Author Archives: EHS Today Staff

Americans More Likely to Die from Overdose than Vehicle Accident

In the recently-released Injury Facts update, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports Americans are more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash. The odds from an opioid overdose have risen to one in 96, eclipsing the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash (one in 103).  “We’ve made significant strides in overall longevity in the United States, but we are dying from things typically called accidents at rates we haven’t seen in half a century,” said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at NSC, in a statement. “We cannot be complacent about 466 lives lost every day. This new analysis reinforces that we must consistently prioritize safety at work, at home and on the road to prevent these dire outcomes.” The third-leading cause of death, accidental falls, also skyrocketed to its highest number - one in 114, up from 119 year over year. In addition to poisonings, the NSC has added older adult falls, fire-related fatalities and deaths by transportation mode to its Injury Facts online database. The portal's goal is to "demonstrate why Americans should be more concerned about preventable injuries than headline-grabbing catastrophes," according to the organization. Added to the broader list of preventable death causes are designated pages about airplane crashes, railroad deaths and consumer products – all issues that tend to spark nationwide anxiety but lead to far fewer fatal incidents than routine, everyday activities such as taking medication, driving or getting out of bed. Preventable injuries are the third leading cause of death, claiming an unprecedented 169,936 lives in 2017 and trailing only heart disease and cancer. Of the three leading causes of death, preventable injuries were the only category to experience an increase in 2017, according to NSC analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data issued in December 2018. A person’s lifetime odds of dying from any preventable, accidental cause are one in 25 – a change from one in 30 in 2004. Additional new data on Injury Facts – digitized last spring after 98 years of hardcover publication – include: Bicycle deaths, which increased 28% in 2016 Deaths by sex, age and cause, revealing more men die from preventable causes than women Intentional vs. preventable deaths, with preventable deaths far outnumbering intentional ones Injury Facts is available on the NSC website. Let's block ads! (Why?)

U.S. Record Set for Child Hot Car Deaths Matched in 2018

Despite a rise in public awareness campaigns, 2018 was a record year for the deaths of children in hot cars. The single-year high of 49 deaths originally set in 2010 once again was matched this past year. An additional two deaths in 2018 are being investigated, which could surpass the record. "Passing legislation is an important step, but can be a lengthy process," the National Safety Council stated in a public response. "Parents and caregivers can act immediately, and the council calls on them to pay stricter attention in 2019 starting today – even though it is January, when weather is cooler in most states. On relatively mild days, temperatures inside vehicles still can reach life-threatening levels in minutes, and cracking windows does not help." The NSC also advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. In addition, keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the backseat to force you to look before you lock, the organization suggested. Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA Promotes Fall Protection Resources

With falls leading OSHA's top 10 list of violations year after year, the agency is bolstering its efforts to increase awareness about its fall prevention resources. The agency has developed a collection of compliance assistance resources to address falls in the workplace, the leading cause of worker fatality in the construction industry. These resources, which continue the goals of the Department’s Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI), encourage and facilitate compliance evaluations. Falls can be prevented if employers plan ahead to ensure the job is done safely; provide the right equipment; and train workers to use the equipment safely. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders to provide informative compliance assistance resources. The sixth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction will be held May 6-10, 2019. The week-long outreach event encourages employers and workers to pause during the workday to discuss fall hazards and how to prevent them. In addition, OSHA's series of fall safety videos show how to prevent construction-related fall hazards from floor openings, skylights, fixed scaffolds, bridge decking, reroofing and leading edge work. Another resource is the agency's fall prevention training guide, which provides a lesson plan for employers including several toolbox talks. Fact sheets on ladders and scaffolding provide guidance on the safe use of these types of equipment while performing construction activities. A brief video, 5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Falls, encourages employers to develop a fall prevention plan, and to provide workers with fall protection and training. Lastly, OSHA’s on-site consultation program provides valuable services for job creators that are separate from enforcement. OSHA recently published an analysis demonstrating how the agency’s on-site consultation program contributes $1.3 billion to the national economy each year. Job creators who implement workplace improvements can reduce lost time due to injuries and illnesses, improve employee morale, increase productivity, and lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA Cites USPS for Heat-Related Fatality

