A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

April 18, 2011

Top News This Month

  • OSHA Fall Protection Guide shows how to avoid falls in residential construction
  • A new study shows welders may have increased risk for brain damage due to welding fumes
  • NIOSH offers guidance on testing to monitor respiratory hazards
  • Changes in the National Electrical Code address alternate energy issues
  • Distracted driving awareness resources are available from a variety of groups

April Welcome

It's springtime - time to open windows, get outdoors - and tackle Spring Cleaning. At your business that might mean cleaning up your site or equipment, but it's also a good time to "clean up" your safety signs. Just walk through your building and look at every sign. Are they in good condition? Are they still relevant? Are any missing? Do you need something different? You might be surprised by what you find - and this is the right time to make a clean start.

Have a safe month!
Paul Sandefer, President

OSHA Issues Fall Protection Guide for Residential Construction

OSHA has published a Fall Protection in Residential Construction guidance document to demonstrate work methods that can help employers prevent fall-related injuries and deaths among construction workers. Enforcement of the Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction directive begins June 16, 2011. It requires residential construction employers to provide workers with fall protection according to OSHA's Fall Protection in Construction standard.

Methods for preventing fall-related injuries and deaths include using anchors for personal fall arrest systems and fall restraints, safety net systems, guardrails, ladders and scaffolds for activities such as installing roof sheathing, weatherproofing a roof and installing walls and subfloors. OSHA is continuing to develop additional resources to help employers protect residential workers' safety and health. Learn more with these links:

What's New at

You can always choose from a huge selection of safety signs and labels, restroom, parking signs and more at To make our selection even greater, we added more than 500 new signs in March, including:

State POOL RULES Signs with text mandated by various states. Just select your state on our US map to see signs specific to your area.

Hazardous Chemical Wallet Cards
are convenient reminders of standard chemical hazard identification
codes. These flexible plastic, 2-sided cards easily fit in wallets or

Truck Safety Signs, including blind spot, tailgating and wide turn messages, headlight reminders and shipping / receiving signs.

Vehicle Safety Signs, including bumper stickers, student drivers, seat belts, motorcycles, frequent stops and more.

Coming soon: Trash signs, Lift Safety signs and labels, Wide Load truck banners and more.

April Customer Comments

Here's what customers are saying this month:

I purchase a lot online. Have dealt with at least 50 other companies, and I would have to rate you #1. Wish others would have the same commitment as you.
- Bryan D., Michael Lewis Co., McCook, IL

Much easier to find and order signs than any other website that offers safety signs. Really like how the website is setup for each sign to select the type (label, plastic, etc) of sign needed.
- Mark L., Monsanto, Wichita, KS

The process was very simple and efficient. One of the quickest ordering processes I have dealt with.
- Tricia B., Olin Corporation, East Alton, IL

Welders may have Increased Risk for Brain Damage

Workers exposed to welding fumes may be at increased risk of damage to the same brain area harmed by Parkinson's disease, according to a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Fumes produced by welding contain manganese, an element that scientists have linked to neurological problems including Parkinson's disease-like symptoms.

The study involved 20 welders with no symptoms of Parkinson's disease, recruited from two shipyards and a metal fabrication company. Each had an average of 30,000 hours of lifetime welding exposure. The welders' average blood manganese levels were found to be two times the upper limits of normal blood manganese levels established in prior studies of general populations. Brain scans and motor skills tests showed changes in the welders, compared to two control groups.

"While these changes in the brain may be an early marker of neuron death related to welding exposure, the damage appeared to be different from those of people with full-fledged Parkinson's disease," says the study author. "MRI scans also revealed brain changes in welders that were consistent with manganese deposits in the brain."

Researchers plan a larger follow-up study to clarify the potential links between welding and brain damage.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month Resources

Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Several safety organizations are offering complimentary materials and resources to help employers develop workplace activities that raise awareness of the dangers of using mobile devices while driving.

OSHA, NIOSH Issue Guidance on Respiratory Hazard Tests

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have developed two guidance documents that discuss use of spirometry testing to address worker exposure to respiratory hazards.

Spirometry measures how well a person moves air in and out of the lungs. Workers who inhale some types of dusts, gases or other air contaminants can, over time, experience lung damage. The spirometry test may detect breathing problems or significant changes in a worker's lung function at an early stage.

The OSHA-NIOSH Infosheet for employers clarifies what spirometry is, when it is needed and how employers can evaluate the quality of spirometry services provided to their workers.The companion document, OSHA-NIOSH Worker Info, explains the importance of testing, what to do during the test, and a worker's right to receive an explanation and copy of test results.

OSHA also recommends spirometry testing for workers exposed to diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes and has issued similar information on that topic.

