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

Safe and Sound Week

We’re continuing our dive into Outdoor Working Hazards by discussing something that affects every single outdoor worker, no matter their occupation or location: the weather.

It’s also the first ever Safe and Sound Week, a national OSHA-led effort to raise awareness and understanding of the value of proactive safety and health programs.

There’s still time to participate in this year’s Safe and Sound Week! Check out our video to learn a little more about the event, as well as tips on how to keep workers safe when severe weather strikes.


How to Participate

Need some help getting started? Here’s some advice:

  • Plan activities and events that include the core elements of a successful safety and health program: management leadership, worker participation, and finding and fixing hazards
  • Promote the events to your employees and the public
  • Get feedback and recognize your participation with a certificate from OSHA

You can also draw inspiration from others. Check out this selection of Tweets recognizing Safe and Sound Week.


National Forklift Safety Day

Not only does this week mark the first ever OSHA-sponsored Safe and Sound Week, but today, June 13, 2017, is also National Forklift Safety Day.

Each year, about forklift incidents result in about 61,800 non-serious injuries, 34,900 serious injuries, and 85 fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). About 42% of those accidents are people being crushed by a vehicle tipping over, and another 25% are people being crushed between vehicle and surface.

On National Forklift Safety Day, many groups including the Industrial Truck Association, are working to get the word out on the importance of proper forklift safety practices, especially the need for effective operator training. The ITA also meets with government officials on National Forklift Safety Day to discuss what lawmakers can do to help improve forklift safety nationwide.

Forklift Safety Tips

While a training course is needed to properly educate a forklift operator, here are some helpful tips to remember the next time you get behind the controls of a forklift according to OSHA:

  • Inspect the forklift for damage before each use, and if damage is found, report it to a supervisor
  • Know the load limit of your vehicle
  • Honk your horn at all cross aisles to help avoid collisions with pedestrians
  • Always look in the direction of travel. If the load blocks your view, travel in reverse
  • To avoid tipover, never turn while on a grade
  • Do not travel with the load elevated

Do you or your employees need forklift safety training? At SCT, we offer a handful of classes covering numerous powered industrial trucks, including forklifts. Contact us today by calling 1-800-204-1729 or by filling out our online form.

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.

New Videos Cover Outdoor Working Hazards

As the weather warms up and summer approaches, millions of workers will head outside. While working outdoors has its benefits, a number of working hazards also come along with it.

In the first video of our series, learn the different types of outdoor working hazards including physical hazards, biological hazards, and vector-borne diseases.

Need workplace safety training? Does your worksite need a gap analysis?

Whether indoors or outside, the experts at SCT can ensure that your company and employees have the knowledge they need to be OSHA compliant.

Also be sure to visit SCT Supply, where we offer thousands of high quality safety products at great prices. Check out a few our outdoor working safety products below.


Health Alert: Recognizing Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome

Have you heard of Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome? It’s a rare condition, but those in the construction trades have or will probably run across it in their careers at some point. In April, we focused on safety in the construction industry and what steps workers can take to protect themselves on the job. Check out our Construction Connection video playlist on YouTube and subscribe to SCT’s YouTube Channel for more safety videos.

The Montreal-based Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (Robert-Sauvé Research Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) recently released an informational pamphlet about Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome, a disease that is caused by repetitive trauma to the hand.

What is Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome (HHS)?

HHS is an injury to the ulnar artery that reduces blood supply to the fingers, especially impacting the third, fourth, and fifth digits (the middle, ring, and pinky fingers). Considered a traumatic injury, HHS can occur when workers “repetitively use the heel of their hand as a hammer to pound and flatten or to press or twist objects,” according to the IRRST publication.

The ulnar artery delivers oxygenated blood to the hand. Symptoms of HHS include:

  • white or blue, stiff and painful fingers
  • hypersensitivity to cold
  • decrease in muscle strength in the hand
  • impression of a palpable mass in the palm
  • pins and needles feeling or numbness in the fingers

High Risk Individuals/Careers

IRRST indicated that the following professionals/industries are at the highest risk for developing HHS:

  • factory workers
  • machinists
  • metal workers
  • construction workers, miners
  • mechanics
  • forestry workers
  • gardeners
  • landscapers
  • farmers
  • students training in any of the above fields

Common tools used by/in the high risk individuals/careers include “electrical or pneumatic vibrating tools, brush cutters/trimmers, milling machines, grinding machines, jackhammers and saws, hammers, wrenches, pliers, scissors, and presses of every kind.” Continual use and/or overuse of these tools can also cause a potential for HHS.

