Bookmark and Share
September 2014

Safety Matters

OSHA Launches Annual Campaign to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses

OSHA's annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers is in full swing. Now in its fourth year, the campaign raises awareness and educates workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather, and provides resources and guidance to address these hazards. Workers at greatest risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation.

According to OSHA, 31 workers died due to heat-related illnesses in 2012, and another 4,120 became ill. "Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating," OSHA explains. "Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventive measures are not followed." The agency also advises that heat illness is a particular threat to those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and new and temporary workers. According to the agency, acclimatization was the cause in 74% of heat-related citations issued over the past 3 years.

For this year's campaign, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials as well as a training curriculum in English and Spanish that can be accessed at www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. The agency also has a free mobile app that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. Download the app from the iTunes store or Android market.

NETS Publishes Road Safety Guide for Fleet Employers

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has published the NETS' Comprehensive Guide to Road Safety. The free guide was developed by members of NETS' board of directors, who drew from their companies' best practices for road safety. According to NETS, the guide has global applicability for employers that operate both large and small fleets and that have new, developing or advanced road safety programs. It covers key performance indicators, organizational requirements, business case development, continuous improvement, programs and policies.

"The guide provides an excellent starting point for companies and organizations of all sizes with all types of fleets wanting to put in place a road safety program for their operations," says Mike Watson, global road safety manager for Shell International Petroleum Co. He says the publication can also help fleet safety managers "compare their existing programs to those of leading employers in road safety."

"NETS is a member of the UN Road Safety Collaboration and is dedicated to improving road safety around the world," says NETS' Jack Hanley. "We believe publication of the guide is an important contribution to the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 and NETS is pleased to provide employers with this tool to start or improve their fleet safety programs." Download the publication at http://bit.ly/Ta8MMk.

Recommendations Address Lithium-Ion Battery Safety

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a series of recommendations on the evaluation and certification of lithium-ion batteries for use in aircraft systems. The five safety recommendations follow an ongoing investigation of the Jan. 7, 2013, fire that occurred in a lithium-ion battery on a Boeing 787 parked at Boston Logan International Airport.

According to NTSB, the battery involved in the fire showed evidence of an internal thermal runaway as well as an unintended electrical interaction between the battery and the airplane.

The agency points to a gap in standardization of thermal runaway tests, which render inadequate the processes used in 2006 to support the certification of the lithium-ion battery. Due to the lack of a standardized thermal runaway test, lithium-ion battery designs on airplanes currently in service might not have accounted for the hazards associated with internal short-circuiting.

To address these issues, NTSB asked Federal Aviation Administration to:

  • Develop an aircraft-level thermal runaway test to demonstrate safety performance in the presence of an internal short circuit failure.
  • Require that test be used as part of certification of future aircraft designs.
  • Reevaluate internal short circuit risk for lithium-ion batteries now in-service.
  • Develop guidance for thermal runaway test methods.
  • Convene a panel of independent expert consultants early in the certification process for new technologies installed on aircraft.

NTSB anticipates releasing the final report on the incident this fall. For more information, visit www.ntsb.gov.

CPWR Launches
Hand Safety Website

The Center for Construction Research and Training's (CPWR) new website helps contractors and trades workers prevent common hand injuries and ailments. Developed under the guidance of the Masonry Research to Practice Partnership, http://choosehandsafety.org provides industry-specific information on the hand injury risks and prevention strategies to avoid cuts, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome or skin disorders that can impact the quality of work and productivity. Resources include hand tool and glove selection and training materials such as presentations, toolbox talks and handouts.

Drivers: Think Hands-Free Phones Are Safer? They're Not, NSC Warns

According to an NSC (http://nsc.org) survey, 80% of drivers mistakenly think that using a hands-free device is safer than a handheld phone. The group points to dozens of studies that show hands-free devices are no safer than their handheld counterparts because the brain is distracted by the cell phone conversation. Yet, 70% of study respondents who use hands-free devices said safety was the reason.

"While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it's just not true," says NSC's David Teater. "The problem is the brain does not truly multitask. Just like you can't read a book and talk on the phone, you can't safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone." He says it's not a surprise that drivers are confused, with many states banning handheld devices and many new cars being equipped with hands-free technology.

As part of its distracted driving awareness campaign (http://nsc.org/handsfree), NSC developed an infographic that illustrates that "hands-free is not risk-free."

ASSE Hosts SustainabilitySymposium in Washington, DC

In conjunction with NAOSH Week 2014, ASSE hosted a symposium on May 7 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, titled "The Human Cost of Cheap Labor." The event focused on occupational safety and health in global workforce sustainability and featured speakers who shared different perspectives on the topic of sustainability. Appropriately enough, as 2013-14 ASSE President Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CFIOSH, EurOSHM, pointed out, the event was held on NAOSH Week's Occupational Safety and Health Professionals' Day, a day to recognize safety professionals for the work they do. 

