Fall 2009 Volume 45
In today’s economy, businesses and organizations are looking for sound investment opportunities. Here’s a valuable tip from the loss control professionals at EMC Insurance Companies: invest in personal protective equipment (PPE). “Investing in a comprehensive PPE program can pay off in fewer reportable claims, lower medical expenses and fewer days off work,” advises Tammy Swenson, EMC senior loss control consultant.
“Consider the return on investment of a pair of safety glasses,” suggests Swenson. “An average pair of safety glasses costs around $2 but, when used properly, that $2 investment can save you thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity.”
Don’t Put Yourself At Risk
“Despite the soundness of the PPE investment, many organizations and businesses are not taking advantage of it,” notes Tammy. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows:
- Hard hats were worn by only 16% of those workers who sustained head injuries, although two-fifths were required to wear them for certain tasks at specific locations.
- Only 1% of approximately 770 workers suffering face injuries were wearing face protection.
- Only 23% of the workers with foot injuries wore safety shoes or boots.
- About 40% of the workers with eye injuries wore eye protective equipment.
- Cuts or bruises to the scalp and forehead occurred in 85% of the workers, concussions in 26%. Over a third of the cases resulted from falling objects striking the head.
The Total PPE Investment Strategy
Investing in PPE means more than simply purchasing the right type of equipment for your workforce. Using personal protective equipment requires hazard awareness and training on the part of the user. Beyond training, Swenson encourages clients to develop an inspection and maintenance program to ensure that PPE is always ready for action. “Proper storage can also extend the life of PPE, furthering the value of your investment,” adds Tammy.
Count on EMC® to maximize your PPE investment by providing you with information about choosing, inspecting and maintaining PPE, as well as guidelines for effective PPE training programs. For more details, visit emcinsurance.com.
Who Pays For PPE?
OSHA published the final rule about employer-paid PPE in late 2007. Under this rule, all PPE, with a few exceptions, must be provided at no cost to employees. You can learn about some of those exceptions in this edition of Insights Online.
Read All About It: Silica, Ethylene Oxide and Nail Guns
Get the facts on silica exposure, handling ethylene oxide and operating nail guns. OSHA recently released three new publications covering these important workplace safety topics. You can find all three publications at osha.gov.
Preventing Tick Bites Can Avert Serious Illness
According to OSHA, workers in the construction, landscaping, forestry, farming, railroad, oil field, park and wildlife management, and utility industries are among those at increased risk of tick-related hazards, including serious illness and Lyme Disease. As a result, OSHA has published a factsheet, “Working Outdoors in Warm Weather,” which describes potential hazards and preventive measures for ticks as well as heat stress, West Nile Virus and poison ivy. This and other additional tips for preventing tick bites can be accessed osha.gov.
Aggressive Driving and Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes
Aggressive driving is a factor in 56% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Researchers reviewed a number of crashes in which one or more driver actions typically associated with aggressive driving, such as speeding, tailgating or violating traffic control devices, were reported. For a full copy of the report, visit aaafoundation.org.
Safety glasses? Gloves? Steel toe shoes? Ear plugs? Safety harnesses? Respirators? What type of personal protective equipment is right for your operation? A PPE hazard assessment can give you the answer.
According to OSHA standards, employers are required to assess the workplace to determine if hazards that require the use of personal protective equipment are present or are likely to become present. EMC recommends the following procedure for conducting a PPE hazard assessment.
Review Injury And Accident Information
Reviewing your OSHA 300 logs and workers’ compensation claims provides the information needed for this step in the assessment process. We encourage you to work with employees and supervisors to review job procedures, potential hazards and PPE currently in use. In many cases, employees are aware of hazards unknown to evaluators.
Conduct A Walk-Through Survey
Take notes on the layout of the workplace, the location of workers, work operations and associated hazards, areas where PPE is currently being used and the reason for its use. Look for basic hazards in the following categories: impact (workers hitting or being hit by objects); penetration (sharp objects piercing hand/foot); compression (roll-over or pinching hazards); temperature extremes; respiratory hazards; noise; vibration; electrical hazards; optical radiation (welding, brazing, cutting, etc.) and chemical exposure.
Organize The Data
Your data should include the work activities assessed, location of the assessment and idenitified hazards. PPE selection guidelines determine which type of PPE should be used to protect employees from the hazards. Remember, PPE should not be used as the only method to protect employees from hazards. Instead, PPE should be used in conjunction with engineering, administrative and procedural controls.
