Did You Know

About these great apps for safety professionals?

The following apps and databases are designed to help safety professionals get just-in-time access to important information and more.

WISER App

WISER is a system designed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice. Available for Android, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

IH Calculator Lite

Offered by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the IH Calculator is an interactive tool that performs occupational health and safety calculations to aid industrial hygienists. A tab is also included for simple conversions including distance, mass, temperature, and more.

NIOSH Ladder Safety App

The Ladder Safety App, aimed at improving extension ladder safety, features a multimodal indicator and a graphic-oriented guide for ladder selection, inspection, positioning, accessorizing, and safe use. Available for iPhone/iPad or Android mobile devices.

Ergonomics App

This app by Siddharth Garg won the People’s Choice Award for the Department of Labor Worker Safety and Health App Challenge. Ergonomics is a complete mobile workplace health solution that offers ergonomic equipment setup advice, a variety of workplace specific stretching exercises, and programmable reminders to help you time your breaks. For iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Chemical Compatibility Database

By Cole-Parmer. Find the right material/chemical compatibility for storage, transport and use. This app leverages years of research on chemical compatibility for plastics, metals, elastomers and ceramics. It contains more than 24,528 entries covering 584 chemicals and 42 materials. Available for your iPhone and iPad.

dB Volume Meter

This handy app provides a way to determine whether noise from heavy machinery is too loud. Although quite accurate, if it indicates a serious noise problem, you will need to get a professional Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter.

Iota Lone Worker

This app is designed for lone workers in remote locations to help you ensure they are still there. It tracks movement and will send alarm if they are not moving. It has two modes of operation—interval timer mode and motion sensor. It was developed by South East Water and has been tested in remote locations.

Notable OSHA Activity

What are the feds up to now?

OSHA Official Says Don’t Blame the Worker

In a recent ‘state of safety’ address to the National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, emphasized the need for companies to take full responsibility for worker injuries and not simply blame  ‘careless’ workers. He pointed out that often the real cause of the injury is an unabated hazard the company failed to eliminate or take the necessary safety measures. Read the full text of his comments here.

OSHA Issues Proposed Rulemaking Clarifying the Ongoing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses

OSHA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that clarifies an employer’s continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness throughout the five-year period during which the employer is required to keep the records.

“Accurate records are not simply paperwork, but have an important, in fact life-saving purpose,” says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “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.”

OSHA is issuing this proposed rule in light of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (Volks) 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 proposed rule will be published in the July 29, 2015, issue of the Federal Register. Members of the public can submit written comments on the proposed rule at the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 27, 2015.

OSHA Directive Updates Inspection Procedures for Protecting Workers from Tuberculosis in Healthcare Settings

OSHA has updated instructions for conducting inspections and issuing citations related to worker exposures to tuberculosis in healthcare settings. This instruction incorporates guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, “Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Health-Care Settings, 2005.” The revised directive does not create any additional enforcement burdens for employers; it simply updates the agency’s inspection procedures with the most currently available public health guidance.

This directive also covers additional workplaces regarded as healthcare settings such as sites where emergency medical services are provided and laboratories handling clinical specimens that may contain M. tuberculosis. Other changes include: the introduction of a newer screening method for analyzing blood for M. tuberculosis; classifying healthcare settings as low risk, medium risk, or potential ongoing transmission; and reducing the frequency of TB screenings for workers.

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. In 2013, 9,582 TB cases were reported in the United States, and approximately 383 of those cases were among healthcare workers. Multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant TB continue to pose serious threats to workers in healthcare settings. TB infection occurs when a susceptible person inhales droplets from an infected person who, for example, coughs, speaks or sneezes. It is the second most common cause of death from infectious disease in the world after HIV/AIDS.

More information on hazard recognition and solutions for reducing or eliminating the risks of contracting tuberculosis is available here.

 

Top Five Hurricane Prep Recommendations for Business

Atlantic season ramps up in September and October

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is urging home and business owners to prepare for the high winds, wind-driven rain, and flooding that may occur during the Atlantic hurricane season.

“While hurricane forecasts are predicting a below-average season, that just means fewer storms may make landfall this year. Residents need to remember it only takes one hurricane in your community to cause substantial destruction with long-lasting impact,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of IBHS. “As a case in point, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the first hurricane in a relatively quiet season, but it devastated south Florida.”

