A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

June 23, 2010

It's summertime again: The June 2010 Connection

You may be ready for summer fun, but are you ready for summer safety issues like high heat, severe weather emergencies and new OSHA rules? It's a package deal this month, and will help you make the best of it.

Here are some key points from this month's issue:
  Blue_Bullet_Small  OSHA has proposed new slip & fall hazard protections for general industry
  Blue_Bullet_Small  A new OSHA Hexavalent Chromium requirement is now in effect
  Blue_Bullet_Small  Hurricane Season has begun - a good time to update or create your emergency plan
  Blue_Bullet_Small  Employee surveys can help you fine-tune your safety program
  Blue_Bullet_Small  State OSHA fines may be on the increase

Have a Safe Month!
Paul Sandefer, President

June 22, 2010

SMG SAFETY ADVISOR: Considering Extended Workdays?

smg_logoCompanies that use extended hours often report improvements in morale and job satisfaction. The additional time off can give employees a chance to feel more rested and take some of the "edge" off of work-related stress. However, there are also downsides.

Having more days off may reduce worker familiarity with normal procedures. The fatigue associated with longer workdays can reduce alertness. (For example, one recent study showed successive 12-hour shifts for U.S. hospital nurses left many with sleep deprivation.) The work safety experts at Safety Management Group believe that while extended workdays are not inherently more hazardous, several aspects should be considered before making a decision to extend workdays. Read more here.

Customer Comment - June

Here's what customers are saying this month:

"Thank you for a great product at a great price along with great delivery time. I used to purchase custom signs from Emedco until I found out about you guys. Your prices are approximately 75% less than theirs and your quality is just as good. As for the packaging, signs arrived in great condition. Four snips with a pair of scissors and packaging was removed."
-- Larry B., Lewisburg, W VA

"Just wanted to let you know that I really think your packaging is great. One of my pet peeves is large boxes with small items in them. My signs arrived undamaged and the package was easy to open."
-- Nancy C., Fremont, CA

News & Notes - June 2010

Arc Flash: Protection Beyond PPE is the topic for a no-cost presentation by GE Energy Services, Industrial on June 24. This 1-hour webinar will discuss causes of arc flash and new protection solutions now available, and will better equip EHS managers to make arc flash protection decisions that go beyond PPE. Learn more here.

MSNBC reports workplace suicides in the U.S. on the rise. As employers are forced to do more with less, some employees are pushed to the limit and work themselves into the ground, leading to poor health and even suicide. Read more about the impact of today's intense work environment here.

Ohio is replacing its Drug-Free Workplace Program (DFWP) for state construction projects effective July 1, 2010 with the new Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP). Ohio law indicates all companies - in state or out of state - that bid or work on state construction projects must have a drug-free workplace program. This applies to contractors and all levels of subcontractors who want to work on a State of Ohio construction project, who want to bid on and/or provide labor services, and/or supervise workers on state construction. Download a DFSP guide here.

State OSHA Fines Growing? Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) recently issued violations with a total penalty of $1,034,000 - the largest penalty ever assessed by MOSH in a single inspection or investigation. Read about it here.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released a 14-minute safety video on hazards of welding and hot work activities in and around storage tanks containing flammable materials."Dangers of Hot Work" presents key lessons from the CSB's hot work safety bulletin, released after three workers were killed during a hot work-related explosion. Learn more.

OSHA Updates

New Training Emphasizes Workers' Rights."Introduction to OSHA," a new training component emphasizing workers' rights, now is required content in every OSHA 10- and 30-hour Outreach Training Program class. It focuses on the importance of workers' rights and advises participants of their right to:
  • work in safe and healthful workplaces
  • know about the presence and effects of hazardous chemicals
  • review information about injuries and illnesses in their workplaces
  • receive training
  • request/file for an OSHA inspection and participate in the inspection
  • be free from retaliation for exercising their safety and health rights
The voluntary program includes courses in construction, general or maritime industry safety and health hazard recognition and prevention. During program classes, OSHA trainers will cover topics on whistleblower rights and filing a complaint, and will provide samples of a weekly fatality and catastrophe report, material safety data sheet and the OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.

Updated Walking and Working Surface Rules Proposed OSHA has announced plans to require improved general industry worker protection from tripping, slipping and falling hazards on walking and working surfaces. OSHA estimates the proposed rule would prevent 20 workplace fatalities and over 3,700 serious injuries per year.
The proposal basically upgrades general industry standards to match current construction and maritime rules - and gives inspectors authority to assess fines for violations. Currently there are different requirements for similar, yet sometimes identical, hazards in the different industries. A public hearing on the revised changes will be held after a public comment.

EPA Sets Stronger Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a new health standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2) - the first new SO2 standard in 40 years. Exposure to SO2 can aggravate asthma and cause other respiratory difficulties.

EPA set a one-hour SO2 health standard at 75 parts per billion to protect against short-term exposures, and is revoking the current 24-hour and annual SO2 health standards because science indicates that short-term exposures are of greatest concern. EPA is also changing the monitoring requirements for SO2 to assure monitors will be placed where SO2 emissions impact populated areas. Any new monitors required by this rule must begin operating no later than Jan. 1, 2013. Learn more here.

