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.

 

Reviews from the Road: Episode 5

SCT’s traveling Occupational Safety and Health Technicians in another episode of “Reviews from the Road,” a weekly web series featuring our safety techs at different project sites across the country.

SCT’s safety technicians can spend more than 80 percent of their time traveling from job to job, providing safety project management services to clients. Most of our technicians spend their time on glass furnace demolition and rebuild projects, many of which last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months or longer.

In the third episode of “Reviews from the Road” we introduce you to Tom Boyd who is on the job in Waterville, Ohio.

Employee Cell Policy Helps Curb Distracted Driving

While falls, electrical hazards, and lockout/tagout rightfully receive a lot of focus when it comes to preventing workplace injuries, motor vehicle crashes are actually the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Drivers talking on cell phones are four times as likely to be in crashes resulting in injury or property damage, and they also have a slower reaction time than drivers with .08 blood alcohol level, according to the National Safety Council.

To help curb motor vehicle crashes during this Distracted Driving Awareness Month, employers should consider a corporate cell phone policy that prohibits employees from using cell phones to conduct business while driving.

On top of the safety concerns, companies that expect their employees to use cell phones while driving can be held legally responsible if that employee crashes while distracted.  The NSC has compiled a number of lawsuits that resulted in multi-million dollar judgements against employers.

Many states and municipalities have laws in place restricting the use of cell phones while driving, but the NSC advises that a company’s cell phone policy should go above and beyond the minimum of the law.

A successful cell phone policy should cover:

  • Handheld and hands-free devices
  • All employees, company-owned or rented vehicles, and company-supplied cell phones
  • All business-related communication, even when conducted in a personal vehicle, with a personal cell phone, or off-the-clock

Employees then need to be properly trained in the policy and held accountable for following the rules.

The Occupational Safety and Health experts at SCT can help you develop written comprehensive a workplace safety policy that’s customized to your specific needs and are yours to keep. Contact us today at 1-800-204-1729 to begin reaching your safety goals.

 

Reviews from the Road: Episode 2

SCT’s traveling Occupational Safety and Health Technicians are back with another episode of “Reviews from the Road,” a weekly web series we introduced to our YouTube channel last week.

SCT’s safety technicians spend upwards of 80 percent of their time traveling from job to job, providing safety project management services to clients. Most of our technicians spend their time on glass furnace demolition and rebuild projects, many of which last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months or longer.

In the second episode of “Reviews from the Road” we introduce you to Colton Fuchs, one of our newer safety techs, who has been on the job in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

SCT recognizes National Ladder Safety Month: Week 4

In the final week of National Ladder Safety Month our “Ladder Lowdown” video series focuses on proper inspection and disposal of ladders.

Ladders should be inspected for any defects before each use. If defects are found, the ladder should be marked and removed from service until it is either repaired or thrown away.

And be sure to follow the proper procedure for ladder disposal. There are potential legal consequences for not following recommended ladder disposal guidelines. Watch the Week 4 Ladder Lowdown video below to find out the right course of action.

Every week in March 2017 we’ve been highlighting the topics in National Ladder Safety Month. Each week the focus shines on a different ladder safety topic. If you missed any of our previous ladder safety month videos, be sure to check out Weeks 1, 2, and 3, which are linked below.

Follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest safety videos, news, and updates from the safety experts at SCT. Thank you for following us through the first ever National Ladder Safety Month.

For any workplace safety or occupational health needs, call the safety experts at SCT at
1-800-204-1729.

Meet SCT’s traveling safety technicians in new video series

SCT’s traveling safety technicians are the heartbeat of our safety company. Providing safety staffing services to glass manufacturers makes up the largest part of our traveling techs’ jobs. Depending on the project’s size, glass furnace demolitions and rebuilds can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months or longer.

Serving as Safety Managers, SCT’s technicians often oversee workers from multiple trades, who are all performing different jobs on site. It’s hard work, especially since the plants are spread out all over the country and the techs spend a lot of time away from family and friends. We’d like to introduce you to our traveling technicians with a new video series we’re calling “Reviews from the Road.”

Come take a few minutes to meet SCT’s traveling safety technicians.

SCT hires Arc Flash Professional; classes scheduled

SCT is excited to welcome Arc Flash expert and Electrical Engineer Fred R. Schraff, P.E., to the team. A detailed background in Arc Flash Analysis, Industrial Control, Analog Circuit Design, Power Electronics, and AC Power Distribution are just a few of the skills that make Fred a definite asset to SCT.

Fred has worked as a private consulting P.E. for many years. Some of his previous employers include Keithley Instruments, IOtech Inc., Clarke H. Joy Company, and the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. In addition to his status as a Registered Professional Engineer, Fred also holds certifications as a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator and a Licensed Electrical Contractor.

What is Arc Flash?

