Summer 2010 Volume 48

Feature Articles

When a school cafeteria worker suffered a fractured hip at work, school administrators were expecting the worst—the loss of a valued employee, ongoing disability payments, the cost of hiring and training a replacement worker, and a potential change in workers’ compensation premiums and experience modification factors. That was not the case, however.

Thanks to a well-designed return to work (RTW) program, the employee received the physical therapy and support necessary to return to the cafeteria and, after several transitional work assignments, signed a contract to resume her previous responsibilities for another year. “This is how things should work,” explains EMC Occupational Consultant Kate Benson Larson, who is part of a team of case managers who bring injured or disabled employees safely back to work as soon as they are able.

Good For Employers. Good For Employees.

A New York State Department of Labor report noted that programs that steer employees back to work may reduce workers’ compensation costs, litigation, wage and worker replacement costs, productivity losses, medical and indemnity costs, and utilization of short- and long-term disability benefits.

Getting Back to Work is Good Business

According to Larson, the benefits of a RTW program are more than monetary. “Experience indicates that employees participating in the program continue to live a productive lifestyle during their recovery period,” comments Larson. “In addition, an effective RTW program facilitates immediate and informative communication between employee and employer.”

Job Descriptions Are The Cornerstone Of RTW Programs

The first step in the process of implementing a RTW program is to complete a functional analysis, written description and possible transitional duties for all regular positions. “That was a crucial component of getting the school cafeteria worker back to work,” explains Larson. “We were able to provide valuable job description information to therapists, who adapted their treatment regimen to match the needs of transitional jobs as well as her original responsibilities.”

Want To Learn More About RTW Programs?

“Having a return to work program is a win-win situation,” concludes Larson. “Employers typically minimize costs while retaining the use of a trained employee. Employees come back to work and avoid lost wages and a long-term absence.” Larson encourages policyholders to review the many online resources at www.emcins.com for additional information about the steps in developing, implementing and monitoring a RTW program.

Thanks to an effective return to work program, a school cafeteria worker returned to productive work after suffering a hip fracture.

Additional resources:

Caution When Using Stepladders
As stated in a recent OSHA letter of interpretation, using a stepladder as a nonself-supporting ladder would violate 1926.1053(b)(4) unless the ladder was designed for that purpose. Because stepladders usually are designed so the rungs are level when the ladder is locked open and resting on a stable surface, it is likely that positioning a stepladder for use as a nonself-supporting ladder would make the rungs unlevel— also a violation of the standard. For more information about this letter, visit osha.gov.

Medical Screening And Surveillance Requirements
OSHA updated the Screening and Surveillance: A Guide to OSHA Standards pocket guide. The guide describes what physical exams and tests are required to measure worker exposure to chemicals, such as hexavalent chromium and benzene, and other workplace hazards such as noise and bloodborne pathogens. Copies can be ordered online from OSHA’s publications web page.

Texting Ban For Truck Drivers
The DOT proposed a rule prohibiting texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses. “This is an important safety step, and we will be taking more steps to eliminate the threat of distracted driving,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750. You can follow the progress of the U.S. Department of Transportation in working to combat distracted driving at distraction.gov.

CSA 2010 is designed to meet one overriding objective-to increase safety on the nation’s roads benefiting drivers and the traveling public alike.

CSA: A Change to Save Lives

Since the 1970s, federal and state enforcement agencies, in partnership with many other stakeholders, have progressively reduced the commercial vehicle-related fatality crash rate. In an effort to maximize these efforts, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has taken a fresh look at how the agency evaluates the safety performance of motor carriers and drivers. Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 is the result.

A Change For The Better

Under CSA 2010, FMCSA will reach more carriers earlier and more frequently; improve efficiency of investigations, focusing on specific unsafe behaviors, identifying root causes, and defining and requiring corrective actions; force carriers and drivers to be accountable for their safety performance; and make more complete safety performance assessments available to the public. As a result of these changes, unsafe carrier and driver behaviors that lead to crashes will be identified, all safety-based roadside inspection violations will be noted and drivers will be more accountable for safe on-road performance.

What can you do to prepare for the change?

