Crane Operator Final Rule Issued by OSHA

OSHA has released the final rule that clarifies certification requirements for crane operators on Nov. 7, 2018. The final rule also maintains the employer’s duty to ensure that crane operators can safely operate the equipment.

The final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 9, 2018, will require that employers train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities, evaluate the operators, and then document successful completion of the evaluations. If employers completed evaluations before Dec. 9, 2018, they will not have to reevaluate the operators, but will only have to document that the evaluations occurred.

Crane operators must be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or the type only, and must receive ongoing training for new equipment. The capacity and type distinction revises a 2010 crane operator requirement that certifications must specify the rated lifting capacity of the cranes that the operator is certified on.

While testing organizations are not required to issue certifications distinguished by rated capacities, they are permitted to do so, and employers may accept them or continue to use certifications based on crane type alone.

OSHA estimates that 117,130 crane operators will be impacted by the final rule. The estimated cost to the industry will be $1.481 million for the performance of operator competency evaluations, $62,000 for documenting those evaluations, and $94,000 for any additional training needed for operators, bringing the total annual cost of compliance to $1.637 million.

But at the same time, OSHA does anticipate the rule will save money for employers. Due to fewer operators needing to get an additional certification, OSHA expects a “large one-time cost savings” of more than $25 million. An additional annual saving of $426,000 is also expected as certifications for operators moving to a higher capacity would no longer be needed.

Additionally, because most employers are already complying with many of the training and evaluation requirements, OSHA concluded that, on average, the impact of costs on employers will be low.

Most portions of the crane operator final rule will become effective on Dec. 10, 2018. Evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on Feb. 7, 2019.

OSHA, NIOSH Budgets Officially Increased

OSHA will enjoy a $5 million budget increase next year after legislators and President Donald Trump recently approved an appropriations bill.

OSHA will receive about $557.8 million in fiscal year 2019, according to Safety and Health Magazine. Last year, the administration received about $552.8 million.

OSHA-Approved State Plans will receive a maximum of $102.4 million, an increase of $1.5 million. State Plans are OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by individual states rather than federal OSHA. They must be at least as effective as the federal OSHA program. More than 20 states or territories operate State Plans.

OSHA’s enforcement budget increased by $1 million to $209 million total, and Voluntary Protection Programs will receive at least $3.5 million. Overall, $73.5 million was set aside for federal compliance assistance, which marks a $3.5 million increase.

The Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, which has almost been eliminated in recent years, will receive $10.5 million in FY2019.

NIOSH – the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – saw its budget increase $1.1 million to $336.3 million.

NIOSH will receive $336.3 million – a $1.1 million increase from FY 2018

In addition to the Department of Labor, the appropriations bill also included funding approval for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Why Choose a Career as a Safety and Health Professional?

Every worker in the world deserves to work in a safe environment and return home unharmed at the end of every work day. To make that happen, qualified safety and health professionals are necessary to guide the way.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,190 workers were killed on the job in 2016. That’s an average of more than 14 deaths each and every day.

A career as a safety and health professional has plenty of perks.

First and foremost, safety and health professionals experience satisfaction in their work, knowing they are saving lives each and every day. The safety industry is also a growing field that offers several paths to success and personal financial stability.

Plus, the variety in the work is unrivaled. Safety professionals can travel across the globe and work at dozens of different types of work sites, all in the name of saving lives.

What does a Safety and Health Professional do?

A safety and health pro’s main goal is to ensure that all staff and co-workers work safely and have all the knowledge to do so. Depending on the company or organization, the specific duties and roles of the position can vary widely.

At SCT, our team of Occupational Safety and Health Technicians are often a client’s first line of defense in identifying and abating workplace safety hazards. Our technicians often act as the safety lead on hazardous job sites and conduct site audits, weekly toolbox talks, employee drug testing, environmental monitoring, employee training, and more.

Am I Qualified?

As with the job duties discussed above, qualifications to work in the health and safety field are also quite varied. Many colleges and universities offer two-year, four-year, or post-graduate degrees in the occupational health and safety field.

There are also about 300 certification programs offered in the United States centered on safety, health, environment and ergonomics, according to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

Even if you have a degree, with so many different types of businesses needing the expertise of a health and safety professional there’s always something new to learn. Plus, industry regulations are always changing, which makes a career in health and safety a great choice for those who love to learn.

At SCT, we’re always looking for qualified safety professionals and recent graduates. Check out our career page by clicking here and send your resume our way!

National Protect Your Hearing Month is October 2018

Can you hear me now? Hopefully you can, because October is National Protect Your Hearing Month.

But if you’re one of the 22 million workers exposed annually to hazardous noise levels at work, it might be a struggle. According to the Centers for Disease Control, occupational hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in the U.S.

On top of the human toll of injured workers, occupational hearing loss also costs employers millions of dollars every year. According to OSHA, U.S. businesses pay out about $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. Another estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss injuries.

How loud is too loud?

If noise levels reach 85 decibels, it can damage your hearing after repeated exposure of longer than eight hours. What is 85 decibels? It’s loud enough that you must raise your voice to be heard by someone an arm’s length away. Many sounds reach this level, including lawn mowers, vacuums, or using earbuds with the volume level at about 70 percent.

