Lyme disease, other pest-born diseases increase in Ohio & nationwide

Outdoor workers should always follow proper safety practices to avoid insect bites, but even more so as disease cases have increased rapidly during the last decade.

In Ohio, SCT’s home state, Lyme Disease cases increased from 45 human cases in 2008 to 270 cases in 2017, according to a report. Lyme Disease, which can be spread by blacklegged ticks, causes muscle stiffness, extreme fatigue and joint pain.

An additional report from the Centers from Disease Control found that Ohio reported 1,358 disease cases from ticks from 2004 to 2016. Nationwide, diseases from  mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have tripled in the past 13 years, with more than 96,000 cases in 2016.

Source: CDC

If you find a tick that is attached to your skin, it’s important to remove it as quickly as possible to limit the chance for disease to transmit.

The CDC gives a quick set of instructions for how to quickly remove a tick.

  • Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist the tick, which can cause the mouth of the insect to break off and remain attached to the skin.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  • Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed container, or flushing it down the toilet.

As the weather improves and more workers head outdoors, it’s important to be aware of the potential hazards that workers can face. Whether it’s wildlife, extreme heat, or severe weather, our Outdoor Working Hazards video series is a great resource. Feel free to use the video playlist below as part of a Toolbox Talk or training session.

May 19 is National Hepatitis Testing Day

The month of May is annually recognized as Hepatitis Awareness Month, with May 19, 2018, designated as National Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States.

According to the CDC more than five million Americans have chronic hepatitis, which is an infection that attacks the liver and in the most serious cases can result in liver cancer or cirrhosis. The most common types are Hepatitis A, B and C.

In the world of OSHA, hepatitis B is usually the biggest concern. About 1,800 people die from Hepatitis B-related liver disease.

Per the Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030),  any workers who have a reasonable chance of contact with blood or “other potentially infectious materials” during their work duties are required to make a hepatitis B vaccination available at no cost to the employee.

Employers must also create and implement an exposure control plan, while ensuring that workers are properly trained on safe work practices. Workers that are at a higher risk of exposure to hepatitis include those in the healthcare, public safety, and sewage industries.

At SCT, our qualified and trained occupational health experts can prepare your company for all facets of hepatitis hazards. Whether it’s training in proper PPE use, safety program development, administering hepatitis B vaccines, or carrying out hepatitis testing, we have you covered. Plus, our experts can host you at one of our office locations or travel to your worksite with our mobile medical vehicle.

Contact us today for all of your occupational health and workplace safety needs. Call 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the contact form below.





DOL, OSHA Release Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda

The U.S. Department of Labor has released its Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda, which provides a basic roadmap of potential OSHA developments.

The agenda lists 20 potential rules separated into three stages: pre-rule, proposed rule, and final rule. Those in the pre-rule stage are the furthest away from completion and those in the final rule stage are the closest.

Four proposals in the final rule stage include:

  • Standards Improvement Project IV. This would remove or revise “duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards” to ease the burden on employers, with most of the revisions to come in construction standards.
  • Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol. OSHA will evaluate three new possible fit-testing protocols to determine if they should be added to the rule as approved testing methods.
  • Rules of Agency Practice and Procedure Concerning OSHA Access to Employee Medical Records. The administration is seeking to revise its internal procedures for OSHA personnel when they obtain and use personally identifiable medical information.
  • Technical Corrections to 36 OSHA Standards and Regulations. OSHA is correcting inaccurate graphics and typos in three dozen standards in 29 CFR 1904, 1910, 1915, 1917, 1918 and 1926.

According to Safety and Health Magazine, four other standards that were previously considered “long term action” also moved onto this edition of the agenda. Emergency Response and Preparedness, Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance, and Tree Care standards are in pre-rule stage. An update to the Hazard Communication Standard is in the proposed rule stage.

With the recent delay of the beryllium standard, that regulation moved from the final rule stage back into the proposed stage. The Crane Operator Qualification in Construction standard also moved backward to the proposed stage.

The complete regulatory agenda, which also contains schedules for dozens of other government agencies, can be viewed by clicking here.

Workforce Drug Positivity at Highest Rate in a Decade

Positive drug test results remained at 4.2 percent at American workplaces in 2017, matching 2016’s rate as the highest since it was 4.5 percent in 2004, according to an annual report from Quest Diagnostics.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index also found that positive tests for cocaine and amphetamines greatly increased in many locations.

Positive tests for cocaine rose in the general U.S. workforce for the fifth consecutive year in all methods of testing, including urine, saliva and hair. Some states, including Nebraska, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Maryland, and Wisconsin, saw at least a 10 percent increase in positive cocaine results in at least four of the past five years.

Between 2013 and 2017, methamphetamine positivity increased in much of the U.S. The East North Central Division of the Midwest (defined by the U.S. Census as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin), saw the largest increase at 167 percent.

As may be expected, marijuana positivity in states that recently legalized recreational use of the drug also increased. The rate increased in the overall workforce from 2016 to 2017, but the biggest jumps came in Nevada (43 percent), Massachusetts (11 percent) and California (11 percent), all states that enacted recreational use laws since 2016.

While many drug test positivity rates increased, the study did find that prescription opiate positivity continues to drop. From 2016 to 2017, positive test rates in urine tests declined 17 percent. Opiates other than codeine were at their lowest rates in more than a decade. Furthermore, positive heroin tests dipped in 2017 to .033 percent, an 11 percent drop from the previous year.

Interested in establishing a Drug Free Workplace of your own? Contact our Occupational Health experts at SCT, who can guide you through the process. If your company is based in Ohio, you may even be eligible for a discount on your workers’ compensation premiums. Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below!





