Summer 2013 Volume 60

Feature Articles

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“Reducing workplace accidents through proven loss control practices is still important, but it's becoming just as important for employers to initiate strategies to control rising injury costs,” advises EMC Injury Services Manager Monte Ball. According to Ball, there is no single solution to taming injury costs. “The best approach incorporates one or all of the following strategies. The more of these strategies you employ, the more your potential savings in injury costs,” notes Ball.

Select Provider Program
By taking control during the first 24 to 48 hours of a claim, a select provider program can improve the collection of information about the injury or illness, assist employees in finding prompt medical care and reduce administrative headaches for your organization. Another program benefit is the potential medical cost savings when employees can be directed to medical providers who are part of a preferred provider network.

Return to Work Programs
Effective return to work programs reduce the chance that an employee will become totally and permanently disabled. Such programs may also reduce operation costs and indemnity payments, and improve communications between employer and employee. Employers may reduce the cost of their claims, as well as the impact on future workers’ compensation costs, by safely returning injured workers to modified or alternative duty as soon as they are medically able.

Prework Screenings
Using functional job description information, physical therapists can design prework screenings for specific jobs. Conducted after a conditional offer of employment has been made, prework screenings verify that employees are physically capable of performing the job before they are placed in that position. The resulting functional job description information assists physicians with return to work decisions, physical therapists with creating prework screening programs and safety professionals with implementing needed safety practices.

Health and Wellness
By adopting healthier lifestyles, employees can decrease their risk factors for chronic disease, which may result in lower healthcare expenses for your organization. Benefits of implementing a successful wellness program can include lower healthcare costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, fewer injuries and reduced workers’ compensation costs.

Start Taming Medical Costs Today
Ball’s advice to clients is to begin with a return to work program and functional job descriptions. “Those two strategies are the cornerstone of an overall approach to controlling workers’ compensation costs,” comments Ball, who also stresses prework screenings for workplaces with physically demanding jobs. “Don’t forget to add EMC’s Select Provider Program,” he adds.“It can deliver big advantages and requires little work to implement.”

Count on EMC® to Help Reduce Accidents and Costs
Since 1926, policyholders have counted on EMC for effective loss control practices to reduce the severity and frequency of workplace injuries. Now you can Count on EMC to help tame rising injury costs. Talk to your independent agent or an EMC risk improvement representative about these and other valuable services provided free of charge to EMC policyholders.

U.S. Traffic Fatalities Are on the Rise
Approximately 36,200 motor vehicle fatalities occurred in 2012, according to the National Safety Council. This is a five percent upsurge from 2011 and is the first increase since 2004 to 2005. In addition to devastating human loss, motor vehicle crashes present a significant national cost in lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage. “Although we have improved safety features in vehicles today, we also have new challenges, especially as they relate to teens and distracted driving,” notes Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.

Wildfire Risk Prediction
More than 67,000 wildfires burned more than 9.2 million acres throughout the country in 2012, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Warm temperatures and drought conditions will contribute to an increase in the risk of wildfires this year. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety urges home and business owners to take action now to help reduce their wildfire risk. Information is available at www.disastersafety.org.

Emergency Vehicle Visibility Guide
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recently announced the availability of a guide to help emergency services departments increase the visibility of emergency vehicles to motorists in order to keep responders safe during roadway operations. Vehicle Marking and Technology for Increased Highway Visibility—A Reference Guide for Decision-Makers provides information on best practices in the application of various arrangements of emergency warning devices, creative use of retroreflective decal markings and other innovative designs. Further information on USFA’s emergency vehicle and roadway safety research initiatives may be found at www.usfa.fema.gov.

Roof damage is a major source of property loss each year when buildings are subjected to high winds, wind-driven rain, hail, ice, snow and wildfires. What’s more, rooftop equipment or pieces of the roof itself can take flight during a windstorm and cause additional damage to the building, nearby vehicles or even neighboring property.

According to Tammy Swenson, EMC senior risk improvement consultant, proper maintenance and inspections of a roof can make the difference between minimal damage and catastrophic failure during weather events. The following tips from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) may help protect your roof and rooftop equipment during a storm.

