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Countdown to Compliance: GHS What You Need to Know

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What is it and what’s it got to do with me? These are the questions most people ask themselves when they are being told they have to do something. In the case of the upcoming GHS changes, its relevance is quite simple. The highlights that make GHS important include it being a Globally Harmonized System that establishes agreed hazard classification and communication provisions with explanatory information on how to apply the system.

The significant changes that all facilities should be aware of are the new classification criteria for health, physical, and environmental chemical hazards, the 6 standardized label elements for hazard classes and categories, the appropriate signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements, and the standardized order of information for the new 16 section Safety Data Sheets.

The importance of the adoption of GHS in the United States and abroad hinges on making information about potentially hazardous chemicals available to all that come in contact with it. This GHS system will make it easier to identify this important information through the standardization of protocol. The changes will increase quality and consistency of information provided to workers across the globe. This will ideally make it possible for any worker to walk into any facility and easily recognize all hazards present that are marked with GHS labeling.

The benefits of this program will be felt throughout your facility with better comprehension for employees. Better understanding of work processes and hazards will lead to fewer workplace illnesses and injuries which in turn will lead to a better workflow and interaction.

Two U.S. deadlines on the horizon in 2015:

  • June 1, 2015
    Chemical manufacturers and distributors must complete hazard reclassification and produce GHS styled labels and safety data sheets. Distributors get an additional 6 months to complete shipments of old inventory.
  • December 1, 2015
    Distributors must comply fully with HCS requirements. (Grace period for shipments of old inventory ends.)

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Make sure that your facility is on the right track with full compliance. Feel like you might need some more compliance help around your facility, get some help here.


 

You’ll Never See Them Coming: The Importance of Permissible Exposure Limits on Harmful Chemicals

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Permissible exposure limits (PELs) have been all over the news with countless incidents being reported showing the debilitating affects lifelong exposure without any proper precautions can have on a loyal worker. Of the thousands of chemicals used in workplaces, OSHA has PELs for less than 500, 95% of which have not been updated since 1971. Recognizing the shortcomings in PEL standards OSHA is putting the responsibility back in the hands of individual companies to do the right thing and ensure the safety of the hardworking individuals.

With many types of harmful chemical and gases found in workplaces across America, the effects can be vast and grave. Exposure symptoms can start as a simple nose or eye irritation but can quickly build into chronic light headedness, difficulty breathing, cancer, paralysis or even death. It is an unfortunate state of affairs when it comes to PELs. Workers are being exposed to limits that are legal but in no way healthy.

In October 2014 OSHA launched a nation dialogue in hopes of giving stakeholders a forum to develop innovative, effective approaches to improve the health of workers. OSHA has also been trying to find new ways of ensuring the safety of workers where they feel companies aren’t doing enough on their own to protect. For example in a recent visit highlighted in the wall street journal OSHA cited dangerous environment not under the PELs but rather the General Duty Clause to correct a situation that was having a negative effect on the well being of its employees.

Chemicals have warnings on them for a reason, the workers who have to interact with them shouldn’t have to risk their own well being to do so. While giving a voice to this long term issue is the first step, hopefully not only OSHA but facilities on an individual basis will start taking safety into their own hand while formal legislation is being passed if for nothing else than the future wellbeing of their own company.

If your workplace is looking for safer chemical alternatives, visit the OSHA toolkit for transitioning here https://www.osha.gov/dsg/safer_chemicals/index.html


 

Burn Awareness: Top 6 Most Frequent Burn Types

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In Honor of the recent burn awareness week that just passed we ask you our readers if you are aware of the 6 popular types of burns that occur in the workplace? While all burns may not directly apply to all workplaces it is important to cover all your bases to make sure that you are providing your workers with the proper protection for any burn hazard they may come into contact with.

Thermal burns are caused by fire, steam, hot objects, or hot liquids. These may be the most often thought of when the word burn is brought into conversation. Anything from a sun burn affecting usually only the first layer of skin to more severe damage and blistering to all layers of skin and tissue, 1st degree to 3rd degree burns should not be taken lightly and may require  immediate emergency response and care.

Cold temperature burns are caused by skin exposure to wet, windy, or cold conditions. These are burns that are seasonal and most directly affect those working outdoors in cold temperatures for extended periods of time. Not to be taken lightly, cold burns also known as frostbite if not taken care of properly can cause numbness, blistering or even gangrene to exposed areas, causing damage to tendons, muscles and nerves and in most severe cases resulting in amputation.