“Now is the time for property owners to review their personal and business emergency plans, stock on up needed supplies, and prepare their homes and businesses for a potential storm,” Rochman continued.

Top Five Hurricane Business Preparedness Recommendations

  1. Review your business continuity plan and update as needed, including employee contact information. If you do not have a business continuity plan, consider IBHS’ free, easy-to-use toolkit for small businesses, OFB-EZ (Open for Business-EZ).
  2. Remind employees of key elements of the plan, including designation of employees to monitor and alert you about severe weather, post-event communications procedures, and work/payroll procedures. Make sure all employees have a paper copy of the plan and participate in regular training exercises. Review emergency shutdown and startup procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel.
  3. Inspect your buildings and complete any maintenance needed to ensure they can stand up to severe weather. Learn more about what to look for during inspections.
  4. Test all life safety equipment. If back-up power such as a diesel generator is to be used, test your system and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries.
  5. Re-inspect and replenish emergency supplies inventory, since emergency supplies are often used during the offseason for non-emergency situations.

Learn more about what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane to protect your business and employees in IBHS’ Business Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

Top Five Ways to Reduce Property Damage from Hurricanes

IBHS recommends the following top five steps for property owners to strengthen their buildings against the high winds, flooding, and wind-driven rains of hurricane season.

  1. Survey the outside area around your property and secure loose objects before a storm to reduce potential flying debris; trim trees and shrubs away from buildings, removing any weakened sections of trees.
  2. Protect all windows and doors from high wind and flying debris damage by installing shutters or roll-downs, or installing permanent fasteners to use with precut shutter panels on hand for quick installation when a hurricane threatens.
  3. If your home garage door or business roll-up door isn’t pressure-rated, have a bracing system installed to prevent wind from blowing in the door.
  4. Make sure to “get your roof right” by using ring-shank nails to double its strength, sealing the roof deck to keep water out, re-adhering loose shingles, and ensuring all vents and soffits are securely attached.  Learn more about how to strengthen your roof with this video.
  5. During renovation or construction, homeowners should have your house tied together with metal connectors, such as hurricane straps, to keep it from blowing apart during high winds. Learn more about creating a continuous load path by watching this animation video.

More information

Crashes Leading Cause of On-the-Job Death for Truck Drivers

Many truck drivers do not use a seat belt on every trip

Our nation depends on truck drivers to deliver goods and services safely and efficiently. Yet, crashes involving large trucks continue to take a toll on truck drivers, their passengers, other road users, businesses, and the community. Overall, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated cost of truck and bus crashes to the United States economy was $99 billion that same year.

About 2.6 million workers in the U.S. drive trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. After dropping to 35-year lows in 2009, the number of crash fatalities of truck drivers or their passengers increased between 2009 and 2012. Approximately 700 drivers of large trucks or their passengers died in crashes in 2012, and an estimated 26,000 were injured. About 65% of on-the-job deaths of truck drivers in 2012 were the result of a motor vehicle crash. More than a third of the drivers who died were not wearing a seat belt.

“We know that using a seat belt is the single most effective intervention to prevent injury or death in a motor vehicle crash. However, in 2012 more than 1 in 3 truck drivers who died in crashes were not buckled up, a simple step which could have prevented up to 40% of these deaths,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, Ph.D. “Employers and government agencies at all levels can help improve truck driver safety and increase seat belt use among truck drivers by having strong company safety programs and enforcing state and federal laws.”

This Vital Signs report includes data from the National Survey of US Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury, conducted by CDC at 32 truck stops along interstate highways across the United States in 2010. Key findings from the survey include:

  • An estimated 14% of long-haul truck drivers reported not using a seat belt on every trip.
  • Over one-third of long-haul truck drivers had been involved in one or more serious crashes during their driving careers.
  • Long-haul truck drivers who reported not wearing seat belts also tended to engage in other unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding and committing moving violations. They were also more likely to work for an employer that did not have a written workplace safety program.
  • Long-haul truck drivers who lived in a state with a primary seat belt law—the law that allows police to stop motorists solely for being unbelted—were more likely to report often using a seat belt.

“Using a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent injury or death in the event of a crash,” said Stephanie Pratt, Ph.D., coordinator of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center for Motor Vehicle Safety. “The smartest strategy for overall safety is to prevent truck crashes from happening in the first place. Employers can help prevent crashes and injuries through comprehensive driver safety programs that address other known risk factors such as drowsy and distracted driving.”

