Safety Solutions for Hotel Housekeeping
On July 1, 2013, a global boycott of Hyatt hotels ended after nearly a year of protesting when the hotel chain reached an agreement with UNITE HERE, the union of hospitality workers in the U.S. and Canada. The boycott was in response to widespread evidence of harmful working conditions for hotel housekeepers, including reports of extensive musculoskeletal injuries. Injuries reported include chronic wrist and shoulder pain, slips and falls, and severe back strain.
More than 5,000 groups and individuals joined the boycott, and OSHA demanded in a 2012 letter that Hyatt improve working conditions for housekeepers at all locations.
The boycott sheds light on the need to protect hotel housekeepers from safety and health risks. According to Ray Wood, senior director of global safety and security for Marriott Vacations Worldwide, housekeeper safety is an issue the company is addressing with a comprehensive program. In fact, it has an experienced specialist working exclusively to identify methods for making housekeeping safe, effective and economically sound.
Strategies that Marriott has implemented include preventing slips and falls by providing appropriate footwear to workers and consistently training housekeepers through demonstrations of how to complete tasks such as making beds and cleaning bathrooms without causing strains and sprains. According to UNITE HERE, sprains and strains are the most common type of housekeeper injury. "We do what we call ‘warm-ups,'" Wood says, describing the light exercises housekeepers are encouraged to perform before starting work to prepare their muscles for the tasks ahead.
Marriott has also found safer equipment, including lighter weight carts that are easier to maneuver, longer brushes for cleaning bathtubs to prevent back strain, and brushes for cleaning drinking glasses to prevent finger strain. Marriott safety staff also review vacuum cleaners regularly to ensure that the safest models are being used.
To stay aware of new safety and health concerns to housekeepers, Marriott's loss prevention team frequently interviews housekeeping staff about safety issues, giving them the opportunity to voice concerns.
Wood suggests using training and videos provided by American Hotel and Lodging Association to teach housekeeping staff how to accomplish tasks more safely. "Even if your housekeeper doesn't speak English or Spanish, [these] wordless videos are very demonstrative of how to do the work safely," says Wood.
Visit OSHA's cleaning industry topics page at www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/topics/cleaningindustry/index.html for tips for helping housekeeping staff work more safely.
BCSP Seeks Nominations for Awards of Excellence
BCSP is accepting nominations for the 3rd Annual BCSP Awards of Excellence. According to the group, the awards recognize CHSTs, OHSTs and CSPs who best represent certificants' outstanding leadership, expertise and commitment to the advancement of the SH&E industry. The awards will be presented during ASSE's Safety 2014 conference in Orlando, FL. Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 28, 2014. Find guidelines, forms and highlights from the 2013 ceremony at www.bcsp.org/awardofexcellence.
OSHA Extends Silica Comment Period
OSHA has extended the public comment period for the agency's proposed crystalline silica rulemaking from the original ending date of Dec. 11, 2013, to Jan. 27, 2014. The agency says public hearings will begin March 18, 2014.
Find additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets and procedures for submitting written comments and participating in public hearings, at www.osha.gov/silica. Members of the public may comment on the proposal at www.regulations.gov.
Cell-Phone-Related Car Crashes Underreported Across the U.S.
According to an analysis by National Safety Council (NSC), only 52% of fatal crashes in which evidence indicated driver cell phone use were coded in national data as involving cell phones. The report, "Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data," reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011. Another notable finding of the report is that only half of crashes after which the driver admitted to using a cell phone during the incident were coded in federal data as potentially caused by cell phone use.
The analysis also revealed great variation in reporting trends among states. In 2011, some states, including Tennessee, Texas and California, reported significant numbers of crashes involving cell phone use while others, including Alabama, Nevada and Connecticut, reported none.
NSC stresses the importance of correcting statistics about cell-phone-involved crashes because inaccurate statistics leave the impression that activities such as talking and texting while driving are not as problematic as they truly are.
Find more information at http://goo.gl/p36t4.
Hazardous Drug Exposure Webinar Advocates Handling Awareness
Eight million healthcare workers are exposed to hazardous drugs every year. According to Mikaela Olson, oncology and hematology clinical nurse specialist, exposure can result in a broad spectrum of adverse health conditions ranging from mild skin irritations and allergic reactions, to infertility, leukemia and other forms of cancer, even after low-level exposure.
Many of these drugs are inescapable and present unknown risks to healthcare workers, she adds. Despite guidelines by OSHA and NIOSH, many healthcare workers are unaware of the risks they face when handling chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs in the workplace.
