Spring 2007 Volume 35

Feature Articles

After nearly 15 years of work, nations all over the world will finally have unified standards for the safe identification, use, transport and disposal of globally traded chemicals. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), a new system adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council, is now ready for worldwide implementation.

When fully adopted, GHS will impact businesses of every size and type. Kent Candee, environmental health services manager in EMC’s Home Office Risk Improvement department and a director for the American Board of Industrial Hygiene, introduces you to the future of global chemical safety in this issue of Loss Control Insights.

Many countries have regulatory systems in place for the classification and labeling of chemicals. Although these systems may be similar in content and approach, their differences are significant enough to require multiple classifications, labels and safety data sheets for the same product when marketed in different countries. This may lead to inconsistent protection for those potentially exposed to the chemicals, and also creates extensive regulatory burdens on companies producing chemicals. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) will change all of that. In this article, EMC’s Environmental Health Services Manager Kent Candee answers many questions about this new worldwide initiative.

What are some of the benefits of GHS?

The diverse and sometimes conflicting national and international labeling requirements can create confusion among employers who seek to use hazard information to effectively protect their workers and communities. The application of GHS has the potential to:

  • Enhance the protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensible system
  • Provide a recognized framework to develop regulations for those countries without existing systems
  • Facilitate international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been identified on an international basis
  • Reduce the need for testing and evaluation against multiple classification systems

When implemented, GHS will have a dramatic impact on improving safety for workers and others through consistent and simplified communication on chemical hazards and practices to follow for safe handling and use. As a result, companies may see a reduction in accidents and illnesses, and governments will benefit through improved protection of the public from chemical hazards.

What chemicals are covered under GHS?

GHS covers all chemical substances, solutions and mixtures. Pharmaceuticals, food additives, cosmetics and pesticide residues in food will not be covered at the point of consumption, but will be covered where workers may be exposed and when in transport.

What changes will I see in chemical labels?

One of the many benefits of adopting GHS is that it provides a consistent format for labels, making the information easier to access and understand when making hazard assessments. The standardized label elements in the GHS are:

  • Symbols (hazard pictograms) that convey health, physical and environmental hazard information
  • Signal words (e.g. Danger or Warning) to emphasize hazards and indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard
  • Hazard statements (e.g. fatal if swallowed, toxic if swallowed, may be harmful if swallowed) to describe the nature of the hazard
What changes will I see in Material Safety Data Sheets (SDS)?

GHS material safety data sheet headings, sequence and content are similar to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), European Union (EU) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sheet requirements. The 16 headings on GHS sheets will appear in the following order:

  1. Identification of the substance or mixture and of the supplier
  2. Hazard identification
  3. Composition/Information on ingredients
  4. First aid measures
  5. Firefighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure controls/Personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information, including information on preparation and revision of the SDS
What will my employees need to know?

Employees will need to be familiar with the new look and language of GHS labels and material safety data sheets. EMC can assist you in developing appropriate training programs for your employees.

When will GHS be implemented?

GHS has been adopted by the United Nations with a goal of broad international adoption by 2008. However, GHS is a voluntary system that does not have the force of treaty obligations between nations. It is likely that different national systems/sectors will require different timeframes for GHS implementation.

Any final comments about GHS?

Everyone involved in the development and adoption of GHS is hopeful that the system will be widely applied and confident that significant benefits to human health and the environment will be the result of that application.

GHS PictoGrams

“The impact of The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals will include improved worker safety, public health and environmental protection, and increasing opportunities for trade and benevolence among nations.”

Jennifer Silk,
OSHA Deputy Director of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance

How do you communicate the importance of safety to a multicultural workforce? Talk in colors! Color guidelines established by both the American National Standards Institute and numerous manufacturers and suppliers have developed the following industry-accepted standards for color usage within the workplace. When properly used, this type of approach can not only minimize the impact of language differences, but may also reduce the likelihood of on-the-job injuries.

The Colors of Safety

What are the potential stressors that can negatively impact the health of your employees? EMC uses the latest technology to evaluate the environmental conditions that may result in costly losses.

