NSC celebrates 25 years of National Safety Month

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council, together with sponsor VelocityEHS, is encouraging employers to dedicate the month of June to improving their safety culture in recognition of National Safety Month. This year is the 25th anniversary of NSM, an annual observance created to inspire people to keep each other safe.

NSC launched NSM in 1996 to promote safe behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths at work, on the roads and in communities. According to the most recent data available, fatal work injuries and roadway deaths are on the rise, with 5,333 U.S. worker fatalities in 2019 (the highest total in more than a decade) and an estimated 42,060 people killed on the nation’s roads in 2020 – the highest number since 2007.

NSM participants have access to a variety of free materials on four weekly topics:
Week 1 – Prevent Incidents Before They Start: Identifying risks and taking proactive safety measures to reduce hazard exposure is crucial to creating a safe workplace.
Week 2 – Address Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Concerns: As the pandemic continues, employers play an important role in the expanding of operations, building trust around vaccines, promoting mental health and more.
Week 3 – It’s Vital to Feel Safe on the Job: Being yourself at work without fear of retaliation is necessary for an inclusive culture. The focus of leading organizations goes beyond only physical safety.
Week 4 – Advance Your Safety Journey: Safety is all about continuous improvement. Whether organizationally or individually, NSC and VelocityEHS can help provide guidance as organizations move forward in safety maturity.

“As organizations navigated the biggest workplace safety hazard in a generation, traditional safety risks never paused, and far too many people did not make it home to their loved ones at the end of their day,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said. “This year, we aim to inspire and support the EHS community to make people’s lives safer on and off the job. We are deeply grateful to VelocityEHS for their generous support of this important observance and shared commitment to safety.”

Access materials and learn more at nsc.org/nsm.


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.

Protecting construction workers during COVID-19

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

Silver Spring, MD — Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on construction sites should be a team effort, OSHA Directorate of Construction Director Scott Ketcham said during a Feb. 25 webinar.

Hosted by OSHA, NIOSH, and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, the event focused on helping construction employers and workers identify exposure risks and determine appropriate control measures.

Ketcham detailed how updated COVID-19 guidance issued by OSHA on Jan. 29 affects construction employers and workers. He also noted that safety professionals still need to contend with other hazards during the pandemic.

“Controlling this disease process with coronavirus and mitigating other hazards really takes all of us working together,” he said. “We all know that in the construction industry we have multiple trades working on a construction site for different companies. Coordination of efforts to make sure that we’re looking out for one another and protecting one another is important.”

Ketcham added that OSHA will use the multi-employer work policy to assess how contractors are following the guidance on construction sites.

Amanda Edens, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health at OSHA, acknowledged that new and updated guidance can lead to confusion among federal agencies and employers.

“It’s challenging for OSHA and CDC to give guidance because science changes,” she said. “And it’s challenging for employers too because they’re trying to keep up with what we’re learning as we go.”

Edens said worker safety issues such as trenching and cranes have remained a priority throughout the pandemic, and topped by those related to COVID-19.

“The bread-and-butter work of the agency continues,” she said. “We still have a lot of construction work to get done, even if COVID wasn’t around. But it is, so we have to do that work and do it in a COVID environment.”

Timothy Irving, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, encouraged employers to consider the mental health needs of workers as he discussed nontraditional hazards.

“OSHA might not be the first federal agency you think of when you hear about nontraditional workplace conditions – PTSD, drug use, suicide and other mental health issues,” he said. “But our mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.”

OSHA’s suicide prevention webpage provides multiple resources to assist workers who might be in crisis. When providing resources to workers, Irving said employers should consider a wide variety of helpful information.

“When you share health and safety resources, be aware that mental health is a part of health and safety,” he said.


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.

Safe + Sound Week slated for Aug. 9-15

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Photo: OSHA

Washington — OSHA, NIOSH and a coalition of safety organizations – including the National Safety Council – are joining forces for the fifth annual Safe + Sound Week, scheduled for Aug. 9-15.

The national initiative is intended to help promote awareness and understanding of workplace safety and health programs. More than 3,400 employers participated in last year’s event, according to OSHA.

“Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line,” the agency says. “Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.”

Registration is set to open in July.


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.

Opening Session: NIOSH director warns of COVID-19 endemic, looks to the future

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Itasca, IL — The future of work may include safety professionals contending with COVID-19 on some level for a long time, even with the recent rollout and widespread availability of vaccines.

That was the warning from NIOSH Director John Howard during the Opening Session of the virtual National Safety Council Safety Congress & Expo on March 3. Although the disease might not be as deadly as it has been over this past year, COVID-19 will likely remain an endemic or a long-lasting disease similar to the flu.

Howard said that could mean preparing for increased disease surveillance; looking at COVID-19 variants to see if they’re more transmissible, more dangerous or have a greater ability to evade vaccines; and perhaps planning for booster vaccine shots.

“We’re not going to get rid of it; coronaviruses don’t disappear,” he said. “It’s not just an emergency that will pass tomorrow. We have to prepare for it. We have to look at our near future.”