Noise at 95 decibels (when you have to shout to be heard at arm’s length) can be a risk to your hearing in less than an hour.  Bulldozers, sirens, chain saws, and large sporting events are louder than 95 decibels.

Damaged hearing can make it difficult or impossible to hear high-pitch frequencies, and also make it hard to communicate with others. Researchers are also exploring if loud noise at work can have additional health effects, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Source: CDC

How to Protect Workers

Most people have seen or used ear plugs and ear muffs, but those are not the only – or most effective – ways to protect the hearing of workers.

Engineering controls involve modifying or replacing equipment. Examples include:

  • using low-noise tools and machinery
  • maintaining and lubricating machinery and equipment
  • placing a barrier like a curtain or a sound wall between the noise source and the employee
  • enclosing or isolating the noise source

Administrative controls, which are changes in the workplace or schedule that reduce worker exposure to noise, can also be highly effective. These include:

  • operating noisy machines when fewer workers are present
  • limiting the amount of time a worker is exposed to the hazard
  • providing a quiet rest area for workers to remove themselves from the noise
  • move employees farther from the noise source; every doubling of distance between the worker and the noise source decreases the exposure by six decibels

National Protect Your Hearing Month is the perfect time to ensure your hearing conservation program is all it can be. Contact the OSHA Workplace Safety Experts at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.








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Safe and Sound Week 2018: How to Succeed

From August 13 through 19, it’s Safe and Sound Week, a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the value of safety and health programs that include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in workplaces.

Spearheaded by OSHA, Safe and Sound Week encourages any business that cares about the health and safety of its employees to participate.

OSHA has outlined a simple three-step plan to participate in Safe and Sound Week:

  • Select your activities
  • Plan and promote your events
  • Recognize your participation

You should always make time for safety, but if you are in a hurry, check out our video that will help you identify some common hazards during Safe and Sound Week.

Be sure to check out our complete Safety Video Library on our website or on our YouTube Channel. Feel free to use our videos as part of your regular Toolbox Talks!

Ready to take the your safety program to the next level? Contact the OSHA Experts at SCT today!








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OSHA outlines General Industry Silica Enforcement

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has outlined how it will conduct silica enforcement for the General Industry and Maritime standards in a memorandum from Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Galen Blanton.

The launch of silica enforcement for General Industry and Maritime standards takes a similar path as the start of enforcement for the Construction standard.

In the memorandum to OSHA’s Regional Administrators, Blanton wrote, “During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will assist employers that are making good faith efforts to meet the new standard’s requirements. If upon inspection, it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers should conduct air monitoring in accordance with Agency procedures, and consider citations for non-compliance with any applicable sections of the new standard.”

The new provisions for Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for General Industry and Maritime, 29 CFR § 1910.1053, are enforceable on June 23, 2018. Like the Construction standard, 29 CFR § 1926.1153, the standard instituted a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, and an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3.

Watch our “Ask The Experts” video on silica!

According to Blanton’s memorandum, “Any proposed citations related to inspections conducted in this 30-day time period will require National office review prior to issuance.”

Silica enforcement has been one of the top questions SCT’s safety experts have received since the new standards were approved back in 2016. SCT has developed a 2-hour refresher training course, and an 8-hour competent person training course on the new silica standards.

The time for compliance is now!

Contact the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or by filling out the contact form below!







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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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June is National Safety Month

Each June, the National Safety Council and other organizations recognize National Safety Month. It’s a chance to take extra time and care to prevent injuries on the job, at home, and on the road.

This year’s theme of “No One Gets Hurt” intends to demonstrate that just making small changes, like taking a First Aid class or cleaning up a spill at work, can significantly decrease injury risks.

According to the NSC, preventable deaths – also called accidents – are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer.

One American dies from a preventable incident every three minutes.

Each of the four weeks of June focus on a different aspect of safety.

Week 1: Emergency Preparedness

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that businesses have a written Emergency Action Plan. Whether it’s a fire, tornado, active shooter, or any other type of emergency situation, employees should be properly educated and trained on what to do. Evacuation routes and basic First Aid training are great places to start when creating your Emergency Action Plan.

Week 2: Wellness

One of the most common reasons why a worker’s overall wellness declines is a lack of sleep, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Sleep deprivation is linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression, can increase the likelihood of on-the-job injuries, and results in 1.2 million lost work days in the U.S, per NIOSH. 

Week 3: Falls

Fall protection has topped OSHA’s list of most frequently cited violations for years. For fiscal year 2017, the fall protection general requirements standard was violated 6,072 times, almost 2,000 times more than any other standard.

Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in the construction industry, and the highest number of nonfatal fall injuries take place in the health services and retail industries.

Check out our Focus on Fall Protection video series below for some easy to follow advice about preventing falls at your workplace.

Week 4: Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the Number 1 cause of work-related deaths in the United States. A few simple steps can drastically decrease your chances of being killed in a car crash.

