Congress pushes for OSHA Workplace Violence standard

House Democrats have introduced legislation to induce the Secretary of Labor to create an OSHA Workplace Violence standard for health care facilities. The Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act aims to reduce instances of workplace violence within the health care industry, which has a higher than average rate of workplace violence at inpatient worksites.

The move toward creating a workplace violence standard isn’t new. This latest national push follows a 2014 initiative launched by California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) which took effect in 2017.

For years, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries has illustrated that workers in the health care and social assistance industries see more fatal injuries resulting from workplace violence than any other category. In 2016 alone, there were 42 fatalities in the health care and social assistance fields that were caused by violence and other injuries by persons or animals. (That includes violence perpetrated by persons, self-inflicted injury, and attacks by animals.)

Of those 42 fatalities, 17 occurred in nursing and residential care facilities.

The Cal/OSHA regulations require all health care employers in California to develop and issue plans to prevent workplace violence  by April 1, 2018. The state’s legislation was backed by the California Nurses Association (CNA) and National Nurses United (NNU).

Though lacking an OSHA workplace violence standard, the agency does have general information and loose guidelines for assessing and handling workplace violence on its website.

The House legislation, introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on March 8,  was applauded by the NNU in a press release.

“Right now, health care facilities are not doing enough to prevent these violent incidents. Under the proposed federal standard, hospitals would need to assess and correct for environmental risk factors, patient specific risk factors, staffing and security system sufficiency,” said Deborah Burger, RN, NNU co-president, in the release.

“There are a number of interventions that can reduce violence in the hospital. For example, affixing furniture and lighting so they can’t be used as weapons, maintaining clear lines of site between workers while they are caring for patients, and providing easy access to panic buttons or phones to call for help,” Burger said. “It is imperative that nurses, doctors, and other health care workers, along with security staff and custodial personnel, are all involved in the development and implementation of these plans.”

ABCs of Safety: D is for Drug Free

We’re back with our latest edition of the ABCs of Safety. This week, we’re highlighting the benefits of a drug free workplace, which can increase the productivity and safety of almost any work environment.

Check out our video below for the full story. Join us next week as SCT Director of Construction Services Dennis Hobart reveals the topic for the letter E.

Looking to develop a Drug Free Workplace at your business? Contact the occupational health experts at SCT, led by company founder and president Gail Grueser. Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.





Sleep Awareness Week 2018

Have you adjusted to Sunday’s (3/11/18) time change? Every year most people are a little cranky about losing an hour of sleep on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time takes effect. Sleep is important in daily life, and the National Sleep Foundation has named this week, March 11-17, 2018, as Sleep Awareness Week.

We’ve written about the impact of sleep deprivation and its effects on workplace performance before, and the statistics haven’t changed. According to the CDC, “short sleep duration among the U.S. working population accounts for an estimated $411 billion cost to the economy and results in 1.2 million lost work days” every year.

Last year, we shared some healthy sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation. This year, the organization has developed a web tool called “Inside Your Bedroom: Use Your Senses!”

The tool takes the viewer through the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste, and explores how aspects of each sense can impact sleep.

Give it a try and find ways to improve your sleep environment.

SCT adds two new drug testing partners

In the ongoing effort to better serve our clients, we are proud to announce two new drug testing partners.

Clients can now visit Lakewood Urgent Care (11716 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107) and North Olmsted Urgent Care (25757 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, OH 44070) to submit their samples.

To view our full list of partners and find the location that works best for you, check out our online Collection Site Locator. 

CPWR Releases Comprehensive Construction Statistics

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) released a new edition of its comprehensive The Construction Chart Book – The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers. 

If you are seeking a specific construction industry statistic, chances are you can find it in the book. It features 100-plus pages of charts, graphs and explanations of dozens of industry topics, including economics, demographics, and safety.


Silica can be found in numerous common construction site materials, like soil, sand, concrete, masonry, rock and granite. As we have discussed extensively on our blog, exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer or kidney disease. Construction workers make up about 2 million of the 2.3 million total workers that are exposed to silica hazards.

OSHA’s recently updated silica standard sets the permissible exposure limit (PEL) at 50 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight-hour day. According to CPWR, about 15 percent of construction workers are exposed at or above the PEL.