  • Update your Motor Carrier Census form (MCS-150)
  • Check your inspection and crash reports (http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov)
  • Visit the CSA 2010 website (http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov) to learn more about CSA 2010
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed or email list to stay up to date on CSA 2010 news and information
  • Review inspection and violation history for the past two years
  • Address safety problems now
  • Educate drivers about how their performance impacts their driving records and the safety assessment of the carrier

With your cooperation, CSA 2010 will help to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. For additional resources regarding CSA 2010, visit csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Understanding OSHA's Multi-Employer Citation: Employers Beware

“When it comes to working with contractors, the days of a handshake and a smile are long gone,” warns EMC Senior Risk Improvement Consultant Tammy Swenson. “Recent court decisions upholding OSHA’s multi-employer citation policy make it essential for building owners/employers to have well-documented scope of work agreements with contractors working on their property.”

Under the multi-employer citation, you, not just the contractors or subcontractors, can be cited for an OSHA safety violation. In determining whether you should be cited, OSHA has identified four types of employers:

  • Creating Employer: The employer who causes a hazardous condition
  • Exposing Employer: The employer whose employees are exposed to the hazard
  • Correcting Employer: The employer responsible for correcting the hazard
  • Controlling Employer: The employer with general supervisory authority over the work site

Once OSHA determines what category of employer you fall into, they will assess whether your actions were sufficient to meet the obligations of that category. “That’s where a scope of work agreement is invaluable,” comments Swenson. “This document should clearly state who is in charge of all aspects of the safety program.”

Swenson also encourages building owners/employers to document what hazards currently exist in their facilities and how those hazards will be evaluated and assessed by all contractors and subcontractors. “No work should begin until the scope of work document is signed,” advises Swenson.

Other Topics

Like accident prevention, a return to work (RTW) program is a proven management tool to control workers’ compensation premiums and reduce costs associated with lost time and hiring replacement workers.

EMC can provide valuable assistance in planning your RTW program. EMC loss control professionals have the experience and skills to:

  • Analyze work-related injuries and identify any recurring patterns
  • Help you write accurate job descriptions for use by medical providers and claims adjusters
  • Create a written corporate policy and plan to communicate your RTW program and policy with employees
  • Train supervisors on their role in your RTW program

Contact your independent agent or local EMC branch office for a consultation with an EMC loss control representative for assistance in developing your RTW program.

On the Job with Bree Schwaller

What’s one program you can implement that can enhance the long-term health of employees, improve morale and help control medical costs?

EMC Environmental Health Specialist Bree Schwaller has the answer-a work site wellness program. Bree works with EMC policyholders to identify the wellness needs of employees, develop on-site health promotion programs and train wellness program site coordinators.

Effective wellness programs can range from distributing educational materials and hosting health screenings to creating incentive programs that encourage changes in specific health behaviors. “By adopting healthier lifestyles, employees can decrease their risk factors for chronic disease, which may result in lower healthcare expenses for your organization,” explains Schwaller.

Work site wellness programs complement other loss control activities and return to work programs in making your organization a safer and healthier place in which to work. Learn more.

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 losscontrol@emcins.com.



Insights Online

Contractors doing renovations on buildings built before 1978 and where children frequent (pre-1978-built homes, day- care facilities, schools, etc.) are now required to be certified by the state and must perform lead-safe work. In addition, all workers on such job sites must be properly trained to be lead-safe renovators.

Effective April 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

EPA’s Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) program was established in April 2008 and will affect renovation contractors, maintenance workers in multifamily housing and painters and other specialty trades that disturb an area of 6 or more feet containing lead paint. Under the program, both firms and individual employees now need to be certified to work on projects that contain lead paint.

The original rule implementing the RRP program included an opt-out provision that exempted contractors from the rule if the owner of the building or home certified that no child under the age of 6 or pregnant women reside in the home and it is not a child-occupied facility. However, EPA published a proposed change to the program in October 2009 that would eliminate the opt-out provision. The rule defines child-occupied facilities as residential, public or commercial buildings where children under age 6 are present on a regular basis.

EPA began processing applications for lead-safe certification in October. Firms can become certified by completing an application and sending in a fee payment. Applications may take up to 90 days to be approved by EPA. Individual renovation contractors must complete an EPA-accredited training course in order to receive certification. Certified lead abatement contractors with previous training may qualify for a shortened refresher course. To locate an accredited training program, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_training.htm.

