Monday, November 30, 2015

Listen to Safety Lately 11/30/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week’s show focuses on eye strain, a new Spanish speaking initiative from CSB, and how new technologies present new OSH challenges.

You can download the podcast here.

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

Vision Council Publishes 2015 Report on Digital Eye Strain

Digital devices are a staple for the vast majority of the U.S. population. Many feel they offer greater freedom to live and work, and help them stay connected and share information. But overexposure to digital devices can have a detrimental effect on our visual health.

Each year, The Vision Council conducts a survey of digital device use and reports on the effects to the U.S. population. The group has released its 2015 report, which shows that 69% of American adults use a smartphone daily, as compared to only 45% in 2012. Meanwhile, 42.5% use a tablet or e-reader, as compared to 26% in 2012.

Symptoms of digital eye strain include:
  • red, dry or irritated eyes;
  • blurred vision;
  • eye fatigue;
  • back and neck pain;
  • headaches.
Many factors contribute to digital eye strain:
  • small print and pixelated images cause eyes to strain in order to focus;
  • holding devices at the wrong angle or too far from the eyes;
  • blue light (high-energy visible light) from digital devices, which increases eye strain more than other colors;
  • corrective lenses that may not be intended for viewing at mid-distance range

Download the “Hindsight is 20/20/20” report for more information, and view an infographic summarizing the report

New Technologies Bring OSH Challenges in Future of Work

Developments in the labor market and new technologies offer advances in workplace activities and processes, but they can also pose new challenges. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), new technologies present new benefits, costs, possibilities and threats; and they all have OSH implications.

Three advancements in particular are expected to affect OSH in the future including crowdsourcing, robotics and performance enhancing drugs. According to the agency, technological developments have introduced opportunities for relocating work out of traditional workplaces, creating an entirely new form of work organizations organized through online labor exchanges. Artificial intelligence is also growing rapidly. Although robots provide many benefits, there are some potential downsides including challenges to personal privacy and data protection, over-hyped expectations and increasing technological complexity. Drug use is another challenge, according to the agency. The use of drugs as cognitive enhancers is becoming normalized among certain groups of workers and it is only likely to increase with an increasingly competitive work environment.

To help prepare companies for future challenges, EU-OSHA released discussion papers on crowdsourcing, performance-enhancing drugs and robotics. Visit find more resources.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Listen to Safety Lately 11/23/15

Safety Lately is a look at the past week in the world of OSH. This week’s show covers holiday safety and new ISO standards.

You can download the podcast here.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New ISO Standards for Public Warnings

Two new standards from International Organization for Standardization (ISO) aim to help organizations responsible for public warnings develop structured emergency responses for informing risk populations.

ISO 22322
This standard offers guidelines for public warning and guidelines for developing, managing and implementing public warnings before, during and after incidents occur.

Haruo Hayashi, project leader of ISO 22322, explains: “Time to communicate is limited and often a specific message involving practical action has to be disseminated to a large group. Simple procedures that send the message efficiently and create the desired response can save lives, protect health and prevent major disruptions.”

ISO 22324
This standard provides guidelines for color-coded alerts, provides guidelines for the use of color codes to inform people at risk, as well as first-response personnel, about danger and to express the severity of a situation.

ISO 22324 describes various colors and how they should be used.
  • Red is associated with danger and should be used to notify people at risk to take appropriate safety actions immediately.
  • Yellow is associated with caution and should be used to notify people at risk to prepare to take appropriate safety actions.
  • Green is associated with a safe status and should be used to notify people at risk that no action is required.
“ISO 22322, which provides guidelines for public warning, can be used in combination with ISO 22324 and other standards that are under development on topics such as business continuity management, organizational resilience, security management and fraud countermeasures and control,” says Stefan Tangen, member of ISO technical committee 292.

Learn more at ISO’s website.

Be Safe This Holiday Season

While Thanksgiving is the time of year when many families gather to celebrate, it also is a day that
Courtesy: USDA
statistics indicate is filled with many hazards. According to NFPA, in 2013, Thanksgiving Day was the leading date for home cooking fires with 1,550-- 230% above the average number of fires per day. Not surprisingly, the next two top days for home cooking fires are Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Unattended cooking is by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. In fact, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and associated civilian injuries and is the third leading cause of home fire deaths.

