OSHA Launches Campaign to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses

Acclimatization critical in preventing problems

OSHA has announced the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. For the fourth consecutive year, OSHA’s campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards. Workers at particular risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and transportation.

“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade, and allowing ample time to rest.”

The Importance of Acclimatization

Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed. Heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it is especially dangerous for new and temporary workers.

“Acclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Over the past three years, lack of acclimatization was the cause in 74% of heat-related citations issued. Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat.”

Last year, OSHA issued 11 heat-related citations. In some of these cases, the employer and staffing agency were cited because they involved temporary workers.

Useful Resources

In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training, also available in both English and Spanish. Additionally, OSHA provides online information and resources on heat illness for workers and employers—including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency.

OSHA also has released a free app that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Since its 2011 launch, more than 130,000 users have downloaded the app. Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, it can be downloaded in English and Spanish here.

In developing its inaugural national campaign in 2011, federal OSHA worked closely with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and adapted materials from that state’s successful campaign. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation. NOAA also will provide pertinent worker safety information on its heat watch Web page.

New Salary Tool for Safety Industry

Based on compensation survey by Board of Certified Safety Professionals

The Board of Certified Safety Professionals has launched a new online salary database. Though the most recent data is from 2012, the low level of merit increases still makes the database relevant. The board has not determined when it will add 2013 data but hopes to do so later this year.

The database allows users to search for salary information based on professional credentials, years in profession, state, and other criteria.

 

OSHA Update

The Latest from Washington

1. OSHA schedules informal hearing on proposed extension of crane operator certification deadline

OSHA has scheduled an informal public hearing to discuss the agency’s proposed rule to extend the compliance date for the crane operator certification requirement and the existing phase-in requirement that employers ensure that their operators are qualified to operate the equipment. The hearing will be held May 19, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

On Feb. 10, 2014, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to extend the deadline for operator certification by three years to Nov. 10, 2017, and to extend the existing employer duties for the same period. The public had 30 days to submit comments on this issue. The comment period closed on March 12, 2014. The agency received 60 comments from the public in response to the NPRM, one of which requested a hearing.

The purpose of the hearing is to gather additional information related to whether OSHA should extend the requirement by three years or not at all.

The public hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m., Monday, May 19 in the auditorium of the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210. Individuals who wish to testify must submit a notice of intention to appear by April 25. Submissions may be made electronically at the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for submission details.

2. OSHA announces that the final rule revising standards for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution has been published in the Federal Register

OSHA has announced that the final rule to improve workplace safety and health for workers performing electric power generation, transmission, and distribution work has been published in the Federal Register.

The final rule revises OSHA’s 40-year-old construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and also makes some revisions to the construction and general industry requirements. In addition, the standards adopt revised approach-distance requirements and add new requirements to protect workers from electric arcs. General industry and construction standards for electrical protective equipment are also revised under the final rule.

The rule becomes effective July 10, 2014. OSHA adopted delayed compliance deadlines for certain requirements. Additional information on the final rule is available.

3. OSHA schedules meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health

OSHA will hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health May 7-8, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Work groups will meet May 7 and the full committee will meet May 8.

ACCSH, established under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, advises the secretary of labor and assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on construction standards and policy matters.

The full committee agenda includes remarks from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, updates on rulemaking projects from OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, discussion on the proposed rule on Beryllium: Alternatives for Construction and on updates to OSHA’s standard on eye and face protection in construction and proposed amendments and corrections to OSHA’s Cranes and Derricks standards. In addition, the committee will discuss items from the proposed Standards Improvement Project IV and a presentation on 29 CFR 1926, Subpart V, Power Transmission and Distribution.

Work groups and the full committee will meet in Room N-3437 A-C, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The following work groups will meet May 7: Health Hazards, Emerging Issues, and Prevention through Design from 10 a.m. – noon; Temporary Workers from 1-3 p.m.; and Training and Outreach from 3:15-5:15 p.m. The full committee meeting will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., May 8. All meetings are open to the public.

Comments and requests to speak may be submitted electronically or via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments and requests to speak must be submitted by April 18, 2014.

4. OSHA issues interim final rule protecting whistleblowers under Consumer Financial Protection Act

OSHA has issued an interim final rule establishing procedures and time frames for handling retaliation complaints under the Consumer Financial Protection Act. OSHA invites the public to submit comments on the interim final rule.

