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December 11, 2017

NIOSH Shares Advice for Holiday Driving - On and Off the Job

Along with celebrations, the holidays bring increased vehicle traffic. Workers who drive as part of their job may share the roads with fatigued or impaired travelers, and in dangerous weather conditions. Many workers are themselves holiday travelers, and some may be driving a company vehicle approved for personal use.
Every winter NIOSH shares ways that employers can keep their workers safe while working in cold weather conditions. Use the following tips for on- and off-the-job driving: 
  • Give workers information about: road construction/closures, bad road conditions, and other driving dangers.
  • Provide workers with a driver emergency kit checklist that includes: ice scraper, blanket, flashlight, batteries, flares, jumper cables, first aid kit, bottled water, and nonperishable snacks.
  • Set policies that allow drivers to consult with their supervisors to adjust driving hours if they have trouble seeing at night, and to stop driving if they are too tired or the weather is bad.
  • Set policies that prohibit operating a vehicle under the influence of substances that could affect the ability to drive safely.
  • Give workers general information about the possible effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications on their driving. Your company’s health and wellness program may be able to help you locate and distribute this information.
  • Remind workers: Buckle up: every trip, every person. It only takes a second.
    - Do not drive if you are fatigued. Stop and take breaks as needed.
    - Keep alert and aware of your surroundings. Other drivers may be impaired, fatigued, or rushing to reach their destinations.
    - Tell your supervisor when you expect to arrive at a destination, and contact your supervisor to confirm your arrival.
The bottom line: Don’t let safety take a holiday.

Workplace Driving Resources:


December 5, 2017

FMCSA Promises Electronic Log Device Guidance Before Dec. 18 Deadline

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says it will provide guidance intended to ease the transition to electronic logging devices before the Dec. 18 implementation date.

The guidance will include a 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD requirement for transporters of agricultural commodities, formal guidance specifically addressing the existing Hours-of-Service exemption for the agricultural industry and guidance on the “personal conveyance” provision. FMCSA says it will also provide guidance on the existing 150 air miles hours-of-service exemption. The guidance is designed to allow transport companies to make the most of the exemption.

From July to November, FMCSA conducted a public education and outreach campaign about ELD implementation. The effort included driver presentations and panel discussions. The original final rule requiring ELDs was published in December, 2015.

FMCSA and its enforcement partners say they are prepared for the Dec. 18 implementation. The forthcoming announcement represents the agency’s desire to implement the ELD rule in a manner that improves safety without impeding commerce.

“FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule,” said an FMCSA Deputy Administrator. Formal publication of the guidance is expected shortly, and will include a public comment process.

ELD Resources:

November 29, 2017

Workplace Safety News & Notes - November 2017

Here's a collection of workplace safety news from around the web this month:

OSHA Extends Electronic Reporting Deadline to December 15

To allow affected employers additional time to become familiar with the new electronic reporting system, OSHA has extended the date by which employers must electronically report injury and illness data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to December 15, 2017 - a 2-week extension. Unless an employer is under federal jurisdiction, the following OSHA-approved State Plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically: California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Establishments in these states are not currently required to submit their summary data through the ITA. Similarly, state and local government establishments in Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, and New York are not currently required to submit their data through the ITA. Read OSHA's announcement.

Deadline Near for New Tennessee Firearms Signs

Tennessee updated its law governing signs to prohibit weapons at certain meetings in July, 2016. The law (39-17-1359 Prohibition at certain meeting - Posted notice - Handgun carry permit holder) specifies sign size, language, text size and image. Old signs must be replaced by January 1, 2018. ComplianceSigns offers a Tennessee Firearms sign or label that meets the new requirements.

NIOSH Advice on Retail Worker Safety and Health During the Holidays

This week NIOSH posted a refresher for retail employers and employees who are on the front lines of the holiday shopping frenzy. The short article addresses employee stress and fatigue that commonly occurs from working long hours and additional shifts, as well as crowd management and violence. Being prepared and having plans in place can help reduce anxiety and assure that employees feel safe, supported and confident. The article includes links to a variety of resources.

