Hidden Economics of Drugs in the Workplace (Infographic)

Though the health effects of drugs are devastating, the economic impact of drugs can also prove harmful.

Setting aside the emotional and physical tolls that drugs have on a user, the abuse of drugs–both legal and illicit–have serious financial repercussions in business. Costs associated with drugs–usually related to crime, loss of productivity, absenteeism, and health care–account for about $700 billion annually, according to results from the National Survey on Drug Use & Health.

We’ve created an infographic that highlights the overall costs of substance abuse in the workplace, breaking it down into costs associated with alcohol ($224 billion/year), tobacco ($295 billion/year), and illicit drugs ($193 billion/year).

Additionally, the infographic depicts the industries that see the highest rates of substance use and abuse, including general construction, mining, general manufacturing, transportation and warehouses, and hospitality and food service.

Check out the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance website for more information and statistics regarding the impact of drugs in the workplace.

To talk to an Occupational Safety and Health expert about crafting a Drug Free Program or Policy for your workplace, contact SCT at 1-800-204-1729, or contact us via the electronic form below.








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Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program Offers Premium Rebates

If your company is located in Ohio, the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has a program that could both save you money and help you decrease workplace accidents.

Watch our video above to learn all you need to know about the Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program, which offers a four to seven percent discount on workers’ compensation premiums.

At SCT, we can guide you through all the requirements, deadlines, and paperwork to make the process as easy as possible. Our Occupational Health experts, led by SCT President Gail Grueser, guide dozens of companies through the program each year and teach you and your employees the skills to keep your DFSP running smoothly for years to come.

Don’t hesitate: the March 30th deadline for private employers will be here before you know it. Contact SCT today online or give us a call at 440-449-6000.

OSHA construction silica enforcement is SATURDAY!

Heads up construction companies, OSHA’s silica enforcement starts on Saturday, September 23, 2017!

SCT’s staff of occupational safety and health experts has the training and skills to help your company transition into this new standard.

During his time working for OSHA, Mr. Bielema helped develop the new silica standard. Mr. Bielema’s most recent position with OSHA was as Area Director for the Peoria, IL, office. The new rule went into effect in June 2016, but the enforcement date was delayed to allow for companies to align their programs and policies with the new standard and conduct necessary updated training.

Mr. Bielema has developed a brand new training course for SCT that will bring you and your employees up to speed on the new regulations. Watch our conversation with Mr. Bielema to find out more details about who is impacted by the new rule, what you need to do to become OSHA compliant, and how to best protect your employees.

Need to update your silica training? Call the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729, or contact us through our online contact page!

SCT hires EHS executive to grow domestic, international presence

Middleburg Heights, Ohio – After expanding its Midwest presence with a Chicago office earlier this year, Safety Controls Technology, Inc. (SCT) is branching out to the East Coast.

SCT is proud to welcome James Joyce as Senior Vice President of Global EHS Services. He will be based out of Boston, Massachusetts, but will be enhancing SCT’s services both domestically and internationally. Mr. Joyce will add his unique and dynamic skill set to SCT’s already strong leadership team to assist in business planning, training and developing the skills of SCT employees.

“Jim adds a global, corporate perspective to our company that we really need with our business expansions,” said Rob Medlock, SCT Senior Vice President of General Industry. “We are all looking forward to benefitting from his knowledge and ability to interact with business at any level.”

Mr. Joyce brings decades of occupational and environmental health experience to the team at SCT, including years leading Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) teams for multi-billion dollar businesses.

“I view this as a new, different, and exciting challenge,” Mr. Joyce said. “I’m really passionate about workplace safety and environmental compliance. I’m here to help SCT and our customers in any way I can.”

Most recently, Mr. Joyce served as the Vice President of Global Environment, Health and Safety for Owens-Illinois Global, a $7.5 billion enterprise and a Fortune 500 Company. In that role, Mr. Joyce developed the global EHS leadership team that covered 27,000 employees at 79 factories in 24 countries. His business acumen and leadership led to a reduction of all major measurable safety indicators.

“Jim brings a wealth of international safety and health experience to the table and I look forward to seeing the new opportunities that it will create for our company,” said SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services Nick Walters.

Mr. Joyce grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, surrounded by the steel and manufacturing industries that define the region. Manufacturing and industry have been in his blood for generations—his grandfathers worked in the steel and railroad industries and his father worked at General Motors.