What can be done to reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths among truck drivers?

  • States can help increase seat belt use by truck drivers through high-visibility enforcement of seat belt laws by state troopers and motor carrier safety inspectors.
  • Employers can establish and enforce company safety policies, including belt-use requirements for truck drivers and passengers as well as bans on text-messaging and use of handheld phones.
  • Employers can educate truck drivers about ways to avoid distracted and drowsy driving.
  • Engineering and design changes that provide increased comfort and range of motion and allow adjustments for diverse body types might increase use of seat belts by truck drivers.

For more information on motor vehicle safety at work, including trucker safety, please visits the NIOSH Motor Vehicle Safety page. Released in conjunction with this month’s Vital Signs is the NIOSH Long-Haul Truck Drivers page. Both these topic pages offer research results, resources, and useful links for employers and workers.

For general information about motor vehicle safety, please visit CDC’s Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety.

Holding Multiple Jobs Increases Risk of Injury

Multiple-jobs holders have a 27% higher rate of work-related injury

Researchers with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute’s Center for Injury Epidemiology have concluded that individuals who work multiple jobs—approximately 14 million U.S. residents—have a greater likelihood of injury than those holding a single job.

According to the findings published in the American Journal of Public Health, multiple-jobs holders have a 27% higher rate of work-related injury and a 34% higher rate of non-work-related injury compared to single job holders. Principal researcher Dr. Helen Marucci-Wellman says the elevated injury rates suggest greater risk exposures for those who work multiple jobs.

“Factors that may contribute to higher injury risk could include a disruptive work week structure, job inexperience, hurried behavior, physical and mental stressors related to alternating between different jobs, and fatigue.”

Researchers used 15 years of data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an in-household survey administered annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, to gather nationally representative data on a broad range of health topics. Representing more than a quarter of a million households, the NHIS is the only dataset that supports linking multiple job holding and injury.

“To better understand the association between multiple job holding and injury risk, we need to look at a whole array of risk factors. We need to understand with greater specificity employment situations and the circumstances surrounding injuries. This way, we can determine where changes need to be made to enhance safety for those at increased risk,” adds Marucci-Wellman.

A subsequent Liberty Mutual Research Institute study using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Time Use Survey compared the work and lifestyle activities of single job holders and those holding multiple jobs during a one week period. Twenty-seven percent of multiple job holders worked 60 plus hours versus only 6% of single job holders. On average, multiple job holders worked 2.25 to 2.75 additional hours per day, worked odd hours, had longer commutes, and had 45 minutes to an hour less sleep per day than single job holders.

“In addition to significant differences in work schedule and time use patterns for workers with multiple jobs, they also had less time for household and leisure activities,” notes Marucci-Wellman. “These time use pattern findings suggest that working multiple jobs may result in heightened risk of fatigue, increasing the likelihood of injury. A better understanding of the factors that contribute to increased risks would help identify ways—such as changing daily routines or work scheduling practices—to reduce the injuries associated with holding multiple jobs.”

They’re Intended to Absorb Bad Vibrations—Do They?

A look at the effectiveness of anti-vibration gloves

If you have ever used a power tool, you may have experienced a tingling sensation in your hands or fingers. If you’re just using the tool for occasional projects around the house, the tingling normally goes away.

However, for workers who use power tools as part of the job, regularly and for longer periods, tingling can become more persistent as a symptom of a condition called hand-arm vibration syndrome. It can signal the onset of more severe symptoms of damage to nerves and blood vessels in the hands and arms. Those more advanced symptoms can include severe skin discoloration, numbness, and a weakened grip.

Preventing hand-arm vibration syndrome by reducing exposure to vibration is key. In many workplaces, a prevalent preventive method is the use of vibration-reducing gloves, which are intended to absorb vibration from power tools.

Do they?

Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are examining that question with extensive reviews of the published scientific literature and with laboratory studies focused on better understanding the complex array of factors that may lead from exposure to effect.

In an article published recently in a peer-reviewed journal, the researchers examined glove performance in reducing the transmission of vibrations from the tool to the palm of the hand. The study incorporated three critical factors: the type of tool used, the range of vibration emitted by the tool, and the directions from which the vibration came.