New OSHA Fall Protection Rules Now in Effect

Late last year OSHA published new standards for walking-working surfaces and fall protection in general industry workplaces. Much of the rule took effect in January, but OSHA gave employers additional time to comply with some provisions. Inspections and certifications of permanent anchorages used in rope descent systems were required by November 17, 2017. Read more here.

OSHA Resumes Regular Enforcement in Florida and Georgia

OSHA has resumed normal enforcement throughout parts of Florida and Georgia after temporarily suspending most programmed enforcement actions following Hurricane Irma. In the hurricane’s aftermath, OSHA provided compliance assistance and outreach to employers and workers involved in the cleanup and recovery operations in the two states.

Get Answers to Dust Mask Questions

A recent article in EHS Today answers common questions about proper fit, training and evaluations of disposable dust masks / respirators. It addresses voluntary- and required-use masks, when to replace respirators, dust mask selection and limitations, and required training. Read more here.

New OSHA Shipyard and Maritime Fact Sheets

OSHA has released four new fact sheets on protecting workers from common hazards found in the shipyard and maritime industries. The subjects covered are: pedestal crane safety; housekeeping safety; fire and rescue in shipyard employment; and safe baggage handling.
See these fact sheets and others.

Upcoming Safety Webinars Presented by OH&S

Dec. 7 - Reducing the Annual Cost of Hearing Conservation Programs
Dec. 13 - Practical Tips for Implementing New OSHA Fall Protection Regulations
Available On-Demand:
     - Executing a Confined Space Rescue
     - Effective Dust hazard Analysis
     - NFPA 70E Changes for 2018
     - Respiratory Protection Equipment selection, Use and Care
Learn more or sign up.

November 20, 2017

3 Cost-Effective Ways to Help Keep Your Employees Safe

Jacksonville, Florida, restaurant worker Dania Fadeley and her co-worker were recently robbed at gunpoint by two men while walking to their cars after work, reported a local news station. Fadeley’s cash, credit cards and phone were stolen. Surveillance cameras caught the robbery, and police are currently looking for the suspects. Fadeley feels a lack of lighting in the area is contributing to crime, and her employer has talked to the Jacksonville City Council about increasing police patrols in the area.

Fadeley is grateful that she only lost her valuables. Many victims aren’t as lucky, in fact, the Justice Department has much grimmer statistics. Here are three cost-effective steps you can take to keep your employees safe in the workplace.

Secure Your Parking Lot and Perimeter

Property protected by video surveillance
As Fadeley’s case illustrates, company parking lots are one of the biggest safety risks for workers. Securing your parking lot and building perimeter is your first line of defense.

Install ample lighting to deprive criminals of concealment opportunities and make employees feel safer, recommends insurance provider Thomas-Fenner-Woods. Make sure your lighting is adequate to cover all areas of your outdoor perimeter, including corners and building entrances. Keep landscaping features such as trees and shrubs maintained to prevent these from being used as hiding places.

Another step you can take to make your company parking lot safe is invest in a commercial security monitoring service. A hybrid system provides the benefits of technology with a professional guard at a much lower cost than an on-site guard. Guards are professionally trained to contact law enforcement for quick response around the clock, and video is recorded just in case it’s needed by law enforcement later.

Post security and video surveillance signs at lot entrances and around the perimeter to make criminals think twice before attempting anything unlawful in your parking lot. Security notice signs are a proven deterrent to criminal activity, and also provide peace-of-mind to employees and visitors. Mount them on posts, fences or parking garage walls as needed.

Provide Secure Storage for Employee Valuables

Secure Storage
Employee valuables such as smartphones, wallets, purses and jewelry can be a target for thieves and a source of anxiety for workers. Taking steps to protect valuable items can deter thieves and make employees feel more secure.

Encourage workers to leave valuable items at home or locked out of sight in their cars. Provide a secure, visible location to store valuables to help protect items that are brought into the workplace. Standard factory locks on desks and file cabinets are easy for thieves to break into due to standard keys and vulnerability to picking, cautions security firm Silva Consultants.

File cabinets used to secure low-value to medium-value items should be fortified with slide bars and high-security padlocks, while high-value items should be stored in burglary-rated files or safes.