In July 2018, a sweltering heat wave hit California led to the state's hottest month in 124 years of recorded history. A 63-year-old Woodland Hills, Calif. mail carrier was found dead in a postal vehicle one record-setting 117-degree-Fahrenheit day that month. The United States Postal Service (USPS) now is facing $149,664 in fines for not addressing worker safety in high-heat conditions. “The U.S. Postal Service knows the dangers of working in high-heat conditions and is required to address employee safety in these circumstances,” said OSHA Oakland Area Office Director Amber Rose, in a statement. “USPS is responsible for establishing work practices to protect mail carriers who work outdoors from the hazards of extreme temperatures.” OSHA cited the agency for repeated violations of its General Duty Clause, which addresses USPS’s programs and procedures in high temperature situations. The postal service was also cited for a repeated violation of recordkeeping requirements related to recording heat stress incidents.  The USPS has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Unsecured Crane Leads to Penalties for Western Specialty Contractors

St.Louis, Mo.-based Western Specialty Contractors is facing criminal charges and $155,204 in penalties for exposing employees to serious injuries. On June 25, 2018, an unsecured mini-crane overturned and fell four stories at a New York City worksite.  “This employer knowingly put workers at risk by failing to ensure that the crane was operated by a competent person,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s Manhattan area office director, in a statement.  “Effective training of employees, knowledge of equipment’s limits, and correct operation of equipment are critical to preventing injuries.” OSHA opened an investigation and cited Western Waterproofing Co. Inc., doing business as Western Specialty Contractors, for not training or evaluating the worker who assigned to operate the crane. The worker did not verify the weight of the load and operated in excess of its lifting capacity. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has announced a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Western Specialty and the indictment of the company's project manager. The company 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 before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Using Technology To Measure Worker Fatigue

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Foundation is encouraging employers to make a New Year’s resolution to monitor the fatigue levels of its workers to reduce injuries. The organization released a report on Jan 3, based on a three-year study, which demonstrated how to capture a worker’s safety performance and translate the data into personal fatigue levels. The study was led by Dr. Lora Cavuoto at the University at Buffalo and Dr. Fadel Megahed at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University of Ohio. The project also involved researchers from Auburn University and the University of Dayton. “Fatigue is a hidden danger in the workplace, but now we’ve tackled the measurement and modeling of fatigue through wearable sensors, incorporating big data analytics and safety engineering,” Cavuoto said. “Information is power, so knowing when, where and how fatigue impacts worker safety is critical. You can’t identify solutions until you pinpoint the problems.” According to the National Safety Council, fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $130 billion a year in health-related lost productivity. In addition, more than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. A typical U.S. company with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year to fatigue, which can often increase the workloads of other human operators. This phenomenon has been reported in advanced manufacturing, warehousing, truck driving, construction and other occupations. The research funded by the ASSP Foundation involved 25 participants wearing non-obtrusive wrist, hip and ankle sensors while completing three tasks commonly performed by manufacturing workers – assembly, stocking and remaining in a static or flexed position. Each person worked in three-hour increments. The study demonstrated that meaningful safety data can be collected by an employer in a cost-effective manner without interfering with a worker’s daily routine. “By setting parameters, we identified behavioral changes in how people conduct work over time,” Cavuoto said. “For example, we saw how workers performed the same task in the first hour as compared to the third hour when fatigue became a factor. Wearable technology can uncover precursors to larger problems and help establish safety interventions that may call for scheduled breaks, posture adjustments or vitamin supplements that help the body.” The ASSP believe this study is the first step in creating a comprehensive framework that can identify research-supported interventions that protect workers from injuries caused by being tired on the job. Let's block ads! (Why?)