Source: CPWR

Injury and Fatality Rates

Among selected industrial nations, the United States had the third highest rate of construction fatalities with 9.7 per 100,000 full-time workers. Only Belgium (10.5) and Switzerland (24.6) had higher fatality rates in 2013. The U.S. non-fatal injury rate was much better compared to other countries. At 1.5 per 100 workers, it was the third best rate. The CPWR though does caution drawing too strong of a conclusion due to differences in reporting standards among different countries.

Returning to just the U.S.,  985 construction workers were killed on the job in 2015, which was 20 percent of the total workplace fatalities in the country. Construction’s fatality rate has also risen each year since 2011, with 9.9 deaths per 100,000 full time workers in 2015. This was rate was nearly three times higher than the average of all industries.

Injury Causes

Mirroring the Top 10 Cited OSHA Violations, falls to the same or lower level caused the most fatalities in the construction industry and was the second leading cause of nonfatal injuries. Almost 22% of these fatal falls occur at a height of more than 30 feet, with roofs and ladders as the most common sources of all fatal falls.

Contact with objects caused the most nonfatal injuries.

Want to help you and your employees avoid becoming a statistic? Register for our OSHA 30 Hour Construction course from March 26-29, 2018. Contact SCT Sales Representative Terri Cantrell at or 440-449-6000, or fill out the contact form below!



ABCs of Safety: C is for Competent Person

“C is for Competent Person” is the third installment of our ABCs of Safety video series. We’re getting back to basics and delving deep in to the guiding principles of occupational safety and health.

Per OSHA’s definition, a “Competent Person” is someone who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards, and who has the authority to take swift corrective measures to remove said hazards.

Check out our “C is for Competent Person” video below to learn the duties of a competent person on a worksite.

OSHA’s “Competent Person” Definition, word-for-word:

“A person who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

Designating a competent person on your team is an important aspect of having a well-functioning safety program. Here are some questions to consider when deciding on identifying a competent person:

  • How much field experience does this person have conducting the necessary work?
  • Has this person received training in the needed area of work, and any related subjects?
  • Does this person have experience with supervision?

The safety experts at SCT can help you identify your competent person needs, and train employees to become identified competent persons on their worksites. Contact us today through the form below!



SCT celebrates International Women’s Day 2018

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2018, SCT wants to thank all the women on our staff, working in the field and in the office. International Women’s Day is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Thank you to all of the amazing staff members at SCT! Keep up all the incredible work you do each and every day.

DOL Highlights Dangers of Lead Exposure

As part of a government-wide effort to reduce childhood lead exposure, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta recently addressed lead exposure in the workplace.

Far too many Americans are exposed to lead in their workplace,” said Acosta in an OSHA news release. “Finding solutions to better protect these workers and minimize the amount of lead that is taken home, and potentially exposed to their children, is a priority.”

Workers who are exposed to lead can bring the toxic metal home on their shoes, clothes, skin, hair and hands, which can poison children or other family members. Jobs that commonly have lead exposure include painting, building renovation, bridge work, demolition, metal production, and plumbing.

Lead exposure can harm the brain, nervous system, blood, and kidneys, and some of these effects are permanent. Employers are required to take steps to reduce this take-home lead exposure, according to OSHA:

  • Test for lead levels in both the air of the workplace and the blood of workers.
  • Train workers on lead safety practices.
  • Control lead dust and fumes in the workplace.
  • Provide adequate personal protective equipment.
  • Give workers a place to wash hands, shower, and change clothes. Street clothes must be kept separate from work clothes.

Standards 1910.1025 in general industry and 1926.62 in construction spell out all of the OSHA requirements for combating lead exposure.

Workers can also pursue steps to reduce take-home lead exposure, including frequently washing hands, showering at the end of a shift, leaving contaminated work clothing at the job, and informing your doctor that you work with lead.

Need a deeper understanding of lead exposure in the workplace? Sign up for our Lead Awareness Training Course! Contact us at 1-800-204-1729 or use the contact form below to learn more.



Beryllium Enforcement Starting in May

OSHA’s updated beryllium standard has been a long time in the making, but a beryllium enforcement date has finally been set.

