Understanding Compliance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic

McCraren Compliance
Photo: CDC/NIOSH

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the availability of respirators and fit-testing supplies. This document is intended to help employers understand and comply with OSHA’s temporary enforcement guidance for the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR § 1910.134).

Background
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a public health emergency that has dramatically increased demand for respirators, particularly N-95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), as well as fit-testing supplies ordinarily used to ensure that respirators fit workers properly and provide the expected level of protection. Shortages (either intermittent or extended) of both FFRs and fit-testing supplies have posed tremendous challenges. In order to allow essential operations to continue, many employers have had to utilize contingency and crisis strategies that are ordinarily not compliant with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. Examples of contingency and crisis strategies include: extended use of disposable FFRs, decontamination and reuse of disposable FFRs, and the use of foreign FFRs not approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It is important for employers to understand that deviations from normal respirator use come with increased risk for workers that, in certain circumstances, may only be allowable during this public health emergency because the alternative of no respiratory protection presents a greater danger to workers. In order to ensure adequate protection for workers during the use of contingency and crisis strategies, OSHA has issued temporary enforcement guidance to its Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs). This guidance allows CSHOs to exercise enforcement discretion in cases involving workplace exposures and an employer that is unable to comply with certain provisions of the Respiratory Protection standard because of supply shortages and has thus found it necessary to implement contingency or crisis strategies for respirator use by workers. Read More»


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Circular saw safety

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Circular saws are powerful hand tools that should be operated only by trained and qualified workers. Using circular saws without being trained – or flouting the rules – can lead to serious or fatal injuries. OSHA warns of three major hazards workers face when using a circular saw: the point of operation, kickbacks and flying particles.

Point of operation: Injuries can occur if an operator’s hands slip while cutting or if they’re too close to the blade during cutting. To help prevent these injuries, make sure hands are out of the line of the cut.

Kickbacks: When a blade “catches” the stock and throws it back toward the operator, this is called a kickback. Kickbacks happen when the blade height is incorrect or if the blade has not been properly maintained. They also are more likely to occur when ripping rather than crosscutting. “Kickbacks also can occur if safeguards are not used or if poor-quality lumber is cut,” OSHA adds.

Help prevent kickbacks by:

  • Using anti-kickback fingers to hold down stock.
  • Using the correct blade for the cutting action. For example, don’t use a crosscut blade for ripping.
  • Operating the saw at the manufacturer’s recommended speed.
  • Keeping the blade sharp.
  • Leaving enough clearance space for stock.
  • Supporting all parts of the stock, including the cut and uncut ends, scrap and finished product.

Flying hazards: Operating a circular saw can cause wood chips, broken saw teeth and splinters to be thrown from the blade and toward anyone nearby. Help prevent flying particles by removing cracked saw blades from service right away.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

MSHA – Mine Fatality

MINE FATALITY – On July 29, 2020, a miner was injured when his arm became entangled in a stacker conveyor belt. The victim was airlifted to a trauma center where he passed away a week later.

Accident scene where the miner was injured when his arm became entangled in a stacker conveyor belt
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices:
  • Turn off, lock out power sources and block against motion before removing or bypassing a guard or other safety device to clean, repair, perform maintenance or clear a blockage on a belt conveyor.
  • Never clean pulleys or idlers manually while belt conveyors are operating.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing and keep tools, body parts and long hair away from moving belt conveyor components.
  • Train all personnel in safe work procedures.
  • Properly guard moving machine parts to protect persons from contact that could cause injury.
Additional Information:

This is the 12th fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Powered Haulage.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Protect your skin

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Do you work with wet cement, paints or plaster? Maybe adhesives? These are just some of the materials that can irritate your skin because they can contain harsh substances such as hexavalent chromium, calcium hydroxide, toluene, xylene, epoxy resins and lime. This can result in burns, dermatitis and other skin disorders, and even cancer.

Symptoms of skin disorders include:

  • Red and/or swollen hands or fingers
  • Cracked or itchy skin
  • Crusting or thickening of the skin
  • Blisters
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Burns

Here’s how you can protect your skin:
Prevent exposure. Try to keep your arms and clothes dry. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, coveralls and boots. If you work outdoors, always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Clean your hands and skin before applying the sunscreen.
Wear gloves. Make sure you’re using the right glove for the materials you’re handling. The gloves should fit and keep your hands clean and dry.
Keep your skin clean. Wash your hands with soap and clean water if you come in contact with a hazardous substance. Use a pH neutral soap if you work with wet cement or other caustics.

