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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Are your outdoor safety practices up to par?

The temperatures are climbing across the U.S., which means workers exposed to the elements need to evaluate their outdoor safety precautions!

We’ve made multiple videos about how to “Beat The Heat” when working outdoors, and how to manage severe weather systems on a job site. This year has already seen officials from CAL/OSHA issue high heat advisories for portions of southern California.

“It is important for employers to check forecasts and monitor the temperatures to prepare for periods of high heat,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum in a statement, reported by EHS Today. “That information should be used to closely observe workers for possible heat stress and modify their work schedules as needed.”

Take a couple minutes, watch our videos, and kick off your Spring and Summer Tool Box Talks with a handy outdoor safety guides to lead your work crew.

SCT’s YouTube Outdoor Safety Playlist

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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OSHA corrects electronic injury submission error

OSHA has issued a correction for its electronic injury tracking service, and now requires “all affected employers to submit injury an illness data in the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) online portal, even if the employer is covered by a State Plan that has not completed adoption of their own state rule.”

The corrective measure follows a review of the recordkeeping requirements established in 2016’s “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” regulation. As previously reported, at the time of implementation, employers in certain states who met the requirements for ITA submission but were covered under an OSHA-approved State Plan that had not yet adopted electronic reporting were not required to submit data to ITA.

As of now, those state plans — which included California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — do not exempt affected employers from submitting their injury and illness data online.

“OSHA immediately notified State Plans and informed them that for Calendar Year 2017 all employers covered by State Plans will be expected to comply,” according to an April 30, 2018, Department of Labor press release. “An employer covered by a State Plan that has not completed adoption of a state rule must provide Form 300A data for Calendar Year 2017.  Employers are required to submit their data by July 1, 2018.”

Employers who are covered by State Plans that have not adopted a state rule to submit electronic injury and illness data will not face any retroactive requirement for Calendar Year 2016, according to the same release. The only required data is that for Calendar Year 2017.

National Safety Stand-Down set for May 7-11, 2018

This year’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction is set for May 7-11, 2018.

The Safety Stand-Down is an annual effort where the workplace safety industry comes together to focus on preventing falls, which account for more than a third of construction fatalities and are the leading cause of death among construction workers, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Fall protection also routinely tops OSHA’s list of the Top 10 Most Cited Violations. 

Anyone who wants to prevent fall hazards in the workplace is encouraged to participate in the Stand-Down and there are no requirements for what occurs at a Stand-Down. It can be as simple as hosting a safety toolbox talk, taking extra time to inspect safety equipment, or anything that meets the specific needs at your workplace.

If you need to brush up on your fall protection knowledge, watch our Focus on Fall Protection series below. Feel free to use the videos as a part of your own National Safety Stand-Down event!

CPWR Releases Comprehensive Construction Statistics

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) released a new edition of its comprehensive The Construction Chart Book – The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers. 

If you are seeking a specific construction industry statistic, chances are you can find it in the book. It features 100-plus pages of charts, graphs and explanations of dozens of industry topics, including economics, demographics, and safety.

Silica

Silica can be found in numerous common construction site materials, like soil, sand, concrete, masonry, rock and granite. As we have discussed extensively on our blog, exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer or kidney disease. Construction workers make up about 2 million of the 2.3 million total workers that are exposed to silica hazards.

OSHA’s recently updated silica standard sets the permissible exposure limit (PEL) at 50 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight-hour day. According to CPWR, about 15 percent of construction workers are exposed at or above the PEL.

Source: CPWR

Injury and Fatality Rates

Among selected industrial nations, the United States had the third highest rate of construction fatalities with 9.7 per 100,000 full-time workers. Only Belgium (10.5) and Switzerland (24.6) had higher fatality rates in 2013. The U.S. non-fatal injury rate was much better compared to other countries. At 1.5 per 100 workers, it was the third best rate. The CPWR though does caution drawing too strong of a conclusion due to differences in reporting standards among different countries.

Returning to just the U.S.,  985 construction workers were killed on the job in 2015, which was 20 percent of the total workplace fatalities in the country. Construction’s fatality rate has also risen each year since 2011, with 9.9 deaths per 100,000 full time workers in 2015. This was rate was nearly three times higher than the average of all industries.