Hazard Assessment Certification
Each PPE hazard assessment should be documented by issuing a written Hazard Assessment Certification. This document should include the workplace evaluated, the individual who conducted the assessment, the date of the assessment and the document labeled as a Certification of Hazard Assessment.
by Dave Matela, Kimberly-Clark Professional
According to a survey Kimberley-Clark conducted at last year’s National Safety Congress, 89% of safety professionals polled have observed workers failing to wear PPE when it was necessary. Discomfort was found to be the chief cause of noncompliance.
If coveralls don’t provide breathability, if safety glasses fog up, if protective gloves don’t allow for hand dexterity or if respirator straps are tight and painful to wear, users will avoid wearing the PPE or will modify it in some way, compromising its protective features.
When it comes to style, a range of color and style options gives workers some control over how they look. When people are content with their appearance, they are more likely to wear the PPE without modification.
For garments to be comfortable, the size and cut must meet the needs of a diverse workforce. Garments should offer a generous cut that exceeds ANSI minimum sizing standards, especially across the shoulders and key stress areas like the torso and crotch. Comfort and fit are also important for other types of PPE such as eye protection, gloves and respirators.
For additional information and resources on compliance with PPE protocols, visit the OSHA website at osha.gov and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) website at cdc.gov/niosh.
[Reprinted with permission by Kimberly-Clark Professional Education. Dave Matela is a senior category manager for Kimberly-Clark Professional, based in Roswell, GA. Kimberly-Clark is known for innovative safety solutions for “clean” and “industrial” manufacturing settings. With the acquisition of Jackson Safety, Kimberly-Clark offers an even broader range of PPE and other safety offerings, including market-leading welding and work zone safety products. For more information, visit kc-safety.com.]
Do hard hats have an expiration date?
That is just one of the many questions fielded by EMC Senior Loss Control Consultant Tammy Swenson. Here is what she suggests to clients:
- Although hard hats do not have a predetermined service life, they should be replaced every five years. It is also recommended to change the inner suspension mechanism of hard hats annually.
- More importantly, all components of the hat should be inspected daily for any signs of dents, cracks, penetration and any damage due to impact, rough treatment or wear. Any hat that fails this visual inspection should be removed from service.
- In addition, each hard hat manufacturer is required to provide detailed instructions for the proper size adjustment, use, care and service life of each hat.
Providing your employees with effective safety training can be difficult, especially when they are spread out across multiple shifts or locations. Limited safety budgets add to the challenge. EMC can help your organization with our interactive online training.
- Short, interactive segments can be taken whenever it is convenient
- Train employees on defensive driving, hazard communications or preventing falls (new topics will be added regularly)
- Built-in quizzes check employee understanding of the topic
- Training Management System to track employee’s progress in the programs
- Provided at no cost to commercial lines policyholders—no matter how many times you use the program or how many employees you need to train
Visit emcins.com/lossControl/onlineTraining/index.aspx to view the available training modules or register for the Training Management System.
OSHA published the final rule of employer-paid PPE in November 2007. Under the rule, all PPE, with a few exceptions, must be provided at no cost to the employee. Since the time of the ruling, OSHA has clarified some of the exceptions:
- Uniforms, caps, or other clothing worn solely to identify a person as an employee are not considered to be PPE.
- Items worn to keep employees clean for purposes other than safety or health are not considered PPE.
- Items worn for product or consumer safety or patient safety and health rather than employee safety and health are not considered PPE.
- While some specialized hand tools have protective characteristics, these tools are not considered PPE.
- Dust masks and respirators that you allow employees to use under the voluntary use provisions of the Sec. 1910.134 respiratory protection standard are not required to comply with the OSHA standards.
- Employers are not required to pay for safety-toe protective footwear and nonspecialty prescription safety glasses when they are permitted to be worn off the jobsite.
- Everyday work clothing and ordinary clothing items used solely for protection from the weather are not considered PPE.
For complete details about this ruling and its exceptions, visit osha.gov.
[Source: Occupational Safety And Health Administration]
If you have suggestions for articles to appear in EMC’s Loss Control Insights, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us about some of the loss control challenges your organization faces. Share some of your loss control best practices. Send us a question that you’ve been struggling with. Your insights will help make our Insights even better. Send your ideas, suggestions and questions to.
A reaction between two cleaning agents at a food processing plant produced chlorine gas. A portion of the plant was evacuated for about two hours, and four employees were transported to the hospital. This is just one example of the hazards presented by sodium hypochlorite—commonly known as bleach—in the workplace. Though it is generally considered to be safe, users should be aware that improper use of sodium hypochlorite can be dangerous to human health and to the environment. EMC loss control experts offer some practical tips to help you avoid such hazards.
