News

Setting Effective Safety Goals & Action Plans

12-27-2017

January 1 is the date most people set to make drastic changes. Whether its training for a spring marathon, or setting new goals for their safety and health management system, the new year gets people motivated to make changes in a big way. Sadly, by January 31st, those new year’s resolutions have usually fallen by the wayside. Why? Because people think “go big, or go home” and when they realize how difficult the process can be, or when they don’t see big results right away, they lose their motivation and all their efforts fall by the wayside. In safety, however, when goals fall by the wayside, people get hurt … or worse.

So, how do you set effective goals? Well it’s simple. The key to setting effective goals is to make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-framed. The “realistic” component is often the most difficult for people and companies.

Specific – Think about what you want the end of the year to look like. For most companies, the easiest vision is 0 injuries and illnesses on the OSHA or OK 300 logs, right? But that really is a vision. Goals should focus on what you need to accomplish to achieve that vision. Think of everything you do to make your workplace safe: housekeeping, hazard inspections, employee training, audits, etc. So, a specific thing to achieve might include completing 100% of your quarterly safety training? Scored housekeeping and safety inspections? Perfect for a goal!

Measurable – Think of all the things you can measure that will lead you to your goal. Remember my list in the last paragraph? Can those be measured? Yes, they can! Keep in mind too, many goals = many opportunities to succeed! Only one goal? Not a good idea.

Action-Oriented – Here’s where you define your objectives (i.e., how you will reach your goal). Providing training at a time that works for your production schedule, for your staff are all action items. Have a “Plan B”. What if someone misses a class? How will they make it up? Put all that in your action plan.

Realistic – I worked with a company once that had 23 pages of injury and illness logs, but their goal was 0 recordable injuries for the next year. While it’s a great vision, it wasn’t realistic without drastic changes, which they clearly were not prepared to make. I am not a fan of setting goals based on the OSHA/OK 300 logs, unless it’s to ensure 100% accuracy of your records. That tends to lead people to not report injuries or to find ways to keep injuries off the log, which is counterproductive. (The logs provide essential data, but they are lagging indicator.) Think about the positive things you do every day that can influence the goal, and think about what you can do with the resources you have, in the time you’re given. Incremental steps are a key to lasting success. It’s been said that safety is like eating an elephant … you can only do it one bite at a time.

Time-Framed – So, how long is it going to take for you to achieve your goals? What’s realistic? What if something happens? Something unexpected? Think about your “Plan B”.

So, let’s write a couple of SMART goals:
1. We will ensure 100% of our employees receives and completes safety and health training on a quarterly basis.

So, how’d we do? Specific? Measurable? Achievable? Action-oriented? Realistic? Time-Framed? Yes. Now, how do we ensure the goal is met? We need an action plan. An action plan might look something like this:

a. Action Plan #1 – employees will be able to attend one of three schedule courses each quarter. Make up classes will be available through an on-line web-portal. Employees who fail to complete make-up training in the required period will have an alert sent to their supervisor and will have 10 days to complete the required training.
b. Action Plan #2 – Supplemental safety and health training will be done through postings in the facility, and via email. The safety manager will rotate safety messages monthly, and will send out timely information on hazards, seasonal conditions, and wellness topics.

Nice. Now, let’s try another one:

2. Our safety committee will conduct a formal, documented inspection of each work area to identify hazards on a monthly basis. Our goal is to ensure no repeat hazards are identified in our work areas.
Why wouldn’t you want to have a goal to find 0 hazards? Why would you bother doing inspections if you didn’t expect to find hazards? It must be acceptable for hazards to be identified. What can’t be acceptable is for hazards to be allowed to recur. Once you fix a hazard, it should stay fixed, right? Ideally, you want employees to be able to recognize and report hazards, even if its not identified in a scheduled inspection. So, let’s look at our action plan for goal #2:
a. Action Plan #1 – employees will be trained to recognize hazards in their work areas, and encouraged to report those hazards to their supervisors immediately. Hazards may be reported verbally, electronically or via a written note left in the supervisor’s mail box. Employees do not need to identify themselves in the hazard report, however, keep in mind that reporting hazards is an employees’ right and employees may not have any adverse action taken against them for reporting hazards. Reporting hazards should be encouraged and recognized as a benefit to our workplace safety and health culture.
b. Action Plan #2 – the safety committee will receive advanced training on hazard recognition and trend analysis. The safety committee will conduct quarterly audits of all inspection reports and inspection forms to identify hazard trends and monitor to ensure repeat hazards are identified present trend reports in management and production meetings.

Notice how we gave employees several options to report hazards, including a confidential method? We also established the ground rules to ensure employees understood that 1) reporting hazards is their right, and 2) supervisors cannot penalize them for exercising their rights, but rather, should see hazard reports as the benefit they are. After all, you can’t do something about it, if you don’t know the hazard is there, right? Also, since our safety committee is going to be tasked with formal inspections and trend analysis, we need to provide them with additional training. Hazard trends are an important gage of how effectively we’re identifying and resolving hazards, so having a formal analysis process and documenting the trends are essential. It’s also essential that trends are communicated to employees, supervisors, and managers. That keeps everyone in the loop.

There are so many more good goals and trends you can create following the SMART method. The key is to find what works for your company. Now, what do you want your December 31, 2018 to look like?