  • The Importance of Balance: An unbalanced fan in air conditioning equipment reduces efficiency and compromises the unit’s secure attachment. When a rooftop unit begins to vibrate and shake, contact a qualified contractor to correct problems that may cause the fans to become unbalanced.
  • Watch for Corrosion: Corrosion and deterioration are the most common roof problems, causing panels or other parts to become airborne during high winds. Inspect for rusted metal panels, screws and metal flashing on curbs, and replace deteriorated parts as soon as possible. Inspect around the unit’s connection to the curb it sits on. Check for visible signs of leaks; these can be repaired using various readily available roof sealants and caulks.
  • Check and Recheck: While a local contractor or maintenance worker can perform most of the necessary inspections and repairs to keep rooftop equipment in good working order, it is important to inspect the equipment after the work is done to make sure all screws, cables and cable straps are tightened and back in place.

More Research Will Lead to More Solutions
On behalf of EMC clients, Swenson is closely monitoring research initiatives currently underway at the IBHS Research Center. Testing at the lab includes rooftop equipment, with a specific focus on wind load specifications and future prescriptive guidelines for anchorage. Additionally, IBHS plans to test photovoltaic equipment on both commercial and residential roofs to make sure that the goal of “going green” is consistent with “staying strong.” The results of these tests will be used to:

  • Compare to model scale wind tunnel tests
  • Compare to current code provisions
  • Evaluate anchorage requirements, based on results
  • Make recommendations for future codification, as appropriate

While this research holds promise for improving future designs and installation techniques, there still is no substitute for preventive maintenance and proper care of roof-mounted equipment.

For additional information about maintaining commercial properties, visit www.disastersafety.org.

Landscape

SOURCE: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

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For best practices to reduce heat-related illness among outdoor workers, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) looked to Qatar. This state, located on the northwestern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, is known for its dry desert climate with daily summer temperatures reaching 104 degrees. How do workers in Qatar keep cool? ASSE noted the following practices used there to reduce heat-related stress:

  • Allowing workers to become acclimated to the heat
  • Using engineering controls such as cooling, ventilation and shading
  • Providing personal protective equipment such as umbrellas and evaporative bandanas
  • Assessing work scheduling and employee rotation
  • Placing water stations inside or near rest areas with mandatory water breaks
  • Posting heat stress communication materials and safety tips at key work locations
  • Banning midday working hours for certain employees during the hottest times of the year

Many of these best practices used in Qatar can be easily adapted to reduce the frequency of heat-related illnesses in the United States. The climate may be different, but the dangerous effects of working in the heat are the same—heat exhaustion that can quickly lead to heat stroke.

Visit www.cdc.gov or www.osha.gov for more tips on preventing heat-related illness.

Other Topics

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As an injury management consultant with EMC’s Home Office Risk Improvement Department, Kate Benson Larson sees the multiple benefits experienced by policyholders who have implemented post-offer prework screening exams with their job candidates.

“Revising or creating essential function job descriptions is one of the first steps an employer must undertake before implementing a prework screening program,” states Benson Larson, who assists EMC policyholders in the planning process, including teaching them how to complete functional job analysis which identifies the essential functions tied to jobs.

According to Benson Larson, the prework screening results help employers determine which job candidates are best qualified to safely perform the physical demands of a job, which, in turn, may reduce the risk of future injuries. She cited a recent policyholder example involving the adoption of prework screening strategies for seasonal workers which resulted in an immediate and season-long drop in medical and lost time workers’ compensation injuries. “Their improved claim history will catch up with them in a positive way!”

Six Steps For Implementing Prework Screening (as described in the EMC Employer’s Guide to Prework Screening Manual):

  1. Target the jobs to be tested by prework screening
  2. Analyze the physical demands
  3. Develop the prework screening test features and pass/fail criteria
  4. Establish consistent procedures before testing begins
  5. Validate test procedures and begin testing candidates
  6. Review outcome and follow-up data

For more information on this topic, read EMC's Prework Screening Employer Guide.

