Monday, August 31, 2015

40% of Employers Require Some Work on Labor Day

In the U.S., Labor Day typically means the end of summer, the beginning of the school year, and one last chance to celebrate a 3-day weekend with a backyard barbecue. But while most workers will enjoy a paid day off on Monday Sept. 7, more than 40% of employers require some work to be done, according to a survey by Bloomberg BNA.

Of more than 100 human resources professionals were surveyed, 41% indicated that their employers require some employees to work on the holiday. According to the survey, technical and security/public safety personnel are the most likely employees to do some work on the holiday.

NIOSH's Christine Branche Talks Safety Stand-Downs

Over the past 2 years, NIOSH, OSHA and CPWR have drawn increased attention to construction safety, and particularly preventing fall-related injuries and fatalities, through the National Stand-Down. The event has been successful in focusing employer and employee attention on the need to identify and control hazards and to communicate clearly about the importance of approaching each work task with safety in mind.

During the upcoming ASSE Construction Safety Symposium, Christine Branche, Ph.D., principal associate director and director, NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health, will present a session on delivering a successful safety stand-down. ASSE recently spoke with Dr. Branche about safety stand-downs and how OSH professionals can use these events to generate positive momentum for safety.

ASSE: Please define a safety stand-down and explain the goal or desired outcome for such events.
Christine: The National Safety Stand-Down, which OSHA started in 2014, actually stems from the national Safety Pays, Falls Cost construction falls prevention program which NIOSH and OSHA jointly initiated in 2012, along with key partners CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, and the members of the NORA Construction Sector Council. As for the Stand-Down, its goal is to raise awareness about fall hazards in construction and how to prevent them.

It is important for people to realize that injuries and deaths from falls in construction are both significant and preventable. In 2013, deaths caused by falls from elevation were a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 291 of the 828 construction fatalities recorded. These deaths were preventable. According to OSHA, fall prevention safety standards were among the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards, during fiscal year 2014.

ASSE: Why are stand-downs an effective way to build awareness and engage all personnel in the effort to prevent injuries—particularly fall-related injuries on construction sites?
Christine: I think there are two key reasons why the stand-downs have been effective. First is their origin in the construction falls prevention campaign. That campaign was designed based on thorough research on the topic, the audience, and even the colors and layout for the campaign logo and poster. It was designed to work. Second, the stand-down was launched by OSHA. Having our leading occupational safety and health regulatory agency putting this effort forward helps people pay close attention, and they have.

ASSE: What’s the optimal takeaway a stand-down should provide?
Christine: Every construction contractor and their workers who are conducting tasks at height will benefit from the information from the construction falls prevention campaign, and from participating in a stand-down, period. Even the U.S. Air Force did it! In 2014, all Air Force safety professionals were tasked with spending the week visiting jobsites, conducting fall protection audits, and using those opportunities during the audits to conduct training for all of the Air Force military and civilian staff at all U.S. Air Force facilities globally.

ASSE: What are some common stand-down activities?
Christine: We encourage people to be as imaginative as possible about how to conduct a stand-down. The basic component is to stop all work for a period of time (15 minutes? 20? An hour?) so that everyone at the site can have a focused discussion or training about falls and how to prevent them. CPWR’s website offers this encouragement: “[Stand-downs] may be very short, and comprised of a toolbox talk or a safety huddle where specific hazard controls are discussed, or they may be of longer duration and include training and the provision of information on a variety of hazard controls.”

ASSE: Can anyone host a stand-down or is it really just for large sites?
Christine: Anyone can host a stand-down, and on any size site. In fact, in May, OSHA received a request for a certificate of participation from an employer who said that he had a really small firm—just one employee and himself—but he conducted a stand-down.

ASSE: Can you share a compelling success story that you’ve heard personally?
Christine: The Safway Group is a provider of access equipment (e.g., scaffolds). Safway’s President and CEO, Bill Hayes, heard about the campaign and the stand-down, and worked with his leadership team to make this a company-wide activity—all jobsite, all activities—on June 2, 2014. Here is what Bill told me later that summer:
“Seeing is believing” – and as you look through these photos, you can see how our team (REAL people – where it counts!) embrace this campaign and the messages inherent in it. They WANT us to protect them (obviously!) . . . . They appreciate the time and investment to do so…and campaigns like this WILL serve to improve workplace injuries. Reaction from our teams thus far has been overwhelmingly positive!
ASSE: What kind of feedback have you received from other participants?
Christine:: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. CPWR analyzed the data that OSHA collected during the 2014 stand-down. There were a few bumps, but again, the general response was quite positive. So positive that OSHA, CPWR and NIOSH agreed to support another stand-down in 2015, and all indications are that we will do it again in 2016.

