Archive for: Hazard Communication

List of OSHA standards cited most frequently in 2017 released

By: September 28th, 2017 Email This Post Print This Post

Fall protection training requirement makes debut on annual top 10 list

The annual list of most-frequently cited OSHA standards was released this week at the National Safety Center (NSC) Congress & Expo in Indianapolis. Although the list looks pretty similar to years past, there has been some movement.

The general requirements of fall protection (1926.501) ranked first on the list again this year, as it did last year and the year before that. The top five categories, in fact, have held their positions for the past three years.

The hazard communication requirements (1910.1200)—which are especially pertinent to healthcare employers and other industries where workers handle hazardous substances—have held steady as the second-most-frequently cited set of OSHA standards.

Citations related to electrical wiring (1910.305) have continued their downward trend relative to the other top standards, moving from eighth place to 10th in two years. This year’s ninth-place finisher, fall protection training requirements (1926.503), jumped onto the list for the first time in recent memory.

For more detail on the OSHA standards for the past three years, review the chart below. (Or click here for the PDF version.) The numbers associated with each category indicate the number of violations cited under each set of standards. These numbers are based on each fiscal year, and they are considered preliminary. A final report will be published in the December edition of NSC’s Safety+Health magazine.

NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement that the list of top OSHA violations is “a blueprint for keeping workers safe.”

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This week: OSHA emphasizes fall prevention

By: May 8th, 2017 Email This Post Print This Post

A failure to provide workers with adequate fall protection is the violation cited most frequently by OSHA inspectors. Each year, hundreds of construction workers are killed in falls, which is why OSHA and its partners set aside this week, May 8-12, as a “National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down” to encourage employers to pause during the workday and revisit safety topics.

Given the high number of fall-related fatalities among construction workers, that industry serves as the natural focus of this week’s events, but the stand-down carries worthwhile reminders for those overseeing safety in healthcare settings as well.

Late last year, OSHA cited Jersey City Medical Center RWJ Barnabas Health with one willful and four serious safety violations, proposing a penalty of nearly $175,000 after a maintenance worker was electrocuted while working on a 6-foot A-frame ladder. The worker, who fractured multiple bones and sustained a subdural hematoma, died from the injuries more than two weeks after the fall. Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office, called the death “tragic” and “preventable.”

Employers who hope to prevent fall-related injuries and deaths are encouraged this week to have conversations with their workers about hazards and protection. To that end, OSHA assembled a website, www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/. The free resources available on the site include fall-prevention training guides in English and Spanish and a downloadable version of Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely, a document that details proper ladder usage.

Will you pause this week for a fall prevention stand-down? If not, you should consider working these resources into your future training sessions. The emphasis may be only a week long, but the hazards exist year-round.

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Take a lesson about chemicals from janitor’s death

By: July 9th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

We hear it every day like a broken record – wear your PPE and know what you are doing when you are working with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Unfortunately, too many people don’t listen and they end up paying the ultimate price.

I’m reminded of this today as I read more about the janitor in an elementary school in Plymouth, Massachusetts who was apparently overcome and died from exposure from an as-yet unknown chemical on Monday morning.

If you’re just learning about this, 53-year-old Chester Flattery, the head custodian at Manomet Elementary School, was found dead by the school secretary at about 8 a.m.  That employee and 12 other people – many of them police officers, firefighters and other first responders who were exposed – had to also be taken to the hospital for treatment.

The investigation is still ongoing, but reports say Flattery had been at work for an hour before anyone else and that he may have been applying a floor sealant at the time of his death. School is not in session and there is a lot of maintenance work that goes into getting the building ready for next year.

Now, we all in workplace safety world know he was supposed to be wearing a respirator, eye protection, and other protective equipment. I have been a teacher in an elementary school, and I have seen these guys hard at work getting the school ready, even as I was getting my own classroom ready for students.

Most of the time, they are in regular street clothes as they go about their duties and I am willing to bet Flattery was no exception. As someone who had been working there since 2007, he was probably just doing what he always did – this time the fumes were too much for him and no one was there to help him until it was too late.

It almost happened to me. Back in college, I worked as a pool director at a country club in Connecticut, responsible for maintaining the proper chemical levels. One morning, I went into the supply closet looking for chlorine pellets, not knowing that one of my lifeguards hadn’t tightened the cover of the bucket properly the night before, allowing rain water to seep in. When I took the cover off, I got hit with a cloud of chlorine gas that knocked me off my feet and burned my throat. Happily, I was able to get to fresh air quickly and was fine. But no one was around and I was not wearing any kind of protection. I was lucky, and I never made the same mistake twice.

