Worker deaths decreased slightly in 2017

Total worker deaths decreased in 2017, but fatal falls were at their highest level in decades, according to a new report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, with 887 fatal falls, 2017 represented the highest level in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). This was an increase from the 849 such deaths in 2016 and accounted for 17 percent of all fatal injuries.

There were a total of 5,147 worker deaths in the U.S. in 2017, a slight decrease from the 5,190 in 2016. The fatal injury rate also fell to 3.5 per 100,000 full time equivalent workers (FTE) in 2017, down from 3.6 in 2016.

Although 2017 saw a decrease in worker deaths from 2016, it was still much higher than the number of worker deaths experienced from 2009 to 2015, as seen in the chart below.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

“While today’s report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities, the loss of even one worker is too many,” OSHA Acting Assistant Loren Sweatt said in a news release.  “Through comprehensive enforcement and compliance assistance that includes educating job creators about their responsibilities under the law, and providing robust education opportunities to workers, OSHA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the American workforce.”

A few more highlights from this year’s report:

  • Transportation incidents once again were the most common fatal workplace injury, accounting for 2,077 deaths (40 percent).
  • For the fifth straight year, unintentional drug or alcohol overdoses increased by more than 25 percent, accounting for 272 deaths in 2017.
  • With 33 deaths, crane-related fatalities reached their lowest ever level recorded in the CFOI
  • Confined space deaths increased to 166 in 2017 from 144 in 2016, a 15 percent jump
  • “Caught in running equipment or machinery” fatalities decreased 26 percent, from 103 in 2016 to 76 in 2017
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers had the largest number of fatal workplace injuries (987), while fishers and logging workers had the highest fatal injury rates (99.8 per 100,000 FTE workers)
  • 15 percent of fatally injured workers were age 65 or older, a CFOI high for that demographic
  • 27 states had fewer workplace deaths in 2017 than in 2016, while 21 states and the District of Columbia had an increase; California and Maine did not change.
  • Fatal injuries among grounds maintenance workers decreased slightly from 247 to 244, but it was still the second-highest mark since 2003; 36 of the deaths were due to falls from trees
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

OSHA Proposes Change to Beryllium Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed changes to the beryllium standard for general industry. According to OSHA, the changes are designed to clarify the standard and simply compliance.

The proposed rule would add or change the definitions of six terms, namely:

  • beryllium sensitization
  • beryllium work area
  • chronic beryllium disease
  • CBD diagnostic center
  • confirmed positive
  • and dermal contact with beryllium

The proposed rule will also modify additional sections of the standard including “Methods of Compliance,” “Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment,” “Hygiene Areas and Practices,” “Housekeeping,” “Medical Surveillance,” “Hazard Communication,” and “Recordkeeping.”

It would also remove the existing Appendix A, which lists suggested controls, and replace it with a new Appendix A, Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas.

Back in January 2017, OSHA published a final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds. The rule set new permissible exposure limits to significantly reduce beryllium risk to workers. Other requirements included rules for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

OSHA is enforcing the permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air and the short-term exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air for general industry, construction and shipyards.

This new proposed rule satisfies a settlement agreement with stakeholders that had concerns about some of the provisions in the 2017 beryllium final rule.

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. According to OSHA’s estimates, about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium each year.

Comments, hearing requests, and other information must be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Comments must be submitted by February 11, 2019. The enforcement date for the provisions affected by this proposal is December 12, 2018.

Nonfatal injury & illness rate falls again

The nonfatal injury and illness rate for private-sector workers in the U.S. fell once again in 2017, according to new annual data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Nov. 8, 2018.

The nonfatal injury and illness rate stands at 2.8 cases per 100 full-time workers for 2017, compared to 2.9 in 2016 and 3.0 in 2015. Since 2003, this rate has decreased every year but 2012, according to Safety and Health Magazine.

Per the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, about 2.8 million non fatal injuries and illnesses were reported in 2017,  about 45,800 fewer compared to 2016.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Nearly one-third of the nonfatal injuries – about 882,000 cases – resulted in workers missing days away from work (DAFW). The rate on these injuries fell from 91.7 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2016 to 89.4 in 2017. The median days away from work remained unchanged from 2016 at eight. This is a helpful metric in determining the severity of injuries.

Specifically, DAFW injuries involving overexertion in lifting or lowering rose by 3,250 cases, while struck by injuries decreased by 4,180 cases.

Nursing and residential care facilities had the highest nonfatal injury and illness incidence rate at 10.9 per 100 full-time equivalent workers. The rest of the top five:

  • Motor home manufacturing – 10.3 incidence rate
  • Skiing facilities – 10.2 incidence rate
  • Veterinary services – 9.8 incidence rate
  • Materials recovery facilities – 9.8 incidence rate

In the manufacturing sector, the overall injury rate decreased but the DAFW rate did not change from the previous year. More than 33 percent of of DAFW incidents in manufacturing were due to musculoskeletal disorders. The rate of these injuries fell from 32.9 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2016 to 31.4 cases in 2017.

Sprains, strains and tears were the leading type of injury in manufacturing.

Only two industry sectors – manufacturing as well as finance and insurance – saw a “statistically significant” change in overall injury rates.

The BLS is expected to release data covering fatal workplace injuries in December of this year.

OSHA Launches Site-Specific Targeting Using Electronic Data

Using electronically submitted employer data from 2016, OSHA has launched the Site-Specific Targeting 2016 Program that will target high-injury rate businesses for inspections.

Before 2014, Site-Specific Targeting programs used data collected from the OSHA Data Initiative.

Under the program, OSHA will perform inspections of employers who it believes should have electronically submitted 300A injury and illness data, but did not. For 2016, employers who met certain criteria had to submit the data through an online portal by Dec. 15, 2017. For 2017, the deadline was July 1, 2018.

