“Faces of Fire”: New NFPA campaign promotes awareness of electrical safety

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Photo: National Fire Protection Association

Quincy, MA – A new safety campaign from the National Fire Protection Association tells the stories of people who were injured in electrical incidents both on the job and at home.

Launched in partnership with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the Faces of Fire/Electrical video series campaign initially featured utility workers Dave Schury and Sam Matagi, who were seriously injured in separate electrical incidents.

Schury sustained second- and third-degree burns over 30% of his body when a 12,000-volt piece of equipment was short-circuited by a rat and caused an explosion. He spent more than two weeks in a hospital burn unit recovering from his injuries. Matagi, a power lineman, lost both of his hands after nearly 15,000 volts of electricity surged through his body when a scrap of cut wire he was holding contacted a live wire.

According to NFPA, 1,651 U.S. workers died as a result of electrical injuries from 2007 to 2016. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 1,900 nonfatal occupational injuries related to electricity exposure were recorded in 2019.

“Exposure to electricity poses a real injury risk to workers and the public,” Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA, said in a press release. “The Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign helps better educate people about the true dangers of electricity and ways to prevent related tragedies from happening.”


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.

Sedentary lifestyles proving a pain during the pandemic, survey finds

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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New York — The average U.S. adult now spends six hours a day sitting – four hours longer than before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – and they’re feeling more aches and pains because of it, results of a recent survey show.

Commissioned by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, researchers from marketing research company OnePoll surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults about changes in their at-home habits during the pandemic and health effects linked to those changes.

More than 3 out of 5 respondents said they have a more sedentary lifestyle now as a result of working from home and spending more time on social media and watching entertainment. About 60% of the respondents said they have developed more aches and pains thanks to the additional time sitting, while 75% of those working from home said their workstations are causing them pain and discomfort. In particular, 22% found themselves having backside pain or discomfort.

Additional sitting and inactivity also have led to changes in eating habits and added stress. When it comes to eating, 34% of the respondents said they’ve chosen fattier and unhealthy foods since the pandemic began.

The World Health Organization, which in November updated its physical activity guidelines, recommends adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity, each week.


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.

Almost 25% of workers say their employers don’t offer COVID-19 safety training: survey

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Image result for social distance and mask trainingBannockburn, IL — Nearly 1 out of 4 workers don’t receive training on COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to a recent survey commissioned by compliance company Stericycle.

Researchers in September surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult workers who physically go to work at companies with at least 100 employees and 450 U.S. business leaders of organizations with 100-plus employees. Results show that 58% of the business leaders and 38% of the employees are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work.

Nearly half of the business leaders (41%) don’t believe they can enforce COVID-19 safety guidelines, and 44% of the employees are concerned about co-workers not following safety protocol. Other results:

  • 79% of workers said they’d look for a new job if their employer didn’t offer training on COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • 34% of workers would look for a new job if their employer didn’t take specific safety measures, such as providing personal protective equipment or ensuring physical distancing.
  • 45% of business leaders don’t think their safety measures are sufficiently proactive.
  • 27% of employees have been asked to provide their own PPE.

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, 24% of the employees said they wouldn’t feel safe working near a colleague who wasn’t vaccinated, and almost half of the business leaders (48%) plan to offer a COVID-19 vaccine. In December, the National Safety Council released a statement urging employers to develop a COVID-19 vaccination plan.


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.

EPA publishes first installment of controversial risk evaluation for asbestos

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — Critics of the Environmental Protection Agency are renewing their call for a complete ban on asbestos after the agency’s release of Part 1 of a final risk evaluation that concludes that the substance – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions.

Used in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, asbestos is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Released Dec. 30 and announced via a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, Part 1 of the final evaluation centers on chrysotile asbestos and states the substance poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in numerous operations, including:

  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry
  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos-containing sheet gaskets in chemical production
  • Industrial use and disposal of asbestos-containing brake blocks in the oil industry
  • Commercial use and disposal of aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes/lining, other vehicle friction products and other asbestos-containing gaskets

As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, EPA must address risks by proposing within one year regulatory actions such as training, certification, restricted access and/or ban of commercial use, and then accept public comment on any proposals.

