U.S. EPA Orders NASA to Clean Up Soils Threatening Sensitive Habitat

Release Date: 03/15/2013

Contact Information: David Yogi, 415-972-3350, yogi.david@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to take immediate and long-term actions to address soil contamination at its Ames Research Center at the Moffett Field Naval Air Station in Mountain View, Calif. This order is part of an effort to enter into a long-term cleanup agreement with NASA for the Ames site.

Soils at the site–contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, chromium, zinc, cadmium, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)–pose a threat to local wildlife, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, and have the potential to re-contaminate an adjacent stormwater retention pond that the U.S. Navy spent $9.7 million cleaning up in 2012.

In the coming months, EPA and the California State Regional Water Quality Control Board will continue to negotiate a facility-wide cleanup agreement with NASA for its remaining environmental cleanup responsibilities at the Moffett Field Superfund Site. Once the agreement is signed, EPA will monitor NASA’s work to ensure proper and timely implementation of the cleanup.

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To view the press release, visit http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/22BA8FDEC5E75A7E85257B2F00745735

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Incidents To Learn From

I just had a call from a framing contractor saying that one of their employees fell from the trusses of a two story home. As you can imagine this type of incident usually results in serious injuries or even death, yet in this case the employee who fell was relatively fine.

You see, this contractor recently worked with the “Safety Partnership” to develop a task specific fall protection plan for their framing operations. To do this we partnered with their contractors to place simple fall hazard controls.

One of these controls was to cover stairway openings so that if an employee fell he/she would not fall through the opening to the ground. (I.e. they limited their fall distance from around 25 to 8 feet).

In this case their plan paid off. When the employee fell from the trusses he landed on the cover probably saving his life.

Now the contractor’s workers compensation coverage will not be affected, the news vans did not arrive, OSHA did not investigate or issue fines, the crew continued framing, and most importantly a family was able to see their father at the end of the day.

I hope that you realize that the successful practice of safety does not have to be expensive or time consuming. Simply using a cover can make all of the difference in the world!

If you use covers however here is what OSHA requires:

  • Covers must be capable of supporting at least twice the weight being put on it. (Make it strong)
  • Covers must be secured to prevent displacement. (Nail it)
  • Covers must be marked or color coded. (Label them with the word “HOLE” or “COVER”).
For more information regarding incidents, visit us at www.safetylinks.net or email at info[at]safetylinks.net.

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Why Not Safety Supremacy?

Why is it so hard to create and sustain superior safety performance? The answer is that it’s not that hard… if you want to. Unfortunately many organizational leaders perceive safety as an “inconvenient task” or an “added expense”.  It may shock you coming from a “safety” company like Safety Links but this perception is actually true! In the short term, safety is often inconvenient for employees and is often more expensive for managers.

Safety Is Good For Business:

That however does not mean safety is bad for business. In fact, our partners have proven that safety is good for business time and time again. Improved safety performance not only results in the obvious (lowered insurance rates, reduced liability, improved compliance), but safety can also greatly benefit the organization in many other ways.

Here are a few real life examples from our customers:

1. A small framing contractor in the residential construction industry recognized the need for improved fall protection. With our guidance they implemented a unique fall protection system for their crews. As a result of their unmatched safety performance they were awarded exclusive contracts with several large production builders. They are now building over 2000 homes a year. Needless to say they are not a small framing contractor anymore!

2. In an effort to improve “compliance”, a printing company with around 50 employees allowed us to guide them through the 5-S process, to improve their housekeeping and efficiency. As a result, their facility has been transformed to a world class printing facility that is now servicing customers around the world.

3. A paint manufacturer with around 100 employees allowed us to guide their transformation from a top down safety management approach to a more inclusive model. Now all employees are actively involved in the safety process and they no longer view safety as the “responsibility of the safety person”! This has resulted in increased employee satisfaction, reduced turnover and ultimately improved production.

I know it may sound cliché but we have hundreds of real life examples in which safety actually pays. If you are willing to invest time and energy into improving your safety performance in the long run you too will experience Safety Supremacy.

Key to Safety Supremacy:

Safety Supremacy is accomplished when safety isn’t viewed as safety in your culture; instead it’s just viewed as work. In other words, safety is simply treated as the way you do business. Making safety a “priority” is a mistake because when push comes to shove everyone’s priorities shift. Safety must be integrated into, and not separated from your business. From the organizational vision to the daily work tasks safety must be seen as a core value not merely a priority!