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EMC’s eRisk Hub equips you with a risk management tool to help plan and prepare for a potential data breach. Among the various features of this site are:

  • Incident Response Plan Roadmap: Steps to take following a breach
  • Online Training Modules: Ready-to-use training on best practices and red flag rules
  • News Center: Cyber risk stories and blogs, security news, events and industry links
eRisk Hub is a complimentary service for EMC’s data compromise insureds. To access the eRisk Hub portal, register and set up your unique user ID and password at www.eriskhub.com/EMCIns.php.

Insights Online

Schools

More than 53 million children spend a significant portion of their day in school buildings that may contain chemicals that pose increased health risks to children and staff. A new EPA toolkit helps schools improve their chemical management practices.

From elementary school maintenance storage closets to high school chemistry laboratories, schools house a variety of chemicals. Many are used daily; however, in some cases, these chemicals have been unused for decades. Properly managing chemicals can help school administrators to:

  • Safeguard the health and safety of students and school employees
  • Avoid disposal expenses and costly school closures associated with spills and emergency incidents
  • Maintain a sense of trust between the district and the surrounding community
  • Prevent damage to the environment

School districts need specific recommendations and information on responsible chemical management to facilitate sound district-level policies and procedures. Two valuable sources of information are ChemEyes from EMC Insurance Companies and a toolkit for safe chemical management from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EMC: ChemEyes
ChemEyes is a comprehensive program that helps schools with the proper and safe identification and control of hazardous chemicals. With ChemEyes, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and resources to assist in the proper disposal of chemicals that may be found in classrooms and storage rooms throughout your buildings.

EMC developed the ChemEyes program to:

  • Help administrators, teachers and custodial staff address safety concerns, proper chemical storage and disposal methods
  • Reduce liability and danger to students, staff and communities
  • Assist in preventing future chemical stockpiles
  • Provide technical resources for chemical management and disposal

ChemEyes services include everything from an on-site assessment to chemical management training to follow-up support and regulatory compliance assistance. ChemEyes is available to all K-12 schools that have general liability insurance through EMC Insurance Companies. The disposal of all chemicals and associated disposal costs remain the responsibility of the school.

EPA Toolkit for Safe Chemical Management in K-12 Schools
The EPA’s web-based toolkit helps schools improve their chemical management practices by:

  • Removing inappropriate, outdated, unknown and unnecessary chemicals from schools
  • Preventing future chemical mismanagement issues in schools through training, curriculum and policy changes, and long-term management solutions
  • Raising awareness of chemical issues in schools and promoting sustainable solutions

The toolkit contains the following documents:

  • Building Successful Programs to Address Chemical Risks in Schools: An updated workbook that contains templates, tips and techniques to help you create or improve your program for responsible chemical waste management in schools.
  • Building Successful Programs to Address Chemical Risks in Schools: State, Tribal and Local School Chemical Cleanout Programs Matrix and Summaries: Discusses successful programs to address chemical risks in schools.
  • Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators: A guide to help your school reduce the use of dangerous chemicals and install safer chemical management practices.
  • CSPC and NIOSH School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide: A safety guide for high school science and chemistry laboratories. It provides practical safety information in a checklist format useful to both groups to reduce chemical injuries in a laboratory environment.
  • Green Cleaning Fact Sheet: Explains basic green cleaning concepts and offers tips on how to build a green cleaning program.
  • Industry Leaders Are Part of the Solution: describes how industry can help reduce chemical risks in schools.
  • Pollution Prevention Measures for Safer School Laboratories: Developed by EPA Region 8 and Roche Colorado, this is an easy-to-read toolkit offering tips on maintaining an inventory, chemical purchasing, storage, and labeling, and pollution prevention.
  • Protecting Health and the Environment at K-12 Schools, Including Art Programs: Presents two free manuals: one is a primary environmental compliance guide for K- 12 schools, while the other serves the same purpose for art programs at K-12 schools, colleges and art studios. Both manuals also provide best management practices applicable to schools’ environmental concerns.

