manufactured vehicles. The report, “The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes,” states that collision avoidance systems save lives, reduce injuries and can prevent or lessen the severity of rear-end crashes. NTSB says it has made 12 similar recommendations over the past 20 years, but progress has been slow due to a “lack of incentives and limited public awareness.”

According to the agency, in 2014, only 4 out of 684 passenger vehicles included a complete forward collision avoidance system as a standard feature. Usually, when manufacturers offer these systems as an add-on option, they are sold with other nonsafety features, which increases the price. The report outlines the safety benefits of these systems and urges that they are part of the standard package. “You don’t pay extra for your seat belt,” said NTSB Chair Christopher Hart. “And you shouldn’t have to pay extra for technology that can help prevent a collision altogether.”

In addition to standardizing the collision systems, NTSB recommends manufacturers should begin with adding collision warning systems then add autonomous emergency braking once National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) finishes standards for such systems. NTSB also recommends that NHTSA develop standards to rate the performance of each vehicle’s collision avoidance system and include the results in an expanded NCAP 5-star safety rating scale.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

OSHA Updates Procedures for Tuberculosis-Related Healthcare Inspection

OSHA has updated instructions for conducting inspections and issuing citations related to worker exposures to tuberculosis in healthcare settings. The instruction now incorporates guidance from the 2005 CDC report, "Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Health-Care Settings."

According to the CDC, nearly one-third of the world's population is infected with TB, which kills almost 1.5 million people per year. Despite best efforts, TB continues to infect hundreds of people each year, posing a serious threat to workers in healthcare.

Other changes to the directive include: the introduction of a newer screening method for analyzing blood for M. tuberculosis; classifying health care settings as low risk, medium risk, or potential ongoing transmission; and reducing the frequency of TB screenings for workers.

According to OSHA, the revised directive only updates the agency's inspection procedures, employers will not have to follow any additional regulations. Click here for more information tuberculosis.

10 Safety Signs to Spot on a Plant Walkthrough

Plant walkthroughs are a common safety exercise, often used to assess things like housekeeping and PPE compliance. Walkthroughs are also a good way to engage employees and build awareness about workplace safety. One specific task to consider incorporating into your walkthroughs is a check of a site's safety signs. Brady highlights these 10 signs to look for:
  1. Exit/Evacuation Signs: Every authorized exit sign must be either constantly illuminated by a reliable light source, or be sufficiently self-luminating by use of glow-in-the-dark materials.
  2. Fire Signs: These signs indicate the location of fire extinguishers and fire hose cabinets so they are readily accessible in case of an emergency. 
  3. Electrical Arc-Flash Hazard Signs: Sites must indicate High voltage areas, and provide sufficient access and working space around energized electric equipment.
  4. First-Aid Signs: First-aid supplies must be identified and readily available at all times in case of a medical emergency.
  5. Flammable/Combustible Signs: Containers and areas with flammable or combustible liquids, vapors or materials must have conspicuous warning labels. 
  6. Personal Protection Signs: These signs contain symbols and prevention tags/messages to remind workers of PPE required to protect against hazards related to physical contact, absorption and inhalation.
  7. Hazardous Areas Signs: “Caution” signage is required to warn against potential hazards and unsafe practices. Hazardous signs instruct employees of area protocol.
  8. Confined Spaces Signs: Warns employees of areas that require authorized permits or specific instructions for entering into a potentially hazardous confined space.
  9. Machines and Equipment Signs: These signs alert workers to dangerous areas and hazards that could cause personal injury or equipment failure.
  10. Slips, Trips and Falls Signs: These signs provide instructions and suggestions to maintain safety in aisles.
The company also has a short video that explains the ANSI Z535 safety sign standard and how signs created using this format are more understood universally. View it below.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Get PRAISEd for Improving Work-Related Road Safety

As part of its PRAISE project, European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) recognizes organizations that demonstrate a high level of commitment to improving work-related road safety. The group presents awards in three categories small-medium enterprise (fewer than 250 employees), large company and public authority.

Award candidates must complete the questionnaire and be able to demonstrate that they have met the following criteria:
  • evidence that a process has taken place (e.g., risk assessment, formal structure, policies developed, targets measured); 
  • able to show an innovative approach to work-related road safety including concrete actions and initiatives; 
  • target setting and monitoring used as part of the road safety program; 
  • solid evidence of a return on investment and economic impact; 
  • indicators set up to collect and monitor data on all collisions/material damage/casualties; 
  • evidence of safety impact improvements (e.g., improved crash rate and casualty reduction);
  • able to show how the program engaged employees and how senior management led the initiative. 
Completed forms should be submitted to by Aug. 3, 2015, with the awards to presented at ETSC's annual PRAISE conference in Brussels, Belgium.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Safety Lately 7/10/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This podcast covers autonomous vehicles, OSHA’s new targets in healthcare, and teaching teens about OSH.

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.

CPSC Passes Rule for Seasonal & Decorative Lights

U.S.Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a rule that allows the agency to remove hazardous seasonal and decorative lights from the market more effectively. According to CPSC, these lighting products have caused hundreds of fire- and shock-related deaths and injuries. Over the years, a voluntary standard was implemented, and since 1974, the agency has announced 47 voluntary recalls of season and decorative lighting products, totaling 3.6 million units.

Under the new rule, if these products lack any of the three characteristics as found in UL 588 voluntary standard—minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief or overcurrent protection—CPSC will consider the products to present a substantial product hazard to consumers. The rule includes elements of the voluntary standard and streamlines CPSC’s efforts to stop the distribution and sale of nonconforming products. 