The administration announced that enforcement of the final rule will begin on May 11, 2018. The enforcement date had previously been scheduled for March 12, 2018. The extended timeframe ensures that stakeholders are aware of their obligations and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors, according to an OSHA press release.

Back in January 2017, OSHA announced new comprehensive health standards addressing beryllium exposure in all industries. After seeking feedback from stakeholders, technical updates to the January 2017 General Industry Standard are being considered by the agency.

These updates, according to the press release, “clarify and simplify compliance with requirements.”

In addition to the general industry beryllium enforcement beginning on May 11, 2018, OSHA will also begin enforcement for the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries.

According to OSHA, beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used in many industries, including aerospace, medical, electronics, defense, and telecommunications. But beryllium is highly toxic, and workers who inhale it are at a higher risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer.

The new beryllium rule, which has standards for construction, general industry, and shipyards, will decrease the permissible exposure limit of beryllium to an average of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air over 8 hours. A new short-term exposure limit was established at 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a 15-minute sampling period.

Until the new beryllium enforcement date, should employers fail to meet the new PEL or STEL, “OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance,” according to the release.

Respiratory health is a major area of concern for OSHA. In addition to the beryllium enforcement starting in May 2018, awareness of and enforcement for OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standards have dominated OSHA news since 2016. Check out our video below about the importance of respiratory health and silica awareness in the workplace.

Need help creating a respiratory health program at your workplace? Contact the experts at SCT by filling out the contact form below. We can guide you through the process, from initial assessment, to program development, air monitoring and training — SCT is your one stop safety shop!



OSHA stakeholders present to Congressional subcommittee

On February 27, 2018, the congressional Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hosted a hearing entitled “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.”

In his opening statement, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said the purpose of the meeting was to focus on “how OSHA can work more cooperatively with job creators especially in the small businesses community, to expand its compliance assistance efforts and for employers to provide the safest and healthiest workplaces possible.”

The hearing featured testimony from four witnesses: Peter Gerstenberger, on behalf of the Tree Care Industry Association; J. Gary Hill, on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary for OSHA; and Eric Hobbs,  on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Gerstenberger told the committee that tree care industry has one of the 10 highest fatality rates in the U.S., with about 80 deaths annually. He also stated that while OSHA has worked with the association to improve worker safety, it hasn’t done enough and a specific safety standard is needed.

“From our perspective, federal OSHA could be most effective if it would adopt a rule specific to our industry. Here is why: a regulation will inform and empower every OSHA Certified Safety and Health Official to identify hazards and control measures unique to tree work and to intervene to prevent accidents,” Gerstenberger said.

Hill testified about the need for the expansion of small business compliance assistance because many small construction companies are confused by the existing standards.

“NAHB’s members want to ensure they are compliant with existing standards, but it is not always clear what the regulatory requirements are, especially when coupled with all of the other regulations that apply to the home building industry,” Hill said. “If OSHA’s goal is truly to ensure worker safety rather than the collection of fines, it must reorient away from its emphasis on enforcement and promulgation of new standards and focus more on compliance assistance to businesses subject to its regulations.”

Michaels, who led OSHA from 2009 to January 2017, said in his testimony that compliance programs are useful for employees who voluntarily want to protect their employees, but that clear standards and “strong, fair enforcement” are more effective in protecting workers.

Michaels also said the sentiment that safety regulations kill jobs is incorrect. “It is more accurate to call OSHA standards public health ‘protections’ because that’s exactly what they do: protect workers from preventable injuries, illnesses and death. When you hear someone talk about rolling back OSHA regulations, they’re really talking about endangering workers.”

In his testimony, Hobbs said OSHA needs to regain the trust of employers.

“For OSHA to lead the effort at improving workplace safety effectively, it must rebuild that trust. No single step or statement by the agency will do so. It will take a sustained, consistent effort,” Hobbs said. “Employers will welcome having a partner in the agency and being able to turn to it as a resource, rather than just to suffer under it as a disciplinarian.”

The submitted written testimony from each witness is available online at the committee’s website. A complete video recording of the hearing is also available on YouTube.