July 14, 2010

In This Update
Dawson New Contact Information
Cleaning Clothes with Compressed Air
Workers Drown in Ketchup Factory Tank
OSHA Reform Taking Shape
Acute Antimicrobial Pesticide-Related Illnesses Among HC Workers Studied
International Workplace Fatality Analysis
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.
Dawson New Contact Information 
We've moved yet again-something Shirley and I tend to do every six or seven years.  It's a stimulating process. So, effective July 16, you can reach me at the new address at the end of this update or at the new phone number (585) 461-1549. My e-mail address remains the same.
Cleaning Clothes with Compressed Air 
We recently heard of a company that was cited by OSHA at three separate locations for allowing employees to clean clothes with compressed air with pressure below 30 psi. OSHA does allow the use of air lower than 30 psi for cleaning clothes [29 CFR 1910.242(b)], but it also requires the use of a chip guard and PPE to protect against both the air blast and flying debris. So, it is likely that the employees were not properly protected. Another issue that could lead to a citation would be the material being removed with the air blast. Heavy metals, wood dust and many other materials can be hazardous when blown into a dust cloud. Bottom line: the best practice is vacuuming rather than blowing. This is OSHA's position in a standard interpretation that says a prohibition on compressed air cleaning of clothing is a good practice for all industries.
Workers Drown in Ketchup Factory Tank 
According to the Indian Express for July 9, six persons died and two others were injured when they fell into a tank at a ketchup manufacturing unit in Lucknow's Talkatora area. The victims worked at the Akansha Food Products unit in Mayapuram locality in Rajajipuram. The factory owner has been detained by the police.

The 20-feet deep tank was used for fermenting vegetables. According to the police, one of the workers was trying to scoop up fermented liquids from the tank when her ladder slipped and she fell into the tank.

"When the woman fell in, the other workers jumped in to help her," said the Senior Superintendent of Police. The police suspect that once inside the tank, the workers fell unconscious due to the gases from the fermented liquids and drowned. For more on the incident from the Indian Express, click here.
OSHA Reform Taking Shape 
According to ISHN editor Dave Johnson, House and Senate Democrats are joining forces for the most sweeping OSHA reform bill since the agency was created in 1970. The bulk of the proposed legislation addresses MSHA reform, but the current draft has a good 100 pages tacked on that increases OSHA fines and civil penalties. While the effort at reform is not new, the energy around passage of a bill is much stronger, helped by the BP disaster and the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion. And, this draft has teeth!

For example, a willful violation goes from a maximum of $70,000 to $120,000. A willful violation resulting in death increases to $250,000 with a minimum of $50,000. But, there's more. In addition to the civil penalties, knowing violation of a standard resulting in death can result in a fine and ten years imprisonment. For a second or subsequent conviction, the penalty goes to 20 years. It gets worse. An employer is defined as any officer or director, leaving the door open for charges against the HSE manager. We'll keep you posted, but my advice for the moment is to get your management on board and get an effective safety and health system in place.
Acute Antimicrobial Pesticide-Related Illnesses Among HC Workers Studied   
Antimicrobial pesticides (e.g., sterilizers, disinfectants, and sanitizers) are used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms on inanimate objects and surfaces. Health care facilities use antimicrobial pesticides to prevent pathogen transmission from contaminated environmental surfaces. Occupational exposures to antimicrobial pesticides are known to cause adverse health effects.

To assess the nature and frequency of such exposures in health-care settings, CDC analyzed data from pesticide poisoning surveillance programs in California, Louisiana, Michigan, and Texas (the only four states that regularly collect data on antimicrobial pesticide-related illness) for the period 2002-2007. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which identified 401 cases of work-related illness associated with antimicrobial pesticide exposures in health-care facilities. The most frequent occupations reported were janitors/housekeepers (24 percent) and nursing/medical assistants (16 percent). The reported mechanism of injury usually was splashes/spills (51 percent). The eyes were the most common organ/system affected (55 percent); only 15 percent of the 265 persons who had exposures while handling antimicrobial pesticides reported using eye protection.

Reported symptoms were mostly mild and temporary. One fatality due to acute asthma and subsequent cardiopulmonary collapse was identified. Health-care facilities should educate workers about antimicrobial pesticide hazards, promote the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate, and implement effective risk communication strategies for antimicrobial pesticide use to prevent bystander exposure. Improved design of handling equipment might prevent handler and bystander exposure. To see a copy of the report, click here. click here
International Workplace Fatality Analysis
An Australian safety and health consultant has just completed an analysis of fatalities within Australia, New Zealand and the international workplace for the first six months of 2010. While the total world-wide numbers show increases, the mechanism of the fatalities are of greatest interest. Here they are, in rank order: explosion, crushed by, struck by, asphyxiation and falls. They are interesting because they are not obscure, random or unanticipated causes. Rather, they are the outcome of fairly ordinary activities that went wrong for fairly common reasons: poor training, poor coaching, weak culture, absence of implemented best practices, short cuts, production pressures, indifferent management and on.

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