OSHA Publishes Final Rules on Beryllium, Respirator Fit Testing

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published two final rules regarding the beryllium standard and respirator fit testing.

Published on September 26, 2019, two new quantitative fit testing protocols were added to the respiratory protection standard (1910.134). According to an OSHA news release, the new testing methods are:

  • modified ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators
  • modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators

These two new methods go along with the four other testing methods found in Appendix A of the respiratory standard. Employers must use one of these methods to protect employees from “hazardous airborne contaminants.” OSHA states that the rule does not require businesses update or replace their current fit testing methods. The new protocols also have fewer test exercises, shorter exercise durations, and a “more streamlined sampling sequence” than the original testing protocol.

On September 30, 2019, OSHA also finalized changes to the beryllium standard in construction and shipyards that was first introduced in June 2017.

According to Safety and Health Magazine, the original proposed rule would have eliminated so-called “ancillary provisions” of the rule covering medical surveillance, written exposure control plans, and PPE because they were covered by other OSHA rules.

The permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air and the short-term exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air will still be enforced.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in electronics and the defense industry, among others. Overexposure can cause serious health risks, including incurable chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. According to OSHA’s estimates, about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium each year.

The compliance date for the ancillary provisions is set for September 2020.

The Workplace Safety Experts can ensure your safety plans are up to date and we can conduct your respirator fit tests! Call at 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the contact form below to find out how we can help your business and protect your employees








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Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2019 Released

The annual Top 10 list of most cited OSHA violations for 2019 has been revealed at the annual National Safety Council Congress and Expo, and not much has changed since last year.

For the ninth year in a row, Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) comes in at the top of the list with 6,010 citations. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) moved up one place to fourth with 2,606 violations and Respiratory Protection (1910.134) dropped to fifth with 2,450 citations.

Eye and Face Protection (1926.102), which was new to 2018’s list, remained in the 10th spot on the 2019 list with 1,411 violations.

1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) 6,010
2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 3,671
3. Scaffolding (1926.451) 2,813
4. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 2,606
5. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 2,450
6. Ladders (1926.1053) 2,345
7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 2,093
8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) 1,773
9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) 1,743
10. Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) 1,411

“Far too many preventable injuries and deaths occur on the job,” Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO, said in a news release. “The OSHA Top 10 list is a helpful guide for understanding just how adept America’s businesses are in complying with the basic rules of workplace safety. This list should serve as a challenge for us to do better as a nation and expect more from employers. It should also serve as a catalyst for individual employees to re-commit to safety.”

This list is based off of preliminary figures as of August 15, 2019.

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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OSHA Considering Changes to Silica Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requesting public feedback on the silica standard in the construction industry.

OSHA is seeking more information about multiple aspects of the rule, including:

  • additional engineering and work practice control methods to effectively limit exposure to silica for tasks in Table 1
  • construction equipment and tasks that generate silica that it should consider adding to Table 1
  • engineering and work practice control methods associated with those tasks
  • whether or not to revise paragraph (a)(3) of the General Industry Silica Standard to increase the ways in which general industry and maritime workplaces could use the construction standard’s Table 1

OSHA stated that expanding the options for companies to comply with the silica standard will give business more flexibility while still maintaining employee safety. The agency also said that submitted information will allow OSHA to “consider new developments and enhanced control methods for equipment that generates exposure to silica” and provide more data on potential silica exposure from more tasks.

Respirable crystalline silica is dangerous to workers and can potentially cause lifelong health issues. It is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling or crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Other exposures include abrasive blasting or manufacturing of brick or ceramic products. About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work.

Silica can cause numerous diseases including silicosis (an incurable lung disease), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

According to OSHA’s news release, public comments must be submitted by October 14, 2019 online at www.regulations.gov, or by fax/mail.

At SCT, our Workplace Safety Experts, who have dozens of years of experience working for and alongside OSHA, can train your employees to properly abate any potential silica hazards in compliance with all OSHA regulations. Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the form below to contact one of our experts.








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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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Six States Sue to Fully Restore OSHA’s Electronic Recordkeeping Rule

A joint lawsuit filed March 6 by the attorneys general of New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York is trying to stop the rollback of OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule.

The lawsuit claims that OSHA did not provide a “reasoned explanation” for the change to the rule that would require many employers to submit injury and illness data online, according to Safety and Health Magazine. 

In January 2019, OSHA cited privacy concerns when it announced that employers would no longer have to submit injury and illness data from Forms 300 and 301.  Only data from Form 300A, which is an annual summary, would be required.