Those who try to implement traditional “safety programs” often fail in the long run because safety is treated as an add-on to production. Unfortunately what they fail to do is treat safety like they treat other key business activities.

Let’s consider how organizations manage employee attendance for example. Organizations typically have policies related to attendance. When a new employee starts they are told about the policy and are informally indoctrinated into a culture which has norms related to acceptable attendance. When employees come in late, or have too many unexcused absences, their behavior is not allowed to continue. This approach ensures that employees understand what is expected of them and that they are held accountable to those expectations. The consistent management of attendance creates a culture in which unacceptable attendance is simply not allowed by the culture.

The key to Safety Supremacy is no different. Safety Supremacy is accomplished when safety is perceived as “how we do business”. An organizational culture which values production, profitability and safety as one and the same is much more effective than an organization which separates safety from the business. To find out how you can achieve Safety Supremacy please contact me.

Trevor Reschny, CSP. 407-760-6170 or email me at treschny[at]safetylinks.net

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OSHA reminds employers to protect workers from dangers of carbon monoxide exposure

WASHINGTON –– With the arrival of cold weather, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding employers to take necessary precautions to protect workers from the serious, and sometimes fatal, effects of carbon monoxide exposure.

Recently, a worker in a New England warehouse was found unconscious and seizing, suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Several other workers at the site also became sick. All of the windows and doors were closed to conserve heat, there was no exhaust ventilation in the facility, and very high levels of carbon monoxide were measured at the site.

Every year, workers die from carbon monoxide poisoning, usually while using fuel-burning equipment and tools in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation. This can be especially true during the winter months when employees use this type of equipment in indoor spaces that have been sealed tightly to block out cold temperatures and wind. Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can include everything from headaches, dizziness and drowsiness to nausea, vomiting or tightness across the chest. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause neurological damage, coma and death.

Sources of carbon monoxide can include anything that uses combustion to operate, such as gas generators, power tools, compressors, pumps, welding equipment, space heaters and furnaces.

To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the workplace, employers should install an effective ventilation system, avoid the use of fuel-burning equipment in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces, use carbon monoxide detectors in areas where the hazard is a concern and take other precautions outlined in OSHA’s Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet. For additional information on carbon monoxide poisoning and preventing exposure in the workplace, see OSHA’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Quick Cards (in English and Spanish).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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Types of Smoke Alarms and Detectors

Heat Detector

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately two-thirds of U.S. household fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or with working smoke alarms with old or missing batteries.

Whether it’s a household setting or in a business, the selection and maintenance of an early warning system is critical to save lives and minimize property loss.

Smoke alarms should be placed on each level of your home and outside of each sleeping area. If bedroom doors are closed, additional alarms should be located inside the bedrooms, as well. Since smoke rises, the installation should be on the ceiling at least four inches away from the nearest wall and away from drafts from windows or air ducts.

There are two broad types of fire alarm systems; heat detectors and smoke alarms. Knowing the differences between the various types of fire alarms available is key to matching the appropriate product to the application.

Heat DetectorsHeat Detector
  • Heat detectors are the oldest type of automatic fire detection device. Heat detectors feature a detecting element inside the unit that activates when it reaches a predetermined fixed temperature or when a specific increase in temperature has occurred.
  • Heat detectors are best suited for applications where detection speed is not a prime consideration or where ambient conditions would not allow the use of a smoke detector, for fire detection in small, confined spaces where rapidly burning, high heat fires are anticipated
  • Heat detectors have a lower false alarm rate, but they are also slower than smoke detectors in detecting fires.
Smoke Alarms
  • Smoke AlarmSmoke alarms will detect most fires more rapidly than heat detectors. There are currently three types of smoke alarms on the market: ionization, photoelectric and combination ionization/photoelectric.
  • An ionization smoke alarm contains a small amount of radioactive material. The radiation passes through an ionization chamber which is an air-filled space between two electrodes and permits a small, constant current between the electrodes. Any smoke that enters the chamber absorbs the alpha particles, which reduces the ionization and interrupts this current, setting off the alarm.
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms operate using a light source, a light beam collimating system and a photoelectric sensor. When smoke enters the optical chamber and crosses the path of the light beam, some light is scattered by the smoke particles, directing it at the sensor and thus activating the alarm.
  • Combination smoke alarms feature both ionization and photoelectric technologies. Ionization smoke alarms respond faster to high energy fires, whereas photoelectric detectors respond better to low energy smoldering fires. The NFPA recommends using both smoke alarms in the home for the best protection.