CFPA, enacted July 21, 2010, protects employees against retaliation by entities that offer or provide consumer financial products or services, such as residential mortgages, mortgage loan modification and foreclosure relief services, private education loans, payday loans, consumer credit, and debt relief services.

This interim final rule establishes procedures, burdens of proof, remedies, and statutes of limitations similar to other whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA administers.

Individuals may submit comments electronically or via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments must be submitted by June 2, 2014.

OSHA has also developed a new fact sheet, Filing Whistleblower Complaints under the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The fact sheet explains who is covered under the act, protected activity, types of retaliation and the process of filing a complaint.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety, and consumer financial reform regulations. For more information, click here.

Motor Vehicle Crashes Are Leading Cause of Death on the Job

Employers urged to prevent texting while driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death on the job, accounting for more than two out of every five fatal work injuries in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Department of Transportation has now launched a national campaign to stop texting while driving and other distracted driving hazards. Learn more here.

OSHA reminds employers that they have a responsibility to protect their workers by prohibiting texting while driving. It is a violation of the OSH Act if employers require workers to text while driving, create incentives that encourage or condone it, or structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.

For more information, including a distracted driving brochure, click here.

Are Physically Fit Workers Shown Favoritism?

Who is most likely to gain weight at work?

As the polar vortex finally releases its grip on the U.S. and beach season is no longer a mirage, workers are examining their physical fitness with mixed results. More than half of workers (55%) categorize themselves as overweight, on par with last year. Thirty-nine percent say they’ve gained weight at their current job, with 21% putting on more than 10 pounds and 9% putting on more than 20 pounds. Sixteen percent report they have actually lost weight at their job, while 45% say their weight stayed the same.

The study shows that physical fitness may have some influence on how people are treated at the office. Nearly one in five workers (18%) feel that people who are thin and fit are shown more favoritism in their workplace.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 10 to March 4, 2014, and included a representative sample of 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

So, who is most likely to gain weight at work?

Management
That corner office may come with some drawbacks. Forty-four percent of people in management roles have gained weight in their current job, compared to 38% of people in non-management roles.

Workers Ages 35 and Up
Seasoned workers are more likely to report tipping the scales in their current position, with 40% of workers ages 35 and older gaining weight, compared to 36% of those under 35 years of age. Workers 18 to 24 were the least likely, with 30% saying they put on extra pounds.

Women
Forty-six percent of female workers say they’ve gained weight on the job, compared to 33% of their male counterparts. Men are also more likely to exercise on a consistent basis, with 59% regularly going to the gym compared to 56% of women.

IT Professionals
Some industries are more prone to weight gain, with Information Technology and Government leading the pack. Industries that outpaced the national average for weight gain include:

  • Information Technology: 50%
  • Government: 48%*
  • Financial Services: 46%
  • Healthcare: 42%
  • Professional and Business Services: 42%

Workers in the West
Workers in the West were the most likely to pack on pounds, with 44% saying they’ve put on weight at their current job. They are followed by the Northeast (40%), the South (37%) and the Midwest (37%).

Tips for Staying Fit at Work
For those looking to shed some pounds this summer, CareerBuilder experts offered the following suggestions:

  • Avoid too many treats. Twenty-one percent of workers who have gained weight on the job blame part of it on coworkers who bring treats into the office. Don’t be afraid to politely decline when someone is passing around sweets. It’s good practice to have a set of personal rules regarding treats in the office, such as a per-week limit or an “only Friday” policy.
  • Make exercise a part of your routine. Forty-two percent of workers don’t exercise regularly, with 13% not exercising at all. Try sneaking a workout into your daily routine by getting off the bus or subway a stop early, working at a standing desk or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Get up. It’s all too common in the modern office setting for people to send an email or instant message rather than get up and walk across the room. When you have the opportunity to stretch your legs, take it!
  • Pack a lunch. Twenty-eight percent of employees who gained weight in their current job say that one of the main culprits is regularly eating out. Packing your own lunch the night before allows you to take better control of your portion sizes, not to mention it helps you avoid impulse decisions that often lead to less-healthy fast food.
  • Look into perks and benefits. More than one in four workers (28%) say their companies provide gym memberships or other wellness benefits, but nearly one in ten workers (9%) say they don’t know whether their company offers such perks. Check with your human resources department to make sure you’re taking full advantage of what’s offered.

