The Hazmat Student Newsletter

September 2017

HAZCOM Pictograms

 
  Take the HAZCOM Pictogram Challenge!
 
 

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires pictograms on labels when users may be exposed to chemical hazards. Each of the HCS pictograms conveys a specific hazard(s) and it’s important for workers to know which hazards are represented by each pictogram.

Take the Free HCS Pictogram Challenge now!

View, download, print, or share the HAZCOM Pictogram Challenge here. It’s an excellent FREE resource to help make your next Safety Meeting or Toolbox Talk more engaging and interactive.

Visit our site to find 100% Online OSHA HAZCOM training and additional free resources.

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Posted in: OSHA HAZCOM, OSHA Safety

September 2017

Hearing Protection

 
   Have You Heard? | Hearing Protection Myths
 
 

Approximately 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise in the workplace. Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and other serious health effects. Despite this, workers sometimes feel they have good reasons that the proper hearing protection shouldn’t be used in a hazardous noise environment. Let’s debunk some of the most common excuses:

I don’t need hearing protection because I’m used to the noise.
Being able to tolerate noise doesn’t protect you from hearing loss. The noise level and the length of time you are exposed to hazardous noise directly contribute to your risk of hearing loss. Also, workers who say they are accustomed to hazardous noise, may not be bothered by noise due to hearing loss which has already occurred. 

If I was going to lose my hearing, it would have happened already. 
Hearing loss can happen slowly and progressively over many years and it can be difficult to detect without audiometric testing. 
Just because you haven’t noticed it yet, doesn’t mean it’s not happening and won’t get worse. 

Hearing loss is no big deal. If it happens, I can get a hearing aid. 
With noise induced hearing loss, both the quality and the volume of hearing will be impacted. Hearing aids may help amplify the volume of any hearing you have left, but the sound quality may be so deteriorated that you still can’t understand the sound. Hearing aids will not reinstate the quality of your hearing back to a “pre hearing loss” state.

Hearing protection won’t help me now. I’ve already lost some hearing. 
The proper hearing protection may protect you from additional hearing loss or slow it’s progression. Hearing protection can also help prevent temporary noise induced hearing loss from becoming permanent. 

I don’t need hearing protection because I’m rarely exposed to hazardous noise. 
It just takes once! Noise-Induce Hearing Loss can happen after a single, loud event like an explosion or a gunshot. 

It’s too hard to communicate when wearing hearing protection. 
In noisy environments, many people find communication is easier while wearing hearing protection. As the excessive noise is reduced, differing sounds can be identified. Also, there are many hearing protection products designed specifically to make conversations easier while reducing the hazardous noise volume. If communication is a problem with your current hearing protection, research alternative products for a better match. Keep in mind that hearing loss would also impact your ability to communicate, so it’s better to protect yourself before that happens.

Excessive noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is often preventable with the right protection. Don’t let common hearing protection myths keep you from a beautiful sounding future.

For 100% Online training on this topic, see our OSHA Hearing Conservation Training course

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Posted in: OSHA Safety

September 2017

Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

 
   Set in Stone | Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard Enforcement
 
 

OSHA’s enforcement of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction is set to begin on September 23, 2017. The rule is intended to limit respirable crystalline silica exposure in workers, which will help prevent lung cancer, silicosis, kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Once the rule is in full effect, it’s estimated it will prevent 600 deaths and 900 cases of silicosis each year.

Millions of workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in the workplace. When silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone are cut, crushed or drilled, workers face exposure. Additionally, workers in hydraulic fracturing / fracking, brick manufacturing, foundries and many other industries may be exposed. 

OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica final rule implements some key provisions for Construction that must be complied with:  

  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan.
  • Reduce the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Limit worker exposure to the PEL through the use of engineering controls.
  • Monitor highly exposed workers through providing health exams and lung health information.
  • Keep records regarding worker exposure and medical exams.
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and how to limit that exposure. 