To view PDFs of these documents, visit www2.epa.gov/schools-chemicals/toolkit-safe-chemical-management-k-12-schools.

Sources: EMC Insurance Companies and Environmental Protection Agency

Sports officials must understand thunderstorms and lightning to ensure they make educated decisions on when to seek safety. The National Weather Service recommends officials of organized sports have a lightning safety plan they follow without exception.

The plan should give clear, specific safety guidelines to eliminate errors in judgment and address the following questions:

  • When should activities be stopped?
  • Where should people go for safety?
  • When should activities be resumed?
  • Who should monitor the weather and who decides when to stop activities?
  • What should be done if someone is struck by lightning?

Before an event, organizers should listen to the latest forecast to determine the likelihood of thunderstorms. If thunderstorms are forecasted, organizers should consider canceling or postponing the activity. Once people start to arrive at an event, the guidelines in the lightning safety plan should be followed. The National Weather Service has developed several lightning safety toolkits for developing safety plans. Below is some information to consider when making a lightning safety plan.

Stopping Activities

In general, a significant lightning threat extends outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud about 6 to 10 miles. Therefore, people should be in a safe place when a thunderstorm is 6 to 10 miles away. The plan’s guidelines should also account for the time it will take for everyone to get to safety. Here are some criteria that could be used to stop activities:

  • If you see lightning. The ability to see lightning varies depending on the time of day, weather conditions and obstructions such as trees, mountains, etc. In clear air, especially at night, lightning can be seen from storms more than 10 miles away, provided that obstructions don’t limit the view of the thunderstorm.
  • If you hear thunder. Thunder can usually be heard for a distance of about 10 miles, provided there is no background noise. Traffic, wind and precipitation may limit the ability to hear thunder to less than 10 miles. If you hear thunder, it’s a safe bet the storm is within 10 miles.

Seeking Safe Shelter

No place outside is safe in or near a thunderstorm. Stop what you are doing and get to a safe place immediately. Small outdoor buildings such as dugouts, rain shelters and sheds are not safe. Substantial buildings with wiring and plumbing are the safest places. Office buildings, schools and homes offer good protection. Once inside, stay away from windows and doors and anything that conducts electricity such as corded phones, wiring, plumbing and anything connected to these. A hard-topped metal vehicle with the windows closed also provides good protection. Try to avoid contact with metal in the vehicle and keep away from windows.

Resuming Activities

Because electrical charges can linger in clouds after a thunderstorm has passed, experts agree that people should wait at least 30 minutes after the storm before resuming activities.

Monitoring The Weather And Making Decisions

Lightning safety plans should specify that someone be designated to monitor the weather for lightning. The “lightning monitor” should not be a coach, umpire or referee because they are busy doing other things and can’t adequately monitor conditions. The “lightning monitor” must know and follow the plan’s guidelines.

Helping Lightning Victims

If a person is stuck by lightning, call for medical help immediately. In many cases, the victim’s heart or breathing may have stopped and CPR or an AED may be needed to revive him or her. Continue to monitor the victim until medical help arrives. If possible, move him or her to a safer place away from the threat of another lightning strike.

More Information

Source: National Weather Service

Petroleum Marketers

Be on the watch for approximately 496 improperly marked DOT 3AA and 3AL cylinders used in carbon dioxide service. These cylinders may rupture under pressure, potentially resulting in extensive property damage, serious personal injury or death.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has become aware of approximately 496 improperly marked DOT 3AA and 3AL cylinders used in carbon dioxide service. These cylinders can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Purchased or serviced from Flint Welding Supply Company around June 2010 to December 2012.
  • Cylinders are improperly marked with either A978, full or partially, or just the month and year, without a requalification identification number mark in the middle.

PHMSA warns against filling improperly marked high-pressure cylinders with hazardous materials. These cylinders may rupture under pressure during normal transportation and use, potentially resulting in extensive property damage, serious personal injury or death.

These cylinders should be considered unsafe and unauthorized for filling with hazmat until they are properly tested by an individual or company that is authorized to requalify DOT specification cylinders.