Despite these alarming statistics, these incidents can be prevented. CDC offers tips on how to cook safely and prevent food-related illnesses with proper preparation techniques. FEMA offers a series of handouts on safe cooking and how to prevent kitchen fires, as well as a video on the hazards of deep-frying a turkey. USDA also offers this infographic on turkey preparation.

In addition, Atlantic Training offers a series of safety tips related to cooking. The firm also recommends that consumers keep a fire extinguisher handy, make sure smoke detectors are working properly, and check that potential hazards such as candles and fireplaces are extinguished after a holiday party. The company also offer valuable holiday travel safety tips such as planning ahead with a GPS; refraining from posting your out-of-town status across social media; securing doors and windows; and investing in a security alarm system. AAA suggests that those traveling together decide on a designated driver, or plan for a sober ride home through friends and family, public transit or ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft.

Hazards do not take a break for the holidays. Celebrate safely this season.

Hearing Conservation App Encourages Workplace Hearing Safety

Honeywell’s new hearing conservation app provides interactive tools and educational materials that safety managers can use to support workplace hearing safety programs. The app, Howard Leight Hearing Conservation Toolbox, is iPad compatible and features information on the risks of occupational noise, hearing conservation program best practices, and instruction on the testing, selection, fitting and use of hearing protection.

According to Honeywell, the app  provides access to: 
  • hearing conservation program information and checklists on noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), ear anatomy, regulations, choosing and fitting hearing protectors;
  • best practices articles on effective hearing conservation and preventing job-related hearing loss;
  • educational videos on the auditory system, the personal effects of NIHL and the importance of fit testing;
  • a noise thermometer infographic that quickly communicates the impact of exposure to both on- and off-the-job sources of noise by mapping the sound levels to a thermometer illustration;
  • an interactive noise wheel that explains the fit, protection, size and comfort to consider when choosing hearing protection;
  • hearing protector fit instructions, illustrations, tips and videos;
  • maintenance and care information for earplugs and earmuffs to ensure the effectiveness of hearing protectors;
  • details of Honeywell’s VeriPRO earplug fit-testing system, which enables safety managers to easily create an accurate, real-world picture of their employees’ hearing protection.
Visit the Apple iTunes store to download the free app

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

FEMA Provides Free Winter Fire Safety Outreach Materials

According to U.S. Fire Administration, the winter season poses greater risks for people because they cook holiday meals, decorate, and may use unsafe heat sources to keep warm. The agency provides numerous free resources to help prevent winter weather-related home fires including safety tips, social media messages, public service announcement and publications.  
  • Winter fire safety infographic: Download and share the “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires” infographic.
  • Public fire education planning: A how-to guide provides an easy start to public fire education plans.
  • Social media messages and images: NFPA and U.S. Fire Administration have Facebook and Twitter accounts that you can follow to help share important messages. Also, sample Twitter and Facebook posts are available to copy and paste to your social media accounts.
  • Winter fire safety public service announcements: YouTube videos are available on winter fire safety, portable heater safety, holiday fire safety and electrical fire safety. Audio public service announcements are available for winter fire safety, cooking fire safety, holiday decoration fire safety and candle fire safety.
  • Fire prevention and public education exchange: This serves as a centralized location for national, state and local fire prevention and life safety practices and public education materials that organizations can share with other communities.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Office Space: Different Work Zones Provide Different Purposes

In Humantech’s November 2015 e-newsletter, the company provides tips for designing an ecological workspace that will help maximize employee work output. Here are the tips:

  • Designate quiet zones for focused work. Employees should have a private, quiet place to work when big projects or tight deadlines are due. Humantech suggests a closed-door office area or an area where phones are not allowed to let employees focus.
  • Establish relational zones for small-group cooperation. Provide an area where small groups of workers can sit next to each other to discuss a project and “level the playing field” between them.
  • Identify formal zones. In situations where a leadership figure must host a client or interact with an employee, there should be a seating area that enables two people or groups to sit across from each other. This increases formality, eye contact and helps create a more dominant figure in the discussion.
  • Create open spaces to promote group collaboration. Large projects require brainstorming and planning activities that require input from numerous people. A circular or horseshoe-shaped table (instead of a rectangle shape) is ideal for large group collaborations where workers can discuss in a more equalized and open space. Also, seating such as couches or lounge chairs might help increase creativity and discussion.