In addition, ASSE's 2014 Triangle Award for Heroic Dedication was presented to Stefan Bright, safety director for the International Window Cleaning Association, for going beyond his duties as an SH&E professional. Among his many accomplishments, Bright established a field manual, training and standards that have reduced fatalities among window washers by 30% over the past 20 years. (Visit http://bit.ly/1uhReLY to hear Bright's thoughts on receiving the award.)

Seabrook welcomed those in attendance, which included SH&E professionals, stakeholders and members of the press, and introduced ASSE's NAOSH Week counterparts from Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and AISOHMEX, Peter Strum and Victoriano Anguis, respectively. OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab also addressed participants before the featured presentations began. "We don't hear enough about sustainability in the workplace and I congratulate [ASSE] for choosing the subject," Barab said. "We need to leverage resources, and we thank ASSE for helping spread the message for us."

The event was jammed-packed with speakers, all who contributed to the topic of sustainability. "Our job is to think about what is the next big thing," Seabrook said. "Sustainability is a moving object; things are changing." She added that although safety professionals have always been about compliance, they should move beyond that and look to become business partners. "Our role is to identify and ensure that OSH risks are mitigated or managed," she said. "We must have knowledge about those risks, and when we can align those risks, we can be ahead of the curve."

Robert Eccles, professor at Harvard Business School and author of three books on corporate reporting, spoke on his extensive research concerning integrated reporting and corporate sustainability. In an interview before his presentation, Eccles touched on the importance of integrated reporting as it relates to safety.

"What integrated reporting does, as people who care about safety, is it gives them the opportunity to make the case for why safety performance belongs in integrated reporting," Eccles said. "But, I think people have to be practical about it. . . . In cases where performance is material, and [safety professionals] have to make the case to the company and ultimately to the board, then an integrated report is an effective way to communicate that information in the context of all other information."

Additional speakers included ASSE 2014-15 Senior Vice President Elect Tom Cecich, CSP, CIH, chair of the Center of Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS); Jay Harf, assistant vice president EH&S Americas, L'Oreal USA Inc.; and Garrett Brown, Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network coordinator.

Cecich, who talked about making the business case for workforce sustainability, touched on a 2013 CSHS study that showed gaps and a lack of transparency in OSH sustainability reporting among organizations rated highly for sustainability performance, illustrating that safety is not yet perceived as an important factor in sustainability. "Safety needs to be part of the conversation," Cecich said. "We need to gather data to determine where safety fits in."

Harf provided a corporate perspective on how L'Oreal treats EHS as a core value. His human sustainability message noted that as a profession "it's not what we say, it's what we do that defines us," Harf said. "Our relentless passion for EHS is vital to our future." To close the presentations, Brown provided a labor perspective, saying that genuine worker participation is key. "Workers have an important role to play in effective OSH programs," Brown said.

Facility Design Guidelines Include Risk Assessment Tools

Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) has published the 2014 FGI Guidelines for Design and Construction of Residential Health, Care & Support Facilities. The guidelines provide a set of minimum standards for a wide range of long-term care, residential care and support facilities, reflecting a shift in the industry toward provision of person-centered care in a more home-like environment. In addition to planning information for all covered facility types, the guidelines include design criteria for sustainable design and a resident safety risk assessment to help designers and owners identify and mitigate hazards in the care environment. The 2013 edition of ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE Standard 170, Ventilation of Health Care Facilities, is included as well. Learn more about each resource at www.fgiguidelines.org/fgistore.

Center for Motor Vehicle Safety Launches 5-Year Strategic Plan

NIOSH's Center for Motor Vehicle Safety has released a 5-year strategic plan to help reduce the burden of work-related crashes. The Strategic Plan for Research and Prevention, 2014-2018 (http://1.usa.gov/1o1hera) describes the center's vision, mission and scope to explain its work in the context of complementary work of other federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and international partners. According to NIOSH, the plan aims to advance understanding of the risk factors associated with work-related motor vehicle crashes; evaluate safety interventions; promote the implementation of comprehensive road safety management policies; communicate research-based prevention information; and enhance the availability of guidance on crash prevention. View the plan at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/motorvehicle.

UL Publishes Workplace Safety & Health Research

UL has published the first issue of Workplace Health & Safety Journal, which the group says is supported by UL's "New Science" research. The publication aims to help companies address the changing dynamics of the workforce: an aging and less healthy population coupled with increases in medical care costs.

"A healthy workplace is, by definition, a safer workplace," says Todd Hohn, UL's global workplace health and safety director. "Traditionally, organizations viewed their health and safety functions as distinct areas of their businesses. Integrating these two functions . . . can provide greater transparency to effectively detect and mitigate emerging risks, and ultimately improve worker conditions."