Smoke alarms vary in how they are powered. 9 volt battery powered smoke alarms are very popular due to their low cost, however, care must be taken to replace the battery on a regular basis.

Smoke alarms are also available in 120 volt and a long life 10 year rated lithium battery. Many local or state building codes may require 120 volt interconnected smoke alarms with a battery back-up in case of power outages. The interconnected feature allows all smoke alarms to be linked together. This is especially important in multi-levels homes or in apartment buildings. Smoke alarms with high intensity strobe lights are also available for the hearing impaired.

Regardless of the type of detector or alarm selected, the proper placement and maintenance of the device is crucial. The NFPA suggests battery replacement at least once a year on battery equipped units and a monthly detector test to verify the alarm function. Many people utilize daylight saving time in the spring and the fall as a reminder to change batteries.

 

If you want more information on our safety training or consulting contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]safetylinks.net

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OSHA reminds employers to post injury and illness summaries

Feb. 11, 2013
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reminding employers to post OSHA Form 300A, which lists a summary of the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2012. The form must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2013.

The summary must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2012 and were logged on OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. To assist in calculating incidence rates, information about the annual average number of employees and total hours worked during the calendar year is also required. If a company recorded no injuries or illnesses in 2012, the employer must enter “zero” on the total line. The form must be signed and certified by a company executive. Form 300A should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.

Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain industries are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements. A complete list of exempt industries in the retail, services, finance, insurance and real estate sectors can be found at http://s.dol.gov/YP.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics may still select exempted employers to participate in an annual statistical survey. All employers covered by OSHA need to comply with safety and health standards. All accidents that result in one or more fatalities or in the hospitalization of three or more employees must be reported verbally within eight hours to the nearest OSHA office.

Copies of OSHA Forms 300 and 300A are available at http://s.dol.gov/YQ in either Adobe PDF or Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet format. For more information on recordkeeping requirements, visit the OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements Web page.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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Legislature will consider mandating regulations over Minnesota’s day-care deaths rise

In Minnesota, state regulators are planning to propose a new set of safety measures in response to the rise of day-care deaths. This would include increased training of day-care staff, stiffer penalties and online access to more licensed records.

“If parents are able to have access to information about child care, we know they are going to take advantage of it,” said Jerry Kerber, inspector general for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). “We recognize the need.”

Among the recommendations are:

• Stiffer penalties for day-care providers who violate state safety standards.

• Training in safe-sleep practices for infants will be required annually; it is currently required every five years.

• Providers would have to complete more training before getting licensed and more ongoing training, including courses on health and safe supervision.

• Providers would be required to check on sleeping infants every 30 minutes and use a baby monitor when they are not in the same room. Checks would be required every 15 minutes when an infant is new to a day care, which can be the riskiest period for sleep deaths.

“We’re all about safety, health and professional development,” says Kate Chase, executive director of The Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association, who has not taken a formal position on the proposal.

To view the article, visit http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/188774541.html.

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OSHA schedules meetings to discuss vehicle backovers injuries

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scheduled five informal stakeholder meetings to solicit comments on preventing injuries and fatalities from vehicle backovers. The purpose of the meetings is to gather information and evaluate backover risks across various industries, determine whether or how backovers may be prevented by new technology or other methods, and discuss the effectiveness of those measures. The meetings will be held Jan. 8-9, 2013, in Washington, D.C. and Feb. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas.

OSHA published a Request for Information on backover hazards in the Federal Register on March 29, 2012. The agency received responses from individuals and organizations about how workers get injured and what solutions exist to prevent injury and death. These stakeholder meetings will provide employers, workers, safety professionals and equipment makers with an opportunity to inform OSHA about ways to address backover risks.

OSHA will hold the first round of meetings at 9 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2013, and at 9 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2013, at the U.S. Department of Labor, Room C-5515, rooms 1A&B, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The second round of meetings will convene at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2013, at the University of Texas at Arlington, OSHA Education Center, Bluebonnet Ballroom in the University Center, 300 W. First St., Arlington, Texas. Individuals interested in participating must register electronically, by fax or mail. See the Federal Register notice for registration details.