Howard also introduced a thought exercise that safety professionals and others can use called “strategic foresight,” which comes from a 2007 book written by Andy Hines and edited by Peter Bishop.

Howard said the process begins by looking at which “domains” need attention, taking in all of the needed information and then turning all that into scenarios – some of which may even clash with each other. That’s followed by thinking about the implications of each scenario, imagining what may happen if a scenario comes to fruition and monitoring each scenario.

“One of those scenarios is going to be our actual future, and we’re going to be prepared for it because we thought about it ahead of time,” he said.

Howard also detailed parts of NIOSH’s Future of Work initiative, which addresses topics such as robotics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, exoskeletons, organizational design, work arrangements, workforce skills gaps and what automation may do to some jobs.

Year of the Safety Hero

To thank safety pros for all of their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, NSC declared 2021 the Year of Safety Hero.

“Safety professionals like you are helping essential workers stay safe and stay on the job,” NSC CEO and President Lorraine M. Martin said during the Opening Session. “You’ve stepped up to lead and serve others. You’ve faced a once-in-a-century pandemic with courage and dedication, confronting each challenge head on. Traditional safety risks never paused during this time and neither did you.

“It’s time to recognize the vital role that safety professionals play in every industry and every day.”

NSC is calling on people to recognize the safety hero(s) in their lives on social media with the hashtag, #SafetyHero.


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.

COVID-19 Update – Resources for Essential Workers

First published by NIOSH.

COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers

A new communication toolkit is available to help employers build confidence in their workforce for this important new vaccine. The toolkit will help employers across various industries provide information about COVID-19 vaccines, increase awareness about vaccination benefits, and address common questions and concerns. The toolkit contains a variety of resources including key messages, FAQs, posters, newsletter content, and more. Partners are encouraged to adapt the key messages to the language, tone, and format that will resonate with the organizations and industries they serve.

Interim List of Categories of Essential Workers Mapped to Standardized Industry Codes and Titles

An interim list is now available to help state, local, tribal, and territorial officials and organizations prepare for the allocation of initially limited COVID-19 vaccine supply. The interim list maps essential industries to corresponding COVID-19 vaccination phases and workforce categories, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

For More Information

For more information, please visit the COVID-19 webpage. To stay up to date on new developments, sign up for the COVID-19 newsletter.


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.

NIOSH approves first elastomeric half-mask respirator without an exhalation valve

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — NIOSH has approved – for both personal protection and source control – the first elastomeric half-mask respirator without an exhalation valve.

In a Nov. 16 agency news brief, NIOSH acknowledges concerns that filtering facepiece respirators and EHMRs with exhalation valves “may allow unfiltered exhaled air to escape into the environment,” compromising the equipment’s effectiveness to protect others if the wearer has COVID-19.

NIOSH notes that exhalation in EHMRs without exhalation valves is possible because the equipment’s particulate filters meet agency requirements, “thereby allowing it to also serve as a means of source control since it will maintain the high level of filtration upon exhalation.”

NIOSH published in the Sept. 14 Federal Register a Request for Information on the deployment and use of EHMRs in health care settings and emergency medical services organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial comment period was slated to end Oct. 14, but the agency extended it to Dec. 14.

Noting EHMRs’ low cost, ease of use, and ability to be cleaned and decontaminated, NIOSH anticipates the widespread use of the respirators will ease the demand for single-use N95 respirators in health care settings that are experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases.


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.

Show compassion, provide stability, share hope: Total Worker Health experts talk return-to-work planning

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Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Washington — The director of NIOSH’s Office for Total Worker Health says employers should think about the physical and mental health needs of their employees returning to the job amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Continue to focus on the supports that workers need most in difficult times,” L. Casey Chosewood said during the agency’s June 25 webinar on strategies for safely returning people to the workplace. “They obviously want to trust you as they return to work, so show them compassion, provide stability and share hope that we will all get through this together.”

NIOSH colleagues R. Todd Niemeier, industrial hygiene team lead, and Kevin H. Dunn, a research mechanical engineer, joined Chosewood in discussing reopening scenarios for general business, offices and manufacturing settings.

They encouraged employers to get familiar with several key guidance documents, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 and Resuming Business Toolkit, which includes a restart readiness checklist and worker protection tool.

Dunn said restarting normal or phased business operations is an opportunity for employers to implement and update COVID-19 preparedness response and control plans. These plans should be specific to the workplace, identifying all areas and job tasks in which employees face potential exposure, and include measures to eliminate or control exposures.