Sodium hypochlorite—commonly known as bleach—is widely used by both consumers and industries in varying concentrations. Though it is generally considered to be safe, users should be aware that improper use of sodium hypochlorite can be dangerous to human health and to the environment.
Uses for Sodium Hypochlorite
Sodium hypochlorite can exist in solid or liquid form and is used primarily to sanitize surfaces and treat water because of its ability to kill germs and viruses. Consumers know it as household bleach or Clorox® and tend to use it in their kitchens, bathrooms and laundry in dilute concentrations. Industries use it in both dilute and concentrated form primarily for water treatment. The pool and spa industry uses it to maintain the chlorine level in the water.
Misuse of Sodium Hypochlorite
Every year, incidents involving misuse and improper storage of sodium hypochlorite occur in both homes and industrial locations. When mixed with other substances, sodium hypochlorite may form chlorine gas and heat. This is what happened in the following two documented cases:
- Two employees on a riverboat improperly mixed chemicals and created chlorine gas. Thirty employees from the kitchen area were taken to the hospital for respiratory irritation. The occupants of the riverboat were all evacuated.
- A reaction between two cleaning agents at a food processing plant produced chlorine gas. A portion of the plant was evacuated for about two hours and four employees were transported to the hospital.
Hazards of Sodium Hypochlorite
Sodium hypochlorite in liquid form is generally green to yellow in color with a chlorine odor similar to that found at swimming pools. Because sodium hypochlorite is corrosive, it can create an inhalation and contact hazard that can cause irritation and burns, depending on the concentration being used. Consumer use of household bleach will not generally result in irritation or burns as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed. Regardless of the sodium hypochlorite concentration, it is a good safety and health practice to wear safety goggles and gloves made of rubber or nitrile when handling it.
Sodium hypochlorite, or products containing the chemical, should not be exposed directly to sunlight or ultraviolet light, which may cause the release of oxygen inside the container, possibly leading to excess pressurization and subsequent rupture. Sodium hypochlorite should also never be stored in close proximity to any incompatible materials. For information on proper usage and storage of a specific sodium hypochlorite product, refer to the material safety data sheet (MSDS).
Sodium hypochlorite’s corrosive properties also cause it to be incompatible with many chemicals. All users of sodium hypochlorite or products containing the chemical should understand they should NEVER mix it with any other chemical—only water.
Avoiding Dangerous Reactions
It is important that users understand that sodium hypochlorite can react with many common products containing ammonia and acids. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provides a list of common products that contain ammonia and acids.
Ammonia may be found in the following:
- Glass and window cleaners
- Interior and exterior paints
Acids may be found in the following:
- Glass and window cleaners
- Automatic dishwasher detergents and rinses
- Toilet bowl cleaners
- Drain cleaners
- Lime, calcium and rust removal products
- Brick and concrete cleaners
ATSDR also provides the following guidance on the health effects of mixing common cleaning products with bleach:
- Mixing bleach and ammonia produces toxic gases called chloramines. Symptoms include:
- Coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, nausea, watery eyes, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs, and irritation to the throat, nose and eyes.
- Mixing bleach and acids produces chlorine gas. Symptoms include:
- Low levels can cause eye, throat and nose irritation, coughing, breathing problems, burning/watering eyes and a runny nose.
- High levels can cause chest pain, severe breathing problems, vomiting, pneumonia, fluid in the lungs and even death.
The Chlorine Institute Inc., a nonprofit group that supports the pool and spa industry, has published a Sodium Hypochlorite Incompatibility Chart on their website. This chart recommends that sodium hypochlorite not be mixed or stored with the following incompatible materials:
- Acids, acidic compounds and acid-based cleaning compounds
- Chemicals and cleaning compounds containing ammonia
- Organic chemicals and chemical compounds
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Reducing and oxidizing agents
Identifying Sodium Hypochlorite
Industrial products will generally indicate “sodium hypochlorite” as the chemical name on the label, and consumer bleach products also state that they include sodium hypochlorite on the label. Pool chemicals frequently contain calcium hypochlorite or sodium hypochlorite for water treatment.
- EMC Insurance Companies: Chlorine Safety for Swimming Pool Operators Tech Sheet
- EMC Insurance Companies: Chlorine Safety for Water Treatment Operators Tech Sheet
- The Chlorine Institute, Inc.: www.chlorineinstitute.org
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MMG/MMG.asp
- Centers for Disease Control: Cleaning and Sanitizing with Bleach After an Emergency
- Centers for Disease Control:Recommendations for Preventing Pool Chemical-Associated Injuries
by Barbara Mulhem
Between 1992 and 2007, 1,285 worker deaths associated with the tree care industry were reported in the United States, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn what steps you can take to prevent fatalities and accidents in the tree care industry.