Setting up a workplace safety and health program

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Looking for some quick recommendations for setting up a workplace safety and health program?
OSHA has 10 steps:
  1. Establish safety and health as a core value of your organization. Convey to your workers that starting and finishing their day safely is the way you want to do business. Let them know you intend to work with them to find and fix any hazards that could result in injury or illness.
  2. Lead by example. Model safe behaviors and make safety part of your daily conversations with workers.
  3. Create a reporting system. Develop and communicate a process for workers to report injuries, illnesses, near misses, hazards, or safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation. Include an option for anonymous reporting.
  4. Train your workers. Teach workers how to identify and control workplace hazards.
  5. Conduct inspections. Walk through the workplace with staff and ask them to identify any activity, piece of equipment or materials that concern them. Use checklists to help identify problems.
  6. Collect hazard control ideas. Ask workers for ideas on how to make workplace improvements and then follow up on their suggestions. Give them time during business hours, if possible, to research solutions.
  7. Implement hazard controls. Assign workers the task of choosing, implementing and evaluating the solutions they suggest.
  8. Plan for emergencies. Identify possible emergency scenarios and develop instructions on how to react in each case. Discuss these procedures during employee meetings and post them in a visible location in the workplace.
  9. Seek input on changes. Before you make big changes to the workplace, consult with workers to identify potential safety or health issues.
  10. Make improvements to your program. Set aside a regular time to discuss safety and health issues, with the goal of identifying ways to improve the program.

McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Cleaning vs. disinfecting/sanitizing: What’s the difference?

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A best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections is routinely cleaning and disinfecting/sanitizing surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

That’s because recent studies have found that SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – can remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. To effectively remove and eliminate the virus, however, workers need to understand that the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting/sanitizing” aren’t interchangeable, NIOSH Director John Howard pointed out during a March 31 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council in conjunction with the agency.

“Cleaning is getting the dirt out,” Howard said. “Sanitizing is what’s used in public health a lot to get down to a certain level of bacteria – sometimes 95% is killed. Disinfection is killing everything. That’s where you want to aim.”

CDC’s explanation goes a step further:
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. It doesn’t kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting/sanitizing refers to using chemicals (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces. This process doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sterilization describes a process of destroying or eliminating all forms of microbial life and is carried out in health care facilities by physical or chemical methods.

Among CDC’s tips to clean and disinfect surfaces:

  • Wear disposable gloves.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use a disinfectant.
  • When using EPA-registered disinfectants, follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
  • More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use.
  • Surfaces and objects in public places (e.g., shopping carts and point-of-sale keypads) should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.

Work safely in the heat: What you need to know

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Photo: safetyandhealthmagazine.
Heat-related illnesses accounted for 783 worker deaths and nearly 70,000 serious injuries in the United States from 1992 to 2016. And in 2018 alone, 3,950 workers experienced days away from work as a result of nonfatal injuries and illnesses from on-the-job heat exposure.

“Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in the workplace, and although heat-related illness is preventable, each year thousands of workers are getting sick from their exposure to heat, and … some cases are fatal,” Stephen Boyd, deputy regional administrator for OSHA Region 6, said May 19 during an OSHA webinar on preventing heat-related illnesses and injuries.

Working in a hot environment can trigger ailments that include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke – considered a medical emergency. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling faint or dizzy; excessive sweating; cool, pale, clammy skin; nausea or vomiting; rapid, weak pulse; and muscle cramps. Workers who are experiencing heat exhaustion need to get to a cool, air-conditioned place. If fully conscious, they should drink water, take a cool shower and use a cold compress.

Workers with heatstroke may experience a headache but no sweating, and have a body temperature above 103° F. Other symptoms are red, hot, dry skin; nausea or vomiting; and loss of consciousness. Call 911 if a case of heatstroke is suspected, then take action to cool the worker until help arrives.

Other tips from OSHA to help prevent heat-related illnesses include:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes.
  • If working outside, take rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing when working outdoors.
  • Monitor co-workers for symptoms of heat-related 
illnesses.

