Fatigue-Related Incidents Are Preventable
Every work environment runs a risk of injuries. However, that risk is significantly heightened when employees are overstressed and overworked. Fatigue is a large contributor to human-error-related incidents, incidents and injuries in the workplace. Despite available research and effective solutions, such situations continue to be a threat, particularly in facilities that operate 24/7 or overnight, says Martin Moore-Ede, founder of Circadian Technologies Inc., a research and consulting firm that deals with reducing the cost and liabilities of managing a 24/7 workforce.
Fatigue is more than simply feeling tired. It impairs mental and physical function causing errors in responsibility, failure to make observations and think clearly, and can cause symptoms such as excessive sleepiness, changes in mood, and loss of attentiveness, situational awareness and motivation.
Fatigue can also result in errors of judgment, Moore-Ede says. "Nurses, for example, will make more medication errors when they're fatigued. They will have more needlestick injuries. They will fail to follow up, [and/or] fail to read the signs on a patient accurately," he says.
Employees who work extended hours, odd shifts or overnight shifts are most prone to fatigue and fatigue-related incidents by extension. This issue spans across many industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing and nuclear power plants, petrochemical refineries, offshore rigs, the trucking and railroad industries and more, Moore-Ede says. Fatigue can also lead to excess costs, reduced productivity and increased turnover.
Unlike incidents in which alcohol or drugs play a factor, fatigue cannot be determined through a breath test, urine sample or blood test. It often goes underreported and underinvestigated. However, SH&E professionals can learn to recognize key signs and symptoms of fatigue.
"A series of things happen. People tend to get very narrowly focused, they just try to get by," Moore-Ede says. "You cease looking around, you don't look at everything or scan the horizon, your main focus is staying awake."
"And then as you go further down the scale, people start getting the lazy-eyed look, they get locked in a stare as opposed to really being attentive. Then you'll start to see signs of sleepiness, episodes such as microsleep events," he says. "A microsleep is a short burst of sleep, maybe just a few seconds in length, where your eyelids usually close briefly, but it's inadvertently in the middle of everything else you're doing. You'll be driving on the highway and you have one of these episodes and you will suddenly realize you've gone several hundred yards without being aware of it."
For some unfortunate workers, a microsleep episode will occur at the wrong time. According to a 2012 poll by National Sleep Foundation, nearly one in 10 Americans admit they are likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate time or place, such as during a meeting or while driving.
On a positive note, fatigue is an addressable issue, says Moore-Ede. He suggests the first step in combating fatigue-related incidents in a workplace is to perform a fatigue risk analysis to better understand where fatigue risks are and what is causing them.
Factors to consider include scheduling, staffing, training or work environment, as well as how these factors might interact, Moore-Ede says.
According to the National Sleep Foundation poll, many in the transportation industry believe irregular schedules play a major role in their sleep problems.
Transportation professionals, in general, work more irregular hours than employees in other industries. Long commutes to and from work, and irregular time off between shifts can also contribute to sleepiness.
After assessing the risks, one can begin to develop a fatigue risk management system to track and manage the different causes of fatigue. Balancing staff and shifts to account for shift swaps, overtime assignments and commutes can greatly reduce the risk of fatigue in an organization. However, properly managing fatigue takes multiple steps, including adjusting work environment factors and training employees on proper sleep schedules.
"It's not something you can cure by just giving someone a booklet or training course on how to get better sleep because it's actually an institutional as well as an individual responsibility," Moore-Ede says. "In other words, there are things the company has to do in terms of its staffing, scheduling and training, and there are things employees do on their own time. Each is equally important." Action must be taken at both the management level and the employee level. "There are many very effective solutions today," he says. "There is no excuse for companies not addressing the issue." To learn more, visit www.circadian.com.
Fatigue Risk Management Systems
In its white paper, "Evolution of Fatigue Risk Management Systems: The ‘Tipping Point' of Employee Fatigue Mitigation," Circardian stresses five key defenses that must be managed by fatigue risk management systems.
- Workload-staffing balance. It is important to first address task-load issues and ensure proper staffing levels. According to the white paper, staffing level is the primary cause of overtime, and average time off and other factors can be related to employee fatigue. It is important to proportionally balance the workload throughout the 24/7 schedules.