Injury Causes

Mirroring the Top 10 Cited OSHA Violations, falls to the same or lower level caused the most fatalities in the construction industry and was the second leading cause of nonfatal injuries. Almost 22% of these fatal falls occur at a height of more than 30 feet, with roofs and ladders as the most common sources of all fatal falls.

Contact with objects caused the most nonfatal injuries.

Want to help you and your employees avoid becoming a statistic? Register for our OSHA 30 Hour Construction course from March 26-29, 2018. Contact SCT Sales Representative Terri Cantrell at TCantrell@sct.us.com or 440-449-6000, or fill out the contact form below!








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Beryllium Enforcement Starting in May

OSHA’s updated beryllium standard has been a long time in the making, but a beryllium enforcement date has finally been set.

The administration announced that enforcement of the final rule will begin on May 11, 2018. The enforcement date had previously been scheduled for March 12, 2018. The extended timeframe ensures that stakeholders are aware of their obligations and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors, according to an OSHA press release.

Back in January 2017, OSHA announced new comprehensive health standards addressing beryllium exposure in all industries. After seeking feedback from stakeholders, technical updates to the January 2017 General Industry Standard are being considered by the agency.

These updates, according to the press release, “clarify and simplify compliance with requirements.”

In addition to the general industry beryllium enforcement beginning on May 11, 2018, OSHA will also begin enforcement for the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries.

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.

Until the new beryllium enforcement date, should employers fail to meet the new PEL or STEL, “OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance,” according to the release.

Respiratory health is a major area of concern for OSHA. In addition to the beryllium enforcement starting in May 2018, awareness of and enforcement for OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standards have dominated OSHA news since 2016. Check out our video below about the importance of respiratory health and silica awareness in the workplace.

Need help creating a respiratory health program at your workplace? Contact the experts at SCT by filling out the contact form below. We can guide you through the process, from initial assessment, to program development, air monitoring and training — SCT is your one stop safety shop!








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OSHA stakeholders present to Congressional subcommittee

On February 27, 2018, the congressional Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hosted a hearing entitled “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.”

In his opening statement, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said the purpose of the meeting was to focus on “how OSHA can work more cooperatively with job creators especially in the small businesses community, to expand its compliance assistance efforts and for employers to provide the safest and healthiest workplaces possible.”

The hearing featured testimony from four witnesses: Peter Gerstenberger, on behalf of the Tree Care Industry Association; J. Gary Hill, on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary for OSHA; and Eric Hobbs,  on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Gerstenberger told the committee that tree care industry has one of the 10 highest fatality rates in the U.S., with about 80 deaths annually. He also stated that while OSHA has worked with the association to improve worker safety, it hasn’t done enough and a specific safety standard is needed.

“From our perspective, federal OSHA could be most effective if it would adopt a rule specific to our industry. Here is why: a regulation will inform and empower every OSHA Certified Safety and Health Official to identify hazards and control measures unique to tree work and to intervene to prevent accidents,” Gerstenberger said.

Hill testified about the need for the expansion of small business compliance assistance because many small construction companies are confused by the existing standards.

“NAHB’s members want to ensure they are compliant with existing standards, but it is not always clear what the regulatory requirements are, especially when coupled with all of the other regulations that apply to the home building industry,” Hill said. “If OSHA’s goal is truly to ensure worker safety rather than the collection of fines, it must reorient away from its emphasis on enforcement and promulgation of new standards and focus more on compliance assistance to businesses subject to its regulations.”

Michaels, who led OSHA from 2009 to January 2017, said in his testimony that compliance programs are useful for employees who voluntarily want to protect their employees, but that clear standards and “strong, fair enforcement” are more effective in protecting workers.

Michaels also said the sentiment that safety regulations kill jobs is incorrect. “It is more accurate to call OSHA standards public health ‘protections’ because that’s exactly what they do: protect workers from preventable injuries, illnesses and death. When you hear someone talk about rolling back OSHA regulations, they’re really talking about endangering workers.”

In his testimony, Hobbs said OSHA needs to regain the trust of employers.

“For OSHA to lead the effort at improving workplace safety effectively, it must rebuild that trust. No single step or statement by the agency will do so. It will take a sustained, consistent effort,” Hobbs said. “Employers will welcome having a partner in the agency and being able to turn to it as a resource, rather than just to suffer under it as a disciplinarian.”

The submitted written testimony from each witness is available online at the committee’s website. A complete video recording of the hearing is also available on YouTube. 

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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