Betsey Kulakowski, CSHO, COSS
Oklahoma Safety Council
Training and Development Manager

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Extends Compliance Date for Electronically Submitting Injury, Illness Reports to December 15, 2017

11-22-2017

To allow affected employers additional time to become familiar with a new electronic reporting system launched on August 1, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the date by which employers must electronically report injury and illness data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to December 15, 2017.

OSHA’s final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses sets December 15, 2017, as the date for compliance (a two-week extension from the December 1, 2017, compliance date in the proposed rule). The rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness information they are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations.

Unless an employer is under federal jurisdiction, the following OSHA-approved State Plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically: California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Establishments in these states are not currently required to submit their summary data through the ITA. Similarly, state and local government establishments in Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, and New York are not currently required to submit their data through the ITA.

OSHA is currently reviewing the other provisions of its final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to reconsider, revise, or remove portions of that rule in 2018.

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 providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

RUN, HIDE, FIGHT!

10-03-2017

I was recently in Las Vegas for a conference and decided very quickly that Las Vegas must be an emergency manager’s worst nightmare. As I always do when I check into a hotel, I scope out my emergency exits, and find the ice machine. In Vegas, I spent 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get out of the building. It took several attempts to find a more direct route from my room to the exit, and I still felt uncomfortable with the layout.

I can’t imagine the panic the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting went through. Many of the witnesses said it sounded like fireworks, and it took them several seconds to figure out someone was shooting. Some froze, while others dropped to the ground before deciding to make a break for it. Others reached for their phones to try and video the event, or to call loved ones and let them know they were under fire.
None of us knows what we will do in a situation like that, but training for an active shooter event is one of the best things we can do to ensure we take appropriate action in an event where seconds count.

RUN, HIDE, FIGHT!
The Office of Homeland Security promotes the mantra, Run, Hide, Fight.

Run, if you can. Get yourself out of harm’s way as fast as you can. A moving target is far more difficult to hit, and it puts distance between you and the gunman. No matter where you go, you should always have an escape plan in your mind. Leave your belongings behind, and keep your hands visible, in case you encounter law enforcement. You don’t want to be mistaken for a suspect.

Hide if you can’t escape. Find somewhere safe, out of the shooter’s view. Block entry to your hiding place, and if possible, lock the door. Turn off the lights and turn OFF your cell phone. Remain quiet and stay put until law enforcement directs you to come out.

Fight is the effort of last resort in any situation, and should only be utilized if you are in imminent danger. Attempt to incapacitate the shooter, acting with physical aggression. Throw things at the shooter, if you must, and remember anything can be an improvised weapon, including chairs, fire extinguishers, hand tools, etc.

You’ll note, nowhere in these simple instructions, does it say take out your phone and get a video. Only once you are safe should you use your phone to call 911.

Did you know? Community leaders across the country can offer residents free training from the National Safety Council. Surviving an Active Shooter Event is a two-hour training that covers:

• How active shooter situations unfold
• How to be situationally aware
• What actions are necessary to improve your odds of survival

NSC provides a full set of training and publicity materials to community leaders interested in organizing the training locally. Learn why this is important for your community and how to identify the appropriate person to lead the training.

Please note: This community training is not appropriate for the workplace as there are additional skills training to better prepare workers on the job. Workplace violence training, including active shooter, is available as part of NSC Emergency Preparedness Training.
Community leaders can volunteer to train their residents with free tools from NSC. This turnkey program includes:

• An Instructor Planning Guide with everything you need to know to conduct the training successfully
• An Instructor Training Manual with play-by-play course instructions and materials
• A PowerPoint presentation with three videos
• Press materials, editable posters, and fliers to promote your training

This program is ideal for law enforcement, teachers, safety leaders, EMTs, service organization and anyone who champions emergency preparedness and wants to keep their residents safe.

For more information about this community training, go to: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/Active-Shooter-Instructor.aspx

Writer's Blog: In the Aftermath of Disaster: Tips for Hurricane “Helpers”

08-31-2017

by Betsey Kulakowski, CSHO
Training and Development Manager
Oklahoma Safety Council

As an Emergency Management Student, I’ve been following the events unfolding in the Gulf Coast areas near Houston and Beaumont with the same disbelief and horror most of you are probably feeling right now. As of this writing, the death toll sits at 28 and is likely to rise.

I’ve been called to serve in disasters since the Murrah Bombing; to the World Trade Center, to Hurricane Katrina, and the tornadoes at home. I know OSHA will be planning their response, and the efforts they will take to help keep workers safe over the next few months. I know from personal experiences; the challenges Houston and other affected areas will face are tremendous; it’s not going to be easy.

I saw someone on Facebook post “We might be rivals on the football field, but we’re neighbors, and I want to help.” It’s our nature to want to help, and that’s a good thing. But as an emergency manager, there are five rules for “helping” I want to share with you. And yes, I’m borrowing from my brilliant professor at Rose State College, Jackie Wright, who retired from the Office of Emergency Management before beginning the program at Rose State.