EMC’s industrial hygienists perform on-site environmental health surveys to identify risks such as excessive noise levels, chemical exposures and air contaminants. Based on the results, EMC provides specific recommendations to control each identified hazard. These practical solutions may include modifications in current operating procedures, adjustments in engineering controls and/or changes in personal protective equipment.

When should you call in EMC’s industrial hygienists to assess exposures to environmental health problems? “Monitoring recurring employee health complaints is a good way to determine the need for our involvement,” notes EMC Environmental Health Services Manager Kent Candee. Candee also suggests calling immediately after any adverse environmental condition is reported by OSHA.

Count on EMC to help you recognize, evaluate and control the environmental stressors that could impact the health and performance of your employees.

The business costs of off-the-job accidents are staggering when you take into account lost wages and productivity, medical and disability payments, and training for new employees.

By implementing various loss control initiatives, employers have made tremendous strides in lowering the rate of workplace deaths, which are down 17% since 1992. Today, employers must also focus on the impact of off-the-job fatalities, which have increased 14% during that same period.

A 2004 National Safety Council (NSC) study estimated that twice as many workers ( 6.8 million) were seriously injured while off the job than were injured while working. Of the 49,000 injury-related deaths involving workers, roughly 90% occurred while employees were off the job. But it’s more than the numbers that have companies concerned. It’s the financial impact of those numbers.

“The business costs of off-the-job accidents are staggering when you take into account lost wages and productivity, medical and disability payments, and training for new employees,” said Alan C. McMillan, president and CEO of NSC. In 2004, the cost of employee injuries, both on and off the job‚ was more than $330 billion. Nearly 60%, or $200 billion, was for injuries to employees who were off the job. In addition, off-the-job injuries accounted for employers losing 165 million days of production time, compared with 80 million lost work days as a result of workplace injuries.

In light of these figures, businesses should recognize the value of keeping employees safe at all times. In a recent NSC survey of 1,300 companies of varying sizes, off-the-job safety training has shown significant financial impact at businesses that have implemented these programs. Research presented at the 17th World Congress of Safety and Health at Work revealed that for every dollar businesses spent on safety, they realized a $3 to $6 savings.

In addition to helping your organization reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries, EMC’s loss control representatives can provide you with printed material, videos, online information and training to help your employees reduce the likelihood of off-the-job injuries.

[Courtesy of Stevens Publishing Corporation, Dallas, TX]

What safety and health programs work best?

With spring around the corner, here are some tips to share with employees about safe lawn mowing procedures.

  • Protect yourself and others from thrown objects by clearing the work area of rocks, sticks or any other materials that could become a projectile if struck by the mower blades.
  • If the discharge chute clogs or the grass catcher is full, stop the engine before attempting to clear the clog or empty the grass catcher.
  • Stop the engine before adjusting the wheels of the mower.
  • Mow across the slope of hillsides. Do not mow up and down the slope.
  • Never leave a mower running unattended.
  • To ensure solid footing, wait until the grass is fully dry before mowing.
  • Wear close-fitting clothes, long pants or slacks, and closed-toe shoes with traction soles.
  • Do not operate any power equipment while barefoot or when wearing flip-flops or sandals.

Watch Loss Control Insights for more off-the-job safety tips to share with your employees.

Back pain being massaged

One of the first signs of spring is the aching muscles from yard work and spring cleaning. So what’s the best strategy for soothing those sore muscles? Cold first, advises the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Lead Off With Cold

To relieve pain associated with sprains and strains, it’s usually best to apply a cold compress for about 20 minutes at a time every four to six hours over the first few days. Cold reduces swelling and inflammation and relieves pain. For a cold compress, use a cold pack, a plastic bag filled with ice or a bag of frozen vegetables. Remember to wrap any of these items in a dry cloth or towel to help prevent frostbite.

