A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

November 18, 2010

Top News This Month

  • Workplace injury rates dropped in 2009, especially in manufacturing
  • Revised OSHA policy now limits worker training classes to a maximum of 7½ hours per day
  • The EPA has strengthened air standards and promises improved monitoring, timely and thorough permitting and vigorous enforcement
  • Seasonal Flu is back on the radar - and the CDC has a business kit to help
  • Musculoskeletal disorders cost American businesses $61.2 billion annually in lost productivity alone

November Note

The Thanksgiving holiday is almost here, and there’s a lot to be thankful for this month: workplace injury rates are down, election ads have stopped, and the weather in this part of the country is unseasonably warm. More importantly, is thankful that you choose to do business with us. We work hard every day to earn your trust and to provide the signs you need. Thanks for giving us that opportunity.

Have a safe month!
Paul Sandefer, President

2010-11 Seasonal Flu Information for Businesses and Employees

 In the United States, the flu season usually runs from fall through early spring. Although the World Health Organization declared an end to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, the H1N1 flu virus is expected to circulate again this flu season, along with other seasonal flu viruses.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine, but good health habits and antiviral medicationsalso help protect against the flu. To help businesses, employers, and their employees learn about these strategies for preventing flu, CDC has developed a "Make It Your Business to Fight the Flu" toolkit, flyers, posters and other materials to post and distribute in the workplace.

The kit includes:
  • Recommended strategies for businesses and employers
  • A flu vaccination checklist
  • Promotional materials
  • Take 3 Actions to Fight the Flu brochure and poster
  • Key facts about Influenza & the flu vaccine
Learn more with these links:

Reported Workplace Injury / Illness Dropped in 2009

Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers declined in 2009 to a rate of 3.6 cases per 100 full-time workers - down from 3.9 cases in 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported.

Key findings from the 2009 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses:
  • The manufacturing sector reported the largest year-to-year decline in injuries and illnesses since NAICS was introduced in 2003 - falling by 161,100 cases (23%) from 2008 to 2009 to a rate of 4.3 cases per 100 workers.
  • The construction sector reported 71,700 fewer cases in 2009, compared to 2008 - a 22 percent decline, lowering the incidence rate to 4.3.
  • Slightly more than one-half of the 3.3 million private industry injury and illness cases reported nationally in 2009 were of a more serious nature that involved days away from work, job transfer, or Restriction - commonly referred to as DART cases
  • Injuries accounted for about 3.1 million (94.9 percent) of injury and illness cases.
While the decline in injury/illness cases seems promising, OSHA leaders and others are less than impressed, commenting that 3.3 million cases are still too many, and expressing concern about the widespread existence of programs that discourage workers from reporting injuries. Work-related illness is also a point of debate, due to the extended time between initial workplace exposures and onset of the related illness.

EPA Lays Out Five-Year Priorities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued its 2011 to 2015 strategic plan, which presents five strategic goals for advancing the agency's environmental and human-health mission.

The plan identifies measurable environmental and human health outcomes the public can expect over the next five years and describes how EPA intends to achieve those results. The agency's five strategic goals are:
  • Taking action on climate change and improving air quality
  • Protecting America's waters
  • Cleaning up communities and advancing sustainable development
  • Ensuring the safety of chemicals and preventing pollution
  • Enforcing environmental laws
EPA has strengthened ambient air-quality standards for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide and proposed stronger standards for ozone. It is developing a strategy for a cleaner and more efficient power sector with strong and achievable emission-reduction goals for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and other air toxins.

The agency says improved monitoring, timely and thorough permitting and vigorous enforcement will be its key tools for air-quality improvement.

OSHA Revises Time Limits for Worker Training Program

Effective immediately, OSHA outreach trainers must conduct 10-hour courses over a minimum of two days and 30-hour courses over at least four days. The change comes after audits showed some classes were lasting up to 13 hours daily, while others were not meeting minimum time requirements.

Revised program policy now requires OSHA trainers to limit worker training classes to a maximum of 7½ hours per day. Before OSHA made this change, there were no limitations on how long these classes could last each day. OSHA became concerned that long, mentally-fatiguing class days might cause students to miss essential safety and health training.

This policy change is effective immediately and will be reflected in the next revision of the Outreach Training Program Guidelines. OSHA will not recognize training classes that exceed 7½ hours per day or do not meet all program content requirements. In such cases trainers will not receive completion cards to distribute to students. Trainers may, however, submit written requests for exceptions to limiting training days to 7½ hours based on extenuating circumstances.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month - a national campaign designed to focus attention on lung cancer issues. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related death, claiming 1.3 million lives every year. Non-smokers account for up to 15% of U.S. lung cancer cases, and exposure to secondhand smoke accounts for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually, according to the National Cancer Institute.

