OSHA
OSHA Talks Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

My husband is a rocker. He loves heavy metal music and listens to it often. There is no better channel for him than “Hair Nation” on Sirius XM radio. Having grown up with him, I know he has attended every concert available including Bon Jovi, Ratt, Metallica, Poison, and the like. One of his best memories is seeing Motorhead perform while we were living in Austria. To this day he still goes to concerts, but now the bands include Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin. What is interesting is his approach to going to concerts now as compared to when he was younger. You guessed it. The biggest change is the use of ear plugs.

I’m not sure if this change is due to getting older or the fact that being in a safety role he now realizes how damaging the level of music at these concerts is to his hearing. (You can insert your own joke about men or women having “selective” hearing here.)

two workers wearing ear protection

Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge

In a recent press release OSHA indicated that every year 22 million workers risk losing their hearing due to workplace noise hazards. The estimated worker’s compensation costs for this disability is around $242 million. This is too high! Employers warn of hearing hazards in the workplace and often require workers to wear hearing protection. In a workplace the 8-hour time weighted average exposure level is 85 decibels. To put that in context, city traffic noise heard while inside a car is about 85 decibels. Normal conversation is around 60-65 decibels. A power saw and lawn mower are around 105-110 decibels. From a few websites I checked, ear pain and damage can begin as low as 125 decibels. For more information on noise and hearing conservation in general industry, I refer you to 29 CFR 1910.95.

To combat the issue and bring attention to it, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued the “Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge”. The goal is to involve everyone in coming up with ideas and/or technology related to occupational hearing protection. Everyone is able to submit ideas. For more information or to submit ideas go to https://www.dol.gov/featured/hearing. Submissions are due by September 30th.

Workers: Do your part and wear the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) as outlined by your employer. Think about what you do at home and ask yourself if it will have an impact on your hearing.

Employers: Know the standard and your workplace. Contact ICC Compliance Center for all custom GHS and PPE signage. Consider utilizing our PPE webinar as part of your new worker training.

As always, ICC is here for all of your safety needs. Contact us today.

Hazmat Personal Protection Equipment
Drywall and Dust Exposure

Being a Home Owner Working in Safety

A part of being a homeowner is maintaining the structure and surrounding area. We do this to keep the city and neighbors happy, but also to keep the house in good working order. If you look around your neighborhood, yards are mowed and houses are painted. You will even see the occasional furniture delivery or roofer in the area. Another part of home ownership is keeping the inside up to date. After all indoor plumbing is nice and there is always the chance that the house will be sold in the future.

Our home is currently 16 years old and we’ve been in it for 8 years. It has not been updated much beyond some interior paint and a new roof thanks to St. Louis hail storms. We decided to update a bathroom. Easy enough given how small they are, right? It turns out we needed to gut the bathroom down to the studs since it was covered in wallpaper. During the demolition there was a ton of dust generated. Now that new drywall is up it has to be “mudded and sanded” which created even more dust. What was fascinating was the fact none of the folks working wore masks or respirators during any of this. Remember I work in safety so this bothered me greatly and sent me on a hunt for what exactly is out there regarding dry wall.

Drywall and Dust Exposure

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) actually issued a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) about dust exposures resulting from drywall sanding in 1999. A link to the document can be found here.

What exactly are the hazards of drywall dust? NIOSH reports that some drywall joint compounds are made from ingredients including talc, silica, and gypsum which in dust form can irritate a person’s eyes, nose and respiratory airways. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can cause various health problems including persistent irritation, coughing, asthma-like symptoms and even lung cancer. Because of these hazards there are Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) in place for worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists an 8-hour time weighted average exposure limit of 15 mg/m3 for total dust exposure to Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated (PNOR) and a respirable dust exposure limit of 5 mg/m3. From the study NIOSH did to compile their HHE, it was found that some workers’ exposure equates to more than ten times those limits.

Manufacturers are warning workers on their safety data sheets of the hazards of drywall dust and list appropriate personal protective equipment and ventilation on their safety data sheets. Some even suggested alternatives to dry sanding to cut down on the dust produced including wet sanding and portable vacuum systems. However, these are not followed or used as noticed by my own experience. According to the HHE, “When respiratory protection is worn, it is often used incorrectly with little thought to training, proper selection, or fit.” As a safety person this baffles me.