Implement Safe Workplace Policies

zero tolerance for profanity threats violenceMake employees feel safe at work by implementing strong policies to protect against workplace harassment, bullying and violence. An effective policy should be documented in writing and communicated to all workers as part of your on-boarding procedure. Specify how workers should report concerns about workplace harassment, threats or other security issues, and include the option of reporting concerns anonymously to a supervisor. Your policy statement should also describe what steps your company will take to protect employees.

The Society for Human Resource Management provides an online sample workplace violence policy you can use as a template. Talk to your company’s legal team about the wording of your own policy.

November 16, 2017

OSHA Sets 2018 Compliance Date for Crane Operator Certification Requirements

OSHA has issued a final rule setting November 10, 2018, as the date for employers in the construction industries to comply with a requirement for crane operator certification. The final rule became effective November 9, 2017.

OSHA issued a final cranes and derricks rule in August 2010. After stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the rule’s certification requirements, OSHA published a separate final rule in September 2014, extending by three years the crane operator certification and competency requirements. This one-year extension provides additional time for OSHA to complete a rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) recommended delaying enforcement of the certification requirement and extending the employer assessment responsibilities for the same period.

Crane Safety Resources:


November 9, 2017

How to Protect Workers from 2017-18 Seasonal Flu

It's THAT time of year again! No, not just family dinners, seasonal decorations and gifts. It's flu season! The time of year when people head indoors and share germs and end up feeling miserable. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say there are many influenza viruses that constantly change. Fortunately, some basic precautions can help people avoid the flu and stop it's spread in the workplace. 

Here's important information from OSHA and the CDC on how to protect workers whose jobs involve contact with coworkers and the general public. This information provides a baseline for infection control during a seasonal flu outbreak, but it may not be enough to protect workers during a pandemic.(There are different specific recommendations for Healthcare workers.) 

Basic Flu Precautions for Most Workplaces

Encourage Workers to Get Vaccinated

Encourage workers to get the seasonal flu vaccine when it is available. Consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic in your workplace. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing flu. Vaccines take time to become effective, so early vaccination is important. Don't wait until people are sick to hold a vaccination clinic.

Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home

Encourage sick workers to stay home. The CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends (100 F or lower), without the use of medication. Not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. Other symptoms could include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Develop flexible leave policies that encourage workers to stay home, without penalty, if they are sick. Discuss other human resource policies with staff, including administrative leave transfer between employees, pay policy for sick leave, childcare options, and what to do when ill during travel.

Develop a Policy for Workers and Clients Who Become Ill in the Workplace

Develop a policy on how to deal with workers and clients who may be ill with the flu and communicate it to your workers. Determine who will be responsible for assisting ill individuals in the workplace and make sure that at least one person can serve as the "go to" person if someone becomes sick in the workplace. Consider how to separate ill workers from others, or give them a surgical mask to wear until they can go home.

Promote Hand Hygiene and Cough Etiquette

Post handwashing signs that tell workers, visitors, and clients the steps for proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Workers, visitors, and clients should have easy access to supplies such as:
  • "No touch" wastebaskets for used tissues;
  • Soap and water;
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs;
  • Disposable towels;
  • Cleaning and sanitation materials.

Keep the Workplace Clean

Frequently clean all commonly touched work surfaces, work areas, and equipment (e.g., telephones, doorknobs, lunch areas, countertops, copiers, etc.). Use your standard cleaning agents and follow the label directions. No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended by CDC. Provide disinfectants and disposable towels for workers to use to clean their work spaces and surfaces and to keep work areas clean. 

Educate Workers About the Flu

Train workers about how flu can be transmitted in the workplace and what precautions they can use to prevent transmission. Provide information about the following:
  • Signs, symptoms, and complications of the flu
  • Policies and procedures for reporting flu symptoms, using sick leave, and returning to work
  • Vaccination
  • Any required work practices
The CDC has identified groups that have a higher risk for complications from seasonal flu (e.g., elderly, pregnant women, small children, persons with asthma, etc.). Inform workers that some people are at higher risk of complications from flu and suggest that they talk to their doctor about their own risk and what to do if they become ill.

