NIOSH updates ergonomics guide

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has updated its 20-year-old guide to ergonomics to reflect a stronger emphasis on the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs).

Though the 1997 primer “Elements of Ergonomic Program” remains an active document/reference guide for NIOSH, a new partner webpage increases the focus on WMSDs and the necessary steps employers and workers should take to prevent them and other injuries related to ergonomics.

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 31 percent, or 356,910 cases, of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses were caused by musculoskeletal disorders. Of those WMSDs, the median time away from work was 12 days for each affected employee. When compared to the median time away from work from other work-related injuries, which is recorded as 8 days, it is clear that poor ergonomics training and WMSDs cost businesses more than other injuries.

NIOSH’s strengthened ergonomics webpage offers a six-step program designed to help employers identify, implement, evaluate, and maintain ways to better protect workers against WMSDs.

In our July video series, “Safety Hurdles in Health Care,” one of the episodes focused on strains, sprains and other WMSDs often suffered by health care workers. Given the physicality involved in their jobs, workers in hospitals, assisted living facilities and other health care workplaces often face a greater risk of WMSDs. Check out our safety video below.

Ergonomics also comes into play with office workers. Here’s a Safety Minute Update video on 5 tips for better ergonomic posture at the office! Don’t forget to get up, stretch, and walk around during the day. Don’t sit behind a desk for 8 hours straight!

For ergonomics training and all other occupational safety and health needs, contact the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729.

SCT Community Engagement: SnakeBite Racing places well at Burning River 100

SCT is a proud sponsor of many groups and events in Northeast Ohio. Our community is important to us, and when we can highlight the amazing work and achievements of individuals, especially those within our safety family, we’re happy to give them a shoutout.

Last weekend, the Burning River 100 took place in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This race features a 100 mile solo event, 50 mile solo event, and 4 and 8 person relay events. It brings in ultrarunners from around the country, is a Western States qualifier, UTMB qualifier, and the 3rd leg of the Midwest Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. SnakeBite Racing had several people participating.

Team Burning Legs, featured in the top photo, completed the 100+ mile course in 19:20:27 placing 12th out of 40 co-ed 8 person relay teams. Pictured in the photo above front row left to right: Pamela Semanik (Summit Freewheelers), Aimee Milward (SnakeBite), Kelly Baker (SnakeBite), Andrea Chisnell (Team Stelleri).  Back row left to right; David Semanik (Team Captain, Summit Freewheelers), Eric Gibb (SnakeBite), Theresa Kushner, Rudy Sroka (Team Lake Effect) lighting the way via mountain bike for his wife and anchor runner Julie Sroka (Team Lake Effect) whose face is partially blocked by Andrea.

“That photo was taken around 1:30 am after Julie crossed the finish line, and we’re all a little delirious,” SCT Senior Field and Research Analyst Kelly Baker said of the photo above.

Kelly Baker, our Senior Research and Field Analyst, has been a member of SnakeBite Racing for six years. At the end of the day, you’ll often see Kelly outfitted in her racing gear headed off to a grueling practice session. And keep in mind that’s after working 8 or more hours on solving safety problems and writing comprehensive reports for her clients.

Kelly, your energy and enthusiasm at work and on the track is a model we should all strive for! Congratulations to you, the Burning Legs relay team, and all members of SnakeBite Racing on your successes last weekend. SCT is proud to be a sponsor!

Additional results from 2017 Burning River 100, SnakeBite Racing Team Members:

100 Mile Solo– Steve McGowan completed the 100 mile solo event and was paced for the last 30 miles by his wife and fellow SnakeBite Racing athlete Pam McGowan

4 Person Relay–  Teammates Mark Durno, Mike Mayer, and Melanie Prohaska-Miller all competed as part of two 4 person relay teams.

8 Person Relay– Aimee Milward, Eric Gibb, Kelly Baker, Jason Fecker, and Jen Borovica all competed on 8 person relay teams.

NSC releases State of Safety report

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The National Safety Council has graded each state in the U.S. in its “The State of Safety” report, and no state received an A grade. Twenty-six states — including Ohio — did not receive a passing grade.

The results are sobering for safety professionals, but the report itself takes a look at three broad areas in which states could improve safety measures to reduce the instances of preventable deaths.

“Preventable deaths in the United States are at an all-time high. There are 40.6 million serious, preventable injuries and over 146,000 fatalities each year, with more than half occurring at home,” according to the report.

The three areas NSC studied include Road Safety, Home and Community Safety, and Workplace Safety. See the table below for a full topic breakdown of each section’s evaluation points.

