A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

December 14, 2009

Cell Phone Safety Makes Good $ense

Formal company policies regarding texting and cell phone use are becoming more common - and with good reason. Not only are distracted drivers more likely to crash, courts have ordered companies to pay judgments as high as $20 million when employee cell phone use resulted in death - even when making a work-related call after-hours on a personal cell phone.

A new survey of National Safety Council members shows that 58 percent of organizations have a cell phone policy of some kind. And 99 percent of companies that prohibit use of cell phones and messaging devices while driving have experienced no change in productivity. Some have seen an increase in productivity after policies took effect.

A driver sending or receiving a text message spends
4.6 seconds with their eyes off the road
for every 6 seconds of drive time,
-- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

The NSC has developed a comprehensive cell phone policy kit with sample policies, PowerPoint presentations and executive summaries to help companies build support for cell phone policies and communicate to employees. You can download the no-cost kit here.

Links to learn more:

December 13, 2009 Posts New Help Center and FAQ pages

We've revised our Help Center page to make it even easier to find answers to common questions. The dashboard-style layout is organized by topic, and each topic gives you direct access to numerous pages in our site, such as our new FAQs page.

The FAQs page includes answers to the most common questions about products, orders and payments, shipping, returns & exchanges or our website policies. And it's all in an easy-to-use tab format with links to the information you need.

Check out these pages today at

November Survey Results: H1N1 in Your Workplace

In our November newsletter survey, nearly half of respondents (48%) reported they'd seen increased illness in the previous two months. Fully 93% of respondents had taken steps to prevent the spread of H1N1 in their workplace.

Common flu-fighting efforts are shown below:

December 12, 2009

December News and Notes

DOT Issues Rules to Enhance Pipeline Safety
The Transportation Secretary has announced new Federal regulations for operators of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. The two rules require operators of natural gas distribution pipelines to adopt integrity management programs similar to current requirements for larger transmission pipelines. In addition, the DOT is calling for strengthened management and oversight of control room operations for all types of DOT-regulated pipelines. Learn more here.

Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2008
The complete Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts annual reports contain vehicle miles traveled and vehicle registration data. For the 2008 report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is publishing an early release of the annual report with preliminary figures. Read more here.

OSHA issues final rule revising acetylene standardThe final rule revising OSHA's Acetylene Standard became effective Nov. 9. The rule changed procedures for transferring, handling and storing acetylene cylinders and replaces references to outdated industry standards. Read the Federal Register for more information.

Food Safety and H1N1 Flu
The CDC reports that food workers with the flu do NOT present any risk to the safety of food. However, one of the best ways to reduce the spread of influenza is to keep sick people away from well people. Workers who have symptoms of the flu should stay home and not come to work until at least 24 hours after their fever has resolved. Review Frequently Asked Questions about H1N1 and food handling at

Beware Fraudulent Emails Promoting CDC Vaccination Profile
Fraudulent emails referencing a CDC-sponsored State Vaccination Program are making the rounds. The messages direct users to create a personal "vaccination profile" with the CDC, and will take users to a look-alike website. Clicking a link on the site will install malware and give scammers access to the user's computer. The CDC reports it has not implemented any such program. Read the CDC statement here.

Focus on Flu
Experts from WebMD and the CDC have teamed up to answer your questions about the flu season - from concerns about the H1N1 pandemic to seasonal flu issues. Visit the Focus on Flu blog here.

NFPA Report: Industrial and Manufacturing Fires

From 2003-2006, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 10,500 structure fires in industrial and manufacturing properties include utility, defense, petrochemical, agriculture and mining properties and manufacturing and processing properties.

These fires caused an annual average of 12 civilian deaths, 300 civilian fire injuries and $509 million in direct property damage.

Key findings include:

  • 29% of fires involved shop tools and industrial equipment, and caused 54% of civilian fire injuries
  • 15% of fires started in process / manufacturing areas or workrooms (the leading area of origin)
  • 6% of fires started in machinery rooms or areas
  • 11% of fires began with trash or waste
  • 10% of fires began with flammable or combustible liquids or gases, filters, or piping
  • 10% of fires began with dust, fiber, lint, sawdust or similar material
  • 6% of fires began with electrical wire or cable insulation

Do you have adequate fire safety warning signs in key areas of your workplace? It might be worth another look to be sure.

Three Winter Worksite Dangers to Remember

Winter conditions create a variety of safety challenges on construction projects. Common examples include a significant increase in the likelihood of slip and fall accidents and tissue damage caused by frostbite. But some hazards that arrive with winter conditions aren't quite as obvious. The safety experts at Safety Management Group offer a closer look at three dangers that supervisors sometimes miss. Read more here.

December 10, 2009

Winter Workplace Safety

With the onset of cold weather, it's time to think about preventing cold-related health problems and accidents. But some indoor health risks also increase during cold weather. Here's how to help keep your workers safe indoors and out this winter.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless killer, and more than 60 percent of CO poisoning cases occur during the fall and winter months. So before you close up your workplace to keep out the cold, be sure your heaters and boilers are vented properly and operating safely.