From 1976 to 1986, Mr. Joyce worked his way up the ranks at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, eventually becoming the general foreman of operations. Mr. Joyce then worked at Bayer Corp. for more than two decades starting in 1986, beginning in technical sales, product management, and mergers and acquisitions.

His transition to EHS began in 1993, when a fire and explosion at one of the company’s newly acquired plants in Boston injured several fire fighters. Following the incident, Mr. Joyce was promoted to lead the plant’s renewed focus on EHS.

“I discovered I really liked the work,” Mr. Joyce said. “It was almost as if EHS found me.”

He developed and implemented a new safety response system that involved employees at all levels. His efforts and safety measures worked. Injuries and other safety-related recordables decreased, and workers at the plant enjoyed a safer and healthier workplace.

“This was an opportunity to fix something that was broken,” Mr. Joyce said.

The system was such a success that he was selected to be Bayer’s Global Director of EHS, and led the new safety response system’s implementation at nine more factories in the U.S., England, Germany and China, where employee health and safety also greatly increased.

In 2012, Mr. Joyce worked independently as an EHS consultant for Norit Americas, Inc. and Owens-Illinois, before joining O-I full time.

SCT is a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) delivering comprehensive occupational safety and health solutions to both the public and private sectors. SCT’s mission is to provide clients with reliable and responsible services that will save costs and create efficiencies without compromising environmental, occupational, and engineering quality.

For all occupational safety & health needs, contact the experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729.

Healthcare Workers at High Risk for Sprains and Strains

Today we’re finishing up our Safety Hurdles in Healthcare video series with a look at one of the most common workplace injuries: sprains and strains.

Handling and moving patients is by far the biggest cause of musculoskeletal disorders in the healthcare field. Back injuries alone cost the healthcare industry about $20 billion each year. Take a look at our new video below for some great ways to avoid these costly injuries.

Remember, you can keep up with our videos by following us on our various social media pages: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Twitter.

If you’re ready to dive in and get the best workplace safety experts on your team, contact us today online or give us a call at 1-800-204-1729.

 

SCT gains IDEM approval for Asbestos Training

SCT now adds a new endorsement under its belt: approval for asbestos training by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Classes approved include the initial and refresher Asbestos Awareness Training courses for both asbestos workers and asbestos supervisors.

IDEM’s asbestos program is accredited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is something Ohio’s program does not have. The Ohio Department of Health does offer reciprocity for training programs approved by a USEPA accredited state. SCT is in the process of working on and anticipates gaining Ohio approval in the coming weeks.

Subsequently, SCT will work on obtaining reciprocity recognition or additional approval in states where it conducts regular business, including, but not limited to: California, Illinois, Texas, New York, and New Jersey.

Why do workers need Asbestos Awareness Training?

Workers who will be potentially exposed to asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are required to have training on handling, removing, and disposing of said materials. Workers must also receive training on all necessary personal protective equipment designed to protect them while working with ACM.

As we profiled back in October, which is “Healthy Lung Month,” exposure to asbestos is one of the two most common causes of lung problems amongst American workers. Asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and other severe and chronic respiratory ailments. Symptoms and diseases caused by asbestos exposure may take many years to develop after exposure.

For all your occupational safety and health needs, contact the experts at SCT at 800-204-1729 or through our website contact form.

OSHA releases new Confined Space fact sheet

A confined space is defined in OSHA’s construction standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA as meeting the following criteria:

  • The space is large enough for a worker to enter it
  • The space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit
  • The space is not designed for continuous occupancy

Working with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), OSHA has released a new Confined Space FactSheet to answer some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and “clarify some of the standard’s provisions and their application to residential construction work,” according to the document.

One of the major distinctions explained in the new publication is the difference of a confined space and a permit-required confined space. Before beginning a residential homebuilding project, all involved employers “must ensure that a competent person identifies all confined spaces in which one or more employees it directs may work, and identifies each space that is a permit-required confined space.”

Permit-required confined spaces are those that can be immediately dangerous to workers’ lives, and possess the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant
  • Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard

In the “Confined Spaces in Residential Construction” publication, OSHA and NAHB agree that the vast majority of the confined space standard’s requirements “only apply to permit-required confined spaces, and attics, basements, and crawl spaces in a residential home–three common spaces–will not typically trigger these requirements.”

But “vast majority” does not mean “all,” which is why it is important that employers working on residential homebuilding projects understand the standard’s definition, scope, and application so as best to comply with federal regulations and ensure worker safety.