Given the work on my bathroom is not complete and with the knowledge I now have, guess who will have the gift of dust masks when work begins again? Yep, if the folks in my home won’t bring the necessary items to be safe, I’ll be supplying them along with a note to the “Big Boss” about my concerns.

As always, ICC is here for all of your safety needs. Contact us today for a plant audit or our 10 and 30-Hour General Industrial Trainings.

IATA
Significant Changes and Amendments to the 58th Edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations

Download 2017 IATA 58th Edition Significant Changes

Some things are very predictable: Summer coming to an end, kiddos head back to school, and IATA publishes their list of Significant Changes and Amendments to their regulations.

This year marks the 58th edition of the Dangerous Goods Regulations. The 58th edition becomes effective January 1, 2017. It is published by IATA and distributed by many, including ICC Compliance Center.

Highlights of the changes and amendments include:

  • All amendments made by the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel and the IATA Dangerous Goods Board
  • Operator responsibilities have been completely revised
  • Training requirements have been updated to include a Review and Approval
  • There are a number of state and operator variations that have been added, deleted and amended
  • The List of Dangerous Goods has been amended
  • New and amended special provisions
  • New and amended packing instructions
  • New marking and labeling, including the new Lithium Battery label and Class 9 Lithium Battery label that become voluntary January 1, 2017 and mandatory January 1, 2019
  • Clarification for identification numbers on multiple overpacks
  • Notes have been added under 9.0 to reference Annex 19 – Safety Management Systems and the ICAO Safety Management Manual.
  • All Appendices have some form of change

Books are expected to be available late in October. Visit our store for more information on our pre-sale discounts.

WHMIS 2015
Bulletin – Saskatchewan Puts WHMIS 2015 in Force

Saskatchewan Joins the Fold- WHMIS 2015 Implementation Starts August 17

The “Land of Living Skies” (SK) has become the 6th province to finalize regulatory amendments to implement WHMIS 2015 in workplaces under their jurisdiction.

REG 6, officially named “The Occupational Health and Safety (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) Regulations, takes effect August 17, 2016 –as published in the June 17 Saskatchewan Gazette.

The regulation supplements The Saskatchewan Employment Act WHMIS requirements (Part III, DIVISON 7 of Statute S-15.1). As long as employers comply with the WHMIS 1988 requirements during the transition period, full compliance with WHMIS 2015 labelling/SDS at a worksite does not become mandatory until December 1, 2018.

The requirements mirror those in the model regulation which have been included to varying degrees in the FPT (federal/provincial/territorial) workplace regulations issued to date.

As with most OHS (occupational health & safety) regulations, training must be provided for hazards in the workplace- so employers receiving WHMIS 2015 labeled products/SDS will be expected to have trained workers in using the new system before they are able to be introduced to a worksite or place of employment (the defined terms for what other FPT refer to as a “workplace”).

Oh – “Land of Living Skies”?:
Saskatchewan is called the Land of Living Skies for a reason »

But if you visit, beware of Captain Tractor:

Safety Star Wars
May the (Safety) Force Be with You

Even a universe long ago and far, far away isn’t immune to problems with worker safety. And it’s not just those Storm Troopers eternally hitting their heads on the ceiling, or rebels getting trapped in garbage disposals.

An Accident on Set

During the filming of 2015’s blockbuster “Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens,” star Harrison Ford was struck by a piece of the set, resulting in a broken leg and several weeks’ delay in filming. The lost production time wasn’t the film company’s only problem, though. Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, a Disney subsidiary, was charged with four criminal violations to the United Kingdom’s workplace safety laws. This week, the company pleaded guilty to two counts, with the remaining two counts being withdrawn by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (The charges were laid in Britain because the accident occurred at the famous Pinewood set near London.)

Ironically, what endangered the 74-year-old star was a piece of modern technology. While working on set, he was struck by an automatic hydraulic-powered door that was reportedly triggered by someone unaware that Harrison was nearby. The force produced by this door was likened by the prosecution to “a small car.” When Harrison starred in the first Star Wars film, such a door would have been more likely to be powered by a stage-hand pulling a rope.