• Rule # 1 – Do not self-deploy. Even some well-meaning citizens put themselves in harm’s way by just showing up and saying “I’m here to help. What do you need me to do?” Most volunteers show up without a stitch of protective gear, as many showed up at the Moore Tornado response in flip flops, shorts, and tank tops. No tools, no sunscreen, no food, or water. Nothing. Honestly. The Emergency Responders don’t have time or resources to equip or train you.
• Rule #2 – Money. Send money! Don’t rummage through your storage building and pack up a box of stuff you don’t want any more. It takes precious time and resources for aid groups to process your stuff, when they should be spending time getting supplies out to the people in need. Besides the time constraints, too many people send stuff that can never be used. A prom dress from 1986 does no one any good in a disaster. Neither does a box of hazardous chemicals, which I have seen firsthand, come through a donation management center. If your heart compels you to give, give to one of the reputable aid groups.
• Rule #3 – Do not self-deploy. Seriously people. We cannot stress this enough.
• Rule #4 – If you have skills and abilities to help, register with your local volunteer organizations (sometimes refer to as VOADS). If they can use you, believe me, they’ll put you to work.
• Lastly, Rule # 5 – DON’T SELF DEPLOY! But, if you are called to provide aid, be prepared to be self-sufficient. Take everything you will need to survive and work safely. Take CASH. Most ATMs will likely be down for some time, and during the Hurricane Katrina response, we encountered many contractors who were living out of their trucks because no one could take a credit card for hotel rooms (once they were available), much less food, water, or other supplies. Get any necessary vaccinations before you go. Take all your PPE and safety equipment, and don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellant, as the risk for West Nile and other mosquito born illnesses will increase.

For more information on hurricane response safety, visit OSHA’s website at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hurricane/index.html

Jackie Wright will be our guest speaker at the September Luncheon on September 7th in Oklahoma City and in Tulsa on September 14th. Register to attend on our website at www.oksafety.org.

Why leaving a water bottle in your car could be dangerous

08-17-2017

An Idaho Power Company’s employee’s startling discovery shows that leaving a water bottle in your car might not be as harmless as once thought.

Dioni Amuchastegui was on his lunch break when he noticed smoke coming from inside his truck.

“I looked over and noticed light was being refracted through a water bottle and starting to catch the seat on fire,” he says in an Idaho Power Facebook post.

David Richardson of the Midwest Fire Department in Oklahoma added that the sunlight “uses the liquid and the clear material to develop a focused beam, and sure enough, it can actually cause a fire.”

During a test by the department, the sunlight magnified through a bottle of water reached 250 degrees, KFOR reports.

Fire officials say the heat can cause interior materials to potentially catch fire and recommend keeping water bottles out of unattended vehicles.

Two human cases of West Nile Virus confirmed in Oklahoma County

08-17-2017

Oklahoma City-County Health Department epidemiologists report two human cases of West Nile Virus in Oklahoma County of the mosquito season.

West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in Oklahoma, and it’s a deadly threat especially to senior adults, officials said.

Symptoms include fever, headache, body ache and sometimes a rash. Officials said up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms which can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have been sick for several weeks.

“People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV. Being outside means you’re at risk – The more time you are outdoors, the more likely it is you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Wearing repellent is sound way to protect against mosquito-borne illness,” Epidemiologist Eric Howard said.

Health offiicals offered the 3-Ds and a P of mosquito safety:

1. DRAIN standing water on your property.
2. DEET containing insect repellent when outside. (Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus)
3. DRESS in long sleeves and pants that have been sprayed with repellent.
4. PROTECT by limiting exposure outside and check window screens

Fatal Falls in Construction on the Rise

08-09-2017

Fall-related construction worker fatalities increased 36 percent from 2011 to 2015, outpacing an increase in construction employment and total industry fatalities, according to a report from the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

Employment in the construction industry climbed to 10.3 million workers in 2016, a 16 percent increase from 2012, the report states. Meanwhile, the construction industry experience a 26 increase in overall fatalities from 2011 to 2015.

Data presented in the report comes from the Bureau of Labor statistics. Other findings:
*55 percent of fatal falls involved falls from heights of 20 feet or less.
*33 percent of fatal falls involved falls from roofs
*24 percent involved ladders, and scaffolds and staging accounted for 15 percent.
*Fatal falls in residential construction rose to 61 in 2015 from 26 in 2011
*Roofers continue to experience the highest rate of fatal falls to a lower lever: 31.5 per 100,000 full-time workers, although this represents a decrease from 39.9 in 2014.
* Workers at an increased risk of fatal falls include Hispanic workers, foreign-born workers and workers 55 and older

"These are real people behind the numbers, and they show up everyday expecting to come home," Gavin West, research analyst for CPWR said.

Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, according to NIOSH, accounting for 37 percent of deaths in the industry.

Why Forklift Safety Training is Critical

08-07-2017

Forklifts are commonplace around construction sites, warehouses and factories. But these powered industrial trucks can be deadly if used improperly, and they require respect and diligence for safe operation.

About 35,000 serious injuries and 62,000 non-serious injuries involving forklifts occur every year in the United States, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Forklift operators at heightened risk of injury or death include those who:

*Have not been trained in the principles of physics that allow forklifts to lift heavy loads
* Are unfamiliar with how a particular forklift works
*Operate a forklift carelessly
* Use a forklift despite the machine having missing parts or unapproved alterations

Forklifts may be powered by batteries, gasoline, diesel or propane, and come in multiple sizes. Some forklifts have draw-bars so they can pull weight loads, and others have booms and attachments that allow them to lift heavy objects.

Regardless of the type of forklift, one thing holds true: All forklift operators must be trained. "An untrained forklift operator can be as dangerous as an unlicensed driver of a motor vehicle," Washington L&I states, adding that "state regulations require the employer to ensure that a forklift operator is competent to operate the forklift he or she is assigned to use."

