A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

November 25, 2013

November Workplace Safety News and Notes

OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Silica Rule
OSHA has extended the public comment period for an additional 47 days on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica.The new deadline to submit written comments and testimony is Jan. 27, 2014. Public hearings are scheduled to begin March 18, 2014.
Read more here.

NIOSH Posts New Cleaning and Custodial Services Resources
NIOSH has posted a new topic page on cleaning and custodial services. The page describes hazards associated with cleaning tasks and lists links to NIOSH blogs, publications and topics with recommendations for reducing exposure to those hazards. The topic page also lists additional resources. Visit the new page.

California Adopts NIOSH Recommendations on Hazardous Drug Exposures
On October 9, California's governor signed a bill (AB 1202) requiring the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to adopt NIOSH recommendations for reducing exposures of healthcare workers to hazardous drugs. California is the second state to adopt NIOSH recommendations as state requirements, following Washington in 2012. Get info on the California law here,
or Review the NIOSH recommendations here.

New Lead Poisoning Prevention Brochures
The Nebraska Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Program recently developed and published two new brochures on lead poisoning prevention. The worker-focused brochures, Preventing Lead Poisoning in Adults and Lead Dust Clean-Up and Control, describe risk factors and health information and provide recommendations for reducing lead exposures. They are available for download here.

November 18, 2013

Prepare for National Hand Washing Awareness Week: December 1 - 7

how to wash your hands
Proper Hand Washing
Instructions Sign
December 1 to 7 is National Hand Washing Awareness Week, a time to emphasize the importance of proper hand washing and awareness to kids and adults alike. Many resources are available to help promote good hand hygiene in the workplace.

Proper hand washing makes good business sense, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash you hands." Hand washing is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to prevent the spread of germs and keep employees healthy. Sick employees are less productive even when they come to work, and may spread illness to other workers.

The CDC reports that a recent study promoting clean hands in corporate environments resulted in:
  •  Fewer employee illnesses
  •  Less use of sick days

Safety Tip: Protecting Workers from Abrasive Blasting Hazards

Abrasive blasting operations can create a variety of hazards, including high levels of dust and noise. Abrasive materials and the surfaces being blasted may contain toxic materials (e.g., lead paint, silica) that are hazardous to workers. A new OSHA fact sheet gives information on abrasive blasting materials, health hazards and worker protection. Here are some tips from OSHA:

Before beginning work, identify hazards and work to eliminate them. Train abrasive blasters and support personnel on blasting health and safety hazards, how to use controls, personal hygiene practices, safe work practices and the use of PPE and respirators.

Engineering Controls
  • Use a less-toxic abrasive material (see below)
  • Use abrasives that can be delivered with water (slurry) to reduce dust
  • Use barriers and curtain walls to isolate the blasting operation from other workers
  • Use blast rooms or blast cabinets for smaller operations
  • Use restricted areas for non-enclosed blasting operations
  • Keep coworkers away from the blaster
  • Use exhaust ventilation systems in containment structures to capture dust

November 14, 2013

OSHA Proposes New Workplace Injury / Illness Tracking Rule

Digital Safety Scoreboard
Tracks Accident-free Days
OSHA has issued a proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. The announcement follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release of its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.

"Three million injuries are three million too many," said OSHA head Dr. David Michaels. "With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards... The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA."

November 13, 2013

NIOSH Issues New Recommendations for Nanomaterials

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued new recommendations for controlling worker exposures to engineered nanomaterials during manufacture and industrial use. The new recommendations give guidance that employers and workers can apply now, while research continues for better understanding of nanomaterial characteristics.

The document includes details for reactor operations and cleanout processes, small-scale weighing and handling of nanopowders, intermediate and finishing processes and maintenance tasks. It also includes recommendations for evaluating the performance of control technologies.

The new publication, "Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes," is available at the NIOSH website:

November 6, 2013

Top OSHA Fines in October Exceed $1.2 million

Following the October government shutdown, it looks like OSHA came back with a vengeance. Of 15 published violations in October, eight include proposed fines above $100,000, for a total of more than $1.2 million.

$280,880 for Varied Safety Hazards at New Hampshire Construction Site
Employers from 5 states cited for cave-in, scaffold, electrical, fall and other hazards.
Caution Wear Mask, Danger Wear Respirator
  • 31 willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards related to cave-in, fall, scaffold collapse, crushing, lead and electrocution hazards. One willful citation, with a $49,500 fine, was issued for allowing a worker to wear a tight-fitting respirator over facial hair while the worker removed lead-containing paint. workers in two excavations that lacked cave-in protection; exposing workers to scaffold collapses due to an inadequately braced scaffold.
  • Serious citations included: assembling and using cranes on unstable ground; a 100-foot fall hazard through an unguarded wall opening; failing to train workers to install fall protection systems; allowing workers to be close to an energized electrical panel; uncovered and unlabeled floor holes; not performing air monitoring and determining lead exposure levels when removing lead-containing paint; not keeping work areas clear of debris; defective rigging equipment; unguarded grinders; failing to protect workers against loose rocks falling into the excavation hole; overloaded outriggers; storing excess supplies on a scaffold and lack of toeboards; exposed live electrical wiring, unlabeled electrical panels and not closing unused electrical cabinet openings effectively; arc flash and blast hazards; not ensuring use of personal protective equipment.
$153,900 for LOTO, Confined Space, Dust and Noise Hazards at New Jersey Concrete Company