Topic Weighted Score Breakdown

Road Safety Issues
Alcohol Impaired Driving 16%
Child Passengers 16%
Distracted Driving 20%
Older Drivers 8%
Seat Belts 13%
Speeding 9%
Teen Drivers 12%
Vulnerable Road Users 6%
Total 100%

Home and Community Safety Issues
Drownings 14%
Firearms 20%
Home Fires 17%
Older Adults Falls 16%
Poisonings 19%
Youth Sports-Related Concussions 14%
Total 100%

Workplace Safety Issues
Prevention, Preparedness and Enforcement 50%
Workers’ Compensation 25%
Worker Health and Wellbeing 25%
Total 100%

Here at SCT we put our focus on Workplace Safety and protecting workers on the job. Though still not ideal, our home state of Ohio had Workplace Safety Issues as its highest-rated section in the State of Safety report. Ohio placed 19th out of 51 in Workplace Safety Issues. The 51 is comprised of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

The state of Illinois, home of our Chicago-area location, came in at 2nd overall and was the highest-ranked state in workplace safety.

Read the complete report here.

View State-by-State results here.

How did your state rank in the NSC’s State of Safety report? Do any findings surprise you?

For all your occupational safety and health needs, contact the experts at SCT at 800-204-1729 or via our website contact form.

SCT gains IDEM approval for Asbestos Training

SCT now adds a new endorsement under its belt: approval for asbestos training by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Classes approved include the initial and refresher Asbestos Awareness Training courses for both asbestos workers and asbestos supervisors.

IDEM’s asbestos program is accredited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is something Ohio’s program does not have. The Ohio Department of Health does offer reciprocity for training programs approved by a USEPA accredited state. SCT is in the process of working on and anticipates gaining Ohio approval in the coming weeks.

Subsequently, SCT will work on obtaining reciprocity recognition or additional approval in states where it conducts regular business, including, but not limited to: California, Illinois, Texas, New York, and New Jersey.

Why do workers need Asbestos Awareness Training?

Workers who will be potentially exposed to asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are required to have training on handling, removing, and disposing of said materials. Workers must also receive training on all necessary personal protective equipment designed to protect them while working with ACM.

As we profiled back in October, which is “Healthy Lung Month,” exposure to asbestos is one of the two most common causes of lung problems amongst American workers. Asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and other severe and chronic respiratory ailments. Symptoms and diseases caused by asbestos exposure may take many years to develop after exposure.

For all your occupational safety and health needs, contact the experts at SCT at 800-204-1729 or through our website contact form.

OSHA electronic reporting to be accepted starting August 1

Starting August 1, 2017, companies eager to get a jumpstart on OSHA’s electronic reporting requirements can submit their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A through the administration’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) webpage.

In June 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notified the business community that it was extending the deadline for submitting the electronic records to December 1, 2017, “to allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation.”

In 2016, OSHA–under the previous administration–implemented a new final rule requiring some employers to electronically send injury and illness data directly to the agency, which would be publicly posted on OSHA’s website.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a news release. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

According to OSHA’s press release announcing the August 1 online availability date, the data submission process involves four steps:

  1. Creating an establishment;
  2. adding 300A summary data;
  3. submitting data to OSHA; and
  4. reviewing the confirmation email.

The secure ITA webpage gives employers three options for data submission:

  1. Users will be able to manually enter data into a web form.
  2. Users will have the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time.
  3. Users with automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface.

Visit the ITA webpage for information on reporting requirements, FAQs, and assistance with completing the form.

OSHA releases new Confined Space fact sheet

A confined space is defined in OSHA’s construction standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA as meeting the following criteria:

  • The space is large enough for a worker to enter it
  • The space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit
  • The space is not designed for continuous occupancy

Working with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), OSHA has released a new Confined Space FactSheet to answer some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and “clarify some of the standard’s provisions and their application to residential construction work,” according to the document.

One of the major distinctions explained in the new publication is the difference of a confined space and a permit-required confined space. Before beginning a residential homebuilding project, all involved employers “must ensure that a competent person identifies all confined spaces in which one or more employees it directs may work, and identifies each space that is a permit-required confined space.”

Permit-required confined spaces are those that can be immediately dangerous to workers’ lives, and possess the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant
  • Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard

In the “Confined Spaces in Residential Construction” publication, OSHA and NAHB agree that the vast majority of the confined space standard’s requirements “only apply to permit-required confined spaces, and attics, basements, and crawl spaces in a residential home–three common spaces–will not typically trigger these requirements.”

But “vast majority” does not mean “all,” which is why it is important that employers working on residential homebuilding projects understand the standard’s definition, scope, and application so as best to comply with federal regulations and ensure worker safety.

The safety experts at SCT have decades of experience working for OSHA, national utility providers, glass manufacturers, and other industries that frequently encounter the potential for confined spaces. SCT Director of Construction Services Dennis Hobart has more than two decades of safety experience training thousands of employees on trenching and excavation and confined space hazards.

Mr. Hobart is also the principle trainer on SCT’s mobile fall protection and confined space training simulator, a 32-foot vehicle outfitted with all the necessary equipment and materials needed to conduct beneficial hands-on, practical training. Contact Mr. Hobart today by calling SCT at 1-800-204-1729 to discuss scheduling an updated training! Watch the video below for a look inside of our simulator.

