Emergency Preparedness

By Rachel Morgan, MPH, ASP, EHS Specialist at Palmetto EHS

While we all hope to never have to act upon our emergency action plans, there will be times when it will be unavoidable. In October of 2015, South Carolinians had to deal with the “1000 Year Flood,” and last week, in the midst of hurricane season, Hurricane Matthew. Preparing for an emergency, such as a hurricane, prior to the event saves lives, and is one of the many reasons why OSHA requires employers to have emergency action plans.

Although the training requirements vary based on the processes at the workplace, the materials on site, the number of employees, etc., one of the vital components of the emergency action plan includes training of employees on evacuation plans, shutdown procedures, alarms, reporting procedures, etc. In addition to this type of training, employers should also be conducting drills (at least annually) so that what to do in the case of an emergency is not a question for employees. Remember the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance?” That applies here as well – if your employees have been prepared for what to do in the case of an emergency, their performance will result in fewer injuries and less confusion during and after the evacuation and/or incident. Following a drill is the best time to evaluate the efficacy of the drill and the emergency action plan, and to make the appropriate changes needed.

OSHA’s “Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool” outlines the minimum requirements of the emergency action plan and include the following:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • Procedures for employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate
  • Accounting for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed
  • Rescue and medical duties for employees performing them
  • Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted.

For more information on hurricane specific information, visit https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/hurricane/index.html and contact us if you need help developing an emergency action plan of your own.

Cold Stress: What You Need to Know

coldBy Rachel Morgan, EHS Specialist with Palmetto EHS

We do not typically associate cold stress with South Carolina. However, with the return of the “polar vortex,” employers in the southeast must consider those workers at risk for developing injuries and illnesses associated with cold stress. Workers who are not acclimatized to colder temperatures are at risk for developing injuries and illnesses triggered by the cold, in addition to employees that are dressed inappropriately for the temperatures, have pre-existing medical conditions, or have wet clothing or skin as a result of their job duties.

Hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot are three of the most well-known and common types of cold stress injuries and illnesses.

  • Hypothermia occurs when the internal body temperature falls below 95° The symptoms begin with the person shivering and progress to the cessation of shivering, confusion, slowed heart and breathing rates, and eventually can lead to unconsciousness and death if the person does not bring their body temperature back up.
  • Frostbite occurs when skin and tissues of the body freeze. This usually occurs in the extremities such as the hands and feet and will occur more quickly the lower the temperature. The symptoms begin with numbness and reddening of the affected area and progress to the development of white to gray patches on the skin, a hardening of the area, and possibly even blistering. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.
  • Trench foot occurs when the feet are exposed to cold temperatures and a wet environment for a prolonged period of time. The tissues do not freeze, however the feet will become numb, turn red, swell, and blister.

For the health and safety of workers, employers have a responsibility to train employees on the hazards associated with cold stress, recognizing the symptoms, and how they can prevent and reduce the risk of developing injuries and illnesses caused by the cold. If possible, engineering controls should also be implemented to help reduce the risk of injuries and illness due to the cold temperatures. Additionally, employers should acclimatize their employees to the environment gradually and monitor the workers for signs and symptoms of cold stress. This is especially important in the southeast where workers are not typically exposed to extreme cold temperatures.

Cold stress can be prevented and managed when employers are willing to work with employees and employees are willing to work with each other. Proper precautions, training, and education are all necessary in keeping workers injury and illness free due to cold stress.

For more information and guidelines on what to do if you see someone experiencing the signs and symptoms of cold stress, please visit https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3156.pdf

OSHA News Release on Changes to TB Directive

By Rachel Morgan, EHS Specialist

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacteria causes 1.5 million deaths each year and worldwide about a third of the population is infected with the bacteria, according to the CDC. Protecting workers in health care settings that may come into contact with this bacteria is an important part of what OSHA has been tasked with.

Since 1996, OSHA has been using guidance from the “Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Health-Care Facilities” report that was released by the CDC in 1994 to guide OSHA inspections and citations. In 2005 the CDC updated their report and released new guidelines pertaining to preventing the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Using this 2005 version of guidelines from the CDC, OSHA updated its instructions for inspectors working in healthcare settings.

The new OSHA Instruction contains a few substantial changes. These include:

  • Classification of healthcare settings according to their risk for transmission.
  • In some cases, fewer tuberculosis screenings for workers.
  • Replacing “Purified Protein Derivative Test” (PPD) with “Tuberculin Skin Test” (TST).
  • Introduction of a new screening method – BAMT (Blood Analysis for Mycobacterium tuberculosis).
  • Coverage of added workplaces considered as healthcare settings.

With a disease as infectious as tuberculosis, keeping workers with the potential to be exposed as safe as possible is a must. For more information, please visit https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/trade-20150713B.html.