Drivers must know and adhere to all safety rules when operating a forklift. One critical rule operators should never forget? Always wear your seat belt. Failure to do so can result in an operator being thrown outside a forklift's protective cage in the event the truck overturns.

To help prevent a forklift from tipping over, falling to its side or dropping its load, Washington L&I recommends a number of tips:

*Ensure a load is completely stable and safely secured on the forks before operating the forklift
*Keep loads low to the ground when traveling
*Keep a load uphill when moving up or down an incline
*Drive slowly when conditions are wet or slippery
*Slow down when making turns and honk the horn if traffic is encountered
*Never allow unauthorized workers to ride on a forklift and refrain from engaging in horseplay when operating one

OSC has forklift instructor and hands on qualifying courses available at OSC offices or on site. Visit our training courses for more information.

In Memoria

04-11-2017

On April 28th of this month, as we do every year, the Oklahoma Safety Council, along with partners from Federal OSHA, the Oklahoma Department of Labor, the AFLCIO, OG&E and UCO, will be hosting a remembrance ceremony in honor of National Worker’s Memorial Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

The origins of a Workers Memorial Day go back to Canada when the first day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress, the Parliament of Canada, in 1984. April 28th was chosen because on that day in 1914 Ontario proclaimed the first comprehensive Workers Compensation Act in Canada.

In last month’s issue of The Writer’s Blog, I told you about “Mother” Jones, a schoolteacher who became a prominent labor organizer. Jones was called "the most dangerous woman in America" for her success in bringing together mine workers and leveraging their collective force against mine owners for better conditions and wages. The realization of a Worker’s Memorial Day came, at least in part, because of her efforts.

It was Jones who uttered the phrase still used by occupational safety advocates more than a century later: "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

A Worker’s Memorial Day was first held in the US in 1989. OSHA officially formed on April 28, 1971, the date that the OSH Act became effective, which is also the date we remember our fallen workers.
The National Worker’s Memorial Day is not only a day to remember and honor those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

These aren’t statistics. These are fathers, and mothers; husbands and wives; sons, daughters, and grandchildren; grandfathers and grandmothers; aunts, uncles, and cousins; and friends who will never come home from work.

Last year’s Memorial service, held in the rotunda of the State’s Capitol was a somber, but moving ceremony. A single dark silhouette, one for each of the 38 workers who were killed on the job from April 2015 to April 2016, encircled the rotunda. Each bore the name of the worker, while some families also provided a picture and the life story of their loved one who died at work.

As of this writing, the number of silhouettes that will be needed for the 2017 Memorial Service has not yet been determined. Even one, however, is too many. No one should have to give their life to make a living.

This year, I am personally inviting each of you to join us at the State Capitol on the evening of April 28th, from 11:00 am till noon, to help us honor each fallen worker. As safety professionals and business leaders, I promise you, you will never look at safety the same way again. I’d been a safety professional for over 25 years before I attended my first Worker’s Memorial Day and I thought it wouldn’t mean much, but it did. It reignited my passion to fight like hell for the living. Please. Join us.

Betsey Kulakowski, CSHO
Oklahoma Safety Council
Training & Development Manager

Women in Safety: Celebrating National Women's Month

03-01-2017

March is National Women’s Month, so today I thought we’d celebrate women in the workplace, talk about the hazards and challenges women face, and look at two women who have had a lasting impact on workplace safety and health through their advocacy, initiative, and persistence.

Historically, workplace health and safety, like the workplace itself, has been dominated by men and men’s issues. But economic and cultural developments over the last one hundred (or so) years have created more and better opportunities for women to enter the workplace.

According to the US Department of Labor, 57% of women participate in the labor force. Women account for 43% of the total hours worked in the US, but accounted for only 8% of the work-related fatal injuries, a disproportionate share of the work-related fatalities. Just because they have fewer work-related fatalities, doesn’t mean employers can remain blind to the safety and health needs of women workers. When it comes to safety, it’s not “one size fits all”. OSHA says you must provide all employees with a safe and healthful workplace.


Personal Protective Equipment
Many women in nontraditional jobs, such as manufacturing and the construction trades, have encountered improperly fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal protective clothing (PPC) which may compromise their personal safety.

Personal protective equipment used by women workers should be based upon female anthropometric (body measurement) data. Women should make a point to test employer provided PPE, and if the provided PPE is uncomfortable, or not suitable for the worker (e.g., improperly fitting, or damaged from wear or defect) they should report this condition to their employer for a suitable replacement.

PPE must fit properly so that it can effectively protect the employee from the hazard for which it was designed. Today there has been tremendous progress in the availability of PPE for women. The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) reports that many employers now provide a full range of sizes for PPE. ISEA lists manufacturers who offer safety equipment in various sizes that is appropriate for women in industry.

Sanitary Facilities
Access to sanitary facilities can be challenging at some sites, such as mobile work sites like drilling rigs and construction sites. Temporary facilities are usually unisex, and often not very well maintained or over used. As a result, women report that they avoid drinking water on the job, risking heat stress and other health problems because of the lack of appropriate facilities available to them.

According to OSHA, scientific literature indicates that holding urine in the bladder for more than one hour, after experiencing the urge to urinate, leads to a higher incidence of urinary tract infections. Thus, due to the lack of available sanitary facilities, female workers experience a higher incidence of bladder and kidney infections. Inadequate facilities can result not only in urinary tract infections, but may also result in other diseases from unavoidable contact with a contaminated toilet seat. OSHA says, if you find yourself in this predicament, inform your supervisor or employer. Some possible solutions include: requesting additional toilet facilities, gender designated facilities, and facilities with internal and external locking systems.