If you are in possession of cylinders identified in this advisory, and they are filled with an atmospheric gas, please arrange for authorized personnel to vent or otherwise safely discharge the contents. Individuals are advised to remove it from service and return it to Flint Welding Supply Co. in Flint, Mich.

For further information, contact Mr. Richard Battstone, Jr., Owner, 810 744–4780, Kraus Fire Equipment Co., G-4080 S. Dort Highway, Burton, Mich.

Source: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Slips and falls are a leading cause of workplace accidents, representing approximately 30 percent of workers’ compensation claims submitted by convenience store employees. They also pose some of the most costly threats to your employees, with the average cost of a slip, trip or fall accident totaling almost $16,000.

Use these tips to help protect your convenience store employees from slips and falls at work:

  • Coolers: Prevent slips and falls in the coolers by adjusting your shelf storage to make stocking easier and safer. Stock larger items on the lower shelves, and don’t allow employees to stand on stock or climb shelves while restocking. Instead, place a good step stool at each location where employees need to reach elevated stock and remove empty milk crates, which are often misused as climbing devices.
  • Wet floors: Wet floors should be mopped dry, and wet floor signs should only be put up when floors are actually wet. Entrance mats are designed to keep moisture from being tracked in from the outside, so they should be switched out and extracted when saturated. Check them regularly and replace them when damaged or worn. Make sure they don’t have bulging areas or upturned edges that could catch someone’s foot. Slip-resistant or water-absorbent mats are also helpful in areas where moisture is common, such as in front of fountain dispensers.
  • Cleaning procedures: Be sure to use the correct cleaning chemicals and methods for your floor types. Consider using commercially available floor treatments designed to increase traction. Remind employees to follow the instructions for any cleaning products you are using—using more than the directed amount of chemicals can actually make floors more slippery.
  • Parking lots: Potholes in concrete not only create tripping hazards, but can also collect water, which can freeze and lead to a slip. Repair potholes as soon as possible or temporarily fill them with gravel until permanent repairs can be made.
  • Sidewalks: Check the paths employees follow while doing outdoor tasks (such as taking garbage to a dumpster) to make sure there are no tripping hazards along the way. Inspect sidewalks for changes in elevation greater than ¼ inch and mark them with paint or cones until they can be repaired. Make sure that downspouts don’t discharge water across walking paths, as this can cause slippery algae buildup in the summer and icy surfaces in the winter.
  • Other tips: Encourage employees to wear slip-resistant footwear. You should be extra vigilant about slip hazards in cooking areas where liquid or grease might be present—follow a cleaning schedule and install slip-resistant mats. Make sure employee areas are organized, with no clutter or debris on the floor.

For more information, take a look at EMC’s online slip and fall resources.

Contractors

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly three out of five injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job.

On-the-job eye injuries can have devastating consequences, such as chemical burns or blindness. Despite these potential hazards, 85 percent of industrial workers in a Kimberly-Clark Professional survey released in late 2012 said they had observed others failing to wear eye protection when they should have been.

“This high rate of noncompliance seriously jeopardizes worker health and safety. In many instances, uncomfortable eyewear or fogged lenses could be responsible,” said Valona Renner-Thomas, product manager, Eye and Face Protection, Kimberly-Clark Professional. “The results are very disconcerting when you consider that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear. Enhancing eyewear practices is critical to creating exceptional workplaces—those that are safe, healthy and productive for all employees.”

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires employers to provide eye and face protection to guard against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants or hazards. Yet, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that nearly three out of five injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job.

Most Challenging PPE

The importance of eye protection was evident to survey participants. Eighty percent said they would encourage a coworker or employee to wear eye protection if he or she were not in compliance, and 22 percent said they would report the employee to a supervisor or find a way to halt dangerous work operations until the worker complied with personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols.

In addition, eyewear came in first when respondents were asked to rank the most important PPE category for on-the-job safety. It was also deemed the "most challenging PPE category in terms of compliance, which leads to the question: how can compliance be improved?