EPA states that Part 2 of the final risk evaluation is in development, and anticipates releasing a draft scope around the middle of the year. Part 2 will focus on legacy uses and disposals of asbestos, which the agency defines as “conditions of use for which manufacture (including import), processing and distribution of commerce no longer occur, but where use and disposal are still known, intended or reasonably foreseen to occur (e.g., asbestos in older buildings).”

In a press release, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization asserts the two-part approach is incomplete, noting that the agency omits five other types of asbestos fiber beyond chrysotile in Part 1 while failing to address known health effects related to asbestos, including asbestosis and ovarian cancer. Additionally, Part 1 “is based on grossly incomplete information about current asbestos exposure and use,” the nonprofit organization contends.

“EPA’s final risk evaluation ignores the numerous recommendations of its own scientific advisors and other independent experts by claiming that these deficiencies will be addressed in a future Part 2 evaluation,” ADAO President and co-founder Linda Reinstein said in the release. “Based on this sleight-of-hand maneuver, the agency has issued a piecemeal and dangerously incomplete evaluation that overlooks numerous sources of asbestos exposure and risk, and understates the enormous toll of disease and death for which asbestos is responsible.”

The House on Sept. 29 was slated to vote on the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, a bill that calls for a federal ban of asbestos. The legislation is named for Reinstein’s late husband, who died from mesothelioma in 2006.

However, the bill, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a 47-1 vote in November 2019, ultimately stalled and was removed from the suspension calendar without a vote, as House Democrats chastised their Republican counterparts for withdrawing their support.

According to an Oct. 1 report published in The Hill, the controversy centered on a provision that guarantees the bill wouldn’t impact ongoing litigation concerning injuries related to the use of talcum powder.

In a joint statement released Oct. 1, Committee Chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chair Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said: “Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes.”

The group added: “Republicans walked away from this opportunity to ban asbestos merely over language that prevents shutting the courtroom door. This raises serious questions about the sincerity of their intentions.”

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) offered a rebuttal in an Oct. 1 statement: “Saying we walked away is simply untrue. All Democrats have to do is drop the language added to the bill by trial lawyers and bring the bill to the floor that every one of their members voted for when it was considered by our committee. If anyone’s intentions should be questioned, we can assure you it’s not ours.”


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.

Working safely with nanomaterials: CPWR publishes new resources

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — In an effort to protect workers who handle products containing nanomaterials, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training has released a pair of toolbox talks and an infographic.

Nanomaterials have at least one dimension (height, width or length) that is smaller than 100 nanometers – thinner than a human hair. According to CPWR, hundreds of construction products such as cement, adhesives, and paints and coatings contain engineered nanomaterials. When these materials are cut, sanded or sprayed, the dust or mist produced can get into a worker’s lungs as well as cuts and cracks in the skin.

Each toolbox talk – Airborne Exposures When Working with Nano-Enabled Concrete and Right to Know About Chemical Hazards: Nanomaterials – provides guidance through a short story, key points to remember and a graphic.

CPWR says workers can protect themselves by wearing a respirator, seeking training about nanomaterials and the products that contain them, and controlling for dust via wet methods or the use of a vacuum.

The resources are available in English and Spanish.


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.

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Itasca, IL — Employers will have to continue COVID-19-related safety measures well into the new year – likely through the summer, according to Justin Rodriguez, a partner with the Boston Consulting Group.

Speaking during the State of COVID-19 Response and Future World of Work Summit, presented by the National Safety Council on Dec. 9 as part of its SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns initiative, Rodriguez said many measures put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to reduce worker exposure to the coronavirus – such as wearing masks or facial coverings, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and avoiding of large gatherings of people – remain best practices.

He urged employers to consider strong testing, reporting, tracking and contact tracing programs – if they aren’t already in place – as well as pay special attention to at-risk workers and remain mindful of employees’ mental health.

That’s because the pandemic likely won’t end until the fall, under the best-case scenario and even in light of the recent rollout and limited availability of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, noted Dan Kahn, principal at the Boston Consulting Group.

