A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

May 22, 2014

Pool Chemicals Send Thousands to the ER Each Year - Use These Tips to Stay Safe

danger hazardous pool chemicals
It's officially swimming pool season! But the chemicals that make pools safe to swim in also send thousands of people to the emergency room every year - and nearly half the victims are children.

A recent study published by the CDC shows the most frequent swimming pool chemical injury diagnosis is poisoning, and inhalation of vapors is the most frequent cause. No deaths were documented. 

Patients typically were injured when handling pool chemicals without using personal protective equipment such as goggles (especially while opening containers), when pool chemicals were added to the water just before the patient entered the water (frequently in residential and hotel settings), and when pool chemicals were not secured away from children.

May 21, 2014

Workplace Safety News and Notes - May 2014

Here's a collection of recent safety news and resources, with links to more information:

CalOSHA offers heat resources
Bilingual Heat Safety sign
Bilingual heat safety sign
With temperatures surging across parts of the country, it's a good time to review heat protection measures with outdoor workers. CalOSHA recommends these basic steps:
 - Train all employees and supervisors about heat-illness prevention
 - Provide plenty of cool, fresh water and encourage employees to drink water frequently
 - Provide a shaded area for workers to take a cool-down recovery break
 - Prepare an emergency heat-illness prevention plan for the worksite, with training for supervisors and workers on what to do if a worker shows signs or symptoms of heat illness

Cal/OSHA also recommends that employers take measures to help their workers get acclimatized to working outdoors in the heat. Training materials and information for preventing heat illness are available on the heat-illness Web page, and a variety of heat-safety resources in multiple languages are available on the Water. Rest. Shade. page.

BLS announces 2012 work fatality counts - second lowest on record
The revised 2012 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on April 24. According to the BLS data, 4,628 people lost their lives on the job in 2012, up from the 4,383 fatalities reported in the August 2013 preliminary census results. Even with the increase, the final 2012 count is the second-lowest annual total recorded since BLS started conducting the national census in 1992. It also represents a slight decrease from the 2011 fatal injury rate for the United States. The final fatal work injury rate for 2012 (3.4 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers) is the lowest published by the program since the conversion to hours-based rates in 2006. Read more here.

May 20, 2014

June is National Safety Month - Resources Available

tip sheets, quizzes, poster, crossword puzzle, report form
Each June, the National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. This year's theme is "Safety: It takes all of us." As you plan your 2014 safety calendar, please join the Council and thousands of organizations across the country reduce risk of the following safety issues:

Week 1: Prevent prescription drug abuse
Week 2: Stop slips, trips and falls
Week 3: Be aware of your surroundings
Week 4: Put an end to distracted driving
Bonus week: Summer safety

May 19, 2014

How Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace

Security Notice All weapons are banned on this property
Although domestic violence may typically occur within the home, it frequently follows the parties involved to their workplaces. Among employed women who have been victims of domestic abuse, nearly three-quarters report being harassed by their abuser while on the job. As a result of harassment, 56 percent of victims reported that they were late for work at least five times a month, and 28 percent had to leave their jobs early at least five times a month.

As with many other “real life” problems, domestic abuse has a profound effect on the workplace, a fact that has been confirmed repeatedly through studies of victims. For example, it has been reported that domestic abuse results in the loss of about 8 million days of paid work each year, which equates to about 32,000 full-time jobs. Victims lose 26 percent more time to tardiness and absenteeism. Likewise, convicted abusers have reported that the abuse makes it more difficult to concentrate on work, with nearly one in five saying the distraction lead to an accident or near-miss on their jobs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, all that lost productivity adds up to $727 million annually

May 14, 2014

OSHA Fines and Penalties Top $6.1 Million in April 2014

OSHA issued eight significant fines in April with proposed fines of $3.8 million, and also reached a settlement for an additional $2.4 million for previous citations. (The combined total is 10 times higher than total March fines!) Common citations included machine guarding, railings and whistleblower violations. Most are still pending final decisions. Here are some details:

$2.4 million settlement with Republic Steel
arc flash and shock hazardThe comprehensive settlement, in which the company agrees to abate all cited hazards and implement numerous safeguards to prevent future injuries, addresses more than 100 safety and health violations found by OSHA at company facilities during 2013 inspections. They include arc flash, lockout/tagout, machine guarding and fall hazards at various facilities. Republic also agreed to additional penalty amounts if it fails to comply with the agreement.

In addition, the company will hire additional safety and health staff; conduct internal safety and health inspections with union representatives; establish and implement a comprehensive safety and health management program; hire third-party auditors; and meet quarterly with OSHA staff to assure implementation of the agreement. 

May 8, 2014

NFPA Offers New Emergency Responder Guides for EVs

electric vehicle charging station
The #NFPA has posted more free guides to prepare firefighters and other emergency responders for incidents involving electric vehicles (EVs). The guides are part of NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training project, which works with automobile manufacturers. The NFPA has collected information from 30 auto makers and made it available on the Electric Vehicle Safety Training page at 

Recent additions include free guides for:
  • 2014 Honda Accord HEV 
  • 2014 Honda Accord PHEV
  • 2014 Infiniti Q70 Hybrid
  • 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid
  • 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid
  • 2014 Nissan LEAF
  • 2015 Nissan LEAF
More resources:

May 6, 2014

Report: 50,000+ Preventable Workplace Deaths Every Year in U.S.

365 days without a lost time accident
Digital scoreboard tracks safe work days
The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) publishes an annual report on Preventable Deaths in conjunction with Workers’ Memorial Week during the last week of April. Preventable Deaths 2014 identifies unsafe conditions that take the lives of American workers, including: 
  • At least 4,383 deaths from sudden traumatic injuries in 2012 - a preliminary figure that is likely to increase when final data is released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
  • Tens of thousands of workers who die each year from long-term occupational illnesses. One estimate puts the toll at 53,000 deaths annually - costing the U.S. economy $45.5 billion a year. 
The report also identifies proven approaches to prevention for each of the six major causes of occupational fatalities identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: transportation incidents; contacts with objects and equipment; falls to a lower level; workplace violence; exposure to harmful substances and environments; and fires and explosions.

May 1, 2014

Resources for Canadian GHS Implementation from CCOHS

Hazmat GHS labels
As in the US, Canada's national chemical classification and hazard communication standard for workplace chemicals is changing. The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is set to evolve in order to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (or GHS) for workplace chemicals. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers a number of resources related to GHS implementation, including posters, fact sheets, on-line courses, and a new on-demand webinar, Canada’s Implementation of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Workplace Chemicals. The webinar is designed for WHMIS suppliers (or their representatives) who sell or import hazardous products for use in Canadian workplaces. This presentation will also be of interest to employers who manufacture hazardous products for use in their own workplaces.