Brookings: Autonomous Vehicles Will Shake Up Government Revenue

In a recent report the Brookings Institute predicts that in 20 years a significant number of Americans will likely travel via autonomous vehicles (AVs). The good news is that the widespread adoption of that technology should reduce speeding tickets, DUIs and towing fees. However, cutting down on those citations could seriously cut into government revenue.

AVs are not exclusively bad news for government, though, since increasing safety and reducing inefficiencies in transportation infrastructure could theoretically save government and taxpayers major expenses. It is a complicated issue, but Brookings points to a report from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that concludes that in the U.S. 7% of vehicle crash costs are paid for by public revenues. Eliminating those expenditures could save taxpayers an estimated $10 billion each year.

Read more at Brookings’ website.

Teens in Florida, Oklahoma to Receive Safety Training

Oklahoma has enacted State Senate Bill 262, which requires school districts in the state to provide training on workplace safety and health to students in grades 7 through 12. The Oklahoma State Department of Education will now work with the state Labor Department to make information regarding workplace safety training available to school districts.

The materials will be based on NIOSH's Youth@Work Talking Safety curriculum. The curriculum includes NIOSH's Core Competencies--eight areas of foundational knowledge, skills and abilities that individuals need to gain before entering the labor force. Key among these knowledge domains are the ability to understand work-related risks; recognize and control hazards; recognize rights and responsibilities on the job; and communicate effectively when experiencing a job-related problem. "Research indicates that schools are one particularly effective locus for the delivery of vital workplace safety and health skills," says NIOSH Director John Howard.

The law follows on the heels of the recent agreement between NIOSH and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) to train the school system's eighth-grade science teachers on use of the Talking Safety curriculum. M-DCPS science teachers and their students (approximately 3,000 each year) will evaluate the new curriculum, and NIOSH researchers will also work with M-DCPS science, technology, engineering, and mathematics administrators to build a sustainable model for teaching foundational workplace safety and health skills. NIOSH reports that M-DCPS has already incorporated safe and healthy work skills into its eighth-grade science curriculum, which will reach by nearly 17,000 teens each year. You can read more about this partnership here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ISO Standard Aims to Prevent Building Collapse During Earthquakes

Photo by Christopher Mardorf /FEMA
As the world has witnessed throughout history, most recently in places such as Haiti and Nepal, earthquakes often produce crushing consequences, from multiple fatalities to property damage and economic ruin. ISO 16711:2015 aims to help reduce loss of life by preventing building collapse during earthquakes. "Compared to disasters like floods, earthquakes have long return periods," ISO explains. "They only occur once every so often. But when they do, they happen suddenly and with little warning and their impact is often significant."

The only way to counteract this is to identify, manage and mitigate risks beforehand, ISO says. The new standard, "Seismic Assessment and Retrofit of Concrete Structures," will help engineers and architects conduct a seismic assessment and seismic retrofit work to address critical structural vulnerabilities that could lead to a sudden failure when a large earthquake strikes. 

OSHA to Focus on MSDs, Workplace Violence & More During Healthcare Inspections

OSHA is expanding its use of enforcement resources in hospitals and nursing homes to target five key areas that contribute to workplace injury and illness in the healthcare industry. New guidelines add musculoskeletal disorders related to patient handling; bloodborne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls as focus hazards for agency inspections conducted in inpatient healthcare settings.

According to OSHA inspection history and data released by Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers are consistently exposed to these hazards. Work injury and illness rates for hospital workers are among the highest in the country, says David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "OSHA has provided employers with education, training and resource materials, and it's time for hospitals and the healthcare industry to make the changes necessary to protect their workers," he continues.

Through a memorandum, OSHA has advised its compliance officers to address these focus hazards during all inspections of hospitals and nursing home facilities, including those prompted by complaints, referrals or severe injury reports. The guidance applies to all federal OSHA inspections of hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities. The memo to agency staff notes that state plans must also follow the new guidance.

For more information, visit OSHA’s website.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CSB Finds Mismanagement of Gasoline Storage Tank in 2009 Caribbean Petroleum Incident

CSB has released a draft investigation report
on the 2009 explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum (CAPECO) terminal facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The explosion occurred when gasoline overflowed during a transfer operation, sprayed out from an aboveground storage tank and formed a 107-acre vapor cloud that ignited. The incident resulted in no fatalities, but damaged 300 homes and businesses, and leaked gasoline into the environment. One major problem CSB found in its investigation was that “facilities such as CAPECO, which store large quantities of gasoline and other flammables, are not required to conduct risk assessment of potential dangers.” 

More specific to the CAPECO incident, CSB found that the measuring devices used for the liquid levels in the tanks were poorly maintained and often nonfunctional. The tanks were maintained using a float-and-tape measuring system that was in place to avoid overfilling and when that system failed, no other layer of protection was in place, such as an independent high level alarm or automatic overfill prevention system. CSB also found that current regulations only require one layer of protection against tank overfill.

CSB recommends EPA, OSHA and American Petroleum Institute adopt new regulations for such facilities to require that flammable storage tanks have automatic overfill protection systems, and to require regular testing, inspections and risk assessments. Having multiple protection systems in place will help to prevent future similar incidents. 

To read the report, visit CSB’s website. An excerpt from the agency's upcoming “Filling Blind” video about the incident is also available.