Follow Up With Heat

Start using heat after the pain and swelling have decreased, usually two to three days after the injury. Heat relaxes tightened sore muscles and reduces pain. Heat is usually better than cold for chronic pain such as arthritis or for muscle relaxation. Apply heat to the injured area for 20 minutes up to three times a day. Heat lamps, hot water bottles, warm compresses or taking a warm bath or hot shower are common ways to apply heat. A new option for heat therapy is a wearable heat patch, allowing you to apply heat and keep moving.

BE SAFE ONLINE
The Federal Trade Commission and a partnership of security experts, marketers and consumer advocates have launched an education campaign to help consumers stay safe online. Visit www.onguardonline.gov to find out more about this initiative.

OSHA ADDRESSES COMBUSTIBLE DUST FIRES
Learn how to reduce and mitigate the effect of fire and explosions caused by combustible dust in a new OSHA bulletin. Download a copy of this valuable bulletin at www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib073105.pdf.

EPA REVISES WASTEWATER TREATMENT EXEMPTIONS
EPA has finalized revisions to the wastewater treatment exemptions for hazardous waste mixtures. For more information on the action known as the “Headworks Rule Exemption,” visit www.epa.gov. www.epa.gov.

Contractors

The challenge of preventing stilt injuries lies in the fact that virtually all common workplace objects can cause a fall from stilts.

Like many contractors, Bill Moody is always looking for a way to improve efficiencies on the worksite. When faced with the challenge of completing work on walls and ceilings, construction stilts provided Bill and his crew with the “lift” they needed. Unfortunately, the decision to use construction stilts also presented Bill with potential risks.

A recent study from the Washington State workers’ compensation system describes the magnitude, underlying causes and costs of claims incurred by construction stilt users. A total of $3.4 million was paid on 277 claims from 1996 to 2002. The median cost of compensable claims was $7,223, and these claims caused a median of 73 lost workdays. Injuries predominantly occurred in the construction job classes of wallboard taping and texturing, wallboard installation and insulation installation.

Falls were the most common injury type, accounting for 65% of all claims. Because the underlying cause of most falls is related to housekeeping, workers using construction stilts should take the following precautions at the beginning of every shift, or when work progresses into a new area:

  • Identify and remove (where possible) objects that may result in a fall. This can be accomplished by clearing the floor of plastic or large debris and sweeping the floor.
  • Share information on stilt hazards with other trades at the worksite. This is essential to successful housekeeping efforts.
  • Be trained to recognize items that are potential fall hazards. Items causing falls can be as large as tool carts and as small as metal nuts.

The next leading cause of injuries related to the use of construction stilts was overexertion. These types of disorders can be prevented by:

  • Using only high-quality, well-maintained stilts to reduce the stress they can place on the body.
  • Rotating tasks so that part of the day is spent off stilts.
  • Instructing all employees who wear stilts how to inspect, maintain and properly wear the equipment.
  • Using extreme care when putting on and taking off stilts, as injuries have occurred during these tasks.

There is no question that construction stilts make some types of construction work easier. With proper preparation, use and instruction, that work can be safer, too.

Stilts are a form of scaffolding; however, a person wearing stilts typically lacks secondary fall protection devices such as safety rails or harnesses that are required with scaffolds.

The number of fatal work injuries declined from 5,764 in 2004 to 5,702 in 2005, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other key findings from the report included:

  • Fatal highway accidents remained the most frequent type of fatal workplace incident, accounting for one in every four fatalities nationally.
  • Fatal work injuries among workers under 20 years of age were up 18%.
  • Fatal falls declined by 7%.
  • Fatalities among African-American workers increased by 5%.
  • Fatal work injuries among Hispanic workers increased by 2%.
  • The number of workers who were fatally injured after being struck by objects increased.
  • Workplace homicides increased; workplace suicides were sharply lower.
  • Fatal work injuries resulting from exposure to harmful substances rose. This overall increase was led by a sharp rise in the number of workers who died after exposure to environmental heat.

Local Governments

The results of the NSC study confirm the need for aggressive loss control programs for utilities of all types and sizes.