Additional information:

Source: Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

Schools

More than half of all cheerleading injuries stem from stunts such as cradles, elevators, extensions, and pyramids according to a study from the Nationwide Children's Hospital

Whether rallying the crowd at a sporting event or participating in competition, cheerleading can be both fun and physically demanding. Although integral to cheerleading routines, performing stunts can lead to injury. Stunt-related injuries accounted for more than half (60%) of U.S. cheerleading injuries from June 2006 through June 2007, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Published as a series of four separate articles on cheerleading-related injuries in the November issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, the study focused on general cheerleading-related injuries, cheerleading stunt-related injuries, cheerleading fall-related injuries and surfaces used by cheerleaders. Data from the study showed that nearly all (96%) of the reported concussions and closed-head injuries were preceded by the cheerleader performing a stunt.

“In our study, stunts were defined as cradles, elevators, extensions, pyramids, single-based stunts, single-leg stunts, stunt-cradle combinations, transitions and miscellaneous partner and group stunts,” said author Brenda Shields, research coordinator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The most common injuries were strains and sprains (53%). Injuries occurred most frequently during practice (83%). The top five body parts injured were the ankle (16%), knee (9%), neck (9%), lower back (7%) and head (7%). The study also showed that nearly 90% of the most serious fall-related injuries were sustained while the cheerleaders were performing on artificial turf, grass, traditional foam floors or wood floors. “Only spring floors and 4-inch thick landing mats placed on traditional foam floors provide enough impact-absorbing capacity for two-level stunts,” explained Shields. “There is a greater risk for severe injury as the fall height increases or the impact-absorbing capacity decreases, or both.” Data for the study was collected using Cheerleading RIOâ„¢, an internet-based reporting system for cheerleading-related injuries.

Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH

Athletic mouthguards may actually cause mouth injuries and increase the risk of contracting bacterial infection, a study from Oklahoma State University indicates.

Although commonly used to protect an athlete’s teeth during contact sports, mouthguards are now being questioned for their injury potential. A new study published in the September/October issue of Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach found that mouthguards may increase the number and intensity of mouth cuts and abrasions, exposing an athlete to an increased chance of infection due to the bacteria, yeast and fungi that mouthguards routinely collect.

Sixty-two collegiate football players’ mouths were examined preseason and postseason. The players selected their own mouthguards, either a “boil and bite” device or a custom-made device. At preseason testing, 75 percent of the players had oral lesions located in three different areas of the mouth (gums, cheek and roof of mouth). By the end of the season, 96 percent of the participants had oral lesions not only in the same three areas of the mouth, but also on the tongue.

“We saw not only an overall increase in the number of lesions, but also a wider distribution,” explains author Richard T. Glass, DDS, PhD and professor at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. “While there might be other contributing factors to the oral lesions, the percentage increase and the specific locations of the oral lesions, compared with other studies done of the general population, indicated that mouthguards have a significant negative impact on the mouth.”

Researchers stress that even with the increase in oral lesions, mouthguards are still an important piece of safety equipment for contact sports. “By no means should the value of a mouthguard be discounted,” Glass emphasizes. “The protection they do offer teeth during contact sports is important. However, the length of time that a mouthguard is used and how often it is cleaned needs to be revised.”

Glass and his co-authors suggest in the study that as soon as a mouthguard becomes distorted, develops sharp, jagged edges, or after 14 days of regular use, it should be discarded, whichever comes first. The study also pointed out that mouthguards have a natural ability to become a breeding ground for micro-organisms and should be sanitized on a daily basis using an antimicrobial denture-cleaning solution.

“This study stresses the importance of informing athletes of the danger of not properly taking care of a mouthguard. A mouthguard will do your mouth good only if you keep it in good shape,” adds Glass.

Source: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in caulking are an emerging environmental health issue for schools across the country. EMC offers information for responding to parent concerns about the issue.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in caulking are an emerging environmental health issue for schools across the country. Recent legislation has increased media coverage and public awareness of this issue, and many schools are now receiving questions from concerned parents. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “Though this is a serious issue, the potential presence of PCBs in schools and buildings should not be a cause for alarm-there are steps school administrators can take to protect students, teachers and others.”

The following is basic information school administrators should know when responding to parent concerns.

What Are PCBs?