* CareerBuilder commissioned study, conducted online by Harris Poll 2014 Job Forecast, February-March 2014

 

Workplace Safety Is Critical to Your Company’s Bottom Line

Don’t miss CBIA’s 2014 Safety & Health Conference

Thursday, May 22, 2014
Crowne Plaza
100 Berlin Road, Cromwell
Registration: 8 am
Program: 8:30 am to 3:15 pm

Register

Workplace safety is critical to your company’s bottom line. Consider the following:

  • Injury claims and workers’ compensation costs often drop significantly after an inspection by OSHA, according to a 2012 study, with no evidence that the improvements are made at the expense of employment, sales, credit rating, or company survival.
  • One dollar invested in injury prevention can return two dollars or more, according to a survey of CEOs, and increased productivity was cited as the top benefit of an effective workplace safety program.
  • Businesses that do not adequately manage workplace safety and health perform worse financially than those who do.

These and other findings are listed in OSHA’s Business Case for Safety and Health.

Is your company taking advantage of the benefits that accrue from maintaining a safe and healthy workplace? Join us on May 22 at our 2014 Safety & Health Conference, where you will be able to network with your professional peers and hear from experts on everything from the latest developments at OSHA to the challenge of indentifying an employee whose attitude brings the potential for danger into your workplace.

Full agenda:

  • OSHA Emerging Issues and Updates
  • What are OSHA’s Top 10 Violations?
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
  • U.S. GHS Update
  • Fall Protection ABCDs
  • Electrical Safety (NFPA70 E) for General Industry
  • Mental Health First Aid: How You Can Keep Your Employees Safe
  • Effective Safety Enforcement and Employee Accountability

The conference is less than a month away. Register today!

Cost: CBIA members, $190; nonmembers, $240

Details & Registration

 

Can Your Open-Plan Office Make You Sick?

Experts say yes and offer several possible reasons

According to a study in the journal Ergonomics, workplace layout has a surprising effect on rates of sick leave.

Four Stockholm University scientists examined data from nearly 2,000 employees working in seven different types of offices, focusing on the number of short- and long-term illnesses the employees had, as well as their total days out sick each year.

Findings and Analysis

The researchers found a “significant excess risk” of short sick-leave spells in three types of open-plan offices, especially among women. They also found a higher prevalence of both short sick-leave spells and a higher number of sick days among men in flex-offices: open-plan layouts with no individual workstations, but some meeting rooms.

Evidence from this and other studies confirms that in general, “traditional open-plan offices are less good for employee health,” a conclusion long suspected by employees who work in them.

Why this should be so is not entirely clear, but environmental stresses (including being exposed to “irrelevant sound,” the lack of “visual privacy,” and a reduced ability to control one’s own personal space), as well as the risk of infection, the types of jobs done in open-plan offices, and group dynamics might all play a part. As the authors note, group dynamics have been shown to have a preventative effect on sick leave in small offices and can even lead to presenteeism: employees coming to work when they’re actually ill.

Why Doesn’t the Open-Plan Office Work?

Numerous studies over the last several decades have shown that open-plan offices not only fail to provide the hoped-for benefits–more effective communication, camaraderie, and greater team cohesion–they have actually resulted just the opposite: less communication among employees, reduced employee motivation, greater employee stress, more resentment and emotional distance among employees, and lower productivity.

Why don’t open-plan offices work? Distractions caused by noise and more frequent interruptions, as well as the lack of privacy and control over one’s environment are just some of the reasons cited in the research. ■

Preventing Eye Injuries at Your Workplace

Ninety percent of eye injuries are preventable

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 300,000 Americans visit the emergency room each year because of a workplace eye injury. About 40% of these injuries are from workers in the manufacturing, construction, and mining industries. These injuries cost industry an estimated $300 million each year in lost productivity, medical treatment, and workers compensation.

During March, the American Academy of Ophthalmologists reminded employers and workers  about the importance of eye protection, since 90% of these injuries are preventable with the appropriate eye protection.

The Academy’s public education website EyeSmart provides the following tips for avoiding eye injuries at work:

  • Wear protective eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury, such as anywhere there may be flying debris, falling objects, chemicals, and intense light and heat. This is particularly true of workers involved in welding. Among welders, their assistants, and nearby workers, UV radiation burns (welder’s flash) routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue.
  • Make sure your eye protection is American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved, OSHA compliant, and appropriate for the hazards in your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.