 

The final rule on silica dust exposure was issued in 2016. Enforcement for Construction has been delayed from June 2017 to September 2017 so OSHA could provide additional outreach, guidance and educational materials. Compliance with most of the Silica requirements for General Industry and Maritime will be enforced as of June 23, 2018. 

To learn more, see our NEW 100% Online Course: Silica Awareness Training for Construction. OSHA also offers detailed information on the Final Rule in Fact Sheet – OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Rule: Construction and in the FAQs on their Final Rule webpage.

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Posted in: OSHA Safety

September 2017

Brain Injury Prevention

 
   Don’t Mind Me | Preventing Brain Injuries in the Workplace
 
 

According to the Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries, between 4% to 7% of all traumatic brain injuries happen in the workplace. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur when there is an impact to the head, or a penetrating head injury, and brain function is altered. TBI’s can cause the brain tissue to bruise, tear, swell or bleed. The impact of a brain injury can be mild and heal over time or it can be life-altering. Severe brain injuries can cause life-long personality changes, memory loss, epilepsy, mental retardation, or death. 

Leading causes of TBI’s in the workplace involve falls, motor vehicle accidents, and contact with objects or equipment. Workers involved in Construction, Transportation, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing all have a higher risk of incurring a Workplace Traumatic Brain Injury.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a study and determined that most occupational brain injuries occur while workers are performing their normal job functions at their regular work site. They also found that 84% of workers who suffer brain injuries were not wearing any head protection. 

Most occupational traumatic brain injuries are preventable. Below are some actions you can take to protect yourself on the job:

  • Wear protective headgear when working from heights or when there is risk of falling objects.
  • Ensure you have high quality, undamaged headgear that complies with The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) head protection standards.
  • Check that your head protection fits properly and is secure.
  • Wear the proper footwear for your work environment to avoid trips, slips and falls.
  • Follow fall protection guidelines in your workplace.
  • Ensure machinery is in good working order and has been properly serviced.
  • Keep walkways clear of obstacles.
  • Use hand railings in stairwells.
  • Avoid walking on wet surfaces.
  • Drive safely, follow laws, wear your seat belt, and never drive under the influence.
  • Ensure your vehicle is inspected regularly and properly maintained.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the potential risks in your environment.
  • Address potential hazards in the workplace promptly.

 

For more information on traumatic brain injuries in construction, please visit the CDC webpage on the topic. 

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Posted in: OSHA Safety

September 2017

Workplace Amputations

 
   Risking Life and Limb | Workplace Amputation Hazards 
 
 

Every year, thousands of U.S. workers lose fingers, hands, feet, and other body parts as a result of workplace accidents. Between 2015 – 2016, there were an average of seven amputations per day reported to OSHA. This average only includes data from 26 states and doesn’t account for unreported injuries, so the actual numbers are likely much higher. These accidents are often preventable.

Amputations are seen across many industries, such as manufacturing, construction, warehousing, and more. Workers involved with any mechanical motion are potentially at risk for an amputation injury. The most common hazardous mechanical motions that result in amputations are: Rotating; Reciprocating; Transversing; Cutting; Punching; Shearing; and Bending. When body parts are crushed, compressed, caught between, or struck by objects, amputation injuries can occur. 

Workplace amputations most often occur when equipment is unguarded or inadequately safeguarded. These injuries also frequently involve the use of forklifts, doors, trash compactors, powered and non-powered hand tools, and materials handling activities. 

OSHA offers the following tips to help workers avoid amputations:

  • Use guards as physical barriers from hazardous areas.
  • Don’t bypass, remove, or tamper with machine guards.  
  • Use devices to help prevent contact with machinery points of operation. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of the machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation.
  • Use proper lock-out/tag-out procedures on all equipment.
  • Ensure employees are trained in the safe use of equipment.
  • Modify work practices as needed for safety.

 

Take the time to recognize, identify, manage and control amputation hazards in your workplace. With heightened awareness and a few preventative measures, most amputations can be avoided. For additional information on workplace amputations, please see OSHA’s Fact Sheet: Amputations.

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Posted in: OSHA Safety

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