‘Soaring rate of deaths’: Motor vehicle fatality rate surges in first half of 2020

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Photo: eyecrave/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — The rate of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 20% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019, according to preliminary estimates released by the National Safety Council.

The spike in the rate – an indicator of how safe the nation’s roads are – comes despite a 17% drop in the number of miles driven over the course of the six months, NSC states in a Sept. 15 press release. The estimated total number of deaths, meanwhile, was up 1% from the first-half total of last year.

The 20% increase is the largest jump the council has calculated for a six-month period since 1999.

“Because of COVID-19 and states’ shelter-in-place orders earlier this year, the country should have reaped a safety benefit from less traffic,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in the release. “Instead, our soaring rate of deaths speaks to our need to improve safety on our roads. Clearly, we must work harder as a society to reverse this trend, especially since the pandemic is not nearly over.”

To help ensure roadway safety, the council is urging drivers to:

  • Obey speed limits, even if roads are clear and traffic is light.
  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up; designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation; get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue; and drive attentively, avoiding distractions.
  • If you have a teen driver, stay engaged and practice with him or her often – tips are available at DriveitHOME.org.
  • Follow state and local directives, and stay off the roads if officials have directed you do to so.
  • Be aware of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic, particularly in urban areas. Conversely, pedestrians and bicyclists should remember that streets are getting congested again, and vulnerable roadway users need to be careful.
  • Encourage your employer to join the Road to Zero Coalition, a 1,500-member group committed to eliminating roadway deaths by 2050.

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.

As pandemic continues, don’t lose sight of common worker safety hazards, experts caution

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Photo: Terraxplorer/iStockphoto

Silver Spring, MD — As the United States approaches six months of adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees mustn’t overlook longtime safety hazards such as falls and electricity.

That was the message from Rodd Weber, a Las Vegas-based corporate safety director at The PENTA Building Group, during an Aug. 13 roundtable webinar hosted by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

“I’m not saying to back off of that [attention to COVID-19],” Weber said, “but I would just caution everyone to don’t become so focused on COVID that you lose sight of the fact that we have plenty of other hazards that could literally kill somebody at any given time on a jobsite … much quicker than COVID ever will. And probably, we need to be paying attention a lot more to some of those things. And there certainly has been a distraction this year on some of those issues.

“So, I would just encourage everyone not to take it easy on the COVID stuff, but don’t lose focus of our … hazards that are out there with regard to safety.”

In a July 16 CPWR webinar on contact tracing basics and applications in construction, Travis Parsons, associate director of occupational safety and health for the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, also spoke about how the complexities of the pandemic have helped create distraction.

“Us in the construction industry all know that there’s a lot of uncertainty going on right now,” Parsons said. “We have a lot of workers that never stopped working – essential workforce. We have a lot of workers now that are returning to work. We have differences depending on your geography, what state you’re in and what the protocols are, so there’s a lot of uncertainty.”


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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Focus on individual workers rather than generational stereotypes, management experts say

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Photo: FG Trade/iStockphoto

Washington — Instead of relying on generational labels such as “millennial” and “baby boomer” to help inform workforce management decisions – including those related to safety and communication – employers and managers should focus on workers’ individual situations and needs, concludes a recently published report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

A committee of experts in management, industrial and organizational psychology, sociology, economics, adult development and learning sciences, and other disciplines reviewed hundreds of sources of scientific literature on generations in the workforce, as well as work and human capital. They determined that although the term “generation” often identifies a group of people by their birth years, age range doesn’t mean each generation has a wide range of commonalities.

“Generational categories ignore significant differences that result from characteristics like gender, race/ethnicity, education, and occupation,” Nancy Tippins, chair of the committee and principal at The Nancy T. Tippins Group, told Safety+Health. “When an organization assumes generational categories are legitimate, they ignore the needs of individuals within the group. From a safety perspective, the danger in generational categories lies in treating everyone the same despite their different situations and needs.”

For example, an offshore oil rig worker using heavy equipment and an accountant in an office setting at the same company face much different safety challenges despite being born the same year. “Consequently, the training needed by each is likely going to be quite different for these two groups if it is to be effective and useful,” Tippins said.

When it comes to communicating safety messages, a process unique to the individual organization will likely be most effective, Tippins said. To start, identify the organization’s goals, the message to be shared and the needs/capabilities of workers to be trained. From there, the effectiveness of training should be monitored regularly and revisited based on each employee’s needs.

“Assuming everyone in a generational category has the same needs and expectations and disregarding differences and contextual factors will limit the effectiveness of training,” Tippins said.