- Shift or duty-rest scheduling. Even if properly staffed, schedules should account for factors such as shift changes, overtime assignments and commutes. Operations should address the issue by using fatigue risk models to assess work/rest patterns and put limitations and caps on working consecutive hours or days.
- Employee fatigue training. Educate employees to manage their sleep schedules. Multiple factors can interfere with an adequate night's rest. Insufficient shiftwork coping skills, personal emergencies, sleep disorders and related issues can inhibit even a strong schedule. Circadian suggests training employees on the importance of proper sleep hygiene.
- Workplace environment design. Despite a healthy sleep schedule, employees who work early morning hours may still report sleepiness. Circadian suggests the next step is designing a workplace that aims to keep employees alert. Lighting, sound levels, temperature and humidity are all key factors.
- Alertness monitoring. Employees and supervisors must recognize signs and symptoms through training programs and fitness-for-duty tests.
APA Awards Psychologically Healthy Workplaces
American Psychological Association (APA) recognized four companies for their efforts to promote employee well-being and performance. Winners of the APA Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards are selected based on their workplace practices in the areas of employee involvement, safety and health, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition. Overall, the winning organizations reported average rates of turnover, work stress and employee dissatisfaction that are significantly lower than the national average. The winning companies are:
- Bowers + Kubota Consulting, Hawaii. The company offers generous health coverage, flexible work schedules, employee recognition through bonuses and retirement account contributions, and a wellness program that encourages employees to make healthy choices in exercise, nutrition and behavioral health.
- Triple-S, Puerto Rico. The company offers a comprehensive on-site health clinic that provides extensive medical services, support programs and preventive screenings.
- Christiana Care Health System's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, Delaware. The organization's comprehensive programs include a wellness website, flexible scheduling, and an annual employee retreat that has resulted in measurable improvements in conflict management, internal communications and group cohesiveness.
- Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii. The organization offers flex schedules, telework options, on-site exercise rooms and fitness programs.
"Forward-thinking employers such as our 2013 award winners are taking steps to create a positive work environment where employees can thrive," says David Ballard, head of APA's Center for Organizational Excellence. "In turn, employees are more engaged and committed to the organization's success. This shared responsibility for creating a psychologically healthy workplace promotes an organizational culture that values well-being and performance and delivers results on both sides of the equation."
For more information, visit http://apaexcellence.org.
Fall Prevention Campaign Reaches Maryland Bus System
To further its fall prevention campaign, OSHA has partnered with Montgomery County Worker Health and Safety Commission (in Maryland) to spread the message about preventing fatal falls in construction. The team initiated a poster campaign targeting more than 200 public buses across the county. The posters went up March 1, 2013, and will remain on display for a few months.
The posters help raise awareness about the hazards of working from heights in construction and describe steps that must be taken to help workers stay safe on the job (e.g., harnesses and lines for roof work). In addition, the posters direct the public to call (800) 312-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov to learn more about the campaign. To view the posters, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
Safety Education Feature Provides Tips for Flatwork Ironers
Laundry product supplier, Tingue, Brown & Co. has launched a safety education feature to help laundry mangers and workers promote safe operation of flatwork ironers. The online Ironer Safety center addresses many safety hazards involved in flatwork finishing, and offers recommendations for waxing, cleaning and lubrication; lockout/tagout for ironer maintenance; dust and lint control; ergonomic laundry feeding and handling; and proper guide tape installation. The center also recommends corresponding preventive maintenance checks. Learn more at www.tinguebrownco.com.
DOL Celebrates 100 Years
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. The agency was created on March 4, 2013, when President William Howard Taft signed legislation that created DOL, "giving workers a direct seat in the President's cabinet for the first time," DOL reports.
The agency has produced a video, 100 Years of DOL History (www.dol.gov/dol/media/webcast/20120831-centennial); an interactive timeline; historical posters; and a collection of historical vignettes. In addition, www.dol.gov/100 contains various information from the past 100 years; a section on current initiatives and resources; and a section devoted to the agency's future and centennial events.