Stress & Work/Life Balance

Balancing work and family tasks can put additional stress on women, who in many families still take primary responsibility for childcare and eldercare. When family and work demands collide, the resulting stress can lead to physical health problems such as poor appetite, lack of sleep, increase in blood pressure, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to infection. It can also result in mental health problems such as burnout and depression.

Chemical Exposures & Reproductive Health

Current occupational exposure limits to chemicals were set based on studies of non-pregnant adults. What is considered safe for you, may not be safe for an unborn baby. Although most employees can safely do their job throughout pregnancy, pregnancy can sometimes affect worker safety.

Many things can impact the ability to have healthy children for both women and men, including hazards in the workplace. Some workplace hazards can affect the ability to become pregnant, the health of unborn children, and child development. Many people don’t consider their job as a possible cause for reproductive problems, but they need to be aware of some issues. Whether you are considering having children now or not, reproductive hazards matter all the time, for both men and women.

Some chemicals increase the risks for certain cancers in women. A recent French study linked two common chemicals to an increase in head and neck cancers in women. (Read the article here: http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/15182-study-of-two-solvents-links-on-the-job-exposure-to-head-and-neck-cancer-in-women?utm_source=newsalert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsalert )

It’s for such reasons that it is so very important for workers and employers to read, understand and follow the safety data sheets for the chemicals used in the facility. Knowledge of the hazard provides opportunities to mitigate those hazards, either by switching to a less hazardous chemical, implementing administrative controls and safe work practices, or providing additional and appropriate personal protective equipment.


Pregnancy & Breast-feeding

Pregnancy in the workplace can expose both the mother and fetus to potential hazards. It’s important to discuss possible job hazards with your employer, health, and safety office at work (if there is one), and doctor, as soon as possible. Many employers can adjust job duties for pregnant workers temporarily, or take extra steps to protect them from potential hazards.

Breastfeeding provides many health benefits to a baby and the mother, and some of these benefits extend to the employer as well. Breastfeeding can help strengthen the baby’s immune system, which means fewer illnesses, and less time the mother must take away from work. Most mothers who work can safely breastfeed their babies. Employers may need to provide a safe, private place for a mother to express breast milk on her breaks. A bathroom is NOT appropriate. A little privacy (with a door that locks), a comfortable chair, maybe a table, and in some cases, an electrical outlet, is all it takes to make a nursing mother comfortable and allow her to take care of her needs.

There are chemicals and biohazards that can get into breast milk and cause harm to the baby. Chemicals such as: lead, mercury and other heavy metals, organic solvents, and volatile organic chemicals (such as dioxane, perchloroethylene and bromochloromethane); chemicals from smoke, fires or tobacco and some radioactive chemicals used in hospitals for radiation or chemo therapy. Women should consult Safety Data Sheets and have a conversation with their doctors about the chemicals and exposures they may have in the workplace, and employers should doctor’s limitations are followed, and women are protected from such exposures.

Help is also available by calling the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Now, let’s talk about a couple of women who made a difference in workplace safety and health:

Frances Perkins, championed workers’ rights to a safe and healthful workplace at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Born in 1880, she achieved historic gains as the US Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But her beginnings as a safety and health advocate were rooted in her personal experiences in her youth. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, as the president of the Class of 1902, she taught physics and biology for several years. In 1907, she moved to Philadelphia, and then New York City where she worked for social reform groups while working on her master’s degree in sociology and economics from Columbia University. In 1910, she became secretary of the New York Consumers’ League where she lobbied (successfully, I might add) the state legislature for a law to restrict the hours of women workers to fifty-four hours a week.

She was enjoying Saturday tea with her neighbor in New York on March 25, 1911 when they heard noises from the nearby Asche Building, and went to go see what the commotion was. To their horror, they watched as women leapt from the burning Triangle Shirt Waist Factory on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the ten-story building. In all 146 of the 600 workers, who’d been trapped behind doors that had been locked to prevent theft, died by fire, or after plunging to their deaths on the streets below.

The image of charred human flesh and broken bodies remained fresh in Perkins’ mind for many years and intensified her growing conviction to improve workplace safety and health protections.

Today, Perkins’ legacy continues. When the Department of Labor building was built at 200 Constitution Avenue in Washington DC, in 1975, it was just referred to as “the new Department of Labor Building”. However, on April 10, 1980 – the 100th anniversary of her birth - a ceremony was held to proudly renamed it, the Francis Perkins Building in honor of her many contributions. Former Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz said of her contributions, “Every man and woman who works at a living wage, under safe conditions, for reasonable hours or who is protected by unemployment insurance or social security, is her debtor.”

So, may I just say, “Madame Secretary, I salute you.”

In 1989, Canada was the first country to commemorate the sacrifices of workers with a dedicated “Day of Mourning” for those who had died on the job. That same year, the AFL-CIO in the United States adopted April 28th as “Workers Memorial Day”. Many invoke, for the day, a motto attributed to Irish school teacher, Mary Harris (“Mother”) Jones, who became a prominent labor organizer.

She was once called the most dangerous woman in America for her success in bringing together mine workers and leveraging their collective force for better wages and working conditions.

