Author Archives: Stefanie Valentic

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out: 5 Tips for Holiday Eye Safety

The number of serious injuries due to improper toy gun use has risen drastically over the past 23 years. A Christmas Story is a not only an nostalgic holiday movie, but it also is a lesson in safety. The iconic scene in which Ralphie shoots his eye out despite repeated warnings to be careful serve as a reminder every holiday season. "Ophthalmologists see firsthand the devastating damage toy guns can inflict on the eyes; children are blinded," said Dianna Seldomridge, M.D., MBA, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), in a statement. "The good news is, most of these injuries are avoidable. Protective eyewear and adult supervision make non-powder gun activities much safer for children. If you can't resist the Ralphies in your life, buy protective eyewear." A new report from the AAO shows the number of serious injuries such as blindness due to BB and pellet gun use is increasing at an "alarming rate." The study, published in Ophthalmology Retina, shows the number of injuries due to nonpowder guns has increased 170% over the last 23 years. The organization is reminding parents, families and all those purchasing toy guns to also purchase protective eyewear and take extra precautions. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Occupational Exposures within Cannabis Manufacturing

The astounding rate at which the cannabis industry is growing is leaving a large compliance gap on the occupational health and safety front, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The agency, a subset of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently visited a medical marijuana production facility that had both indoor and outdoor growing operations after a union representative raised a red flag. A Health Hazard Evaluation Program was created after potential occupational safety hazards both in harvesting and processing were not being addressed, according to the representative. "We evaluated a medical cannabis facility and detected cannabis components on surface wipes throughout the facility," NIOSH stated in its report. "Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione were identified in screening air samples, but later were not quantifiable in personal air samples. Observed fungal and endotoxin exposures can increase allergic and respiratory symptoms, which employees reported. Facility visits were completed on August 2016 and April 2017. Investigators observed work procedures in cultivation, harvesting, processing and decarboxylation.  Both air and surface samples were taken to measure the levels of organic compounds, and NIOSH studied fungal diversity analysis and endotoxins, which are products some bacteria release. Particle concentrations in the air also were taken during the grinding process. Employees were interviewed about job tasks, health and safety concerns, personal protective equipment use, injuries at work, job stress, physical working conditions and psychosocial factors at work, according to the agency.  In addition, NIOSH collected data on worker health history and respiratory symptoms and tested lung function. Results should that seven of the eight workers tested had normal results. Workers reported the following issues to NIOSH: moderate job stress due to heavy workload; safety concerns related to working with high pressure carbon dioxide, exit doors needing a badge to unlock for egress, ergonomics, and working withlarge amounts of solvents; concerns about having to perform tasks that are not part of theirjob description; and allergic, irritant, and musculoskeletal symptoms. Despite possible exposures to diacetyl or 2,3-pentanedione, the medical marijuana facility had no written respiratory plan. NIOSH provided the following recommendations for the employer: Install local exhaust ventilation to reduce exposures during grinding operations. Move the decarboxylation process to a seldom occupied area in the facility to preventunnecessary exposures to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione. Limit access to the areas where higher exposure tasks are occurring. Redesign security doors to allow emergency egress without needing a badge to exitthe facility. Encourage employees to report new or ongoing symptoms to their personal healthcareprovider and a designated health and safety representative within the workplace. Develop and implement a written respiratory protection program that meets the requirementsof the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s respiratory protection standard. Talk to employees about whether workload could be better managed and how. Clearlydefine job roles and talk to employees how to minimize role overload. If feasible, hiremore employees to reduce the workload of individuals. In addition, the agency stressed to workers the importance of wearing personal protective equipment as required by the company. Employees also should report any new or ongoing symptoms to a personal physician and to the designated representative within the workplace. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Kentucky Dump Truck Fatalities Prompt Hazard Alert