In the healthcare field, you can take a lesson from this tragedy. Don’t assume that just because you have done a job for a long time, you can ignore the rules. OSHA has bloodborne pathogens and hazardous chemical standards for a reason. If you are working with patients, wear your gloves, use your safety sharps, and lift safely.

If you are in a lab and work with chemicals, make sure you know the hazards of what you are working with and how to handle it properly, as well as any first aid information – it’s why OSHA says you must have SDS safety sheets on site. And always be sure someone is around, because it may save your life.

How do you store, manage, and access your MSDS?

By: November 14th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Many workplaces are going paperless with their MSDS, storing them as PDFs or relying on fax-on-demand services. Others are sticking with paper, or are using a combination of electronic and paper files. How does your facility acquire, store, and manage access to your MSDS?

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

NIOSH reports chemotherapy drug exposures to oncology clinic staff

By: July 13th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Concerns voiced by staff at an oncology clinic can help protect your workers, who may also handle hazardous drugs.

NIOSH posted a new Health Hazard Report prompted by a request from a Florida oncology clinic where staff members complained about upper respiratory irritation, headache, fainting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

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NIOSH updates healthcare hazardous drug list

By: July 2nd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

NIOSH has updated for 2012 the list of drugs commonly found in healthcare considered hazardous and requiring special handling.

List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings was last updated in 2010 and identifies drugs that could pose an occupational threat through various routes of exposure to workers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and housekeeping staff.

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Going green can also improve worker safety—Medical Environment Update, June 2012

By: June 4th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Green initiatives in the healthcare environment offer the obvious perks: financial savings, smaller footprint, and the organizational camaraderie of making a difference in the environment. And the June issue of Medical Environment Update reports on how environmentally sound practices can also spruce up the culture of safety, including worker safety, in healthcare facilities.

Here is an excerpt:

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NIOSH guidelines for hazardous drugs in healthcare

By: May 23rd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

The following recommendations, published by NIOSH in 2004, cover the prevention of occupational exposures to antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs:

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Chemotherapy drugs and sterilizing agents put nurses at risk—Medical Environment Update, May 2012

By: May 23rd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

It’s no surprise that highly toxic chemicals, found in chemotherapy drugs and sterilizing agents used to clean medical devices, can be harmful to those who don’t take the proper precautions. What is surprising is that exposure to these chemicals continues to be an issue, and that is one of the feature articles of the May issue of Medical Environment Update.

Here is an excerpt.

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BD offers free webinar protecting clinicians from hazardous drug exposures

By: April 16th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Despite guidelines issued by OSHA, NIOSH, many healthcare workers are unaware of the risks they face when handling chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs in the workplace, such as connecting syringes to injection ports, transferring drugs between containers or spiking IV containers.

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OSHA announces amended Hazard Communication standard

By: March 21st, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

OSHA’s changes to the Hazard Communication standard will improve safety by making it easier for workers to understand the threat that hazardous chemicals present in the workplace.

“Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis at a March 20 news conference. “Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”

The change aligns the standard with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals which, according to OSHA, should reduce confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitate safety training, and improve understanding of hazards, especially for low literacy workers. The GHS also classifies chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and establishes consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the United States and imported from abroad.

“OSHA’s 1983 Hazard Communication Standard gave workers the right to know. As one participant expressed during our rulemaking process, this update will give them the right to understand, as well,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

The final rule revising the standard is available at http://s.dol.gov/P1, and complete implementation of HazCom 2012, as it is informally known, is expected by 2016. Employers have until December 2013 to train employees to the systems new requirements.

Take the guesswork out of complying with the newly modified OSHA Hazard Communication standard and PPE requirements in your healthcare facility

Changes to the OSHA Hazard Communication standard through adoption of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classifying and labeling chemicals, and the new Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in General Industry are two of the most significant changes from OSHA this year. Now, available on demand is HCPro’s HazCom/GHS and PPE Enforcement: Understanding the New Requirements for OSHA Compliance in Healthcare, a 90-minute audio program where healthcare industry experts will tell you how these changes affect your workplace, provide a timeline for implementation, and offer tools to help you train your staff.

HazCom GHS clears OMB review

By: March 6th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Adoption of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classifying and labeling chemicals into the Hazard Communication Standard just got one step closer to reality.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) concluded its review on February 21, “with a ruling that OSHA’s rule was ‘consistent with change,’” reports MSDSonline, February 23.

The “consistent with change” qualifier indicates OMB agreement with the intent of the rule, but requires a “substantive” change before publishing in the Federal Register, according to the report.

The notice in the Federal Register will include implementation and enforcement dates, which could be as long as one and two years respectively.

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