PCBs are organic chemicals that were used in many construction and electrical materials until they were banned in 1978. Due to increased awareness and cleanup, levels of PCBs in buildings have decreased. The EPA is currently researching PCBs and how they affect the public’s health.

Where Are PCBs Found?

Buildings built or remodeled between 1950 and 1978 may contain PCBs in caulk used in windows, door frames, masonry columns and other masonry building materials. Soil around schools and buildings may also contain PCB caulk dust or flakes. This includes playground soil and soil surrounding building foundations.

While PCBs were banned from use in the United States in 1978, in many cases this caulk still remains in place today. As the caulk ages, it may crack or flake away from the source, causing PCB-laden dust. PCBs from the caulking can also be released into the air over time. Because PCBs can migrate from the caulk into air, dust, surrounding materials and soil, EPA is concerned about potential PCB exposure to school children. PCBs can adversely affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems, and exposure may result in cancer. There are several unresolved scientific issues that require more research before the magnitude of the problem can be fully understood and the best long-term solutions can be identified.

What Can Schools Do?

There are four action steps to consider in assessing and determining the risk of PCB exposure to building occupants:

  1. Determine the age of each district building, considering past renovations to all or parts of the building. Are there any areas that were built or remodeled between 1950 and 1978? Review these areas to determine if any caulking material or other possible PCB-containing materials were used. Document your findings.

    Areas to check include:

    • Caulk used to seal windows and masonry joints
    • Caulk found inside the building to seal floor joints, window sills, ledges, masonry joints or other areas commonly caulked
    • Outdoor areas where caulk was used and may be falling on the ground
    • Indoor areas where caulk may have been used-for example, around masonry and metal door frames

    Assess the location and condition of the caulk and other materials. Look for signs of deterioration, cracks or caulk falling out of its groove. Document your findings.

  2. Prioritize your findings based on the condition of the caulk and the potential for human exposure. Consider the frequency and duration of exposure-assign a higher priority to those areas with deteriorating caulk where students and staff spend more time. Include the priority assignments and reasoning in your documentation.

    These priority decisions can help you determine whether or not to test for PCBs. If you decide to test, two kinds of tests are available: You can test the caulk (or other building materials) or you can test an air sample from the area.

    EMC’s Environmental Health Services can help guide you through this process, including prioritization, feasibility of testing and location of testing laboratories.

    If you elect to test and the caulking is found to contain PCBs at a rate greater than 50 parts per million, the caulk will no longer be authorized for continued use and must be removed at the earliest feasible opportunity (such as during planned renovations or remodels).

  3. Implement some interim actions to minimize building occupant exposure to PCBs.

    • Minimize contact with dust and particles that may contain PCBs
    • Clean the air ducts
    • Reduce human exposure by staying out of areas that may have contaminated soil
    • Improve ventilation by opening windows or installing fans where possible
    • Clean frequently to reduce dust and residue inside buildings; wash surfaces, windowsills, walls and objects often in rooms known to have PCB-containing caulk
    • Use a wet or damp cloth or mop to clean surfaces; do not sweep with dry brooms and minimize the use of dusters, which could make PCB-contaminated particles airborne
    • Use vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
    • Follow safe work practices when renovating
    • Instruct children to wash hands with soap and water often, especially before eating
    • Instruct employees to wash hands with soap and water after cleaning and before eating or drinking

Additional Information

Environmental Protection Agency(EPA): www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk

  • PCBs in Caulk in Older Buildings
  • PCBs in Caulk Hotline: 888-835-5372

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/PHS/PHS.asp?id=139&tid=26

  • Public Health Implications of Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Local Governments

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has published “Security and Emergency Planning for Water and Wastewater Utilities” and the fifth edition of “Plain Talk About Drinking Water.”

Since 2001, tens of thousands of pages documenting new laws, regulations, policies, procedures and requirements have been published to protect water infrastructure from terrorists. To help utilities adapt to the new security reality, new guidance documents, books, websites and reports have been produced by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Two recent publications are noted below.

