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.

 

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.