MAKING WORKERS SAFER AROUND THE NATION

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — www.osha.gov — has announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) to target worksites where employees are at risk for developing silicosis.

The NEP compliance directive builds on policies and procedures instituted in the 1996 Special Emphasis Program and includes an updated list of industries commonly known to have overexposures to silica; detailed information about potential hazards linked to silica and about current research regarding silica exposure hazards; guidance on calculating the Permissible Exposure Limits for dust containing respirable crystalline silica in the construction and maritime industries, and guidance on conducting silica-related inspections.

Two additional elements included in the directive are an evaluation procedure for recording reductions of employee exposures to silica, as well as information on outreach programs, partnerships and alliances with employers to share resources and training to reduce employee exposures.

Other new OSHA products include:

  • Preventing Skin Problems from Working with Portland Cement, created to educate employers and employees about effective ways to prevent skin-related injuries in the cement industry. Wet portland cement can damage skin because it is caustic, abrasive and absorbs moisture; it is an ingredient in concrete, mortar, plaster, grout, stucco and terrazzo. The document addresses ways to prevent or minimize skin problems through various types of personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Enhanced Office of Small Business Assistance (OSBA) Web site that includes an improved “Safety Pays” eTool and a new Spanish-language safety link. The website has been redesigned to highlight categorical pages, or tabs, for easier navigation and data access.

  • Compliance directive for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)), which provides guidance for enforcement of the final rule on hexavalent chromium standards. The standards lower the permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium to 5 micrograms of Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time-weighted average.

  • Preparing and Protecting Security Personnel in Emergencies, which addresses emergencies involving hazardous substance releases and provides guidance for employers and their security personnel who may be involved in emergency response; call 202-693-1888 for printed copies.

  • Six OSHA whistleblower fact sheets explaining an employee's rights in filing a complaint against an employer for unsafe or unhealthy workplaces, the types of activities protected, personnel actions that may be in violation of the statute and how to file a complaint.

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 - is a study by NIOSH researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that contingent workers — such as part-time, temporary or contract workers - are at higher risk for occupational injuries and illnesses than workers in traditional employment situations. “Contingent Workers and Contingent Health: Risks of a Modern Economy,” by Kristin J. Cummings, M.D., MPH, and Kathleen Kreiss, M.D., is available for purchase for a nominal fee online at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/299/4/448.

Other new NIOSH products include:

  • Three hearing loss prevention publications - (1) Inquiring Ears Want to Know: A Fact Sheet about Your Hearing Test (2008-102), (2) They're Your Ears: Protect Them (2007-175), and (3) Have Your Heard? Hearing Loss Caused by Farm Noise is Preventable (2007-176).

  • Donning Process and Instructions for NIOSH-Approved Disposable Particulate Respirators. NIOSH has been updating the list of approved disposable particulate respirators to include the donning process and user instructions. This information is being provided as a courtesy to users and has been furnished by the approval holders, NIOSH said.

  • Three new health hazard evaluation reports, covering (1) exposure to metalworking fluids in the manufacturing sector, in which NIOSH provides PPE recommendations; (2) noise levels in the health care and social services sector, in which NIOSH recommends that food service employees wear hearing protection, and (3) work stress in the services sector.

  • National Occupational Research Agenda Construction Sector E-Newsletter which covers activities of the Construction Sector Council and other new research and events of interest to construction stakeholders.

  • Poster — “Got Everything Covered” — that gives tips on protecting workers from the hazards of isocyanate exposure during spray-on truck bed liner applications.

  • A series of Mining Fact Sheets covering underground and surface mining: coal, metal, non-metal, stone sand and gravel operations, and coal and non-coal contractors.

From the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) - www.msha.gov - comes word that it has issued its first official approval of a wireless tracking system for use in underground mines. “This approved system provides a wireless means for mine operators to track miners underground both before and after an emergency event,” said Rickard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. The approval was issued for Venture Design Services' MineTracer Miner Location Monitoring System.

Other new MSHA initiatives and products include:

  • Publication in February of a final rule that revises existing standards for mine rescue teams for underground coal mines, which will improve overall mine rescue capability, mine emergency response time and mine rescue team effectiveness. It also specifies increased quantity and quality of mine rescue team training, MSHA said.

  • Website feature that provides additional tools for mine safety stakeholders to assess the safety performance at specific mines around the nation. MSHA's Data Retrieval System will enable users to find specific data about violations per inspection day and repeat violations of the same standard.

  • Comprehensive plan to ensure that fines are assessed for all safety and health violations issued by MSHA's coal and metal/nonmetal enforcement personnel; MSHA recently discovered that less than half of one percent had gone unassessed over the last 10 years.

  • Reminder to the mining community to use the agency's national “One Call Does It All” hotline - 800-746-1553 - to report all mine accidents and workplace hazards; MSHA is distributing an array of stickers, magnets and business cards that display the toll-free number to miners and mine operators.

New from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) - www.acgih.org - are:

  • Modern Industrial Hygiene, volume 1 - Recognition and Evaluation of Chemical Agents, 2nd Edition, which is the first volume of a planned multi-volume set that fills the need for both an authoritative, comprehensive textbook and an up-to-date multidisciplinary resource for the field.

  • An important change in its TLV®/BEI® development process, which applies to the structure of comments and how they are to be submitted, the ACGIH said.

New from the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) - www.aiha.org - are:

New from the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA) - www.csda.org - are 11 health and safety courses on the association's online training Web site; the courses cover topics including PPE, walking and working surfaces, jobsite safety, driver safety, lockout/tag-out and hearing protection. Cost of each course: $49.

From ISEA member Draeger Safety - www.draeger.com - comes word that it received the 2007 Frost & Sullivan Consumer Award for respiratory protection. The award honors the manufacturer that best fulfills customers' needs in respiratory protection concerning the aspects of safety, ease of use, technical features, comfort and design, the company said.

From ISEA member Scott Health & Safety - www.scotthealthandsafety.com - comes word that it has made 15 contributions totaling $87,500 to various charitable causes, including $10,000 to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, $5,000 to the American Society of Safety Engineers Foundation, $10,000 to the First Responder Institute, and $5,000 to the Foundation for Occupational Health & Safety. The donations were made from the Scott Technologies Foundation.

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