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

Occupational skin disorders: How to protect workers

Much of the focus of mitigating harmful effects of chemicals on workers is on inhalation, but according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) more than 13 million U.S. workers are exposed to occupational skin disorders from skin exposure to chemicals.

That number, 13 million, makes occupational skin disorders the second most common type of occupational illness, according to NIOSH. Of those disorders, about 90 to 95 percent are classified as contact dermatitis, with the hand being the most commonly affected area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates annual costs for contact dermatitis exceeds $1 billion.

Occupational Skin Disorders identified by the CDC:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis (skin damage and inflammation resulting from contact with hazardous agent)
  • Allergic contact dermatitis (immunological reaction involving skin inflammation with repeated exposure; worker becomes sensitized to an allergen in the hazardous agent)
  • Skin cancers
  • Skin infections
  • Skin injuries, and
  • Other miscellaneous skin diseases.

There are multiple potential causes for Occupational Skin Disorders, including chemical agents, mechanical trauma, physical agents, and biological agents. Chemical agents are the main cause of such disorders, and are divided into two types: primary irritants and sensitizers. As the names would suggest, primary irritants “act directly on the skin through chemical reactions,” and sensitizers “may not cause immediate skin reactions, but repeated exposure can result in allergic reactions,” according to the CDC.

Though all workers have the possibility for exposure to any of these potential causes, the CDC highlights the following industries: food service, cosmetology, health care, construction, agriculture, painting, mechanics, and printing/lithography.

How to Protect Against Occupational Skin Disorders

The first part in solving a problem is identifying all present hazards and exposures through a thorough gap analysis of all facilities. SCT’s safety experts consistently recommend this tool to clients as a way to recognize strengths and weaknesses and provide a way forward to ensure compliance with all regulations and safety for all workers.

Post-analysis, SCT uses the hierarchy of controls, which orders the processes that best protects workers from most effective to least effective. Solutions to most workplace hazards, including addressing Occupational Skin Disorders, involves the use of one or more controls in the hierarchy pyramid.

To schedule a gap analysis with one of SCT’s safety experts, including leading former OSHA officials, contact us via our website or by phone, 1-800-204-1729.

Hearing Loss & How to Reduce Your Risk

Hearing loss isn’t just reserved for Grandma and Grandpa anymore! One in five adults who said they had no on the job exposure to noise showed indicators of hearing loss, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, the February 2017 CDC Vital Signs, indicated that much of the hearing damage could be linked to “loud sounds encountered during everyday activities at home and in the community.”

“40 million Americans show some hearing damage from loud noise, with nearly 21 million reporting no exposure to loud noise at work,” said CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat in a CDC press release. “This can be distressing for people affected and their loved ones. We hope this report will help raise awareness of this problem and help clinicians reduce their patients’ risk for early hearing loss.”

According to the press release, the hearing loss report showed:

  • About 53 percent of adults with noise-induced hearing damage reported no job exposure to loud sounds. This damage—shown by a distinctive drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds—appeared as early as age 20.
  • Almost one in four adults ages 20 to 69 who reported good to excellent hearing already have some hearing loss.
  • Almost 1 in 5 adults who reported no job exposure to noise showed hearing damage indicative of noise exposure.
  • The presence of hearing loss increased with age, from about 1 in 5 (19%) among young adults ages 20-29 to more than 1 in 4 (27%) among adults ages 50-59.
  • Hearing loss is more common among men and people over the age of 40 years.

If your workplace exposes you to loud noises, there are some precautions you can take to prevent hearing damage:

  • Avoid noisy places whenever possible.
  • Use earplugs, protective ear muffs, or noise-canceling headphones when they are around loud noises.
  • Keep the volume down when watching television, listening to music, and using earbuds or headphones.
  • Ask their doctor for a hearing checkup.

SCT offers hearing testing services through our Occupational Health Division. We can perform hearing exams at our Middleburg Heights, Ohio, office, or we can come to you with our mobile medical van. To schedule your company’s hearing exams today, contact us through our website or by phone at 1-800-204-1729.

Health Alert: Recognizing Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome

Have you heard of Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome? It’s a rare condition, but those in the construction trades have or will probably run across it in their careers at some point. In April, we focused on safety in the construction industry and what steps workers can take to protect themselves on the job. Check out our Construction Connection video playlist on YouTube and subscribe to SCT’s YouTube Channel for more safety videos.

The Montreal-based Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (Robert-Sauvé Research Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) recently released an informational pamphlet about Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome, a disease that is caused by repetitive trauma to the hand.