In this scenario, “several highly effective” vaccines receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Kahn said additional factors include a well-coordinated supply chain and clear public communication with help from business leaders, leading to greater public acceptance of the vaccines. Without all of this, however, the worst-case scenario, he projected, is perhaps an end to the pandemic one year later – in the fall of 2022.

“The path in front of us remains quite complex and with a great number of unknowns,” Kahn said, “and there’s a long way to go before we can defeat this virus. Much of 2021 will not be the full return to normal that we all want.”

Encourage, not mandate

During a subsequent summit panel discussion, a trio of safety executives said they would encourage their employees to get vaccinated. However, they’d likely stop short of making vaccination a requirement.

“We’re going to err on the side of making it readily available whenever we can,” said David O’Connor, vice president for global security/real estate at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “As we get through the vaccine and as it’s proven safer and safer, hopefully, I think there will be less reluctance.”

Plenty of hurdles lie ahead, according to Michelle Garner-Janna, executive director of corporate health, safety and environment at Cummins Inc. Among them: privacy issues, along with how employees will receive the vaccine and ensuring they get both required doses, when applicable.

“It’s something that’s very high on the priority list,” Garner-Janna said. “We obviously would like for as many of our employees to become vaccinated as they can once it’s available, but there are a lot of ins and outs.”

Speaking during a separate panel discussion, NIOSH Director John Howard cautioned attendees about another emerging dilemma related to vaccines in workplaces: “As we increase the number of workers that have been vaccinated, they are going to be in a workplace with unvaccinated workers, so employers are going to have hybrid workforces, and there’s a lot of issues that are going to arise from managing a hybrid, vaccinated-unvaccinated workforce that we do not yet know exactly how to do.”

Lessons learned from COVID-19

Acknowledging the work of safety pros in protecting workers throughout the pandemic, epidemiologist Abdul El-Sayed posed the basic question: “How do we actually do the work of preventing illness?”

“In the work that you all do, you’re thinking about this every single day,” the former public health commissioner of Detroit, author and host of the “American Dissected” podcast told attendees during the summit’s initial session. “How do we keep people safe?”

Safety professionals, he said, take on a role akin to public health experts, in which “all of us come together to promote the well-being of all of us in the population.”

The need for large groups of people to act collectively for the good of everyone often can be difficult, El-Sayed acknowledged, and it’s even harder to sustain over time, especially during weeks-long stay-at-home orders in certain parts of the country.

He also shared lessons learned that can provide a path forward. One example: some health care workers wearing trash bags to protect themselves when proper personal protective equipment was unavailable in the early days of the pandemic. El-Sayed said preparation is critical before a crisis situation arises.

“‘Just in time’ means you won’t have time,” he said. “Some things need to be stockpiled, and you need to be thoughtful about how you do that.”

‘Mental health is strongly tied to safety’

Will today’s workers one day laugh with future grandchildren about the way they once commuted to a physical workplace? If geography gradually becomes less critical in a world where work is mostly done virtually, might more employees relocate closer to family support systems, allowing for an improved work-life balance?

As panelists offered these and other thoughts for contemplation during a discussion exploring the future of work, many ideas still returned to a current reality: Employers have and will continue to play a significant role in supporting workers’ mental health and well-being.

“The mental health distress and illness stemming from the pandemic will not disappear as the country recovers and people regain a new sense of normalcy,” said Rachael Cooper, senior program manager, substance use and harm prevention safety, at NSC. “It can be expected that the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to manifest in the coming weeks, months and years. Recognizing this and being proactive in addressing it in the workplace is critical as we explore the future of work.”

Experts encouraged employers to adopt several best practices to accommodate workers, including:

  • Providing thorough mental health training and education
  • Increasing workplace focus on mental health and stress
  • Prioritizing social connectedness
  • Increasing frequency of employee check-ins
  • Establishing and/or maintaining flexible work arrangements

“We do know that mental health is strongly tied to safety, and people who are under a great deal of stress tend to be more prone to have accidents,” said Catherine West, director of global safety and health at Jacobs Engineering. “So, for those that do have to go back to the workplace, how do we maintain those stress levels at a healthy level and not let them become too overwhelmed where they start creating safety issues?