Safety Tip: Preventing Overexertion

The NSC reports that overexertion is the third leading cause for non-fatal injuries in the United States. Overexertion injuries to the back or spine - mainly sprains and strains - comprise about 40 percent of both on and off-the-job injuries.
Pacing and moving properly can help avoid injuries and improve productivity. Here are some tips from the NSC to help prevent overexertion:
  • Stretch and/or warm up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity
  • Know your limits. Don't be afraid to slow your pace or take a break if your body needs one
  • Lighten your load with a friend! Take the strain off with half the load
  • Avoid bending, reaching and twisting when lifting
  • Lift with your legs bent and objects close to your body
View back safety posters and tip sheets in English and Spanish, and more at the NSC site.

It's Hurricane Season - Is Your Workplace Ready?

Hurricane Evacuation Route
June marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Is your business ready?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges businesses, families and communities to take every possible precaution to prepare for hurricanes. And not just in coastal states. Hurricanes frequently produce flooding and other damage in neighboring states, as well.
"Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere, and everyone needs to be prepared - not just those folks in hurricane prone states," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

All businesses should prepare evacuation plans and emergency kits, and rehearse emergency evacuation routes. Emergency plans should consider the needs of all employees. If a workplace includes people with a disability, special steps to assist them may be necessary and should be incorporated into all emergency planning. Emergency kits should contain enough supplies to last at least 72 hours.

Area of rescue assistanceThe American Society of Safety engineers (ASSE) recommends companies integrate emergency preparedness into their overall safety management systems:
  • Conduct a vulnerability assessment to determine probability and impact of a loss.
  • Prepare or update a response management plan, including individual responsibilities, internal and external communications and emergency response training.
  • Plan ahead for business recovery from a crisis/disaster.
NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs establishes a common set of criteria that sets a foundation for disaster management, emergency management and business continuity programs. This is also a good time to consider flood insurance coverage.

Learn more about protecting your business from hurricanes or other natural disasters with these links:

New Hexavalent Chromium Requirement Effective June 15

OSHA set June 15 as the date for a direct final rule requiring employers to notify workers of all Hexavalent Chromium exposures. The toxic chemical increases risks for lung cancer and damage to the nose, throat and respiratory tract. In the past, employers were required to notify employees only when exposures exceeded the permissible exposure limit (PEL).

Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium can occur from:
   Blue_Bullet_Small2 Pigments, spray paints and coatings containing chromates
   Blue_Bullet_Small2 Operating chrome plating baths
   Blue_Bullet_Small2 Welding or cutting metals containing Chromium, such as stainless steel

Learn more about OSHA requirements here
Browse Respiratory PPE signs and labels here.

What's New at - June 2010

Severe Weather / Evacuation / Rescue Area Signs. Just in time for the start of Hurricane season, you'll find an expanded selection of storm shelter, evacuation and rescue / refuge signs and labels. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, these signs will meet your needs for emergency communication. View them here. (Coordinating directional arrows coming very soon!)

Alternative Energy Electrical Hazards. Our engraved plastic Alternative Energy electrical safety signs are the durable and stylish way to communicate electrical hazards associated with solar power and wind power equipment. We also have a great selection of self-adhesive labels for application to equipment or anywhere a rigid electrical safety sign would be difficult to mount. View alternative energy signs here.

Easy Language Selector. Need Spanish or Bilingual wording on your signs? Our new Alternate Language tool located beneath many sign images lets you select standard language options or request a custom language with a simple click of your mouse.

New, Improved Site Navigation coming soon! As our selection of signs and labels continues to grow, we continue to improve our site to make it easy for you to find just the sign you need. Look for a new menu navigation structure coming very soon!

OSHA Virtual Meeting Seeks Small Business Input on Combustible Dust Hazards

OSHA has scheduled a first-ever virtual stakeholder meeting on June 28 to seek input about combustible dust workplace hazards. The virtual format is intended to encourage participation from small businesses.

The event will be held for one hour, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. After that, individuals can access the site through July 7 to provide feedback and receive additional information. Comments from the meeting will be used to help the agency develop a proposed standard on combustible dust. Since 1980, more than 130 workers have been killed and more than 780 injured in combustible dust explosions.

Employee Surveys Help Identify Problem Areas

The National Safety Council has declared June as National Safety Month and developed a variety of events and materials to promote home and workplace safety, including employee perception surveys to help you identify safety concerns and evaluate your safety program.

A survey is the most accurate, timely and sensitive indicator of safety program quality and can help you find the strengths and weaknesses of your safety program. Surveys collect feedback directly from employees at all levels of your organization, providing a leading set of indicators of safety program quality and effectiveness. 

Employee surveys can:
  • Identify and prioritize problem areas
  • Increase employee involvement, awareness and responsibility regarding the safety, health and security programs
  • Raise morale
  • Establish an early warning system
  • Expedite problem solution and program improvement
  • Validate management decisions
  • Establish baseline measure for future re-survey comparison
  • Monitor safety program and improvement progress

The NSC offers employee safety surveys that: Automatically create a prioritized list for strategic action planning and improvement; Get employees involved in the safety process; and Set a baseline for measuring future improvement.

Learn more with these links: