A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

December 28, 2012

It's Flu Season - and 8 of 10 Employees Will Come To Work Sick

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While the CDC reports increasing influenza activity, a new survey shows that US workers routinely go to work while sick. The poll, conducted in late November, shows 84% of adult US employees have gone to work while sick. Of those, nearly half don’t warn co-workers about their illness. The same number don’t avoid direct contact – such as shaking hands – which could transmit illness to others. The survey, commissioned by Cintas Corporation, was conducted in late November.

A Cintas spokesman said workplaces can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria when workers are sick. He pointed out that illness reduces productivity and encouraged workers and business owners to take precautions, such as avoiding contact with sick co-workers and stocking medicine cabinets with decongestants and other staples for cold-weather months.

According to this week’s FluView report, influenza activity continues to increase in the United States across most key indicators. Overall, influenza activity is being reported widely across much of the United States. Twenty-nine states reported widespread geographic influenza activity for the week of December 9-15, 2012. During the prior week, only 18 states reported widespread activity. Twelve states are now reporting high influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity:  Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. This is an increase from the eight states that reported high ILI activity last week.

Check this week's flu stats at the CDC.
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December 19, 2012

December Workplace Safety News and Notes

New OSHA Site Helps Prevent Backover Incidents in Construction
Construction Safety signs at
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Safety Signs
OSHA has developed a new website to help educate the public on how to prevent backover incidents. The website explains how backover incidents happen and how to reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents. It includes articles, resources and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation. More than 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011 - often as a result of not hearing backup alarms because of a noisy worksite, or drivers not seeing colleagues who are in a truck's blind spots. Visit the new OSHA site here, or view NIOSH diagrams of blind spots for several vehicles commonly used on construction sites here.

NIOSH Issues Alert on Occupational Respiratory Disease in Nonindustrial Buildings
Office buildings, schools and other nonindustrial buildings often develop moisture and dampness problems from many sources that can lead to the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria. Excess moisture can alsu cause release of volatile organic compounds and the breakdown of building materials. Exposure to these conditions are associated with a wide variety of respiratory symptoms and infections. A new Alert from NIOSH details varied approaches employers can use to minimize the likelihood of persistend building dampness and subsequent respiratory problems. Download the guide here. Provides Smoking/Tobacco Info in One Site
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In November, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a new Web site that brings together all HHS tobacco-related content into an easy-to-navigate Web site. It includes information on federal, state and local smoking laws, health effects, and how to quit. Visit the Laws/Policies page here.

OSHA Seeks Recommendations on Construction Standards
OSHA has issued a Request for Information related to its latest Standards Improvement Project (SIP). The purpose of SIP-IV is to improve and streamline existing OSHA construction standards by removing or revising requirements that are confusing or outdated, or that duplicate or are inconsistent with other standards. The agency invites the public, including employers, employees, and employee representatives to submit recommendations for revisions to existing construction standards and the rationale for these recommendations. SIP-IV will focus primarily on OSHA's construction standards. Comments must be submitted by Feb. 4, 2013. Read this OSHA news release for more information, including how to comment.

OSHA Releases Online Tool to Aid Compliance with Cadmium Standard
OSHA recently released a new interactive online tool to assist employers in complying with OSHA's cadmium standard (29 CFR 1910.1027). Cadmium is used in many industries including metal machining, plastics, ceramics, painting and welding operations. Workers can be exposed from the smelting and refining of metals or from air in industrial plants that manufacture batteries, coatings or plastics. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimates that about 300,000 workers in the U.S. face exposure to cadmium each year. Short-term exposure to cadmium can cause weakness, fever, headache, chills, sweating and muscular pain. Chronic cadmium poisoning can cause kidney damage and cancer of the lung or prostate. Cadmium also is believed to cause pulmonary emphysema and bone disease (osteomalcia and osteoporosis).

The new cadmium advisor tool is primarily intended for use by experienced medical professionals who assess workers' cadmium exposure. It may also be useful as an educational tool for workers and members of the general public by providing information on what constitutes overexposure to cadmium and what to do to prevent exposure on the job. Read more on the new Cadmium Advisor Tool here.

