Small Businesses Less Likely to Offer Health Promotion Programs

But when implemented, programs can improve worker health

Employees at small businesses are less likely to have access to work-site wellness programs, according to a research review in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

But smaller companies that can overcome the barriers and implement wellness programs can realize achieve meaningful improvements in employee health, report Kira McCoy, BA, of Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass., and colleagues.

They write, “Preventative health initiatives and disease management receive less attention in small business, yet are equally important for clinical implications of working American’s health.”

The researchers analyzed the findings of 19 studies of work-site wellness programs in small business. A 2008 study suggested that less than 5% of small work-sites offered comprehensive wellness programs, compared to nearly one-fourth of larger businesses. More than half of the U.S. workforce is employed by small companies with less than 500 employees.

Costs were identified as a key barrier to starting wellness programs in small business—not only direct program costs but also indirect costs such as time and staff. Smaller companies are also less likely to offer health insurance, and thus don’t have the financial incentive of lowering employee insurance premiums by improving employee health. There may also be issues related to employee privacy and perceived “meddling” in workers’ private lives at smaller companies.

But the few studies that have evaluated wellness programs at smaller companies have shown reported improvements in employee health. Those studies reported improvements in outcomes including diet, physical activity, and emotional health.

McCoy and coauthors call for more into how best to disseminate effective health promotion programs to smaller companies. The availability of technical assistance and incentives for workplace wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act, “reinforces the urgent need for more high quality research that specifically addresses adoption, implementation, efficacy and sustainability of work-site wellness within small business settings.”

Click here to learn how your company can benefit from CBIA’s free Healthy Connections wellness program.


NIOSH Issues New Report on Prevention Through Design

Designing out hazards most effective way of ensuring safe workplaces

The national initiative on Prevention through Design (PtD), was launched in 2007 with the goal of designing out occupational hazards to protect workers. PtD encompasses all of the efforts to anticipate and design out hazards to workers in facilities, work methods and operations, processes, equipment, tools, products, new technologies, and the organization of work [Schulte et al. 2008].

Too often, workers (including those who perform maintenance tasks) have not been considered in the design process. The focus of PtD is on workers who execute the designs or have to work with the products of the design. The initiative has been developed to support designing out hazards, the most reliable and effective type of prevention. PtD can be practiced at all levels of the hierarchy of controls, but it is most effective as the means to eliminate hazards.

Full report 




Metro-North Found in Violation of Federal Law

Railroad ordered to pay damages and legal fees to seven employees

Metro-North has been cited by OSHA for disciplining workers who followed physicians instructions. OSHA’s investigations found that between 2011 and 2013, the employees with duty stations in New Haven or Stamford were issued written warnings under the railroad’s attendance policy when they each followed the orders of their physician to stay out of work. Five were carmen, one an electrician, and one a foreman.

Anti-Discrimination provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) prohibits railroad carriers from disciplining or threatening to discipline employees who follow a physician’s orders or treatment plan. Robert Hopper, the acting regional administrator for New England, indicated that Metro-North’s policy of making employees ignore a treating physician’s medical instructions or face discipline is unacceptable. While Metro-North says it has since changed this policy, this type of procedure, which endangers employees and the public and is illegal under the FRSA, should not exist.”

The employees filed complaints with OSHA, which found merit to the complaints, and ordered Metro-North to pay each employee $1,000 in compensatory damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees. The railroad must also expunge the written warnings from each employee’s personnel record and post a workplace notice informing employees of their FRSA anti-discrimination rights. Either party in these cases can file an appeal with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.

More information



It Pays to Be an Industrial Hygienist in New England

Salaries rise nearly 11% since 2008

According to the 2013 American Industrial Hygiene Association salaries have gone up in general for hygienists. In fact, the average salary for an hygienist rose to $105,166 in 2013 from 94,947 in 2008. New England’s Hygienists had the highest average $115,742. This is a shift from the 2008 survey when the West South Central region had the highest earners.

The highest paid in the group were industrial hygienist consultants who averaged $135, 023. This is even higher than the average managerial salary of $120,276. Also reported is the impact of the manufacturing sector. Industry professionals in pharmaceuticals, energy, construction, and manufacturing earned salaries above the overall mean of $105,166

The survey, which was mailed to AIHA members and non-members and had a 24% response rate, includes overall salary data as well as salary information that considers such factors as industry, tenure, education, certification geography, number of people managed. and scope of primary responsibility.

