A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from

August 23, 2016

August 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

Here's some safety-related news from around the web this month:

September is National Preparedness Month
Emergency Evacuation Muster Point

September is recognized as National Preparedness Month, a time to recognize the importance of preparing for the types of emergencies we could encounter where we live, work and visit. has a developed a variety of materials, including resources for business preparedness planning and a free communications toolkit you can use to spread the word to employees and your community.

OSHA Launches Noise Safety Challenge

OSHA and NIOSH are challenging inventors and entrepreneurs to help develop a technological solution to workplace noise exposure and related hearing loss. The Hear and Now - Noise Safety Challenge has goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. The competition seeks ideas related to occupational hearing protection. Suggested topics include technology that can: Enhance employer training and improve effective use of hearing protection; Alert workers when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss; Allows workers to hear important alerts or human voices while remaining protected from harmful noise. Get more information here.

Free Toolkit for Drive Safely Work Week October 3-7

The Drive Safely Work Week™ (DSWW) campaign for 2016 aims to raise self-awareness and stir motivation to change driving behaviors that contribute to 94 percent of crashes. The campaign includes self-assessment tools for overall driving behavior and daytime sleepiness. Materials address the importance of healthy sleep habits, distracted driving, speeding and seat belt use. Why not consider a DSWW campaign at your business? Get the free toolkit here.

NIOSH Engineering Control Solutions Database

NIOSH's new Engineering Controls Database contains descriptions of controls, effectiveness summaries and schematics of engineering control technology evaluated by NIOSH during laboratory and field investigations. The database serves as a central repository of current NIOSH information on engineering control technology, but does not include a comprehensive list of engineering control technologies or manufacturers and products. Visit the site.

Recognize N95 Day on 9/5
Wear mask Respiratory irritants in this area

If N95s are part of your workplace respiratory protection program, NIOSH encourages you to take some time on September 5 - N95 Day - to recognize the importance of respiratory protection in the workplace and familiarize yourself with the resources available to help you make educated decisions when selecting and wearing a respirator. Many workers across a wide range of industries depend on the N95 for respiratory protection from hazardous airborne particles, including nurses, construction workers, emergency responders, painters and gardeners. Learn more.

Upcoming Safety Webinars from OH&S

  • 9/1 - New Standard for High Visibility and How it Applies to Gloves
  • 9/8 - Layering Do’s and Don’ts for Arc Flash Protection
  • 9/14 - Global Standards for Hand Protection
  • 9/15 - Controlling Hazardous Energy Sources During Confined Space Entries
Learn more or sign up here.

Safety Tip: Noise / Hearing Protection for the Workplace

Noise area May cause hearing loss Use proper ear protection
Every year, 22 million workers risk losing their hearing from workplace noise hazards. Hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers' compensation. NIOSH reports that some 10 million US workers incur permanent hearing loss annually. The risk for hearing loss due to noise exposure is especially high among factory and heavy industry workers, transportation workers, military personnel, construction workers, miners, farmers, firefighters, police officers, musicians and even office workers in crowded areas.

If you must shout to be heard by someone standing three feet away, the noise level is probably reaching dangerously high levels - so take precautions. Hearing protection requirements are detailed in OSHA's Occupational Noise Exposure Standard - 29 CFR 1910.95. Section (i) of this standard states, “Employers shall make hearing protectors available to all employees exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels (dB) or greater at no cost to the employees.”

OSHA requires employers to:
  • Provide employees a variety of hearing protectors to choose from
  • Train employees on use and maintenance of hearing protectors
  • Ensure hearing protectors are worn by all employees who meet the requirements of the standard

August 22, 2016

Major OSHA Fines Top $1.6 Million in July 2016

Federal OSHA investigators issued $1,658,890 in 13 major fines in July. That's quite a drop from the $5.7 million announced in June. Fall protection and machine hazards were among common hazards, but the top fine involved bloodborne pathogen hazards at an Illinois ambulance operation. Here are some details of the top citations (over $100,000) reported in July, which may still be pending final decisions:

$290,100 for bloodborne pathogen risk at an Illinois ambulance service

Warning biohazard
OSHA issued five willful, 16 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to the ambulance service after receiving a complaint alleging violations of OSHA's bloodborne pathogen exposure and various other health and safety standards. OSHA found 14 violations including failures to:
  • Establish an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens
  • Make Hepatitis B vaccination series available to employees
  • Train workers about chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards and precautions
  • Develop an emergency response plan
  • Dispose of, clean or launder contaminated personal protection equipment
  • Develop a respiratory protection program
  • Train workers about the use of hazardous chemicals in their work area
  • Provide injury and illness logs to inspectors within four hours
  • Mark, keep clear and properly light emergency exits
  • Follow electrical safe work places. Investigators found opened breaker panel boxes, extension cords used as fixed wiring, exposed light sockets.
View the current safety citations and health citations. (pdf)

$197,820 for repeat combustible dust, fire, explosion and fall hazards at a New York manufacturer

At a follow-up inspection, OSHA inspectors found the company failed to address combustible dust hazards involving the dust collection system it had agreed to correct. Inspectors also identified new and recurring hazards stemming from failure to:

August 16, 2016

Improve Safety for Overhead Workers - and Those Below

Fall hazards are an obvious safety concern when workers are on scaffolds, ladders or working at heights. But there are other risks as well. The safety experts at Safety Management Group in Indianapolis have penned an article that outlines additional "dangers from above" that occur when workers are located above other workers - or with their arms raised above their heads. Here's a recap of key points.