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) has issued recommendations for dump truck safety after researching the prevalence of incidents. Over the past five years, the United States has experienced at least one fatal dump truck incident per day, accord to KIPRC. The hazard alert addresses the issue and provides the following recommendations for prevention: Employers who utilize dump trucks should enforce a strict seat belt policy. A 2013 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study determined that dump truck drivers had the lowest seat belt usage rate (70%) of all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) body types; Dump truck drivers should reduce their speed to below that of the posted speed limit when entering a curve. Any speed limit posted on curve warning signs are meant for passenger vehicles, not CMVs. 40% of speed-related fatalities occur on curves; and Dump truck operators should show caution when raising the truck bed to unload materials. Due to their design, dump trucks can easily tip if on a surface that is not level, material sticks to one side of the bed, load is uneven or heavy on top of box, or if the tires do not even have pressure. Other resources regarding dump truck incidents are available on the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance hazard alert report. Let's block ads! (Why?)

7 Ways to Stay Healthy and Safe During Business Travel Over the Holidays

End-of-year business travel can be strain when trying to maintain a work-life balance during the holidays. As millions hit the roads or travel by air, health and safety is easily forgotten during the hectic holiday rush. Hyryde, powered by Reliance, has released an infographic with details about how to prepare for a business trip and arrive home safely just in time for dinner with the family. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Cal/OSHA Cites Empire Equipment Services After Trench Fatality

Riverside, Calif.-based Empire Equipment Services is facing $66,000 in serious workplace safety violations after a trench collapse killed a worker. On May 9, two Empire Equipment Services employees were installing sewer pipes at a Lake Forest residential construction site when a 30-foot-wide section of the trench’s sidewall sloughed and collapsed. One worker was able to escape,and the other died after becoming trapped. “Because working in excavations is so dangerous, a competent person must conduct thorough visual and manual tests to properly classify the soil and adequately protect employees from cave-ins,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum, in a statement. “Failing to carry out these requirements can be fatal.” The agency discovered that Empire Equipment Services Inc. did not properly classify the soil and failed to correctly slope the excavation. The investigation into the incident also determined that the company failed to ensure the site was inspected by someone who was deemed competent and familiar with trench hazards, soil classification and the appropriate safety requirements. The soil at the worksite was unstable, requiring an adequate protective system, according to Cal/OSHA.       The trench collapse resulted in two serious accident-related violations and one general violation for a total of $66,000 in proposed penalties.. One of the violations was classified as a repeat of an August 2017 violation Empire received after Cal/OSHA found the company exposed its workers to serious hazards while working in a trench deeper than 5 ft. without properly sloping or installing any adequate protective systems. Empire had to pay $24,670 for that citation. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Does Amazon Care About Worker Safety?

