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.

SCT Leads Safety Stand-Down in California

As we continue to recognize this week’s National Safety Stand-Down effort to prevent falls in the workplace, SCT’s General Manager Joe Ventura is onsite in Tracy, CA, creating a safe and secure working environment.

Mr. Ventura led a Stand-Down Event for Lilja Corp. workers, reminding them that the site’s uniform threshold height is six feet. This means that any employee working at six feet or more above a lower level must be protected from fall hazards. Plus, employees need to be protected from falling into dangerous equipment.

Employees were also refreshed on how to choose and use proper fall protection equipment for different work scenarios. Additionally, workers reviewed where fall hazards exist on their particular job site and how those hazards are addressed.

OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor provided this certificate recognizing the proactive safety efforts of Lilja Corp. during this National Safety Stand-Down. SCT is proud to work with companies who recognize the importance of workplace safety and protect their workers with proper safety training and enforced safety policies.

Mr. Ventura also checked in with a Review from the Road video to give a peek into what life is like working in Tracy, CA, this week. If your company’s Fall Protection policies are in need of an update, contact the experts at SCT by calling 1-800-204-1729.

How to Hold a Safety Stand-Down

This week is the annual National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction, which is the leading cause of worker deaths in the industry.

Watch our video above to find out how to make a safety stand-down event at your workplace a success. Be sure to stay connected with SCT on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you’re always the first to know when one of our new videos hits the web. Coming up this month, we have two more videos in the Focus on Fall Protection series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you never miss a video!

The Importance of PPE in Construction

This week’s Construction Connection video features Bo Wyszynski, Manager of SCT Supply. Construction workers always need to have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job to ensure they make it home safely at the end of the work day.

Watch the video to learn more about the importance of PPE and then check out a selection of related products from SCT Supply. Be sure to visit www.sctsupply.com to view our complete inventory of products for all your occupational safety and health needs.