The Film Industry’s History of Risk

That doesn’t mean that film sets have a reputation for safety– far from it. Silent movies were made long before workplace safety was a significant issue for employers, and it was routine for actors, and particularly stuntmen and women, to be put at serious risk. When pouring millions of gallons of water on set during a filming of “Noah’s Ark,” director Michael Curtiz supposedly told a protesting staffer that the hundreds of extras “would have to take their chances” on drowning. According to a Snopes.com article on the filming of “Ben Hur” (the 1959 movie had no fatalities, but a stuntman died during the filming of the chariot race in the 1926 silent version) “[t]he early days of the film industry was particularly hard on stunt people. Baxter lists 55 deaths, mostly stunt people, as occurring in California film productions during the years 1925-1930.”

While the passage of time brought improved safety regulations for film sets, it also brought more emphasis on spectacular stunts and explosions. In 1982, actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed in an on-set helicopter crash. Director John Landis and others in the production were charged with manslaughter, but acquitted. Since then, government and industry have both worked to improve the safety of workers on sets. Many innovative programs have been set up – for example, in Californian centers near major movie studios, firefighters are given special training in recognizing hazards they may encounter on movie sets. Still, stage and screen work continues to be risky to its practitioners.

Lessons Learned

Like any good epic, the tale of Han Solo and the Door of Doom teaches us an important lesson. All workplaces must make safety a priority. It’s easy to see safety as an issue in heavy industry, such as construction or manufacturing. But all workplaces can pose hazards, even those dedicated to providing us with entertainment. Fortunately, in most areas, the regulations protect those who work on screen, in offices or in laboratories just as much as workers on the shop floor. The HSE said in their announcement of the guilty pleas:

“Every employer in every industry has a legal duty to manage risks in the workplace. Risks are part and parcel of everyday life, and this is acknowledged by health and safety law – but they still need to be identified and managed in a proportionate way.”

The veteran Ford took the accident in stride. He returned to his signature role in the movie that would become the top-grossing film in North American history, and posted a tweet holding a sign that read “Can do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Can’t use a door.”

If you have regulatory questions about workplace health and safety, contact us here at ICC Compliance Center at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-44834 (Canada).

AM Radio
AM Radio and TSCA Reform

TSCA Reform

Every generation believes the one before it had an easier or simpler life. Take some time and talk to someone much older or younger than yourself and talk about things such as technology or medicine just to see the differences in a span as small as five or ten years. Another example is entertainment. Long before the Kardashians, Reality TV. and the internet there was simply radio. Back in the early 1900’s there were only one option. That option was the amplitude modulation (AM) radio which was originally called “radiotelephone”. It wasn’t until the 1920’s when the “broadcasting” of voices and songs began. In order to hear these “broadcasts” people had to tune in to a particular station in order to listen. We still do this today but there are now pre-set buttons and digital numbers that make it easy. In order to keep listeners, the tag line of “stay tuned” was created.  This was a way for radio announces to tell their audience that more information was expected on a story.

So how does AM radio and “stay tuned” apply to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)? In regards to this regulation which has not changed for over forty years, something monumental happened. Officially called “H.R. 2576” this act is getting a major renovation. Named after long-time TSCA reform advocate Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey, this bill is was signed into law by President Obama on June 22.

Some of the improvements of the bill are the following taken from an article published by the Environmental Defence Fund:

  • Mandates safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce.
  • Requires a safety finding before new chemicals are allowed on the market.
  • Replaces TSCA’s burdensome safety standard – which prevented EPA even from banning asbestos – with a pure, health-based standard.
  • Explicitly requires protection of vulnerable populations, like children and pregnant women.
  • Enhances EPA’s authority to require testing of both new and existing chemicals.
  • Sets aggressive, judicially enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions and compliance with restrictions.
  • Makes more information about chemicals available, by limiting companies’ ability to claim information as confidential, and by giving states and health and environmental professionals access to confidential information they need to do their jobs.
  • Requires EPA to reduce and replace animal testing where scientifically reliable alternatives exist that would generate equivalent or better information.
  • Requires EPA to prioritize chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative, and that are known human carcinogens and have high toxicity.
  • Preserves a significant role for states in assuring chemical safety.