A ground worker on a tree trimming crew heard a large poplar branch break following a strong gust of wind. The branch, approximately 15 inches in diameter and 40 feet long, broke limbs from several other trees as it fell 75 feet to the ground. The worker tried to reach a place of safety, but was struck in the head by the falling branch and died instantly. In another incident, a tree worker was trimming a tall pine tree with a pole saw from the elevated bucket of a truck-mounted aerial lift. A large section of the tree suddenly toppled, causing the bucket to break and detach from the boom. The bucket tipped over, and the worker fell nearly 45 feet to the ground. He died on the way to the hospital. In still another incident, the owner of a small tree care company was in a tree trimming branches, then lowering them to the ground. It was raining and had been most of the day. He threw a branch down to his ground worker, but it struck a 7,200 volt power line and bounced back toward his chest. He grabbed the branch when it struck him, was electrocuted in the hand and the chest and died.
These are just three examples of the numerous fatalities involving tree care work that occur each year—fatalities that can, in many cases, be prevented by proper training, according to Dave Scharfenberger, president of the Tree Care Industry Association. “The biggest issue in training is getting people to talk—getting them to ask questions. We push not just talking about accidents but also about near misses. Sometimes when our newer people talk about their near misses, our more senior people can say, ‘That happened to me and here's what I did.’ The best part of our safety meetings are the discussions about near misses,” he says.
Sam Steel, senior research associate in agricultural engineering at Penn State University and a longtime safety specialist, adds: “Take a lesson from the close calls at the work site. Update your tailgate training topics to include dealing with a rash of close calls that may become the next serious incident(s).”
Unfortunately, many tree workers never have a chance to experience a near miss incident—instead, they are killed on the job. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is taking a close look at traumatic injuries and fatalities within the Landscape Services industry. Landscape Services includes approximately 924,000 landscaping and groundskeeping workers, 111,000 supervisors, 28,300 tree trimmers and pruners, and 22,000 other workers in related fields. NIOSH’s Traumatic Injury Prevention for Landscape Workers project notes that although workers in the Landscape Services industry make up less than 1 percent of the total work force in the United States, they experience 3.5 percent of the occupational fatalities. NIOSH has developed a new English/Spanish fact sheet aimed at educating employers, supervisors and employees about the risks.
The fact sheet draws on public U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Information cited in the fact sheet, entitled “Fatal Injuries Among Landscape Services Workers,” includes the following:
- From 2003 through 2006, 288 fatalities occurred while operating tools or machinery during tree trimming or removal operations.
- Causes of these 288 deaths included falls from heights, being struck by falling objects, and electrocutions.
Information was not available for NIOSH to determine whether the persons who died were employed by tree care companies or by other landscape services companies.
Among NIOSH's recommendations are that each employer:
- Develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes written rules and safe work procedures.
- Conduct an initial and daily job site survey to identify all hazards and implement appropriate controls.
- Provide specific training for hazards such as power lines and other sources of electricity, tree trimming and felling, falls from heights, roadway vehicle operations, and hand and portable power tool use.
The fact sheet also includes links to additional free resources on tree trimming and removal safety as well as other related topics. One such resource is a NIOSH alert, “Preventing Falls and Electrocutions During Tree Trimming,” which can be accessed at: www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/92-106/. To access the new NIOSH fact sheet, “Fatal Injuries Among Landscape Services Workers in English and Spanish” (NIOSH Publication No. 2008-144), visit NIOSH's website at www.cdc.gov/niosh. A second English and Spanish fact sheet, “Non-fatal Traumatic Injuries Among Landscape Services Workers,” should also soon be available.
Training Is Key
Both Scharfenberger, whose company's record for no lost-time incidents was 2,243 days, and Steel believe that training is key in order to prevent both traumatic injuries and fatalities in the tree care industry. Scharfenberger offers the following recommendations:
- Ensure that you conduct thorough job site hazard assessments. This starts with the salesperson looking at the tree. The person will be looking for electrical hazards, decay, root rot problems, any large limbs that might fall off. Yet just because that certified arborist has looked at the tree, it doesn't mean the foreman or climber won't also assess the area. Look for electrical lines, weak wood or other damage to the tree. Also look for animals in the tree.
- Train your workers in electrical hazards, but also undergo specific training to be line-clearance qualified.
- Supply the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and train workers on its use.
- Although an employee may verbally indicate his or her skills performing tree work, have the person demonstrate tree climbing and tree pruning capabilities under controlled conditions before you turn the employee loose in a large tree.
- Document in writing that safety training took place. For workers who cannot write their names on training documentation sheets, their signatures or ‘marks' should be witnessed by a fellow worker or supervisor.
