NIOSH Celebrates 100 Years of Respiratory Protection

To recognize 100 years of respiratory protection in the U.S.,  the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has designated Sept. 3-6, 2019 as the first annual Respiratory Protection Week.

Back in 1919, the U.S. Bureau of Mines started the first respirator certification program to protect miners from harmful atmospheres, with the first respirator becoming certified a few months later. Today, an estimated 5 million U.S. workers are required to wear respirators on the job.

“Respiratory Protection Week honors both the history and the future of the efforts by researchers and practitioners to protect workers from airborne toxins,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., in a news release. “NIOSH’s own ongoing work in respiratory protection represents both a century’s worth of experience in preventing disease for millions of working men and women who have relied on respirators to protect their lungs, and a new century’s research in developing improvements in respiratory protection.”

NIOSH has a number of resources and events available for you to get the most out of this Respiratory Protection Week.

A detailed timeline tracks the history of respiratory protection all the way back to Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher who lived from 23-79 AD. He used loose animal bladder skins to filter dust while crushing cinnabar, which is a “toxic, mercuric sulfide mineral used at the time for pigmentation in decorations.”

NIOSH will also host an online webinar on September 5, 2019, at 1 P.M. EST to discuss the state of using Powered Air Purifying Respirators in the healthcare industry.

Plus, NIOSH has created a set of handy infographics covering respiratory topics including Atmosphere-Supplying Respirators, Air-Purifying Respirators, and understanding the difference between different types of common respirators.

To keep updated on this year’s Respiratory Protection Week, you can follow@NIOSH_NPPTL on Twitter and search the hashtag #100yrsRespirators.

At SCT, our Occupational Health experts can provide both qualitative and quantitative respiratory fit tests to ensure your employees are properly fitted with respirators that will protect them and comply with all OSHA standards.

Fill out the contact form below or call us at 1-800-204-1729.








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10 Ways to Start Your Safety Program

Safe and Sound Week 2019 is the perfect time to jump start your company’s workplace safety program.

According to OSHA, employers pay almost $1 billion per week in direct workers’ compensation costs. While this figure includes things like medical expenses and legal services, it does not consider indirect costs including training of replacement employees, lost productivity, accident investigation, and lower employee morale.

For Safe and Sound Week, OSHA has released a helpful Top 10 list of simple ways to get your comprehensive workplace safety program up and running with a solid base.

  • Establish safety and health as a core value
  • Lead by example
  • Implement a reporting system
  • Provide training
  • Conduct inspections
  • Collect hazard control ideas
  • Implement hazard controls
  • Address emergencies
  • Seek input on workplace changes
  • Make improvements to the program

And if you’re still unsure of how to create your workplace safety program or want to take it to the next level, it might be time to contact the OSHA Workplace Safety Experts at SCT.

Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.








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Nonfatal injury & illness rate falls again

The nonfatal injury and illness rate for private-sector workers in the U.S. fell once again in 2017, according to new annual data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Nov. 8, 2018.

The nonfatal injury and illness rate stands at 2.8 cases per 100 full-time workers for 2017, compared to 2.9 in 2016 and 3.0 in 2015. Since 2003, this rate has decreased every year but 2012, according to Safety and Health Magazine.

Per the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, about 2.8 million non fatal injuries and illnesses were reported in 2017,  about 45,800 fewer compared to 2016.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

Nearly one-third of the nonfatal injuries – about 882,000 cases – resulted in workers missing days away from work (DAFW). The rate on these injuries fell from 91.7 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2016 to 89.4 in 2017. The median days away from work remained unchanged from 2016 at eight. This is a helpful metric in determining the severity of injuries.

Specifically, DAFW injuries involving overexertion in lifting or lowering rose by 3,250 cases, while struck by injuries decreased by 4,180 cases.

Nursing and residential care facilities had the highest nonfatal injury and illness incidence rate at 10.9 per 100 full-time equivalent workers. The rest of the top five:

  • Motor home manufacturing – 10.3 incidence rate
  • Skiing facilities – 10.2 incidence rate
  • Veterinary services – 9.8 incidence rate
  • Materials recovery facilities – 9.8 incidence rate

In the manufacturing sector, the overall injury rate decreased but the DAFW rate did not change from the previous year. More than 33 percent of of DAFW incidents in manufacturing were due to musculoskeletal disorders. The rate of these injuries fell from 32.9 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2016 to 31.4 cases in 2017.

Sprains, strains and tears were the leading type of injury in manufacturing.

Only two industry sectors – manufacturing as well as finance and insurance – saw a “statistically significant” change in overall injury rates.

The BLS is expected to release data covering fatal workplace injuries in December of this year.

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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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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SCT offers 6-Part Medical Evaluation

With the expansion of our Occupational Health Department’s services to include blood draws, SCT is excited to announce that we are providing a 6-part medical evaluation that is specifically designed for workers exposed to hazards within the industrial painting industry.

The 6-part service, which we formally call the 6-Part Painter’s Medical Evaluation, provides the comprehensive medical testing for workers who are expected to be exposed to hazards involved on industrial painting job sites. The tests included in the medical evaluation provide the OSHA-required baseline for workers and employers to guard against any elevated exposure on a job site.

Features of SCT’s 6-part medical evaluation include:

  1. Respiratory Medical Clearance Questionnaire and Review
  2. Spirometry (Pulmonary Function Test)
  3. Audiogram Evaluation & Snellen Vision Test
  4. Lead Level & Zinc Protoporphyrin (ZPP) Blood Draws
  5. Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential Blood Draw
  6. Urine Dip Test

The cost for the evaluation is $195 per person.

Let SCT come to you!

SCT has a full suite of mobile occupational health services. Using our state of the art mobile testing unit, we can arrive on your job site, perform all necessary testing, and fit into your schedule.