According to the lawsuit, OSHA made this change without meeting the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

“OSHA now argues that the costs of collecting the detailed information outweigh the benefits of doing so. OSHA’s reasons are not only unsupported factually,  but also plagued by logical contradictions,” according to the lawsuit. “OSHA’s explanations for the rule also fail to account for the many benefits of public disclosure that the commenters had raised.”

When the recordkeeping rule was originally adopted in 2016, OSHA stated that the information gained from these reports would help improve workplace safety across the U.S., according to a news release from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

“New Jersey workers – and workers across the country – have the right to know about dangerous conditions on the job,” said Grewal. “Public reporting of workplace safety information helps states enforce our labor laws, forces employers to remove hazards, and empowers workers to demand improvements. Workers deserve that transparency, and the federal government should not be trying to take it away.

The complaint can be read in full by clicking here. 

Worker deaths decreased slightly in 2017

Total worker deaths decreased in 2017, but fatal falls were at their highest level in decades, according to a new report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, with 887 fatal falls, 2017 represented the highest level in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). This was an increase from the 849 such deaths in 2016 and accounted for 17 percent of all fatal injuries.

There were a total of 5,147 worker deaths in the U.S. in 2017, a slight decrease from the 5,190 in 2016. The fatal injury rate also fell to 3.5 per 100,000 full time equivalent workers (FTE) in 2017, down from 3.6 in 2016.

Although 2017 saw a decrease in worker deaths from 2016, it was still much higher than the number of worker deaths experienced from 2009 to 2015, as seen in the chart below.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

“While today’s report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities, the loss of even one worker is too many,” OSHA Acting Assistant Loren Sweatt said in a news release.  “Through comprehensive enforcement and compliance assistance that includes educating job creators about their responsibilities under the law, and providing robust education opportunities to workers, OSHA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the American workforce.”

A few more highlights from this year’s report:

  • Transportation incidents once again were the most common fatal workplace injury, accounting for 2,077 deaths (40 percent).
  • For the fifth straight year, unintentional drug or alcohol overdoses increased by more than 25 percent, accounting for 272 deaths in 2017.
  • With 33 deaths, crane-related fatalities reached their lowest ever level recorded in the CFOI
  • Confined space deaths increased to 166 in 2017 from 144 in 2016, a 15 percent jump
  • “Caught in running equipment or machinery” fatalities decreased 26 percent, from 103 in 2016 to 76 in 2017
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers had the largest number of fatal workplace injuries (987), while fishers and logging workers had the highest fatal injury rates (99.8 per 100,000 FTE workers)
  • 15 percent of fatally injured workers were age 65 or older, a CFOI high for that demographic
  • 27 states had fewer workplace deaths in 2017 than in 2016, while 21 states and the District of Columbia had an increase; California and Maine did not change.
  • Fatal injuries among grounds maintenance workers decreased slightly from 247 to 244, but it was still the second-highest mark since 2003; 36 of the deaths were due to falls from trees
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

OSHA: Temp Workers Require Lockout/Tagout Protection

Temporary workers are important to many businesses, but they are some of the most at-risk workers on the job. In an effort to curb temporary worker injuries and illnesses, OSHA has released a new Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI) Bulletin concerning Lockout/Tagout or hazardous energy.

Under OSHA temporary workers are afforded the same health and safety protections as full-time employees. When employed under the joint employment of a staffing agency and a host employer, both employers are responsible for a safe workplace.

The Lockout/Tagout bulletin covers OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.147 – The Control of Hazardous Energy. When workers are performing maintenance or servicing a machine, they need to be protected from the sudden release of hazardous energy. Numerous types of energy can be dangerous including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, thermal, chemical or pneumatic.

According to the TWI Bulletin, the lockout/tagout standard requires that employers:

  • develop and enforce a lockout program with written procedures that include steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking and securing equipment
  • use lockout procedures whenever possible
  • create and enforce a tagout program if equipment can not be locked out
  • ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify each user and establish a rule that only the employee who applied the lockout/tagout device is permitted to remove it
  • inspect procedures at least annually and provide necessary training for employees

While the host employer is usually in the best position to ensure compliance with the Lockout/Tagout standard, both it and the staffing agency share responsibility to make sure that employees are protected from hazardous energy. The staffing agency may provide generalized Lockout/Tagout training, but it also must make sure that the host employer provides training that is specific to their worksite.

OSHA has released 10 TWI Bulletins since 2014, and the latest Lockout/Tagout edition is the third released in 2018. Other topics include noise exposure, bloodborne pathogens, and personal protection equipment. The full list can be viewed by clicking here. 

Struggling with lockout/tagout and controlling hazardous energy at your workplace? Contact the OSHA Workplace Safety Experts at SCT for your free, no obligation consultation.








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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.

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.