The publication offers information on innovative approaches to workplace safety and health, and highlights a case study on how one organization improved its processes and established a culture of safety.

Learn more at http://newscience.ul.com/workplacehealthandsafety.

National COSH Reports on Preventable Deaths in 2014

A report from National Council on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), "2014 Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities," says that more than 50,000 U.S. workers die each year due to occupational injuries and illnesses. Key findings include:

  • At least 4,383 workers died from sudden traumatic injuries in 2012.
  • Tens of thousands of workers die each year from long-term occupational illnesses.
  • Nearly 700 deaths can be prevented each year by adoption of a standard limiting workplace exposure to silica. 

The report also includes the group's recommendations to address these workplace fatalities:

  • Enhance workplace safety and health programs.
  • Create stronger standards and regulations.
  • Provide more access to OSHA services in multiple languages.
  • Provide public access to national fatality data.
  • Strengthen and update OSHA laws.

Read the report at http://bit.ly/1fraga0.

EPA Finalizes Vehicle Standards to Reduce Emissions, Improve Public Health

EPA has finalized emission standards for cars and gasoline that will reduce harmful pollution and increase efficiency. These standards are part of the agency's Tier 3 Program, which is a comprehensive approach to reduce the effects of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. EPA says the standards are an "important component" of its national program, and once they are in place, they will help prevent up to 2,000 premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory aliments in children.

Additional benefits of the standards include:

  • Projected savings of more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.
  • Reduction in vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants by up to 30%.
  • By 2018, prevention of an estimated 225 to 610 premature deaths per year and reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by about 260,000 tons.
  • By 2030, total savings of health-related expenses between $6.7 and $19 billion annually. 

Visit www.epa.gov for more information.

NFPA Reports on Smoke Alarms in Home Fires

Although smoke alarms are known to save lives, nearly 5 million households still do not have smoke alarms installed. According to NFPA, three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" also reports:

  • 96% of U.S. households have at least one smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms were present in 73% of all reported home fires, but were functioning in only 52% of these fires.
  • 37% of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms.
  • 23% of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate.

NFPA offers several tips for testing and maintaining smoke alarms:

  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms.
  • Replace smoke alarms after 10 years.
  • Test smoke alarms every month.
  • In smoke alarms with long-life batteries, if the alarm chirps, replace the entire device. Batteries of other types should be replaced every year.
  • Use a combination of both ionization and photoelectric alarms for the best protection. Ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are more responsive to smoldering fires.

For more safety tips, visit http://bit.ly/LIb16h. To download the report, visit http://bit.ly/RIPE8k.

Campaign Aims to Encourage Pedestrians & Drivers to "See Tracks? Think Train!"

Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) (www.oli.org) has launched a campaign to reduce fatalities around railroad tracks. The "See Tracks? Think Train!" campaign (www.seetracksthinktrain.org) highlights common risks that pedestrians and drivers take, such as trying to beat a train at a grade crossing and walking on railroad tracks. According to OLI's Joyce Rose, people often don't realize how dangerous it is to walk on or near tracks, or how long it takes a freight train to stop. A fully loaded train can take a mile or more to completely stop, making it extremely difficult for train engineers to avoid a collision.

"Every day someone's risky behavior around railroad tracks gets them injured or killed," says Rose. "Our goal with this campaign is to make people think twice before doing something risky or unsafe."

Federal Railroad Administration data show 908 pedestrians were injured or killed while walking on or near railroad tracks this past year—an increase of more than 7% over the previous year. Another 1,193 people were injured or killed at railroad grade crossings, which is a 1.5% increase over the previous year.

"Transit ridership on trains, light rail and streetcars are at their highest levels since the 1950s," says Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan. "That growth carries with it a safety challenge, especially in this day and age of constant electronic distraction."

EPA Seeks Comment on Reporting of Chemicals Used in Fracking

In response to a petition submitted under section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA has released an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures. The agency seeks comments regarding what information should be reported or disclosed for hydraulic fracturing chemical substances and mixtures, as well as how this information should be obtained. Mechanisms for obtaining fracking chemical information could be regulatory, voluntary or a combination. Other considerations include best management practices and third-party certification and collection.

Additionally, EPA is soliciting comments on incentives that could be used to prompt disclosure of chemical information and encourage the development and use of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing. Comments are due by Aug. 18, 2014, and can be submitted at www.regulations.gov (refer to EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019).
View the advance notice of proposed rulemaking at http://1.usa.gov/1vzRE1T.

image

Columns & Other Sections

President's Message

2014 - ASSE President Patricia M. Ennis, CSP, ARM

PS Asks

International Window Cleaning Association's Stefan Bright

Leading Thoughts

The real impact of leadership

Best Practices

Mercantile safety

Safety Photo Gallery

A collection of safety photos featured each month in PS.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Art of Toys

Resources