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 Continue Reading…
It was recently announced that Disney was re-releasing the classic animated movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The commercial started with the dwarfs singing their classic song “Heigh-Ho”. In this tune, the cute characters of Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy and Doc all sing about coming home from working all day digging in the mine. To remember these characters, watch and listen here.
As the scene starts, I can’t help but notice there are no OSHA workplace labels anywhere. In the new OSHA Hazard Communications Standard 1910.1200 there isn’t much guidance on how to handle workplace labeling. The regulation states “the employer shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked”. The regulation goes on to say use the same information that is found on the shipped containers or use a “Product identifier and words, pictures, symbols, or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals, and which, in conjunction with the other information immediately available to employees under the hazard communication program, will provide employees with the specific information regarding the physical and health hazards of the hazardous chemical.”
Many Employers may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what to have in a workplace after reading the regulation. Let us help. We offer the GHS Workplace Labels (Orange System).
Orange System GHS Workplace Labels Available Continue Reading…
As it is the time of year to begin taking down holiday decorations, the topic of portable ladder safety should be addressed. There are various ways to teach and model proper safety techniques in the use of these types of ladders. One of the best is by using humor and my personal favorite is Chevy Chase playing Clark Griswold in the National Lampoon’s movies. Chase’s use of slapstick or physical comedy often has the desired effect of teaching people the best ways to NOT do a task.
Let’s put together one of the classic scenes from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and apply OSHA’s Ladder Safety Requirements in 29 CFR 1926.1053 to it to see just how bad Clark Griswold is at safety. To view the scene, click here. To view OSHA’s Portable Ladder Safety Quick Card™, click here.
So, here is the comparison. Below is the requirement as listed on the Portable Ladder Safety Quick Card™ followed by how Clark is in violation of it. See if you can find any I missed in my assessment.
- Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
VIOLATION: This one is questionable, but given Clark’s way of working it is doubtful the yellow safety sticker on the side of the ladder was checked before it was removed from the garage and set into place.
- Avoid electrical hazards! – Look for overhead power lines before Continue Reading…
An inquiry was made by the American Coatings Association, which they asked OSHA to clearly outline the import of materials and the export of materials in sealed containers for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) responded with a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) on November 23rd, 2015 which further clarified the responsibilities of US companies when importing or exporting materials that require attention under the 29 CFR 1910.1200
In regard to import OSHA’s guidance in the LOI states the responsibility falls on the importers to assure compliant labeling when the material becomes under their control. Once in their control, importers must follow the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(4) where applicable. Importers must also assure compliance with HCS 2012 prior to shipping within the United States. In this LOI, OSHA encourages the review of their CPL-02-02-079 Section X.F.2h compliance directive which entails information for materials packaged for shipment prior to June 1st, 2015.
OSHA’s guidance for export in this LOI for sealed containers is that if prepared for direct shipment outside the US and are inside a USDOT approved shipping container, the manufacturer can label the container for the destination country. A HCS compliant label must be affixed to the outside package or be attached to the shipping papers as well. The container would also have to be labeled according the appropriate regulation for Continue Reading…
A few weeks ago I posted a blog regarding Fall Prevention. In it there was a reference to Arthur Brisbane, a reporter who in 1911 used the expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” As a follow-up to that blog, here is another one where a picture is worth a thousand words.
Last weekend allowed me the chance to see the musical “Matilda” at The Fox Theatre in downtown St. Louis. As I walked to the main doors I could hear water splashing against the ground. Upon closer inspection the source of the sound was found. Take a look at the following picture.
Again, you can imagine the conversation held after seeing this. There were lots of shocking comments, and stories about the stupid things we did as children in regards to electrical sockets. There were even a few regarding “the show must go on” but, it got me thinking. Just how is electrical safety handled in the workplace or in construction areas?
Upon arrival to work on Monday, I did some checking. The Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2015 is out and two of the top ten for 2015 include electrical issues. One is for “Electrical – Wiring Methods” and the other is for “Electrical – General Requirements”. If you look back over the past five years, some aspect of electricity is listed on every one.
Per the Continue Reading…
Right to know regulations are great for employees. They help educate the employees to understand all of the hazards they may be exposed to. OSHA’s philosophy behind their hazard communication standard is based around the “right to know” concept. One key to the system is the training of employees to not only know about a hazard, but to understand the hazard. Some states have implemented individual right to know requirements to provide information to workers above and beyond the federal level.
One state in particular has gone way beyond and branched the right to know into the consumer sector. Yes, I’m talking about California and their Prop 65 legislation. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) website (click here), Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The proposition was intended to protect California citizens and the State’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.