Stay Tuned

How these changes will be implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to be determined. The timetable for these changes is also unclear. The best those of us in Regulatory work can do is become familiar with these changes listed in the bill. Stay tuned to the ICC Compliance Center Newsletter for information as it becomes available.

OSHA Update
Crystalline Silica Rule (Part 3)

Well, here you have it the 3rd and final part to my Silica blog series. As I had mentioned in my previous blog the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curtail lung cancer, silicosis, COPD and kidney disease in workers by regulating their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is included into two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.

Silica Rule

In review from previous blogs OSHA estimates that this rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year. About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.1

This ruling for Silica will reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micro grams per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift. It requires employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure or provide respirators when unable to apply controls. Medical exams will be used to monitor employees, which will provide information about their lung health over time.

In Summary

The standard will require employers to:

  • Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica
  • Limit workers’ access to areas where exposure are above the PEL
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica
  • Provide respirators when dust controls are not providing proper elimination
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica
  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan
  • Offer medical exams
  • Train workers on silica exposure and ways to limit exposure
  • Keep records of silica exposure and medical exams of workers’

In the final rule both standards took effect on June 23, 2016. Of course there are steps to be taken and a period of implementation. Employers have to be in compliance with this ruling by June 23, 2018.

With the exception of:

  • Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2018.
  • Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2020.
  • Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must implement engineering controls to limit exposures to the new PEL by June 23, 2021.

I personally am happy to see these changes finally being made. I am sure many join me in this feeling, too, knowing their loved ones will have these protections in place so they can enjoy their later years without work related breathing issues.

1 https://www.osha.gov/silica/index.html

Pokémon Go pokéball
Pokémon Go: Gotta Catch ‘Em All – Safely

Until recently, if you saw someone wandering down the street, eyes fixed to their smart phone, you might assume they were absorbed by texting “Sup?” to all their friends. But there’s a new craze this summer, a game called Pokémon Go. While the game has been praised for getting couch potatoes out into the streets searching for digital creatures (the “pocket monsters” or Pokémon) to collect, questions about player safety (as well as bad behaviour) have been a hot topic in the news.

Let’s look at how you can enjoy hunting adorable imaginary monsters without getting hurt or becoming a nuisance to others.

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is available in Canada and the U.S. as a free download for both Android and iOS phones. Once you download it, you discover the game has two main parts – hunting and fighting

Your first task is to locate and catch Pokémon. There are 142 types (Currently available in North America) that may be generated around the landscape. The game provides you with a map of your location, which will indicate, in a frustratingly vague manner, the Pokémon available for capture in your general area. When one comes into range, your smartphone will vibrate and an adorable cartoon monster will appear on your phone screen. To catch it, flick a trap called a “pokéball” at the creature (the thumb-flick, though easy, is not as accurate as the preferred forefinger-flick). Since Pokémon have different strengths, the higher-ranked ones will be harder to catch. Once caught, they can be strengthened by feeding them candy and stardust. Sounds unhealthy, but they’re like vegetables and whole grains to Pokémon.

Once you’ve established a stable of Pokémon and reached the rank of “trainer”, you can battle against players at “Pokémon gyms,” as you strive for pre-eminence over local trainers. There’s no money involved in winning, but pride and glory await the trainer who can catch and raise the most powerful minions.

The game, created by Niantic, Inc., is free to play, but extra pokéballs and other supplies are available as in-app purchases. Caches of free supplies may be found at “Pokéstops,” located at local attractions such as parks, churches, museums, and public artworks. This encourages players to discover details about their local community that even long-time residents may have missed.

So, Why the Concern?

Wild Pokémon are generated relatively randomly, sometimes in places where it may be dangerous for players to go. These include private property, dangerous environments such as cliffs and waterways, and areas with high crime levels. Although most current reports of trainers being hurt or attacked are urban legends, enough incidents have occurred to make safety a concern. One player was stabbed while hunting down an elusive specimen and another searching along a riverbank came across a real-life corpse. A Toronto player is now in trouble with transit authorities for filming himself searching for targets on the subway tracks.

Additional complaints have arisen from the location of the Pokéstops and gyms. While clusters of eager players may be welcomed at many spots (particularly in commercial areas), players have been seen behaving inappropriately at areas where respectful decorum is required, such as the Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. While Niantic has a system for requesting the addition or deletion of a stop or gym, the massive response to the game has made it unlikely that such changes can be made quickly. It’s up to the players themselves to behave responsibly.