Other recommendations:

  • Designate a COVID-19 workplace coordinator, and ensure all workers know who this person is and how to contact him or her. The coordinator also should know and follow local and state regulations, as well as public health guidelines.
  • Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to learn about existing and potential hazards as workers return.
  • Consider changing duties of vulnerable workers to minimize their risk and contact with customers and co-workers. A cashier, for example, could be moved to a restocking job, if it’s appropriate and the worker agrees to the new role.
  • Follow CDC guidance on air and water systems in facilities reopening after a prolonged shutdown. This includes following the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Standard 180-2018, which establishes minimum requirements for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning inspection and maintenance.
  • Delegate authority so local offices or branches can react based on regional COVID-19 conditions, which vary by state. This will ensure local teams have a stake in how they respond appropriately.
  • Increase the outdoor air ventilation rate or total ventilation rate to improve central air filtration to the highest level possible that doesn’t impact overall airflow.
  • Remove items that create traffic, such as coffee machines and bulk snacks.
  • Allow more flexibility for time off and paid sick leave so employees who have to care for children or sick relatives can adjust their schedules accordingly.
  • Focus on proper and regular cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic and high-touch areas.
  • Regularly include workers and labor unions in safety discussions.

“Above all, keep communicating and provide those necessary flexibilities (for workers),” Chosewood said.

‘Five active generations’: Total Worker Health webinar explores the future of work

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Photo: D-Keine/iStockphoto

Washington — L. Casey Chosewood pointed out the obvious reality every worker faces. “All of us are aging,” the director of the Office for Total Worker Health at NIOSH said during the agency’s June 10 webinar on the future of work and the implications for aging workers. “So this topic is germane to all of us, whether you’re age 25 or age 75. There are five active generations in today’s workforce.”

Chosewood said that although the future of work involves many new jobs, “we’re going to keep a lot of the jobs we have today” – but all jobs will undergo change. As work evolves, providing older workers the skills they will need to adjust and interventions to positively impact health are paramount. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, by 2024, people 55 and older will make up 24.8% of the nation’s workforce.

“How we adapt, design, redesign and create jobs is important,” Chosewood said. “How do we design work – both today’s work and work to come in the future – with comprehensive health outcomes in mind?”

New job designs that protect and improve health aren’t without concern, however.

One example is long-haul truck drivers operating semiautonomous vehicles to reduce the effects of stress and its potentially chronic impact on health. “The future of work is going to require debate about the future of such health interventions and certain negative aspects of new work like job loss and job displacement,” Chosewood said.

Along with stress, organizations should be mindful of issues such as substance misuse and industries with high injury risk, including construction, agriculture, mining and health care.

“I believe that worker protection and prevention efforts along the way not only are beneficial to workers later in life, but those interventions really help workers at all ages,” Chosewood said. “If you talk about intervening for an older or aging workforce, you’re actually doing things to help every single worker. Organizations that navigate this intersection well, and do it successfully, are those that are going to take a comprehensive, integrated approach at Total Worker Health strategies.”

Advocacy group releases guidelines for safe return to work

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Photo: National COSH

Los Angeles — To help ensure the safety of people returning to work – as well as those already on the job – during the COVID-pandemic, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health has released guidelines for workplace safety; worker participation; and fair compensation for sick, injured and at-risk workers.

In a report released May 14, National COSH states that essential businesses should have critical safety measures in place that are enforced and monitored. Contributing to the report – A Safe and Just Return to Work – were physicians, certified industrial hygienists, attorneys, academics, and leaders of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations.

“The United States is far from being ready to open for business without putting not only workers but entire communities at grave risk of illness and death,” the report states. “Only the most essential businesses should be open, and even those must only be allowed to operate if critical safety measures are in place.”

The guidelines emphasize that protections must follow NIOSH’s Hierarchy of Controls, which places personal protective equipment as the final line of defense.

According to National COSH, a safe return-to-work strategy requires, at a minimum:

  • Effective and stringent health and safety protections informed by science; backed by robust enforcement; and designed with input from workers, employers and unions, among others.
  • A planned, detailed and meaningful system for testing, screening, contact tracing, isolation and epidemiological surveillance.
  • Guaranteed job protection and just compensation for workers, as well as individuals who can’t work.
  • Respect and inclusion of meaningful worker and union involvement in decision-making, return-to-work plans and workplace safety.
  • Measures to ensure equity, inclusion and a path to end health and economic disparities.

“Employers who adopt a ‘business-as-usual’ approach could cause workers and their family members to become sick or even die,” Sherry Baron, a professor of public health at Queens College in New York City and a contributor to the report, said in the release. “The right way to reduce risk and limit harm is to include workers in making the plan and implementing effective safety programs, based on the best available scientific evidence.

Nomination period opens for Safe-in-Sound award

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Photo: NIOSH

Washington — NIOSH, along with the National Hearing Conservation Association and the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation, is accepting nominations for the 2021 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award.

The award recognizes organizations and professionals who implement effective practices or innovations that contribute to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus on the job.

To submit a nomination, email a letter describing the initiatives and successes of a hearing loss prevention program to Safe-in-Sound Review Committee coordinator Scott Schneider at nominations@safeinsound.us. Nomination letters are due June 8. Self-nominations also are accepted.

Nominees will be notified and asked to complete an online application. All requisite documentation must be submitted by July 15. The winner will be recognized at NHCA’s next annual conference, scheduled for Feb. 11-13 in Albuquerque, NM.