A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

October 12, 2017

Fatal Traffic Crashes Increased in 2016 - What Can Employers Do?

According to a recent DOT announcement, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015. The number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled - a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year.

These numbers come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which recently released fatal traffic crash data for calendar year 2016, collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Fatalities in crashes involving large tucks increased from 4,094 in 2015 to 4,317 in 2016. Of those deaths, just 17 percent were truck occupants. The remaining deaths were occupants of other vehicles (72 percent) or non-occupants (11 percent). 

Distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.

The 2016 national data shows that:

  • Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent;
  • Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent;
  • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7 per­cent;
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent;
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent;
  • Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1 percent;
  • Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9.0 percent; and
  • Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3 percent.
Although the report does not give data on work-related traffic crashes, the increase in fatalities involving large trucks indicates an area of concern for trucking companies and other employers with commmercial drivers.


What Can Employers Do?

seat belts required
Unlike other workplaces, the roadway is not a closed environment, so managing risks is complicated. Here's advice for employers on preventing work-related crashes, from NIOSH:

Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles and sound safety management practices. Employers can promote safe driving behavior by providing safety information to workers and by setting and enforcing driver safety policies. Crashes are not an unavoidable part of doing business. Employers can take steps to protect their employees and their companies.


  • Assign a key member of the management team responsibility and authority to set and enforce comprehensive driver safety policy.
  • Enforce mandatory seat belt use.
  • Do not require workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours.
  • Do not require workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving.
  • Develop work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations.

Fleet Management

  • Adopt a structured vehicle maintenance program.
  • Provide company vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection.

we hire safe drivers

Safety Programs

  • Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue and in-vehicle distractions.
  • Provide training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment.
  • Emphasize to workers the need to follow safe driving practices on and off the job.

Driver Performance

  • Ensure that workers assigned to drive on the job have a valid driver’s license and one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven.
  • Check driving records of prospective employees, and perform periodic rechecks after hiring.
  • Maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ driving performance.



    October 10, 2017

    OSHA Delays Enforcement of Crystalline Silica Standard in Construction

    wear respirator in this area
    OSHA Respirator Safety Sign
    Enforcement of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard for construction went into effect on Sept. 23, but the agency announced a 30-day enforcement phase-in to help employers comply with the new standard. That gives employers about 2 more weeks of leeway on compliance. Compliance assistance will be offered to employers making good faith efforts to comply during the first 30 days, but citations may be considered for employers not making any efforts to comply.

    The Respirable Crystalline Silica construction standard, 29 CFR § 1926.1153, establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, and a host of ancillary requirements. During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will carefully evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard. OSHA will render compliance assistance and outreach to assure that covered employers are fully and properly complying with its requirements. OSHA has also published a silica compliance guide to help small businesses comply with the new rule.

    Silica Dangers

    About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work. Respirable crystalline silica is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling or crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Activities that result in worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust include:
    • Sand blasting
    • Sawing brick or concrete
    • Sanding or drilling concrete
    • Grinding mortar
    • Manufacturing bricks, concrete blocks, stone counter tops or ceramic products
    • Cutting or crushing stone
    Industrial sand used in certain operations, such as foundry work and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), is also a source of respirable crystalline silica exposure.

    Workers who inhale these crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:

    • Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death
    • Lung cancer
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Kidney disease

    New Silica Standards for Construction and Maritime

    OSHA has issued two new respirable crystalline silica standards: one for construction, and the other for general industry and maritime. OSHA began enforcing most provisions of the standard for construction on September 23, 2017, and will begin enforcing most provisions of the standard for general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018.

    Learn more:

    October 5, 2017

    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.

    This training satisfies the annual Federal OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard's (1910.134 CFR) training requirements. You do NOT need to be an AAOHN member to participate in this free training or access the training resources.

    Different programs are offered to meet needs of varied audiences, including:
    • Safety professionals in organizations required to follow OSHA's respiratory protection standard
    • Safety professionals in healthcare facilities
    • Primary or ancillary healthcare workers

    Learn more at the AAOHN website.

    October 3, 2017

    How To Protect Workers from Solvent Safety Challenges

    Highly flammable solvents in area
    OSHA Solvent Safety Sign
    Workplace hazards such as confined spaces, moving machinery, low clearances and hot surfaces pose significant threats to workers, and are typically marked with appropriate chemical safety signs and labels to draw attention to them. But there are other equally dangerous hazards that can easily go unnoticed until it's too late to take preventive action. These sneaky hazards are solvents - chemicals commonly used to clean up paints, greases and oils, or contained in liquids such as paint, pesticides and ink, to name a few.

    Because solvents are so common at work and home, workers may not give them the safety attention they deserve. Yet solvent exposure can damage skin, eyes, internal organs and respiratory tissue - as well as cause fires and explosions. Clearly, workers need to be aware of

    September 28, 2017

    OSHA Fall Protection Training Requirements - What Are They?

    Follow fall protection guidelines
    OSHA just released it's preliminary list of top 10 most-cited safety violations of 2017. A newcomer on the list is Fall Protection – Training Requirements, which was cited 1,523 times by federal inspectors. But what exactly are the training requirements that employers are failing to meet? Here's an overview of Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, Fall Protection - Training Requirements (1926.503):

    Training Program

    The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.

    September 27, 2017

    OSHA Announces Top 10 Violations of 2017

    Fall Protection Training has joined the preliminary list of OSHA's most-frequently-cited safety violations of 2017. The annual announcement came this week during the 2017 NSC Congress & Expo in Indianapolis.

    OSHA’s Top 10 list has been quite consistent in recent years, with just the one change from the 2015, 2016 and new 2017 lists. Fall Protection - Training slid into the #9 position this year, bumping Electrical Wiring to #10 and pushing Electrical, General requirements off the list.

    “If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline,” said Thomas Galassi, director of enforcement programs for OSHA. Galassi also urged employers to create a culture of safety at their companies.

    Based on preliminary figures on Sept. 5, 2017, the Top 10 citations for fiscal year 2017 are:

    September 25, 2017

    September Workplace Safety News & Notes

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

    NIOSH Offers Webinar on Aging Workforce Sept. 28

    NIOSH is hosting a free webinar, Interventions and Promising Practices in the Aging Workplace, as part of the Productive Aging and Work webinar series and in observance of National Employ Older Workers Week. The webinar will provide an overview of interventions and promising practices for addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by an aging workforce. Date is September 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM EDT. Continuing education credits are pending for this activity. Register here.

    OSHA Proposes Extended Deadline for Crane Operator Certification

    Certified crane operatorOSHA intends to extend the employer's responsibility to ensure crane operator competency and enforcement for crane operator certification to Nov. 10, 2018. OSHA issued a final rule in September 2014, extending the deadline by three years for crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The final rule also extended by three years the employer's responsibility to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely. Read more.

    Alliance Formed to Protect Grain Handling Workers

    September 20, 2017

    NIOSH Studies 3-D Printer Emissions

    Wear mask respiratory irritants in this area
    Dust Mask Safety Sign
    If your business uses 3-D printers, you'll be interested in a recent NIOSH study comparing emissions from 3-D and laser printers that found 3-D printers emit 14 chemicals that laser printers do not. Further, they found that 3-D printed items continued to emit chemicals after printing, raising questions about exposure in storage and other areas.

    With the growing popularity of 3-D printers in the workplace, NIOSH wants to understand and address their potential effects on indoor air quality. A previous study by NIOSH and university researchers found that using the manufacturer-supplied cover on a 3-D printer decreased the amount of emissions containing ultrafine particles by two times, but the levels were still high.

    For the current study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, researchers tested the most commonly used type of desktop 3-D printer, called the FDM, and two models of black and white laser printers. For the 3-D printers. They printed a hair comb using one of two types of plastic filaments, taking about 14 minutes to complete.

    September 19, 2017

    How to Comply with OSHA's Updated Walking-Working Surfaces Rule

    Next Deadline is Near: November 17
    Fall Protection Required

    Late last year, OSHA published new standards for walking-working surfaces and fall protection in general industry workplaces. Much of the rule took effect on January 17, 2017, but OSHA gave employers additional time to comply with many of the provisions. For example:
    • Inspections and certifications of permanent anchorages used in rope descent systems must be completed by November 17, 2017.
    • New fall arrest or safety systems on fixed ladders longer than 24 feet aren't required until November 17, 2018.

    The new rules address both horizontal and vertical surfaces, including roofs, floors, ramps, elevated

    September 14, 2017

    OSHA Offers Worker Safety Resources for Hurricane and Flood Cleanup and Recovery

    Emergencies like recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma can create a variety of hazards for workers in the impacted areas. The OSHA website has a variety of resources to help employers keep their workers safe when hurricanes and floods strike  - and during cleanup and recovery operations.

    OSHA recently updated the Worker Safety and Health Resources for Hurricane and Flood Cleanup and Recovery page to provide information for employers and workers across industries, and for workers responding to emergencies.

    Topics include:

    • Hurricanes
    • Floods
    • General response and recovery
    • PPE
    • Heat