Which types of injuries are most prevalent among utility workers? Which utility sectors are safer than others? Which job types within utilities play a larger role in the number of injuries and deaths? You’ll find all the answers in a new “Injury Facts” publication from the National Safety Council (NSC). This is the first time NSC looked specifically at the 866,000 workers in the utilities sector. The results of the study confirm the need for aggressive loss control programs for utilities of all types and sizes.

Leading Injuries Of Utility Workers

NSC statistics noted that 6,600 workers in utility industries suffered nonfatal injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work in 2003; another 32 utility workers were killed during the same period. Sprains and strains topped the list for nonfatal injuries among utility workers, and the most common body part affected was the back. Overexertion caused a total of 1,600 utility worker injuries, 550 of which were the result of lifting. The report also noted that older utility workers, ages 45 to 64, suffered more injuries and fatalities than those in any other age group.

Some Utilities Sectors Are Safer Than Others

Water and sewage-related utilities had the highest injury rate — 6.6 injuries per 100 full-time employees. Conversely, electrical power generation utilities had the lowest injury rate — 3.5 per 100 full-time employees.

Different Jobs Impact Injury And Death Rates

Installation, maintenance and repair personnel were most often affected by injuries, with 2,820 workers missing work due to occupational injuries or illnesses and 15 due to fatalities. Administrative and office support personnel saw the second highest number of injuries and illnesses. Lower incidences of injury and illness were reported among the utility industry’s transportation and material handling occupations.

New Software Tool Helps Protect Drinking Water

If a chemical or biological contaminant were accidentally or intentionally introduced into a drinking water source, knowing what threat is posed to the public would be essential to the incident commanders charged with mounting an emergency response. ICWater is a computer-based tool that integrates multiple information sources and data from incident commanders at the scene of a surface water contamination. With this information, it quickly produces maps, tables and charts that tell commanders if drinking water intakes are in the contaminant path, and when and in what concentration the contaminant will reach the intakes. For a closer look at this valuable tool, visit www.fs.fed.us/pnw.

Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company recommends the following measures to ensure a trouble-free cooling season and to reduce the likelihood of costly and unnecessary air conditioning equipment malfunction.

  • Compressors — Energize the crankcase heaters for at least eight hours before start-up and before taking insulation resistance of hermetic motor windings.
  • Motors — Inspect starter contacts for deterioration from short cycling, arcing and corrosion.
  • Operating and safety controls — Ensure controls are properly calibrated and in working order.
  • Refrigerant circuits — Check the expansion valve for proper operation and superheat settings over the full range of operation.
  • Pumps — Lubricate bearings.
  • Fans — Replace all filters and check the condition of the belt.
  • Piping — Check for external damage and excessive vibration.

For a copy of the complete air conditioning start-up checklist, visit www.hsb.com.

Petroleum Marketers:

The most commonly reported cause of foodborne illnesses is time-temperature abuse, according to the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

Take a look around your store and what do you see? Packaged foods. Fresh food. Food cooked on the premises. Perhaps even a place for your customers to sit down and eat their food. In other words, food is definitely a big part of your business. As such, you have a responsibility to assure customers that the food you prepare, stock and/or serve is as safe as possible.

According to the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the most commonly reported cause of foodborne illnesses is time-temperature abuse. Daydots, a manufacturer and distributor of food safety solutions, offers the following tips to help convenience stores keep its food safe for consumers.

