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Proper PPE? Be SURE It Is!

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 5, 2012 11:20:57 AM

If you have a giant stack of the best Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but don’t use it, or just as important, don’t use it properly, are you trying to become an OSHA statistic? Knowing how to protect yourself from occupational hazards is a critical part of your job.

A Real Life PPE Correction

A few years ago, I was taking my annual HazWOPER 8-Hour Refresher class and a fellow student shared his story about PPE.

Part of his job was to open and close valves that allowed aviation fuels to flow to pumps used to fill airplane fuel tanks. While conducting this task, he was often exposed to fuel vapors. After complaining about the headaches and dizziness that he was experiencing, his employer had him fit tested for a respirator. However, even with the proper-fitting respirator, he still had the same symptoms of overexposure.

Why didn’t the respirator control the exposure?  As a health and safety professional, the answer was obvious to me! I asked him, “What type of cartridge are you using?”

His reply, “I am using what was given to me.” Two days later he called me to tell me that he had been given HEPA filters – the WRONG cartridge for his petroleum vapors. Instead he should have been using organic vapor cartridges. Without correction, this COULD have been become a very dangerous problem – just because of the wrong cartridge in the right respirator!

Proper Protection:  Where Do You Start?

A perfect place to start understanding how to protect yourself is to know what you are dealing with on the job.

1)      What are the potential hazards? Is there more than one? Not sure? Ask questions! Make sure that you understand the hazards and risk before you are satisfied?

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Topics: OSHA, Personal Protective Equipment, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, H&S Training, worker safety, hazards, Lab Safety & Electrical, respirator, Exposure, Respiratory

OSHA Publishes Removal Criteria for Employers from SVEP

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 2, 2012 5:28:40 AM

by Bruce D. Groves

On August 16, 2012, OSHA issued its criteria of when an employer could be removed from their Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).  The SVEP has been in effect since June 2010, replacing OSHA’s much-criticized Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP). The SVEP is intended to focus the agency’s enforcement resources on those employers believed to demonstrate “indifference” to their responsibilities to workplace safety by committing any of the following:

  • Any violation categorized as “Egregious”

  • One or more Willful, Repeat or Failure-to-Abate violations associated with a fatality or the overnight hospitalization of three or more employees

  • Two or more Willful, Repeat or Failure-to-Abate violations in connection with a high emphasis hazard (generally speaking, the subjects of OSHA’s special emphasis programs, including falls, amputations, grain handling, etc.)

  • Three or more Willful, Repeat or Failure-to-Abate violations related to Process Safety Management (prevention of the release of  a highly hazardous chemical)

Considering that OSHA’s mission is to not only to protect worker safety, but reduce workplace hazards through both enforcement and outreach, recognition of an employer who turns their safety efforts around and improves working conditions for employees is good policy. Generally, an employer may be considered for removal from the program after:

  1. A period of 3 years from the date of the final disposition of the SVEP inspection citation items including: failure to contest, settlement agreement, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission final order or court of appeals decision; and

  2. All affirmed violations have been abated, all final penalties have been paid, the employer has abided by and completed all settlement provisions and has not received any additional serious citations related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments.

In the event an employer fails to adhere to the terms and provisions of the agreement, the employer will remain in the program for an additional 3 years and will then be reevaluated. Except in cases where national corporate-wide settlements are involved, approval of the employer's removal will be at the discretion of the regional administrator or designee and will be based on an additional follow-up inspection and IMIS/OIS data.

For more information visit
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Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, workplace safety, General Industry H&S, SVEP, Severe Violator Enforcement Program, OSHA Compliance

OSHA Issues Final Rule and Notice Regarding Cranes and Derricks

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Sep 4, 2012 3:34:41 AM

On August 17, 2012 OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) issued a direct final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking regarding cranes and derricks. The final rule serves to protect workers from dangers commonly found with hoisting equipment in construction. It applies the requirements of the 2010 standard for cranes and derricks, which are standardly used in demolition and underground construction of shafts and sub-shafts, among other structures. Rules already in place for underground construction and demolition by other construction sectors are the guiding force behind this final rule, and several errors in the 2010 rulemaking are now corrected, to make it easier to understand and employ by employers and workers.

This direct final rule becomes effective on November 15, 2012, barring significant adverse comments by September 17 th of this year. Should OSHA receive enough adverse comments, the notice of proposed rulemaking allows it to prolong the notice-and-comment part of the rulemaking initiative, by removing the direct final rule until a later date.

Interested parties may use this link: to register comments via the Internet. Comments may also be sent by FAX or mail; details can be found at the Federal Register.  All comments must be submitted by September 17, 2012.

