June 11, 2010

In This Update
OSHA Launches Newly Redesigned Small Business Web Page
Bonus Systems Can Encourage Cheating
New Screening Tool to Protect Workers from Skin Allergies
Hexavalent Chromium Requirement Effective June 15
HP Expands Recall of Notebook Computer Batteries Due to Fire Hazard
OSHA Revising Walking-Working Surfaces Rule
Workplace Mental Health Promotion: A How-To Guide
Fast Track Safety Training and the "Straight Face" Test
The Air Waves are Public
OSHA to Hold Virtual Stakeholder Meeting on Combustible Dust
Quick Links
Chip DawsonThis health, safety and environment electronic update comes from Chip Dawson and the Rochester Business Alliance as a service to member organizations.
Small Business imageOSHA Launches Newly Redesigned Small Business Web Page
The new Small Business page of OSHA's Web site provides links to numerous OSHA resources and information designed specifically for smaller employers, including the free On-site Consultation Program, safety and health tools and publications, easy-to-follow guides for specific OSHA standards, and descriptions of benefits that small businesses receive from OSHA. The page also includes information on the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. To access the new page, click here.
Bonus Systems Can Encourage Cheating 
According to a laboratory study by researchers at Ryerson University and the University of Guelph in Canada, test subjects offered bonuses for accomplishing a set number of tasks tended to be more likely to exaggerate their reported scores. Those compensated on piece rate or tournament systems were less likely to fudge results. If applied to safety, the results might suggest the need for careful system design where incentives are provided for certain completed tasks or targets met. For more on the study, click here.
New Screening Tool to Protect Workers from Skin Allergies 
NIOSH Scientists and colleagues have reported the development of a simple, rapid, inexpensive test for chemicals that can cause allergic contact dermatitis. The new test has potential for use as a preliminary screening tool to determine whether chemicals used in consumer products and at workplaces might cause skin allergies in people. However, the new tool is not yet on the market as near as we can determine. We'll let you know when it is. For an abstract of the article, click here
Hexavalent Chromium Requirement Effective June 15 
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set the date of June 15 for the direct final rule requiring employers to notify their workers of all Hexavalent Chromium exposures. Under the old rule, employers were only required to notify employees when they experienced exposures exceeding the permissible exposure limit (PEL). This toxic chemical increases risk for lung cancer and damage to the nose, throat and respiratory tract.

Exposures to Hexavalent Chromium can occur among works handling pigments, spray paints and coatings contain chromates, operating chrome plating baths, and welding or cutting metals containing chromium, such as stainless steel.
HP logoHP Expands Recall of Notebook Computer Batteries Due to Fire Hazard  
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a voluntary recall of the Lithium-Ion batteries used in Hewlett-Packard and Compaq notebook computers. About 54,000 units are impacted by the current recall adding to the 70,000 units that were previously recalled in May 2009. The recalled lithium-ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. To see the recall notice, click here.
Fall protection imageOSHA Revising Walking-Working Surfaces Rule
In an effort to reduce fall-related deaths and injuries, OSHA has announced that it is revising the standards on walking and working surfaces and PPE to include new technology on fall protection. The rule will be reorganized and provide more compliance flexibility plus improving consistence between construction, general industry and maritime standards. It will also be written in plain language. Comments on the proposal are invited by August 23, 2010. For more details, click here. If you think there is no need to beef-up fall protection standards, look at the shot of the long draped lanyard to the right.
Works well imageWorkplace Mental Health Promotion: A How-To Guide
With most working adults spending much of their waking hours on the job, the workplace environment can have a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of workers. A new website has been developed - The Workplace Mental Health Promotion: A How-To Guide - to provide both employees and employers with the tools and resources they need to create a healthy workplace. Developed by The Health Communication Unit at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, the site educates employees who lack understanding of mental illness, empowers individuals experiencing mental illness to seek the support they need, and informs employers on how to create a mentally healthy workplace. To access the Guide web site, click here.
smiley faceFast Track Safety Training and the "Straight Face" Test
While logged on to an international occupational safety discussion group, I recently read the following post: "I assist a company in their safety training. Upper management insists that 15 minutes devoted to a topic is adequate to train their personnel. OSHA required topics are the main issue. Mixed language setting, 90 percent Spanish with 10 percent English speaking. My question:  Is there any documentation, interpretation, that addresses the time aspect to cover these safety topics?"

As you might guess, there were several respondents who tried to give the questioner direction on how to "educate" management, but the best response came from safety practitioner Ray Campbell who recommended the straight face test. Says Ray: "As an attorney once explained it to me, the answer must pass the straight face test." If you are testifying in court and you are asked if you really felt the training was adequate, can you answer without smiling? For example, imagine explaining that you provided Bloodborne Pathogen training in English and Spanish, allowed for questions and answers and gave a test all in the 15 minutes allotted. You're really composed if you can keep a straight face with that story.
The Air Waves are Public
It's easy to forget, given the ease of use of all kinds of electronic technology, that the airwaves over which much of the business and personal data flows are, in fact, owned by the public. That means you are talking or communicating to anyone who wants to listen in or read your comments. You have only two means of protection: (1) don't use the technology, or (2) encrypt it.

We mention this because of yet another scary report in the media telling us about the availability of software that can be acquired cheaply and installed on your cell phone to allow people intent on doing bad things to grab all your sensitive information and even track your location with GPS. In fact, most people don't care what you send over the air and even those bent on bad deeds may lack the patience to listen in for hours or days until you give away your social security number. But, those of you operating in the business world, be warned. If your personal or business data is potentially juicy or lucrative, someone may be listening. Most of those tools you see on NCIS or CSI actually exist in some form and can be in the hands of someone who wants to cause harm.
OSHA to Hold Virtual Stakeholder Meeting on Combustible Dust
OSHA has scheduled a first-ever virtual stakeholder meeting on June 28 to seek input about combustible dust workplace hazards. Comments from the meeting will be used to help the agency develop a proposed standard on combustible dust. For more information on the meetings, click here.

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