Amazon employees attend safety school and receive ergonomic assessments, and each of the company’s facilities has a “robust safety program,” according to the multi-billion dollar e-commerce giant. Despite these claims, the online retailer is known for a pattern of worker fatalities, numerous injuries and claims of unsafe working conditions. The latest outcry to hold Amazon accountable for workplace safety comes after bear repellant spray discharged at a New Jersey warehouse, sending 24 workers to the hospital. "Today, Amazon put warehouse workers in the hospital – again and one is fighting for their life in the ICU right now. Amazon's automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80+ workers are unknown,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “This is another outrageous example of the company putting profits over the health and safety of their workers, and we cannot stand for this. “ Worker advocates and Amazon employees cross the globe are calling for harsher penalties as the company’s track record for injuries and fatalities continues to grow. The Dirty Dozen The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) placed Amazon on its 2018 “Dirty Dozen" report of "employers who put workers and communities at risk." Criteria for inclusion in the list included severity of injuries to workers; exposure to unnecessary and preventable risk; repeat citations by relevant state and federal authorities; and activity by workers to improve their health and safety conditions, according to National COSH. "Safety is our number one priority, and as we do with any incident, we are reviewing our practices and protocols to ensure the well-being of our employees,” a company representative said. “Any safety incident that occurs within our operations is one too many.” Amazon has been the subject of dozens of OSHA investigations over the past few years, resulting in numerous health and safety violations. “Amazon workers suffer injuries – and sometimes lose their lives – in a work environment with a relentless demand to fill orders and close monitoring of employee actions,” National COSH stated. Since 2013, the following seven workers were killed in Amazon warehouses: Jeff Lockhart, 29, a temporary employee, found collapsed and dead from a cardiac event after an overnight shift at an Amazon warehouse in Chester, VA on Jan. 19, 2013. Roland Smith, 57, a temporary employee, was killed after being dragged and crushed by a conveyor belt at an Amazon warehouse in Avenel, N.J. on Dec. 4, 2013. OSHA cited five companies for serious violations, including the contractor responsible for operating the facility for Amazon – Genco – and four temporary staffing agencies. Jody Rhoads, 52, was crushed and pinned to death by a pallet loader at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pa., on June 1, 2014. (This is the same facility where Shoemaker was killed in September 2017). A worker for a company from whom Amazon was renting forklifts was crushed to death by one at an Amazon warehouse in Fernley, Nev., on Nov. 4, 2014. According to news reports, he was loading the forklift onto a flatbed truck when it began to roll forward. He tried to stop it but the forklift fell on him. Devan Michael Shoemaker, age 28, was killed on Sept. 19, 2017 when he was run over by a truck at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pa. Phillip Terry, 59, was killed on Sept. 24, 2017, when his head was crushed by a forklift at an Amazon warehouse in Plainfield, Ind. Four weeks later, on October 23, Karla Kay Arnold, 50, died from multiple injuries after she was hit by a sports utility vehicle in the parking lot of an Amazon warehouse in Monee, Ill. A Global Issue Workplace safety isn’t just a domestic issue for Amazon. GMB Union, a 600,000-member strong trade union in the United Kingdom, staged Black Friday protests across the country, citing “the awful conditions people work under at Amazon warehouses.” According to news reports, GMB discovered ambulances were dispatched to warehouse locations more than 600 times over a three-year period. The company released the following response, "Our European Fulfillment Network is fully operational and we continue to focus on delivering for our customers. Any reports to the contrary are simply wrong." Amazon continued a rebuttal in a second statement: “All of our sites are safe places to work and reports to the contrary are simply wrong," Amazon said. "According to the U.K. Government's Health and Safety Executive, Amazon has over 40% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing companies in the U.K. We encourage everyone to compare our pay, benefits and working conditions to others and come see for yourself on one of the public tours we offer every day at our centers across the UK"  “The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people's lives at risk,” Appelbaum said. “Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices." Amazon employs more than 1,000 health and safety professionals at its fulfillment centers across North America, according to the company. [embedded content] Let's block ads! (Why?)

9 Way to Address Increasing Drug Overdose and Suicide Rates

Despite efforts to help individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues, drug overdose and suicide increased last year. The substance abuse crisis in the United States shows no signs of slowing down despite increased regulations and efforts from legislators, communities and companies. Drug overdose death rates were higher in 2017 compared to 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, analyzed by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and Well Being Trust (WBT). "Just one person dying from a preventable cause is one death too many," said Benjamin F. Miller, Psy.D., Chief Strategy Officer, Well Being Trust. "Evidence provides clear ways to more proactively address issues of substance misuse and help build resiliency in our communities, but, our country has not yet prioritized investing in prevention and intervention. If we continue to fail to put dollars and common sense into a systematic approach to prevention and treatment, we'll never ensure optimal health and well-being for our nation." TFAH and WBT found that the epidemic impacted all populations and age groups in 2017, most notably: Drug overdose rates for men: increased by 11.1%; Drug overdose rates for women: increased by 7.5%; Drug overdose rates for 15- to 24-year-olds increased by 1.6%; Drug overdose rates for 25- to 34-year-olds increased by 11.0%; Drug overdose rates for 35- to 44-year-olds increased by 11.4%; Drug overdose rates for 45- to 54-year-olds increased by 9.3%; and Drug overdose rates for 55- to 64-year-olds increased by 9.4%. "Another year of increasing numbers of drug overdose deaths is a national emergency, that can't be overstated," said John Auerbach, TAH president and CEO in a statement.  "Government and the healthcare sector at all levels must adopt a comprehensive approach and strengthen efforts to prevent substance misuse and suicide attempts by addressing their underlying causes. We face a crisis that requires a multi-faceted response and the skills of the public health sector." The organizations outlined nine recommendations evidence-based policies and programs that federal, state, and local officials should put in place or extend to address drug misuse and save lives. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Hygienic Workplaces Increase Worker Happiness