In case of an eye injury, follow the EyeSmart, Care and Treatment Recommendations for Eye Injury to learn the dos and don’ts of eye injury first aid:

  • If your eye has been cut or punctured. DO NOT remove the object stuck in eye, rinse with water, rub or apply pressure to eye. Avoid giving aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding. Instead, DO gently place a shield over the eye. The bottom of a paper cup taped to the bones surrounding the eye can serve as a shield until you get medical attention. After you have finished protecting the eye, see a physician immediately.
  • In case of a chemical burn to the eye, DO immediately flush the eye with plenty of clean water, and seek emergency medical treatment right away.
  • To treat a blow to the eye: DO NOT apply any pressure. DO gently apply a small cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. If a black eye, pain, or visual disturbance occurs even after a light blow, immediately contact an ophthalmologist—a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical, and surgical treatment of eye diseases and condition—or emergency room. Remember that even a light blow can cause a significant eye injury.
  • To treat sand or small debris in the eye: DO NOT rub the eye. DO use eyewash to flush the eye out. If the debris doesn’t come out, lightly bandage the eye and see an ophthalmologist or visit the nearest emergency room.

More information

OSHA Releases New Bulletin on Injury Recording Requirements

Part of larger effort to protect temporary workers

As part of its Temporary Worker Initiative, OSHA has released a new educational resource that focuses on requirements for recording injuries and illnesses suffered by temporary workers. The new Recordkeeping Bulletin explains the requirements for the staffing agency and the host employer and addresses how to identify who is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log.

OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative is an agency-wide effort that uses enforcement, outreach, and training to assure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many of which occurred within their first week on the job. OSHA’s initiative was launched to raise awareness and compliance with requirements that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that permanent workers receive.

The temporary worker Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first in a series of guidance documents that will be released to support OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative.

For more information on OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements, click here.

Industries Most Likely to Be Inspected by OSHA in the Next 12 Months

Non-construction workplaces with 20 or more employees affected

On March 6, the OSHA promulgated its latest inspection plans for industries judged to be the most dangerous, that is those with the highest injury and illness rate. This program, known as Site-Specific Targeting (SST), is OSHA’s main programmed inspection plan for non-construction workplaces that have 20 or more employees.

The SST plan is based on data received from the prior year’s OSHA DATA Initiative (ODI) survey. The ODI survey and the SST program help OSHA achieve its goal of reducing. the number of injuries and illnesses that occur at individual workplaces by directing enforcement resources to those workplaces where the highest rate of injuries and illnesses have occurred.

Among manufacturers, the primary inspection list consists of manufacturing facilities with a Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate at or above 7.0, or manufacturing facilities with a Days Away from Work Injury and Illness (DAFWII) case rate of 5.0 or above.

Among the more significant aspects of SST-14:

  • Uses CY 2011 injury and illness data to compile the targeting lists for the secondary list establishments.
  • OSHA is continuing to work with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (ASP) on a study to measure recidivism rates of establishments that have been inspected. ASP developed the methodology of the Evaluation Study of the Impact of SST Inspections and OSHA agreed to implement the study under the SST-11, SST-12, and SST-14 programs. The study will provide insight into the effectiveness of the program. OSHA’s Office of Statistical Analysis has randomly selected 2,250 establishments from both the SST-11 Primary and Secondary lists–for inspection pursuant to the Evaluation Study. These establishments were selected based on their CY 2009 injury and illness data (collected during the 2010 ODI). The SST-14 primary inspection lists for federal jurisdiction Area Offices will be comprised of 1,260 establishments selected as part of the Evaluation Study. All federal jurisdiction primary list establishments will be inspected under SST-14.
  • Programmed inspections of Nursing and Personal Care establishments will continue to be conducted under OSHA Directive CPL 03-00-016, National Emphasis Program – Nursing and Personal Care Facilities (NAICS 623110, 623210, and 623311).
  • Incorporates policy changes from OSHA Instruction CSP 03-02-003, OSHA Strategic Partnership for Worker Safety and Health, effective November 6, 2013.
  • An establishment will be deleted from the inspection list if the establishment received a comprehensive safety inspection or a records only inspection within 24 months of the opening conference date of the previous inspection.

Read the Complete document.