CO is commonly associated with gas furnaces, boilers, water or space heaters and propane-powered forklifts. When doors, windows and other sources of fresh air are closed to keep in the heat, they also keep in any CO in the air. Employee training and safety signs can remind workers to be alert to CO hazards. You may have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, but what about your office or warehouse?

Cold temperatures, wet weather and shorter daylight hours increase the potential for worksite accidents. Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures can cause serious health problems including trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. Risks increase for workers taking certain medications or suffering from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Ice or snow falling from roofs is another common danger that can be addresssed with safety signs.

What constitutes "cold stress" varies across the country. In regions unaccustomed to cold weather, near-freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress, while folks in colder climates might consider the same temperatures a warm-up. Migrant workers or others who are new to your area may not be familiar with winter weather and need training about dressing for winter weather.

To avoid accidents:

  • Establish a procedure for spreading salt or sand on icy walks
  • Monitor ice and snow buildup on roofs above walkways
  • Check ladders and scaffolds for ice
  • Regularly clean windows and lights on vehicles and construction equipment so operators can safely see and be seen

To protect workers from cold stress:

  • Schedule cold jobs for the warmer part of the day
  • Reduce physical demands on workers
  • Use relief workers or assign extra workers for long, demanding jobs
  • Provide warm liquids to workers
  • Provide warm areas for use during break periods
  • Monitor workers who are at risk of cold stress
  • Provide cold stress training

Learn more with these links:
Blue_Bullet_Small2 Read the CDC Carbon Monoxide fact sheet.
Blue_Bullet_Small2 Review NIOSH Cold Stress information.
Blue_Bullet_Small2 Download OSHA's Cold Stress Card with guidelines and recommendations for preventing cold weather-induced illnesses and injuries in English or Spanish.
Blue_Bullet_Small2 Download the Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety winter survival tips brochure.

Safety Tip: Prevent Cold-Related Injuries

Here's a collection of cold-weather tips that can help you and your employees avoid injuries this winter:
  • Wear several layers of loose clothing to provide insulation (tight clothes reduce blood circulation)
  • Be aware that some clothing may restrict movement, creating a hazard
  • Wear a hat and protect the ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold weather
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots
  • Keep moving when working outside for long periods of time
  • Change out of wet clothing as soon as possible
  • Move into warm locations during work breaks; limit the amount of time outside on extremely cold days
  • Stop working and seek shelter if you feel disoriented or experience tingling or numbness
  • Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin
  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers
For more information:

Safety Humor

Winter weather is coming, but a good laugh will help keep you warm:

  • Blizzard: A storm that winterrupts traffic.
  • Winter: The age of shivery and shovelry.
  • Headline: Snow Storms May Be Precursor of Winter
  • Think about this: If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
  • It was so cold . . . Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick!
  • Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.
  • There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor's.
  • Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.

From the Washington Post weather blog.

December 9, 2009

ASSE Announces Revised Workplace Fall Protection Standard

Fall-ADE-3000_150The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced approval of a newly revised American National Standards Institute (ANSI) /ASSE Z359.0-2009 "Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest" voluntary consensus standard. The approval is an effort to provide the most current information on slip, trip and fall prevention.
The standard establishes definitions and nomenclature for fall arrest and fall protection equipment, including those used for all nine current Z359 standards. Falls in the transportation industry are covered under Z359, including all vehicles, such as trailers, that move on a railway. ANSI/ASSE also is working on 10 additional Z359 standards projects aimed at protecting workers from falls.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 680 fatal on-the-job injuries in 2008 were attributed to falls. As reported in the November Connection, fall protection is one of the top 10 OSHA violations for 2009.

New at Virginia No Smoking Signs

Effective December 1, smoking is prohibited in most restaurants and bars in Virginia and proprietors are required to "post signs stating 'No Smoking' or containing the international 'No Smoking' symbol, consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a bar across it, clearly and conspicuously in every restaurant where smoking is prohibited…"

If this law applies to you, is ready to meet your need for state-approved No Smoking signs. We offer a wide selection, including:

  • Premium wood-framed brushed metal signs
  • Designer wood plaques with brushed metal plates
  • Standard signs and labels available in a variety of materials
  • Clear labels for use on doors and windows

Learn more with these links:

OSHA Issues Flu Fact Sheets

H1N1 Update:
"There's been a decline in activity, but there's still lots of flu," the CDC reported on Dec. 1, noting that flu is still widespread in 32 states. About half of flu experts the CDC polled think there will be another wave of cases before spring. Each week the CDC analyzes information about influenza disease activity in the United States and publishes findings of key flu indicators in a report called FluView.

H1N1 web page provides current information about the 2009 H1N1 flu and details steps that managers, employers and workers need to take now to avoid flu problems. OSHA has also issued fact sheets that employers and workers can use to promote safety and reduce the risk of exposure to H1N1 virus at work. Separate fact sheets with additional precautions are available for health care workers.