  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Don’t drive if you are tired.
  • Focus only on driving. A text or phone call can wait!
  • Prepare for potential hazards along your route, including road construction and inclement weather.

 

National Safety Month is the perfect time to create or upgrade your company’s safety program! Contact our team of experts today at 1-800-204-1729 or use the contact form below.








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SCT safety experts to present at ASSP National Conference

SCT Vice President Nick Walters and Regional Director Tom Bielema are hosting two sessions at the 2018 ASSP National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, next week!

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), which was previously known as the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) until earlier this year, hosts an annual National Safety Conference bringing together the brightest and most innovative minds in occupational safety and health. SCT is thrilled to have Mr. Walters and Mr. Bielema representing SCT at the conference.

SCT Regional Director Tom Bielema

Mr. Bielema is a former OSHA Area Director of the Peoria, Illinois, office, and was part of the team that researched and crafted OSHA’s new Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction, General Industry, and Maritime work environments.

Read more about Tom here.

 

 

 

 

SCT Vice President Nick Walters

Mr. Walters is the former Regional Administrator for OSHA Region V, and spent 25 years with the agency, working his way up from a Compliance Officer to be one of just 10 regional administrators nationwide.

Read more about Nick here.

 

 

 

 

So what will Nick and Tom be talking about in Texas? Here’s their session information.

OSHA Inspections from Opening to Settlement: Tips from Former OSHA Leaders

Monday, June 4, 2018, 3:15pm-4:15pm
Session Number: S563
Location: Hemisfair Ballroom C2

Session Description: Former OSHA leaders will cover how the agency works, its authority and limits, how OSHA inspections are triggered and conducted, citations and the contest/appeal process. In short, this session will provide a soup-to-nuts overview of what you need to know to deal with an OSHA issue when it arises.

Why do SCT’s former OSHA experts think it’s so important?

“OSHA inspections have the potential to impact nearly every employer in the country…The responsibility to report incidents, conduct the necessary investigations, implement corrective measures, and interact with OSHA falls directly on the shoulders of the safety and health professionals and managers at these companies,” Walters said.

“If citations are issued after an OSHA visit, the post inspection process can be confusing. Tom and I have worked through complex settlement negotiations and the litigation process with thousands of companies. This session will provide detailed information about how to navigate that process and provide insight into OSHA’s approach to citation settlement.”

OSHA’s Rapid Response Investigation Process: Tips from Former OSHA Leaders

Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 10:30am-11:45am
Session Number: S609
Location: Room 008A/B

Session Description: Since OSHA’s new injury reporting rule took effect, the number of reports has skyrocketed. OSHA’s Rapid Response Investigation process shifts the obligation to document what happened, why it happened, and what should be done to prevent reoccurrence to the employer. Former OSHA leaders will offer tips for preparing effective reports.

Why do SCT’s former OSHA experts think it’s so important?

“Anyone that serves in a safety and health capacity at a company covered by the OSH Act may be called upon to assist in a rapid response investigation and submit a report to OSHA. Therefore, individuals working at the basic to executive experience levels need to be familiar with OSHA’s Rapid Response Investigation process and the pitfalls to avoid,” Walters said.

Too busy for Texas? That’s OK, SCT is just a phone call away!

If scheduling doesn’t allow you to be in San Antonio next week to talk to Nick and Tom directly, you can always reach them at our Chicago and Peoria offices at 708-382-2900, or via email at NWalters@sct.us.com or TBielema@sct.us.com.

Have another safety question? You can contact all the SCT experts by filling out our contact form below!







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Being Mindful of Mental Health in the Workplace

As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, it’s important to note how the mental health of employees can impact a workplace.

According to a study published in World Psychiatry, individuals who suffer from mental illness not only struggle with the disease itself, but also the negative stigma that results from misunderstanding mental illnesses. This can lead to employees covering up the fact that they suffer from a mental illness.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Center for Workplace Mental Health states that one in five adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year, but more than half of those people will go untreated.

So what can a company do to make employees feel safe and ensure they receive the assistance they need?

Numerous mental health awareness groups, including The National Council for Behavioral Health, agree that education is key. Employees and supervisors should be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness. In order to create a “stigma-free workplace,” experts recommend the following actions:

  • Educate employees about mental health disorders signs and symptoms
  • Encourage employees to talk about stress, workload, family commitments and other issues
  • Communicate that mental illnesses are real, common and treatable
  • Discourage stigmatizing language, including labels such as “crazy” or “nuts”
  • Invest in mental health benefits
  • Help employees transition back to work after they take leave
  • Consult with your employee assistance program

The Center for Workplace Mental Health website also features the ICU Program, which was donated by DuPont’s Employee Assistance Program. It is specifically designed to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace and centers on three core concepts:

I: Identify the signs

C: Connect with the person

U: Understand the way forward together

Enrolling in a Mental Health First Aid class is also an option. This eight-hour course will educate attendees on how to assist someone who suffers from mental illness. Students will learn to identify, understand, and properly respond to the signs of a mental health issue.

In addition to our typical First Aid courses, we at SCT also offer Mental Health First Aid classes. If you are interested in having your staff trained, call us at 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the contact form below.








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