ASSE: How can company executives can show their support for a stand-down?
Christine: We really appreciate the enthusiastic support that many executives have had for the stand-down both in 2014 and this year. Regardless of the size of the job, an employer sends an important message when supporting the campaign. How can they do it? They can start by selecting dates (a day? a week?), then determining what types of activities will be conducted (e.g., toolbox talks).

ASSE: What about employees? What is their role? How might they encourage their employers to organize and hold a stand-down?
Christine: Active participation and a willingness to learn are key components, followed by doing what they learn—these are the key components. If a construction worker finds that his/her employer is not hosting a stand-down, then that worker can direct the employer to either OSHA site or the CPWR site.

ASSE: Should contract workers be included in a stand-down? How about temporary workers?
Christine: We encourage employers to include all workers in a stand-down. If they are on the site, then they will need to work with and among each other safely, so we don’t think it is wise for anyone to be excused from the stand-down.

ASSE: What resources are available to help an OSH professional planning a stand-down?
Christine: There are so many ideas! Be sure to see some of the success stories on CPWR's website.

ASSE: Any final thoughts?
Christine: Taking my cue from Nike, just do it!

Dr. Blanche will deliver her presentation, "Learn to Deliver a Successful Safety Stand-Down," on Friday, Nov. 13, during ASSE's Construction Safety Symposium in New Orleans, LA.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Safety Lately 8/28/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week’s show covers campus fire safety, preventing amputations and air quality in schools.

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.

Tackling Workplace Violence in the U.S.

While many news commentators and analysts are using Wednesday's shocking on-air shooting of two journalists in Virginia to debate gun violence and gun control, what's needed instead is a greater focus on the prevalence of workplace violence in the U.S., says CNN political commentator Errol Louis.

"We should focus on teaching the public how to spot, prevent and defend against workplace violence," CNN's Louis advises. "[I]t's time we armed every worker with the tools they need to avoid the fate of the young journalists killed in Virginia."

AFL-CIO highlighted the dangers of workplace violence in its 2014 annual Death on the Job report. As the infographic shows, 404 people were killed on the job in 2013. Furthermore, 70% of all serious injuries due to workplace violence are experienced by women.

On Aug. 27, Chicago Tribune posted a story headlined, "What's a company to do with an employee like Vester Lee Flanagan?" that offers some insight on the challenge workplace violence presents to employers. Read that story here.

In addition, NIOSH offers a collection of resources to help employers and employees tackle this issue, and OSHA has a safety and health topics page on the topic as well. ASSE members can also access various resources in the Society's Body of Knowledge by searching on the keywords workplace violence.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

EPA Launches App to Assist With School Air Quality Assessments

EPA recently launched a new mobile app to help schools conduct indoor air quality assessments (IAQ). The School IAQ Assessment app provides direct guidance from EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit to help protect the health of children and staff.

Half of the schools in the U.S. have adopted IAQ management programs. EPA developed the app to help schools more efficiently carry out their IAQ management programs. A study of the costs and benefits of green schools estimated a 15% reduction in absenteeism and a 5% increase in test scores.

Download by visiting here on your smartphone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Impact of Proposed ISO 45001 Standard on Current ANSI/ASSE A10 Construction & Demolition Safety Management Standards