[Reprinted with permission from the November 2008 issue of Tree Care Industry Magazine]
by Jeff Evans, RRC, Senior Consultant and Vice President, Benchmark Inc., a roof consulting firm headquartered in Cedar Rapids, IA.
Keep abreast of 2009 code and regulation changes affecting roof design.
One of the challenges in our industry is to stay current with the rules and regulations that govern roof design. The model building codes are revised every three years. This is one element that requires a designer’s diligence, as states and local governments then modify the codes to suit their needs. Regulations requiring “cool roofing” and restrictions on the use of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) can make old ways of doing things (that worked just fine last year) obsolete and at odds with the rules.
The constant innovation in roofing products also challenges roof designers, as old standby roofing products leave the marketplace or are modified by the manufacturer and new products enter the roofing arena.
Finally, new technologies such as “green” or vegetative roofing and solar energy change the way we use our roofs. In the case of vegetative roofing, the industry is scrambling to figure out how to comply with building code fire and wind requirements.
Local building codes are a moving target and change the landscape of roof design. A short list of notable changes follow.
California Building Code
California’s Title 24 3008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards becomes effective August 1, 2009. Included in this update of the 2005 standard is the need to use a cool roof product with a three-year aged solar reflectance value greater than 0.55. This has caused several previously approved cool roof products to be delisted.
Title 24 does allow several exceptions to the use of cool roof rated products:
- Wood framed roofs in climate zones 3 and 5, if the insulation value is 25.6 or greater
- Metal building roofs in climate zones 3 and 5, if the insulation value is 20.8 or greater
- Roofs covered with photovoltaic panels
- Roofs with a thermal mass (gravel or pavers) over the roof of 25 pounds per square foot
Minnesota State Building Code
Beginning June 1, 2009, Minnesota’s Energy Code is based on ASHRAE Standard 90.1 – 2004. This increases the minimum levels of insulation on most roof assemblies. Commercial roofs with continuous layers of insulation above deck will now be required to have an R value of 23.0.
City of Chicago Building Code
Chicago has embraced energy efficiency and has made cool roofing for low sloped roofs the prescriptive standard. There are exceptions for:
- Green roofing (must cover 33% of roof surface)
- Roofs with solar photovoltaic or solar thermal
- Gravel surface ballasted roofs (ballast weight must be greater than 15 psf)
- Built-up roofing with gravel (not more than 5% of black material showing)
The 2009 International Building Code (IBC) is in print, and states and local governments will begin the process of adopting and amending this model code to suit their local needs. Scanning the list of code adoptions, the version of IBC could be 2000, 2003, or 2006, depending on where your project is.
Ozone Transport Commission
The OTC is an organization of 13 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States whose mission is to develop rules to reduce the formation of ozone or smog to meet EPA requirements.
One of the contributors to ozone is volatile organic compounds or VOC’s. The roofing industry commonly uses adhesives, primers, coatings, and sealants that are VOC’s. The OTC Model Rule regulates the seasonal use of certain VOC’s, with the intent of eliminating these products by 2012. In the meantime, restrictions on the use of VOC products are in place for 2009 to 2011 for Connecticut, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island (at the time of this writing). Briefly, solvent-based bonding adhesives, roof cements, primers, and the like will not be able to be used in June through August in 2009, and May through September in 2010 and 2011. This phasing-in of the restrictions is intended to allow the manufacturers to develop VOC-compliant alternatives.
Some VOC substitutes now exist, but are mostly water-based products that cannot be used below 40 degrees F. VOC-compliant components are also likely more expensive than their non-compliant counterparts. This will cause heartburn in those areas that adopt the OTC Model Rule.
Many areas of the building code refer to consensus standards, such as ANSI or ASTM. The Single Ply Roofing Institute (SPRI) is one of the promulgators of roofing standards, where its membership recognizes the need to fill the gap between the building code’s language and available design and testing standards. Currently, SPRI is working on revisions to:
ANSI/SPRI RD-1 Roof drain standard
ANSI/SPRI ES-1 Edge metal standard
(IBC code requirement)
In addition, SPRI is working on these new roofing standards:
GD-1 Gutter Design Standard
VF-1 Vegetative Roof Fire Standard
RP-14 Vegetative Roof Wind Standard
VR-1 Vegetative Roof Barrier Standard
The last three are all related to vegetative roofing, and are intended to provide guidance for the safe and proper design of these systems.
I can think of no other construction trade that has the level of product innovation and change than that which is present in the field of commercial low-slope roofing. Designers need to stay current with this innovation and change by studying and understanding the standards. Finally, the designer must distill these standards and make them part of a cohesive, constructible, and code-compliant roof design.