OSHA’s official mandate is that it ensures safe working conditions for employees by regulating and enforcing consistent standards, and providing training, education and assistance. You can learn more about OHSA and see the official notice regarding final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking at their website:
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Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, cranes and derricks standard, General EHS, Construction H&S, Subpart CC, 1926.800, Underground Construction

EPA Changes its EPCRA Section 312

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 1, 2012 4:13:43 AM

June 13, 2012:  The EPA has changed its EPCRA Section 312 Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms (Tier I and Tier II), adding new requirements and optional data elements. The Environmental Protection Agency has also made revisions to some current data elements in the chemical reporting section, to streamline the process of reporting and making it easier for facilities, states, and local officials to abide by reporting requirements.

Its final ruling has the EPA adding new mandatory data elements to the Tier I and II forms as follows (an update from the EPA's Superfund, TRI, EPCRA, RMP, and Oil Information Center):

“The facility's latitude and longitude; identification numbers assigned under the TRI program and risk management program; whether the facility is manned or unmanned; the maximum number of occupants present at the facility at any one time; whether the facility is subject to EPCRA Section 302 and the Clean Air Act Section 112(r) risk management program; contact information for the individual responsible for completing the forms; emergency coordinator contact information for facilities subject to EPCRA Section 302; and e-mail addresses for the owner or operator and emergency contact. The rule also revised the range codes on the forms for the maximum amount and the average daily amount of the hazardous chemical at the facility and added optional data elements for the facility phone number and parent company contact information.”

The changes also include items specific to the Tier II forms, with different data fields added to enable reports on pure chemicals and mixtures. In addition, facilities will be required to provide detailed descriptions of storage types and conditions, rather than previously-mandated codes. Revisions also include the new ability of facilities to report additional state or local requirements, or to voluntarily report hazardous chemicals lower than the current reporting thresholds.

This rule will become effective January 1, 2014. Facilities are required to comply with new regulations starting with reporting year 2013, and due March 1, 2014.

Additional information can be found at the EPA's website:
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Topics: Emilcott, EPCRA Section 312, General Industry H&S, General EHS, EPA, Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms, Clean Air Act Section 112, EPCRA

Local Hospitals Prepare to Meet Federal Guidelines for Responding to Disasters

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 25, 2012 4:08:54 AM

by H. Dale Wilson

In an effort to bolster a community’s ability to respond to man-made and natural disasters, states, cities, and counties continuously work with governmental agencies and private healthcare providers to make sure federal emergency response planning guidelines can be effectively implemented at the local level. With growing threats from any number of causes, such as biological or other acts of terrorism, and rising violence due to a several factors (including a lagging economy and general population growth), hospitals face the real crisis of being ill-prepared to deal with large numbers of people seeking help all at once. Poor communication, staff fatigue, supply shortages, and lack of facilities management can be disastrous to the healthcare industry at the local level in emergency preparedness. Paired with the monetary problems faced by the healthcare industry in general because of issues such as rising numbers of uninsured individuals, an aging populace, and higher costs of medical supplies and personnel, the industry faces enormous challenges with their emergency preparedness planning.

Solutions for strengthening hospitals and the healthcare system can be found in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)'s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement. The goal of the Agreement is to integrate HPP and PHEP to build and sustain public health and healthcare preparedness capabilities as outlined in ASPR’s Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities: National Guidance for Healthcare System Preparedness and in CDC’s Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning. These documents establish standards for protecting human health and national health security.  PHEP, released in March 2011, identifies 15 capabilities necessary for effective community emergency response; HPP focuses on 8 of PHEP’s 15 capabilities as the basis for healthcare system, Healthcare Coalition, and healthcare organization preparedness.  The 8 capabilities that impact healthcare include:

▪       Healthcare System Preparedness

▪       Healthcare System Recovery

▪       Emergency Operations Coordination

▪       Fatality Management

▪       Information Sharing

▪       Medical Surge

▪       Responder Safety and Health

▪       Volunteer Management

The Agreement, effective this month (July 2012), seeks to facilitate preparedness at the local level, stating “strong and resilient Healthcare Coalitions are the key to an effective state and local...response to an event-driven medical surge.”

Identifying gaps in preparedness, prioritization, and building a sustaining healthcare industry emergency preparedness capabilities is key to ensuring safer, well-prepared communities and cities.  With these new tool healthcare should be better prepared to support their community in event of a disaster.
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Topics: Emilcott, General Industry H&S, General EHS, PHEP, ASPR, Emergency Response, HPP

NIOSH Zadroga Act Will Cover 50 Types of Cancer for 9-11 Responders

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 17, 2012 6:33:33 AM

Thousands of 9/11 responders, police officers, firefighters, students, and residents of downtown New York City will now be covered under the $4.3 billion Zadroga Act, which formerly denied any cancer coverage.  The medical fund is named for New York City Police officer James Zadroga, who was the first NYPD officer whose death was attributed to exposure to his contact with toxic chemicals at the site of the attacks. Those in contact with the toxic dust have sought for years to have their cancers acknowledged and treatments covered by the fund.  The government denied any connection between exposure to 9/11 toxins and an increased risk of cancer.