What's New in the 2011 National Electrical Code®

Adopted in all 50 states, NFPA 70®: National Electrical Code provides comprehensive requirements for electrical wiring and equipment. A new, 2011 edition of the Code is now available. Major changes in the 2011 NEC address alternate energy, green technologies and IT equipment:
  • New Article 694 has first-time requirements for small wind electric systems.
  • Revised Article 625 includes updates on safe battery charging for plug-in hybrid vehicles that reduce the risk of explosion.
  • Revised Article 705 covers interconnecting generators, windmills, and solar and fuel cells with other power supplies.
  • New Article 840 addresses the increased demand for broadband communications systems with requirements for wireless, routers, and wireless disconnects.
New requirements focused on workplace safety include:
  • Means to reduce incident energy (240.87)
  • Labeling at subpanels to identify feeder supply source (408.4(B))
  • Disconnecting means for transformers (450.14)
Helpful links:

April News and Notes

Alcohol Awareness Month
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence encourages communities to share information about alcoholism as a chronic, progressive disease that is fatal if untreated. Alcoholism is a family disease that is treatable, and people can and do recover. In fact, millions of Americans and their families are living lives in recovery from alcoholism. Download a flier to post in your workplace. (pdf)

New BLS Report: Workplace Hazards of Food and Beverage Servers
Most nonfatal injuries and illnesses occur when food and beverage servers are performing their regular job duties, resulting in falls, overexertion, contact with dangerous equipment, and other incidents usually considered accidents. By contrast, most fatal injuries are homicides that result from crime, interpersonal disputes or other types of workplace violence. Read more here.

New NIOSH Resource Shows Risks of Japan Radiation Dispersal
A NIOSH Web page provides information to help workers, employers, and occupational health professionals stay informed about ongoing federal activities to address the release of airborne contamination from the damaged Japanese power plant. The page will be updated as new information becomes available. Visit it here.

Novel Training Tools to Prevent Injuries in the Trucking Industry
The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis through Surveillance (TIRES) program includes two innovative computer-based simulations to demonstrate the risks for injury associated with common work activities in trucking. The simulations address injuries from exiting the truck cab and trailer and slips, trips and falls on working surfaces. The two training simulations are available at

SAFETY TIP: Fall Prevention and Protection

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Here are some tips to help prevent employees from being injured from falls:
  • Conduct general fall prevention training on a regular basis.
  • Train workers about the specific fall hazards identified at your site and the required personal protective equipment.
  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk by use of a railing and toeboard or a floor hole cover, including shafts, riser penetrations and skylights.
  • Provide a guardrail and toeboard around every open-sided platform, floor or runway that is 4 feet or higher off the ground or next level.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt), employers must provide guardrails and toeboards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.
  • Conduct regular inspections of fall protection equipment in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and OSHA requirements.
OSHA requires employers to:
  • Provide working conditions that have no known dangers.
  • Keep floors in work areas in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
Related Links:

SMG SAFETY ADVISOR: Spill Response: The Four Critical Steps

smg_logoWhether chemicals are added as part of a production process, used to clean or lubricate equipment, or exist as the byproduct of some other action, they can pose a hazard to workers. If something goes wrong and a chemical is spilled, appropriate action must be taken immediately to prevent injury to workers and others, and to minimize the potential damage to other materials and facilities. The safety experts at Safety Management Group have outlined the four critical steps for spill response and also offer advice on planning for chemical spills. Read more here or browse Chemical Safety signs and labels at

MENU FOCUS: Pools & Rec

We recently updated the Pools & Rec tab at to accommodate hundreds of new pool safety signs and labels, and make them all fast and easy to find. Selecting this tab presents menus for Pets / Recreation and Pool / Spa / Water Safety, as well as links to mounting hardware and custom signs. Here's what you'll find on the main pages:

The Pets / Recreation Signs page lets you select signs for:
  • Property Rules signs about alcohol, weapons, drug-free zones and more
  • Animal Handling / Pet signs include leash and no animals allowed notices
  • Parking Bike / Recreation signs identify bike lanes and parking restrictions
  • Recreational Safety signs identify non-potable water, deep or shallow water, no fish in pond and more
The Pool / Spa / Water Safety Signs page has links to more than a dozen pages of signs to use around your pool, spa, lake or dock:
  • Child Safety signs give rules and reminders to help keep kids safe in the pool area
  • Diving signs include depth markers and signs to identify areas where diving is / isn't safe
  • Health & Safety signs address shower policies, towel deposit areas, water temperature and other health-related rules
  • Pool Hours signs show when your pool or spa opens and closes, also pool closed for maintenance signs, and more
  • Lifeguard signs make it clear there's no lifeguard on duty, or tell swimmers not to distract the guard on duty
  • Novelty signs are a fun way to share your pool health message, or your own pool rules
  • Restrictions signs include various rules for the pool area, including pool capacity, no glass, rafts, and guests / tenants only messages
  • Pool Rules signs list specific safety rules for public or private pools
  • State Rules signs include state-mandated language and rules for public pools
  • Spa / Hot Tub signs address the needs of pools and spas, including shut-off switch locations, alarms and more
  • Stencils are an easy way to mark pool depth and other safety messages right on the pool deck area
You'll also find OSHA and ANSI water safety signs, and more. Check them out today - pool time is just around the corner!

Top 5 Links in March

These were the most popular articles / links in last month's Connection:
  1. OSHA Crane Guide
  2. OSHA Crane Final Rule
  3. Crane Hand Signal Wallet Cards
  4. Seven Safety Strategies
  5. OSHA  PPE Enforcement Directive