To ensure a representative sample, they tested three styles each of the four different types of commercially available gloves. The researchers tested the gloves on special, high-tech equipment developed in NIOSH’s Vibration Lab in Morgantown, West Virginia. The equipment included 3-D testing systems that simulate the wide range of vibration frequencies along the axis of the tool handle, along the user’s forearm, and perpendicular to those two directions. To examine the glove effectiveness, the researchers evaluated vibrations measured on jackhammers, drills, grinders, riveters, and many other power tools.

They found that, when used at the medium-to-high frequencies of tools such as grinders and saws, the gloves reduced anywhere from 5% to 20% of the vibrations to the palm. With low-frequency tools, however, such as pavement tampers and vibrating forks, some gloves slightly decreased, while others slightly increased the vibrations transmitted.

The NIOSH scientists are continuing with research to assess the performance of vibration-reducing gloves on vibration transmitted to the fingers. They eventually expect to incorporate findings from their studies and literature review into a NIOSH safety guide. In the meantime, the body of evidence suggests that employers and workers should be cautious in selecting and using vibration-reducing gloves. Consistent with long-standing NIOSH recommendations, the research suggests that reducing vibration at the source and limiting the time using power tools are the best ways to prevent vibration-related injuries. “Other means of vibration control, such as alternative production techniques, low-vibration machinery, routine preventive maintenance, and limiting the time spent using power tools, are far more likely to reduce vibrations and should be used,” says NIOSH project officer Ren G. Dong.

To read the most recent papers on this research, click here.

 

Free On-Site Consultation Services Available to Help Employers Improve Workplace Safety and Health

Visits do not result in penalties or citations

OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential occupational safety and health advice to small and medium-sized businesses across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites.

The services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

In response to requests from employers seeking to reduce safety and health hazards at their workplaces, consultants visited about 27,000 worksites with more than 1.25 million workers in FY 2014.

For more information, see OSHA’s Safety and Health Consultation Services brochure, available in English and Spanish.

Company Management Arrested in Safety Case

Firm ordered to pay more than $195K in penalties

On June 12, 2015, the 11th Circuit ordered the arrest of Guillermo Perez and Elma Maldonado, president and vice president of GP Roofing & Construction, LLC, based in Palm Coast, Florida., because the company failed to comply with a March 30 civil contempt order. They were taken into custody on June 16, 2015, and appeared before magistrate judge James Klindt, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville.

Background

In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a petition for summary enforcement pursuant to Section 11(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to enforce nine final orders of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Those final orders arose from nine OSHA inspections of GP Roofing worksites in Florida that resulted in citations being issued to the company between Aug. 3, 2011 and Oct. 29, 2012. The citations allege multiple willful, repeat, and serious violations of OSHA fall-protection, eye and face protection, safe-ladder, and other standards. On Aug. 7, 2013 the court granted the department’s petition, enforcing the final orders of the commission.

On Sept. 12, 2014, the department filed a Petition for Civil Contempt against GP Roofing, alleging that the company had failed to comply with the court’s August 2013 order, based on evidence that the company continued to violate OSHA standards and failed to pay the penalties assessed. On March 30, 2015 the circuit court held the company and its officers in civil contempt; ordered the company to pay the outstanding penalties of $195,170 plus interest and fees; and also required the company to certify that it had corrected the violations. The court’s contempt order notified Mr. Perez and Ms. Maldonado that any noncompliance with the court’s order would result in coercive sanctions, including incarceration.

Resolution

Perez and Maldonado were held in custody until their June 23, 2015 hearing. At the hearing they were released on signature bonds to make progress on purging the contempt. Conditions of their release included surrendering Perez’s passport and limiting their travel to the state of Florida. Perez and Maldonado were also given 30 days to work on paying all outstanding penalties or demonstrating inability to pay and certifying that they have abated the OSHA violations cited in prior inspections. The final hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26, 2015.

“This enforcement action demonstrates that OSHA can and will take action to ensure that standards are followed and that companies like GP Roofing that ignore multiple court orders requiring correction of violations and payment of penalties will be held accountable,” said Kurt Petermeyer, the regional administrator for OSHA in Atlanta.

How Safe Do Employees Feel at Work?

Many unsure how to protect themselves in emergency

When looking for a new job, it’s not unusual to take job security into consideration. But how often do workers think about security on the job? A new survey from CareerBuilder looks at how safe workers feel in their workplaces and how well they feel their companies work to ensure their security.

