Author Archives: EHS Today Staff

NSC Toolkit Assists Employers with Opioids in the Workplace

A new toolkit released by the National Safety Council (NSC) is aimed at addressing opioid safety in the workplace. The Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, launched in partnership with Stericycle, “Two-thirds of American adults with opioid use disorders are in the workforce,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Everyone has a role to play in ending opioid overdose, including employers, who are often on the front lines. Organizations big and small will find life-saving information in this new toolkit – information that not only will help employers protect profits, but most important, their people.” More than two dozen resources can be found in the Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, including educational materials about opioids, prevention, treatment and recovery. It targets specific groups found in a typical workplace setting: supervisors, human resource (HR) professionals, safety professionals and employees. The toolkit includes a sample policy for HR professionals to use when updating or creating a drug-free workplace policy; an overview of how impairment impacts safety; a guide for supervisors who need to communicate with employees about opioids; a PowerPoint presentation for company leadership to deliver to staff when the organization is ready to unveil its policy; and a suite of videos, including one from an emergency room doctor explaining how drugs affect the brain. Other relevant data and statistics can be found throughout the materials. A survey released by NSC earlier this year indicated 75% have been directly impacted by opioid misuse, but just 17% feel extremely well prepared to address it. Among the resources employers requested are sample policies, videos or other interactive web tools, and workplace- or industry-specific data and statistics. "Employers play a critical role in solving the nation's opioid crisis," said VADM Jerome M. Adams, United States Surgeon General. "The National Safety Council toolkit provides employers with a framework to effectively address employee opioid misuse and help employees get treatment if they need it." The toolkit also addresses other areas of concern expressed in the NSC survey conducted earlier this year, such as: Employers are more concerned about hiring qualified workers, employee benefits costs and worker compensation costs than they are about employee opioid use of any type – legal or illicit. However, opioid misuse – no matter what type – can impact all other issues employers cited as more concerning. 86% of employers believe taking opioids even as prescribed can impair job performance, yet only 60% have policies in place helping employees stay safe when being prescribed a prescription opioid Only half of employers are very confident that they have the appropriate HR policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace 79% are not very confident that individual employees can spot warning signs of opioid misuse “We can work together to ensure safe workplaces free from opioid impairment,” said OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “OSHA is proud to partner with the NSC to ensure the safety and health of America’s workers.” The toolkit available for general download at nsc.org/opioidsatwork.  “As the official launch partner of the Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, we are proud to be a part a simple, yet innovative, resource for business leaders who are taking steps to help combat the ongoing opioid epidemic in America,” said Cindy Miller, CEO of Stericycle. “Now more than ever, substance use and substance use disorders are affecting employees, workplaces, families and communities. This toolkit gives employers a unique opportunity to identify early warning signs and connect employees to the support they need.” Let's block ads! (Why?)

Department of Labor Selects Head of OSHA Construction

After serving as a deputy director since Ferbruary 2017, Scott Ketcham now has been named the new director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction (DOC). Prior to coming to OSHA’s national office, Ketcham worked for 19 years as an OSHA acting deputy regional administrator, area director, assistant area director, and compliance officer and manager in offices in the Seattle, Dallas and Philadelphia regions. Before joining OSHA, he spent five years as a staff industrial hygienist with the U.S. Army Medical Activity at Bassett Army Hospital on Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. He retired from the U.S. Army after 24 years of active and reserve service. “Scott Ketcham is a dedicated public servant,” said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health. “He has demonstrated strong leadership throughout his OSHA career, and I am confident he will continue to achieve the mission of assuring safe and healthful working conditions for construction workers in his new position.” Ketcham holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska, a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University, and is a Certified Safety Professional. He has a strong background in the general industry, maritime and construction industries. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov. The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. Let's block ads! (Why?)

New Balance Offering Employees Tuition-Free Path to College Degree

New Balance Athletics, Inc., the Boston-based manufacturer of athletic shoes, announced on Sept. 12 an agreement with Purdue University Global that provides a new tuition benefit program for its associates in the United States. New Balance, which operates five manufacturing plants in New England and 90 company owned-retails outlets, is providing a benefit that offers a tuition-free path to a college degree. The benefit includes paid tuition, waived application fees and also covers the cost of course textbooks and materials for undergraduate degrees. “New Balance is delighted to join with Purdue Global to bring this incredible educational opportunity to our associates,” said Erin Bentz, the company’s director of global talent. “We believe our associates will greatly appreciate the opportunity to secure a degree from such a prestigious university at no cost to them and from the convenience of their own homes. This will be perceived as a tremendous benefit.” Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University's flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The online program offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, including business, information technology, cybersecurity, accounting and finance. Its programs are built on real-world requirements, enabling adult students to learn at their own pace and in many cases receive college credit for previous work experience. Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA to Handle Retaliation Complaints Under Taxpayer First Act

OSHA's Whistleblower Program has been extended to include worker retaliation complaints under the Taxpayer First Act (TFA). Under the law that was enacted on July 1, the agency will investigate complaints of retaliation against employees for providing information regarding underpayment of tax; violations of internal revenue laws; or violations of federal law relating to tax fraud to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), another federal entity listed in the statute, a supervisor, or any other person working for the employer who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate misconduct. The TFA also prohibits retaliation against employees for testifying, assisting, or participating in any administrative or judicial action taken by the IRS relating to an alleged underpayment of tax, violation of internal revenue law, or violation of federal law relating to tax fraud. OSHA will process TFA whistleblower complaints using procedures under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), 49 U.S.C. § 42121, until an interim final rule is issued. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, and tax laws, and for engaging in other related protected activities. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Safer Roads: Building Out the Infrastructure of the Future

Gearing up for future transportation, Georgia Tech, Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners and Delta Air Lines are now partners in autonomous vehicle and infrastructure research. Curiosity Lab is a 5G enabled autonomous vehicle and smart city living laboratory located in Peachtree Corners, Ga. a northern suburb of Atlanta. “Our 5G-enabled living laboratory will give Georgia Tech researchers the opportunity to push the frontier of emerging technology in a real-world setting that is almost impossible to replicate in a closed lab,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. Researchers will have access to the Lab’s one-and-a-half-mile autonomous vehicle test track and living laboratory. Curiosity Lab features dedicated fiber, smart poles and a network operations center for researchers to track and trend data from connected internet-of-things (IoT) devices. Additional infrastructure includes a network operations center, smart poles, DSRC units, dedicated fiber and a 25,000 square foot tech incubator.   Developing an infrastructure to enable Georgia to become a “smart” city is something that Georgia Tech has been working. In June of 2019, four cities joined the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge. “One of the things we want to do through this program is help connect the expertise and technologies that exist at Georgia Tech with communities all across the state,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president of Georgia Tech, in his remarks, as reported by govtech.com  “This is a wonderful example of industry-university-local government coming together to advance innovative solutions to the built environment and mobility,” said Debra Lam, managing director for smart cities and inclusive innovation at Georgia Tech. Delta sees wide-ranging opportunities of this technology. “Autonomous vehicle technology is one of those innovations we see as having the potential to improve employee safety, the customer experience and operational performance, and this partnership will help us explore all of those possibilities,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, in a statement. As autonomous vehicle research advances across the world, Delta sees potential applications for autonomous cars, trucks or buses at airports and beyond. For example, autonomous vehicles could help customers make tight connections across an airport, they could deliver delayed baggage to customers or transport aircraft parts to airports. Let's block ads! (Why?)

AIHA Makes Website Easily Accessible with New Design

Industrial hygiene and occupational health professionals can now more easily access resources from the American Industrial Hygiene Associaton (AIHA). The nonprofit organization recently unveiled its new website, which features information on worker safety issues, training programs and the AIHA University. The modern design and revamped navigation system make it more intuitive so that in just a few clicks visitors can find the information they need, according to AIHA. Resources include the following: The new AIHA University provides cutting-edge education, training programs, and conferences to current and aspiring industrial hygiene and OEHS professionals. The new AIHA University e-Library Subscription grants visitors unlimited online access to 50 of AIHA's bestselling publications, including newly released titles. A new public resource center offers professionals as well as consumers extensive information and links on a variety of industrial hygiene topics and worker safety issues, such as disaster recovery, mold, noise exposure, environmental issues, respiratory protection, ergonomics, nanotechnology, indoor air quality, and incident preparedness and response. The new AIHA Member Center gives members access to exclusive information dashboards and AIHA's online community, Catalyst, along with the latest information on issues affecting industrial hygiene and related occupational and environmental health and safety professions. A reorganized communication center makes it easier for reporters to find valuable information from AIHA's press releases, position statements, and membership letters. Our communications team also answers media inquiries and puts journalists in touch with IH experts and resources. Free downloads of white papers, infographics and other resources, which previously were hard to find with the old site's design, are now available. Let's block ads! (Why?)