The safety experts at SCT have decades of experience working for OSHA, national utility providers, glass manufacturers, and other industries that frequently encounter the potential for confined spaces. SCT Director of Construction Services Dennis Hobart has more than two decades of safety experience training thousands of employees on trenching and excavation and confined space hazards.

Mr. Hobart is also the principle trainer on SCT’s mobile fall protection and confined space training simulator, a 32-foot vehicle outfitted with all the necessary equipment and materials needed to conduct beneficial hands-on, practical training. Contact Mr. Hobart today by calling SCT at 1-800-204-1729 to discuss scheduling an updated training! Watch the video below for a look inside of our simulator.

OSHA requests comment on Voluntary Protection Programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is calling for public input and suggestions in order to strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

An initiative designed to encourage private industry and federal agencies to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, VPPs are a collaborative effort between management, labor and OSHA that commits to successful implementation of a comprehensive safety and health management system.

“As the Regional Administrator for OSHA’s Region V, I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of folks from VPP sites, both management and workers,” said Nick Walters, SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services. “Every person that I spoke with commented about how VPP not only took their safety and health management systems to the next level, but they also emphasized the positive impact the process had on communication at their facilities which led to improved production, quality, and overall team morale.”

VPP sites have injury and illness rates that are, on average, significantly below their industry averages, Walters added.

Factors used to determine VPP qualification include:

  • management commitment and employee involvement
  • worksite analysis
  • hazard prevention and control
  • training

“These are all reasons that support the fact that implementing effective safety and health management systems and pursuing VPP makes good business sense,” Walters said. “In the 25 years that I worked for OSHA, by far, the best safety and health management systems that I saw being utilized were at VPP Star sites.”

SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock agreed with Walters’ assessment of VPPs adding, “VPPs are the pinnacle of voluntary compliance and have a positive impact on entire industries through mentorship and peer associations.”

Medlock, who served as the Area Director for the Cleveland Area OSHA Office for 20 years, offered one critique for OSHA’s VPPs.

“One area that OSHA needs to consider is the resource strain which VPP evaluations and monitoring place on the OSHA Area Offices conducting the VPP process,” he said. “VPP sites must be continually monitored and field assessments take a toll on the office resources.”

Given pending and potential budget cuts, Medlock said the agency should develop innovative ways to use competent outside consultants in a way that would ensure the integrity of the VPP system, and relieve stress on current staffing levels.

“While the SGE [special government employee] system is a needed supplement, there are never enough SGEs to fill the gaps and no incentive for SGEs to participate,” Medlock said. “A system where VPP sites can share in the costs of VPP certifications may be an option. OSHA could also consider privatizing, yet maintaining control over the VPP approval system such as they do in some states with the 7(c)(1) consultation service.”

The pilot VPP began as an experimental program in California, according to OSHA’s VPP webpage. The program was later rolled out nationally in 1982. Federal worksites gained VPP eligibility in 1998.

OSHA is hosting a stakeholder meeting on July 17, 2017, “to discuss the future direction of the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The discussion will include comments and suggestions from the public on potential avenues for action,” according to an OSHA press release.

Questions being asked of stakeholders and the public include:

  • What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards through the VPP?
  • How can the agency support increased participation in VPP while operating with available resources and maintaining the integrity of the program?
  • How can the agency modify VPP to enhance the efforts and engagement of long-term VPP participants?
  • How might the agency modify Corporate VPP for greater leverage and effectiveness?
  • How can the agency further leverage participant resources such as Special Government Employees?

The public can provide input and read others’ comments by visiting Regulations.Gov VPP Sustainability comment board. The period for public comments closes on September 15, 2017.

Want to better understand how VPPs work? To create your company’s new safety culture today contact Rob Medlock via email, RMedlock@sct.us.com, and phone, 800-204-1729; or contact Nick Walters via email, NWalters@sct.us.com, and phone, 708-382-2900.

**This blog post was updated June 29, 2017, at 9:45 am to include comments from SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock.**

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.

Construction Connection: Recommendations for Training

For the final edition of our Construction Connection safety video series, we meet SCT Small Business Director Jay Medlock. Training is a vital component of any safety program, but construction workers face unique challenges when it comes to training.

With standards and regulations updated on a routine basis, keeping up to date on training is essential for construction industry workers. Check out our interview with SCT Small Business Director Jay Medlock as he recommends necessary training for construction workers.

If you missed one of our previous Construction Connection videos, you can watch the YouTube video playlist here.