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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Beryllium OSHA compliance date pushed yet again

The OSHA compliance date for the agency’s general industry beryllium standard has been pushed until December 12, 2018, as a provision of a settlement agreement between OSHA and groups with concerns about certain ancillary provisions in the final rule.

OSHA and the four petitioners — the National Association of Manufacturers, AirBorn Inc., Materion Brush Inc., and Mead Metals Inc. — signed the agreement on April 24, 2018, according to a report from Safety & Health Magazine.

On May 4, 2018, OSHA announced a direct final rule that revised a few parts of the rule. Specifically, it clarified the definitions of Beryllium Work Area, emergency, dermal contact, and beryllium contamination, as well as provisions for disposal and recycling, according to an OSHA news release. 

The new OSHA compliance date of December 12, 2018, is in place for all but two provisions in the rule: change rooms/showers and engineering controls. Those provisions have compliance dates of March 11, 2019, and March 10, 2020, respectively.

OSHA’s beryllium final rule was first published on January 9, 2017, and went into effect May 20, 2017. Enforcement of the standards was most recently slated to begin on March 12, 2018, after being pushed back from March 2018.

According to OSHA’s estimates, about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium. The updated regulations included in the final rule is projected to save 90 people from beryllium-related disease, and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year.

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.

Senators Introduce Legislation to Address Occupational Chemical Risks

Two U.S. senators have introduced legislation that aims to improve the chemical disclosures in pesticides and personal care products.

U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced S.2722, also called the Environmental Justice Right to Know Act.

A major part of the bill seeks to improve conditions for salon workers. The law would require that the Department of Labor and OSHA create safety data sheets for cosmetics often used in hair and nail salons, according to insideoshaonline.com. 

These safety data sheets would be translated into additional languages spoken by many industry workers including Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and Nepali.

Additionally, NIOSH would need to research ventilation improvements to create better air quality for these workers.

Farm workers would also be impacted, as OSHA and the EPA would be tasked with researching the potential harmful effects of pesticides.

Moreover, OSHA would develop online training materials aimed at salon employees about the specific hazards they face, as well as make the topic a target for the Susan Harwood Training Grant program.

“Workers at nail salons, hair salons, and other industries that handle harmful chemicals and pesticides have the right to be informed about the products they are exposed to in order to ensure the health and safety of their communities,” said Senator Harris in a news release. “Everyone deserves the ability to breathe clean air, drink clean water and know what’s in the products that are around them every day.”

Study finds link between noise exposure and high blood pressure, cholesterol

A recent study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that workers subject to excessive noise exposure  have an increased risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

According to Safety and Health Magazine, researchers at NIOSH reviewed data from more than 20,000 workers using the 2014 National Health Interview Survey and found a link between noise exposure at work and elevated levels of hypertension and cholesterol.

In the study, 25 percent of workers had a history of noise exposure on the job. Loud noise impacts about 22 million workers in the United States. Furthermore, the study found that occupational noise contributed to 58 percent of hearing damage cases, 14 percent of hypertension cases, and nine percent of elevated cholesterol cases.

Additionally, jobs that most often had occupational noise exposure were production at 55 percent, construction and extraction at 54 percent, and installation, maintenance and repair at 54 percent.

“If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than 5 million cases of hearing difficulty among noise-exposed workers could potentially be prevented,” said study co-author Liz Masterson, Ph.D.

Below, view our quick and informative video to learn some ways to easily protect the hearing of everyone in your workplace.

And while you’re here, be sure to visit SCT Supply. At our safety supply store, you can find thousands of products from dozens of the top brands in the safety industry, including various types of hearing protection equipment.

SCT offers 6-Part Medical Evaluation

With the expansion of our Occupational Health Department’s services to include blood draws, SCT is excited to announce that we are providing a 6-part medical evaluation that is specifically designed for workers exposed to hazards within the industrial painting industry.

The 6-part service, which we formally call the 6-Part Painter’s Medical Evaluation, provides the comprehensive medical testing for workers who are expected to be exposed to hazards involved on industrial painting job sites. The tests included in the medical evaluation provide the OSHA-required baseline for workers and employers to guard against any elevated exposure on a job site.

Features of SCT’s 6-part medical evaluation include:

  1. Respiratory Medical Clearance Questionnaire and Review
  2. Spirometry (Pulmonary Function Test)
  3. Audiogram Evaluation & Snellen Vision Test
  4. Lead Level & Zinc Protoporphyrin (ZPP) Blood Draws
  5. Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential Blood Draw
  6. Urine Dip Test

The cost for the evaluation is $195 per person.

Let SCT come to you!

SCT has a full suite of mobile occupational health services. Using our state of the art mobile testing unit, we can arrive on your job site, perform all necessary testing, and fit into your schedule.

Contact us today using the contact form below, or talk to Cost Reduction Specialist Terri Cantrell directly at TCantrell@sct.us.com or 440-449-6000.








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SCT now offers blood draw services at Cleveland location

At SCT, we continually strive to provide the best services to our clients, and that often involves expanding our knowledge and expertise. To that end, we now offer full blood draw services at our Cleveland-area location at 6993 Pearl Road, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130.

Under OSHA standards, many workers must undergo medical surveillance testing, which often involves blood draws. These tests serve many purposes, but in the occupational health world they are most commonly used for blood lead levels of workers who are exposed to inorganic lead.

Overexposure to lead is associated with impaired kidney function, high blood pressure, and cognitive dysfunction later in life. It can also cause serious birth defects.

According to OSHA, about 804,000 general industry workers and 830,000 construction workers are potentially exposed to lead. Exposure often occurs as a result of the production, maintenance or recycling of lead-containing products, and in the renovation or demolition of structures that feature lead-based paint.

Need to have the lead blood levels of your employees tested? Contact the experts at SCT by calling 1-800-204-1729 or by filling out the contact form below.








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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.








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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.








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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!








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