CDC Commits $301 Million to Stop Opioid Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pledged another $301 million toward its Overdose Data to Action initative aimed at lowering opioid abuse. Overdose Data to Action is a 3-year cooperative agreement that began in September 2019. It focuses on the complex and changing nature of the drug overdose epidemic and highlights the need for an interdisciplinary, comprehensive and cohesive public health approach, according to the agency's website. “Thanks to President Trump’s leadership and the hard work of so many Americans in local communities, we are beginning to win the battle against the opioid overdose crisis,” said Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Our country is seeing the first drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades, more Americans are getting treatment for addiction and lives are being saved. At the same time, we are still far from declaring victory. We will continue executing on the Department’s 5-Point strategy for combating the opioid crisis, and laying the foundation for a healthcare system where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.” The funds, which will support the work of 47 states, Washington D.C, two territories, and 16 counties and cities, are part of the HHS’ five-point strategy to help combat the opioid overdose epidemic resulting from America’s drug crisis. The CDC and HHS efforts are part of an all-of-government effort to end America’s complex and evolving overdose epidemic.  Over three years, recipients will gather and rapidly report data that includes the substances, circumstances, and locations leading to overdoses and deaths, as well as demographic data such as age, race, and gender. Funded programs will yield information crucial to a better understanding of why, and among whom, overdoses and deaths are taking place. CDC and HHS will rapidly use that information to enhance prevention and response efforts across the country. In addition, recipients of these new funds will work to strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, improve state-local integration, establish links to care, and better support health care providers and health systems. “Strengthening our nation’s public health infrastructure is essential to capturing the predictive data needed to prevent drug overdose deaths and their devastating effects on families,” said Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “We are committed to supporting our partners and communities, ensuring they have the tools needed to bring the opioid and drug use disorder epidemic to an end in America.” CDC supports prevention of drug and opioid specific overdose by: Using data to monitor emerging trends and direct prevention activities. Strengthening state and local capacity to respond to the epidemic. Working with providers, health systems, and payers to reduce unsafe exposure to opioids and treat addiction. Coordinating with public safety and community-based partners to rapidly identify overdose threats, reverse overdoses, link people to effective treatment, and reduce harms associated with illicit opioids. Increasing public awareness about the risks of opioids. To learn more about Overdose Data to Action: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/od2a/index.html Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA Cites Tortilla Manufacturer for Amputation

Twins Twins LLC, a tortilla maker based in Labelle, Fla., failed to establish lockout/tagout procedures leading to a worker's partial finger amputation. OSHA discovered numerous health and safety violations at the manufacturer following an inspection as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program on Amputations and Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks. "Proper safety procedures, including the effective lockout of all sources of energy, could have prevented this injury," said Area Director Condell Eastmond, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Employers are required to train workers and ensure that they understand how to de-energize machinery before performing service or maintenance." Twins Twins did not enact lockout/tagout procedures to prevent unintentional start-up while performing machine maintenance; provide machine guarding; anchor a miter saw; and did not notify OSHA within 24 hours of the employee's hospitalization as required by law. The company also allowed employees to operate powered industrial trucks without training. OSHA has placed Twins Twins LLC in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The manufacturer also has to pay a proposed $81,682 in penalties. Twins Twins has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Researchers Say 79 Million Homes to Have Robots by 2024