Contact us today using the contact form below, or talk to Cost Reduction Specialist Terri Cantrell directly at TCantrell@sct.us.com or 440-449-6000.








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Budget Document Details OSHA Agenda

Last week, we outlined how the federal government’s proposed 2019 Fiscal Year budget would impact the Department of Labor, which houses many of the federal organizations that focus on workplace safety and health, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The budget outlined a 21 percent budget decrease for the Department of Labor, but OSHA’s budget of $549 million is the same amount as what was enacted in FY2018.

The OSHA budget has now been detailed in the administration’s Budget Justification document that further details exactly how its budget would be used in the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2018.

Beryllium

OSHA expects to release three final rules, including for beryllium in general industry. The beryllium procedure is set to “proceed fairly quickly with a proposal in either late 2018 or very early 2019,” according to the document.

Final updates to the shipyard and construction versions of the beryllium standard are still expected in FY2018.

Beryllium is an important material in the aerospace, electronics, energy,  medical, and defense industries, but exposure can put workers at an increased risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer, according to OSHA.

The beryllium updates have been a long time in the making. The proposed rule was originally issued in 2015, with the final rule taking effect in May 2017.

If your company is in need of air monitoring or any other services to conform to the new beryllium standard, contact us today. SCT’s team of experts is always ready to help you reach your workplace safety goals.

Budget Shifts

While OSHA’s enacted 2018 budget matches the requested 2019 budget, the funds are set to be used in slightly different ways.

In FY 2019, the $549,033,000 budget will be used for 2,024 full time equivalent workers (FTE), which is an increase 71 FTE compared to 2018. An increase of $5.12 million would add 32 FTE to compliance assistance, including Voluntary Protection Programs, and a $6.148 million increase would add 42 FTE to enforcement.

OSHA has set a goal of 30,840 inspections and 46,573 enforcement units for FY2019. Enforcement units account for the differences in complexity and severity in different inspections. The 2019 enforcement unit goals are 12 percent increase over the number of units reached in 2017, according to the document.

To account for the budget increases in these areas, the Susan Harwood Training Grants would be eliminated, freeing up some $10.4 million. Additionally, $537,000 would be shifted away from Technical Support and $266,000 from Executive Direction.

Contact SCT with all Occupational Safety & Health Questions!








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Extent of falls in construction revealed by new database

Researchers with the Center for Construction Research and Training (also known as the CPWR) used a new database to find that 42 percent of all construction fatalities involved falls.

Using NIOSH data, the researchers created the Construction FACE Database. FACE stands for Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation. This database helped researchers discover a number of revealing statistics about injuries in the construction industry, according to Safety and Health Magazine. 

From 1982 to 2015, researchers found 768 fatality reports in the construction industry. Of those, 325 (42 percent) involved falls. Moreover, 54 percent of workers killed had no access to a personal fall arrest system, and 23 percent did have access to such a system but did not use it.

Nearly a third of the falls were from 30 feet or higher, and 20 percent of the fatal incidents occurred during the victims’ first two months on the job.

Fall protection routinely tops OSHA’s list of most cited violations, including 2017. Plus, fall protection training requirements was the 9th most cited violations. You can watch our video covering the entire Top 10 list below.

The full study can be viewed here in the Journal of Safety Research, but it does require account to view.

Potentially fatal occupational asthma is preventable

Occupational asthma accounted for an estimated 11-21% of the asthma-related deaths in 2015, according to data recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A review of collected data from the CDC found that between 1999-2016, there were 33,307 deaths from asthma in adults aged 15-64 years old. Included in this figure was “an estimated 3,664-6,994 (approximately 204-389 annually) that could be attributable to occupational exposures and were therefore potentially preventable.”

When broken out by industry, the asthma-related mortality was “significantly elected among males in food, beverage, and tobacco products manufacturing, other retail trade, and miscellaneous manufacturing, and among females in social assistance.”

What is Occupational Asthma?

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), “occupational asthma is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while ‘on the job.’”

Symptoms are often worse during the days or nights worked, and improve when affected workers have time off. Symptoms will re-emerge when the affected parties return to work.

Those with a family history may be more likely to develop occupational asthma, particularly to some substances such as flour, animals, and latex; however, those with no family history of asthma or allergies can still develop the disease if exposed to conditions that induce it over time.

Just like other occupational respiratory diseases, like asbestosis from asbestos exposure, smoking greatly increases a worker’s risk for developing occupational asthma.

Causes of Occupational Asthma

Like the CDC’s findings, the AAAAI points out that the rate of occupational asthma varies within industries, but there are some higher-risk categories.

Prolonged exposure to irritants such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide or ammonia, found in the petroleum or chemical industries, can be a cause of occupational asthma. Exposure to these substances in high concentrations may result in wheezing and other asthma symptoms immediately after exposure.

“Veterinarians, fishermen, and animal handlers in laboratories can develop allergic reactions to animal proteins. Healthcare workers can develop asthma from breathing in powdered proteins from latex gloves or from mixing powdered medications,” according to the AAAAI.

Occupational Asthma is Preventable

Respiratory protection is a crucial part of occupational safety and health. Any work that involves exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, irritants, or other respirable substances should have an abatement plan.

Engineering and administrative controls should be explored and implemented before thinking about personal protective equipment. PPE should always be the last part of a respiratory health plan. PPE is not acceptable as the sole means of protection for workers.

The safety experts at SCT can help evaluate facilities for exposure risk, review and update respiratory health written programs, and training workers on proper respiratory health abatement tactics and PPE usage.

For more on worker respiratory health with a focus on silica exposure, check out our video below. If you are in need of any PPE, be sure to visit SCT Supply, our online safety supply store. We offer free shipping on orders over $600!