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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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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