Lawmakers, UMWA join call for MSHA to lower exposure limit to silica

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — Five Senate Democrats are imploring the Mine Safety and Health Administration to lower its exposure limit for crystalline silica – a carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone.

In a letter dated Nov. 20 and addressed to MSHA administrator David Zatezalo, Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Tim Kaine (VA) and Mark Warner (VA) write that the findings of a recent Department of Labor Office of Inspector General report contending MSHA’s silica exposure limit is out of date “illustrates the need for urgent action.”

The agency’s silica exposure limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was established in 1969. Although OSHA has since lowered its silica exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, “both OSHA and NIOSH warned that 50 μg/m³ is the lowest feasible limit, not the safest,” DOL OIG states in the report released Nov. 16.

Further, DOL OIG says a recent increase in progressive massive fibrosis – the most severe form of black lung disease – has been linked to “high-volume mechanized mining of decreasing deposits of coal, which releases more silica dust.” According to the report, more than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014 compared with 1995 to 1999.

“Our nation’s coal miners have done their jobs, working tirelessly to help win wars, power the nation and keep the lights on,” the senators write. “It’s time for MSHA to do its job and update its regulations to ensure our coal miners have a safe working environment.”

In a Nov. 23 press release, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts called the DOL OIG report “right on the money,” adding that it supports UMWA’s long-standing position calling for a lower legal limit for silica.

“It is long past time for MSHA to fulfill its responsibilities and act to protect miners from silicosis or progressive massive fibrosis (PMF),” Roberts said. “MSHA knows what measures it must take in order to ensure safe and healthy work environments for the nation’s miners and it has known it for years. The agency has a responsibility to enact those measures.”

DOL OIG recommends that MSHA establish a separate standard to allow the agency to issue citations and monetary penalties for silica exposure limit violations. Additionally, it advises MSHA to increase the frequency of inspector samples “where needed” to enhance its sampling program. One example is by implementing a risk-based approach.

In a response to DOL OIG dated Oct. 27, Zatezalo wrote that his agency does not agree with the recommendations of lowering the silica exposure limit or penalizing operators solely for exposure violations. He added that MSHA plans to issue a proposed rule on exposure to respirable quartz – one of the most common types of respirable crystalline silica.

Zatezalo said MSHA will study DOL OIG’s final recommendation, including the risk-based approach, to see if sampling needs to increase under certain mining conditions.


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

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.

COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace

First published by OSHA.

OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these unprecedented times. The agency will be issuing a series of alerts designed to keep workers safe. Ensuring adequate ventilation throughout the work environment can help to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Employers should work with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to consider steps to optimize building ventilation. An HVAC professional can ensure that the ventilation system is operating as intended. The following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus:
Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.

  • Ensure all HVAC systems are fully functional, especially those shut down or operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic.
  • Remove or redirect personal fans to prevent blowing air from one worker to another.
  • Use HVAC system filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher, where feasible.
  • Increase the HVAC system’s outdoor air intake. Open windows or other sources of fresh air where possible.
  • Be sure exhaust air is not pulled back into the building from HVAC air intakes or open windows.
  • Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to increase clean air, especially in higher-risk areas.
  • When changing filters, wear appropriate personal protective equipment. ASHRAE recommends N95 respirators, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shields), and disposable gloves.
  • Make sure exhaust fans in restrooms are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and are set to remain on.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)


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.

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $913,133 In Coronavirus Violations

First published by OSHA.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 62 establishments for violations, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $913,133.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

OSHA has already announced citations relating to 37 establishments, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom. In addition to those establishments, the 25 establishments below have received coronavirus-related citations totaling $429,064 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.

Establishment Name Inspection
Number
City State Initial
Penalty
Marion Regional Medical Center Inc. 1472689 Hamilton Alabama $9,290
Quest Management Group Inc. 1474518 Tallahassee Florida $24,290
Pensacola Care Inc. 1474819 Tallahassee Florida $11,567
Alliance Health of Braintree Inc. 1473536 Braintree Massachusetts $13,880
Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley 1478339 Littleton Massachusetts $21,115
Alliance Health of Brockton Inc. 1474628 Brockton Massachusetts $12,145
Hackensack Meridian Health Hospitals Corp. 1472186 Hackensack New Jersey $15,422
Essex Residential Care LLC 1472725 West Caldwell New Jersey $13,494
Barnert Subacute Rehabilitation Center LLC 1474902 Paterson New Jersey $13,494
84 Cold Hill Road Operations LLC 1473525 Mendham New Jersey $13,494
Hackensack Meridian Health System 1477909 North Bergen New Jersey $13,494
292 Applegarth Road Operations LLC 1487345 Monroe Township New Jersey $23,133
1515 Lamberts Mill Road Operations LLC 1472780 Westfield New Jersey $26,988
Hackensack Meridian Health Hospitals Corp. 1474520 Hackensack New Jersey $9,639
The Matheny School and Hospital 1476359 Peapack New Jersey $13,494
IJKG Opco LLC 1477379 Bayonne New Jersey $25,061
MPV New Jersey MD Medical Services P.C. 1482167 Nutley New Jersey $23,133
Prime Healthcare Services – St. Michael’s LLC 1472330 Newark New Jersey $25,061
Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health 1475320 Toms River New Jersey $13,494
St. Barnabas Hospital 1472869 Bronx New York $23,133
St. Barnabas Hospital 1473218 Bronx New York $23,133
Northwell Health Orzac Center for Rehabilitation 1476726 Valley Stream New York $23,133
Hudson Pointe Acquisition LLC 1486893 Bronx New York $22,555
VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, St Albans Community Living Center 1474970 Jamaica New York $0
Masonic Village of the Grand Lodge of PA 1475223 Lafayette Hill Pennsylvania $15,422

A full list of what standards were cited for each establishment – and the inspection number – are available here. An OSHA standards database can be found here.