Steps for Safe Play

Pokémon Go Safety

If you decide to join the hordes of prospective Pokémon trainers, keep in mind that although the Pokémon live in a virtual world, you don’t. That means that the laws of society and nature still apply to your activities. Even the opening screen of the game reminds you to stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Here are some suggestions to increase the fun and minimize the danger of your poképursuit.

  • Keep your head up. Fortunately, your phone will alert you if you’ve approached a target, so you don’t have to keep your eyes glued to it. Enjoy your rambles, and don’t look like a noob by concentrating excessively on your screen. If you’re trying to track a distant Pokémon, stop walking when you check your map.
  • Plan your course and pick a safe route. You don’t want to end up in the wrong part of town or knee-deep in a bog. Take the time of day into consideration. While some rare Pokémon prefer to come out at night, so do muggers. It may be safe to wander around a park during the daytime, but it might not be a good idea in the middle of the night.
  • Traffic is your enemy. Don’t jaywalk or try to cross busy highways. Don’t stop in the middle of an intersection to throw pokéballs. Don’t walk down active railway lines. Especially don’t walk down railway lines while listening to headphones.
  • Speaking of which, don’t hunt and drive. While the programmers claim that they’ve deliberately kept spawning points away from major highways, Pokémon can still make tantalizing appearances as you drive city streets. Don’t slam on the brakes just because you spotted a Vaporeon (as many people did in Central Park recently, creating a massive traffic jam in downtown Manhattan). If you plan on using a car to get around, park before going on the hunt. Remember, many jurisdictions ban using hand-held electronics while behind the wheel, and that covers gameplay as well as texting. Even if it’s legal in your area, it’s still not a good idea. If you want to search a wide zone, get a partner to drive while you scan.
  • Prepare for the conditions of your search. It’s a hot summer – if you’ll be walking around during the day, wear sunscreen and take plenty of water with you. Your Pokémon skills won’t save you if you get heatstroke. Wear good walking or hiking shoes. If you’re going into natural areas such as parks, beware of ticks and other insects who are not as easily subdued as Caterpie.
  • Respect private property and areas such as churches and memorials. This is common sense as much as common decency. The game’s sensors allow you a relatively wide circle where you can nab your prey, so in most cases you can get that Pikachu in someone’s backyard just by standing on the sidewalk. But if you can’t, be nice and don’t pester the inhabitants. You might end up facing charges for trespassing, and the judge may not find completing your Pokédex adequate justification.
  • As all fads, Pokémon Go has attracted scammers and worse to prey on the unwary. One report tells of enterprising thieves who set up a lure (which attracts large numbers of Pokémon to one area), and robbed players who showed up at gunpoint. Scam websites have tried to convince players to pay them a monthly fee, despite Niantic’s declaration that the game will stay free to play. Avoid going into isolated areas alone, and always check out internet rumours at reliable sources.
  • Above all, keep in mind that Pokémon Go is a game. A fun one, yes. But it’s not worth risking your safety or breaking the law for.

If you have questions about Pokémon Go, Barbara Foster will field them after she catches the Eevee lurking behind her desk. For regulatory questions, contact us here at ICC The Compliance Center at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-44834 (Canada).

Shipping by Road
A Closer Look at Truck Safety

In the United States, there are close to ten million people in trucking-related jobs. Over 2 million tractor-trailers hit the roadways each year, logging nearly 450 billion annual miles. These trucks account for 70 percent of freight transported in the US, with several trillion dollars of cargo delivered in North America each year.

For a delivery system that’s so critical to our nation, the safety risks associated with the trucking industry are huge.

OSHA reports that an average of 475,000 large trucks are involved in accidents each year, causing over 5,000 deaths and 142,000 injuries. A quarter of those belong to the truck drivers (although the truck operators are only responsible for 30 percent or less of the accidents.) In addition to driving-related accidents, regulators issued numerous citations for improper guards on equipment, lack of personal protective equipment, improper grounding of equipment and lack of proper fall protection.