Greater comfort and fog-free lenses could help, according to the survey results. When asked what would most improve compliance with eye protection protocols, the top choice was more comfortable eyewear with features like flexible, comfortable nose pieces (56 percent) followed by fog-free lenses (22 percent).

Fifty-one percent of respondents also reported having been forced to wear uncomfortable eyewear or eyewear they did not like while at work. Of these, 46 percent wound up purchasing their own eye protection, while 45 percent said they used it anyway.

Fogging was also a problem on the job, with 88 percent of respondents saying they or someone they worked with had been unable to see or complete a task properly because of fogged lenses. Forty percent of respondents said this had happened on "numerous occasions."

Off-the-Job Safety

For years now, many companies, safety professionals and organizations such as the National Safety Council have been emphasizing the importance of off-the-job as well as on-the-job safety.

Despite this, only a quarter of respondents said their organizations encouraged employees to take protective eyewear home, even though 84 percent of respondents said they would consider using eye protection from work as their everyday sunglasses if it was comfortable, fit well and offered UV protection.

The survey also asked about eyewear aesthetics and branding. When it comes to style, wraparound frame designs were the top choice, selected by 77 percent of respondents. When asked if they believed brand-name products were better than less expensive copycat or knock-off items, 71 percent answered yes.

The online survey of 138 workers in manufacturing industries across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, was conducted from June 15, 2011 through July 15, 2011. All survey respondents said they were responsible for purchasing or influencing the purchase of protective eyewear or wore these products on the job. Twenty-nine percent were involved in manufacturing, engineering, product design or R&D; 13 percent were in manufacturing production; 11 percent were supervisors or shop stewards; 9 percent were safety managers or industrial hygienists; and the remaining 37 percent held other positions. Respondents were employed in the following fields: metal manufacturing, industrial manufacturing, construction/utilities, automotive, transportation equipment or other industries.

Reprinted with permission by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.

Learn how researchers are using a sweating thermal manikin to create less burdensome materials and designs for protective clothing used by workers who face the risk of heat stress from potentially prolonged duty in hot and physically stressful work environments.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) are broadening their research capacity with the addition of a sweating thermal manikin. This new acquired technology measures heat transfer through various fabric ensembles of specific types of garments worn in occupations such as firefighting, health care and mining.

The sweating thermal manikin will support efforts to create less burdensome materials and designs for protective clothing used by workers who face the risk of heat stress from potentially prolonged duty in hot and physically stressful work environments.

“We are continually investigating strategies for improving workplace safety and health,” says Dr. Maryann D’Alessandro, Director of NPPTL. “The implementation of the sweating thermal manikin in the NPPTL research portfolio enables us to keep pace with technological advancements.”

Protective clothing manufacturers use a standard testing process to measure the amount of heat transferred through fabric. Based on this kind of test, a number is assigned to the garment called its “total heat loss number.” This number then acts as an indicator of how much heat the fabric of a garment will trap, and thus the potential for heat stress on the employee wearing the garment.

According to Jon Williams, Ph.D., Research Physiologist at NIOSH, additional testing methods are necessary to take into account various features of the garment itself that could affect heat retention: pockets, padded knees or elbows and zippers. Furthermore, many workers employ ensembles—several pieces of protective clothing used together—while performing a job task, each with the potential to increase heat buildup.

In order to address the possibility of extra padding, various thickness and accessories, NIOSH has traditionally conducted tests to measure total heat loss using volunteer human subjects to measure physiological responses to physical activity while wearing the garments (or ensembles) in a controlled environment. Though this type of testing is invaluable for its real-world applicability and measures actual human reactions, it also has limitations. While all human bodies are similar physiologically, they differ in gender, fitness level and body size. The purchase and use of the sweating thermal manikin provides a third and additional method of testing needed in order to determine standardized responses.

“If we want to compare one specific ensemble to another, we don’t want to use human beings, because of individual variations,” says Dr. Williams. “So if we want to look at a standardized response, we test all of the different kinds of ensemble types on a sweating thermal manikin producing a response only dependent on the ensembles, not the particularities of the test subject.”