Clean and tidy work facilities lead to better morale in manufacturing environments, according to a new study from Tork, an Essity brand. A recent survey conducted by the hygiene brand revealed the manufacturing employees cite operational efficiency; safety and hygiene; and organization of the workplace as the top three factors influencing happiness on the job. “It is apparent that the conditions of manufacturing environments are uniquely important to employers and employees alike,” the company stated in a press release. “In an industry that requires constant attention to minimize risk and improve compliance with safety regulations, a well-run, orderly facility helps plant managers ensure operations run smoothly and without setback…. Efficiency, safety, and hygiene not only boost employee productivity but also their overall happiness.” Overall, 94% of respondents said that a hygienic, healthy and risk-free work environment affected the level of happiness they felt at work. The availability of cleaning products impacted productivity as well as happiness for nine out of 10 workers surveyed. In fact, 87% reported that wiping and cleaning tools help them get the job done. “Happiness and productivity go hand-in-hand, particularly in fast-paced, high-risk environments like manufacturing,” said Maryellen Anastasio, Essity marketing manager, in a statement. “Facilities should consider the tools they are using and adopt safe and hygienic solutions that will not only improve operational efficiencies but also motivate and engage employees. By making these changes, employers are sending a message that they care about their workers’ happiness and well-being.” Let's block ads! (Why?)

Chemical Safety Board Asks for Combustible Dust Input

A comprehensive combustible dust standard still does not exists, and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is seeking further input to put one in place. The federal agency has extended its deadline for comment to December 31 from companies, regulators, inspectors, safety training providers, researchers, unions, and the workers of dust-producing operations. Information received from responses will be used to "to explore the conditions that influence the control and management of combustible dust in order to seek out a deeper understanding of the real-world challenges to preventing dust explosions and, more importantly, new opportunities for safety improvements," the CSB stated. Four recommendations to date have been issued to OSHA stressing the need for an issuance of a comprehensive general industry standard for combustible dust, and combustible dust safety is on the agency’s Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change list.  The CSB examined statements from workers and management and identified the factors influencing dust hazard risk perception, most notably: Hazard awareness: the degree to which workers and management have practical real-world understanding of combustible dust hazards will impact how they react to their environment when they observe dust; Previous incidents and fires: observing fires or hot work activities in a combustible dust environment that did not result in an explosion could create a false sense of security; Regulatory oversight: regulatory requirements do not reinforce one another. For example, sanitation requirements under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may meet food quality concerns, but not be sufficient to prevent a dust explosion; Sanitation: management and workers focus on cleaning all the time, providing a sense of vigilance; however, hazardous dust accumulation rates may exceed cleaning efforts; Ability to recycle material: in facilities where material can be recycled or reprocessed, there may be a greater tolerance for spills or leaks; and Perceived difficulty in housekeeping efforts: as dust accumulates on hard-to-reach and overhead surfaces workers perceive that those surfaces are too hard, or too dangerous, to reach for cleaning. With previous findings and additional input, the CSB aims to further explore these factors in order to prevent future accidents. Read more about the agency's efforts to keep workers safe from combustible dust and how to provide input on the CSB website. Let's block ads! (Why?)

NHTSA: 7 Tips to Stay Safe in School Zones and Bus Stops

One in 4 high school students and one in 6 middle school students are distracted in school zones each day, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Since 2013, the pedestrian fatality rate in school zones for 12-19 year olds has increased 13%, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called on motorists, caregivers, teachers and drivers alike to stay cognizant and obey school zone signage and stop-arm laws. A recent string of tragedies in Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky drove NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King to release a video relaying the importance of school zone safety. [embedded content] View the slideshow to see additional recommendations from the NHTSA. Let's block ads! (Why?)