On June 8 th, NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) stated that those workers, residents, and student who contracted cancer due to the toxic dust on 9/11 are now considered eligible for free medical treatment for cancers including those affecting respiratory and digestive systems, and other cancers including breast, ovarian, eye, oral, urinary tract cancers, and mesothelioma, melanomas, and lymphomas.

The list of ailments now includes 14 broad categories of cancer and 50 specific types, all of which were formally denied because federal officials stated that scientific evidence showed no link between exposure to 9/11 toxins and disease. First responders have consistently argued that the real reason for denial of coverage is because of cost to the federal government.

NIOSH based its revised decision on recommendations by an expert medical advisory panel who offered their opinions in March 2011. The panel further advised, however, against coverage for brain, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, stating there is not enough evidence to connect them to fall-out from 9/11.

Included in this ruling is the right of cancer sufferers to file claims with the Federal Victim Compensation Fund, which offers compensation to first responders and residents of downtown New York City, as well as students and workers for their out-of-pocket medical treatments, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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Topics: Emilcott, NIOSH, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Emergency Response, toxic dust on 9/11, exposure to 9/11 toxins and an increased risk of c, Homeland Security, Air Monitoring, Zadroga Act, Federal Victim Compensation Fund

Executive Order Recommended by FACOSH

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 10, 2012 1:11:09 AM

by Bruce D. Groves, CIH

The Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) recently recommended to the Department of Labor that it ask the president to use his power of executive order to update OSHA's permissible exposure limits (PELs).

An executive order is a legally-binding directive from the president, requiring no house or senate approval or oversight. However, they are normally made after certain Acts of Congress grant the specific power to the executive branch of the government, and often, presidential executive orders will come under fire for circumventing the usual congressional approval.

FACOSH, which advises OSHA on safety and health matters, recommended that companies and their subcontractors be legally obligated to adhere to the latest, most protective OELs (occupational exposure limits).

According to the FACOSH Emerging Issue Subcommittee, an executive order is needed because PELs have not been updated since 1971 and do not represent over four decades-worth of new technology and toxicological research. They further note that updating the current permissible exposure limits (PELs) needs to be of utmost concern for worker safety for federal workers and contractors working on federal projects—the only workers defined in these recommendations. The Subcommittee recommended that federal agencies and departments “use the most protective and feasible OELs in federal workplaces, notwithstanding the existence of a PEL for a given substance of concern.”

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has recently submitted a white paper stating its support for OSHA's continued role as the gatekeeper for worker safety and its support for an executive order updating PELS and itself has spent a great deal of time and money on research trying to have outdated PELs modernized.

FACOSH has tabled the proposal for now. However, it has received strong consideration from OSHA. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA has been expressing enthusiastic backing for this effort.

Opponents to the idea of using a presidential executive feel it is an end-run around the regulatory process, noting that these more restrictive OELs could be even more rigorous than what is now required by MSHA or OSHA, and that there should be measures in place to make sure the limits are technologically and economically practicable for the companies working on federal projects.

Opponents assert that adopting OELS could open the door to adopting other exposure limits which have not gone through the rulemaking process such as NIOSH’s recommended exposure limits (RELs), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ threshold limit values (ACGIH TLVs), the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s workplace environmental exposure limits (WEELs).

It is my opinion that (regardless of which side of the fence you might sit on this issue) a couple facts remain:

  • Many of the PELs are 40+ years old and much more data and information has been gathered during this time that may influence people conducting health hazard assessments.  The irony is that PELs for most industrial hygienists are not used exclusively because they are often out of date with current science.  TLVs and other OELs are commonly used today by H&S practitioners in designing controls to reduce exposure to “safe” levels.

  • Some of the current OELs, (e.g. some NIOSH RELs) seem too low, too restrictive, or not reasonable when evaluating the total risk and exposure to some workers.  I often use professional judgment in selecting an OEL that is not the most restrictive as a guide to protecting workers who are performing specific tasks, using specific materials, and for varying durations.  OELs do not always work as an arbitrary “not to exceed” limit.  Accepting, carte blanche, the most restrictive OEL will reduce some current PELs significantly, but add considerable cost to a company or agency often without gaining appreciable benefits.

  • Funds and resources are finite and should be parceled out by H&S professionals to get the best result!  Spending money to meet the needs of a blanket mandate, without evaluating the need or benefit, will take resources away from other initiatives that will or may be more effective in protecting workers.