More information 

ANSI Approves New Head Protection Standards

Revision enables extra protection in hot work environments

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)  has approved ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014, American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection. The standards were submitted by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) as an update to the 2009 rules and was approved by a consensus review panel of technical experts, unions, construction industry and other user groups, test labs, certification agencies, and government agencies.

Although the core performance requirements remain unchanged, key updates in this version incorporate an optional preconditioning at higher temperatures of 60°C ± 2°C (140°F ± 3.6°F). The revision enables additional protection in response to users who may work in especially hot environments.

Head protection devices that meet the applicable product performance criteria after having been exposed to these higher temperatures will bear a unique mark indicating such, to provide easy identification to the user. The markings for head protection that meet higher temperature performance requirements will be designated HT. In addition, the updates allow for flexibility and inclusion of emerging and state of the art manufacturing materials for higher temperature protection.

“ISEA’s Head Protection Group established the optional preconditioning at higher temperatures as a parallel to the previous optional cold preconditioning performance criteria,” noted Joann Kline, chairman of the ISEA Head Protection Group and safety products, standards, and regulations leader for Kimberly-Clark Professional. “Workers are exposed to myriad head hazards on any given day and we must be diligent in addressing various safety ranges in work environments to ensure user safety. ISEA’s next step is to encourage and assist OHSA’s recognition of this updated standard in its PPE regulations for head protection.”

The standard can be purchased from ISEA for $35 a copy; discounts are available on bulk orders. For additional information, contact Cristine Z. Fargo, ISEA director of member and technical services at or click here.

The State of the National Initiative on Prevention Through Design

Designing out hazards is most effective means of protecting workers

The national initiative on Prevention through Design (PtD), was launched by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2007 with the goal of designing out occupational hazards to protect workers.

PtD encompasses all of the efforts to anticipate and design out hazards to workers in facilities, work methods and operations, processes, equipment, tools, products, new technologies, and the organization of work [Schulte, et al., 2008]. Too often, workers (including those who perform maintenance tasks) have not been considered in the design process. The focus of PtD is on workers who execute the designs or have to work with the products of the design.

The initiative has been developed to support designing out hazards, the most reliable and effective type of prevention. PtD can be practiced at all levels of the hierarchy of controls, but it is most effective as the means to eliminate hazards.


OSHA Update

Information collection requests submitted to OMB

On May 30, 2014 the Department of Labor (DOL) submitted two Information Collection Requests  sponsored by OSHA to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

In Accordance with the Paper Reduction Act (PRA), OSHA will submit revisions to the Notice of Alleged Safety and Health Hazards. This form is the primary though not exclusive means by which employees or their representatives can report to the DOL that violations of safety or health standard that threatens physical harm, or that an imminent danger exists. This request has been classified as a revision because the agency proposes to include a question about whether the respondent is a current or former employee of the employer.

The DOL will also submit to OMB on behalf of OSHA an Information Collection Request titled Recordkeeping and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. This ICR also seeks to extend PRA authority for recordkeeping and reporting occupational injuries and illness information collection.



Connecticut Contractor Cited for Wall Collapse and Fall Hazards

Company faces possible $190,000 in fines

A Stamford-based contractor faces $196,000 in fines for two willful and 12 serious violations following an OSHA inspection. Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management LLC, was cited by the agency following a November 2013 inspection at a Bridgeport worksite, which found that workers demolishing and rehabbing a building were exposed to potentially fatal crushing injuries and other hazards due to their employer’s failure to brace the building’s walls and adhere to basic, legally required safeguards.

“This employer’s disregard of basic demolition safety fundamentals is unacceptable. The seriousness of this hazard can be seen in the June 5, 2013, building collapse in Philadelphia that killed six people and injured 14,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “While no collapse occurred in Bridgeport, the hazard was real, present, and entirely avoidable.”

“The removal of flooring from the second and thirds floors left an empty, unsupported shell that was vulnerable to collapse,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “Employees at this job site were also exposed to falls of up to 36 feet from unguarded wall openings and to health hazards from inadequate measures to protect them from exposure to lead at the worksite. Worker safety and health were blatantly ignored.”