According to the survey, while the vast majority of workers (94%) feel their office is a secure place to work, nearly a quarter of workers (23%) say they would not know what to do to protect themselves if there was an emergency in their office that posed a physical threat.

The national online survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between February 11 and March 6, 2015 and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers across industries and company sizes.

When asked about their feelings of security in regards to specific forms of threat, three in ten employees (30%) do not feel their workplace is well-protected from a physical threat from another person, and the same percentage (30%) feel their workplace is not well-protected from a digital hacking threat.

Most workers (85%) feel their workplace is well-protected in case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, and 83% feel their workplace is well-protected from weather-related threats.

One in five workers (21%) report their company does not have an emergency plan in place in case of fire, flood, or other disaster, and one in four (26%) say the same of extremely severe weather. Even more workers (40%) don’t believe their company has an emergency plan in place in case of a physical attack from another person or a technology security breach.

“Ensuring a safe and secure work environment should be of the utmost importance in any workplace,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “Keeping employees protected means not only putting measures in place to keep them safe, but making sure employees are aware of the policies and procedures they can protect themselves, too.”

Did You Know?

Why you should be familiar with RAGAGEP

Did you know the significance of RAGAGEP, or recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices, in your process safety management (PSM) practices?

In any industry, the use of highly hazardous chemicals may result in accidental release anytime they are not properly controlled. To protect against potential disaster, OSHA has issued the Process Safety Management Standard of Highly Hazardous Chemicals. PSM is addressed in specific standards for the general and construction industries and directly references or implies the use of RAGAGEP in its guidelines.

“Recognized And Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices” (RAGAGEP) are the basis for engineering, operation, or maintenance activities and are themselves based on established codes, standards, published technical reports or recommended practices (RP), or similar documents. RAGAGEP detail generally approved ways to perform specific engineering, inspection, or mechanical integrity activities, such as fabricating a vessel, inspecting a storage tank, or servicing a relief valve.

As used in the PSM standard, RAGAGEP apply to process equipment design, installation, operation, and maintenance; inspection and test practices; and inspection and test frequencies. RAGAGEP must be both “recognized and generally accepted” and “good engineering” practices.

The PSM standard allows employers to select the RAGAGEP they apply in their covered processes.

Primary Sources of RAGAGEP

1. Published and widely adopted codes. Certain consensus standards have been widely adopted by federal, state, or municipal jurisdictions. For example, many state and municipal building and other codes incorporate or adopt codes such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety and NFPA 70 National Electric codes. Such published and widely accepted codes are generally accepted by OSHA as RAGAGEP, as are federal, state, and municipal laws and regulations serving the same purposes.

2. Published consensus documents. Certain organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) follow the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards (Essential Requirements) when publishing consensus standards and recommended practices. Under the ANSI and similar requirements, these organizations must demonstrate that they have diverse and broadly representative committee memberships. Examples of published consensus documents include the ASME B31.3 Process Piping Code and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration’s (IIAR) ANSI/IIAR 2-2008 – Equipment, Design, and Installation of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Mechanical Refrigerating Systems. Published consensus documents are very widely used as RAGAGEP by those knowledgeable in the industry, and are accepted as RAGAGEP by OSHA.

3. Published non-consensus documents. Some industries publish non-consensus engineering documents using processes not conforming to ANSI’s Essential Requirements. For example, the Chlorine Institute’s (CI) “pamphlets” focus on chlorine and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) safety. Where applicable, the practices described in these documents are widely accepted as good practices and used in industries handling these materials. Similarly, CCPS publishes an extensive set of guideline books, some, but not all, of which deal with process equipment specific topics, e.g., the Design Institute for Emergency Relief Systems’ technology for reactive and multiphase relief systems design. Peer-reviewed technical articles addressing specific hazards may also fall into this category and may be considered when published standards or recommended practices are not available or are not adequate to address specific hazards. OSHA may accept such materials as RAGAGEP where applicable and appropriate.

Employers do not need to consider or comply with a RAGAGEP provision that is not applicable to their specific worksite conditions, situations, or applications. However, the PSM standard they select because of the applicable statues should document that their inspection and testing of equipment is in accordance with the appropriate RAGAGEP. The failure to do so is a citable OSHA offense.

Read the complete OSHA Letter of Interpretation on RAGAGEP issued last month.