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August 18, 2009

Easy-to-Use Custom NFPA Sign Generator

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News & Notes

A committee of the Institute of Medicine will conduct a study and provide recommendations by September 1 regarding personal protective equipment for healthcare workers against the novel influenza A (nH1N1) virus.

Free Safety Management Systems for Small Business seminars by the NSC and OSHA continue in August (AZ, GA, MN, IL, NE, MI) and September (KY, AL, WI, IN, CA, MA, SC).

An interactive version of the NFPA 1600 standard on emergency management and business continuity can now be accessed via an iPhone application available from the App Store, or you can download the standard here.

OSHA has issued a Small Business Guide for Ethylene Oxide to help employers understand the ethylene oxide (EtO) standard and how to monitor air quality in workplaces where EtO is processed, used or handled.

The NFPA and Disaster Recovery Institute International have created an education and certification program that will qualify participants to audit disaster/emergency management and business continuity programs against existing standards and regulations.

A new OSHA document discusses combustible dust hazards in relation to the Hazard Communication Standard.

OSHA Offers Guide to Hazard Assessment and PPE Needs

The Dept. of Labor reports that approximately 3.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries occurred in 2007. That's because hazards exist in every workplace, and in many different forms. Employers large and small must be aware of hazards including noise, sharp objects, moving machinery, chemicals and flying particles.
Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and workers compensation.
OSHA has developed a guide to help small business employers recognize personal protective equipment (PPE) needs for their workplaces. The guide also provides information about proper PPE selection and usage, including gloves, foot and eye protection, hard hats, respirators and hearing protection.
Employers must provide PPE to their employees and ensure its use. Prominent signs that state where and what type of PPE is required will help keep your employees safe and your workplace accident-free.

Know Your Responsibilities When Shipping Hazardous Materials

Many people who ship batteries or other common materials don't appreciate the hazards they pose - or the requirements for shipping hazardous materials. Identification of a hazardous material is the first step in safe shipping, and frequently the most difficult.
All batteries are subject to requirements in the HMR because they have two types of hazards: (1) the chemicals or other materials contained in the battery, and (2) the electrical potential of the battery.
The DOT's Hazmat Safety website includes details and guidance on hazmat identification and shipping. Violating hazardous materials regulations can result in civil penalties up to $100,000, criminal fines up to $500,000 and imprisonment.
The major responsibilities of hazardous material shippers are:
  • Determine whether a material meets the definition of a "hazardous material"
  • packageProper Shipping Name
  • Class/Division
  • Identification Number
  • Hazard Warning Label
  • Packaging
  • Marking
  • Employee Training
  • Shipping Papers
  • Emergency Response Information
  • Emergency Response Telephone Number
  • Certification
  • Compatibility
  • Blocking and Bracing
  • Placarding
  • Security Plan
  • Incident Reporting
  • Hazardous materials labels from can help you meet these shipping requirements. For more information, visit:

    Hazard Communication in the Workplace

    OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard requires chemical manufacturers and importers to provide hazard information via shipping labels and MSDSs. But employers who use such chemicals have strict responsibilities, as well. These include:

    • Preparing and implementing a written hazard communication program
    • Ensuring that all containers are labeled
    • Providing employees access to labels and MSDSs
    • Conducting effective training for all potentially exposed employees

    Learn more with these resources:
    OSHA hazard communication standards
    Frequently asked questions: Hazard communication
    Hazardous communications self-inspection checklist
    OSHA safety and health topics: Hazardous and toxic substances
    OSHA safety and health topics: Solvents

    New DOT Guide: What You Should Know About Developing a Hazmat Training Program

    The Dept. of Transportation has just issued new hazmat communication guidance in hopes of reducing human error as a common cause of hazmat transportation incidents.

    What You Should Know: A Guide to Developing a Hazardous Materials Training Program explains training requirements in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 100-185), identifies which employees must be trained, and provides a tool to help hazmat employers determine what type of training and training environment may be best for their employees.

    You can download the 31-page guide as a pdf here and see more Hazmat signs here.

    Understanding the NFPA Diamond

    The NFPA "fire diamond" or "hazmat diamond" quickly and easily identifies the risks posed by short-term, acute exposure to a material under conditions of fire, spill or similar emergencies. This information is invaluable to emergency personnel to help them determine what, if any, specialty equipment or procedures should be followed in an emergency response. In the workplace, the diamond can help remind employees to use necessary protective equipment and procedures, as well.

    The diamond system is described in NFPA Standard 704, maintained by the National Fire Protection Association. The system identifies four key hazards (health, flammability, instability and special) and their degree of severity. Hazard severity is rated numerically, ranging from 0 (minimal) to 4 (severe).

    The hazards are identified by position and color:

    • Health: Blue, left corner
    • Flammability: Red, top corner
    • Instability: Yellow, right corner
    • Special: White, bottom corner
    Various symbols are used in the special hazards section to indicate the material has unusual reactivity with water, is oxidizing, corrosive or has other unusual properties. Check with local authorities for required and/or non-permitted symbols for this area.

    Where to post NFPA placards

    Refer to NFPA 704 Section 4.3, Location of Signs, for specifics. At a minimum, diamonds should be posted on the two exterior walls of a facility, at access to a room or area or at each main access to an exterior storage area. Remember, placards give key hazard information to emergency responders, so they should be visible wherever responders are likely to enter. If there are several areas where responders could enter, there should be several placards. If you're not sure, ask for advice from your local emergency departments. 

    NFPA 704 Resources:

    Safety Tip: Prevent Eye Injuries

    Government estimates show that some 2,000 eye injuries occur every day in U.S. workplaces.
    • 70% of accidents resulted from flying or falling objects or sparks
    • Contact with chemicals caused 20% of injuries
    • Nearly 60% of workers injured were not wearing eye protection
    OSHA estimates that 90% of eye injuries could be prevented
    by proper protective eyewear.

    To reduce eye injuries in your workplace:
    • Use the right protection - Eyewear must be appropriate for hazards encountered and properly fitted
      - Nearly 20% of injuries with eye protection occurred to workers wearing face shields or welding helmets
      - Only 6% occurred to workers wearing goggles
    • Maintain eyewear - Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents
    • Train employees - About 40% of workers surveyed received no information on what kind of eyewear to use and where to use it
    94% of injuries to workers wearing eye protection resulted from
    objects or chemicals going around or under the protector.