From now on, businesses with 250 or more employees that must currently keep OSHA injury and illness records, along with businesses in certain -high-risk industries with 20-249 employers, must submit this data each year by March 2.

According to OSHA’s official notice, which was released on October 16, 2018, the program “helps OSHA achieve its goal of ensuring that employers provide safe and healthful workplaces by directing enforcement resources to those workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses.”

The notice also lays out how OSHA will choose the organizations that are inspected.

  • High Rate Establishments
    • Businesses that have higher Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) rate
  • Low Rate Establishments
    • To verify data accuracy, a random sample of low DART rate establishments will be included
  • Non-responders
    • A random sample of companies that did not submit required data will also be inspected, which is intended to “discourage employers from not reporting injury and illness information in order to avoid an inspection”

The notice will remain in effect for one year from the release date unless replaced by another notice.

OSHA, NIOSH Budgets Officially Increased

OSHA will enjoy a $5 million budget increase next year after legislators and President Donald Trump recently approved an appropriations bill.

OSHA will receive about $557.8 million in fiscal year 2019, according to Safety and Health Magazine. Last year, the administration received about $552.8 million.

OSHA-Approved State Plans will receive a maximum of $102.4 million, an increase of $1.5 million. State Plans are OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by individual states rather than federal OSHA. They must be at least as effective as the federal OSHA program. More than 20 states or territories operate State Plans.

OSHA’s enforcement budget increased by $1 million to $209 million total, and Voluntary Protection Programs will receive at least $3.5 million. Overall, $73.5 million was set aside for federal compliance assistance, which marks a $3.5 million increase.

The Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, which has almost been eliminated in recent years, will receive $10.5 million in FY2019.

NIOSH – the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – saw its budget increase $1.1 million to $336.3 million.

NIOSH will receive $336.3 million – a $1.1 million increase from FY 2018

In addition to the Department of Labor, the appropriations bill also included funding approval for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Why Choose a Career as a Safety and Health Professional?

Every worker in the world deserves to work in a safe environment and return home unharmed at the end of every work day. To make that happen, qualified safety and health professionals are necessary to guide the way.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,190 workers were killed on the job in 2016. That’s an average of more than 14 deaths each and every day.

A career as a safety and health professional has plenty of perks.

First and foremost, safety and health professionals experience satisfaction in their work, knowing they are saving lives each and every day. The safety industry is also a growing field that offers several paths to success and personal financial stability.

Plus, the variety in the work is unrivaled. Safety professionals can travel across the globe and work at dozens of different types of work sites, all in the name of saving lives.

What does a Safety and Health Professional do?

A safety and health pro’s main goal is to ensure that all staff and co-workers work safely and have all the knowledge to do so. Depending on the company or organization, the specific duties and roles of the position can vary widely.

At SCT, our team of Occupational Safety and Health Technicians are often a client’s first line of defense in identifying and abating workplace safety hazards. Our technicians often act as the safety lead on hazardous job sites and conduct site audits, weekly toolbox talks, employee drug testing, environmental monitoring, employee training, and more.

Am I Qualified?

As with the job duties discussed above, qualifications to work in the health and safety field are also quite varied. Many colleges and universities offer two-year, four-year, or post-graduate degrees in the occupational health and safety field.

There are also about 300 certification programs offered in the United States centered on safety, health, environment and ergonomics, according to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

Even if you have a degree, with so many different types of businesses needing the expertise of a health and safety professional there’s always something new to learn. Plus, industry regulations are always changing, which makes a career in health and safety a great choice for those who love to learn.

At SCT, we’re always looking for qualified safety professionals and recent graduates. Check out our career page by clicking here and send your resume our way!

National Protect Your Hearing Month is October 2018

Can you hear me now? Hopefully you can, because October is National Protect Your Hearing Month.

But if you’re one of the 22 million workers exposed annually to hazardous noise levels at work, it might be a struggle. According to the Centers for Disease Control, occupational hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in the U.S.

On top of the human toll of injured workers, occupational hearing loss also costs employers millions of dollars every year. According to OSHA, U.S. businesses pay out about $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. Another estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss injuries.

How loud is too loud?

If noise levels reach 85 decibels, it can damage your hearing after repeated exposure of longer than eight hours. What is 85 decibels? It’s loud enough that you must raise your voice to be heard by someone an arm’s length away. Many sounds reach this level, including lawn mowers, vacuums, or using earbuds with the volume level at about 70 percent.

Noise at 95 decibels (when you have to shout to be heard at arm’s length) can be a risk to your hearing in less than an hour.  Bulldozers, sirens, chain saws, and large sporting events are louder than 95 decibels.

Damaged hearing can make it difficult or impossible to hear high-pitch frequencies, and also make it hard to communicate with others. Researchers are also exploring if loud noise at work can have additional health effects, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Source: CDC

How to Protect Workers

Most people have seen or used ear plugs and ear muffs, but those are not the only – or most effective – ways to protect the hearing of workers.

Engineering controls involve modifying or replacing equipment. Examples include:

  • using low-noise tools and machinery
  • maintaining and lubricating machinery and equipment
  • placing a barrier like a curtain or a sound wall between the noise source and the employee
  • enclosing or isolating the noise source

Administrative controls, which are changes in the workplace or schedule that reduce worker exposure to noise, can also be highly effective. These include:

  • operating noisy machines when fewer workers are present
  • limiting the amount of time a worker is exposed to the hazard
  • providing a quiet rest area for workers to remove themselves from the noise
  • move employees farther from the noise source; every doubling of distance between the worker and the noise source decreases the exposure by six decibels

National Protect Your Hearing Month is the perfect time to ensure your hearing conservation program is all it can be. Contact the OSHA Workplace Safety Experts at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.








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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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