© Stoutsenberger
The ANSI/ASSE A10 Construction and Demolitions standards represent a comprehensive compilation of the ANSI/ASSE A10 series of safety construction standards. The standards provide the safety requirements for scaffolding, steel erection, safety nets and fall protection. Demolition operation standards address debris net systems, rope-guided and nonguided workers' hoists, commercial explosives and blasting agents, digger derricks, rigging qualifications and hearing loss prevention. The requirements for the safety of the public near construction sites and the safety and health of employees of construction environments are also supplied in this package, which includes more than 30 construction and demolition standards.
We continue to hear from the construction and demolitions industry if the proposed ISO 45001 Health and Safety and Management Systems Standard will replace the current ANSI/ASSE A10 Construction and Demolition Safety Management Standards.  This blog update is meant to address the questions and also inform members and the profession about both the A10 and ISO 45001 standards.
The overall answer is “no” since the current standards will not be rescinded. The A10 Committee has noted that it will continue to create, maintain and publish appropriate construction and demolition safety management standards. The A10 standards are widely recognized and implemented in both the private and public sector. Public and private sector recognition in legislation, regulation, contracts and work agreements continues to expand so the A10 ASC does not believe its standards will be retired or rescinded. In addition, the A10 standards are now being used on a global level.

Current Standards

The standard sets forth the minimum elements and activities of a program that defines the duties and responsibilities of construction project where a single project constructor supervises and controls the project. The Society also publishes a tech brief about this standard.
This standard sets forth the minimum elements and activities of a program that defines the duties and responsibilities of construction employers working on a construction project where multiple employers are or will be engaged in the common undertaking to complete a construction project.  The Society also publishes a tech brief about this standard.
This standard identifies the minimum performance elements that, when properly utilized, will allow for a competent evaluation of a construction safety and health program. Further, it will identify those areas where systems, records and performance elements are required in order to produce a quality audit.

Future Plan

The A10 ASC will review the ISO 45001 standard if/when released for reference and to promote synergy. Information on the proposed ISO 45001 Standard can obtained via:
If you should have interest in these standards or in joining the subject committees, please contact the Society for more information and an application.

OSHA Updates National Emphasis Program on Amputations

OSHA recently issued an updated National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Amputations. The NEP, which began in 2006, uses current enforcement data and Bureau of Labor Statistics injury data to target work sites in industries with high numbers and rates of amputations. This directive updates the 2006 NEP on amputations and applies to general industry workplaces in which any machinery or equipment likely to cause amputations are present. OSHA inspections under the NEP will include an evaluation of employee exposures during operations such as clearing jams; cleaning, oiling, or greasing machines or machine pans; and locking out machinery to prevent accidental start-up.

More information is available on OSHA’s website.

BLS Takes Closer Look at Job Transfer & Modified Duty Cases

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has conducted a pilot study to learn more about occupational injuries and illnesses that resulted in days of job transfer or work restriction. According to the agency, the study compared the case circumstances and worker characteristics of injuries and illnesses that require days away from work to recuperate and those that lead to days of job transfer or restriction only, without time away from work.

The pilot study used data from 2011 through 2013, and it focused on six initial private industries:
  • specialty trade contractors
  • food manufacturing
  • building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers
  • air transportation
  • warehousing and storage
  • nursing and residential care facilities
The report presents data highlights and statistical tables on injuries and illnesses that led to one of three types of cases:
  1. DART: Days away from work, days of restricted work activity, or job transfer
  2. DJTR: Days of job transfer or restriction (only)
  3. DAFW: Days away from work (with or without days of job transfer or restriction)
"This pilot study is an effort to better understand the details of the case circumstances and worker characteristics of job-transfer and worker-restriction cases," BLS says. "Over the long term, the proportion of transfer and restriction cases has increased. These data provide a new understanding about how injuries and illnesses that lead to days of job transfer or restriction differ from those that lead to days away from work." Read the report here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Safety Lately 8/21/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week’s show covers salaries in safety, respirable coal dust and solar panels complicating firefighting.

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, August 20, 2015

After First Year, MSHA Sees Improvement With Respirable Coal Dust Rule

This month marks the 1-year anniversary of MSHA's respirable coal dust ruleMSHA reports that results for the first year show that “compliance is achievable and, more importantly, the nation’s coal miners are better protected from debilitating and deadly black lung than ever before.” The agency reports that of the 62,000 dust samples that were collected from surface and underground coal mines this past year, only 1.1% of the samples exceeded the dust concentration limit.

“While some insisted that mines would be unable to comply with the requirements of the rule, sampling results have proved that assumption is incorrect,” says MSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main.