The list of chemicals covered by Prop 65 can be found on OEHHA’s website (click here). Note that they specify coverage to citizens, not just workers. This means that Prop 65 applies everywhere in California, not just workplaces where employees are trained to understand what the information really means. Continue Reading…
In 1983 the science fiction film “War Games” was released. The film is set in America at the height of the Cold War where the threat of nuclear war is a topic of much speculation. The plot surrounds a hacker named David, his access to the supercomputer with artificial intelligence called War Operation Plan Response (WOPR) and a friendly game of “Global Thermonuclear War”. This game among others on WOPR was designed to teach the artificial intelligence strategy and planning. A classic line from this movie is, “Shall we play a game?” which is uttered by WOPR.
Apparently, OSHA is following in these same footsteps. OSHA has released a game. (Note: Unity Player required to play)
“OSHA’s Hazard Identification Training Tool is an interactive, online, game-based training tool for small business owners, workers and others interested in learning the core concepts of hazard identification. After using this tool, users will better understand the process to identify hazards in their own workplace.”
The point of the game/tool is to find and name various workplace hazards. The goal is for managers and workers to be proactive in preventing injury and illnesses on while on the job. There are four scenarios including Manufacturing, Construction, OSHA Visual Inspection, and Emergency Room. It is recommended start with OSHA Visual Inspection Training. To keep the game/tool from getting “stale”, OSHA had it designed to alter the scenario Continue Reading…
Dancing for Safety
Trying to maintain workplace safety is never easy. Companies write best practices, policies and guidelines regularly to keep workers safe. Where there is often a breakdown is in having people actually follow those practices, policies and guidelines. As a former educator, engaging students and having them work with me rather than against me could be challenging. Even though my subject matter was science and my students were high school students, the data is clear. Music is a powerful tool to help with learning, driving concepts home and strengthening the mind.
So, to get workers involved with their own safety perhaps the 1980s song “Safety Dance” by the band Men Without Hats can be used. (Click here to hear the song) Granted the lyrics are not exactly written for workplace safety but the rhythm of the song and the chorus can be used to ask some basic questions every employee should ask every day.
What are the basic safety questions that can keep someone safe? Various websites are dedicated to worker safety and tips for maintaining it. Below is a list of my top five.
- What is my work area?
This is important to know in case there is electrical equipment, hazardous chemicals or machinery in your area that could impact how you do a job. Be aware of any changes in the area and be sure Continue Reading…
Nola Murphy’s Story
It was in a soft-drink bottle. It looked like lemonade. But 73-year-old Nola Murphy discovered, after pouring herself a glass, that it wasn’t. In fact, it was a toxic mould-remover that a cleaner had left sitting on a restaurant bar. The cleaner had poured the product from a larger container into the soft drink bottle for easier handling.
Mrs. Murphy was lucky – she survived the experience, although she required emergency hospital treatment. But her story, given in an article in the New Zealand Medical Journal, shows how putting hazardous chemicals in unlabeled containers can be a recipe for disaster. (More: The New Zealand Herald)
Many countries, including the United States and Canada, require hazardous chemicals sold to the workplace to be labeled by the supplier. Regulations such as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), set out the basic requirements for such labels (called “supplier labels” under WHMIS, and “labels for shipped containers” by OSHA). But as Mrs. Murphy’s experience shows, many hazardous chemicals still end up in unlabeled containers. They may be poured (“decanted”) from larger containers for convenience. The original supplier label may have been damaged or removed. Or two or more chemicals in separate containers may be mixed together to make a new product. No matter how it happens, unlabeled chemicals create a Continue Reading…
Safety training for workers is a key component of occupational health and safety regulations throughout North America.
Training & Education
Although the dictionary definitions distinguish between the two terms (To paraphrase – “Training: …action of teaching … a skill or type of behavior…”; “Education: The process of receiving … instruction … or … information about or training in a particular subject…”), the objective is to ensure that workers have both the knowledge and skills to ensure that they return home safely at the end of the day. One might add “in at least as good condition as when they arrived” (although when I worked in the pharmaceutical industry some people qualified that – “no better or worse than when you arrived…”).
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Regardless of the term used, the processes require that workers receive knowledge of both the specific skills and behaviors to maintain a safe work environment; as well as the knowledge to apply the skills effectively to identify known or developing hazards and protect against them. Also, although we hope it’s “insurance” in our enlightened world, knowledge of rights and responsibilities under occupational health and safety regulations is an important piece of the program.
Although skill training often focuses on the mechanics of how the worker is to do tasks (e.g. put on a harness, wear a respirator, fill out Continue Reading…