How Mature Employees Benefit the Workplace

They are smart, willing and they are growing in numbers. While this can apply to millennials, and it does, it also applies to the mature worker. While overall, the United States labor market is projected to grow at an average rate of 0.6% per year between 2016 and 2026, the 65–74 age group is projected to grow by 4.2% each year, and the 75+ worker group is projected to grow by 6.7% annually. “This trend is tilting overall workforce demographics toward the high end of the age spectrum, and the impacts of the aging workforce can already be seen at the individual, organizational, and societal level,” according to an article by Deloitte, “No time to retire.” Either by choice or by need, 85% of today’s baby boomers plan to continue to work into their 70s and even 80s. Given this new demographic, Deloitte outlines some benefits mature workers bring to employers. Engagement and Grit Levels Increase with Age Compared to other generations, baby boomers they tend to persist longer and have more engagement in their work.  And engaged worker groups performed better across a variety of important business metrics, yielding 21% higher profitability, 40% higher quality and performing 70% better in terms of safety. Work Quality Improves with Age While stereotypes about age-related rigidity and cognitive decline abound, research shows that age and core task performance are largely unrelated. In fact, certain skills that can help older workers provide unique value to their organizations, such as social skills, can actually improve with age. Furthermore, studies have shown that older workers can be just as creative and innovative as younger employees. Mature Workers Tend to Display Stronger Organizational Skills Research has shown that older workers are more likely than younger workers to demonstrate positive organizational citizenship. They tend to show up on time, avoid gossip, help their teammates, and keep their frustrations in check. They are also recognized for attributes such as loyalty, reliability, a strong work ethic, high skill levels, and strong professional networks. Experienced Workers Can Help Fill the Talent Gap Given experience is a critical asset right now, older workers are in vogue. According to author David DeLong, this experience makes older workers more likely to possess three types of knowledge in particular: human, social, and cultural. Human knowledge relates to skills or expertise specific to a role, such as a legacy system or tools, while social knowledge relates to relationship skills. Cultural knowledge is a combination—it is the understanding of how things actually get done in an organization. To read the full article please click here. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Using Technology To Measure Manufacturing Worker Fatigue

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Foundation is encouraging employers to make a New Year’s resolution to monitor the fatigue levels of its workers to reduce injuries. The organization released a report on Jan 3, based on a three-year study, which demonstrated how to capture a worker’s safety performance and translate the data into personal fatigue levels. The study was led by Dr. Lora Cavuoto at the University at Buffalo and Dr. Fadel Megahed at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University of Ohio. The project also involved researchers from Auburn University and the University of Dayton “Fatigue is a hidden danger in the workplace, but now we’ve tackled the measurement and modeling of fatigue through wearable sensors, incorporating big data analytics and safety engineering,” Cavuoto said. “Information is power, so knowing when, where and how fatigue impacts worker safety is critical. You can’t identify solutions until you pinpoint the problems.” According to the National Safety Council, fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $130 billion a year in health-related lost productivity. In addition, more than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. A typical U.S. company with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year to fatigue, which can often increase the workloads of other human operators. This phenomenon has been reported in advanced manufacturing, warehousing, truck driving, construction and other occupations. The research funded by the ASSP Foundation involved 25 participants wearing non-obtrusive wrist, hip and ankle sensors while completing three tasks commonly performed by manufacturing workers – assembly, stocking and remaining in a static or flexed position. Each person worked in three-hour increments. The study demonstrated that meaningful safety data can be collected by an employer in a cost-effective manner without interfering with a worker’s daily routine. “By setting parameters, we identified behavioral changes in how people conduct work over time,” Cavuoto said. “For example, we saw how workers performed the same task in the first hour as compared to the third hour when fatigue became a factor. Wearable technology can uncover precursors to larger problems and help establish safety interventions that may call for scheduled breaks, posture adjustments or vitamin supplements that help the body.” The ASSP believe this study is the first step in creating a comprehensive framework that can identify research-supported interventions that protect workers from injuries caused by being tired on the job. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Workforce Drug Use Rises by Double Digits