Since Phase 1 of the rule is in place, MSHA reports that it will begin to host a series of stakeholder outreach meetings in preparation for Phase II. Starting on Feb. 1, 2016, continuous personal dust monitors must be used to monitor underground coal mine jobs that are exposed to the highest respirable dust concentrations, and for miners with evidence of Black Lung disease. The devices will provide dust exposure results in real time. In addition, during Phase II, the rule’s increased sampling frequency provisions will go into effect.

The third and final phase goes into effect August 2016 and will lower the dust concentration limit from 2.0 to 1.5 mg/m3 of air.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

OSHA’s Position on Online Training

OSHA believes that computer-based training programs can be used as part of an effective OSH training program. However, there are some stipulations. OSHA’s treats online-based training programs like training videos. These programs alone do not meet all of OSHA's training requirements, they must provide sufficient hands-on experience and be accompanied by a qualified trainer.

Atlantic Training outlines some of these guidelines.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rooftop Solar Panels Pose Risks to Firefighters

Rooftop solar panels are known to save money on energy bills, however, along with these increasingly popular rooftop additions comes a risk to firefighters. A report from Boston FOX25 news station discussed how rooftop solar panels can be hazardous to firefighters responding to a fire. While Boston FOX25 news says solar panels are not likely the cause of a fire, they can make firefighting a challenge, as they hold 200 to 600 V of electricity any time there is any kind of light on them; the chances that they actually power off are slim. Powered solar panels could possibly electrocute a firefighter, and additionally, the panels themselves (powered or not) add weight to a roof and can cause slip, trip and fall hazards to firefighters.

One helpful action a homeowner or business owner can take in the event of a fire is to inform the fire department and other emergency responders that there are solar panels on the roof. The report even suggests not waiting until a fire happens to tell your local fire department that you have them. This can start a conversation about necessary training and preparation needed by all those who could be affected during a fire response.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Listen to Safety Lately 8/14/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week's show covers fire problems at storage facilities, alternative fuel vehicle safety, and NIOSH’s Research Rounds.

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.

Recordkeeping Isn't Just Paperwork

© Rusyanto
OSHA has proposed a rule that would clarify an employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness throughout the 5-year period during which the employer is required to keep the records. In issuing the proposal, the agency is seeking to clarify its long-standing position that the duty to record an injury or illness continues for as long as the employer must keep records of the recordable injury or illness.

"The proposed amendments add no new compliance obligations; the proposal would not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required," the agency states. OSHA Administrator David Michaels also points out that injury/illness record keeping documents are not simply paperwork. "Accurate records have an important, in fact life-saving purpose. They will enable employers, employees, researchers and the government to identify and eliminate the most serious workplace hazards--ones that have already caused injuries and illnesses to occur."

If interested, you can submit written comments on the proposed rule at (reference Docket No. OSHA-2015-0006).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DOL Seeks Nominatees for New Workforce Information Advisory Council

© Ltd.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is seeking nominations for the new Workforce Information Advisory Council. The council, which is required by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, will provide recommendations to the Secretary of Labor to evaluate and improve federal and state workforce and labor market information systems, and how the department and states will cooperate in the management of those systems.

DOL reports the council will comprise of 14 members:
  • four state workforce information or labor market information directors;
  • four state workforce agency administrators;
  • one member who represents each of the following groups: business, labor organziations, local workforce development boards, economic development, university or research entities; and Workforce Information Title I training providers.
Nominates are due by Oct. 6, 2015.

Training Is Essential to Safety

OSHA has posted a fully updated version of its guide to all agency training requirements to help employers, OSH professionals, training directors and others comply with the law and keep workers safe. Training Requirements in OSHA Standards organizes the training requirements into five categories: general industry, maritime, construction, agriculture and federal employee programs.

The training requirements in the standards reflect OSHA's belief that training is an essential part of every employer's OSH program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.

For a list of educational materials available from OSHA, visit the Publications webpage.

Construction Employers Get More Time to Comply With Confined Space Standard

© Achtymichuk
OSHA had delayed until Oct. 2, 2015, full enforcement of its Confined Spaces in Construction standard, and will follow a temporary enforcement policy until that date. The agency received numerous requests for additional time to train and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard.