The sweating capability of the manikin helps to calculate evaporative resistance and garment performance in hot environments. The manikin can also “walk” while wearing a particular garment and is set to begin sweating once a certain “skin” temperature is reached. The sweat rate can be controlled by the researcher and is selectable by manikin zone or region. A network of pores over the exterior of the manikin is spaced to uniformly deliver water to the skin surface. A removable fabric skin layer evenly distributes water by drawing the liquid from the manikin surface, which simulates a sweating person.

NIOSH researchers can use this method of testing to accurately compare the fabric features (insulation and evaporation resistance) of one ensemble to another. Because the manikin’s reaction is always constant, the differences seen are attributed to the ensemble characteristics. The use of the sweating thermal manikin as a way to test fabric ensembles, independent of human variations, provides a standardized reference point from which subsequent human variations can be measured or accounted for, making the overall process of measuring heat stress more comprehensive and efficient.

View a video of the sweating thermal manikin.

Source: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Schools

Firefighters will be battling both flames and triple digit temperatures in many parts of the country this summer. The United States Fire Administration offers resources to assist fire departments in establishing an effective emergency incident rehabilitation program.

With the prediction of extreme summer heat across the country, it is essential that all fire personnel working in summer heat take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. You can take steps to prevent heat stress and other heat-related illnesses by doing the following:

  • Maintaining a high level of fitness
  • Acclimating yourself to the heat by gradually increasing the amount of time you work in the heat
  • Drinking several glasses of water before beginning work
  • Avoiding caffeinated beverages
  • Taking breaks during the workday to rehydrate
  • Working with a partner at all times

Another critical function that should be established in a heat wave is emergency incident rehabilitation. Emergency incident rehabilitation ensures that the physical and mental well being of firefighters and other emergency responders operating at the scene of an emergency does not deteriorate to the point where it affects their safety. The effective use of emergency incident rehabilitation can prevent serious and life-threatening conditions such as heat stroke and heart attacks from occurring.

Fire departments should be in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association 1584 Standard on the Rehabilitation of Members Operating at Incident Scene Operations and Training Exercises.

The U.S. Fire Administration has resources to assist you and your department in establishing an effective emergency incident rehabilitation program, including a comprehensive guide on Emergency Incident Rehabilitation, which was developed through a partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters. Additionally, the USFA website provides comprehensive information on this topic at www.usfa.fema.gov.

Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Industrial control systems, which are used to monitor and control critical infrastructure facilities, were hit with 198 documented cyberattacks in 2012. Many of these attacks were serious, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security.

A Department of Homeland Security report released in early 2013 revealed that industrial control systems, which are used to monitor and control critical infrastructure facilities, were hit with 198 documented cyber attacks in 2012, and that many of these attacks were serious. Forty percent of those attacks were on energy firms, according to the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), which reviewed every incident. Water utilities came in second, with 15 percent of the attacks focused on them.

Researchers and security professionals have focused for nearly a decade now on threats and attacks on industrial control systems and infrastructure, but little has been done to protect these systems. Last year researchers concluded that organizations using supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), a type of industrial control system, were still vulnerable to an attack. In November 2012 alone security firms found almost 50 vulnerabilities in SCADA products.

The ICS-CERT along with 55 industrial control system makers reported 171 vulnerabilities. Products, including hard-coded passwords accounted for seven of the security issues, the ICS-CERT report stated. ICS-CERT has encouraged suppliers to fix holes in their security as fast as possible in order to publish the details of a security breach 45 days after notifying the supplier that their system has been breached.

Suppliers were not the only ones to expose security issues. One researcher discovered approximately 20,000 systems that could be accessed through the internet. “A large portion of these internet facing devices belonged to state and local government organizations,” the ICS-CERT report stated. “(We) worked with partners as well as 63 foreign CERTs in the effort to notify the identified control system owners and operators that their control systems/devices were exposed on the internet.” For information on recommended practices to avoid cyber security issues, visit the ICS-CERT website.

Source: Homeland Security Newswire