“And it’s so easy for safety professionals to say, ‘Well, somebody was hurt because they weren’t paying attention,’ when a lot of times, it comes down to those mental health aspects. So, we really have to be very keenly in tune with those people going back into the workplaces and the stresses that they may be facing to ensure that we do everything that we can possibly do to keep them safe when they’re back.”


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.

Study links on-the-job pollution exposure to heart abnormalities among Latinos

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

New York — Exposure to pollutants such as vehicle exhaust, pesticides and wood smoke may be linked to structural and functional heart abnormalities that could lead to cardiovascular disease among Latino workers, results of a recent study published by the American Heart Association indicate.

Researchers studied 782 adult workers with Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central American or South American backgrounds, gauging their exposure to pollutants at their current and longest-held job via questionnaires. Ultrasounds were taken of the participants’ hearts. Among the findings:

  • Workers exposed to vehicle exhaust, pesticides, burning wood and metals who have been at their jobs for an average of 18 years or more were more likely to “have features of abnormal heart function and structure.”
  • Exposure to burning wood or wood smoke was linked to a “decreased ability” (3.1% lower) of the heart’s left ventricle to pump blood.
  • Exposure to vehicle exhaust was linked to indicators of reduced pumping ability for the heart.
  • Workplace exposure to pesticides was associated with an abnormal ability to contract in the left ventricle.
  • Exposure to metals was linked to a risk factor for cardiovascular disease: increased muscle mass and abnormal ability to contract in the left ventricle.

“These findings support the notion that where people live and work affects cardiovascular health,” researcher Jean Claude Uwamungu, cardiology fellow in training at Montefiore Health System/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said in a press release from AHA. “Policies and interventions to protect the environment and safeguard workers’ health could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart failure, especially among low-income occupations that have higher exposure to these harmful pollutants. Health care professionals should routinely ask patients about exposure to pollutants at work to guide prevention, diagnosis and treatment of early stages of heart disease.”

The study was published online Aug. 26 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


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.

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 and the Flu

First published by NSC.

With the risks of the flu and COVID-19, as well as potential confusion around symptoms, prevention is key to protecting yourself, your co-workers and your loved ones. To limit risk, you must understand the riskiest situations this flu season. According to the CDC, limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You can also limit your risks by:

Talk to your supervisor about preventive steps you can take to limit the spread at work. Remember, a lack of symptoms does not mean you or those around you don’t have COVID-19. This virus can spread easily but the above measures can help. The CDC explains that for both COVID-19 and the flu, it’s possible to spread the virus for at least one day before you experience any symptoms. With COVID-19, the CDC says, you can remain contagious for at least 10 days after experiencing symptoms.

This is especially important if you spend time around people in high-risk groups, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions. According to the CDC, people in these groups can be at higher risk for developing a severe illness from COVID-19, and taking the above precautions are even more important to keep them safe.

The Vital Importance of Getting Your Flu Shot

It’s important to get a flu shot each year to reduce your risk of becoming sick and spreading the flu to others. This year, however, a flu shot is more important than ever and the best way to reduce the spread of the seasonal flu. While you might think catching the flu is no big deal – especially in comparison to COVID-19 – it’s not just yourself that you should be worried about. If you catch the flu, you could spread it to others who may be at higher risk for complications. Then there is the issue of overburdening the hospital system. If you become sick or unknowingly infect someone, it might require health care and medical resources that already are strained by the pandemic.

All of us can take simple precautions to limit the spread of these viruses and keep those around us safe. Check out this video for more tips on protecting your co-workers and community this flu season. This Vaccine Finder tool can locate local options for you and your loved ones to get a flu shot.

Additional Resources:

Use the above resources and these posters to keep yourself and those around you safe:


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.

Preparing for Flu Season and COVID-19

First published by NSC.

