OSHA Looking to Postpone Crane Operator Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wants to extend the deadline for crane operator certification that is scheduled to go into effect in November of this year.

In Sept. 2014, OSHA issued a final rule that set the crane operator requirement deadline for November 2017. OSHA’s new proposed rule would push back the deadline to Nov. 10, 2018. According to OSHA’s press release, the additional time is to “address stakeholder concerns.”

OSHA’s Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard lays out four options for crane operators to become certified:

  • Certification by an independent testing organization accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization
  • Qualification by an employer’s independently audited program
  • Qualification by the U.S. military
  • Compliance with qualifying state or local licensing requirements

Those wanting to comment on the deadline delay can do so online at http://www.regulations.gov , by fax to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693–1648, or by mail to OSHA Docket Office, RIN No. 1218–AC86, Technical Data Center, Room N–3508, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20210.

Comments must be submitted by Sept. 29, 2017.

For all of your occupational safety and health needs, contact the experts at SCT by calling 1-800-204-1729.

Ask the Experts: Scaffolding

Last year, scaffolding was the third most cited violation by OSHA behind only fall protection and hazard communication. Companies across the United States were cited nearly 4,000 times for scaffolding violations.

As scaffolding lifts workers to an elevated worksite, taking proper safety precautions is extremely important. OSHA estimates that proper training and following of compliance standards could save as many as 50 lives and prevent 4,500 accidents every year.

In this edition of our Ask the Experts video series, SCT Regional Director Tom Bielema, who spent years with OSHA eventually becoming the Area Director of the Peoria Office, discusses how to handle common hazards that come along with using scaffolding.

To catch up on our previous Ask the Experts videos, check out the playlist on YouTube here. As always, contact SCT today for all of your occupational safety and health needs.

Fatal Four in Construction: Falls

This week we’re wrapping up our look at the Fatal Four in Construction with a new video about falls.

According to OSHA, falls accounted for 364 deaths in construction in 2015, which was more than all of the other Fatal Four (electrocutions, struck by object, and caught in between) combined.

In the video below, SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services Nick Walters covers many of the common hazards that can result in falls, including ladders and unguarded floor openings.

If you missed Mr. Walters, former Regional Administrator of OSHA’s largest region based in Chicago, in our previous videos covering electrocutions and struck by/caught in between, you can watch all of our Fatal Four videos right here.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss a video from us.

Fatal Four in Construction: Struck By and Caught In/Between

Continuing our quest to eliminate the Fatal Four hazards in the construction industry, we have a new video covering struck by and caught in/between hazards.

According to OSHA, in 2015 struck by and caught in/between hazards accounted for 9.6% and 8.6%, respectively, of all fatal construction incidents.

SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services Nick Walters covered Electrocutions last week. Today Mr. Walters, formerly the Regional Administrator of OSHA Region V, tackles two related hazards in struck by and caught in/between.

Check out our video below and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss a video from us.

 

Video Series Tackles Construction’s Fatal Four

The Fatal Four in Construction – falls, struck by, caught in/between, and electrocutions – account for more than half of all worker deaths in the industry. At SCT, we want to do our part to protect as many workers as possible from preventable injury and death.

Throughout this month, we will release videos on each of those topics, presented by our own Vice President of Safety Engineering Services Nick Walters, who was formerly the Regional Administrator of OSHA Region V.

Check out the video above to learn about some common electrocution hazards found at many construction sites. Be sure to Like us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to make sure you never miss a safety video from our team of experts.

 

CDC Report Gives Insight into Young Silicosis Deaths

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most of the young people who died from silicosis worked in jobs where exposure to silica is common. As silicosis is often a disease that affects older people after years of exposure, the CDC wanted to learn more about the disease in younger people.

Between 1999 and 2015, 55 people aged 15 to 44 had pneumoconiosis (lung disease) “due to other dust containing silica” listed on their death certificates as either the underlying or contributing cause of death. Of those, 38 (69%) were assigned pneumoconiosis due to other dust containing silica. Thirty of the 38 people worked in the manufacturing and construction industries, which have high levels of silica exposure.