What is Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome (HHS)?

HHS is an injury to the ulnar artery that reduces blood supply to the fingers, especially impacting the third, fourth, and fifth digits (the middle, ring, and pinky fingers). Considered a traumatic injury, HHS can occur when workers “repetitively use the heel of their hand as a hammer to pound and flatten or to press or twist objects,” according to the IRRST publication.

The ulnar artery delivers oxygenated blood to the hand. Symptoms of HHS include:

  • white or blue, stiff and painful fingers
  • hypersensitivity to cold
  • decrease in muscle strength in the hand
  • impression of a palpable mass in the palm
  • pins and needles feeling or numbness in the fingers

High Risk Individuals/Careers

IRRST indicated that the following professionals/industries are at the highest risk for developing HHS:

  • factory workers
  • machinists
  • metal workers
  • construction workers, miners
  • mechanics
  • forestry workers
  • gardeners
  • landscapers
  • farmers
  • students training in any of the above fields

Common tools used by/in the high risk individuals/careers include “electrical or pneumatic vibrating tools, brush cutters/trimmers, milling machines, grinding machines, jackhammers and saws, hammers, wrenches, pliers, scissors, and presses of every kind.” Continual use and/or overuse of these tools can also cause a potential for HHS.

Prevention is Key!

Though there is no cure for HHS, the IRRST pamphlet recommends the following tips to help prevent the syndrome:

  1. use work methods that avert acute or repetitive trauma
  2. switch tasks regularly/interval work, or rest your hands during the work day
  3. use properly maintained tools meant for the task at hand
  4. don’t use the palm of your hand as a hammer to strike a tool or object
  5. don’t use excessive force when gripping tools like wrenches, scissors, etc.

Sleep Awareness Week and Job Performance

As our lives get busier and busier, filled with ever-multiplying computer and cell phone screens, sleep is often one of the first things that gets cut to make room for more work.

Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on overall health as well as job performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which has named April 23-29 as Sleep Awareness Week.

The body’s natural rhythm is for day time activity and night time sleep, so it’s no surprise that those who work at night or have ever-changing shift times most often suffer from sleep deprivation or disruption. This can cause drowsiness and fatigue, and is also associated with immune system dysfunction, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems, according to NIOSH.

Drowsy driving is one of the most dangerous and easily observable effects of sleep deprivation. Much like alcohol, lack of sleep can negatively affect decision making, reaction time, and attention span, according to the CDC.

But even those who work a typical “9 to 5” job can suffer from a lack of sleep. A NIOSH study showed that 37.6 percent of respondents did not get at least 7 hours of sleep, which represented about 54.1 million workers. This lack of sleep causes an estimated $411 billion cost to the U.S. economy and about 1.2 million lost work days each year.

Some major companies have even created “nap rooms” at work to help employees be as productive as possible.

If your business isn’t yet ready to take the plunge in letting employees nap on the job, here are some healthy sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation that you can use to encourage your workers during Sleep Awareness Week.

  • Stick to the same sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Practice a bedtime ritual away from bright lights that will help signal your body to get ready to sleep
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps especially in the afternoon
  • Exercise daily
  • Make sure your room is conducive to sleep: eliminate as much noise and sound as possible
  • Have a comfortable, supportive mattress. Most good mattresses last about 9-10 years
  • Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning
  • Try not to use electronic devices close to bed time

If your company’s employee safety plan needs a refresh, contact the experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or by sending us a message here on our website. 

SCT Chicago Office welcomes Tom Bielema

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — SCT’s new Chicago Office is proud to welcome former Peoria, Illinois, OSHA Area Director Tom Bielema to the SCT team. As SCT Regional Director, Mr. Bielema will assist in development and implementation of comprehensive safety and health solutions to a wide variety of clientele.

Tom Bielema, SCT Regional Director

Mr. Bielema began his career in occupational safety and health in 1994 as a student intern with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). After graduating from Purdue University, he joined OSHA full time in the Peoria Area Office in Peoria, Illinois where he spent the next 12 years as a Compliance Safety and Health Officer.

SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock said the hiring is a great opportunity for both Mr. Bielema and SCT.

“I’ve known Tom for many years. He’s a very down-to-earth and smart guy, who has the ability to cut through tough problems and simplify complex issues,” Mr. Medlock said. “Tom will be able to serve our clients well and obtain favorable resolutions to safety questions and conundrums.”

Mr. Medlock worked with Mr. Bielema when the former served as Director of the Cleveland Area OSHA Office.