MSHA Issues POV Final Rule
MSHA has revised its regulation for pattern of violations (POV). The final rule simplifies existing POV criteria, improves consistency in applying those criteria and more effectively achieves the statutory intent of the Mine Act. The rule also encourages chronic safety violators to comply with the act and MSHA safety and health standards. The rule became effective March 25, 2013. For more information, visit www.msha.gov/POV/POVsinglesource.asp.
EU-OSHA Report Examines Safety in Supply Chains
As businesses outsource more activities and processes, it is important that they consider working conditions in their supply chains. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has issued, "Promoting Occupational Safety and Health Through the Supply Chain," a report that examines occupational safety and health (OSH) within these complex networks of suppliers and service providers. The report culls information from relevant literature, government policies and case studies to provide an overview of how OSH can be managed and promoted through the supply chain, and highlights incentives that encourage good OSH practices among suppliers and contractors.
According to the report, companies that wish to hold suppliers to high OSH standards must be involved at many different stages of the contracting process, from selecting safe contractors at the precontract stage, to supervising work as it is performed and reviewing contractor's OSH performance when the contract ends. EU-OSHA also notes that the report reinforces the importance of safety certification schemes, in particular, as a way of promoting OSH in the supply chain, adding that various governing bodies are investigating a common, EU-wide approach.
Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) has also been focusing on this issue, particularly in light of deadly fires that occurred in garment factories in Bangladesh and Pakistan. "In a world in which corporate social responsibility is becoming more important to business practice, one might ask how workers in the developing world can continue to face conditions that could lead to such loss," CSHS says. "It's not enough to condemn local factory owners for these conditions and to expect long-term change. The corporations that source supply chain products, as well as their stakeholders, have tremendous power to influence the conditions in which supply chain workers operate."
Find the EU-OSHA report and related resources at http://goo.gl/ZDPtF. Learn more about CSHS at www.centershs.org.
Fatal Fashion: Analysis of Garment
Industry Fires Are a Call to Action
"Fatal Fashion," a report from Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), describes the fires that ravaged garment plants in Pakistan and Bangladesh. "Hundreds of workers were killed in horrendous circumstances, and many others were severely injured," the groups say. "Substandard buildings, poor emergency procedures, blocked fire exits, overcrowded workplaces, and vastly inadequate control and auditing practices resulted in an extremely high death toll."
According to SOMO and CCC, the two cases are symptomatic of an ailing system, and are indicative of an industry notorious in the developing world for low wages, and demanding and unsafe working conditions. The report discusses the duties and responsibilities of the different actors involved in the cases—manufacturers, brands, retailers, audit firms, certification bodies and governments. Download a copy at http://somo.nl/publications-en/Publication_3943.
HazCom Standard Guides Assist With Transition
OSHA has issued two publications to help employers make the transition to its new HazCom standard for chemicals, which aligns with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification standard. The first publication is a 2-page fact sheet that covers the standard's training requirements. According to Occupational Safety and Health Reporter, "Employers must train their workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet format by Dec. 1." The second publication is a 9-page brief that the agency created for chemical receivers, purchasers and trainers. It includes labels and an explanation of their elements, and explains what pictograms are and how to use them.
The agency issued the final HazCom rule in March 2012, and employers must comply with the rule by June 1, 2016. These two publications aim to help employers better understand the standard's technicalities. Find both guides at www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.
NIOSH Offers Safety Guidance to Small Businesses
To help small business owners and managers address occupational safety and health concerns, NIOSH hosts a Small Business Resource Guide at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/smbus/guide. The site serves as a starting point for addressing a broad range of occupational safety and health issues without a major investment of time or money. It features six sections: General Information, Guides and Courses, Specific Occupations and Hazards, Regulations, Consultation Services and Emergency Preparedness, all of which contain links to resources such as articles, websites, and sample forms and checklists. OSHA also offers a library of resources for small business at www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/index.html.
Guidance Covers Working Safely at Heights
Access Industry Forum has added five videos to its Video Toolbox Talks (VTT) series, focusing on work at height equipment. The 10-minute VTTs, which can be viewed at www.accessindustryforum.org.uk/vtt.htm, include an online test to ensure that viewers have understood their content—and as a "pass" can be printed when a test is successfully completed. Topics covered are planning an emergency rescue using mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), preventing entrapment using an MEWP, ladder inspection, best practices for steeplejacks, and maintaining and testing safety nets.
