N is for Noise Hazards in the Workplace

Can you hear me now? Good!

According to the Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss is the most common workplace injury. With more than 20 million U.S. workers exposed to damaging noise at work each year, noise hazards are present in almost every workplace.

Our experts at SCT can create a comprehensive workplace safety plan designed to eliminate noise hazards and other safety risks at your workplace.

Make sure your volume is set to a safe level and watch our newest ABCs of Safety video to learn the best ways to protect workers from noise hazards. Then head over to www.sctsupply.com and check out our wide variety of hearing protection products from dozens of the top brands in the safety industry.

Need to solve complex noise hazard issues at your workplace? Ensure your safety program is OSHA compliant and contact the experts at SCT today!








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Top 10 Questions about OSHA Inspections

SCT’s workplace safety experts, especially the staff members who used to work for agency, hear the same questions a lot, and usually they revolve around one topic: OSHA Inspections/Citations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the government agency tasked with ensuring workers are protected on the job. When employers experience an OSHA inspection and citation, safety partners and consultants can help the agency and the affected employer(s) negotiate a settlement.

Combined, Mr. Walters and Mr. Bielema have nearly 50 years of OSHA experience and knowledge. EHS Today was at the ASSP conference and wrote about their presentation covering what to expect with an OSHA inspection/citation.

  1. Why did OSHA pick my company for an inspection?
  2. Can I ask for a copy of the OSHA complaint?
  3. Can I ask OSHA to get a warrant?
  4. What documents am I required to provide to the Compliance Officer?
  5. Can I limit the scope of the inspection?
  6. How does OSHA decide whether or not I get a citation and what the penalty amount will be?
  7. Does OSHA have a quota system?
  8. What are my options after I receive a citation?
  9. Should I schedule an informal conference and what should I expect when I go to the OSHA office?
  10. Can we beat an OSHA citation?

The safety experts at SCT have seen it all when it comes to OSHA inspections and citations. Our goal is to keep companies on the right side of OSHA, with compliant, implemented, and regularly updated safety programs and policies that protect workers.

SCT is here to help with any question about OSHA inspections, citations or safety in general. Contact us today at 1-800-204-1729, or fill out the contact form below!








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June is National Safety Month

Each June, the National Safety Council and other organizations recognize National Safety Month. It’s a chance to take extra time and care to prevent injuries on the job, at home, and on the road.

This year’s theme of “No One Gets Hurt” intends to demonstrate that just making small changes, like taking a First Aid class or cleaning up a spill at work, can significantly decrease injury risks.

According to the NSC, preventable deaths – also called accidents – are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer.

One American dies from a preventable incident every three minutes.

Each of the four weeks of June focus on a different aspect of safety.

Week 1: Emergency Preparedness

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that businesses have a written Emergency Action Plan. Whether it’s a fire, tornado, active shooter, or any other type of emergency situation, employees should be properly educated and trained on what to do. Evacuation routes and basic First Aid training are great places to start when creating your Emergency Action Plan.

Week 2: Wellness

One of the most common reasons why a worker’s overall wellness declines is a lack of sleep, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Sleep deprivation is linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression, can increase the likelihood of on-the-job injuries, and results in 1.2 million lost work days in the U.S, per NIOSH. 

Week 3: Falls

Fall protection has topped OSHA’s list of most frequently cited violations for years. For fiscal year 2017, the fall protection general requirements standard was violated 6,072 times, almost 2,000 times more than any other standard.

Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in the construction industry, and the highest number of nonfatal fall injuries take place in the health services and retail industries.

Check out our Focus on Fall Protection video series below for some easy to follow advice about preventing falls at your workplace.

Week 4: Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the Number 1 cause of work-related deaths in the United States. A few simple steps can drastically decrease your chances of being killed in a car crash.

  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Don’t drive if you are tired.
  • Focus only on driving. A text or phone call can wait!
  • Prepare for potential hazards along your route, including road construction and inclement weather.

 

National Safety Month is the perfect time to create or upgrade your company’s safety program! Contact our team of experts today at 1-800-204-1729 or use the contact form below.








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OSHA Publishes Rule to Officially Delay Beryllium Compliance Date

As part of a settlement agreement between OSHA and four petitioners last month, the administration has announced a proposed rule to push the compliance date for almost all provisions of the general industry beryllium standard.