Seventeen of the 55 people (31%) had pneumoconiosis due to talc dust, which is a specific type of silica. Only 13 of the 17 deaths had occupation data available, and none of those 13 worked jobs that are associated with talc exposure. They also had drug use or overdose as a contributing cause of death, which suggests their deaths were not related to their occupations, according to the CDC.

The CDC concluded that the study shows more research is needed to discern how to best combat silica exposure in the workplace. The organization still suggests following the hierarchy of controls as the best way to face the issue.

Silica dust exposure has been a long-running occupational health concern with a new OSHA rule going into effect in June 2016. However, the effective date has been delayed and is now scheduled for Sept. 23, 2017. About 2.3 million U.S. workers are exposed to silica dust. Check out our infographic below for more important information about the dangers of respirable crystalline silica.

Is your business prepared for the new silica standard? OSHA’s enforcement date is less than two months away! Contact us today online or call 1-800-204-1729 to make sure your employees don’t get left in the dust.

 

 

Ask the Experts: Silica

We have another Ask the Experts segment, this time featuring SCT Regional Director Tom Bielema.

During his time working for OSHA, Mr. Bielema helped develop the new silica standard. The new rule went into effect in June 2016, but the enforcement date in construction of Sept. 23, 2017, is quickly approaching. Mr. Bielema’s most recent position with OSHA was as Area Director for the Peoria, IL, office.

Watch our conversation with Mr. Bielema to find out more details about who is impacted by the new rule, what you need to do to become OSHA compliant, and how to best protect your employees.

Did you catch our first Ask the Experts video featuring SCT Vice President of Engineering Services and former OSHA Regional Director Nick Walters? Click here to watch Mr. Walters detail the new Walking-Working Surfaces Standard.

If you want to talk to Mr. Walters, Mr. Bielema, or any of our other OSHA Experts, contact us today at 1-800-204-1729 or use our online contact page.

More Beryllium Rule Changes Proposed by OSHA

Technicians examine a James Webb Space Telescope mirror, which is made out of beryllium

On June 23 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced proposed changes to the updated beryllium standard, which has already been delayed twice in recent months. OSHA is now seeking public input on the proposal.

The changes would only impact the construction and shipyard industries, leaving general industry unchanged. Additionally, OSHA announced that it would not enforce the Jan. 9, 2017, final rule while these new changes are being considered.

The permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air and short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air would stay the same, but rules requiring certain types of personal protective equipment and medical monitoring of employees would be rolled back, according to an OSHA news release.

The proposed changes are set to be published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2017. OSHA is seeking comments from the public and other interested parties during the 60-day comment period that follows the publication. Information about how to comment on the proposal can be found here.

The full list of standards that OSHA is seeking comment on include:

  • Ventilation standard in construction (1926.57)
  • Criteria for personal protective equipment standard in construction (1926.95)
  • Mechanical paint removers standard in shipyards (1915.34)
  • Ventilation and protection in welding, cutting and heating in shipyards (1915.51)
  • Hand and body protection standard in shipyards (1915.157)
  • Confined and enclosed spaces standards in shipyards (Part 1915 Subpart B)
  • Ventilation standard in general industry for exhaust ventilation and housekeeping (1910.94(a)(4), (a)(7))1
  • Respiratory Protection standard in general industry (1910.134)1,2
  • Hazard communication standard in general industry (1910.1200)1,2

According to OSHA, beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used in many industries, including aerospace, medical, electronics, defense, and telecommunications. Workers that perform abrasive blasting in construction and shipyards may also be exposed to beryllium. But beryllium is highly toxic, and workers who inhale it are at a higher risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer. An estimated 100 people die from chronic beryllium disease each year.