Security And Emergency Planning For Water And Wastewater Utilities

Years in the making, this book is one of the most thoroughly researched books ever published on water utility security and general emergency preparedness. Written by Stanley States, an international authority on water and wastewater utility security, the book provides everything water and wastewater utilities need to plan, implement and maintain top-level, state-of-the-art security and emergency response for terrorism, biological and chemical attacks, accidents, natural disasters, new government oversight, system vulnerability, risk mitigation, laws and regulations, security tools and practices, emergency management, remediation and recovery and more. The massive amount of information in the book has been organized by sections for quick retrieval:

  • Natural, accidental and intentional threats to water and wastewater systems
  • Documented incidents and threats of biological and chemical contamination of water supplies
  • Documented incidents and threats of physical and cyber attacks on water infrastructure
  • U.S. federal legislation, regulation and Homeland Security Presidential Directives regarding utility security and emergency preparedness
  • The Water Sector Specific Plan
  • Vulnerability assessments, tools and resources
  • Risk mitigation by physical protection, access control, computer firewalls, operational measures, contamination warning systems, and policies and procedures
  • Effective utility-security programs, tools and resources
  • Emergency management systems
  • Water contamination early-warning systems
  • Incident or threat response
  • Public and media communications
  • Emergency response training
  • Remediation and recovery
  • Pandemic flu

Plain Talk About Drinking Water

This book addresses common consumer questions about tap water. The new fifth edition has more information than ever, containing 231 questions and answers on topics including: health, taste, odor and appearance, sources, distributions, regulations, reporting and water security.

The familiar question and answer format makes this book an easy-to-comprehend reference for anyone interested in drinking water, including school teachers, college professors, newspaper or magazine writers, TV reporters, environmental groups, water district officials and doctors. It’s a great resource for water utility employees, too.

Plain Talk is based on the work of James M. Symons, Ph.D., who has written more than 100 technical articles on drinking water and related subjects. He has received eight national awards for his research and publications.

Both books can be ordered online by visiting the AWWA Bookstore website or by calling AWWA Customer Service at 800-926-7337 or 303-794-7711.

Source: American Water Works Association

Approximately 80 workers die from electric shock and other related hazards each year while working in jobs related to transmission and distribution of electric power. A recently published OSHA eTool can help workers and employers be in compliance with the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard.

Recent deaths have illustrated the dangers of working with electric power. A worker installing decorative lights on a tree was electrocuted after touching a high-powered overhead electrical line. Another worker was electrocuted after contacting an overhead high-voltage line with a portable light tower while working at a water main repair site. To help prevent such deaths, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published the "Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard" eTool.

“We cannot allow these tragedies to continue,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. “This eTool informs employers of their obligation to protect electrical workers from serious injuries and death, and also lets workers know the preventive steps their employers must take to assure worker safety.”

The eTool addresses OSHA’s standard and explains preventive measures for protecting workers' safety and health, such as providing personal protective equipment, using lockout/tagout procedures to prevent startup of energized equipment and following safety requirements when working on or near power lines.

OSHA's eTool is a stand-alone, web-based, interactive training tool on occupational safety and health topics that include modules for answering questions and providing advice on how OSHA regulations apply to users work sites.

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

Source: Occupational Safety And Health Administration

Contractors

High-visibility warning garments are required safety attire for highway and road construction workers, according to a letter of interpretation released by OSHA.

On October 20, 2009, OSHA made public a new letter of interpretation that has a significant impact on the use of high-visibility warning garments for highway and road construction workers: “Hi-Vis” attire is now mandatory for workers in these danger zones.

Echoing an increasing concern of safety experts, acting OSHA boss Jordan Barab declared in a prepared statement: “Highway construction workers should not suffer serious or fatal injuries simply because they could not be seen. Requiring the use of reflective vests is essential to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”

To read the full article on the Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (ISHN) website, click here.

Reprinted with permission by Industrial Safety and Hygiene News. The article, written by Dave Johnson, appeared on ISHN’s website in December 2009.

Overexposure to silica can cause silicosis, a nonreversible and potentially fatal lung disease. To help control dangerous silica dust levels on construction work sites, OSHA released “Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction,” a document that recommends control measures such as wet cutting methods and dust collection systems.

Silicosis, one of the oldest occupational diseases, still kills thousands of people every year, everywhere in the world, according to the World Health Organization. It is an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. It is irreversible and, moreover, the disease progresses even when exposure stops.

