MAKING WORKERS SAFER AROUND THE NATION

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)www.osha.gov — has released a new case study that shows how a company realized lower workers' compensation premiums and higher productivity and quality after implementing a comprehensive safety and health program.

Ritrama, a multi-national corporation that manufactures pressure-sensitive films and labels for the automotive, beverage, health, beauty and pharmaceutical industries, implemented the program at its manufacturing plant in Minneapolis. “Ritrama's success is a good example of what can happen when management and employees dedicate themselves to workplace safety and health,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. “While the benefits from Ritrama's new safety and health program have occurred throughout the company, the company has reduced their workers' compensation premiums by $44,000, increased sales by 7.5 percent and have reduced the costs of manufacturing defects and waste by more than $2 million.”

OSHA also announced that it has formed a new directorate to increase the effectiveness of its in-house and distributed training programs. The Directorate of Training and Education will provide effective leadership, direction and management of the OSHA Training Institute (OTI), the OTI Education Center Program, the Outreach Training Program and other compliance assistance and training programs.

Other new OSHA initiatives and products include:

  • A National Emphasis Program to help eliminate workplace hazards associated with the release of highly hazardous chemicals at petroleum refineries. Under this program, OSHA plans to conduct 81 inspections over the next two years. Also to enhance safety in this industry, OSHA has added a “Storage Tanks” module to the Oil and Gas Well Drilling, Servicing and Storage Safety and Health Topics Page.

  • A Fact Sheet to improve crane operation safety in marine terminals. “Radio Communications Can Assist Container Gantry Crane Operators in Marine Terminals” is designed to help longshore employees work safely on the ground, on a ship and in a crane. Also, OSHA has released a new guidance document, “Traffic Safety in Marine Terminals”, to help the maritime industry avoid traffic accidents and prevent or reduce work-related fatalities and injuries.

  • A Health Care Industry Quick Start module for its Compliance Assistance Quick Start, which is the agency's web-based tool that introduces employers and employees, especially those in small businesses, to the free compliance assistance resources on OSHA's website.

  • An enhanced Compliance Assistance Specialist (CAS) Directory that allows users to find their local CAS by directing them to the nearest OSHA Area Office. Users in states that operate their own OSHA-approved safety and health programs are provided with contact information for their state agencies.

  • A database of information on more than 800 chemicals commonly found in the workplace. The OSHA/EPA Occupational Chemical Database allows users to quickly and easily retrieve information on chemicals, including their physical properties and exposure limits.

New from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventionwww.cdc.gov — and its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)www.cdc.gov/niosh — are:

  • NIOSH Alert: Preventing Fire Fighter Fatalities Due to Heart Attacks and Other Sudden Cardiovascular Events, which discusses workplace exposures that put fire fighters at risk for heart disease, presents case reports highlighting important findings from the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, and provides recommendations to minimize the risk of injury and death to fire fighters from cardiovascular events.

  • A Web site topic page that contains links to research on the safety and health of workers with developmental disabilities. The page also contains links to organizations working to promote safer working conditions for all workers, including those with disabilities. An estimated 30 percent of the approximately 4.5 million individuals in the United States with developmental disabilities are employed, either in facility-based settings (“sheltered workshops“) or in the conventional labor market. The number of those employed has increased steadily since the 1990s, and this growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

  • NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report: Evaluation of ergonomic risks for musculoskeletal disorders in the Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities Sector; NIOSH responded to a request from managers at an aircraft parts distribution warehouse because of concerns that workers were at risk of strained backs, pulled shoulders, and twisted knees from performing their jobs.

  • Two mining DVDs, (1) “Arc Flash Awareness,” with information and discussion topics for electrical workers, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2007-116D, and (2) “Blast Area Security,” with video transcript and discussion topics for surface miners.

  • “Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling,” DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. No. 2007-131.

From the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)www.msha.gov — comes word that it has established an Office of Accountability to increase oversight and examination of existing enforcement programs within the agency. This action was taken concurrent with MSHA's release of internal reviews into last year's disasters at the Sago, Aracoma and Darby mines. The reviews resulted in 153 recommendations to improve MSHA's ability to administer the provisions of the Mine Act and enforce compliance and mandatory safety and health standards, the agency said.

“MSHA's internal review teams identified a number of deficiencies in our enforcement programs, which I found deeply disturbing,” said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “The creation of (this office) will add enhanced oversight, at the highest level in the agency, to ensure that we are doing our utmost to enforce safety and health laws in our nation's mines.”