During his tenure at OSHA, Mr. Bielema monitored safety in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, service, transportation, alternative energy, agriculture, grain handling, meat packing, health care, and numerous types of light, commercial, and heavy construction.

Mr. Bielema left government service in 2006 to serve as safety and heath manager for a large logistics and parts distribution center. This move to the private sector gave him a new skill set for understanding how to manage and direct safety in a variety of scenarios, including managing a multi-shift team, performing weekly training classes for new hires, medical/injury management, and motivating workers to embrace safety.

Mr. Bielema joins VP of Safety Engineering Services Nick Walters at SCT’s new Chicago office, though Mr. Bielema will be primarily operating out of a satellite office in the Peoria area. This expansion into Illinois is significant as SCT expands our safety footprint across the Midwest and provides access to our premier occupational safety and health solutions.

In 2007 Mr. Bielema returned to OSHA to serve as Assistant Area Director in the Peoria Office. He became Area Director of the Peoria OSHA Office in 2010 and served in that position until joining SCT in late February 2017. During his management service at OSHA, Mr. Bielema lead a team of highly skilled professionals in the 81 counties of Central and Southern Illinois.

Using his OSHA expertise, Mr. Bielema also joins Mr. Medlock and Mr. Walters on staff for expert witness services. With our staff’s extensive OSHA and safety background, SCT is uniquely poised to offer expert witness services to clients seeking assistance with OSHA compliance and inspections.

Beryllium Rule Delayed Again

After being pushed back a few weeks ago, the effective date for a new beryllium rule may be delayed again following a call for further review.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a “proposed delay” of the Occupational Exposure to Beryllium rule on March 1. The rule’s effective date would be pushed back from March 21, 2017, to May 20, 2017.

The delay will allow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to comply with a presidential directive “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.” OSHA, while reviewing the beryllium rule, decided it needed more time to fully review the regulation, so it has proposed this additional delay.

The delay of the effective date will also not affect the compliance dates of the beryllium rule, according to OSHA. The public can submit comments about the proposed delay at www.regulations.gov or to the OSHA Docket Office (Docket No. OSHA-H005C-2006-0870).

According to OSHA, beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used in many industries, including aerospace, medical, electronics, defense, and telecommunications. But beryllium is highly toxic, and workers who inhale it are at a higher risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer.

The new beryllium rule, which has standards for construction, general industry, and shipyards, will decrease the permissible exposure limit of beryllium to an average of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air over 8 hours. A new short-term exposure limit was established at 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a 15-minute sampling period.

Once the new regulations are fully implemented, OSHA estimates  that 94 lives will be saved each year and 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease will be prevented. The rule will also provide an estimated $560.9 million in annual net benefits. About 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium on the job.

Watch our blog and social media channels to stay updated on any new developments for the beryllium rule.

Image Source

OSHA Delays Beryllium Rule to Comply with Presidential Directive

In order to comply with a directive from President Donald Trump’s administration, the effective date for a new beryllium rule has been delayed to March 21, 2017.

The 11 day delay stems from the presidential directive called “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” which is designed to allow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials more time to review the beryllium regulation. The new rule was published on January 9, 2017.

According to OSHA, beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used in many industries, including aerospace, medical, electronics, defense, and telecommunications. But beryllium is highly toxic, and workers who inhale it are at a higher risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer.

The new beryllium rule, which has standards for construction, general industry, and shipyards, will decrease the permissible exposure limit of beryllium to an average of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air over 8 hours. A new short-term exposure limit was established at 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a 15-minute sampling period.

Once the new regulations are fully implemented, OSHA estimates  that 94 lives will be saved each year and 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease will be prevented. The rule will also provide an estimated $560.9 million in annual net benefits. About 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium on the job.

Image source 

 

Don’t forget the 2017 Drug Free Safety Program deadline!

The end of January is fast approaching, and the 2017 Drug Free Safety Program deadline for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be here before you know it! Private employers have until March 31 to complete all drug testing and training of both workers and supervisors.

SCT is here to help! Check out our video to see how SCT helps your company install a 2017 Drug Free Safety Program that benefits the safety of your workers and your company’s bottom line.

We have upcoming open enrollment Drug Free Workplace training classes for workers and supervisors on Friday, January 27, and Friday, February 24! The one-hour worker training is $20, and the two-hour supervisor training is $40. View our full slate of open enrollment training courses here.

Can’t make your schedule work with our open enrollment classes? We’ll happily come to you with our state of the art mobile testing/training unit.

Schedule a training today by giving us a call at 1-800-204-1729.