[Reprinted from Benchmark Perspectives, Volume 64: May 2009.]
Stress—not just lifestyle factors—may lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke among police officers, according to a new study from researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
It is well documented that police officers have a higher risk of developing heart disease. The question is why?
In the most recent results coming out of one of the few long-term studies being conducted within this tightly knit society, University of Buffalo researchers have determined that underlying the higher incidence of subclinical atherosclerosis —arterial thickening that precedes a heart attack or stroke—may be the stress of police work.
“We took lifestyle factors that generally are associated with atherosclerosis, such as exercise, smoking, diet, etc., into account in our comparison between citizens and the police officers,” said John Violanti, Ph.D., UB associate professor of social and preventive medicine, who has been studying the police force in Buffalo, NY, for 10 years.
“These lifestyle factors were statistically controlled in the analysis. This led to the conclusion that it is not the ‘usual’ heart-disease-related risk factors that increase the risk in police officers. It is something else. We believe that ‘something else’ is the occupation of policing.”
Results of the study appear in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Violanti and colleagues have been studying the role of cortisol, known as “the stress hormone,” in these police officers, to determine if stress is associated with physiological risk factors that can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In a study accepted for publication in Psychiatry Research that looked at the male-female differences in stress and signs of heart disease, Violanti found that female police officers had higher levels of cortisol when they awoke, and the levels remained high throughout the day. Cortisol normally is highest in the morning and decreases to its lowest point in the evening. The constantly high cortisol levels were associated with less arterial elasticity, a risk factor for heart disease, Violanti noted. “When cortisol becomes dysregulated due to chronic stress, it opens a person to disease,” he said. “The body becomes physiologically unbalanced, organs are attacked and the immune system is compromised as well. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what stress does to us.”
In the current study, the researchers used carotid artery thickness to assess heart disease risk. Participants were 322 clinically healthy active-duty police officers from the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) study and 318 healthy persons from the ongoing UB Western New York Health Study matched to the officers by age.
All measurements were taken in the morning after a 12-hour fast. In addition to testing carotid thickness via ultrasound, investigators measured blood pressure, body size, cholesterol (both total and HDL) and glucose. They collected information on physical activity, symptoms of depression, alcohol consumption and smoking history. These are the factors that typically cause heart disease.
Results showed that police work was associated with increased subclinical cardiovascular disease—there was more plaque build-up in the carotid artery—compared to the general population that could not be explained by those conventional heart disease risk factors. Subclinical atherosclerosis means that the disease shows progression but does not qualify yet as overt heart disease. “In this case we examined the thickness of the carotid artery as an indicator of increasing risk for atherosclerosis,” noted Violanti. “The plaque buildup was greater in police than the citizen population.”
“In future work, we will measure the carotid artery thickness again to see how much it has increased. At some point in time, the thickness may reach a stage of possible blockage, which will require medical intervention and treatment. We think that police officers will likely reach that stage quicker than the general population.”
[Source: University of Buffalo]
The Chlorine Institute is offering 19 free technical pamphlets to help water, wastewater and swimming pool operators keep their facilities more safe and secure.
The Chlorine Institute, Inc. (CI) now has 19 technical pamphlets available free of charge to help water, wastewater and swimming pool operators keep their facilities more safe and secure. All of these publications are downloadable in PDF format from CI’s website, chlorineinstitute.org.
The publications are being made available without charge as part of a major CI initiative to provide a vast majority of its technical publications free to key chlor-alkali industry stakeholders via CI’s online bookstore. “In an effort to promote safety stewardship within operations that use chlorine and related chemicals, CI has decided to provide free download access to pamphlets that previously were available only through sale,” said CI President Arthur E. Dungan. “Nineteen of these pamphlets that are of particular interest to water treatment operators can be accessed today, and three more will be made available free by year’s end.”
The 19 titles of potential interest to water-treatment operators, now available free, are:
- The Chlorine Manual
- Water and Wastewater Operators Chlorine Handbook
- Recommendations for Using 100 and 150 Pound Chlorine Cylinders at Swimming Pools
- Sodium Hypochlorite Manual
- Recommended Practices for Handling Chlorine Bulk Highway Transports
- Recommended Practices for Handling Chlorine Tank Cars
- First Aid, Medical Management/Surveillance and Occupational Hygiene Monitoring Practices for Chlorine
- Emergency Response Plans for Chlor-Alkali, Sodium Hypochlorite, and Hydrogen Chloride Facilities
- Personal Protective Equipment for Chlor-Alkali Chemicals
- Atmospheric Monitoring Equipment for Chlorine
- Recommendations for Prevention of Personal Injuries for Chlorine Producer and User Facilities
- Emergency Shut-Off Systems for Bulk Transfer of Chlorine
- Piping Systems for Dry Chlorine
- Chlorine Vaporizing Systems
- Chlorine Pipelines
- Chlorine Scrubbing Systems
- Gaskets for Chlorine Service
- Safe Handling of Chlorine Containing Nitrogen Trichloride
- Reactivity and Compatibility of Chlorine and Sodium Hydroxide with Various Materials.