Working Above Other Workers

You can't stop gravity. If someone working above drops an object or debris, it's going to fall on whatever is below - vehicles, equipment or another worker - with the potential for serious damage or injury. Follow these steps to reduce the potential for those accidents, and limit the possible damage.
  • Ensure people working below are aware of work that’s happening above.
  • Mark the area beneath elevated workers with caution tape, barricades or signs that alert workers to the potential for falling objects.

August 3, 2016

FMCSA Warns: E-cigarettes and Commercial Vehicles are a Dangerous Combination

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a Safety Advisory with information for owners and operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) concerning incidents and risks involving possession and use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices [e.g., e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-cigars, e-pipes, e-hookahs, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems]. 

The use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices has resulted in incidents including explosions, serious personal injuries and fires. The explosions regularly involved the ejection of a burning battery case or other components from the device which subsequently ignited nearby flammable or combustible materials. 

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates there have been 25 incidents between 2009 and August 2014. However, news sources place the number of explosions at over 150. A

July 29, 2016

Concealed Carry in the Workplace: Safety Measures, Laws and Best Practices

no concealed weaons allowed
Today, more than ever, gun safety in the workplace is a topic of discussion. The responsibility of employers to ensure the safety of their employees as well as employing at-work gun policies is something that needs to be addressed and taken very seriously. Here's information for employers regarding employees carrying concealed firearms on the job.

Statistically Speaking

Recent tragedies in the U.S. have made workplace safety and gun safety a central focus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2006 to 2010, an average of 551 employees were killed as a result of work-related killings. Further, gun violence accounted for 78 percent of homicides at work.

July 27, 2016

NSC: One in Three US Workers Say Employers Prioritize Productivity Over Safety

Safety protects people Quality protects jobsThe National Safety Council has released survey results showing 33% of the 2,000 employees surveyed across the nation believe safety takes a back seat to productivity at their organizations. The percentage was even higher among employees in high-risk industries. Sixty percent of respondents in the construction industry, and 52% of those working in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, felt safety was less of a priority than finishing tasks. Those industries are first and second when it comes to the number of occupational deaths each year. 

The survey is based on the Council's Employer Perception Surveys. Other key survey findings include:
  • 49% of temporary and contract workers, and 41% of employees working in healthcare settings, said they were afraid to report safety issues.

July 22, 2016

What's New at

You'll find more than 2,600 new signs and labels at this month, including:
boiler room not an exit
  • Employee Notice - OSHA, ANSI and other styles on topics that include: Biohazard, Customer Policies, Employees Only, Enter/Exit, Open/Closed/Hours, Restricted Areas Visitors and more.
  • Do Not Enter - A variety of sizes for applications including: Alarm Will Sound, Exits, Explosives, Fire Operation, Restricted Access, Closed Areas and more.
  • Custom Street Name Signs - It's easy to make your own MUTCD-compliant, reflective street name signs in varied styles.

July 19, 2016

July 2016 Workplace Safety News & Notes

OSHA Civil Penalties Rising August 1

In November 2015, Congress required federal agencies to adjust civil penalties to account for inflation, and OSHA has announced that maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Serious and other-than-serious violation penalties, now at $7,000, will rise to $12,471. Willful and repeat, now at $70,000, will rise to $124,709. Failure to abate, now at $7,000 per day, will increase to $12,741 per day. Read more

NIOSH Launches New Mobile App for Pocket Guide on Chemical Hazards

NIOSH has created a new mobile application (app) version of its trusted Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards that can be used on any device with a Web browser. The Pocket Guide gives general industrial hygiene information for hundreds of chemicals/classes and helps users recognize and control workplace chemical hazards. It includes 634 chemical entries and appendices; links to IDLH, NIOSH and OSHA Methods, easy searches and more. Read more about it. 

Major OSHA Fines Top $5 Million in June 2016

Federal OSHA released details of 16 significant fines in June, including a near-record $3.42 million assessment against an Ohio auto parts manufacturer. These top fines totaled some $5.7 million. Unguarded machines were a primary cause of violations. Here's a look at the top OSHA fines announced in June, which may still be pending final decisions:

$3.42 million and SVEP for willful machine hazards at an Ohio auto parts manufacturer 

finger-hand hazard
Investigators inspected a Sunfield Inc. plant after two workers suffered severe injuries in separate incidents. The facility has an extensive history of federal safety violations dating back 20 years. OSHA issued citations for 46 egregious willful, two willful, one repeated and eight serious safety violations with penalties totaling $3,426,900 and placed the company in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards. Most of the violations involve lack of machine safety procedures which expose workers to amputation, lacerations and other injuries. OSHA said the company's leadership failed in its obligation to properly train workers for the jobs they were hired to do, and created a culture that routinely tolerated willful and serious safety violations.

Prior to recent inspections, the company had an extensive history of OSHA violations. The agency has issued 118 citations for numerous machine hazards similar to those cited and resulted in 90 serious, eight willful and five repeated violations to the company, which has repeatedly assured OSHA that it would address the unsafe conditions. The company also ignored its own corporate safety manuals and its safety manager's warnings that workers lacked the training to protect themselves. The agency also found multiple electrical safety violations including lack of personal protective equipment, workers exposed to live electrical parts, and use of damaged equipment. Read details here.

$285,300 for fire hazards, unguarded machine following an amputation at a Pennsylvania manufacturer 

OSHA initiated an inspection after a worker had a finger amputated by a machine. The inspection was also in response to a separate complaint alleging hazards related to the storage and handling of flammable liquids at the cosmetic manufacturer. Citations issues include: improperly stored, transferred and processed flammable liquids; fall and forklift hazards; failure to properly guard a filling machine, which caused the amputation; failure to provide fire extinguisher and flammable liquid training; and failure to develop and implement a written hazard communication program. More details.