A recent study by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released May 22 compares injury-related deaths from state to state in America. The document, The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, shows Florida had the 18th highest rate with 66.8 per 100,000 people suffering injury fatalities costing total lifetime of $117.7 million in medical expenses.
Nationwide, injuries are the third leading cause of death and the leading cause for Americans ages 1-44. In addition, approximately 50 million Americans are medically treated for injuries every year and 2.8 hospitalized. This in turn, sums up to $406 billion in lifetime costs for both, medical care and lost productivity.
Needless to say, the report’s purpose and conclusion emphasizes the need for states to adopt additional research-based injury prevention policies. When properly implemented and enforced, we could see injury numbers decline due to prevention.
“There are proven, evidence-based strategies that can spare millions of Americans from injuries each year”, says Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. “This report focuses on specific, scientifically supported steps we can take to make it easier for Americans to keep themselves and their families safer.”
To view the report, visit http://healthyamericans.org/reports/injury12/. To view Florida’s results, visit http://healthyamericans.org/reports/injury12/release.php?stateid=FL.
From a Napa winemaker to a paint manufacturing employee in Fullerton, seven Californians died last year while working in a confined space – an uptick in a category of workplace fatalities that are readily preventable, experts said.
“We’ve learned enough over the years that there’s no reason that people should be dying in confined spaces,” said Michael Wilson, director of the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
Confined spaces are enclosed areas that are hard to get in and out of, and they can present health and safety risks, such as limited oxygen supply, toxic chemical fumes, or materials or machinery that could trap workers. These spaces, such as silos or tanks, are not meant for continual employee occupancy.
Between 2008 and 2010, there were two such deaths each year.
Last year’s deaths in part prompted the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health – commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA – to launch a special program in February to step up efforts on training and compliance with state and federal standards related to confined spaces.
Yesterday, the agency announced that it had issued 36 citations totaling $38,895 in penalties to American Reclamation, a Southern California waste and recycling company, for various health and safety violations, including failure to follow state standards for confined space entries. Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Erika Monterroza said there are other open investigations related to confined space incidents, including one involving a Dunnigan man who was partially buried in a grain silo this month.
Garrett Brown, a senior safety engineer and subject expert on the confined space program for Cal/OSHA, noted that “there are a lot of near misses” that employers are not required to report to the agency.
“Activity flies under the radar, and it affects a wide array of industries,” Brown said. “This is a hazard found in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, wineries, oil refineries – almost every area. It also affects big and small companies.”
Robert E. Downey, owner of Orangevale-based RED Safety Consulting, said employers are not always aware of the dangers related to confined spaces.
“Generally speaking for the employers with whom I work, confined space hazards are known and acted upon,” Downey wrote in an e-mail. “But my clients are general contractors and union employers. As for other employers, you can draw the conclusion that employers and employees are unfamiliar with the definition of confined space and thoroughly unfamiliar with the hazards of confined space.”
In an investigation [PDF] completed this month, Cal/OSHA fined Vista Paint, a Fullerton paint manufacturer, $159,040 for violations related to the November 2011 death of Roberto Ramirez Magdariaga. The employee was asked to clean one of the factory’s 3,000-gallon tanks with paint remover made primarily of methylene chloride, a chemical that can be toxic if inhaled.
Magdariaga soon passed out from the fumes in the tank. His co-worker, Gary De La Pena, tried to rescue Magdariaga, but he, too, was overcome by fumes. About half an hour later, a paint maker saw Magdariaga and De La Pena sitting and lying down in the tank and presumed they were taking a break and sleeping.
When another employee went to wake up Magdariaga and De La Pena, he discovered the men were unconscious. Magdariaga died of chemical asphyxiation, and De La Pena was hospitalized.
John Long, Vista’s director of corporate environmental health and safety, said, “We take this tragedy very seriously.”
“Vista manufacturing facilities have maintained a good safety record over the past 50 years, and we are working diligently with Cal/OSHA, outside safety consultants and internal staff in reviewing all processes and training procedures in order to enhance our employees’ safety,” Long said.