OSHA provides employer and worker resources for working in hot weather via its “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign at osha.gov/heat.


McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Feeling blue? Take a walk by the water, researchers say

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Photo: Peter Berglund/iStockphoto

Barcelona, Spain — Walking along bodies of water might boost your overall health and mood, results of a recent study led by researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health suggest.

Over a period of three weeks, the researchers studied 59 healthy adult office workers before, during and after each spent 20 minutes a day in different environments, measuring their blood pressure and heart rate while assessing their mood via a questionnaire. For one week, the participants walked along a beach in Barcelona. For another week, they walked in an urban environment. For the next, they spent 20 minutes at rest indoors.

The results show that walking along “blue spaces” – areas such as beaches, lakes, rivers and fountains – immediately triggered “significantly improved well-being and mood responses.” They found no cardiovascular benefit, but point out that they assessed only short-term effects.

“Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard,” Cristina Vert, lead study author and a researcher at the institute, said in a July 6 press release.

Short walks in blue spaces can benefit both well-being and mood. However, we did not observe a positive effect of blue spaces for any of the cardiovascular outcomes assessed in this study.

The study was published online June 19 in the journal Environmental Research.

 

Workplace exposure to silica, beryllium may have links to sarcoidosis: study

Photo: safetyandhealthmagazine.
Nieuwegein, The Netherlands — On-the-job exposure to silica, beryllium and certain other metals may be linked to the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, results of a recent study led by Dutch researchers suggest.

For people who have sarcoidosis, inflammatory cells collect and grow in parts of the body – typically the lungs and lymph nodes – and can potentially damage organs. The cause of the disease isn’t known, “but experts think it results from the body’s immune system responding to an unknown substance,” the Mayo Clinic states. No cure for the disease exists, but treatments are available. In certain instances, sarcoidosis clears up on its own.

For the study, the researchers assessed the potential exposures to silica, beryllium, aluminum and zirconium among 256 sarcoidosis patients and 73 control patients who had obstructive sleep apnea, using the results of a questionnaire on work history. Patients with OSA were used as controls because “there is no relationship between environmental triggers and development of OSA.”

Results show that the sarcoidosis patients had a higher percentage of workplace exposure to silica or the other metals – 32.4% (or 83 out of 256), compared with the control group’s 24.7%. After the researchers examined the immune system reactions to silica and the other metals in 33 sarcoidosis patients and 19 control patients using a lymphocyte proliferation test, more than 21% of the former group showed reactions to the materials compared with none of the latter group.

Immunoreactivity to silica and metals was only found in sarcoidosis patients, supporting the hypothesis that these antigens may be involved in the pathogenesis of a distinct subgroup of sarcoidosis patients. This indicates that when searching for causative agents in sarcoidosis patients, besides beryllium, also zirconium, aluminium and silica deserve clinical investigation.

The study was published online June 8 in the journal Respiratory Research.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

No changes to training requirements for refuge alternatives in coal mines, MSHA says

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Photo: JodiJacobson/iStockphoto

Washington — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has determined that the annual training requirements outlined in its Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines rule supply “an experience sufficient to enable miners to apply their knowledge, other training and available written instruction to effectively use the refuge alternative in an emergency.”

After multiple reopenings of the record and extensions of the comment period, MSHA announced in a notice published in the July 10 Federal Register that the rule – finalized in December 2008 and effective in March 2009 – “remains in effect without change.”

In 2009, United Mine Workers of America challenged the rule in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, citing NIOSH research in support of its push for quarterly training to better protect miners.

The court remanded the rule but didn’t vacate it, directing the agency to “explain the basis for the training frequency provision from the existing record or to reopen the record and allow additional public comment if needed.”

After reopening the record, MSHA received three public comments, including two in support of retaining the existing rule. The agency states in the notice that the rule’s approach is consistent with mandates in West Virginia, the lone state that specifies training for refuge alternative deployment requirements. It added, “MSHA concludes that annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making and expectations training, supplemented by existing mandated quarterly review of deployment and use procedures, as well as existing mandated quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills with review of a mine’s evacuation plan, which include discussion of emergency scenarios and options for escape and refuge, will prepare miners to deploy and use refuge alternatives appropriately and effectively in an emergency.”


McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.