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.





SCT adds two new drug testing partners

In the ongoing effort to better serve our clients, we are proud to announce two new drug testing partners.

Clients can now visit Lakewood Urgent Care (11716 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107) and North Olmsted Urgent Care (25757 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, OH 44070) to submit their samples.

To view our full list of partners and find the location that works best for you, check out our online Collection Site Locator. 

DOL Highlights Dangers of Lead Exposure

As part of a government-wide effort to reduce childhood lead exposure, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta recently addressed lead exposure in the workplace.

Far too many Americans are exposed to lead in their workplace,” said Acosta in an OSHA news release. “Finding solutions to better protect these workers and minimize the amount of lead that is taken home, and potentially exposed to their children, is a priority.”

Workers who are exposed to lead can bring the toxic metal home on their shoes, clothes, skin, hair and hands, which can poison children or other family members. Jobs that commonly have lead exposure include painting, building renovation, bridge work, demolition, metal production, and plumbing.

Lead exposure can harm the brain, nervous system, blood, and kidneys, and some of these effects are permanent. Employers are required to take steps to reduce this take-home lead exposure, according to OSHA:

  • Test for lead levels in both the air of the workplace and the blood of workers.
  • Train workers on lead safety practices.
  • Control lead dust and fumes in the workplace.
  • Provide adequate personal protective equipment.
  • Give workers a place to wash hands, shower, and change clothes. Street clothes must be kept separate from work clothes.

Standards 1910.1025 in general industry and 1926.62 in construction spell out all of the OSHA requirements for combating lead exposure.

Workers can also pursue steps to reduce take-home lead exposure, including frequently washing hands, showering at the end of a shift, leaving contaminated work clothing at the job, and informing your doctor that you work with lead.

Need a deeper understanding of lead exposure in the workplace? Sign up for our Lead Awareness Training Course! Contact us at 1-800-204-1729 or use the contact form below to learn more.



ABCs of Safety: B is for Best Practices

“B is for Best Practices” is the second installment of our ABCs of Safety video series. We’re getting back to basics and delving deep in to the guiding principles of occupational safety and health.

The term “Best Practices” can vary between companies and industries, but there is a core group of OSHA-recognized safety elements that are deemed essential for successful workplace safety programs.

Check out our “B is for Best Practices” video below to discover those critical solutions.

6 Key Best Practices as recognized by OSHA

  1. Management leadership
  2. Worker participation
  3. Hazard ID and assessment
  4. Hazard prevention and control
  5. Education and training
  6. Program evaluation and improvement

Did you miss the first letter in our ABCs of Safety video series? Check it out below!

Do you want to review your best practices with one of SCT’s occupational safety and health experts? Tell us what you want to accomplish in our contact form below, and one of our safety team members will reach out to help get you the best solution!



Ohio BWC to cut premium rates 12 percent

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) recently announced a 12 percent reduction to premium rates for private employers in the state.

Citing a BWC news release, Crain’s Cleveland Business reported that the BWC’s board of directors approved the cut, which will take effect on July 1, 2018. The reduction will save private employers $163.5 million compared with current premium levels.

Several factors allowed for this rate reduction, including slower medical inflation growth, safer workplaces, and fewer claims, BWC administrator and CEO Sarah Morrison said in the release. The BWC added that its 86,290 allowed claims in 2017 was the fewest number of claims since at least 1997.

This new reduction also will not impact the already-available discounts for employers that participate in the BWC’s Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP). Employers can earn a rebate on workers’ compensation premiums by completing various program requirements: a 4 percent discount at the basic level, and a 7 percent discount at the advanced level.

At SCT, our occupational health experts guide dozens of employers through the DFSP process, helping them save thousands of dollars on their premium payments each and every year. Plus,  a DFSP can create a safer and more productive workplace.

For more information on the Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program, watch our video that tells you all you need to know.

Interested in a drug-free program for your workplace? Don’t delay, as this year’s deadline for the BWC program is fast approaching on March 30. Contact us today at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.