The sad reality is that employees in the trucking industry have more work-related fatalities than any other occupation, with a full third of these deaths taking place off of the roadway. The industry also accounts for more non-fatal injuries requiring medical attention than any other form of employment, with the most prevalent injuries being sprains and strains. One of the most prevalent types of serious occurrences is back-overs, with many hundreds of employees being struck each year.

So what can be done?

Establish Proper Protocols

OSHA estimates that 70 percent of businesses do not have an established safety and health plan. Simply posting bulletins and laying manuals on tables do not protect workers. Proper protocols need to be established that address equipment, gear, weather, vehicles, communication, signage and more.

For example, when unloading goods, people on foot should stay out of the loading zone. Personnel should not be downhill of moving cargo, and all employees should be free of trailers and wheels before a truck is moved. These seemingly common sense items should never be left to common sense alone; they need to be stated.

All protocols should be unique to your environment. Nobody else’s worksite looks like yours or presents the same specific challenges. From visibility to geological, geographic and meteorological features, address your strengths and weaknesses. And prepare a plan that will send every employee home safely each and every day.

Training

Once the protocols are established, train your employees on them. If you are going to reduce accidents and prepare a safe work environment, training cannot be taken lightly. OSHA and a number of other agencies will provide training for you. All you have to do is ask.

Training needs to be conducted on everything from equipment to personal protective gear. When dealing with trucks, you need to address the visual limits of the drivers, blind spots, communication signals and acknowledgments, spotters, loading, unloading, etc.

For example, a back-over incident is when a vehicle that’s backing up strikes a worker while they’re either standing, walking or kneeling behind the vehicle. Common reasons for back-overs include:

  • Spotters for one vehicle who don’t see a second vehicle backing up without a spotter
  • Workers riding on trucks who fall off and get run over
  • Trucks backing without a spotter, so they don’t see a worker in their blind spot
  • Backup warning signals that are not operational

Most of these incidents could be prevented with proper protocols and training. Requiring trained spotters to be present on all backups reduces incidents significantly. Further, training employees about the location of a truck’s blind spots helps them avoid ending up in one.

Loading and Unloading Equipment

The modern trucking industry has come a long way from the days of the handcart. From gangways and loading ramps to platforms and bridges, your equipment needs to meet your operational needs. Too often, a one-size-fits-all approach is taken with equipment, and this leads to safety hazards.

When ordering your equipment, make sure your vendor knows the sizes of your trucks, the dimensions of your loading and unloading area, the configuration of the operations, and so on. They can work with you to design a custom solution that will maximize your employee safety.

In addition to equipment that fits, don’t forget to think about visibility. On the work site, orange and yellow have special meanings. Make sure your employees and equipment are highly visible and easy to see.

Fall Protection

Whether you are opening a hatch or working on a tarp, when you leave the ground, you are subject to a fall. OSHA standards require fall protection any time you’re at least 4 feet, 6 feet or 8 feet off of the ground, depending on your operation. Granted, the best fall system is one that does not have you on top of the truck, but when that’s unavoidable, fall protection needs to be in place. Consider beam and trolley systems, access platforms, lifelines and more. Safety cages are also always good options, and automatic tarping systems could be considered fall protection since it keeps employees off of the truck.

When working in inclement weather, canopies protect your employees from the elements and significantly reduce the chances of a fall. Spill containment equipment keeps slick or hazardous materials from ending up under your employee’s feet. Gaps and drop-offs should be secured near all lift gates and loading docks.

Many times employees will attempt to inspect or fix a problem when the truck is outside of the standard work area. These instances relate back to developing good protocols and training, especially in the case of roadside repairs or emergency service work.

In 2015, the top three most cited violations by OSHA were, once again, fall protection, hazard communication and scaffolding. Don’t let any of your employees become one of these statistics.

Maintenance

According to the United States Department of Labor: “Truck or rail tank car loading … is one of the most hazardous operations likely to be undertaken at any manufacturing or storage facility. Workers engaged in the loading or unloading of suspension-type highway trailers may be at an increased risk of injury due to the inability of damaged trailers to support the weight of the powered industrial truck used to load or unload the trailer.”

Prior to engaging in loading and unloading activities, take the time to inspect the trailers and ensure they have been properly maintained. The same goes for power trucks. The right time to find out there’s a mechanical issue is not when you are in the middle of moving a massive load.