  • Do not leave food in the temperature danger zone (41 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit) for more than four hours.
  • Assign someone to check the temperature of time-sensitive foods when they arrive, before they are received and stored. If the temperatures register in the danger zone, the food should not be accepted and the supplier should be made aware of the problem so they can prevent it from happening in the future.
  • Avoid overloading the refrigerator because it diminishes airflow and makes the unit work harder to maintain the correct temperature.
  • Check food temperature regularly by randomly selecting a sample of food from different locations throughout the refrigerator. This ensures the temperature is correct and consistent.
  • Do not place hot or warm food in the refrigerator as this may increase the temperature and put other foods in the temperature danger zone.
  • Rotate food regularly using the FIFO (First In, First Out) system. All containers should be clearly marked with the contents and the “use-by” date. The shelf life of each product must also be tracked.
  • Never refreeze thawed food unless it has been cooked thoroughly, as multiple thawings may lower the quality and compromise the safety of the food.
  • Keep the storeroom cool, dry, out of direct sunlight and well-ventilated. Monitor the temperature of the storeroom regularly to ensure that it is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Set up shelving at least six inches off the floor and six inches from the wall to limit access to food by pests and rodents.
  • Check the internal temperatures of all products before they are served.
  • Use the two-stage method to properly cool food. Foods should be cooled from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees within two hours and then to 41 degrees or lower in an additional four hours.
  • Remind customers of proper handling of leftovers by labeling all take-out containers with recommendations on proper storage and reheating.

Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company recommends the following measures to ensure a trouble-free cooling season and to reduce the likelihood of costly and unnecessary air conditioning equipment malfunction.

  • Compressors — Energize the crankcase heaters for at least eight hours before start-up and before taking insulation resistance of hermetic motor windings.
  • Motors — Inspect starter contacts for deterioration from short cycling, arcing and corrosion.
  • Operating and safety controls — Ensure controls are properly calibrated and in working order.
  • Refrigerant circuits — Check the expansion valve for proper operation and superheat settings over the full range of operation.
  • Pumps — Lubricate bearings.
  • Fans — Replace all filters and check the condition of the belt.
  • Piping — Check for external damage and excessive vibration.

For a copy of the complete air conditioning start-up checklist, visit www.hsb.com.

Schools:

If a roof is well designed, installed and maintained, common defects can be minimized and extend the serviceable life of your roof system.

How well has your roof survived the sub-zero temperatures and snow accumulation this winter? Is it ready to handle spring storms? A quick assessment of your roof’s condition can answer both questions and help extend the life of one of your biggest investments.

Inspections Can Extend The Life Of Your Roof

Frequent inspections of roof systems can help prevent premature failure by identifying potential leak sources. Repairing defects to prevent leaks is one way to maintain your roofs and potentially extend their service life. When leaks occur, repair them promptly and have infrared moisture surveys conducted to detect whether moisture has infiltrated the system. This will help identify wet insulation, allowing you to replace it before the damage is too large to repair and replacement becomes necessary.

Even New Roofs Should Be Inspected

Inspect new roofs to find membrane defects or improper installation of the membrane before they become major problems. You may have defects in your new roof system that allow moisture penetration. This moisture enters slowly enough that no leak is observed from the interior unless it rains heavily for a significant amount of time. You may have recovered an existing roof system, giving you two roof systems. When a leak occurs in your new roof, it may take time before the leak into the building is visible, allowing the roof system to become saturated. This increases the chance of premature failure in the roof system.

Overall, common modes of roof failure are a result of poor design and/or application. If a roof is well-designed, installed and maintained, the common defects noted in the chart below can be minimized and the serviceable life of your roof system can be extended.

Common Roof Problems

[Courtesy of Benchmark, Inc., a professional roof and pavement consulting firm
with headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.]

The Food and Drug Administration has identified more than 100 incidents of exposure to short-wave ultraviolet (UV) radiation from broken and unshielded high-intensity metal halide and mercury vapor light bulbs in high school gyms. Some of these incidents have resulted in severe eye and skin burns. As a result, the FDA recommends the following actions to ensure the safety of students, spectators and staff:

  • Replace any fixture that is damaged.
  • Replace any bulbs that are missing, broken or punctured.
  • Ensure light bulbs are installed in appropriate fixtures. Self- extinguishing “T” type bulbs should be installed in open fixtures or fixtures with wire guards. Non-self-extinguishing “R” type bulbs should only be installed in light fixtures that fully enlcose the bulb and have a lens of glass or plastic to protect the bulb from breakage.
  • Make certain that those individuals responsible for maintenance of the lighting system understand the manufacturer’s warnings, as well as any federal, state and local guidelines.