During this temporary enforcement period, OSHA will not issue citations to employers who make good-faith efforts to comply with the new standard. How will the agency determine whether employers are making good-faith efforts to comply? The agency lists the following evidence: scheduling training for employees as required by the new standard; ordering the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard; and taking alternative measures to educate and protect employees from confined space hazards. Employers must comply with either the training requirements of the new standard or the previous standard. Employers who fail to train their employees consistent with either of these two standards will be cited.

OSHA estimates the confined spaces rule could protect nearly 800 construction workers a year from serious injuries and reduce life-threatening hazards.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Report Examines Fire Problem at Treatment, Storage & Disposal Facilities

A new Fire Protection Research Foundation report, “Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility Fire Code Gap Analysis,” discusses the regulatory framework of hazardous waste; examines the treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) fire problem; identifies gaps that contribute to the fire problem; and provides recommendations to address those gaps.

According to the report, numerous losses have occurred involving hazardous waste at TSDFs, and the fire problem ranges from small storage facilities to large TSDFs that handle numerous hazardous materials. According to the report’s author Elizabeth Buc, “This report could be used to support the logic of developing new text in NFPA 400 Hazardous Materials Code, in the form of a new chapter or annex material, where clarification is needed or specific guidance is lacking.” In addition, the report is said to compile and examine existing research on the environmental impact of fire and document the knowledge gaps for future work.

New Article Offers 12 Keys to Dauntless Innovation

Innovation is important to any organization, especially in OSH. In Leigh Steere's new article, "12 Keys to Dauntless Innovation," she runs through activities and mindsets that translate to any innovation effort. To learn more how these are used in application, read the entire article here. The list is as follows:
  1. Get clear on the scope of the need.
  2. Research quickly but extensively.
  3. Pick a specific need to focus on.
  4. Identify barriers to meeting the need (e.g., physical, procedural, political).
  5. Define resource constraints (time, money, manpower).
  6. Question assumptions.
  7. Explore new ways to utilize existing resources.
  8. Get user input instead of guessing or assuming.
  9. Move toward the needs.
  10. Be willing to endure hardship.
  11. Have eyes, ears, and feet on the ground.
  12. Improvise.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Alternative Fuel Vehicles Training Program Available for First Responders

NFPA has launched its Alternative Fuel Vehicles Training Program for U.S. Emergency Responders program. The free, online program is an update to the agency’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training course that was introduced a few years ago. The new course is a self-paced program that includes interactive modules with video, graphics and simulations, and it teaches emergency responders how to safely handle emergency situations that involve alternative fuel passenger vehicles, trucks, buses and commercial fleet vehicles. Response training for alternative fuel vehicles includes electric, hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell, biodiesel and gaseous fuels.

NFPA reports the program also covers identification techniques, immobilization and power-down procedures, extrication challenges, and recommended practices for handling hazards such as fires and submersion. Participants will learn how to conduct emergency scene size-up and management; identify an alternative fuel vehicle; immobilize the vehicle for scene safety; disable the vehicle’s high voltage and SRS systems; and conduct occupant rescue more safely.

Interested participants may register on NFPA’s website

NIOSH Newsletter Bringing Research Closer to Practice

Building an effective, ongoing bridge between the wealth of OSH research conducted by NIOSH and the practice of ASSE members and the broader OSH community is "a very tough nut to crack," says Dave Heidorn, ASSE's manager of government affairs and policy. To add some strength to that building effort, NIOSH has launched a new newsletter, NIOSH Research Rounds.

In announcing the initiative, NIOSH Director John Howard says the publication will highlight the wealth of research that NIOSH advances every day, from "the beginnings of studies, benchmarks achieved in studies-in-progress, advancements in methods for the 21st century and new findings reported in the peer-reviewed literature." It will also include summaries of select scientific articles.

The inaugural issue highlights several projects including a study of truck-driver measurements geared toward improving truck-driver safety through better cab design; a new study analyzing the relationship between cleaning products and asthma among hospital workers; and efforts to expand the NIOSH Ladder Safety app.

Howard also urges readers to share comments and suggestions by sending an e-mail to NIOSH Research Rounds. ASSE also encourages all members to sign up for this resource and help spread the news about the work NIOSH is doing to help OSH professionals succeed.