Potentially fatal occupational asthma is preventable

Occupational asthma accounted for an estimated 11-21% of the asthma-related deaths in 2015, according to data recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A review of collected data from the CDC found that between 1999-2016, there were 33,307 deaths from asthma in adults aged 15-64 years old. Included in this figure was “an estimated 3,664-6,994 (approximately 204-389 annually) that could be attributable to occupational exposures and were therefore potentially preventable.”

When broken out by industry, the asthma-related mortality was “significantly elected among males in food, beverage, and tobacco products manufacturing, other retail trade, and miscellaneous manufacturing, and among females in social assistance.”

What is Occupational Asthma?

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), “occupational asthma is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while ‘on the job.’”

Symptoms are often worse during the days or nights worked, and improve when affected workers have time off. Symptoms will re-emerge when the affected parties return to work.

Those with a family history may be more likely to develop occupational asthma, particularly to some substances such as flour, animals, and latex; however, those with no family history of asthma or allergies can still develop the disease if exposed to conditions that induce it over time.

Just like other occupational respiratory diseases, like asbestosis from asbestos exposure, smoking greatly increases a worker’s risk for developing occupational asthma.

Causes of Occupational Asthma

Like the CDC’s findings, the AAAAI points out that the rate of occupational asthma varies within industries, but there are some higher-risk categories.

Prolonged exposure to irritants such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide or ammonia, found in the petroleum or chemical industries, can be a cause of occupational asthma. Exposure to these substances in high concentrations may result in wheezing and other asthma symptoms immediately after exposure.

“Veterinarians, fishermen, and animal handlers in laboratories can develop allergic reactions to animal proteins. Healthcare workers can develop asthma from breathing in powdered proteins from latex gloves or from mixing powdered medications,” according to the AAAAI.

Occupational Asthma is Preventable

Respiratory protection is a crucial part of occupational safety and health. Any work that involves exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, irritants, or other respirable substances should have an abatement plan.

Engineering and administrative controls should be explored and implemented before thinking about personal protective equipment. PPE should always be the last part of a respiratory health plan. PPE is not acceptable as the sole means of protection for workers.

The safety experts at SCT can help evaluate facilities for exposure risk, review and update respiratory health written programs, and training workers on proper respiratory health abatement tactics and PPE usage.

For more on worker respiratory health with a focus on silica exposure, check out our video below. If you are in need of any PPE, be sure to visit SCT Supply, our online safety supply store. We offer free shipping on orders over $600!

Flu Shots Still Available at SCT


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has categorized the flu as “widespread” in 49 states (it is listed as “Local Activity” in Hawaii as of January 23, 2018), but there are still a few months left in the flu season.

In addition to the cost of doctor visits and hospitalization, influenza could cost employers an estimated $9 billion in lost productivity, according to outplacement consultant firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

An annual influenza vaccine is still the best way to prevent the flu. At SCT, we offer flu shots for $25 – without the pharmacy wait! Check out our video above to learn the importance of the flu vaccine in preventing the spread of the disease.

Other Preventative Measures

After getting the flu vaccine, their are still numerous other ways to further prevent exposure to the virus. Here are a few highlights from OSHA’s Seasonal Flu online resources.

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. Clean your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your upper sleeve.
  • Throw away tissues into a “no touch” wastebasket.
  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean, such as telephones and computer equipment.
  • Avoid shaking hands or coming in close contact with other people who may be ill.
  • If you are sick, stay home to keep the disease from spreading through your workplace.

Use these tips to help prevent the spread of the flu. To learn more about SCT’s flu shots or to schedule a meeting with our Occupational Health experts, call us at 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the contact form below.


Appeals Court Rejects Silica Rule Objections

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected objections raised about OSHA’s newly enacted silica standard, which means the new silica rule is here to stay and employers need to be compliant.

On Dec. 22, 2017, the three-judge panel rejected all objections that had been raised by various industry stakeholders, according to EHS Today. 

More than 2 million workers are exposed to silica each year in the U.S., putting workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer, COPD, and kidney disease. The new standard became effective in June 2016, with enforcement beginning in September 2017.