Safety is job one. With a few precautions, some quality training and proper equipment, your employees will love coming to work because they know they will be going home safely at the end of the day.

OSHA Update
2 Million Plus Workers Get Protection From Deadly Dust! (Part 2)

Silicosis and OSHA Standards

As you may recall in my last blog, I spoke of a tragic story out of West Virginia. It was the Hawk’s Nest Industrial Incident and the repercussions on the people of that time in the 1930s. Up to date each year illness continues takes the lives of thousands of workers. One of these illness still present is caused by a deadly dust – crystalline silica which can cause Silicosis. It is approximated that 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work. Over time workers have come to count on OSHA to adopt standards to be enforced in the workplace. These standards aid in the reduction of the risks to workers from contracting illness or injury in the workplace.

Let’s review what crystalline silica is. Crystalline silica is an important industrial material found largely in the earth’s crust and is commonly found in the likes of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. It is found in materials that we see every day in the construction of roads, buildings, and sidewalks. Silica dust occurs in the workplace when operations involve cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock, and stone. It can also be found among operations that use sand products, such as glass manufacturing, foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing.

Crystalline silica (respirable) is hazardous to workers who inhale small particles, which puts a worker at risk of developing silica-related diseases that can be serious. Even deadly. Tiny as these particles are they can be easily inhaled and get deep into workers lungs, which then causes silicosis, an irreversible, incurable, and fatal lung disease. There are other repercussions from exposure to silica, workers are at risk for lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and kidney disease.

Silica Exposure Limits

OSHA and the workforce has known about the dangers of silica for a long time. As a matter of fact more than 80 years ago, U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins brought experts and stakeholders together to figure out ways to safeguard labors from silica. OSHA’s current PEL’s (permissible exposure limits) for silica are over 40 years old. There has been proof that shows the current exposure limits do not protect workers. For instance silica exposure has been proven to cause lung cancer and kidney disease at the current PEL’s.

In efforts to protect workers from the dangers of crystalline silica, OSHA has finalized a ruling and put in place standards for silica. One for general industry and maritime, and the other for construction. OSHA has taken the time to gather information through many venues getting them to the point of establishing the final rule for silica. They have accomplished this through extensive review of scientific evidence from current industry standards, public outreach efforts, weeks of public hearings, and a period in which they took comments from the public. By doing this the ruling provides reasonable, inexpensive and flexible strategies for employers to implement protection for their workers. It is estimated that this ruling will save the lives of 600 or more workers each year and once fully implemented prevent more than 900 cases of Silicosis each year.

Just how will the rule protect workers? The rule reduces the volume of silica dust that a worker can be exposed to (PEL equation can be found here). Employers will have to implement controls and practices that reduce workers’ exposure to the silica dust. Employers will also have to safeguard that silica dust is wetted down or vacuumed up in dust collectors to prevent workers from breathing it in. Many employers have already been implementing measures to protect their workers from silica.

In brief under the new rule employers are required to:

  • limit access to high exposure areas
  • provide training
  • provide respiratory protection (if controls are not enough to limit exposure)
  • provide written exposure control plans
  • measure exposures

Employers are also required under this ruling to offer medical examinations to workers that are considered to be highly exposed to silica dust.

OSHA Compliance

OSHA will help employers comply with the rule to protect their workers by providing flexibility to help employers protect workers from silica exposure. They have given from one to five years to get the correct protections in place. OSHA has staggered compliance dates to give sufficient time to meet the requirements of this rule.

There are many industries affected by this new rule, are you one of them?

Here are the industries projected to be affected according to OSHA:

  • Construction
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Pottery products
  • Structural clay products
  • Concrete products
  • Foundries
  • Dental laboratories
  • Paintings and coatings
  • Jewelry production
  • Refractory products
  • Ready-mix concrete
  • Cut stone and stone products
  • Abrasive blasting
  • Refractory furnace installation and repair
  • Railroad transportation
  • Oil and gas operations

If specifications are followed correctly employers can be confident that they are providing workers with the necessary level of protection. What are these specifications? Stay tuned for part 3 of this silica blog series where I will detail the Crystalline Silica Rule.

More information can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/silica/index.html