California Watch has previously reported on a case involving 16-year-old Armando Ramirez, who died from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas while cleaning a storm drain gutter at the Community Recycling & Resource Recovery facility in Lamont, near Bakersfield. Ramirez’s 22-year-old brother also died from the fumes while trying to save him.
Downey, the safety consultant, said 60 percent of deaths in confined spaces “result from would-be rescuers entering to help a fallen buddy.”
In addition to a lack of awareness about the hazards in confined spaces, insufficient emergency rescue plans also are to blame for these deaths, UC Berkeley’s Wilson said. While state and federal standards require emergency rescue plans to be in place when employees are asked to enter confined spaces, it is unclear how they have been implemented.
In a recently published study, Wilson surveyed 30 Silicon Valley companies about their confined space policies. Only 19 percent of employers had their own on-site rescue teams for confined spaces, and 57 percent said they would call 911 if there was a confined space emergency.
However, based on information from eight California fire departments and 10 senior technical rescue officers from across the state, Wilson also found that firefighters typically arrive at an emergency within five to seven minutes of a 911 call, but it can take one to three hours for someone to be extricated from a confined space because these are “low-frequency, high-risk” operations in which crews avoid rushing into a dangerous situation.
“Fire departments respond quickly to confined space accidents … but on average do not enter the confined space to rescue until they are prepared, and that may take more than two hours,” Downey said.
Wilson said his research findings suggest that most California employers are out of compliance with the state’s confined space regulations.
“We found really troubling practices among sophisticated Silicon Valley companies that have full-time health and safety staff,” Wilson said. “What this suggests is that across the state, the practices among small and medium-sized companies are probably much worse.”
As part of its new program on confined space safety, Cal/OSHA is providing additional training and consultation services to employers on this issue. As of February, all workplace inspections by the agency now include a review for confined spaces. If one is identified, inspectors look for potential violations.
There were 247 confirmed workplace-related deaths in California in 2011, according to a report [PDF] from Worksafe, an occupational health and safety advocacy organization.
This story can be viewed at http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/workplace-fatalities-rise-confined-spaces-16276.
For more information on confined space safety training, visit http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/safety-courses-for-all-industries/confined-space.
On May 17, OSHA announced the intent to establish a Whistleblower Protection Committee (WPAC) in efforts to improve the efficiency and results of whistleblowers’ protection and procedures nationwide.The committee will work directly with OSHA’s Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels. Its creation’s purpose will serve to sustain and encourage open dialog between stakeholders and experts, transparency, and accountability.
According to OSHA, all workers should have the confidence to speak out about fouled, illegal, or unethical situations they might encounter, such as “securities and financial fraud, adulterated foods, air and water pollution, or workplace safety hazards” without retaliation as the legal right was created for, says Michaels. “Establishing a federal advisory committee is another important effort to strengthen protections for whistleblowers.”
Customer service models, enhancements in investigative and enforcement process, training, and regulations governing OSHA investigations are some of the subjects the committee will advise on to OSHA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 other statutes regarding workers’ rights are enforced by OSHA and enacted by Congress. To view information on employer whistleblower rights, visit www.whistleblowers.gov. To view the federal register notice of OSHA’s announcement, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/05/17/2012-11982/whistleblower-protection-advisory-committee-wpac.
Here is this month’s safety tip presentation to learn more about the vast presence of illicit and abused drugs that could potentially take place in your workplace. As with most safety-related issues, implementing ways for your staff to be safe and stay healthy has to start with awareness. Watch now:
To learn more about a workplace drug-free program, visit us at http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/consulting/drug-free-workplace.
The 2012 NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, has been out for a while now. During the last revision cycle, the NFPA 70E committee received 548 proposals mostly (540 of them) from the public.