Electrical burns are caused by contact with electrical sources or by lightning. These types of burns may not always show their damage on the outside of your body. In some cases severe damage and long lasting effects can be felt on the inside through heart rhythm disturbance or cardiac arrest. Sometimes the jolt associated with the electrical burn can also cause you to be thrown or to fall, resulting in fractures or other associated injuries. There are many types of electrical burns each coming with their own steps for prevention and protection and treatment from arc flash, to high voltage to oral burns, it is important to determine the exact hazard before formulating a safety program.

Chemical burns are caused by contact with household or industrial chemicals in a liquid, solid, or gas form. If a chemical comes in contact with your nose mouth skin or eyes it may cause internal damage if chemical is swallowed. Most commonly chemical burns are caused by contact with acids and bases. The severity of burn may depends on many factors including, length of contact, concentration of chemical, the strength of chemical, and whether it was in a solid liquid or gas form

Radiation burns are caused by the sun, tanning booths, sunlamps, X-rays, or radiation therapy for cancer treatment. Perhaps one of the least likely for most workplace outside of the health care industry it is still very important to protect yourself from them if in contact with radiation.

Friction burns are caused by contact with any hard surface such as roads (“road rash”), carpets, or gym floor surfaces. The easiest way to prevent against a friction burn is to properly cover your skin with protective gear or clothing if there is a chance there may be a chance for repetitive scrapping or dragging motion.

Now that you have gotten a crash course in the 6 most popular types of burns that your employees could face in your company, evaluate your workplace to see which may cause the most hazards and establish the proper protection plan for prevention !


Workplace Safety News Roundup

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Keeping track of new OSHA regulations and taking advantage of supplemental safety training and reading materials makes a large difference in the success of the programs you implement in your workplace. Seeing what others are doing both for the better and worse help mold an all encompassing safety initiative. Here is a sampling of some of the news buzzing around workplace safety this month.

State of Safety 2015

What is the state of safety? It’s a question Safety+Health explores every year by speaking with experts and looking at the most recent data. The largest national source of occupational injury and illness data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. This survey provides an estimate of nonfatal injuries nationwide, allowing stakeholders to get a clearer picture of workplace safety in the United States.

To read more about these findings click here: http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/11572-state-of-safety-2015

Workplace psychological injury on radar, but more ‘work to be done’

An increasing number of workers comp claims for psychological injuries is a factor causing HR teams to examine the possible workplace safety implications. “A lot of companies are talking about psychological injuries and the types of systems they need to put in place to deal with that. It is more of a recent challenge.”
Learn more about what this may mean for your workplace click herehttp://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/workplace-psychological-injury-on-radar-but-more-work-to-be-done-194766.aspx

OSHA Will Put Workplace Safety Data Online as ‘Nudge’ to Employers

The site already includes information on worker fatalities and catastrophes. The hope, David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health says, is that additional information will embarrass companies into being more careful. “We believe that the possibility of public reporting of serious injuries will encourage—or, in the behavioral economics term, nudge—employers to take steps to prevent injuries so they’re not seen as unsafe places to work,” says Michaels. “After all, if you had a choice of applying for a job at a place where a worker had just lost a hand, vs. one where no amputation has occurred, which would you choose?”

To find out more information about this click here: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-18/osha-will-put-workplace-safety-data-online-as-nudge-to-employers

OSHA Violations

OSHA fines company more than $76,000 for willfully putting employees at risk

An OSHA inspection resulted in one willful and 17 serious health and safety violations for not conducting noise testing or providing protective equipment and not monitoring worker exposure to noise at a Weston foundry. The company faces proposed penalties of $76,200. Read More here

Cited for Exposing workers to trench cave-ins for the 8th time

For the eighth time, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited an Excavating Co. for allowing its employees to work at great risk in trenches without cave-in protection and a safe means to exit the trench.

OSHA inspectors witnessed two employees repairing a valve on a city water line in an 8-foot trench. An investigation followed, and the agency cited the company for two willful and one serious violation with penalties of $147,000. For its continual failure to protect workers from cave-in hazards, the Jamestown-based company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program*. The company has been cited eight times since 1997, and failed to pay its most recent penalties from a 2011 inspection. Read more here

Employers face more than $110K in fines for failing to provide protections

Workers doing renovations faced potentially fatal falls of up to 40 feet because their employers failed to provide proper protection. In all, four contractors were cited and fined $110,670 by OSHA. OSHA found several fall hazards; no fall protection for employees working on the roof; unguarded floor holes; insufficient anchorage for fall protection; and employees untrained to recognize fall hazards. Read more here