But commonly used chemicals also contribute to lung cancer and other respiratory illness. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that respiratory conditions account for nearly 10% of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses. For example, exposure to hexavalent chromium increases the risk for lung cancer, and was the topic of a new OSHA rule earlier this year.

Respiratory protection continues to be a hot safety topic with OSHA, NIOSH and others as new protective gear is developed and the long-term effects of various substances are questioned. Use these links to learn more about respiratory health and protection in the workplace:

ASSE Addresses Ergonomic / MSD Injuries & Costs

American businesses pay $61.2 billion annually to cover the lost productivity costs associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). NIOSH rates MSDs as one of the most significant occupational safety and health problems in the U.S., and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that sprain and strain injuries accounted for more than three-fourths of the MSD cases that resulted in days away from work in 2005.

"I do not expect to see much change in that number when data for 2006 and later are released," says ASSE Ergonomics Branch Chair Jeremy Chingo-Harris. "MSDs are a growing concern in all industries from office work to shipyards; from restaurants to hospitals; and are increasingly on OSHA's radar scope. OSHA has recently brought added attention to occupational ergonomics by proposing the addition of a new column on the OSHA 300 log for tracking work-related MSDs.

"Beyond OSHA, we look at effective ergonomics programs as a cost saving opportunity and the right thing to do for employees," Chingo-Harris adds. "Injuries cost companies and industries millions of dollars every year in direct and hidden costs. Companies need to start asking if they can afford the cost of not incorporating ergonomic practices into their operations."

A new article in the October ASSE journal Professional Safety identifies several best practices that can help demonstrate the economic value of ergonomics as a cost-saving, productivity-enhancing tool that contributes significantly to a company's bottom line.

Noise: The Hazard that's Often Missed

Some hazards in the workplace are fairly obvious. A sharp edge on a tool, a flame from a torch, and an open unprotected trench are all easily recognizable as potential dangers, and our safety training helps us avoid them.
But workes may not even notice one of the most potentially damaging hazards. This insidious hazard sneaks up on them slowly, and by the time they become aware of the injuries they've suffered, it's too late to reverse the damage. That hazard is workplace noise. The safety experts at Safety Management Group discuss this timely issue here. or browse ear PPE signs and labels here.

November Safety News & Notes

The revised OSHA Crane rule is now in effect. The new standard addresses key hazards related to cranes and derricks on construction worksites, including the four main causes of worker death and injury: electrocution, crushed by parts of the equipment, struck-by the equipment/load, and falls. Read more here.

OSHA seeks comments on workplace noise exposure controls. OSHA is proposing to issue an interpretation of the term "feasible administrative or engineering controls" as used in the general industry and construction occupational noise exposure standards and to amend its current enforcement policy to reflect the interpretation. For the purpose of enforcing compliance with these standards, the proposal states that "feasible" means capable of being done. Comments on the interpretation must be submitted on or before Dec. 20, 2010. Submit comments here or browse ear PPE signs at 

OSHA Targets High-Hazard Worksites for Inspection. OSHA has issued its annual inspection plan under the Site-Specific Targeting 2010 (SST-10) program for inspecting non-construction workplaces with 40+ workers. The plan is based on work-related injury and illness data collected from a 2009 OSHA survey of 80,000 manufacturing, non-manufacturing and nursing and personal care facilities. In addition to SST, OSHA implements local emphasis inspection programs to target high-risk hazards and industries. Read more here or view the list of National Emphasis Programs.

Menu Focus: Exit and Enter Signs

Navigation tabs at quickly take you to a variety of signs on various topics. Here's a look at the EXIT & Enter tab:
  • Surface Mount - Flat signs with a variety of messages and graphics
  • 2D Projection - Aluminum signs stand out from the wall for viewing from either side
  • 3D Triangle Projection - Aluminum signs viewable from any angle
  • Ceiling Mount Projection - Flanged signs project down from suspended / drop ceilings
  • Enter & Exit Sets - One for IN, one for OUT - pretty simple!
  • ADA Braille Exit - Laser-engraved ADA signs in 24 colors provide visual, tactile and Grade 2 Braille information
  • OSHA, ANSI & More - Includes standard safety signs for doors, exits, gates and more
  • Automatic Door - Signs and strip labels to identify automatic doors
  • No Trespassing - A wide variety of trespassing signs for use at property entrances