OSHA cited Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management, for two willful violations, with maximum allowable fines of $140,000 for the wall collapse and fall hazards. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

A total of 12 serious violations, with $56,000 in fines, were cited for a variety of health and safety hazards. These included having workers dry sweep and shovel lead-containing waste materials and debris, as well as failing to supply workers with proper training, respiratory protection, protective clothing, and equipment. In addition, employees were provided inadequate demolition, fall and fire protection, and general safety training.

Other safety hazards included unmarked emergency exits, improper storage of oxygen and fuel gas cylinders, and electrical hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known if an accident were to occur.

Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

The citations can be viewed here and here.


$7 Million Available for Safety and Health Training Grants

Applications due end of June

OSHA is soliciting applications under the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program through two separate and distinct announcements. A total of $7 million is available for nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program supports the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs and the development of materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or are temporary workers. The grants will fund training and education for workers and employers to identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards. Two types of safety and health training grants will be awarded: Targeted Topic Training and Capacity Building; approximately $3.5 million will be available in each grant fund.

Targeted Topic Training grants support the development of quality training materials and programs for addressing workplace hazards and prevention strategies and require applicants to address occupational safety and health topics designated by OSHA. Targeted Topic Training grants may be eligible for one additional follow-on grant, based on satisfactory performance.

Capacity Building grants focus on developing and expanding the capacity of an organization to provide safety and health training, education, and related assistance to target audiences. Grantees are expected to increase occupational safety and health competence and improve organizational capacity to assist workers and employers on an ongoing basis by ensuring that services continue beyond federal financial support. Capacity Building Developmental grant recipients may be eligible for additional 12-month follow-on grants, based on satisfactory performance.

The solicitation for grant applications is available here, where new applicants must register and returning applicants must ensure registration is accurate and up-to-date prior to completing the application. The registration process generally takes between three to five business days, but may be as long as four weeks if all steps are not completed in a timely manner. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible.

Applications for Capacity Building grants (SHTG-FY-14-02) must be submitted by Thursday, June 26, 2014, and Targeted Topic grants (SHTG-FY-14-01) must be submitted by Monday, June 30, 2014. All applications must be submitted electronically and are due no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on each grant’s due date. No extensions of the deadline will be granted.

OSHA has developed a proposal webinar to assist prospective applicants in understanding the application process. The webinar will be available here all day, every day during the solicitation period.

More information on the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program is available on here.

Center for Motor Vehicle Safety Launches Strategic Plan

Aims to reduce incidence of leading cause of work-related fatalities

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released the strategic plan for its Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, a blueprint for paving the way to reduce the burden of work-related crashes.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. The Center for Motor Vehicle Safety was established at NIOSH in December 2010 to better coordinate research and prevention activities related to work-related motor vehicle crashes. NIOSH is the only federal agency whose mission covers the prevention of work-related motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries for all worker populations, work vehicles, and work settings.

“Millions of workers in the United States are exposed to hazards of motor vehicle traffic,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “NIOSH has been engaged in research to promote motor vehicle safety in the workplace for many years, and the new strategic plan gives the Center the flexibility to address emerging issues along with longstanding safety concerns.”

The NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety is guided by the vision that all workers who are exposed to hazards of motor vehicle traffic while working have the highest possible levels of protection from the risk of motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries. Under the umbrella of the center, researchers from across NIOSH work collaboratively with partners from the public and private sectors to reduce the burden of work-related crashes.

The Strategic Plan for Research and Prevention, 2014–2018 describes the vision, mission, and scope for the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, placing the Center’s work in the context of complementary work of other U.S. federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and international partners. The Center has identified five strategic areas for its work to reduce work-related crashes and their impacts:

  • Advancing understanding of risk factors associated with work-related motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries through epidemiologic analyses
  • Implementing and evaluating engineering and technology-based safety interventions
  • Validating and promoting implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based road safety management policies and interventions
  • Advancing work-related road safety globally through national and international collaborations
  • Enhancing availability of clear and concise guidance and informational products on the prevention of work-related crashes and resulting injuries