Outraged by the treatment of child workers in mines and silk mills, she marched from Philadelphia to the home of then-president Theodore Roosevelt in New York to demand better enforcement of child labor laws. (The 1900 census had revealed that one sixth of American children under the age of sixteen were employed.)

At one point, she was even sent to jail on charges of conspiring to commit murder when a gunfight broke out at a rally between United Mine Workers members and the private army of the mine owner. After 85 days of confinement, her release coincided with Indiana Senator John W. Kern’s initiation of a senate investigation into the conditions at the local mines.

Mary Harris Jones died in Silver Spring, Maryland at the age of 93 on 30 November 1930. She’s buried in the Union Miner’s Cemetery in Mt. Olive Illinois, alongside miners who died in the 1898 Battle of Virden. She called these miners, killed in strike-related violence, “her boys”.

October 11th is not only known as Miners’ Day, but also referred to and celebrated on Mt. Olive as “Mother Jones Day”

Oh, and the motto she inspired? “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

Yeah, you go girl!

Betsey Kulakowski, CSHO
OSC Training and Development Director

What You Can Do to if Someone You Love is Addicted to Painkillers

01-31-2017

Fifty-two people die every day from opioid overdoses nationwide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 12 million U.S. residents used prescription painkillers non-medically in the past year.

Opioids can be dangerous when combined with other common substances like alcohol and sleeping pills. What’s more, prescription drug abuse can be addictive, and even lead to heroin use.

If you love someone who may be addicted to prescription painkillers, here are five things the National Safety Council says you should know.

1. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain.
Addiction, like heart disease or diabetes, leads to increasingly poor health, and can be fatal if it’s not effectively treated and managed. People who suffer from addiction still have self-worth and should be treated with dignity. Unfortunately, shame and discrimination prevent many individuals from seeking treatment. Recovery can be achieved in many different ways and all recovery efforts should be celebrated.

2. Medication Helps
Opioid and heroin addiction cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, which medication can help repair. There are three major medications typically used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and participation in social support programs: Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. Buprenorphine and methadone diminish the effects of withdrawal and cravings restoring brain chemistry. Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects of opioids and heroin. Buprenorphine and naltrexone can be administered by health care providers. Methadone is delivered in specialized clinics.

3. Traditional treatments aren’t always effective
Recovery is a lifelong journey. Unfortunately, some traditional treatments focus on quicker fixes like attempting it alone or by going cold turkey, which ultimately can be detrimental. Indeed, rates of relapse and overdose are higher for people who have gone through 30-day treatment programs, and 56 percent of people who leave treatment centers relapse within the first week. However, medications, can offer longer-term solutions, and are often less expensive than in-patient treatment. If traditional substance abuse programs haven’t worked, consider medication.

4. Support is critical
A failed cycle of detox and inpatient therapy, then relapse, can leave a person feeling hopeless. This is why support is critical. Doctors and treatment counselors are important, but even more so is a well-informed support group of family and friends.

“Addiction is not a broken arm that can be fixed. It’s like being on a permanent diet with a piece of candy staring at you every day,” says Avi Israel, a survivor advocate who lost his son after battling a prescription drug addiction. He advises friends and family of patients to, “Know the signs of addiction. Don’t judge. Throw tough love out the window. Love. But love with structure.”

5. Understanding addiction is crucial
Both patients and their friends and family should understand that addiction is a disease, and know what is needed to manage it.

“My son had Crohn’s disease, and I knew everything about that. I wish I had known as much about addiction,” says Israel.

There are more options than traditional 30-day-treatment programs and 12-step programs. In addition to medication, there are support programs like SMART recovery, which provide attendees with tools based on the latest scientific research, as well as a worldwide community with self-empowering, science-based support groups.

A road of recovery is paved by many people – not just those in recovery. With the right support systems in place, a successful and sober life is possible.

Sources from nsc.org and stltoday.com

Businesses Spend More Than $1 Billion a Week on Serious, Nonfatal Workplace Injuries

01-25-2017

by Sandy Smith
http://ehstoday.com/safety/businesses-spend-more-1-billion-week-serious-nonfatal-workplace-injuries

According to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, serious, nonfatal workplace injuries now amount to nearly $60 billion in direct U.S. workers’ compensation costs per year. This translates into more than $1 billion dollars a week spent by businesses on these injuries.

The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index helps employers, risk managers and safety practitioners make workplaces safer by identifying critical risk areas so that businesses can better allocate safety resources.

Top 10 Injury Causes

1. Overexertion involving outside sources ranked first among the leading causes of disabling injury. This event category, which includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing objects, cost businesses $13.79 billion in direct costs and accounted for 23 percent of the overall national burden.

2. Falls on same level ranked second with direct costs of $10.62 billion and accounted for 17.7 percent of the total injury burden.

3. Falls to a lower level ranked third at $5.50 billion and 9.2 percent of the burden.

4. Struck by object or equipment ranked fourth at $4.43 billion and 7.4 percent.

5. Other exertions or bodily reactions ranked fifth at $3.89 billion and 6.5 percent of the total injury burden.

These top five injury causes accounted for 63.8 percent of the total cost burden for U.S. businesses.

The remaining five injury causes combined accounted for 19.5 percent of the total direct cost of disabling injuries. These included: roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle (#6, $3.7 billion); slip or trip without fall (#7, $2.3 billion); caught in/compressed by equipment or objects (#8, $1.95 billion); struck against objects or equipment (#9, $1.94 billion); and repetitive motions involving micro-tasks (#10, $1.81 billion).