Prevention is Key!

Though there is no cure for HHS, the IRRST pamphlet recommends the following tips to help prevent the syndrome:

  1. use work methods that avert acute or repetitive trauma
  2. switch tasks regularly/interval work, or rest your hands during the work day
  3. use properly maintained tools meant for the task at hand
  4. don’t use the palm of your hand as a hammer to strike a tool or object
  5. don’t use excessive force when gripping tools like wrenches, scissors, etc.

Sleep Awareness Week and Job Performance

As our lives get busier and busier, filled with ever-multiplying computer and cell phone screens, sleep is often one of the first things that gets cut to make room for more work.

Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on overall health as well as job performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which has named April 23-29 as Sleep Awareness Week.

The body’s natural rhythm is for day time activity and night time sleep, so it’s no surprise that those who work at night or have ever-changing shift times most often suffer from sleep deprivation or disruption. This can cause drowsiness and fatigue, and is also associated with immune system dysfunction, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems, according to NIOSH.

Drowsy driving is one of the most dangerous and easily observable effects of sleep deprivation. Much like alcohol, lack of sleep can negatively affect decision making, reaction time, and attention span, according to the CDC.

But even those who work a typical “9 to 5” job can suffer from a lack of sleep. A NIOSH study showed that 37.6 percent of respondents did not get at least 7 hours of sleep, which represented about 54.1 million workers. This lack of sleep causes an estimated $411 billion cost to the U.S. economy and about 1.2 million lost work days each year.

Some major companies have even created “nap rooms” at work to help employees be as productive as possible.

If your business isn’t yet ready to take the plunge in letting employees nap on the job, here are some healthy sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation that you can use to encourage your workers during Sleep Awareness Week.

  • Stick to the same sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Practice a bedtime ritual away from bright lights that will help signal your body to get ready to sleep
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps especially in the afternoon
  • Exercise daily
  • Make sure your room is conducive to sleep: eliminate as much noise and sound as possible
  • Have a comfortable, supportive mattress. Most good mattresses last about 9-10 years
  • Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning
  • Try not to use electronic devices close to bed time

If your company’s employee safety plan needs a refresh, contact the experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or by sending us a message here on our website. 

Construction Connection: Recommendations for Training

For the final edition of our Construction Connection safety video series, we meet SCT Small Business Director Jay Medlock. Training is a vital component of any safety program, but construction workers face unique challenges when it comes to training.

With standards and regulations updated on a routine basis, keeping up to date on training is essential for construction industry workers. Check out our interview with SCT Small Business Director Jay Medlock as he recommends necessary training for construction workers.

If you missed one of our previous Construction Connection videos, you can watch the YouTube video playlist here.


Reviews from the Road: Episode 5

SCT’s traveling Occupational Safety and Health Technicians in another episode of “Reviews from the Road,” a weekly web series featuring our safety techs at different project sites across the country.

SCT’s safety technicians can spend more than 80 percent of their time traveling from job to job, providing safety project management services to clients. Most of our technicians spend their time on glass furnace demolition and rebuild projects, many of which last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months or longer.

In the third episode of “Reviews from the Road” we introduce you to Tom Boyd who is on the job in Waterville, Ohio.

Silica enforcement delayed until September

Enforcement of OSHA’s new final rule on crystalline silica has been pushed back until September 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on April 6.

The cause for the enforcement delay is so that additional outreach, educational materials and guidance can be provided to employers. OSHA “determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique natures of the requirements in the construction standard,” according to an OSHA press release.

The enforcement date was originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017.

We’ve talked about the new silica standard before, when it was first announced and when OSHA released its guide for the updated silica standard.

Respirable crystalline silica is a hazardous substance that workers, especially those in the construction industry, face exposure to on a regular basis. Exposure to silica, coupled with lack of safety measures, can lead to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

OSHA’s new final rule, which reduced the permissible exposure limit and increased safety requirements, is estimated to save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, according to OSHA.

SCT has training programs in place to help employers update and refresh their silica safety policies. While enforcement may be delayed, the new final rule went into effect on June 23, 2016.

Protect workers today and call the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729.