Beryllium OSHA compliance date pushed yet again

The OSHA compliance date for the agency’s general industry beryllium standard has been pushed until December 12, 2018, as a provision of a settlement agreement between OSHA and groups with concerns about certain ancillary provisions in the final rule.

OSHA and the four petitioners — the National Association of Manufacturers, AirBorn Inc., Materion Brush Inc., and Mead Metals Inc. — signed the agreement on April 24, 2018, according to a report from Safety & Health Magazine.

On May 4, 2018, OSHA announced a direct final rule that revised a few parts of the rule. Specifically, it clarified the definitions of Beryllium Work Area, emergency, dermal contact, and beryllium contamination, as well as provisions for disposal and recycling, according to an OSHA news release. 

The new OSHA compliance date of December 12, 2018, is in place for all but two provisions in the rule: change rooms/showers and engineering controls. Those provisions have compliance dates of March 11, 2019, and March 10, 2020, respectively.

OSHA’s beryllium final rule was first published on January 9, 2017, and went into effect May 20, 2017. Enforcement of the standards was most recently slated to begin on March 12, 2018, after being pushed back from March 2018.

According to OSHA’s estimates, about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium. The updated regulations included in the final rule is projected to save 90 people from beryllium-related disease, and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in electronics and the defense industry, among others. Overexposure can cause serious health risks, including incurable chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer.

Senators Introduce Legislation to Address Occupational Chemical Risks

Two U.S. senators have introduced legislation that aims to improve the chemical disclosures in pesticides and personal care products.

U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced S.2722, also called the Environmental Justice Right to Know Act.

A major part of the bill seeks to improve conditions for salon workers. The law would require that the Department of Labor and OSHA create safety data sheets for cosmetics often used in hair and nail salons, according to 

These safety data sheets would be translated into additional languages spoken by many industry workers including Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and Nepali.

Additionally, NIOSH would need to research ventilation improvements to create better air quality for these workers.

Farm workers would also be impacted, as OSHA and the EPA would be tasked with researching the potential harmful effects of pesticides.

Moreover, OSHA would develop online training materials aimed at salon employees about the specific hazards they face, as well as make the topic a target for the Susan Harwood Training Grant program.

“Workers at nail salons, hair salons, and other industries that handle harmful chemicals and pesticides have the right to be informed about the products they are exposed to in order to ensure the health and safety of their communities,” said Senator Harris in a news release. “Everyone deserves the ability to breathe clean air, drink clean water and know what’s in the products that are around them every day.”

Study finds link between noise exposure and high blood pressure, cholesterol

A recent study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that workers subject to excessive noise exposure  have an increased risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

According to Safety and Health Magazine, researchers at NIOSH reviewed data from more than 20,000 workers using the 2014 National Health Interview Survey and found a link between noise exposure at work and elevated levels of hypertension and cholesterol.

In the study, 25 percent of workers had a history of noise exposure on the job. Loud noise impacts about 22 million workers in the United States. Furthermore, the study found that occupational noise contributed to 58 percent of hearing damage cases, 14 percent of hypertension cases, and nine percent of elevated cholesterol cases.

Additionally, jobs that most often had occupational noise exposure were production at 55 percent, construction and extraction at 54 percent, and installation, maintenance and repair at 54 percent.

“If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than 5 million cases of hearing difficulty among noise-exposed workers could potentially be prevented,” said study co-author Liz Masterson, Ph.D.

Below, view our quick and informative video to learn some ways to easily protect the hearing of everyone in your workplace.

And while you’re here, be sure to visit SCT Supply. At our safety supply store, you can find thousands of products from dozens of the top brands in the safety industry, including various types of hearing protection equipment.

SCT offers 6-Part Medical Evaluation

With the expansion of our Occupational Health Department’s services to include blood draws, SCT is excited to announce that we are providing a 6-part medical evaluation that is specifically designed for workers exposed to hazards within the industrial painting industry.

The 6-part service, which we formally call the 6-Part Painter’s Medical Evaluation, provides the comprehensive medical testing for workers who are expected to be exposed to hazards involved on industrial painting job sites. The tests included in the medical evaluation provide the OSHA-required baseline for workers and employers to guard against any elevated exposure on a job site.

Features of SCT’s 6-part medical evaluation include:

  1. Respiratory Medical Clearance Questionnaire and Review
  2. Spirometry (Pulmonary Function Test)
  3. Audiogram Evaluation & Snellen Vision Test
  4. Lead Level & Zinc Protoporphyrin (ZPP) Blood Draws
  5. Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential Blood Draw
  6. Urine Dip Test

The cost for the evaluation is $195 per person.

Let SCT come to you!

SCT has a full suite of mobile occupational health services. Using our state of the art mobile testing unit, we can arrive on your job site, perform all necessary testing, and fit into your schedule.

Contact us today using the contact form below, or talk to Cost Reduction Specialist Terri Cantrell directly at or 440-449-6000.



SCT now offers blood draw services at Cleveland location

At SCT, we continually strive to provide the best services to our clients, and that often involves expanding our knowledge and expertise. To that end, we now offer full blood draw services at our Cleveland-area location at 6993 Pearl Road, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130.

Under OSHA standards, many workers must undergo medical surveillance testing, which often involves blood draws. These tests serve many purposes, but in the occupational health world they are most commonly used for blood lead levels of workers who are exposed to inorganic lead.

Overexposure to lead is associated with impaired kidney function, high blood pressure, and cognitive dysfunction later in life. It can also cause serious birth defects.

According to OSHA, about 804,000 general industry workers and 830,000 construction workers are potentially exposed to lead. Exposure often occurs as a result of the production, maintenance or recycling of lead-containing products, and in the renovation or demolition of structures that feature lead-based paint.

Need to have the lead blood levels of your employees tested? Contact the experts at SCT by calling 1-800-204-1729 or by filling out the contact form below.




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.