Direct costs of all disabling work-related injuries equaled $59.87 billion, with the top 10 causes comprising 83.4 percent – or $49.92 billion – of the total cost burden to employers.

OSHA's Top 10 Violations for 2016

12-29-2016

10. Electrical, General Requirements
1910.303 - General Industry
Number of violations: 1,704

The most common offenses include electric equipment not installed properly or used in accordance with recommended uses. In addition, working space around electric equipment should be unobstructed.

9. Electrical Wiring
1910.305 - General Industry
Number of violations: 1,940

Investigators noted unsafe substitutes for permanent wiring and incorrect use of extension cords.

8. Machine Guarding
1910.212 - General Industry
Number of violations: 2,451

OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Amputations is an effort on the agency's part to reduce the hazards associated with machine and equipment hazards. In addition to machine guarding, investigators saw machinery that was not anchored/fixing as it should be and the use of tools to operate machinery which cause hazards.

7. Ladders
1926.153 - Construction
Number of violations: 2,639

The most common hazards associated with ladder use involved improper use of portable ladders. The ladders were not being used according to their design specifications. Injuries occurred when workers used the top rung as a step and when the ladder had a structural defect. Also, employees were not trained on proper ladder use.

If a ladder is defective, take it out of service.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks
1910.178 - General Industry
Number of violations: 2,860

When a truck is not operated in a safe manner, injuries can occur. The agency saw operators who lacked certification, were not trained on the hazards associated with the facility and workers who did not maintain safe use when operating the vehicle.

5. Lockout/Tagout
1910.147 - General Industry
Number of violations: 3,414

The top three instances where companies were given citations for improper lockout/tagout were:
- Employees are not trained in proper lockout/tagout procedures.
- Lockout/tagout procedures were nonexistent.
- Employers did not perform periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures.

4. Respiratory Protection
1910.134 - General Industry
Number of violations: 3,585

Companies were cited after employees wore respirators but were not medically evaluated, were put in situations with overexposure to contaminants or were not properly fit-tested for respiratory protection.

3. Scaffolding
Scaffolding - 1926.451 - Construction
Number of violations: 3,906

Fall protection and scaffolding go hand-in-hand. Framing, roofing, siding and masonry contractors were among the most commonly cited employers for this violation. Improper assembly and access to scaffolding were noted.

2. Hazard Communications
1910.1200 - General Industry
Number of violations: 5,677

During investigations, OSHA saw numerous instances of inadequate training, lack of updated data sheets and not having a program to address hazard chemical exposure.

1. Fall Protection
1926.501 - Construction
Number of violations: 6,929

Fatalities continue to plague the construction industry. OSHA's data shows 39.9 percent of deaths in the industry are fall-related, yet this citation continues to be at the top of most common violation list every year. Roofing, framing and single family contractors were the most cited employers.

2015 Workplace Fatality Report

12-29-2016

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the 2015 Workplace Fatality Report.

--The number of workplace deaths in 2015, 4.836, was the highest since 5,214 in 2008

--Hispanic/Latino workers suffered 903 fatal injuries in 2015, the most since 937 in 2007

--Roadway incident fatalities were up 9% from 2014, accounting for more than one-quarter of the fatal occupational injuries in 2015

--Homicides were up 2% from 2014

--Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation

--The 937 fatalities in private construction in 2015 represented the highest total since 975 cases in 2008, and Seventeen percent of workers who died were contracted by and performing work for another business or government entity in 2015 rather than their direct employer at the time of the incident.

The number of fatal work injuries involving transportation increased in 2015. Transportation incidents account for 42% of the deaths. Almost half of these fatalities involved a semi, tractor-trailer or tanker truck. Of the 253 non-roadway transportation fatalities in 2015, the most frequent vehicle involved was a farm tractor. Fatal injuries involving pedestrians were lower in 2015, as were rail and water vehicle incidents.

The breakdown of other major events that caused workplace deaths in 2015:

--falls, slips and trips: 17%

--contact with objects and equipment: 15%

--violence and other injuries by people or animals: 15%

--exposure to harmful substances or environments: 9%, and

--fires and explosions: 2%.

Workplace deaths from violence and other injuries by people or animals were down 8%. Shootings increased 15%, the first increase since 2012. Assailants in workplace homicides differed depending on the gender of the victim. About 43% of female victims were fatally assaulted by a relative or domestic partner. For males, that number was only 2%.

Falls to a lower level accounted for 81% of all fatal falls. More than 40% of fatal falls occurred from 15 feet or lower.

OSHA Names New Administrator for Dallas Region

12-29-2016

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels has appointed Kelly Knighton as the new administrator of the agency's Dallas regional office. She will oversee enforcement and compliance assistance efforts to protect worker safety and health in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Prior to becoming regional administrator, Knighton served as deputy regional administrator and area director for the San Antonio area office.

"Kelly has been a tremendous asset to this agency throughout her career and I am confident that she will be an effective leader in enforcing occupational safety and health standards that accomplish the agency's mission of protecting America's workers," said Assistant Secretary Michaels.

Knighton began her career with OSHA in 1995 as a Compliance Safety and Health Officer in Houston, Texas, where she investigated accidents involving manufacturing, construction, petrochemical, logging, maritime and oil and gas exploration. As a Compliance Assistance Specialist, she was instrumental in collaborating with trade associations, employers, local governments, universities and high schools to create partnerships and alliances.