As a result, there were a number of new changes that occurred in the 2012 NFPA 70E version. Here is a brief description of some of the major changes:
Arc-Rated (New): The 2012 edition of NFPA 70E will use the term “arc-rated” or “AR” before any reference to “flame-resistant” or “FR.” The term “arc-rated” refers to a material property or attribute in terms of a material’s performance when exposed to an electric arc. Arc-rated material is flame-resistant, but flame-resistant material may not be arc-rated.
Incident Energy Analysis (New Definition): The 2012 edition features a new informational note added to the existing arc flash hazard analysis definition. It defines the term “incident energy analysis” as “a method used to predict the incident energy of an arc flash for a specified set of conditions.”
Arc Flash Boundary (Revision): Previous editions referred to the arc flash protection boundary. The 2012 edition uses the term “arc flash boundary” (AFB). The word “protection” has been deleted.
Section 110.5(C) (New): This section is new to the code and requires a documented meeting between the host employer and contract employer for multiemployer relationships.
Section 110.6(C) Emergency Procedures (Revision): The 2012 edition requires the use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in addition to the existing requirement of training and employer certification of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This is a great idea!
Section 110.6(D)(1)(f) (New): The language for this new section reads: “The employer shall determine through regular supervision and through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices required by this standard.” This mirrors similar language to the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(2)(iii) standard.
Section 110.6(D)(3)(c) (Retraining) (New): The 2012 edition requires all employees to be retrained at intervals not to exceed three years.
Section 110.7(E) Electrical Safety Program Procedures (Revision): The 2012 edition incorporates language to include working within the AFB in addition to the existing requirement for working within the limited approach boundary (LAB). It is possible that the AFB could be greater than the LAB and vice versa.
Section 120.2(C)(2) (Form of Control) (Revision): The 2012 edition removes individual employee control as one of three forms of control of hazardous electrical energy, leaving the two methods: simple and complex lockout/tag out.
Section 130.1(A) General (Revision): The 2009 edition requires that energized conductors or circuit parts are placed into an electrically safe working condition before an employee works within the LAB. New language expands this requirement to apply if any of the following conditions exist:
- The employee is within the LAB (same as before)
- The employee is within the AFB
- The employee interacts with equipment where conductors or circuit parts are not exposed, but an increased risk of arc flash hazard exists
Table 130.2(C) Approach Boundaries to Energized Electrical Conductors or Circuit Parts for Shock Protection (Revision): The 2012 edition features a renumbered version of this table as Table 130.2(C)(1), and it will specifically apply to alternating current (AC) power systems. A new table, 130.2(C)(2) applies to direct current (DC) power systems.
Section 130.3 Exception No. 1 (Revision): This exception is based on language found in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Std. 1584—Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations. Exception 1 stated that an arc flash hazard analysis shall not be required on circuits rated 240 volts (V) or less and supplied by one transformer if the transformer is less than 125 kilovolt-amperes. This exception has been deleted. In its place, an informational note will state that an arc flash hazard analysis may not be necessary for some three-phase systems rated less than 240V. It will then reference the IEEE standard for more information.
Section 130.3(A) Arc Flash Boundary (Revision): The 2012 edition will not feature the “four foot rule” in this section, and there will no longer be separate sections for the AFB at voltage levels between 50V and 600V and voltage levels above 600V. The revised language will state that the AFB for systems 50V and greater shall be the distance at which the incident energy is 1.2 calories per square centimeter. Instead of the “four foot rule,” AFB will be located in Table 130.7(C)(9). This is an important one!
Section 130.3(C) Equipment Labeling (Revision): This section provides more guidance on what equipment needs labeling based on language similar to the 2011 NEC. Electrical equipment—such as switchboards, panel boards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures and motor control centers—and that are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing or maintenance while energized, shall be field-marked with a label containing all of the following information:
(1) Only one of the following:
a. Available incident energy
b. Minimum arc rating of clothing
(2) Date of arc flash hazard analysis
(3) Nominal system voltage
(4) Equipment identification
(5) Arc flash boundary
Section 130.7(C)(X) (Hearing Protection) (New): Employees shall wear hearing protection whenever working within the AFB. Previous editions only listed hearing protection in Table 130.7(C)(10) Protective Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment and did not address it specifically. The new language clarifies when hearing protection is required as well as the appropriate requirements for that protection.