The most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from sandblasting, which may be done to clean sand and irregularities from foundry castings, finish tombstones, etch or frost glass, or remove paint, oils, rust, or dirt from objects that will be repainted or treated. Other exposures to dust from sand occur in cement manufacturing, asphalt pavement manufacturing and the foundry industry. Crystalline silica is used in the electronics industry and in manufacturing abrasives, paints, soaps and glass. Calcined diatomaceous earth, which can contain crystalline silica, is used for filtration in food and beverage production. Work in mines, quarries, foundries, and construction sites, in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, and abrasive powders, and in masonry workshops is particularly risky.

OSHA has established a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) which is the maximum amount of airborne crystalline silica that an employee maybe exposed to during the work shift. OSHA is also beginning a Special Emphasis Program to inform employers and employees about the occurrence and hazards of crystalline silica and ways to reduce exposure to the dust. An important component of that program is a guidance document titled, “Controlling Silica Exposures In Construction.”

This guidance, along with the following OSHA recommendations, will assist you in protecting workers from silicosis:

  • Be sure to use all available engineering controls such as blasting cabinets, water sprays and local exhaust ventilation. Substitution of less hazardous materials can also be used.
  • Be aware of the health effects of crystalline silica and that smoking adds to the damage.
  • Know the work operations where exposure to crystalline silica may occur.
  • Use type CE positive pressure abrasive blasting respirators for sandblasting.
  • For other operations where respirators may be required, workers should wear a respirator approved for protection against crystalline silica containing dust. Do not alter the respirator in any way. Workers who use tight-fitting respirators cannot have beards/mustaches which interfere with the respirator seal to the face.
  • If possible, workers should change into disposable or washable work clothes at the work site, then shower and change into clean clothing before leaving the work site.
  • Do not eat, drink, use tobacco products, or apply cosmetics in areas where there is dust containing crystalline silica.
  • Wash hands and face before eating, drinking, smoking, or applying cosmetics outside of the exposure area.

You can download a PDF of Controlling Silica Exposures In Construction at www.osha.gov/Publications/3362silica-exposures.pdf.

Sources: World Health Organization and Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Petroleum Marketers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of the 167 retail trade workers who were killed in 2007 were employed in late-night establishments. OSHA addresses this issue in a new document, “Recommendations For Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Establishments.”

OSHA updated its document, “Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments,” to address issues causing late-night retail workers to be killed on the job.

"The number of retail workers who died as a result of workplace violence has declined over the past 10 years—from 286 in 1998 to 167 in 2007. This decline is encouraging, but not good enough," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "Workers should not go to work fearing they won't live through the day."

The violence prevention information presented in the OSHA document builds on the agency’s “Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments,” published in 1998, according to the association. The updated recommendations identify risk factors and describe feasible solutions. It also includes policy recommendations and practical corrective methods to help prevent and mitigate the effects of workplace violence in late-night retail establishments. “Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments” addresses issues that OSHA says are causing late-night retail workers to be killed on the job. The agency has updated the document, which is available for free download at www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3153.pdf.

Source: Occupational Safety And Health Administration

A study for the Department of Homeland Security urges the government and trucking industry to tighten security in order to prevent terrorists from using gasoline tankers as weapons.

A recent study for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urges the government and the trucking industry to tighten security in order to prevent terrorists from using gasoline tankers as weapons. Kevin Jones writes in the national industry magazine The Trucker, that industry representatives, however, say tanker safety has always been a priority, and the safeguards in place since 9/11 have proved effective.

“We consider gasoline tankers and, to a lesser extent, propane tankers to be the most attractive options for terrorists seeking to use highway-borne hazmat because they can create intense fires in public assemblies and residential properties,” said Brian Michael Jenkins, director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Security Center of Excellence. “We strongly urge that DHS, state governments and the industry take a renewed look at flammable liquids and gases as a weapon of opportunity, and at a strategy to improve security measures and technology.”

The institute’s report, “Potential Terrorist Uses of Highway-Borne Hazardous Materials,” urges that the government, which it says has focused more on hazmat that can cause catastrophic losses, also focus “as terrorists tend to” on the most readily available, least protected hazmat.

The researchers note that terrorists have discussed substituting fire for harder-to-acquire explosives. Gasoline tankers have greater appeal because “they can easily produce intense fires, operate in target-rich environments with predictable routes, and pose few security challenges,” the report suggests.