Highest-Penalty OSHA Standards of 2012

The following are the standards for which OSHA assessed the highest penalties in fiscal year 2012,with links to the relevant OSHA Standard:
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  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  3. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  4. Machines, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212)
  5. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  6. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  7. Excavations, requirements for protective systems (29 CFR 1926.652)
  8. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  9. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)
  10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)
More Resources: 

December 18, 2012

State No Smoking Signs at

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No Smoking Signs
ComplianceSigns has carried state-specific No Smoking signs for years, and regularly updates its store as state smoking laws change. The latest example is North Dakota's revised smoking ban, which took effect Dec. 6. It prohibits most indoor smoking and smoking within 20 feet of buildings. It also requires businesses to post smoke-free signage about the new rule.

In response, our development team researched the new law and developed a variety of no smoking signs to help assure compliance with the new law. Even before the new law took effect, North Dakota No Smoking signs were available at as reflective signs and labels, standard wall signs and even clear labels and clings for windows and glass doors.

Currently, 23 states require all non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants, and bars to be 100% smokefree, and you'll find appropriate signage for these rules by starting at our State No Smoking page. carries appropriate signs for these and other state-mandated signage requirements, including swimming pool and spa rules, restrooms and more.

Safety Tip: Working in Cold Weather

Although this December has been unusually warm in many areas, winter cold will be here before we know it, and workers may not be ready. When cold environments or temperatures cannot be avoided, workers should follow these cold weather tips from NIOSH to protect themselves from cold stress:

Do not walk on thin ice sign
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  • Wear appropriate clothing.
  • Wear several layers of loose clothing. Layering provides better insulation.
  • Tight clothing reduces blood circulation. Warm blood needs to be circulated to the extremities.
  • When choosing clothing, be aware that some clothing may restrict movement resulting in a hazardous situation.
  • Make sure to protect the ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold weather.
  • Boots should be waterproof and insulated.
  • Wear a hat; it will keep your whole body warmer. (Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head.)
  • Move into warm locations during work breaks; limit the amount of time outside on extremely cold days.
  • Carry cold weather gear, such as extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, a change of clothes and a thermos of hot liquid.
  • Include a thermometer and chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
  • Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.

Cold-Weather Resources:

Working With First Responders in a Workplace Emergency

Safety professionals, paramedics and firefighters all the share the goal of protecting people and property from harm. Each group has different responsibilities, and they approach their tasks from a different perspective. When firefighters or paramedics come racing up to the front gate of a workplace, they probably know very little about the site. They have no way of knowing what type of work activity is taking place in which area, and what types of hazards may be present. So it falls to the safety professional to create and continually update an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the site.

The more effectively these groups can work together, the better each group will be at accomplishing its specific goal.  The safety professionals at Safety Management Group have prepared an excellent article on working with first responders, authored by a safety professional who is also a firefighter/paramedic. Give it a read for practical suggestions you can use to make sure your working relationship with local first responders is as efficient and positive as possible.

Read more here, or Browse Fire / Emergency signs here.

December 17, 2012

Flu Activity Increasing Across the U.S.

According to the latest CDC FluView report, influenza activity continues to increase across the U.S. The country is experiencing an early flu season with high levels of activity concentrated in the south central and southeastern regions of the nation at this time.
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  • The proportion of visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) is above the national baseline. Eight states are now reporting high flu activity: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. This is double the number of states that reported high ILI activity the previous week.
  • Overall, influenza activity is being reported widely across much of the United States. Eighteen states reported widespread geographic influenza activity for the week of December 2-8, 2012. During the previous week, only 8 states reported widespread activity.
Regular, thorough hand washing remains the best first-defense against flu and other seasonal illnesses.

