A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

January 27, 2015

Workplace Safety News and Notes - Jan. '15

Here's a collection of recent workplace safety news and resources from around the web:

New Gas Pipeline Safety Standards Coming from PHMSAPipeline safety sign
Natural gas pipeline operators can expect new safety standards this year from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. A January 14 announcement noted a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and referred to the upcoming standards: PHMSA "will propose natural gas pipeline safety standards in 2015. While the standards will focus on safety, they are expected to lower methane emissions as well."

BLS Releases 2013 Days-Away-from-Work Data

In 2013, for every 100,000 full-time workers, there were 109.4 cases of nonfatal occupational injury and illness that required days away from work, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This was a decline from the 2012 number of 111.8 cases for every 100,000 full-time employees. Download the report (pdf).

GHS environmental hazard labelOSHA Considers Updating GHS Standard
OSHA has announced its intention to update the its Hazard Communication Standard to align with recent GHS updates. The GHS has been updated several times since OSHA’s rulemaking, which was based on the 3rd edition of the GHS. The UN currently is working on a 6th edition. Up to now, changes have had minimal effect on OSHA's rulemaking, the upcoming edition includes additional hazard categories that OSHA could consider including (desensitized explosives and pyrophoric gases). Read more here.

Senate Suspends Hours-of-Service Rules
The spending bill passed by the Senate in December temporarily suspends the hours-of-service requirement that 34-hour rest include two early morning stints, effectively bumping the 70-hour restriction back up to 82. The American Trucking Associations says the goal isn’t to eliminate the 34-hour rest period, but to let drivers use it more than once a week. Read more.

NHTSA Reports Lower Traffic Fatalities in 2013
safe driving sticker

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a 3.1 percent decrease in traffic fatalities from the previous year and a nearly 25 percent decline in overall highway deaths since 2004. In 2013, 32,719 people died in traffic crashes. The estimated number of people injured in crashes also declined by 2.1 percent. Learn more (pdf).

January 19, 2015

FAQs on OSHA's New Recordkeeping Rule

OSHA's new reporting requirements are now in effect (starting January 1, 2015), even though the online form still is not operational. 

Here's a brief recap of the new rules:

Report All Injuries Immediately
As of January 1, 2015, all employers must report:
  • Work-related fatalities within 8 hours.
  • Work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours.
  • Businesses operating under a state-run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.
You can report to OSHA by:
  • Calling OSHA's free and confidential number at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
  • Calling your closest Area Office during normal business hours.
  • Using the new online form that will be ready "soon," but still not available this week.

Your OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook is Obsolete:

January 16, 2015

What's The True Cost of a Workplace Injury?

When a workplace injury occurs, it's pretty easy to identify the direct cost of a clinic visit. But there are many other costs that might not be recognized for weeks, months or even years. A recent article by Safety Management Group in Indianapolis compares true injury costs to icebergs. Direct costs are the visible part of the iceberg, but it's the 90 percent below the water that can really do some damage.

The article describes indirect costs that might affect your business, including:

  • Lost productivity
  • Administrative time
  • Insurance costs
  • OSHA involvement
  • Morale and reputation
  • Media attention
  • Ability to land new jobs

January 12, 2015

December 2014 OSHA Fines Total $3.3 million

OSHA enforcement officials finished 2014 with a bang - issuing 20 significant penalty proposals in December! These 20 potential fines total $3,318,680, the third-highest total of the year. Common violations include: Fall hazards, LOTO and more. Here are some details on the top five actions:

$283,600 for LOTO and Fall Hazard violations at a Texas manufacturer already in SVEP

caution do not operate tagThe company, which was placed in the SVEP program in 2011, was issued four repeat violations and a $154,000 penalty for failure to utilize lockout/tagout procedures when performing machine service or maintenance; not installing point of operation and general machine guarding; and failure to guard electrical panels. An additional $70,000 was issued for a willful violation of failing to protect workers from falls of heights from 4 to 15 feet in a storage yard and from an open-sided floor with no walls that exposed workers to falls to a lower level.

10 serious violations included failure to provide crane control markings to prevent the operator from moving the crane in the wrong direction and dropping the load; improperly using the lifting eye on the welder and not on other machinery; and failure to use fuel gas and oxygen cylinder valve protection caps. Additional serious violations included slip hazards; inadequate material storage; an unguarded grinder; and lack of covers for electrical outlets.

$260,000 for whistleblower violations at a Connecticut railroad

no-accident zone. safety comes firstActions against an injured worker have resulted in the largest punitive damages ever in a retaliation case under the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The worker was retaliated against after reporting a knee injury. As a result, the company has been ordered to pay the employee a total of $250,000 in punitive damages, $10,000 in compensatory damages and to cover reasonable attorney fees.

A supervisor also intimidated the worker while driving him to the hospital, reportedly telling the worker that railroad employees who are hurt on the job are written up for safety and are not considered for advancement or promotions within the company. Shortly after the employee reported the work-related injury, the company issued disciplinary charges against him.

$241,680 and SVEP for LOTO failures at an Illinois bird food manufacturer

January 8, 2015

Top 5 Disabling Workplace Injuries Cause 2/3 of Workers' Comp Costs

disabling injury cost data
According to BLS and other data, the top five disabling workplace injuries accounted for 65 percent of all workers' compensation costs in 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available). U.S. businesses spend nearly $750,000 weekly on these five workplace injuries, according to the 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.

The Index ranks the top causes of serious nonfatal workplace injuries (causing 6+ days lost work) by total workers' comp costs, based on information from Liberty Mutual, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance. 

The top five are:

January 5, 2015

Meet 3 Challenges to Work Safely in Cold Weather

Danger thin ice
Arctic cold has made its way into much of the country this week. Here's some good advice on working in the cold from our friends at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety.

Three challenges of cold safety:

There are three challenges that must be addressed to enable workers to be safe in the cold: 

  1. Air temperature
  2. Air movement (wind speed)
  3. Humidity (wetness)

Aside from several layers of protective, dry, clothing, and a healthy mix of physical activity, regular warm up periods can help you work safely in, and defend yourself from the cold. As with any workplace hazard, preparation and adequate protection are the keys to safety.