A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

January 28, 2016

January 2016 Workplace Safety News and Notes

The safe way is the best way
Here's a collection of safety news and resources from around the web this month:

NSC Offers Free Employee Safety Perception Survey

Want to know what your workers think of your safety program? Ask them with a free perception survey from the NSC. The 10-item survey will help you evaluate how employees view company safety culture. Benchmark their responses against millions of others with an individual report that will highlight areas where you can improve. Learn more.

CDC Foundation Introduces New Workplace Safety Resources

Business Pulse: Workplace Safety and Health is a web resource offering businesses useful resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Explore benefits associated with CDC’s work to address topics from chronic threats that impact health and productivity to major health emergencies. Produced by the CDC Foundation, Business Pulse focuses on a different topic each quarter. Issues feature interactive infographics, links to NIOSH programs and online CDC resources and more. Check out Business Pulse.

2016 Safety Predictions: 4 Trends to Address

This is a drug free workplace
A recent post at OH&S online outlines four key trends that will impact safety in the year ahead. Considering the constantly changing landscape of regulations, labor needs and increasing substance legalization and addiction, employers must identify new and creative ways to mitigate workplace hazards.

Author Liz Griggs, CEO of Canterbury Healthcare, says organizations need to be aware of these trends to address the most prevalent workplace concerns in 2016. Here's a brief summary of each:

1. Psycho-social, depression, and obesity issues
The ongoing and emerging trend of psycho-social, depression, and obesity issues will continue to impact safety. While many organizations typically address these issues only after an employee is depressed about an injury, it has become vital for employers to identify employees who bring depression and other social issues to the job - before an incident occurs.

January 27, 2016

Top 10 Disabling Workplace Injuries Cost Employers $51 Billion Annually

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December 2015 OSHA Fines and Settlements Top $3.8 Million

Federal OSHA wrapped up 2015 by releasing details on 17 significant fines (over $100,000) in December, with total proposed penalties of nearly $3 million. In addition, an $825,000 settlement was reached with Dollar Tree Stores that requires the company to "develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health program consistent with OSHA's Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines." 

OSHA issued more than 170 significant fines during 2015 with a total value of $36.3 million. Here are details of the top 5 actions in December. Some are still pending final decisions.
$462,000 for ammonia refrigeration violations at an Ohio poultry processor. 2015 Total: $1.87 million!

Deficiencies in ammonia refrigeration systems at two facilities resulted in $462,000 of fines in December. OSHA cited 11 repeat, four serious and two other-than-serious violations at one plant, and an additional five repeat and three serious violations at another. Inspectors found the company, which is already in the SVEP program, lacked clear, written operating procedures, failed to test and inspect systems and did not provide adequate training for workers. OSHA also found the company failed to:

  • Perform annual bloodborne pathogen refresher training.
  • Provide hepatitis B vaccine for workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens.
  • Store gas cylinders properly.

January 19, 2016

Workplace Safety and the Flu

avoid the flu wash your hands
Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for protecting individuals from seasonal flu. Each year the vaccine is revised to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common this season.

Pandemic flu remains a concern for employers and workers. A pandemic can occur at any time and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Although the pandemic H1N1 flu in 2009 was considered by CDC to be mild, it created significant challenges for employers and workers and showed that many workplaces were not prepared. The precautions identified

Upcoming Safety Webinars from OH&S

Safety Starts Here
Check out these workplace safety webinars presented by Occupational Safety & Health magazine in the weeks ahead:

January 21 - Chemicals, Pesticides and Other Stuff -- Oh My, Oh My, How to Comply?

January 27 - Care and Maintenance of PPE for Arc Flash and Flash Fire: Incidents and Issues for Practical Applications

February 11 - The New Era of Change Agents for Occupational Safety: Strategies to Ensure Safer Workplaces

February 17 - Should Your Workers be Wearing Cut-Resistant Sleeves?

February 24 - AED/CPR Training in the 21st Century: An Easier Path to a Safer Worksite

February 25 - Marijuana Legalization: Trends & Hot Topics

Learn more and register here.

January 4, 2016

Staying Safe in Extreme Workplaces and Conditions

Worker securing logs to a trailerMany workers perform their daily job activities in dangerous environments and situations. People who work jobs such as firefighting, deep sea fishing and logging receive extensive safety training. They also wear special clothing and use equipment to protect them from the elements they encounter. This post discusses some new technologies that can help keep workers safe in extreme conditions.

Extreme Jobs in Extreme Heat or Cold

NerveRush, a site dedicated to extreme sports and other high-octane activities, lists fishing, search and rescue, mining and logging among the nine most extreme jobs. Workers in these occupations encounter cold and wet conditions at least part of the time.

Special Gear Protects Workers from Extreme Conditions

With few exceptions, professionals in extreme jobs need to wear weather-related gear to protect them from elements that can seriously injure or kill them while they do their jobs. Those who work in cold and wet weather (Alaska fishermen, offshore oil workers and lumberjacks come to mind) wear lightweight and weatherproof parkas with insulating materials, like Gore-Tex and Under Armour.

Heat Illness Prevention tips
Those who work under hot conditions, such as miners, wear cooling gear that wicks sweat away from their bodies. Many also wear lightweight rain gear in bright colors so they can be easily seen. Workers on offshore oil rigs in warm waters also need protection from rain and spray.

Omni-Freeze Zero, a new cooling technology from sportswear company Columbia, uses sweat to activate super-absorbent polymer rings. It traps 300 percent more moisture than normal fabric, according to WildernessDave, who tested several Omni- Freeze products in Phoenix's 100+ degree heat. He found it works significantly better than other wicking materials. The one improvement he hopes to see? Odor-blocking technology. 

Firefighters wear gear with chemical protectants against heat and the effects of fire. 
DuPont's Kevlar fiber is five times stronger than steel and lightweight enough to use as a liner or shell. Combined with Nomex, it offers flame resistance as well.

Headgear with built-in light sources and PPE including gloves and footwear are also important for miners and firefighters. Helmets are usually made from fiberglass and leather; leather is also used to construct gloves and shoes. Leather used in firefighting gear is treated with fire-resistant chemicals.

New Tech to Keep Extreme Workplaces Safe

Workplaces like mines and oil rigs have the second-highest percentage of fatal accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Managers at these sites are expected to follow safety regulations, train employees, post required safety signage and provide appropriate safety gear. Agencies within the Department of Interior are charged with inspecting workplaces to ensure they are following safety regulations.

The National Institute for Occupational and Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognizes companies that focus on improving mine safety. Each year, it presents a Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovation Award. In recent years, it recognized these technologies:
  • 2015: Compressed Air Foam Fire Suppression System that provides a rapid response to underground fires.
  • 2014: Helmet-CAM Technology that integrates a wearable video recorder with an aerosol monitor to deliver real-time test results on dust samples in a worker's personal space.
  • 2013: Real-Time Data Analysis of Changing Ground Conditions consolidates various data to assess and predict ground behavior and issue early alarms when needed.
Offshore oil rig technology works to prevent explosions like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon. Rigzone, an online news and job source for the oil and gas industry, highlights examples of new tech advances in the oil and gas industry:
  • An optical gas-imaging camera that detects a variety of hydrocarbon gas emissions
  • Flameproof electric motors to power various equipment
  • Virtual and simulated training, including online courses.