While pricing, availability, and consumer awareness has limited the adoption of home robots, a new study by ABI Research found that will change as robot vendors increasingly see value in supporting the integration of their devices into smart home functionality. This integration will grow and by 2024 ABI Research predicts that nearly 79 million homes around the world will have a robot in the house. There are two key home robotics markets: home care robots which typically take on a specific chore within the home and personal/social robots that can be companion devices capable of responding and interacting with an individual in the home. Both have a role within an integrated smart home setting. “So far, home care robots dominate with regard to consumer adoption and integration into smart home management,” says Jonathan Collins, Smart Home Research Director at ABI Research. The separation between home robotics and smart home functionality has begun to blur. Traditional smart home capabilities – such as a wireless security camera – are beginning to be embedded in robot vacuum cleaners. However, the key integration point is in voice control support. Voice control has driven smart home adoption since the first Amazon Echo devices launched in 2014. Extending control to home care robots will bring that appeal, functionality and awareness to home care robots. Robots geared to delivering personal/social interaction and care continue to struggle to win consumer adoption and lag as a market segment and in smart home integration capabilities. However, the voice control platforms driving smart home adoption may well be set to push personal/social care robot adoption. “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice recognition are the two additional smart home integrations needed to bring personal/social robots to life,” says Collins. Both Amazon and Google are well poised to lead in social robot advances because AI and voice recognition are at the heart of their already popular Alexa and Assistant platforms. Echo and Google Home devices increasingly support screens and cameras alongside microphone arrays, providing the resources to support facial recognition with existing voice recognition. These are the features that will underpin more personalized interactions between users and their devices.  Articulation and mobility will be the key features within the device that will start the transition from smart speakers to personal/social robots that can move and face the home user. Adding robotic functions to existing voice control front-end devices will deliver confirmation of activation and engagement through physical movement or simulated facial expressions. While not all consumers may be ready for a mobile robot in their home, there are applications where such robotic capabilities can be particularly useful. Aging-in-place or Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) end-users may be one consumer segment that would welcome greater robotic capabilities in a voice control device. Robotic device start-ups such as Intuition Robotics and Blue Frog Robotics already target the AAL market with devices that can integrate with smart home systems. “While home care robots release residents from time-consuming and repetitive tasks, social robots offer the potential to further extend into physically interacting in homes and the individuals within them in ways that can go beyond monitoring into the realm of kinship and socialization,” Collins concludes. Let's block ads! (Why?)

NSC Names 31 Rising Stars of Safety

The National Safety Council (NSC) will honor its 10th class of Rising Stars of Safety at the 2019 National Safety Congress & Expo in San Diego, Calif. The group of leaders, who all fall under the age of 40, are being recognized for their dedication to a workplace where every workers goes home safe each and every day. “These young men and women have risen to the challenge of addressing safety in the workplace, and we are proud of their accomplishments,” said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. “The work they are doing is making our world a safer place. We commend their commitment.” Brad Barrow, global workplace safety leader, Chemours Holly C. Bartos, EHS manager, Lockheed Martin Jessica Diane Brooks, safety specialist, FirstGroup America Laura Cerutti, project manager, TransOptions Theresa Ciatto, safety director, Primus Builders Inc. Kimberly Ann Decker, chemical hygiene officer and EHS consultant, Corteva Agriscience Stan Evans, CSP, project safety director, Turner Construction Co. Matthew Hall, safety manager, ARCO Hamza Hameed, process safety engineer, Fatima Fertilizer Co. Ltd. Alan E. Harff, OSHA and safe operations manager, PGT Trucking Inc. Aya Hashimoto, safety coordinator, Duncan Aviation Kanella Sunrise Hatchett, MCESG logistics/safety officer, United States Marine Corps Matthew F. Herron, PE, CSP, CPE, Senior safety engineer, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Hafiz Muhammad Umer Javed, advisor HSE, M&A Group Energy and Petroleum Services Amber J. Joseph, technical consultant-risk control services, Liberty Mutual Insurance Crystal Lea Lawson, HSE division senior associate, CBRE Ihtisham Malik, assistant manager - HSE, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Co. Benjamin Martin, safety project manager, City of Atlanta - Mayor's Office of Workplace Safety Meraiah L. Marvel, national safety and security manager, Parsons Robert J. Moore, EHS lead, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Jessica Myeroff, EHS manager, Eaton Corp. Jeremy Nixon, occupational safety program manager, United States Air Force/ Pacific Air Forces Command HQ Gabriella Pace, safety professional, Walt Disney World Umair Shahab Shahid, safety engineer, QATAR PETROCHEMICALS (QAPCO) Arul Subbarayalu, senior EHS expertise specialist, Dow Chemical International Private Ltd. Lynne Syer Sr., EHS leader, Lippert Components Greggory Addam Vanover, safety manager, Clean Fuels National Atif Waheed, assistant manager EHS, Byco Petroleum Pakistan Ltd. Mike Watson, vice president - safety, health and environment, AECOM Patrick Wolocko, safety manager, W.Soule and Co. Lino Yohannan, senior health and safety manager, WSP Middle East Let's block ads! (Why?)