FDA updates on hand sanitizers consumers should not use

Food and Drug Administration has again updated its list of hand sanitizers that it says that the consumers not use.
FDA has again updated its list of hand sanitizers that it says that the consumers not use.

Spanish version

Food and Drug Administration has again updated its list of hand sanitizers that it says consumers should not use.

FDA test results show certain hand sanitizers have concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products. The agency urges consumers not to use these subpotent products and has expanded its list to include subpotent hand sanitizers, in addition to hand sanitizers that are or may be contaminated with methanol

The agency continues to add certain hand sanitizers to import alert to stop these products from legally entering the U.S. market.

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

Additionally, FDA reminds consumers that no drugs, including hand sanitizers, are approved to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 pandemic won’t stop some people from going to work sick, survey shows

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Photo: nito100/iStockphoto

London — Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 1 out of 14 workers say they’d go to work even if they feel sick and regardless of how severe their symptoms are, results of a recent survey show.

Commissioned by Thermalcheck, a manufacturer of no-contact temperature check stations, marketing research company One Poll surveyed 2,000 U.S. workers to learn how they’d handle their health when returning to the workplace during and after the pandemic. Nearly half said they feel pressure from their boss to go to work when sick. Feeling guilty was the leading motivator to work while sick.

Other findings:

  • 33% of the respondents said they’d keep working with cold or flu symptoms because they’d miss their colleagues, along with office banter and gossip.
  • More than one-third said they don’t usually consider their co-workers’ health when deciding to go to work when feeling ill.
  • A stomachache wouldn’t stop 52% of the respondents from reporting to work, while 40% said the same about a bad cough. Thirty-three percent said chest tightness wouldn’t keep them home.
  • 40% believe they’ve passed an illness to a co-worker as a consequence of trying to be viewed as a hard worker.

“Despite the pandemic and the advice to avoid others if you feel unwell, there are still a large number of workers who will feel they need to go into the workplace,” a Thermalcheck spokesman said in a statement. “This approach to working while unwell needs to change and employers need to ensure the safety of their workforce.”

Protecting construction, surface mining workers from silica dust: CPWR publishes new resources

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — Three new resources from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training are intended to help prevent silica exposure among construction and surface mining workers who operate mobile equipment in enclosed cabs.

The hazard alert card, toolbox talk, and dealer/rental fact sheet are available in English and Spanish.

In the hazard alert, CPWR advises that, before work begins, cabs of mobile equipment be examined for issues with:
The air filtration system: Inspect filters for damage or airflow bypass.
The cab structure: Inspect daily for any holes, gaps or cracks around doors, windows, joints, controls and power-line entries. Silicone caulk or rubber gaskets can be used to repair and seal damaged areas.
Air pressure: Check the pressure gauge daily to ensure it’s working properly, and monitor the pressure throughout the workday to ensure positive air pressure is maintained and dusty air is kept out.

Enclosed cabs should have a communication system that allows operators to speak with other workers without having to open a door or window. Cabs should be cleaned and properly maintained to ensure proper working order of closing mechanisms, gaskets and all seals.

The toolbox talk tells the story of Grace and the result of her exposure to silica dust at work, and the fact sheet is designed to help businesses that rent or sell equipment understand the requirements of OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration standards on silica dust.

McCraren Compliance can help. We offer Silica training and Protection Plans required by OSHA.

Assessing COVID-19 hazards, controls in manufacturing facilities: CDC publishes toolkit

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Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Atlanta — A new toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is designed to help workplace safety and health professionals and public health officials assess manufacturing facilities’ COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures.

The toolkit includes a checklist to “determine whether control measures in place align with CDC/OSHA guidance.” CDC recommends conducting a checklist assessment when a COVID-19 control plan is developed and each time it’s revised. The assessment should include these steps:
Pre-assessment: Inform all parties of the assessment’s goals. Work as a group to review the checklist to determine if each part applies to your company.
Walkthrough: While conducting the walkthrough of a facility, use the checklist to document what you find. Observe as much of the plant processes as possible. Limit participation to those familiar with plant processes.
Post-assessment: After conducting the assessment, discuss observations, develop action items, determine steps to protect workers, and prioritize actions to take to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Other resources are quick reference slides for safety pros and health officials, as well as quick reference guides in the form of one-page flyers for employers and employees. The toolkit also can be used to assess manufacturing facilities’ overall hazard assessment and control plans.

CDC says the guidance will be updated “as needed and as additional information becomes available.”