Seventy-nine workers were killed in 2011 when backing vehicles or mobile equipment crushed them against an object or rolled over them, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. For information on backover hazards and preventing backovers or to view a prevention video, visit OSHA’s Preventing Backovers Web page.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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Revisit last year’s post on HERE to view an OSHA video on preventing a vehicle backover fatality!

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10 Costly Return-To-Work Mistakes

EHS Today Online Feature: 10 Costly Return-to-Work Mistakes

By lowering the length and duration of time away from work due to injuries and illnesses on or off the job, return-to-work (RTW) programs have reduced workers’ compensation, disability and medical insurance costs as well as strengthened morale and productivity. More recently RTW programs have helped protect employers from lawsuits regarding regulatory non-compliance, particularly related to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

  1. Failure to effectively manage the increase in number of employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).
  2. Insist employees be released to “full duty” before returning to work.
  3. Do not account for co-morbidities.
  4. Fail to commit the budget or resources.
  5. Be deterred from setting up transitional assignments because the employee “may get hurt again.”
  6. Don’t distinguish “light duty” from “transitional work” from “reasonable accommodation.”
  7. Rely on the physician to guide the RTW process.
  8. Don’t understand how laws overlap and conflict.
  9. Don’t stay focused on the goal and establish consequences.
  10. Believe workers’ compensation settlements resolve other liabilities.
To read the article, visit EHS Today HERE.

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Scaffolds And Aerial Work Platforms

Your employees may be required to perform work in areas that cannot be accessed from the ground or from solid construction. In these cases the use of a scaffold or an aerial work platform may be required.

Scaffolds:
  • When using a scaffold, a competent person is needed to oversee erecting, securing, and dismantling of scaffolds. The competent person also inspects all scaffolds for visible defects before each work shift and after any occurrence that may affect the scaffold’s structural integrity.
  • Capacity – Scaffolds and scaffold components must be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.
  • Footing – The footing or anchorage for scaffolds must be sound, rigid, and capable of supporting the scaffold and its maximum intended load without surface settling or displacement. Unstable objects such as barrels, boxes, loose brick, or concrete blocks must not be used to support scaffolds or planks.
  • Planking – All planking, if applicable, must be overlapped a minimum of 12 inches or secured from movement by nails or bolts, unless the scaffold is prefabricated and interlocking.
  • Fall Protection – Fall protection is required for any scaffold greater than 10 feet in height. Guardrails, midrails, and personal fall arrest system, when applicable, must be in place to the scaffold being used by employees.
  • Electrical Safety – 10 foot distance rules must be taken into consideration when working near overhead power-lines or any high voltage electrical equipment.
  • Weather Stoppages – Work on scaffolds is not allowed during high winds.
  • All employees who erect, work on, or dismantle scaffolds must attend scaffold safety training.

The Safety Links scaffold (link to https://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/construction-safety-courses/scaffolding) training covers the proper use, inspection of, and hazards related to erecting, working on, and dismantling scaffolds.

Aerial Lifts

Aerial lifts include vehicle-mounted aerial devices, extendible boom platforms, aerial ladders, articulating booms, vertical towers, etc. When working on an elevated platform, several factors must be considered:

  • Fall protection – With exception of scissor lifts all occupants must wear a body harness attached to the basket.
  • Moving the lift – The lift must not be moved when the boom is elevated in a working position unless the lift is specifically designed to do so.
  • Lift controls – Lift controls must be tested daily prior to operating the boom.
  • Boom and basket loads – The manufacturer’s boom and basket maximum intended loads must not be exceeded.
  • Outriggers and brakes – Outriggers must be positioned on pads or solid ground if equipped. Brakes must be set anytime outriggers are used.
  • Barricades & signs – The area beneath an operating aerial lifts must be cordoned off and access to that area must be restricted. Restricting access may be accomplished through the use of barricades and signs.
  • Training- All employees who work on aerial platforms must attend an aerial lift operator training course. The Safety Links aerial lift operation training (Link to https://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/equipment-operation/aerial-lift) covers the proper use, inspection of, and hazards associated with aerial lifts.

If you want more information on scaffold or aerial lift operator contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree[at]safetylinks.net

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