Final Rule Covers Commercial & Industrial Solid Waste
EPA has published a final rule containing decisions made when it reconsidered its 2011 final rule, Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units. The agency denied requests for reconsideration of all issues raised in petitions. The rule sets effective dates for the standards and makes technical corrections to clarify definitions, references, applicability and compliance issues. EPA is also issuing final amendments to regulations codified by the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials rule promulgated in 2011 to provide standards and procedures for identifying whether nonhazardous secondary materials are solid waste under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act when used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units. Read more in the Feb. 7, 2013, Federal Register at www.gpo.gov.
White Paper Examines Skill Needs for Silica Competent Persons
AIHA's white paper, "Recommended Skills and Capabilities for Silica Competent Persons," describes the minimum body of knowledge needed by a competent person to provide meaningful worker protection from silica. As AIHA reports, OSHA's Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health has recommended that the agency utilize a competent person approach for the upcoming proposed rule on silica in construction.
In addition, National Occupational Research Agenda construction sector goals for silica identify competent person training as an area for partnering and development. "A silica competent person can recognize and evaluate situations where overexposure may be occurring; knows how to evaluate the exposure potential; and can make recommendations for exposure control," AIHA explains.
"This document provides a list of subject-specific skills and competency objectives a silica competent person should have to enable them to perform the job successfully." Access the document at www.aiha.org/news-pubs/govt?affairs/Pages/PositionStatements.aspx.
Farm Safety Week Teaches Agriculture Safety Basics
Statistics show that agriculture is the fourth most hazardous industry in Canada, including a higher-than-average risk for children. According to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting, 248 children died from agriculture-related injuries between 1990 and 2008, 63% of which were machine-related.
To help raise awareness of farming safety, the Canada Safety Council hosted National Farm Safety Week earlier this year. To improve safety, the council offers these recommendations:
- Do not operate farm machinery or vehicles when impaired. Impairing substances include alcohol, some medications and drugs. Impairment can also take other forms such as fatigue, emotional stress and distractions.
- Always walk around machinery or vehicle before starting the equipment. Children, pets, farm animals or debris may be hiding in blind spots.
- Know the terrain that is being farmed. When possible, avoid steep ditches and other areas where rollovers are more likely.
- Use machinery and vehicles for their intended purposes only.
- Do not carry more passengers on machines than recommended.
- Always keep hands, feet and body clear of moving machine parts. Use safety guards and keep machinery in good repair.
- Keep work areas neat and clean.
- Underage persons should not operate vehicles or machinery.
- Teach children safety fundamentals, such as identifying where farm machinery and vehicles are operated, and where not to play.
- Farm owners/operators must clearly communicate to staff that risk-taking involving machinery or vehicles is not allowed or tolerated. Employees should understand the expectation that they will always operate in a safe manner. This includes no speeding and no impaired or distracted driving.
- Make sure operators are competent, confident and capable when it comes to using machinery. If additional training or instruction is necessary, make safety the priority. Take the time to read manuals, ask questions and consult industry experts.
- Have an emergency plan and review it often with anyone who is regularly on the farm. This plan should include contact information for local emergency responders, and contact information for friends or relatives who can be called if something goes wrong.
For more information, visit http://goo.gl/2ngLZ.
CSB Report Covers Fatal 2011 Electric Arc Furnace Explosion
A large explosion at a Carbide Industries facility in Louisville, KY, that killed two workers and injured two others March 21, 2011, resulted from a failure by the company to investigate similar but smaller explosive incidents over many years while deferring crucial maintenance of the large electric arc furnace that blew up, according to CSB's draft final report on the explosion.
According to CSB Chair Rafael Moure-Eraso, the explosion was a "a case study into the tragic, predictable consequences of running equipment to failure even when repeated safety incidents over many years warn of impending failure. It is what we call a ‘normalization of deviance,' in which abnormal events become acceptable in everyday operations."
The investigation report proposes two scenarios for the development of cooling water leaks that likely resulted in the overpressure and explosion. In one scenario, fouling (accumulation of solids inside the hollow chamber where water flows) resulted in localized overheating, eventually causing sections of the cover to sag and crack. The leaks also could have been caused by sudden eruption of hot liquid from the furnace (called a boil-up). According to CSB, postincident examination revealed recurring water leaks in multiple zones of the furnace cover. Rather than replacing the furnace cover, CSB learned that the company directed workers to attempt repairs.