While many companies are dealing with drug use in the workplace, the increase over the past two years is steep.  Between 2015 and 2017, drug used increased by double-digits, as reported recently by Quest Diagnostics. The company reviewed data from more than ten million urine drug test results in five U.S. industry sectors. The data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index industry analysis show that five sectors experienced year-over-year increases with a double-digit increase in their positivity rates between 2015 and 2017: Transportation and Warehousing (21.4%); Other Services (Except Public Administration) (15.4%); Finance and Insurance (13%); Retail Trade (12.8%); and Wholesale Trade (11.8%). "As companies consider strategies to protect their workplaces, they should also consider the risks that employees who use drugs present to their co-workers, customers and the general public," said Kimberly Samano, Ph.D., scientific director, Employer Solutions, Quest Diagnostics. "This new analysis suggests that an increasing number of applicants and employees across various industries may be misusing dangerous drugs." Consistent with the annual Drug Testing Index report, marijuana was the most commonly detected substance, with the highest drug positivity rate of all drug classes across the majority of industry sectors. Eight sectors experienced year-over-year increases with at least 20% increases in marijuana positivity rates between 2015 and 2017: Transportation and Warehousing (33.3%) Other Services (except Public Administration) (33.3%) Construction (26.7%) Wholesale Trade (23.5%) Manufacturing (23.1%) Accommodation and Food Services (20.7%) Administrative Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services (19.0%) Retail Trade (18.5%) Looking at other drugs the report found that cocaine positivity is higher in most sectors in 2017 as compared to 2015. In the Manufacturing sector, both marijuana and methamphetamine positivity increased year-over-year, by more than 23% and 27%, respectively, between 2015 and 2017. During that same time period, the Transportation and Warehousing sector experienced the largest overall positivity increase of any sector, in large part due to significant increases in both cocaine and marijuana positivity. Year-over-year cocaine positivity increased more than 22% between 2015 and 2017 (0.22% in 2015, 0.25% in 2016, and 0.27% in 2017). Marijuana positivity increased by more than 33% over the same timeframe. Let's block ads! (Why?)

EPA Reaches Proposed Settlement with Tradebe Treatment and Recycling Northeast

Three years after an initial investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a settlement with Tradebe Treatment and Recycling Northeast LLC. According to the agency, the waste reclamation and recycling solutions violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA) at the company’s hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities in Meriden and Bridgeport, Conn. “Today’s proposed settlement means cleaner air for communities in Meriden and Bridgeport as a result of pollution control equipment that will be installed at Tradebe’s facilities in those places,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn, in a statement. “Hazardous air pollution poses serious public health impacts, so that’s why EPA is committed to improving compliance with the laws that regulate them.” Under the proposed settlement, Tradebe will install at both facilities equipment to control the emissions of certain types of hazardous waste air pollutants and volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can pose a range of short- and long-term adverse health effects. The company will replace its current air controls, which use carbon to absorb hazardous waste emissions, with new equipment that will burn up and destroy the emissions. Tradebe will also purchase new emissions leak detection equipment for both facilities. The proposed settlement requires Tradebe to maintain full compliance with their RCRA permits and applicable hazardous waste laws, including RCRA air pollution control regulations. Both facilities will also install new air emission control systems to permanently replace their current control systems. The company will also maintain compliance with the facilities’ air permits. EPA estimates that Tradebe will spend at least $920,000 to comply with the compliance and pollution control system installation requirements of today’s proposed settlement. The company will also pay a $525,000 civil penalty. Tradebe has already addressed and corrected the alleged RCRA violations that EPA and the state of Connecticut identified during their inspections of the company’s two facilities. Tradebe also obtained new air permits at the facilities for CAA compliance. In 2015, EPA conducted a RCRA inspection of the Meriden facility and conducted CAA inspections of both facilities. Also in 2015, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection conducted a RCRA inspection of the Bridgeport facility and issued a state RCRA notice of violation after identifying potential violations there. EPA subsequently issued a RCRA notice of potential violation to the Meriden facility and issued a CAA notice of violation to both facilities. Tradebe’s cooperation resulted in reaching the proposed settlement. This proposed settlement is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative for addressing hazardous air pollutants at hazardous waste facilities.  Let's block ads! (Why?)