Address Travel and Sickness While on Travel

Reconsider business travel to areas with high illness rates. The CDC recommends the following measures for workers who becomes ill while on travel:
  • Advise workers who become ill while traveling or on temporary assignment to notify their supervisors.
  • Workers who become ill while traveling and are at increased risk of flu complications and others concerned about their illness should promptly call a healthcare provider.
  • Advise workers to check themselves for fever and any other signs of flu-like illness before starting travel and to notify their supervisors and stay home if they feel ill.

Following these precautions can help protect your workers - and your business - from the flu this year.

Seasonal Flu Resources for the Workplace:

November 7, 2017

Staying Safe During Disaster Cleanup

Following a natural disaster, the difficult - and dangerous - work of cleanup, restoration and recovery begins. Beyond obvious hazards of debris piles and flood waters, there are a wide range of potentially dangerous materials and activities often associated with disaster recovery. Here are some tips from OSHA on staying safe:

Stay Out of Flood Waters

Even though it may be tempting to wade in flood waters, flooded areas may be deeper than they look, and water levels can rise unexpectedly. Flood waters can also contain dangerous debris that can cause cuts and puncture wounds. Water is sometimes also contaminated with chemicals and germs that can make people sick. Stay out of flood waters unless it is absolutely necessary to evacuate an area.

Avoid Electrical Hazards

Workers can expect to find standing water anywhere in a flood zone. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet. Assume any downed electrical lines are energized and don’t come within 10 feet of them. Repairing downed electrical lines is a task that should be left to trained utility workers.

Safely Remove Debris

November 3, 2017

Important NFPA 70E Changes for 2018

2018 edition of NFPA 70E
Like many other workplace safety items, electrical equipment and safety device technologies evolve and change almost constantly. That's why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) releases an updated version of its NFPA 70E: Standards for Electrical Safety in the Workplace every three years. And 2018 brings a new, updated version intended to help you comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K. 

What's New in the 2018 NFPA 70E

The 2018 edition of NFPA 70E reflects the latest information about the effects of arc flash, arc blast and direct current (DC) hazards, and recent developments in electrical design and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The 2018 NFPA 70E emphasizes the need to use the hierarchy of risk controls, by moving it from an informational note into the text of the Standard. NFPA 70E now explicitly states that the first priority must be the elimination of the hazard.

October 31, 2017

3 Ways to Rework the Working Culture for Better Results

For over a decade American vacation habits have been on the decline. Taking proper time off from work has been a challenge for a vast number of American workers and their employers. Vacation time has been notoriously left unclaimed and when on vacation, many employees have an “always on” mentality, which means they’re working remotely, instead of truly embracing rest and relaxation.

In 2016 alone, 662 million vacation days were left on the table, according to research from Project Time Off. Employers, CEOs and managers all have a responsibility when it comes to empowering staff members to take time off. Project Time Off also found that more than a quarter of their survey respondents feared that taking a vacation or time off from work made them appear less dedicated to their job and duties. Business leaders can help rework the working vacation culture in America - and improve business results at the same time. Here are three ways to get started.

October 26, 2017

Workplace Safety News & Notes - October 2017

Here's a collection of workplace safety news from around the web:

OSHA Enforcing Crystalline Silica Standard in Construction

The 30-day enforcement phase-in of OSHA's respirable crystalline silica standard for construction is now over, so inspectors are free to issue citations for employers not in comnpliance with the new rule. OSHA has also published a silica compliance guide to help small businesses comply with the new requirements. Read more about the new silica rules.

Hallowen Safety Tips

Check out these tips from the CDC to help make Halloween and other fall festivities fun and safe for employees, trick-or-treaters and party guests. Get Halloween Safety Tips.

New No-Cost Respiratory Protection Program Training Available

NIOSH and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) recently released a new, no-cost Respiratory Protection Program Training. The program includes a respiratory protection course and accompanying resources for occupational health professionals who want to learn more about OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard and the role of the respiratory protection program administrator. Learn more at the AAOHN website.

Deadline for New OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces Rule is Nov. 17