Resources are available on the agency’s COVID-19 webpage to help employers comply with these standards.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


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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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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.


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.

Make Fall Safety a Top Priority

Falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury-related death at work. In 2018, 791 people died in falls from heights and from the same level at work. For working adults, depending on the industry, falls can be the leading cause of death.

Hazards in the Workplace

Also in 2018, more than 240,000 people were injured badly enough in falls to require days off of work, according to Injury Facts.

Construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from height – more than seven times the rate of other industries – but falls can happen anywhere, even at a “desk job.”

NSC data for 2018 measures deaths and injuries due to falls from height and falls on the same level, by industry, including:

  • Construction: 10,650 injuries, 320 deaths
  • Production: 17,160 injuries, 39 deaths
  • Transportation and Material Moving: 45,730 injuries, 82 deaths
  • Farming, Fishing and Forestry: 4,380 injuries, 17 deaths
  • Building and Grounds Maintenance: 16,880 injuries, 99 deaths
  • Healthcare: 13,600 injuries, 3 deaths

Falls are 100% Preventable

Whether working from a ladder, roof or scaffolding, it’s important to plan ahead, assess the risk and use the right equipment. First, determine if working from a height is absolutely necessary or if there is another way to do the task safely.

  • Discuss the task with coworkers and determine what safety equipment is needed
  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use the equipment
  • Scan the work area for potential hazards before starting the job
  • Make sure you have level ground to set up the equipment
  • If working outside, check the weather forecast; never work in inclement weather
  • Use the correct tool for the job, and use it as intended
  • Ensure stepladders have a locking device to hold the front and back open
  • Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder
  • Place the ladder on a solid surface and never lean it against an unstable surface
  • A straight or extension ladder should be 1 foot away from the surface it rests on for every 4 feet of height and extend at least 3 feet over the top edge
  • Securely fasten straight and extension ladders to an upper support
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes and don’t stand higher than the third rung from the top
  • Don’t lean or reach while on a ladder, and have someone support the bottom
  • Never use old or damaged equipment; check thoroughly before use

Millions of people are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every year. A fall can end in death or disability in a split second, but with a few simple precautions, you’ll be sure stay safe at at work.


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.

National Preparedness Month 2020: Make Your Plan Today

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, and now is a good time to prepare for a natural disaster or emergency in the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds workers and employers to make a plan, so you know where to go and what to do to stay safe in an emergency. Here are a few things you can do to prepare:

  1. Develop a plan and understand how to put it into action. Employers should develop emergency plans and ensure workers know how to execute them. Plans should describe shelter locations, policies to ensure all personnel are accounted for, procedures for addressing hazardous materials in the workplace, and maps that designate specific evacuation routes and exits. OSHA’s Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool is a helpful resource to use.
  2. Build an emergency kit. Put together an emergency kit with the supplies and personal protective equipment you might need during an emergency. Include items like safety glasses or face shields for eye protection, cell phones with chargers, flashlights, and first aid kits.
  3. Shelter in place. Follow local emergency official announcements related to sheltering in place. In certain situations, you may need to take immediate shelter whether you are working from home, at the job site, or in between. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to “shelter in place.”
  4. Evacuate. Be aware if local emergency officials call for a mandatory evacuation of your area. Employers should examine how to safely shut down a facility if an evacuation is warranted. Don’t wait until too late. Due to COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that if you need to seek public shelter to bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person and hand sanitizer.
  5. Know what may impact your area and how you should respond. Stay aware of weather forecasts and warnings, and follow instructions issued by your local officials. Check the websites of your local National Weather Service and emergency management office. Employers should consider how an emergency might impact workers sheltering in place at a job site versus workers attempting to evacuate to safety. If local authorities or the on-site coordinators tell you to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

OSHA provides resources on workplace preparedness and response for a variety of hazards. For more information on protecting workers from emergency events, visit OSHA’s Emergency Preparedness and Response page. In addition to these resources, seek guidance from your local fire department, police department, and emergency management agency.

For additional information and resources on how to better prepare for emergencies, visit Ready.gov, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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.

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.

COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA releases guidelines for oil and gas industry

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Photo: OSHA

Washington — OSHA has published COVID-19-related guidance intended to help employers in the oil and gas industry reduce exposure among workers, including personnel in the sub industries and those whose tasks “make up the broader oil and gas industrial sector.”

The guidance includes a table with examples of tasks and associated risk levels, along with examples of engineering and administrative controls. Additionally, the agency addresses cloth facial coverings, safe work practices, personal protective equipment, and OSHA “flexibilities” on PPE requirements and prioritization during the pandemic.

Among the agency’s recommendations:

  • Defer work requiring close contact with others, if possible.
  • Configure communal work environments so workers are spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Stagger workers’ arrival, break and departure times.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in work areas to help minimize potential exposure.
  • Encourage workers to wear face coverings to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

“Employers with workers engaged in the oil and gas industry should remain alert to changing conditions and implement infection prevention measures accordingly,” OSHA states.