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December 19, 2012

December Workplace Safety News and Notes

New OSHA Site Helps Prevent Backover Incidents in Construction
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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improve and streamline existing OSHA construction standards by removing or revising requirements that are confusing or outdated, or that duplicate or are inconsistent with other standards.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.

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