What's New at - December

You'll find some 250 new signs and labels at this month, including colorful Sliding Room Name signs, Latex Allergy signs and more:
New Signs at
  • ESD / Static Electricity labels to identify areas where static precautions are required.
  • No Hoods / Hats / Sunglasses signs and lables for retail or other locations where you want to see your visitors clearly.
  • Reflective Food Truck Parking signs mount easily to sign posts to indicate parking areas reserved for food trucks.
  • North Dakota No Smoking signs and labels to notify patrons of the new law prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of entrances.
  • Quarantine signs for medical or quality assurance uses.
  • Post our Veteran Reserved Parking signs with colorful graphics to identify parking spaces specially reserved for veterans and wounded warriors.
See them all on the New Signs page at

December 14, 2012

OSHA Extends Residential Construction Fall Protection Grace Period to March 15

Fall Protection Signs
Fall Protection Signs at
OSHA just announced it will extend for three months its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction through March 15, 2013. The temporary enforcement measures include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency and increased outreach.

Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction. OSHA is working closely with the industry to assist employers in complying with the new directive. From Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, OSHA's On-site Consultation Projects performed more than 3,000 on-site visits, conducted close to 1,100 training sessions and delivered close to 500 presentations related to fall protection in residential construction. OSHA's regional and area offices also conducted more than 1,200 outreach activities on the directive. The agency will continue to work with employers to ensure a clear understanding of, and to facilitate compliance with, the new policy.

OSHA will also continue to develop materials to assist the industry, including a wide variety of educational and training materials to assist employers with compliance, which are available on the Web pages for residential construction and the Fall Prevention Campaign.

December 7, 2012

Obesity Study Uncovers Risks for Low-wage Workers

Days Without Injury sign
A new study, presented by MassCOSH, UMass and Boston Workers Alliance, looks at low-wage workers employed in heavy labor positions and how work conditions contribute to weight gain and obesity. It is widely recognized lower-income individuals are disproportionately represented among the overweight and obese.

“Exhaustion and injuries, time pressure, stress and lack of access to healthy food - sometimes even access to a place to eat - were problems that most workers felt had a big impact on their weight,” said a co-author of the study.

Obesity/Overweight and the role of Working Conditions offers practical employer suggestions, as well as recommendations for employers and policymakers, emphasizing the need to address working conditions as part of workplace obesity or wellness programs.

Three key employer tips from the study:
  • Allow sufficient time for breaks and meals; provide the state-mandated 30 minutes consecutively, as a single break.
  • Support daily communication of rest and meal break times to employees, to reduce anxiety about hunger and to facilitate healthy meal planning.
  • Provide a clean space for eating, with sufficient functional equipment.
Read more about the study here.
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December 3, 2012 Customer Comments - December

Very easy to submit order. Thank you. Easy to customize.
Sue F., Dec. 28

Easy to find what I wanted. Have a lot of choices. Seems to have everything I need
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Good prices. Easy website.
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Easy to make any sign you want! Thanks!
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The signs I ordered looked great, the shipping was fast and very well packaged.
Colt P., ND, Dec. 26

Had exactly the sign my customer needed!
Randy S., OH, Dec. 24

I love that I found signs that I need. Prices are reasonable and Shopping was easy. The signs are unique and are just what I needed. Time for shipping was reasonable. I'm a very satisfied customer.
Lisa C., NM, Dec. 23

The website was easy to navigate. Checkout was easy and I received my order very promptly.
Rolf G., CA, Dec. 22

Best customer service ever!
Nicole, Dec. 21

Price less than half of what another company was quoting for exact same item.
Richard T., Dec. 20

My custom sign was exactly what I wanted, and I received it sooner than I had expected.
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I provide the preventive maintenance for 61 different fuel stations with both above and below ground tanks. Working in the fuel industry in California is like juggling wet cats for a circus. All of the different organizations of regulators (NFPA,EPA, SCAQMD, MDAQMD,CUPA,HAZMAT, CFR, CCFR...etc.-etc.-etc.) each require a different sign, sticker, placard,or ID plaque. And believe me, they have no problems issuing citations and fines when something is faded, weather worn or missing. ComplianceSign helps me keep EVERYTHING up to code.
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Visit today to find the signs, labels and great service you need.