"One of our key findings was that Carbide Industries issued 26 work orders to repair water leaks on the furnace cover in the 5 months prior to the March 2011 incident," explains CSB lead investigator Johnnie Banks. "We also found that the company could have prevented this incident had it voluntarily applied elements of a process safety management program, such as hazard analysis, incident investigation and mechanical integrity."
Find additional details about the case and the investigation at www.csb.gov/investigations/detail.aspx?SID=103.
NTSB Safety Alerts Address
General Aviation Concerns
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a series of general aviation safety alerts that address the most frequent types of general aviation incidents. According to the agency, each year about 475 pilots and passengers are killed and hundreds more are seriously injured in general aviation incidents in the U.S., putting general aviation on NTSB's most-wanted list. The agency says that in many of the 1,500 incidents it investigates each year, pilots did not have adequate knowledge, skills or training to fly safely. An added concern is glass cockpit displays, which present a new layer of complications for general aviation pilots.
The safety alerts address low-altitude stalls, spatial disorientation, mechanical problems and risk mitigation. NTSB plans to release a video to accompany each alert, featuring advice on how pilots and mechanics can avoid tragic mistakes. Find the alerts at www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety_alerts.html.
Safe-in-Sound Award Winners
The winner of the 2013 Safe-in-Sound Award for Excellence is Vulcan Materials Co. (VMC), which produces construction aggregates. According to NIOSH, VMC received the award for its commitment and implementation of a data-driven hearing loss prevention program, and its efforts to use innovation and cost-effective noise measurement and control strategies. NIOSH reports that VMC is "leading the advancements in noise monitoring strategies for mobile workers by integrating sophisticated technologies such as GPS and video into noise measurement protocols."
In addition, two other companies received innovation awards: Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company and manufacturer of building materials; and Dangerous Decibels, an evidence-based intervention program dedicated to preventing noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. Johns Manville was recognized for its Hearing Conservation Pyramid, a program that uses metrics to track noise exposure levels along with noise control engineering training. Dangerous Decibels received the award for its development, dissemination and cultural adaptation of training strategies that change knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in youth and adults.
"This year's recipients confirm that the benefits of noise control go far beyond the prevention of hearing loss and make good business sense, as a safe and healthy workforce benefits workers, employers and the U.S. economy," says NIOSH Director John Howard.
View the award presentations at www.safeinsound.us/winners.html. Nominations for 2014 will be accepted until Sept. 6, 2013. Learn more at www.safeinsound.us/application.
IPAF Praises Risk
International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) applauds the Statement of Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessment and Aerial Work Platform Equipment Selection, which was copublished by American Rental Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Scaffold and Access Industry Association, and IPAF.
The guidance highlights best practices regarding workplace risk assessment and selecting the most appropriate aerial work platform (AWP) equipment for the job at hand. Developed for use in the U.S., the guidance is based on ANSI standards. "Before you use an AWP, think about how you would use it and what could go wrong. This is risk assessment. It is the best way for management to prevent accidents. This new document gives managers clear guidance on how to perform risk assessments," says IPAF's Tim Whiteman.
Download the document in the Publications sections of www.awpt.org or www.ipaf.org.
Scaffolding Safety: 5 Tips
Construction is among the most hazardous industries, and falls are the leading cause of death in the industry, according to OSHA. In 2010, there were 774 total fatalities in construction, with 264 due to falls. Scaffolding was the third most frequently cited OSHA standard in 2012, with fall protection topping that list.
To help contractors, Kee Safety has compiled the following five tips for keeping safe while maintaining productivity.
Tip #1: Slow Down or Consider Efficiency Building Alternatives
Speed is often important to construction projects, and it is tempting to trust in previous work experience and not think too much about safety concerns. "On any job site, there is this constant balance and compromise. You want to get the job done fast, but you want to do so with minimal risk to workers," says Kee Safety's Mike Mumau. "The real issue is how do you build something in a fast, efficient way, and still be profitable without putting workers at risk."