Image source: NASA

Occupational skin disorders: How to protect workers

Much of the focus of mitigating harmful effects of chemicals on workers is on inhalation, but according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) more than 13 million U.S. workers are exposed to occupational skin disorders from skin exposure to chemicals.

That number, 13 million, makes occupational skin disorders the second most common type of occupational illness, according to NIOSH. Of those disorders, about 90 to 95 percent are classified as contact dermatitis, with the hand being the most commonly affected area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates annual costs for contact dermatitis exceeds $1 billion.

Occupational Skin Disorders identified by the CDC:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis (skin damage and inflammation resulting from contact with hazardous agent)
  • Allergic contact dermatitis (immunological reaction involving skin inflammation with repeated exposure; worker becomes sensitized to an allergen in the hazardous agent)
  • Skin cancers
  • Skin infections
  • Skin injuries, and
  • Other miscellaneous skin diseases.

There are multiple potential causes for Occupational Skin Disorders, including chemical agents, mechanical trauma, physical agents, and biological agents. Chemical agents are the main cause of such disorders, and are divided into two types: primary irritants and sensitizers. As the names would suggest, primary irritants “act directly on the skin through chemical reactions,” and sensitizers “may not cause immediate skin reactions, but repeated exposure can result in allergic reactions,” according to the CDC.

Though all workers have the possibility for exposure to any of these potential causes, the CDC highlights the following industries: food service, cosmetology, health care, construction, agriculture, painting, mechanics, and printing/lithography.

How to Protect Against Occupational Skin Disorders

The first part in solving a problem is identifying all present hazards and exposures through a thorough gap analysis of all facilities. SCT’s safety experts consistently recommend this tool to clients as a way to recognize strengths and weaknesses and provide a way forward to ensure compliance with all regulations and safety for all workers.

Post-analysis, SCT uses the hierarchy of controls, which orders the processes that best protects workers from most effective to least effective. Solutions to most workplace hazards, including addressing Occupational Skin Disorders, involves the use of one or more controls in the hierarchy pyramid.

To schedule a gap analysis with one of SCT’s safety experts, including leading former OSHA officials, contact us via our website or by phone, 1-800-204-1729.

Hearing Loss & How to Reduce Your Risk

Hearing loss isn’t just reserved for Grandma and Grandpa anymore! One in five adults who said they had no on the job exposure to noise showed indicators of hearing loss, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, the February 2017 CDC Vital Signs, indicated that much of the hearing damage could be linked to “loud sounds encountered during everyday activities at home and in the community.”

“40 million Americans show some hearing damage from loud noise, with nearly 21 million reporting no exposure to loud noise at work,” said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat in a CDC press release. “This can be distressing for people affected and their loved ones. We hope this report will help raise awareness of this problem and help clinicians reduce their patients’ risk for early hearing loss.”

According to the press release, the hearing loss report showed:

  • About 53 percent of adults with noise-induced hearing damage reported no job exposure to loud sounds. This damage—shown by a distinctive drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds—appeared as early as age 20.
  • Almost one in four adults ages 20 to 69 who reported good to excellent hearing already have some hearing loss.
  • Almost 1 in 5 adults who reported no job exposure to noise showed hearing damage indicative of noise exposure.
  • The presence of hearing loss increased with age, from about 1 in 5 (19%) among young adults ages 20-29 to more than 1 in 4 (27%) among adults ages 50-59.
  • Hearing loss is more common among men and people over the age of 40 years.

If your workplace exposes you to loud noises, there are some precautions you can take to prevent hearing damage:

  • Avoid noisy places whenever possible.
  • Use earplugs, protective ear muffs, or noise-canceling headphones when they are around loud noises.
  • Keep the volume down when watching television, listening to music, and using earbuds or headphones.
  • Ask their doctor for a hearing checkup.

SCT offers hearing testing services through our Occupational Health Division. We can perform hearing exams at our Middleburg Heights, Ohio, office, or we can come to you with our mobile medical van. To schedule your company’s hearing exams today, contact us through our website or by phone at 1-800-204-1729.