Firework safety on the Fourth of July!

While we want all Americans to have a fun and celebratory Independence Day, as a safety company we feel a sense of obligation to talk about firework safety.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks ignite an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16, 900 outside and other fires, according to its website. An estimated 11,900 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2015, of which 51% of those were injuries to extremities and 41% were to the head.

Many of the victims involved in firework accidents are often children and teens using consumer fireworks. The NFPA has created a safety video to raise awareness about the hazards associated with using consumer fireworks.

Check out more fire-related safety videos on NFPA’s YouTube channel.

For fireworks retailers and display operators, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has some recommendations for firework safety on its website:

OSHA Tips For Fireworks Retailers:

  • Keep exits clear and accessible
  • Know all exit routes
  • Maintain view of fireworks
  • Know alarm procedures
  • Know fire extinguisher location and operation
  • Remove and dispose of damaged fireworks
  • Remove loose pyrotechnic powder promptly
  • Use only non-sparking tools; do not use vacuum cleaners
  • Do not allow smoking within 50 feet of sales area
  • Keep facilities secure

OSHA Tips For Display Operators:

  • Make sure personnel are trained and competent
  • Obtain required licenses, permits and inspections
  • Maintain display site security and communications
  • Wear protective gear and proper clothing
  • Prohibit accidental ignition sources
  • Properly install mortar boxes, racks and drums
  • Keep fireworks cartons closed
  • Keep fireworks dry and in good condition
  • Always handle fireworks carefully
  • Stay away from loaded mortars

From the safety family at SCT, have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

OSHA requests comment on Voluntary Protection Programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is calling for public input and suggestions in order to strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

An initiative designed to encourage private industry and federal agencies to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, VPPs are a collaborative effort between management, labor and OSHA that commits to successful implementation of a comprehensive safety and health management system.

“As the Regional Administrator for OSHA’s Region V, I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of folks from VPP sites, both management and workers,” said Nick Walters, SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services. “Every person that I spoke with commented about how VPP not only took their safety and health management systems to the next level, but they also emphasized the positive impact the process had on communication at their facilities which led to improved production, quality, and overall team morale.”

VPP sites have injury and illness rates that are, on average, significantly below their industry averages, Walters added.

Factors used to determine VPP qualification include:

  • management commitment and employee involvement
  • worksite analysis
  • hazard prevention and control
  • training

“These are all reasons that support the fact that implementing effective safety and health management systems and pursuing VPP makes good business sense,” Walters said. “In the 25 years that I worked for OSHA, by far, the best safety and health management systems that I saw being utilized were at VPP Star sites.”

SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock agreed with Walters’ assessment of VPPs adding, “VPPs are the pinnacle of voluntary compliance and have a positive impact on entire industries through mentorship and peer associations.”

Medlock, who served as the Area Director for the Cleveland Area OSHA Office for 20 years, offered one critique for OSHA’s VPPs.

“One area that OSHA needs to consider is the resource strain which VPP evaluations and monitoring place on the OSHA Area Offices conducting the VPP process,” he said. “VPP sites must be continually monitored and field assessments take a toll on the office resources.”

Given pending and potential budget cuts, Medlock said the agency should develop innovative ways to use competent outside consultants in a way that would ensure the integrity of the VPP system, and relieve stress on current staffing levels.

“While the SGE [special government employee] system is a needed supplement, there are never enough SGEs to fill the gaps and no incentive for SGEs to participate,” Medlock said. “A system where VPP sites can share in the costs of VPP certifications may be an option. OSHA could also consider privatizing, yet maintaining control over the VPP approval system such as they do in some states with the 7(c)(1) consultation service.”

The pilot VPP began as an experimental program in California, according to OSHA’s VPP webpage. The program was later rolled out nationally in 1982. Federal worksites gained VPP eligibility in 1998.

OSHA is hosting a stakeholder meeting on July 17, 2017, “to discuss the future direction of the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The discussion will include comments and suggestions from the public on potential avenues for action,” according to an OSHA press release.

Questions being asked of stakeholders and the public include:

  • What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards through the VPP?
  • How can the agency support increased participation in VPP while operating with available resources and maintaining the integrity of the program?
  • How can the agency modify VPP to enhance the efforts and engagement of long-term VPP participants?
  • How might the agency modify Corporate VPP for greater leverage and effectiveness?
  • How can the agency further leverage participant resources such as Special Government Employees?

The public can provide input and read others’ comments by visiting Regulations.Gov VPP Sustainability comment board. The period for public comments closes on September 15, 2017.

Want to better understand how VPPs work? To create your company’s new safety culture today contact Rob Medlock via email, RMedlock@sct.us.com, and phone, 800-204-1729; or contact Nick Walters via email, NWalters@sct.us.com, and phone, 708-382-2900.

**This blog post was updated June 29, 2017, at 9:45 am to include comments from SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock.**

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.