I am personally against an executive order to update all the PELs.  I am not convinced that the reduction of PELs in and of itself will significantly reduce exposures to various chemicals and reduce disease.  However, I understand the frustration of many H&S practitioners in having PELs that are clearly out of date.
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Topics: Emilcott, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, permissible exposure limits, OELs, Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety an, PELs, American Industrial Hygiene Association, AIHA, FACOSH

DOT proposes new minimum training standards for Railroad Workers & Contractors under Federal Railroad Administration

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jun 19, 2012 1:09:49 AM

On February 7, 2012, The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding training and qualifications in federal rail safety laws, regulations and orders.  Train and engine workers, those who inspect and repair freight trains, passenger cars and locomotives, and other “safety sensitive” workers will be affected by the proposed new training programs.

The FRA is seeking training protocols from each railroad (and their contractors) to provide for uniformity in training, and programs that would more clearly define the qualifications of every employee involved in rail safety. Workers would be required to effectively show proficiency in a specific area of expertise, before being trained in more detailed or complicated tasks. Diligent oversight will be encouraged by employers to manage compliance and written reviews would be submitted regarding their training programs and their efficacy in enhanced safety.

Already a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, this proposed enhanced rule was developed with the input from officials in numerous federal and state government agencies, industry and labor.  The new training and reporting requirements are seeking to enhance worker safety, close knowledge gaps, and better prepare workers for the very real hazards associated with working for a railroad.

“Well-designed training programs have the potential to further reduce risk in the railroad environment,” said FRA Administrator Joe Szabo. “Better training can reduce the number of accidents, particularly those caused by human factors, which account for the vast majority of reportable accidents each year.”  Experts who seek to raise safety standards and training protocols state that railroads have sought to reduce training costs by offering unsupervised computer-based training, which is not sufficient training before a worker is sent out into the field.

Read More About The Best Type of Safety Training
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Topics: Emilcott, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, federal rail safety laws, Federal Railroad Administration, regulations and orders, H&S Training, FRA, uniformity in training, Rail Safety Improvement Act

Department of Health & Human Services updates the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jun 11, 2012 5:26:55 AM

Pandemic flu preparedness was the focus of the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza  (NAPAPI) at a meeting of the North American Leaders Summit.  This preparedness plan seeks faster reactions to pandemic threats, through enhanced emergency preparedness, a more substantial reporting network for early detection, and early warning systems for outbreaks.

An update of the 2007 NAPAPI includes new information garnered from the Department of Health & Human Services' response to the 2009 H1N1 human influenza pandemic. Collaborative response plans for the United States, Canada, and Mexico are being developed in the face of potential new pandemics. Continued training and response efforts will center around surveillance, early warning systems, and timely investigations of flu viruses in humans and animals.

A balance is being sought to provide farther-reaching border policies that will not impede trade or travel, but will allow for medical countermeasures in the event of a North American pandemic.  Protection of infrastructures is also being stressed as critical, so that reciprocal assistance can be utilized across borders to help combat potential pandemics. “H1N1 provided a stern reminder that diseases don’t respect national borders and can spread rapidly in our interconnected world so protecting health requires cooperation and collaboration among countries,” explained Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.

Read More About Pandemic Diseases
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Topics: Emilcott, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Animal and Pandemic Influenza, Department of Health & Human Services, pandemic threats

Reminder: Revisions to DOT 49 CFR Parts 385, 386, 390, and 395 Go Into Full Effect in Just Over 1 Year

Posted by Shivi Kakar

May 30, 2012 12:52:21 AM

A reminder to commercial truck drivers and the companies who hire them: The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new safety requirements go into effect on July 1, 2013.

The maximum hours of service (HOS) will be reduced, meaning the maximum number of hours that a driver may operate their equipment goes from 82 hours within one week to 70 hours within one week.  The new HOS Rule also prohibits drivers from driving more than eight hours at a time without taking a break for at least thirty minutes.  Prior rules had no provisions regarding limitations on minimum “34-hour restarts,” but the new rules state that such a restart must “include two periods between 1 a.m.-5 a.m. home terminal time, and may only be used once a week.”  The new HOS rules also place limitations on time resting in a sleeper berth, what constitutes a real “rest,” and how hours are to be calculated by drivers and companies.

Proponents of the new safety requirements for commercial truck drivers state that reducing the hours a driver is required or even able to work will reduce accidents.  The DOT's stated goal is “to limit the ability of drivers to work the maximum number of hours currently allowed, or close to the maximum, on a continuing basis to reduce the possibility of driver fatigue."

Critics of the new rules state that they do not go far enough towards meaningful reform of current HOS, and will ultimately “have a negative impact on manufacturers' supply chains, distribution operations and productivity,” says Jay Timmons, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO.

Penalties to companies who violate the new HOS rule are stiff: up to $11,000 per offense, plus drivers may face fines up to $2,750 per offense.
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Topics: Emilcott, DOT, General Industry H&S, HOS Rule, DOT Revisions, safety requirements for commercial truck drivers

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