OSHA announces final rule revising standards for electric power generation, transmission and distribution

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced that it would be issuing a final rule* to improve workplace safety and health for workers performing electric power generation, transmission and distribution work.

“This long-overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Electric utilities, electrical contractors and labor organizations have persistently championed these much-needed measures to better protect the men and women who work on or near electrical power lines.”

OSHA is revising the 40-year-old construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and is also making some revisions to the construction and general industry requirements. The updated standards for general industry and construction include new or revised provisions for host and contract employers to share safety-related information with each other and with employees, as well as for improved fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts and on overhead line structures. In addition, the standards adopt revised approach-distance requirements to better ensure that unprotected workers do not get dangerously close to energized lines and equipment. The final rule also adds new requirements to protect workers from electric arcs.

General industry and construction standards for electrical protective equipment are also revised under the final rule. The new standard for electrical protective equipment applies to all construction work and replaces the existing construction standard, which was based on out-of-date information, with a set of performance-oriented requirements consistent with the latest revisions of the relevant consensus standards. The new standards address the safe use and care of electrical protective equipment, including new requirements that equipment made of materials other than rubber provide adequate protection from electrical hazards.

The final rule will result in estimated monetized benefits of $179 million annually, with net benefits equal to about $130 million annually.

Additional information on the final rule is available at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/power_generation/. The final rule becomes effective 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. OSHA adopted delayed compliance deadlines for certain requirements.

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.

# # #

To view the original press release, visit https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=25806

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

OSHA announces national stand-down for fall prevention in construction

Worker falling

Worker fallingWASHINGTON – The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a national safety stand-down from June 2 to 6 to raise awareness among employers and workers about the hazards of falls, which account for the highest number of deaths in the construction industry.

“Falls account for more than a third of all deaths in this industry,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “We’re working with employers, workers, industry groups, state OSH plans, and civic and faith-based organizations to host safety stand-downs that focus on recognizing hazards and preventing falls. We are getting the message out to America’s employers that safety pays and falls cost.”

During the stand-down, employers and workers are asked to pause their workday to talk about fall prevention in construction, and discuss topics like ladder safety, scaffolding safety and roofing work safety. OSHA has also launched an official national safety stand-down website with information on how to conduct a successful stand-down. Afterwards, employers will be able to provide feedback and receive a personalized certificate of participation.

The stand-down is part of OSHA’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign, which was started in 2012 and was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda program. The campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to plan ahead to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for their workers and train all employees in the proper use of that equipment.

“We are pleased to join again with OSHA and our NORA partners to focus on fall prevention at construction sites,” said Dr. John Howard, NIOSH director. “Preventing falls in the construction industry benefits everyone, from the worker, to the employer, to the community at large. This safety stand-down serves as an important opportunity for everyone to take the time to learn how to recognize and prevent fall hazards.”

To learn how to partner with OSHA in this stand-down, visit http://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/. The page provides details on how to conduct a stand-down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. To learn more about preventing falls in construction visit http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/.

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.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

You can breathe easily… using a respirator

An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.

Respirators protect the user in two basic ways. The first is by the removal of contaminants from the air. Respirators of this type include particulate respirators, which filter out airborne particles, and air-purifying respirators with cartridges/canisters which filter out chemicals and gases. Other respirators protect by supplying clean respirable air from another source. Respirators that fall into this category include airline respirators, which use compressed air from a remote source, and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which include their own air supply.

Respiratory protection must be worn whenever you are working in a hazardous atmosphere. The appropriate respirator will depend on the contaminant(s) to which you are exposed and the protection factor (PF) required. Required respirators must be NIOSH-approved and medical evaluation and training must be provided before use.

Some respirator types include:

Single-strap dust masks are usually not NIOSH-approved. They must not be used to protect from hazardous atmospheres. However, they may be useful in providing comfort from pollen or other allergens.

Approved filtering facepieces (dust masks) can be used for dust, mists, welding fumes, etc. They do not provide protection from gases or vapors. DO NOT USE FOR ASBESTOS OR LEAD; instead, select from the respirators below.

Half-face respirators can be used for protection against most vapors, acid gases, dust or welding fumes. Cartridges/filters must match contaminant(s) and be changed periodically.

Full-face respirators are more protective than half-face respirators. They can also be used for protection against most vapors, acid gases, dust or welding fumes. The face-shield protects face and eyes from irritants and contaminants. Cartridges/filters must match contaminant(s) and be changed periodically.

Loose-fitting powered-air-purifying respirators (PAPR) offer breathing comfort from a battery-powered fan which pulls air through filters and circulates air throughout helmet/hood. They can be worn by most workers who have beards. Cartridges/filters must match contaminant(s) and be changed periodically.

A Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is used for entry and escape from atmospheres that are considered immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) or oxygen deficient. They use their own air tank.

If you would like more information on respirator safety, contact Trevor Reschny at 800-788-7036 or email him at treschny@safetylinks.net.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

IOA Safety

IOA Safety Links

We are pleased to announce that on March 1, 2014 Safety Links joined the Insurance Office of America (IOA) Family of Companies.

We will continue our operations as usual and you can count on us to be your provider of innovative, safety and risk control solutions throughout the state of Florida and beyond!

IOA Safety Links

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

The Basics of Workplace Incident Investigation

Incident Investigation

Thousands of incidents occur every day in the US. Effective incident investigations determine how and why these failures occur. By using the information gained through an investigation, a similar, or perhaps more disastrous event may be prevented. It is important to conduct incident investigations with prevention in mind.

Incident investigations really only have two goals:

  1. Determining what caused the incident in the first place
  2. Using the information you discovered during the investigation to help prevent recurrence

Incident InvestigationMany times, the cause of the incident is not completely obvious. During an incident investigation it is imperative that all employees assist the investigator as he or she conducts the investigation. This can be difficult and/or embarrassing for some so it is important to remind and reassure them that the ultimate goal of the investigation is to create a safer workplace for everyone. The goal of the investigation is not to assign blame, but rather keep the incident from occurring again.

So how do we begin? The first step is to ensure that any injured persons are being cared for and then to secure the area of the incident. The investigator should have an undisturbed view of the scene so that photos, video and measurements accurately portray the scene and any evidence contained therein. Further, interviews of witnesses, coworkers, supervisors, etc. need to be conducted. Investigators should also interview and obtain statements from those who perform similar jobs or jobs in the same area as the incident as they may have valuable insight into what may have happened.

Some incident investigators use a technique called root cause analysis during their investigation. Root cause analysis helps identify what, how and why something happened thus preventing recurrence. Root causes are underlying, reasonably identifiable and can be controlled by management. Further, they allow for generation of recommendations. The process involves data collection, cause charting, root cause identification and recommendation generation and implementation.

While a lot can be learned from incidents, we can learn also learn from “near misses” as well. Those incidents that didn’t involve an injury but could have easily had a terrible result. Make sure that near-misses are always reported so that your supervisor can address them. The information learned from a near-miss is far less expensive than what is learned from an incident. Remember, prevention is always the best cure.

No matter how safe workers do their jobs, an incident can always happen. Make sure you follow the basic steps to enable incident investigators to do their job correctly and find the “root cause” of the incident. An incident investigation can create a safer workplace and that’s good for everyone.

If you would like more information on incident investigation training for your supervisors contact Trevor Reschny at 407-760-6170 or email him at treschny [at] safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

US safety board seeks more regulation of chemical storage tank areas

At a congressional hearing into the spill at a Freedom Industries site that leaked last month, the US Chemical Safety Board said regulators should limit where such storage facilities are built or operate. Preliminary research suggested a gap in regulations for above-ground storage tanks.
Keywords:

By MARK DRAJEM

The West Virginia storage facility that leaked a chemical tainting the water supply of 300,000 Charleston-area customers shouldn’t have been built upstream from a treatment plant, a federal investigator said.

At a congressional hearing into the spill at a Freedom Industries site that leaked last month, the US Chemical Safety Board said regulators should limit where such storage facilities are built or operate. Preliminary research suggested a gap in regulations for above-ground storage tanks, according to the board.

“The facility was simply a truck terminal and its position alongside the Elk River just upstream of the water intake was a historical anomaly that had tragic consequences,” Rafael Moure- Eraso, chairman of the independent safety board, said Monday at the House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing. “The facility just did not need to be where it was.”

The leak of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, caused West Virginia American Water Co. on Jan. 9 to issue a “do not use” order for the tap water it supplies to 300,000 people. The order, largest ever by the company, and the lingering signs of contamination a month later sparked calls for stronger state and federal rules, as well as complaints about the response of the government and the companies.

The board today released a photo of the tank, which leaked a month ago, showing the corroded wall.

Licorice Odor

While that order was lifted after a week, residents complained Monday that they can smell the licorice odor associated with the chemical in their homes, and worry about long-term health effects from drinking or cooking with it. The utility said the water has MCHM at levels deemed safe by the US Centers for Disease Control.

“We’re dealing with this fear of the water, because it has this odor to it,” Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said at the hearing in Charleston. “Just because you smell something doesn’t mean it’s not safe.”

McIntyre defended a decision by the utility not to close off its water intake and shut the water system altogether, saying it could have taken a month to restart.

The Freedom Industries complex in Charleston was subject to a patchwork of federal and state regulations that allowed hazardous materials to be stored less than 2 miles upstream from a treatment facility for drinking water. While the CDC set a standard of one part per million of the chemical as safe for use, it can still present an odor at much lower concentrations.

A representative of Freedom Industries was invited to testify today and did not appear at the hearing.

To view the original article, visit http://www.hydrocarbonprocessing.com/Article/3307475/Latest-News/US-safety-board-seeks-more-regulation-of-chemical-storage-tank-areas.html

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

Workplace Safety Ranks As Top Concern for Small Businesses In 2014, According To Survey

Common Risks Cause Small Business Owners the Most Worry

RENO, Nev.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–February 12, 2014–

There is good news for the millions of Americans who work for small businesses. Keeping employees safe at work is a top concern for small business owners, according to a survey sponsored by EMPLOYERS(R) (NYSE:EIG), America’s small business insurance specialist(R) .

Workplace safety risks were cited as the source of greatest worry and the area where small business owners expect to dedicate most of their attention this year, more than professional liability risks, cyber-security risks, natural disaster risks and terrorism risks.

“Small business owners realize they have to protect their most valuable assets — their employees,” said EMPLOYERS Chief Operating Officer Stephen V. Festa. “Employee injuries can carry a significant cost, not only in terms of medical and workers’ compensation expenses, but also in terms of lost productivity and potentially lower workplace morale.”

To view the full article, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20140212-910755.html

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

OSHA issues proposed rule to extend compliance date for crane operator certification requirements

Feb. 7, 2014

Contact: Office of Communications

Phone: 202-693-1999

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a proposed rule to extend the compliance date for the crane operator certification requirement by three years to Nov. 10, 2017. The proposal would also extend to the same date the existing phase-in requirement that employers ensure that their operators are qualified to operate the equipment.

OSHA issued a final standard on requirements for cranes and derricks in construction work on Aug. 9, 2010. The standard requires crane operators on construction sites to meet one of four qualification/certification options by Nov. 10, 2014. After OSHA issued the standard, a number of parties raised concerns about the qualification/certification requirements. After conducting several public meetings, OSHA decided to extend the enforcement date so that the certification requirements do not take effect during potential rulemaking or cause disruption to the construction industry.

Comments may submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details and additional information about this proposed rule. Comments must be submitted by March 12, 2014.

OSHA held three stakeholder meetings on operator certification/qualification issues in April 2013 and posted detailed notes of the meetings at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/stakeholders.html, a Web page devoted to the stakeholder meeting. A list of frequently asked questions are also posted on OSHA’s Cranes and Derricks in Construction Web page to provide additional clarification and address some comments and concerns raised by stakeholders.

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.

###

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

The 411 on the Globally Harmonized System

GHS Labeling

If you work with hazardous chemicals, you have likely heard about the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals or GHS. In a nutshell, the GHS was developed by the United Nations as a way to bring into agreement the chemical regulations and standards of different countries. In the United States, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard to align with the GHS in March of 2012.

GHS LabelingWhy all the fuss? The GHS is basically an international attempt to get everyone on the same page. The United Nations realized that many countries already have/had regulatory systems in place for classification, labeling, etc.; however the differences are significant enough to require multiple classifications, labels, and safety data sheets for the same product. Multiple classifications can lead to inconsistent protection for users as well as extensive regulatory burdens on chemical companies. The hope is that every country will incorporate the GHS elements into their own chemical management systems with the goal of making the international sale and transportation of hazardous chemicals easier, as well as making workplace conditions safer for all employees exposed to chemical hazards.

So what does this mean to me?

To date, over 65 countries have adopted (or are in the process of adopting) the GHS. If your company acquires chemicals from one of these countries, you will benefit from a consistent set of criteria regarding definitions, classifications, labeling and safety data sheet information for the chemical you use. In the United States, you will notice two significant changes contained in the revised OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. The revised standard requires the use of new labeling elements and a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). The new labeling elements and SDS requirements will improve your understanding of the hazards associated with the chemicals in your workplace.

When does this all take effect? To help companies comply with the revised standard, OSHA is phasing in the specific requirements over several years (December 1, 2013 to June 1, 2016). Specifically, by December 1, 2013, employers should have trained their employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet format.

By June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers must come into compliance with all modified provisions of the final rule. Further, by December 1, 2015, distributors shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it has a GHS label. Finally, by June 1, 2016, employers must update alternative workplace labeling and their hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

Employers will need to ensure they have incorporated the revised Hazard Communication Standard into their Hazard Communication program including replacing current MSDSs and labels with updated (GHS appropriate) SDSs and labels as well as train their employees in the new standard, however, once everyone is “singing—in harmony—from the same sheet of music,” a safer workplace will be the payoff.

If you would like more information or need to complete the required employee training on the new Hazard Communication Standard, contact Randy Free at 800-788-7036 or email him at rfree@safetylinks.net

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →

OSHA provides advice for workers to various consulates

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — Officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are announcing an agreement on Long Island with representatives of the Salvadoran consuls that serve the metropolitan region.

OSHA spokesman Edmund Fitzgerald says the agreement will provide Salvadoran workers in New York and New Jersey with helpful information. He says OSHA will provide training and guidance about workplace safety, health issues and their rights in the workplace.

Similar agreements have been made previously with OSHA offices and the consulates of Dominican Republic. Mexico, Guatemala, Philippines and Brazil.

It also has cooperative working relationships with the consulates of Argentina, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Colombia.

The event takes place Wednesday afternoon at the Salvadoran consul in Brentwood, on Long Island.

To view the original article, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/AP0d382cf8070148e888d5d8016a4363ba.html.

Continue Reading This Valuable Post →