Category 2* Deleted (Revision): Category 2 will require a balaclava sock or an arc flash suit hood. There was an inconsistency with Section 130.7(C)(1), which required all parts of the body inside the AFB to be protected. This is an important one!
Section 130.7(C)(13)(a) (Arc Flash Suits) (Revision): Additional language state: “When the incident energy exposure is greater than 12 cal/cm2, a suitably rated arc flash suit hood shall be used.”
Section 130.7(C)(13)(b) (Face Protection) (Revision): The 2012 edition features new language in this section, requiring face shields with a wraparound guarding to protect the face, chin, forehead, ears and neck to be used.
The 2012 edition of NFPA 70E established many positive changes and I only covered some of the major ones. To learn about the new standard and how to become a qualified worker take our NFPA 70E class. http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/safety-courses-for-all-industries/arc-flash.
In 2009, more than 150 construction workers died due to being struck by vehicles. One of the most deadly hazards is being struck by cranes or crane parts. The following video shows how a worker standing on an area out of the driver’s rear view can lead to the crane’s unloading positioning swings to hit…
With competition increasing, companies must be concerned about cutting costs and trimming expenses. These costs must be reduced not only to save money, but also to compete with other organizations who offer similar services.
Although the importance of safety is obvious, it is often very difficult to balance the reality of costs with the necessity for safety programs. But does safety actually cost money? In the short run implementing safety will likely have some costs. After all, production time must be taken for training, and safe equipment must be purchased.
In the long run however safety does not cost a penny. In fact effective safety programs have been known to actually save companies 4 dollars for every dollar spent. Not only will you reduce compensation and insurance costs, but you will keep trained workers, which makes you more efficient and profitable. In addition your customers will continue to use your services ultimately keeping you, your employees, and your subcontractors employed!
Working in the outdoor heat?
Every year, more than 30 workers have died of heat a heat stroke. Due to the rising number of deaths and concern, OSHA has launched a national awareness initiative to educate employers and workers of the dangers of hot outdoor work environments. Heat illness educational materials in both English and Spanish are now available for anyone’s workplace training. The page can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. Other symptoms to look out for when working in hot temperatures are heat rashes and heat cramps, which can occur prior to a stroke.
“It is essential for workers and employers to take proactive steps to stay safe in extreme heat, and become aware of symptoms of heat exhaustion before they get worse,” says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Agriculture workers; building, road and other construction workers; utility workers; baggage handlers; roofers; landscapers; and others who work outside are all at risk. Drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas are incredibly important in the hot summer months.”
Even more convenient, you can use your smart phone to your advantage when working outdoors. A mobile app for Androids and iPhones is now available for workers and supervisors to monitor heat index at a work site. Risk levels and reminders on protective safety measures are available in it and it is available in Spanish and English. To download it, visit http://s.dol.gov/RI.
If you haven’t already, you can view Safety Links e-learning safety module on Heat Stress at http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/blog/entry/safety-tip-heat-stress-in-work-environments.
As Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health says, “OSHA’s 1983 Hazard Communication Standard gave workers the right to now.”
Now more than ever, this statement applies to the newly aligned United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System with OSHA’s HazCom standard. Its merging will help facilitate American workers’ safety and make it easier for employers to compete in a globally.
This change includes establishing consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the U.S. and imported. They will also classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards.
By September of this year, all states with OSHA-approved safety and health regulatory programs must add the GHS amendments to their HazCom programs. “This update will give them the right to understand as well”, says Michaels.
To inquire about consulting of OSHA’s HazCom and GHS, visit http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/safety-courses-for-all-industries/hazcom.
Ever wonder what companies get cited for the most? Here are OSHA’S top 10 most frequently cited standards violated of 2011 and their link to its page: Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451) Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200) Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) Control…
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