The report calls for a “clear strategy” to increase and sustain security, and for resolving “significant jurisdictional issues” between federal and state authorities; strengthening hazmat security measures in the field; and implementing “vehicle tracking technologies, panic alarms, and immobilization capabilities” for vehicles carrying specific hazardous materials, including gasoline.

Jones writes that those in the trucking industry, however, may question whether more government research was necessary to determine that a gasoline tanker, if mishandled, could be dangerous. “There are really no new findings in this report,” said Rich Moskowitz, vice president and regulatory affairs counsel for the American Trucking Associations (ATA). He suggested the study simply concludes that gasoline does burn, that tankers do operate in highly populated areas and that gasoline is probably easier to come by than explosives.

He also noted the report highlights that industry security measures are already in place. “And these security measures have been effective,” he said. “No terrorist attacks using commercially transported hazmat have occurred in the United States since Sept. 11.”

Of course, the possibility of such an event is conceivable “on an academic level,” but Moskowitz readily ticks off a list of current protections: hazmat endorsement background checks, security training requirements and written security plan requirements that “recognize that a one-size-fits-all solution is not going to work” in a diverse trucking industry. Additionally, there are routing and permitting requirements, depending on the class of hazardous material being transported, as well as standards for the terminal facilities.

Jones quotes Moskowitz to say that one area of the report ATA can get behind is the need for jurisdictional uniformity. “It is virtually impossible for [trucking] to comply with different sets of regulatory requirements as we cross city lines, county lines, state lines,” he said. “We need a single entity in the federal government that is knowledgeable as to the trucking industry’s operations to adopt uniform regulations that we can comply with.” As an example of “how this issue has spun out of control,” Moskowitz pointed to the number of different- “but virtually identical”-background checks drivers must go through to haul hazmat, to access ports and airports, or to cross international borders. “You’ve got drivers spending hundreds of dollars, carrying multiple credentials that do not increase security,” he said. “One background check is something that the industry supports, and will improve security,” but the multiple background checks are “a poster child for bureaucratic inefficiencies.”

As to the report’s recommendation that all tankers carry tracking equipment, Moskowitz noted that such technology is beneficial for some industry segments, but not all-the cost should make operational sense for a carrier. A universal mandate would be unfairly expensive, and such technology is arguably ineffective against a reasonably informed attack. “It provides a false sense of security,” Moskowitz said. “It is so easily defeated.”

Also, contrary to a report scenario in which a gasoline tanker disappears, a rigorous daily delivery schedule means an out-of-route tanker would be reported very quickly, with or without tracking gear, says John Conley, president of National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), a trade association. “If they’re a half-hour late, somebody’s calling,” Conley said. “It’s not just misleading, it simply isn’t true that a gasoline tanker could be missing for up to a couple of days.”

He pointed out that gasoline tankers make 50,000 deliveries a day and that the drivers are always with the trucks.

Jones writes that like ATA, NTTC also supports regulatory consistency nationally and better coordination within the federal government. Otherwise, Conley too suggested the report contained no substantially new information. “There’s certainly nothing that I saw that we haven’t talked about many times,” he said. “The concept that somebody could take a chemical trailer or a gasoline trailer, and do something bad with it, certainly pre-dated 9/11.”

The fact that nothing has happened, however, does not mean truckers should not continue to be vigilant. “Truckers really are the educated eyes that are out there,” Conley said. “If you see something that doesn’t make sense, it’s probably worth checking.”

This is where Bill Arrington, general manager of Highway and Motor Carrier Programs for the Transportation Security Administration, comes in, Jones notes. It is his job to develop government/industry partnerships to guard against truck-based attacks. “As long as nothing is happening, we feel that we’re being effective,” Arrington said. “But we don’t want to be lured into a false sense of security that all is well with the world. We know bad people are out there, lurking in the darkness-and in the daylight, seeking to do us harm by destroying our transportation system.”

The agency continues to offer free security training to hazmat carriers. The workshops build on the current U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) security planning and TSA security initiatives, and meet the U.S. DOT security awareness training requirement. In 2009, TSA workshops trained more than 300 carrier representatives, who, in turn, passed the safety procedures on to 250,000 drivers, Arrington reported.

Source: Department of Homeland Security