From the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB)www.csb.gov — are:

  • A safety video, “Reactive Hazards: Dangers of Uncontrolled Chemical Reactions,” which features computerized animations and descriptions of four major reactive chemistry accidents investigated by the CSB, as well as commentary by two prominent chemical process safety experts. Reactive hazards include those involving uncontrolled chemical reactions with significant increases in temperature or pressure.

  • A safety bulletin warning that some chlorine railcar transfer systems lack effective detection and emergency shutdown devices, leaving the public vulnerable to potential large-scale toxic releases. The bulletin cites two incidents of accidental chlorine releases that occurred as a result of ruptured transfer hoses.

  • A case study report on a fatal explosion and fire last year at a Smith County, Miss., oilfield. The CSB found that unsafe work practices were the cause of the accident and called on the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board to identify and refer to OSHA potentially unsafe health and safety conditions during field inspections of well sites and drilling operations.

New from Aerial Work Platform Training in North Americawww.awpt.org — is a safety campaign to encourage all users of boom-type platforms to wear a full body harness with a short lanyard attached to a suitable anchor point. Called “Click It!,” the new program's initiative came from companies frustrated with the fact that people are dying in boom-type lifts because they are not wearing a harness that would keep them from being thrown or catapulted from the platform.

From the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's (ACOEM's)www.acoem.com — journal comes a new study that suggests that U.S. employers may be significantly underestimating the overall costs of poor employee health, while failing to fully assess the diseases and health conditions that drive these costs. The study quantifies the link between employee health and productivity more dramatically than any other study to date and shows that the relationship between the two is much more significant than previously thought, ACOEM said.

New from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)www.asse.org — are:

  • Approval of the Z359 Fall Arrest Code, which is a new series of American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSE fall protection/arrest standards. They are (1) ANSI/ASSE Z359.0-2007, Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest; (2) ANSI/ASSE Z359.1-2007, Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and Components; (3) ANSI/ASSE Z359.2-2007, Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program; (4) ANSI/ASSE Z359.3-2007, Safety Requirements for Positioning and Travel Restraint Systems, and (5) ANSI/ASSE Z359.4-2007, Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components. Contact ASSE Customer Service at 847-699-2929.

  • Release of a historical construction and demolition standards package that includes the newly revised American National Standards Institute ANSI/ASSE A10.4-2007 Standard and all previous ANSI A10.4 standards available for the past 40 years. ANSI/ASSE A10.4 Standard Safety Requirements for Personnel Hoists and Employee Elevators on Construction and Demolition Sites historically plays a significant role in the prevention of injuries and fatalities, ASSE said. The standards package is important especially on the state level as some states still use the older versions.

New from the International Society of Explosives Engineerswww.isee.org — is an Explosives Security section on the website, including (1) ATF Safety and Security brochure; (2) reporting of thefts and security threats in the United States; (3) reporting of incidents and accidents; (4) security briefings, and (5) pertinent links.

New from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)www.nfpa.org — is launch of www.necplus.org, a web-based subscription service featuring up-to-the-minute editions of the National Electrical Code® and NFPA 7E® Electrical Safety in the Workplace. These standards, used by architectural and building professionals and contractors, are accompanied by timely and valuable enriched content on the site, NFPA said.

New from the Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North America (www.lhsfna.org) is an article concerning head protection in the newsletter Lifelines. “From Head to Toe, Safety You Should Know: Hardhats” is part of a series on personal protective equipment. It covers hard hat safety (including wearing them in reverse), hat types and maintenance. Lifelines subscriptions are available from the LHSFNA website or call the Occupational Safety and Health Division, 202-628-5465.

From Worthington Industries (www.worthingtonindustries.com) comes word that results from the first year of its safety management program, Safe Works, indicated that serious injuries have been reduced by 44 percent and that a reduction in workers' compensation claims has saved $1.2 million. Columbus, Ohio-based Worthington is a diversified metal processing company with annual sales of approximately $3 billion. Worthington and its subsidiaries operate 64 facilities in 10 countries employing more than 8,000.

Coming in 2008: ‘Ask OSHA’ About Safety

For 2008, Protection Update will launch a new feature in cooperation with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that will enable readers to get answers to specific questions about OSHA programs. If you have a question for OSHA, send it to Joe Walker, Protection Update editor, [email protected], or mail it to Walker at the International Safety Equipment Association, 1901 N. Moore St., Suite 808, Arlington, VA 22209, or fax it to Walker at 703-528-2148.

Please limit your questions to interpretations of OSHA regulations or existing programs, rather than inquiring about policy or legislation, and please be sure your questions reach us by Nov. 9, 2007. We will use as many questions and answers as we have space for in each issue of Protection Update. When you submit your question, please include your name, job title, organization, mailing address, phone number and email address so that we can contact you if necessary. For publication, we will keep your identity confidential if you wish.

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