 

Protecting Workers from Heat Related Illness

CC_thermometerBy Rachel Morgan, EHS Specialist

Summer in the southeast creates a new set of hazards for workers. With temperatures reaching into the triple digits, employees must learn how to protect themselves against the various heat hazards that come along with working in these areas.

Heat illness encompasses a few different types of illness associated with the heat. These include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. Workers that are not used to working in the extreme heat, not taking in enough liquids, and exposure to the direct sun are all factors that increase workers risk for developing heat related illness.

Heat stroke is the most serious of these heat illnesses. It occurs when the body overheats and the core body temperature reaches or exceeds 104 F, which can cause damage to organs such as the brain and heart. Heat stroke symptoms include confusion, cessation of sweating, fainting, and seizures.

Heat exhaustion is a less serious heat illness, but it should not be taken lightly because it can develop into heat stroke. Symptoms of this heat illness include body weakness, headaches, confusion, irritability, nausea, and wet skin from excessive sweating.

For the health and safety of workers, employers need to develop and implement heat illness prevention programs. These programs need to include requirements for training workers about the hazards associated with heat stress, how to recognize them, and how to prevent heat illnesses. Employers need to also ensure that employees have plenty of water available to them so that they can stay hydrated when working in these types of conditions.

Heat stress and illness can be managed when workers and employers work together. However, without proper precautions, these illnesses can result in death. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3154.pdf

OSHA’s Top 10 Violations for Fiscal Year 2014

rachel photo-website

Article by Rachel Morgan, EHS Specialist at Palmetto EHS, LLC.

These are the top ten OSHA violations for fiscal year 2014. Note that the top 10 list is considered preliminary since not all violations have been added to OSHA’s reporting system at this point. OSHA does not, however, expect the order to change once the reporting system is completely up to date.

1. Fall Protection in construction (1926.501) (1st in 2013)
Includes violations for failure to guard open sides and edges of platforms, to prevent falls from roofs, and to cover or guard floor and wall holes.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) (2nd in 2013)
Includes violations for failure to have a written program, train employees on chemical hazards, improper or no labels on containers, and MSDS violations such as missing MSDSs.

3. Scaffolding in construction (1926.451) (3rd in 2013)
Includes violations for scaffold construction issues, improper access to scaffolding work surfaces, and lack of guardrails, etc.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) (4th in 2013)
Includes violations for missing written respiratory protection programs or program problems, poor fit test procedures and lack of fit testing, issues with respirator selection process, and lack of procedures for voluntary use of respirators.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) (8th in 2013)
Includes violations for lack of energy control procedures and specific procedures, inadequate worker training, group lockout provisions not met and periodic inspections not completed.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) (6th in 2013)
Includes violations for lack of (or inadequate) operator training and refresher training, inspections, and condition of forklifts.

7. Electrical-wiring methods (1910.305) (5th in 2013)
Includes violations for flexible cords and cables that were not used properly, violations related to extension cord usage, temporary wiring citations, and use of temporary wiring as permanent wiring.

8. Ladders in construction (1926.1053) (7th in 2013)
Includes violations for damaged ladders, use of the top of the ladder as a step, using the wrong ladder for the job, and placing excessive loads on ladders.

9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) (10th in 2013)
Includes violations for missing guards, not anchoring fixed machinery, and exposue to blades and other point of operation hazards.

10. Electrical-general requirements (1910.303) (9th in 2013)
Includes violations related to employee exposure to potential electric shock or electrocution.

It is worth noting that the items on the top 10 list usually do not change, but they may rise or fall in rank each year depending on number of citations issued.

OSHA’s New Hazard Identification Training Tool

julieArticle by Julie Moniot, MPH, Senior EHS Specialist at Palmetto EHS, LLC.

A new interactive OSHA training tool is now available online to assist small businesses in effectively identifying and controlling hazards in the workplace. OSHA’s Hazard Identification Training Tool is an interactive, online, game-based training tool designed to teach the core concepts of hazard identification and raise awareness on the types of information and resources about workplace hazards available on OSHA’s website. This tool is useful in improving skills in hazard identification, assessing and determining abatement methods, and developing and implementing appropriate controls.

The tool explains the key components of:

  1. The hazard identification process, which may include review of manuals, safety data sheets, Job Safety Analyses, OSHA data, facility historical/medical data, industry-specific identified hazards, and other useful information collection;
  2. Inspection and observation of work areas and adjacent areas including virtually observing the equipment in operation (such as machine guarding issues, noise and dust levels, etc.) watching the operator’s movements and work practices (such as positioning of controls relative to the worker, improper use of safety functions/PPE), and noting any surrounding hazardous conditions.
  3. Investigation of incidents, current or previous;
  4. Employee participation for details and feedback; and
  5. Prioritizing the hazards by evaluating the hazards you have identified and mitigate the most hazardous first using severity (how bad is the potential outcome) and exposure (how likely is an occurrence) as factors.

Currently, the user can choose between three different virtual scenarios: “OSHA Visual Inspection Training”, “Manufacturing Facility” and “Construction.” Users can also play from the perspective of either a business owner or an employee as they learn to identify realistic, common hazards and address them with practical and effective solutions.

The hazard identification training tool can be found on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov/hazfinder. To view the game trailer, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj_IqaWSbKo&feature=youtu.be. For additional compliance assistance resources visit www.osha.gov.

ASP to Soon Become Stand Alone Certification

2014_Affiliate_Banner_Ad_All_250X150The Board of Certified Safety Professionals announced today that it will make the ASP (Associate Safety Professional) a stand alone certification in the fourth quarter of this year. Those that wish to become Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs), will still have to take and pass both the ASP and CSP exams (unless they are exempt from the ASP exam).

“BCSP strives to improve its certifications to advance the safety profession while providing its practitioners with more options,” said the CEO of BCSP, Dr. Treasa Turnbeaugh, CSP, CET. “The ASP certification will enhance BCSP’s vision to create a safer world through safety, health and environmental certification.”

To obtain the ASP certification, you will need a  Bachelor’s degree in any field or an Associate’s degree in safety, health, environmental, or a closely related field. At least one year of experience at a professional level with breadth and depth of safety duties is also required.

Are you ready for your ASP exam? Check out our exam prep classes offered through Bowen EHS.

Obama’s Vow To Use Executive Authority Could Trickle Down To OSHA, Other Agencies

Reproduced with permission from Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, 44 OSHR 117 (Feb. 6, 2014).  Copyright 2014 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033http://www.bna.com.  

By Stephen Lee

Feb. 3 –President Barack Obama’s vow in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address to use executive authority to advance his agenda, with or without congressional approval, has some business representatives worried about a flow of heavy-handed regulations streaming out of federal agencies.

“America does not stand still, and neither will I,” Obama said. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Later in his speech, Obama announced that he would issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 per hour.

POTENTIAL SPILLOVER EFFECTS

That approach to governance could have spillover effects on federal agencies, which may feel more emboldened to move their own agendas through mechanisms such as letters of interpretation and guidance documents to bypass the lengthy rulemaking process, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 30.

Indeed, some business leaders have alleged that the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration under Obama already has been regulating by fiat, broadly expanding its authority to rule on issues such as permissible exposure limits, fines for violations, employee walkaround rights on safety inspections, noise controls and employer safety incentive programs.

“They’ve been trying to use the guidance process–which is far more streamlined and less complicated than rulemaking–to do things that should be done through rulemakings, things that create new policy and new obligations,” said Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In particular, the chamber has expressed concern that OSHA might wield the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act as a cudgel to expand its enforcement power on a broad set of workplace hazards, such as workplace violence.

OSHA REJECTS ALLEGATIONS

OSHA, however, has firmly rejected claims that it overreaches, saying it merely seeks to uphold its legislative mandate to protect workers and consistently follows a clear, transparent process for issuing rules.

OSHA Administrator David Michaels has said, for example, that the agency’s October 2013 framework to help employers transition to safer chemicals and the agency’s list of more stringent exposure levels developed outside of OSHA are recommendations only, and don’t signal an attempt to regulate.

Guidance and reinterpretations have triggered too much opposition for OSHA to attempt any significant expansion of its authority, especially in light of its failed 2011 proposed reinterpretation of its noise control standards, according to Aaron Trippler, director of government affairs with the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

OSHA withdrew the proposed reinterpretation shortly after announcing it.

“There is way too much politics in occupational health and safety issues for the agency to use these processes in any other way,” Trippler told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 3.

AGENCIES RESTRAINED

Moreover, agencies’ ability to regulate without following the Administrative Procedure Act is highly restrained, Ornstein said.

“It’s not like OSHA could turn around and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to change safety rules creating a whole new set of categories,’ ” Ornstein said. “The safety rules that OSHA has implemented all come within boundaries set by the OSH Act, and related laws. You can’t do this stuff on your own.”

“There’s some significant leeway in terms of implementing the directives, and in some cases the laws are vague,” he said. “But what we also have to keep in mind is that, in a larger sense, if you get an agency or the president taking an action that pushes the envelope or goes way beyond what is allowed in the laws, Congress has its own remedies.”

Ornstein further said Obama’s hand has been forced by an intransigent Republican party in Congress.