Knighton graduated from the University of Houston - Clear Lake with a bachelor's degree in environmental science in industrial hygiene and occupational safety. She is a certified safety professional and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

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 providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The Writer's Blog: Drug Testing, Electronic Reporting & Everything

12-29-2016

The Writer's Blog with Betsey Kulakowski, CSHO

Drug Testing, Electronic Reporting & Everything

It seems like everyone is all up in arms about OSHA’s position on everything from drug testing to electronic reporting of injuries and illnesses. Did anyone even notice the new walking-working surface standard for general industry? No. But that’s a topic for another day.

Today, I want to share with you my insight on the changes to the OSHA recordkeeping standards. They’re kind of important, and yes, there are still a lot of unanswered questions that OSHA has yet to address.

So, let’s break them down:

1. Drug testing – OSHA wants to make it abundantly clear that employees have a RIGHT to report injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Anything that prevents or punishes employees for reporting a workplace injury and illness is strictly VERBOTEN. Yes, I said it. Verboten. (That’s forbidden on steroids.) Yet, there is NO RULE that prohibits an employer from conducting drug testing employees. Rules only prohibit employers from using drug testing, or threats of drug testing as a form of retaliation against employees who report injuries or illnesses. If an employer conducts drug testing to comply with the requirements of a state or federal law or regulation, the employer's motive would not be retaliatory and this rule would not prohibit such testing. Now, how hard was that?

2. Incentive Programs – OSHA has found some employers using incentive programs to discourage employees from reporting injuries and illnesses, and some workplace cultures they found were down right toxic. Employees who cost their co-workers a big incentive being taken out and beaten to teach them a lesson, or employees being fired without just cause because the employer thought they might file an injury report – cases like these have been found, and OSHA’s not joking around about it. They’re citing those cases as willful in some cases. But keep in mind, once again, the rules do not prohibit incentive programs. However, employers must not create incentive programs that deter or discourage an employee from reporting an injury or illness. Incentive programs should encourage safe work practices and promote worker participation in safety-related activities.
Here's my one easy tip for incentive programs: Make sure they recognize/reward employees for something they did (rather than something they didn’t do – like get hurt.) Employees who provide positive contributions to your workplace’s safety and health management system, such as reporting hazards, participating on a safety committee, or speak out about unsafe behaviors, should be recognized for their courage. The incentives should motivate others to emulate the same behavior, because those are the kinds of things that help prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Period. End of sentence.

3. Electronic reporting – Here’s how it’s going to work:

• Establishments with 250 or more employees that are subject to OSHA's recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA SOME of the information from the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300), the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A), and the Injury and Illness Incident Report (OSHA Form 301).

• Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must electronically submit to OSHA SOME of the information from the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A). Establishments with fewer than 20 employees at all times during the year do not have to routinely submit information electronically to OSHA.

• The electronic reporting requirements are based on the size of the establishment, not the firm. The OSHA injury and illness records are maintained at the establishment level. An establishment is defined as a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. A firm may be comprised of one or more establishments.

• Reporting requirements will be phased in over two years, as follows:

• Establishments with 250 or more employees must begin submitting information from Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and must submit information from all forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

• Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must begin submitting information from Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and again by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

• Establishments with fewer than 20 employees at all times during the year do not have to routinely submit information electronically to OSHA.

So, what do they mean when they say SOME of the information? Well, the details aren’t out yet so don’t hold me to this, but OSHA takes employee confidentiality very seriously, so I don’t see that it’s likely that employers will have to give much information related to the employees’ identity.

What everyone wants to know right now is, HOW exactly will we be submitting this information? Right now, all we know is that it will be done electronically. When the time comes, OSHA will most likely notify employers and provide a link to a secure website where the
information will be entered. Stay tuned for more details on that one.

4. Reporting Requirements – all private-sector employers are required to report work-related fatalities within 8 hours; amputations, hospitalizations and loss of an eye must be reported within 24 hours. Just because a facility is exempt from keeping records because of size or industry, they are still required to report workplace fatalities and significant injuries. Reporting can be done over the phone, 24/7 at 1-800-321-OSHA, or online at www.osha.gov

5. One of the frequent questions I get on this topic is, how will these rule changes affect Public Sector employers in Oklahoma? Public sector includes city, county, state, public schools, and public universities as well as public trusts. The answer is, they most likely won’t for a while, if at all.

Oklahoma’s recordkeeping requirements have some variations from the Federal Regulations. Public sector employers are already required to submit injury and illness records for each of their facilities to the State Department of Labor as part of the Mandatory Public Sector Survey. (Shout out to my girl, Shelly who is your best resource for help with the Survey and Public Sector Recordkeeping –shelly.hurst@labor.ok.gov )
Reporting requirements for Public Sector have not changed either. If you have a fatality or catastrophe (hospitalization of 5 or more workers for medical treatment) on the job, public sector employers must report the incident in writing within 48 hours on forms provided on the Oklahoma Department of Labor’s website – www.labor.ok.gov


I will be continuing to follow OSHA’s updates for all the latest developments, and plan to put together a Recordkeeping seminar once more information is available on these changes. If you’d be interested in attending a seminar on Recordkeeping, drop me an email at betseyk@oksafety.org. I’ll make sure you’re on the mailing list!

An OSHA Recordkeeping session will also be included as part of our annual Safety & Health Conference June 21-23 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Norman, OK. Make plans now to attend!