Becton Dickinson and Co. (BD), hosted a webinar earlier this year to call attention to the dangers associated with exposure to hazardous drugs, as well to educate healthcare workers on U.S. guidelines, standards and safety measures that prevent occupational exposure.
The webinar, "Hazardous Drug Exposure: Case-Based Approach to Minimizing Occupational Risks" examines and analyzes case-specific incidents of healthcare workers who handled hazardous drugs and explores methods to help protect such employees. Speakers Byron Peters, director, Washington University Cancer Center Pharmacy and Olson, stress the importance of future evaluation of hazardous drugs, proper handing and labeling of these drugs, and risk assessment tools to protect employees from unnecessary exposure.
The program specifically addresses NIOSH requirements related to hazardous drug safety, potential consequences of exposure to hazardous drugs, preventive measures to protect staff involved in the preparation of hazardous drugs, benefits of closed-system transfer devices, and steps to support implementation of the current American Society of Clinical Oncology and Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Chemotherapy Administration Safety Standards.
OSHA, NIOSH and ONS offer guidelines for appropriate handing and labeling of hazardous drugs, but the speakers believe that federal and state laws governing exposure to the more than 150 hazardous drugs on the market are limited and often insufficient.
BD, Olson and Peters emphasize the importance of awareness and action. Because hazardous drugs offer so many different methods for exposure Olson and Peters stress the need for more training, proper PPE, as well as improvements in PPE, and further drug assessments to help protect healthcare workers from exposure.
"I think it's important to understand that contamination of the environment can occur by anyone who is working in the environment with hazardous drugs and it takes all of us as a team to come together and be compliant to protect each other, to protect the caregivers who are in the environment and to keep the environment as clean as possible," Olson concludes.
For more information about the case studies and PPE tips, visit https://secure.pharmacytimes.com/lessons/201304-WEB1.asp for an audio recording of the webinar.
AIHA Issues White Paper on PCB Exposures in Construction
AIHA has released a white paper on exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in construction environments. "White Paper on PCBs in the Built Environment," explains what PCBs are and examines the exposure potential for occupants and personnel in such environments. According to AIHA, the paper also "identifies gaps in the current knowledge base that would help occupational and environmental health professionals to better understand the public health risk from PCBs in building materials." Visit www.aiha.org to download the document.
Nigeria Chapter Inducts Rear Admiral
ASSE's Nigeria Chapter recently inducted Rear Admiral Michael Akinsola Johnson, Commandant of the Nigerian Naval Engineering School, Sapele, Delta State, as a professional member of ASSE. Past chapter president Felix E.K. Nakpodia represented Chapter President Justina O. Okoro, who could not attend the ceremony. Other ASSE members present included Dickson O. Amromawhe and Christiana Salie Buba.
Johnson is a chartered marine technologist and registered engineer with Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria. He is a member of several organizations, including Nigerian Society of Engineers; American Society of Naval Engineers; International Institute of Marine Surveying, U.K.; U.S. Naval Institute; and Nigerian Chamber of Shipping. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science & Technology, U.K.; and a life member of the U.S. Naval War College Foundation.
Johnson is a recipient of the Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star and Distinguished Service Star. He was awarded the Silver Eagle and Golden Eagle in 1999 and 2005, respectively, and was named Distinguished Fellow of the Defence College, Nigeria, in 2009.
Top Rated BOK Assets
ASSE's Body of Knowledge (BOK) can help you in your search for SH&E knowledge. It builds on numerous resources that consist of collected wisdom, experience, processes and facts. BOK Corner gives readers a taste of what they can find in the BOK. This issue's BOK Corner lists the top 10 most downloaded BOK assets thus far.
Be sure to register for the BOK to gain full access to all of these assets and more. Register today at www.safetybok.org and be sure to listen to the "Introduction to ASSE's Body of Knowledge" podcast, which explains this resource and how you can contribute. Find the podcast at http://assevirtualclassroom.org/resources/?p=93.
- Fall Protection Equipment Record, by WesTower Communications
- Scissor Lift Safety Checklist, by Indiana Department of Labor INSafe
- GHS Employee Training Resource PowerPoint, by Will Kramer
- Health Hazards In Construction PowerPoint, by Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
- 2012 Job Outlook, by Ashley Johnson
- Powered Industrial Trucks - Operator Training PowerPoint, by OSHA
- GHS - HazCom: New Label Elements & Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Format PowerPoint, by Will Kramer
- Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous & Explosive Chemicals (Process Hazard Analysis & Management of Change) PowerPoint, by OSHA
- Introduction to OSHA 10- & 30-Hour PowerPoint, by OSHA
- Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous & Explosive Chemicals (Procedures & Training) PowerPoint, by OSHA