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December 20, 2013

Top 13 Workplace Safety Articles of 2013

One of our business goals is to provide resources and information to help make your workplace safer, and your job a little easier. These were the 13 most popular articles on the CONNECTION blog in 2013. Use the link in each title to read more:

1. Chemical Advisory on Ammonium Nitrate Issued by OSHA, EPA and ATF

The September advisory addresses hazards associated with solid ammonium nitrate storage, handling and management. This advisory contains information on:
  • Recent and past accidents involving AMMONIUM NITRATE (AN)
  • AN hazards and management
  • Appropriate steps for community emergency planning and proper emergency response.
2. Free Reference Card Compares NFPA 704 Diamond and OSHA GHS labels
OSHA and NFPA worked together to develop a “Quick Card” showing the differences between the the NFPA and GHS hazard identification systems. OSHA does not necessarily see a conflict between HCS and NFPA 704. OSHA has indicated that the GHS numbers are not relative ratings of hazards but are used for the purpose of classifying hazards into categories for proper labeling and training information.
OSHA launched two new web resources to help companies keep workers safe from potentially dangerous chemicals:
  • Transitioning to Safer Chemicals is a toolkit to help businesses eliminate or reduce hazardous chemicals. The toolkit includes methods, tools and guidance to eliminate hazardous chemicals or find substitutions. 
  • Permissible Exposure Limits – Annotated Tables presents existing Z-Tables with other selected occupational exposure limits, and includes side-by-side comparisons.
“Safety Starts with Me” was the theme of National Safety Month in June, but the messages and materials are relevant throughout the year. The National Safety Council prepared posters, tip sheets, crossword puzzles and a safety trivia game related to this year's topics:
  • Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Employee Wellness
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Ergonomics
  • Summer Safety and Driving Safety
fall protection signOnce again, Fall Protection tops the list of OSHA's most-cited workplace safety violations. Preliminary figures announced in October showed these as the top 5 violations:
1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection: 8,241
2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication: 6,156
3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding: 5,423
4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection: 3,879
5. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods: 3,452
National Hand Washing Awareness Week took place in December, and studies show proper hand washing makes good business sense. The Centers for Disease Control reports that promoting clean hands in corporate environments resulted in fewer employee illnesses and less use of sick days. This post includes a variety of information and resources to help promote good hand hygiene in the workplace. 

This spring, OSHA published a booklet that shows how ladder falls can be prevented - and lives can be saved - by following simple safe-work practices. For example, the first question to ask in any high-reach situation: Is a ladder the right equipment to use? Although a ladder or stepladder often comes to mind first, it might not be the best option. The 14-page booklet includes illustrations and text in English and Spanish.
8. Listening Sessions for Chemical Safety and Security Executive Order
The EPA, Department of Homeland Security and OSHA scheduled public listening sessions to receive input on White House Executive Order 13650 - Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. In these sessions, the group shares an overview of various sections of the Order and the progress made to date on each. Attendees will have an opportunity to provide individual input on the process and the specific areas in the EO. The sessions continue into the new year. 
There are real hazards involved with pushing, pulling, and guiding handcarts, especially if the equipment is not used properly. These tips from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety were our #9 most-viewed article. The tips and resources will help your employees avoid injuries and property damage from improper hand cart use. 
In February, NIOSH helped users of the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) by updating its OIICS web tool. The new tool has graphical code tree interfaces and downloadable software applications. The tool also helps users develop a better understanding of national occupational injury and illness data released by BLS and NIOSH.
11. OSHA Whistleblower Complaints Reached a New High (for now...?)
OSHA received and completed record numbers of whistleblower complaints in 2012. Nearly 2,800 whistleblower complaints were received, an increase of 20 percent from 2010 according to figures from the Whistleblower Protection Program. Of completed complaints, 60 percent were dismissed and 21 percent were settled. Nearly two-thirds of settled cases dealt with OSHA statutes. It will be interesting to see numbers for 2013.
12. NIOSH Issues New Recommendations for Nanomaterials
In November, NIOSH issued new recommendations for controlling workerespirator safety signr exposures to engineered nanomaterials during manufacture and industrial use. "Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes" 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. 
13. Real Safety Begins With Real Values
Many employers take an OSHA-like approach to safety: Set strict rules and dole out penalties when those rules are violated. Others recognize the value of maintaining a safe workplace and want to ensure that everyone goes home healthy every night. They know that increased safety usually translates into better morale, less turnover, higher productivity and better profits. The safety experts at Safety Management Group wrote this popular article that explains the most important factors in developing a positive safety culture.

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