At SCT, we offer updated training courses to bring you up to speed with all of the new rules and regulations. Representatives from SCT will be at the World of Concrete 2018 trade show with Diamond Products Limited, an industry leader in diamond drilling and cutting tools and equipment. SCT’s safety and industrial health representatives will be answering questions about silica during Diamond Products drilling and cutting demonstration workshops.

What were the objections to the new silica rule?

Industry groups raised five objections to the rule:

  1. whether limiting workers’ silica exposure to the level set by the new rule reduces a significant risk of worker health impairment
  2. whether the rule is technologically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing and construction industries
  3. whether the rule is economically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing, and construction industries
  4. whether OSHA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in enacting the rule
  5. whether substantial evidence supports two ancillary provisions of the rule—one that allows workers who undergo medical examinations to keep the results confidential from their employers and one that prohibits employers from using dry cleaning methods unless doing so is infeasible. We reject all of Industry’s challenges.

Unions asked for review of two parts of the rule:

  1. the requirement that medical surveillance for construction workers be provided only if the employee has to wear a respirator for 30 days for one employer in a one-year period
  2. the absence of medical removal protections (MRPs)

Medical removal protections often require employers to maintain a worker’s normal earnings, rights and benefits. The court rejected the challenge to the 30-day trigger, but concluded that OSHA did not fully explain the absence of MRPs.

Read the court’s full 60-page opinion by clicking here. 

In its conclusion, the court rejected all of the challenges to the silica rule with three exceptions. The court held that OSHA was “arbitrary and capricious in declining to require MRP for some period” when a medical professional:

  • recommends permanent removal of a worker
  • recommends temporary removal to alleviate a worker’s COPD symptoms
  • recommends temporary removal of a worker pending a specialist’s determination

In a news release, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Co-Executive Director Jessica Martinez supported the court’s decision.

“This is a huge win for millions of workers in construction, foundries, mining, shipbuilding and many other industries. Low-wage workers and those in the informal sector can now be assured of safer working conditions.”

Learn more about what SCT can do to help your business be compliant with OSHA’s new silica rule today! Contact us a 1-800-204-1729.

OSHA’s Electronic Reporting Deadline Looms

The extended deadline for affected employers for OSHA’s electronic reporting system is coming up on Friday, December 15, 2017.

Who needs to electronically report?

Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and business with 20 to 249 employees in specific industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Keep in mind that certain states have OSHA-approved State Plans that have not, as of yet, adopted the requirement to submit electronic OSHA injury and illness reports. Businesses in these states — California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — are not currently required to submit electronic data to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA).

What is the ITA’s purpose?

The ITA’s intent is to improve the overall tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, and provide better recordkeeping management to affected establishments. According to a press release, OSHA is currently reviewing other provisions of the new final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and will published proposed reconsiderations or revisions to portions of its rule in 2018.

Check out our video OSHA’s Electronic Reporting and what it means for your business:

For all your occupational safety and health needs contact the experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or email us using the contact form below!



DOT drug testing to include synthetic opiods

The Federal Department of Transportation has added four semi-synthetic opioids to its drug testing regimen. As of January 1, 2018, affected employees with five federal agencies will be subjected to the expanded DOT drug testing measures.

Those agencies include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. Read more about the specific employees covered under DOT Testing Regulation 49 CFR Part 40 here.

The four semi-synthetics opioids new to the DOT drug testing panel include: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. All are used for moderate to severe pain management or pain relief. Common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.

The final rule was published in the November 13th edition of the Federal Register.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 33,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2015.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said when the final rule was published in November. “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

The occupational health experts at SCT stay current on all updates and expansions when it comes to different regulations from federal, state, and local partners. SCT can meet all your drug testing needs. If you’re located in our home state of Ohio, SCT can help businesses navigate the Ohio BWC application for the Drug Free Safety Program, which can earn companies a 4 or 7 percent rebate on workers’ compensation premiums.

If you’re interested in taking part in the Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program, now’s the time to act! All testing, training and reporting is due by the last business day in March 2018. Watch our DFSP video for more information & contact us using the contact form below to get started on your DFSP today!