Published to the Federal Register on June 1, 2018, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) extended to December 12, 2018, the compliance date for “all processes, operations, or areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing beryllium that fall under the scope of the general industry standard,” according to an OSHA news release.

OSHA stated that the delay will allow the agency to complete further clarifications of the standard and to simplify compliance.

Additionally, OSHA issued a memorandum stating that “ancillary requirements that are affected by this rulemaking will not be enforced until June 25, 2018. Any provisions for which the standard already establishes compliance dates in 2019 (change room and showers) and 2020 (engineering controls) are unaffected by this rulemaking.”

Back on April 24, 2018, OSHA and four petitioners – the National Association of Manufacturers, AirBorn Inc., Materion Brush Inc., and Mead Metals Inc. – signed the agreement to move the compliance date to December 12.

The public can submit comments about this action by clicking here. 

Being Mindful of Mental Health in the Workplace

As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it’s important to note how the mental health of employees can impact a workplace.

According to a study published in World Psychiatry, individuals who suffer from mental illness not only struggle with the disease itself, but also the negative stigma that results from misunderstanding mental illnesses. This can lead to employees covering up the fact that they suffer from a mental illness.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Center for Workplace Mental Health states that one in five adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year, but more than half of those people will go untreated.

So what can a company do to make employees feel safe and ensure they receive the assistance they need?

Numerous mental health awareness groups, including The National Council for Behavioral Health, agree that education is key. Employees and supervisors should be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness. In order to create a “stigma-free workplace,” experts recommend the following actions:

  • Educate employees about mental health disorders signs and symptoms
  • Encourage employees to talk about stress, workload, family commitments and other issues
  • Communicate that mental illnesses are real, common and treatable
  • Discourage stigmatizing language, including labels such as “crazy” or “nuts”
  • Invest in mental health benefits
  • Help employees transition back to work after they take leave
  • Consult with your employee assistance program

The Center for Workplace Mental Health website also features the ICU Program, which was donated by DuPont’s Employee Assistance Program. It is specifically designed to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace and centers on three core concepts:

I: Identify the signs

C: Connect with the person

U: Understand the way forward together

Enrolling in a Mental Health First Aid class is also an option. This eight-hour course will educate attendees on how to assist someone who suffers from mental illness. Students will learn to identify, understand, and properly respond to the signs of a mental health issue.

In addition to our typical First Aid courses, we at SCT also offer Mental Health First Aid classes. If you are interested in having your staff trained, call us at 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the contact form below.








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NIOSH issues new fentanyl guidance for healthcare workers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued new guidance to help protect healthcare workers from exposure to non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, according to Safety and Health Magazine. 

Fentanyl is an opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. NIOSH reports that exposure can result in symptoms that include the “rapid onset of life-threatening respiratory depression.”

Nurses, physicians, therapists and other workers can be exposed to the drug during patient care. The exposure routes that are of greatest concern include inhalation of powders of aerosols, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, or exposure through a break in the skin.

NIOSH offers a few work practices to protect healthcare workers from dangerous fentanyl exposure:

  • Establish open communication between the hospital and EMS workers to help quickly determine the likelihood of fentanyl exposure
  • When first encountering a patient, healthcare personnel should assess the risk for hazards and determine whether the presence of illicit fentanyl is suspected
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or use the bathroom in an area with potential fentanyl exposure
  • Do not touch the eyes, mouth or nose after touching a potentially contaminated surface
  • Wash hands or other exposed skin with soap and water immediately after potential exposure. Do not use alcohol based cleaners, as that could increase absorption through the skin

NIOSH also specifies what training healthcare workers need to receive including education about the potential exposure routes, how to recognize potential opioid exposure, when and how to use Personal Protective Equipment, and when and how to decontaminate a patient.

Additionally, NIOSH outlines the necessary PPE that healthcare workers should have:

  • At least an N100, R100, or P100 disposable filtering face piece respirator
  • Face and eye protection that may include goggles or a faceshield
  • Powder-free nitrile gloves
  • Wrist and arm protection that cover the skin

Need to spruce up your company’s safety and health management plan? Contact the experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the short contact form below.








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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 Cleveland.com 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.








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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!








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