A contractor need not sacrifice speed for safety. Invest in techniques and tools that allow for greater efficiency so that safety isn't compromised to complete the project on time, Kee says.
Consider organization, communication and time management training to make sure efficient working methods are being used. For smaller jobs, seek products that are cost effective and quicker alternatives to safe access platforms.
Tip #2: Keep the Workplace Organized
Slips, trips and falls account for the highest number of safety violations. To avoid both citation and injury, encourage worksite organization. Tripping can be particularly hazardous on or around scaffolding, because it has the added danger of injuring those working below. Make sure tools are not left in random places to reduce the risk of tripping incidents. Systemization of tool placement or equipment facilitates an out-of-the-way organizational system.
Tip #3: Identify Hazards
Evaluate both the site and the project to determine the most likely hazards, and consider potential solutions before construction starts. If working near overhead power lines, make sure scaffolding is constructed far enough away to avoid risk of electrocution. If scaffolding will need to be moved during the project, analyze the plan before erecting a time-consuming setup and consider alternatives. If hoisting awkward-to-carry materials such as windows or skylights to a second floor or roof, consider access platforms or systems equipped with hoists to lift items into place so workers don't have to climb ladders while carrying them.
Tip #4: Proper Training
Ensure that workers are trained in the most recent OSHA requirements and know the procedures for dealing with potential hazards to avoid costly and time-consuming safety errors and help ensure project success. Properly trained and knowledgeable workers can better set up and take down equipment safely and efficiently. For example, training in setting up/building scaffolding can ensure a solid workspace for overhead workers, and reduce the likelihood of a rig collapse from instability.
Tip #5: Review the Site
It is important not only to identify hazards but also to review the worksite during construction. Before work begins, ensure that a qualified professional has checked scaffolding or platforms and include all relevant safety precautions, such as the passive or collective railing systems to protect workers at heights. Quick reviews by informed workers can keep jobs running smoothly and help maintain project safety, particularly as workers grow comfortable on the job and may neglect safety in favor of speed.
To ensure scaffolding safety, employers should strive to be efficient, rather than simply working fast. Safety and efficiency can go hand in hand.
"Anytime a worker has to compromise safety to work it is a problem," Mumau concludes. With the proper training and equipment, working safely and swiftly need not be mutually exclusive, and scaffolding violations need not remain high on OSHA's citation list.
NCOSH Urges Action on Silica Standard
National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) is calling on the Obama Administration to push through the long-delayed standard on occupational exposure to crystalline silica. The rule has been stalled in the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for 2 years.
"American workers cannot afford to wait for the federal government to enact this commonsense rule," says NCOSH's Tom O'Connor. "Each day that the federal government stalls, workers are needlessly exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust, which is one of the oldest known causes of work-related lung disease."
In 2011, ASSE urged OIRA to move the rulemaking forward. In its letter to the agency, ASSE called particular attention to the fact that the continued delay prevents OSHA from engaging ASSE members and all stakeholders in a meaningful and fully open discussion about how best to advance a silica standard.
Find additional information on occupational exposure to silica from NIOSH at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/silica and from OSHA at www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/index.html.
AFOP Honors Volunteer Farm Safety Trainers
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) recently recognized 16 SAFE AmeriCorps volunteers for their service to U.S. farmworkers. Among them, Ruth Pina was recognized for her outstanding work in providing safety and health training for migrant and seasonal farmworkers in New Mexico. Over the past year, she has trained more than 1,000 farmworkers in pesticide safety and heat stress prevention.
"Farm work is one of the most dangerous industries in America," says AFOP's Levy Schroeder. "In fact, we estimate that every 17 hours a farmworker dies because of dangerous equipment, pesticide poisoning and heat stress." Schroeder says the preventive training provided by Pina and other volunteers will have a lasting impact on farmworkers' lives.
AFOP provides job training and services to U.S. farmworkers. The group's Health & Safety Programs Division develops training and coordinates health promotion activities to protect farmworkers from life-threatening occupational hazards. Through AFOP's SAFE AmeriCorps program, volunteers provide farmworkers and their families with direct assistance, including help with transportation, clothing and food. Since 1995, its volunteers have trained more than half a million farmworkers in pesticide safety at no cost to agricultural employers or workers. For more information, visit www.afop.org.