Arc Flash is a dangerous release of energy that is created by an electrical fault. When an electric current passing through air encounters insulation or isolation between electrified conductors that is insufficient to handle the voltage being applied, the result is an arcing current with an immediate flash. Those working in the flash’s vicinity or the surrounding areas can suffer serious injuries. Arc Flash can be fatal. The Department of Labor has estimated that Arc Flash accounts for nearly 10,000 serious injuries and more than 400 deaths each year.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) created a video interviewing three workers who survived Arc Flash incidents. The 25-minute video is a powerful reminder of why safety training and awareness are so crucial. 

New SCT Open Enrollment Course for Arc Flash Awareness

With Fred coming on board at SCT, we’re thrilled to offer an open enrollment 4-hour Arc Flash Awareness course on Friday, March 10, 2017, from 8 am to 12 pm.

This 4-Hour Arc Flash Awareness course is designed to provide each student with a general understanding and comprehension of current requirements of NFPA 70E 2015. Additionally, the course also covers how the NFPA 70E document relates to OSHA Standards and Regulations.

The information presented is based on current and industry accepted technical data and is offered as an explanation and tool for training electrical workers on the dangers and avoidance of arc flash hazards. This course in intended for those experienced in and familiar with power system work.

Register for SCT’s 4-Hour Arc Flash Awareness Course here.

View SCT’s full Open Enrollment Schedule here.

Would you like more information than an awareness class can give? Contact SCT today at 1-800-204-1729 to discuss creating a customized class.

New SCT Vice President featured in EHS Today

 

Screen shot of detailed Q&A with SCT VP Nick Walters on EHSToday.com on Jan. 31, 2017.

SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services Nick Walters, whose hiring was announced just a few weeks ago, is featured in a wide ranging interview with EHS Today.

In the Q&A, Walters discussed his most memorable cases while with OSHA,what to expect from the new administration of President Donald Trump in the world of occupational safety and health, and why he chose to join the team at SCT.

“In my role with OSHA as the regional administrator in Chicago, I had the privilege of working closely with SCT’s General Manager Joe Ventura and Senior Vice President Rob Medlock on a number of projects,” Walters said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to work with people that I can trust – people that I know are doing everything they can to promote safety and health in the workplace.”

Walters, who worked 25-years for OSHA climbing from a Compliance Officer to Regional Administrator in Chicago, brings a level of expertise that sets SCT apart in the workplace safety realm. He will be based in Chicago, expanding SCT’s footprint in the Midwest and adding a new dimension to the company’s expert witness services.

Visit EHS Today for to read the full interview.

How to Get Involved with Safety

Employers know that they’re required by law to provide safe workplaces for their workers, but the hardest questions isn’t what to do–it’s how to do it. Here are 3 top tips from the safety experts at SCT on “How to Get Involved with Safety.”

KNOW YOUR POLICY!

We really can’t say it enough, employees need to be trained on safety policies and programs. Employers already have them, and if they don’t they need to because safety programs are required by the OSH Act of 1971. See a full list of Employer Responsibilities per OSHA here. Workers should undergo in-depth safety training when they are first hired, and we recommend all employees attend refresher training courses annually.

As we’ve said before, safety isn’t stagnant. Rules and guidelines change regularly, which requires companies to stay on top of them. Having a dedicated safety partner is an asset in this area. A safety partner can review policies, procedures, and updates to federal, state, and local regulations to ensure companies are in compliance at all levels. SCT serves this role for businesses across the country. Let our experts be your guide in occupational safety and health.

ASK FOR MORE!

Disengagement from workers and employers spells disaster for safety programs. It’s not uncommon to see a well-crafted safety policy put on a shelf and left to gather dust until a tragic incident occurs and the safety binder is pulled down to be reviewed and blame assigned. By the time blame becomes a factor it’s too late, someone is either injured or worse dead from reactive safety policies. Safety only works when both employers and workers own their policy. Top-down involvement is crucial to success, but so is input from workers. Employees at all levels, from hourly to upper management, should be included when company safety policies or programs are being created or reviewed.

For example, when performing an OSHA compliance assessment for a client, SCT safety experts don’t limit their questioning to supervisors. They ask questions of the technical workers who are on the floor using the equipment and machines. If a potential safety hazard is found, SCT works with management and workers to engineer a safe way for the worker to complete his or her job effectively without risking life and limb.

 

KEEP LEARNING!

Sometimes it feels like we’re repeating ourselves, but good ideas should be shouted from the rooftop–provided that the shouter is properly secured either with fall protection equipment or secure guardrails on said rooftop. (See, safety people can be funny…ish.) As we said in Tip #1, Know Your Policy, safety isn’t stagnant. Regulations change and new information is discovered about chemicals and industrial substances that alters Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). There are a lot of moving parts with safety, so it behooves companies to stay on top of changes like these.

Sometimes, however, a full-time safety staff member isn’t in the budget. That’s OK, we see that a lot at SCT. But that doesn’t mean that safety can be ignored. That’s when bad things happen, which usually end up costing a company a lot more than a dedicated safety professional. SCT has the experience when it comes to providing safety staff augmentation services at various budget levels.

SCT can improve safety records, bring policies into OSHA compliance, and serve as your company’s partner in safety. Call us today at 1-800-204-1729 to talk to one of our safety experts and discover how we can help you have a safe and productive 2017.