These pamphlets and the others that currently are free may be found by visiting chlorineinstitute.org. Click Bookstore on the left side of the home page; then from the drop-down menu, click Free Safety Pamphlets.
Take a short survey to access a complete list of the free publications, which contains a link to downloadable PDF versions.
Data gathered from this survey will help CI determine the success of providing free safety information to key stakeholders throughout the chlor-alkali industry. CI does not use the information otherwise and will not contact those who download free publications.
CI exists to support the chlor-alkali industry and serve the public by fostering continuous improvements to safety and the protection of human health and the environment connected with the production, distribution and use of chlorine and related products. CI members dedicate their time and expertise to defining optimal operational procedures as reflected in our publications. Making as many of them as possible free to the public reflects our industry’s ongoing commitment to safe, secure chlor-alkali handling operations.
[Source: The Chlorine Institute, Inc.]
Preventing Driver Distraction According to a new study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, driver distraction was a factor in 78% of commercial motor vehicle crashes. The study also offered recommendations to reduce driver distractions.
Findings from an 18-month naturalistic study on commercial vehicle drivers shows distraction was a factor in 78% of crashes and 65% of all near crashes. According to the study released in early June 2009 by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers were 2.9 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event when taking their eyes off the forward roadway for longer than two seconds. Texting, cleaning a side mirror, reaching for objects and interacting with the dispatch had the highest risk.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute offers the following tips to help drivers stay attentive to the road ahead.
Do not fixate on nondriving related objects
When driving, keep your mind engaged with driving-related information and try to avoid focusing on external objects such as billboards or buildings or internal objects such as a cell phone or paperwork. Remember that all distractions can be dangerous. Paying attention to driving-related information will help you determine when and where there are vehicles around you and will also enable you to react more quickly to any unforeseen event.
Avoid smoking while driving
Smoking while driving can be very distracting, as it requires you to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel to light a cigarette and to hold it for an extended period of time. Several studies have found that smoking while driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash.
Turn off cell phones while driving
Avoid using your cell phone while driving. If you must use your cell phone, try to find a safe place to stop or pull off the road, and keep your conversations short. The risk of a crash when using a cell phone is four times higher than the risk of a crash when a cell phone is not being used.
Minimize eating and drinking while driving
Make sure to eat before getting behind the wheel or leave time to pull over and eat safely. Eating while driving may not only be messy, but dangerous, as it creates a physical and visual distraction for drivers. It usually requires drivers to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel while juggling food or beverage with the other.
The Federal Railroad Administration released a new video to make drivers more aware of railroad operations at crossings. In addition to the video, get seven safety tips to share with your drivers.
Over the last decade, 300 to 400 people were killed every year and more than 1,100 were injured at rail-grade crossings, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Of the more than 3,000 highway-rail grade crossing incidents annually, 700 involved trucks or tractor-trailers. As a result, the Federal Railroad Administration has released a new highway-rail grade crossing video for truck drivers.
The video, which is available in English and Spanish, is short enough to be shown to drivers before shifts or during safety meetings. It highlights important aspects of railroad operations at crossings. Download the video now, http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/rail-crossing/highway-rail-grade-crossing-safety
In addition to the video, here are seven safety tips from the FMCSA to share with your drivers:
- Approach with care—Warn others that you are slowing down. Turn on four-way flashers. Use a pull-out lane if available.
- Prepare to stop—Turn off fans and radio and roll down windows. Locate your cell phone for use in an emergency. Stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet, from nearest rail.
- Look and listen both ways, carefully—Bend forward to see around mirrors and A-pillars.
- If it won't fit, don't commit—Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least three feet on each side. Remember that your vehicle—and cargo—overhang.
- Look again—Before you move, look again in both directions.
- Cross tracks with care—Signal, watch for a safe gap, and pull back onto the road if you used a pull-out lane. Use the highest gear that will let you cross without shifting.
- Keep going once you start—Even if lights start to flash or gates come down, keep moving.
Sources: Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
How dangerous is the job of a crossing guard? A study from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health studied the hazards and issued a report that details protective measures.