“I think he would prefer, and still would, to do this through Congress, as any president would, because laws have more reach, more bite, more endurance and more legitimacy than executive actions,” he said. “But if you can’t get laws, then you have two choices: You wring your hands or you do whatever you can.”

Paul Verkuil, chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, told Bloomberg BNA in December 2013 that he understood why agencies would try to “find a way around” the cumbersome notice-and-comment process.

REPUBLICANS CRITICAL OF PLAN

Following Obama’s speech, several Republican lawmakers blasted his plans to use more executive authority.

“For years, President Obama has chosen to withdraw from policy debates and ignore our Constitutional balance of power,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. “Identifying that you cannot work with a Republican House or a Democratic Senate should not be a point of pride or a governing philosophy. Let’s put away the pen and pick up the phone and work together to find common ground.”

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement said the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 367S. 15), which would subject all significant regulations to an up-or-down vote in Congress before they can take effect, is a powerful measure to check a runaway executive.

MCCONNELL QUERIES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

On Jan. 31, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying he was “gravely concerned that the system of checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution is threatened by the President’s determination to take unilateral action.” He requested a response by Feb. 14.

“Policy decisions should not be created in a vacuum,” Molly Fuhs, a spokeswoman for the American Legislative Exchange Council, told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 31. “Mandates–and in the president’s case, broad executive authority–prevents the creation of thoughtful and sound policy.”

 

Palmetto EHS, LLC Welcomes Julie Moniot to Greenville, SC Office

juliePalmetto EHS, LLC is pleased to welcome Julie Moniot, MPH as Senior EHS Specialist in Greenville, SC. Julie will be performing industrial hygiene sampling, respiratory fit testing, OSHA compliance and VPP audits, and safety and health training for Palmetto EHS clients. She has 27 years of EHS experience in the machinery manufacturing and chemical industries. She previously worked for General Electric for 15 years, and SC OSHA for 12 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Hygiene, and she has obtained a Green Belt in Six Sigma.

Located in Lexington and Greenville, SC, Palmetto EHS is a family owned business specializing in health and safety consulting, industrial hygiene services, and OSHA compliance.  Our network of consultants consists of highly qualified, professionally certified individuals with the experience to deliver cost-effective, common-sense solutions to help minimize your risk.

 

OSHA Top 10 Violations for Fiscal Year 2013

These are the top ten OSHA violations for fiscal year 2013. Note that the top 10 list is considered preliminary since not all violations have been added to OSHA’s reporting system at this point.  OSHA does not, however, expect the order to change once the reporting system is completely up to date.

1. Fall Protection in construction (1926.501)        8,241 violations (7,250 in 2012-1st)
Includes violations for failure to guard open sides and edges of platforms, to prevent falls from roofs, and to cover or guard floor and wall holes.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)                 6,156 violations (4,696 in 2012-2nd)
Includes violations for failure to have a written program, train employees on chemical hazards, improper or no labels on containers, and MSDS violations such as missing MSDSs.

3. Scaffolding in construction (1926.451)              5,423 violations (3,814 in 2012-3rd)
Includes violations for scaffold construction issues, improper access to scaffolding work surfaces,and lack of guardrails, etc.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)                     3,879 violations (2,371 in 2012-4th)
Includes violations for missing written respiratory protection programs or program problems, poor fit test procedures and lack of fit testing, issues with respirator selection process, and lack of procedures for voluntary use of respirators.

5. Electrical-wiring methods ( 1910.305)               3,452 violations (1,744 in 2012-8th)
Includes violations for flexible cords and cables that were not used properly,  violations related to extension cord usage,  temporary wiring citations,  and use of temporary wiring as permanent wiring.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)              3,340 violations (1,993 in 2012-7th)
Includes violations for lack of (or inadequate) operator training and refresher training, inspections, and condition of forklifts.

7. Ladders in construction (1926.1053)                 3,311 violations (2,310 in 2012-5th)
Includes violations for damaged ladders, use of the top of the ladder as a step, using the wrong ladder for the job, and placing excessive loads on ladders.

8. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)                                3,254 violations (1,572 in 2012-9th)
Includes violations for lack of energy control procedures and specific procedures, inadequate worker training, group lockout provisions not met and periodic inspections not completed.

9. Electrical-general requirements (1910.303)      2,745 violations (1,332 in 2012-10th)
Includes violations related to employee exposure to potential electric shock or electrocution.

10. Machine Guarding (1910.212)                           2,701 violations (2,097 in 2012-6th)
Includes violations for missing guards, not anchoring fixed machinery, and exposure to blades and other point of operation hazards.

It is worth noting that the items on the top 10  list usually do not change, but they may rise or fall in rank each year depending on number of citations issued.  This year, the total number of violations in every category rose over fiscal year 2012.