Flu season is here, along with the additional risks posed by COVID-19. These viruses each pose serious dangers, making it crucial to prepare for both and take preventive steps to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Preliminary estimates from the CDC report that about 34,000 Americans died from the flu last year, with a typical flu season ranging from around October to as late as May. COVID-19, meanwhile, has killed over 229,000 Americans since early 2020. As the normal flu season ramps up, the potential for spread, infection and confusion around these viruses will increase. While you might consider a flu shot and cough syrup an adequate response to the flu in a regular year, those steps are not enough this year. Each of us must take action to avoid infection, limit the spread of these viruses and keep each other safe.

Key Differences in Signs and Symptoms

To prevent the spread of viruses this flu season, you must be able to spot the signs and symptoms of a typical cold, the annual flu and COVID-19. According to the CDC, there are some similarities and differences between a cold and the flu, and between the flu and COVID-19.

With a cold:

  • Symptoms may be gradual
  • Most common symptoms include sneezing, a stuffy nose and a sore throat
  • It is rare to experience a fever or headache

With the flu:

  • Symptoms show up abruptly
  • Common symptoms include a fever, aches, fatigue, chest discomfort and a headache
  • It is less common to experience sneezing, a stuffy nose or a sore throat

With COVID-19:

  • Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus
  • Common shared symptoms with the flu include a fever, aches, fatigue and a headache
  • Common symptoms different from the flu can include change in or loss of taste or smell

Some of these overlapping symptoms can be confusing, but it’s important to keep in mind that each person’s experience with a cold, the flu or COVID-19 may be different. Symptoms may be more severe or, in some COVID-19 cases, there may be no symptoms at all. That is why, whether working remotely or in a traditional workplace, spotting these signs in yourself or others – or learning you were in contact with someone with COVID-19 – should spur you to action.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, the CDC recommends quarantining at home and contacting your health care provider for additional guidance. The same goes if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19. Talk to your supervisor about working from home or taking time off to keep yourself and your co-workers safe. It can be difficult to decide whether you need to get tested for COVID-19, but the CDC has a tool to help. The Coronavirus Self-Checker allows you to enter your symptoms and other information to help determine whether you should get tested or access additional medical care.

If you get the flu, the CDC recommends:

  • Staying home and resting
  • Avoiding contact with people who are not sick, including those in your home
  • Drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration

If you are caring for someone with the flu but you don’t have it, the CDC recommends:

  • Avoiding close contact with the sick individual as much as possible
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Using an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water aren’t easily available

See more CDC recommendations, including a list of flu symptoms that may require immediate medical care and take a look at this article from the winter issue of Family Safety & Health® magazine for additional information on the differences between symptoms.


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.

Communicating through a facemask

Communicating through a face mask, McCraren Compliance

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Wearing a facemask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 can present obstacles to communication, “an important and complex transaction that depends on visual and, often, auditory cues,” says Debara L. Tucci, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

When facial coverings are worn, facial features are obscured, while speech perception and conveyed emotion are disrupted. Facial coverings also filter speech, making sounds less clear, Tucci said, adding, “When it is harder to understand speech – whether because of cloth face coverings, distance or other factors – research suggests that we have fewer cognitive resources to process information deeply. As a result, communication suffers, and feelings of stress and isolation may increase.”

NIDCD offers the following tips to improve communication when wearing a facial covering:
Be aware. Is the person you’re communicating with having trouble understanding you? Ask and adapt if needed.
Be patient. Facial coverings block visual cues and muffle sounds that help us understand speech, which can make interactions frustrating.
Be mindful. Consider how physical distancing might affect your communication. As distance increases, sound levels decrease and visual cues are more difficult to see.
Be loud and clear. Speak up, but don’t shout. Focus on speaking clearly. Consider wearing a clear facial covering, if possible. If you’re having trouble understanding, ask the person you’re talking with to speak louder. If you lip-read, ask those you interact with regularly to wear a clear facial covering.
Turn down the background volume. Background noise can make conversation especially hard. Move to a quieter spot or turn down the sound, when possible.
Communicate another way. Use a smartphone talk-to-text app or writing tools (e.g., paper/pen, whiteboard) to communicate.
Confirm your statement is clear. Ask if your message has been understood.
Bring a friend or be a friend. If it’s essential that you comprehend important spoken details – during a discussion with a health care provider, for example – consider bringing a friend or family member with you.


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