With more children being driven to school, the risk of injury for crossing guards is growing. From 1993 to 2006, 97 crossing guards died on the job in the United States, 69 of whom were employed in the local (county and municipal) government sectors. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently studied the hazards and issued a report.
The New Jersey Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (NJFACE) Project in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) identified 13 crossing guard fatalities in New Jersey between 1993 and 2006. During that same time, injuries involving days away from work total 771 for crossing guards in New Jersey. Unlike the fatality data, only 121 injuries (15%) were motor vehicle-related. Other injuries fell into the following categories: slips, trips and falls resulting in sprains, strains and fractures.
The study also offered the following recommendations to share with crossing guards, in an effort to reduce the likelihood of an accident:
- Proceed cautiously into crosswalk.
- Don’t assume vehicles will stop just because a crossing guard is holding up a stop sign.
- Give vehicles more time to stop during wet and icy conditions.
- Watch out for passing or turning vehicles.
- Remember, larger vehicles require longer distances to stop safely.
- Hold stop sign until you and children have cleared crosswalk.
Finally, crossing guards and school children are equally vulnerable. For this reason, a more integrated approach is needed to ensure their safety. The safety of school children, including their safe passage to and from school, is a goal shared by various security programs. One example is the Federal Highway Administration’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, with the goal to enable and encourage more children to safely walk and bicycle to school.
[Source: New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services]
Reducing the Spread of H1N1 and Seasonal Flu
New information on the severity and spread of the H1N1 virus led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise its school and child care program closure guidance.
In recent months, the H1N1 virus has reached pandemic status around the world. Though media attention has decreased, schools need to ensure they are prepared for a possible influenza epidemic this fall. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), schools will likely be an important contributor to the spread of influenza in a community, as children tend to have higher illness rates for both seasonal and H1N1 influenza.
School districts should plan ahead, considering how they will balance health and safety issues with educational, social and business needs. Currently, the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) are both anticipating the H1N1 virus will persist this fall in conjunction with the seasonal flu. It is unknown when a vaccine for H1N1 will become available. Similar to the seasonal flu vaccine, at-risk populations would receive higher priority for inoculation.
Schools should continue to monitor the situation, staying informed of recommendations from the CDC and local public health departments regarding transmission and vaccinations.
Reducing the Spread of H1N1 and Seasonal Flu
Influenza spreads from person to person through the coughing and sneezing of infected persons. Simple actions can help reduce the chances of spreading or contracting flu:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaner is an effective substitute if there is no access to soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth—germs can be spread this way.
- The CDC recommends you stay home from work or school if you are sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
CDC Guidance for Schools
On Aug. 7, 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC released a communication toolkit for k-12 schools titled “Preparing for the Flu (Including 2009 H1N1 Flu).” It can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/schools/toolkit/.
The guidance stresses that school officials should balance the risk of flu in their communities with the disruption that school dismissals will cause in education and the wider community. The new guidelines are applicable to any flu virus circulating during the 2009-2010 school year and cover specific steps for school staff, parents and students to take.
The following steps were advised for schools preparing for flu response during the 2009-2010 school year:
- Review and revise existing pandemic plans and focus on protecting high risk students and staff.
- Update student and staff contact information as well as emergency contact lists.
- Identify and establish a point of contact with the local public health agency.
- Develop a plan to cover key positions, such as the school nurse, when staff members stay home because they are sick.
- Set up a separate room (a sick room) for care of sick students or staff until they can be sent home.
- Purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks for nurses and other staff providing care for sick people at school. Provide training for staff about basic infection control and the use of PPE.
- Develop an education campaign to encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Develop communication tools, such as letters to parents) that can be used to explain when sending sick students home, dismissing students, canceling mass gatherings, helping families identify students who are at high risk of complications from flu and helping staff members self-identify who is at high-risk of complications from flu. Remind parents and staff how long sick students and staff should remain at home.
- Identify ways to increase social distance (the space between people). Suggestions include increasing the space between desks, holding class outside and staggering lunch periods to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time.
- Review school policies and incentive programs. Revise them, if needed, to encourage social distancing. Remove any incentives that might encourage students or staff to come to school when they are sick, such as perfect attendance awards.
- Develop a school dismissal plan and options for how school work can be continued at home through homework packets, web-based lessons, phone calls and other methods if school is dismissed or students are sent home when sick. Communicate this plan to all community members who would be affected.
- Collaborate with the local health department, community organizations, local businesses and social services on a plan for response.
- Help families and communities understand the important roles they play in reducing the spread of flu in schools.
Resources for Schools
These sites provide updated information and strategies for schools planning ahead for possible H1N1 or seasonal flu outbreaks: