October 19, 2010

In This Update
OSHA to Query Employers for a Baseline S&H Practices Survey
National Safety Congress Report
Flu Season Officially Begins
Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite
OSHA Faults NYS PESH Program for Multiple Weaknesses
University of Utah Researchers Develop Touch Directional System
BP Forms New Safety Division
OSHA Targets High Hazard Worksites for Inspection
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.
OSHA to Query Employers for a Baseline S&H Practices Survey
OSHA has announced it is planning to send a Baseline Safety and Health Practices Survey to 14,202 private sector establishments in nonagricultural industry. The goal is to help OSHA develop industry-specific, statistically accurate estimates of the safety and health practices currently used among establishments. The estimates will be used to support a rulemaking effort directed toward requiring injury and illness prevention programs.

National Safety Congress Report 
Our friend Dave Johnson, editor of ISHN magazine, reports from the National Safety Congress in San Diego that OSHA leadership has many irons in the fire, but that they may need a second Obama term to make many of the initiatives reality. Top on Dr. David Michaels' list for OSHA is the Injury Illness Prevention Plan (I2P2) that will require an on-going effort to find and fix hazards. "These workplace assessments," said Michaels, "will call for close collaboration, communication and participation of the whole workplace culture: managers, supervisors and employees."

Michaels also does not believe the national injury rates developed from industry reports. Too many incentive programs are skewing the data and most illnesses don't get reported because of the long latency lag. According to NIOSH's Dr. John Howard, every workplace should have an infection control program in place that includes flu shots, cough etiquette and hand washing.

In the question and answer session, Dr. Howard urged an effort to define the health risks of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology will be a $3 trillion industry by 2020, he said, and he predicted an asbestos-like epidemic sweeping through the nanotech workforce in 20 or 30 years if the feds don't define the health risks soon.

Nurse imageFlu Season Officially Begins

October marks the beginning of the 2010-2011 influenza season. NIOSH has released a new topic page on influenza, which will be updated and expanded to include a variety of resources for employers, workers, occupational health professionals, and other partners. To access the page, click here.

bed bugs imageDon't Let the Bed Bugs Bite 
Sorry, just had to slip in my grandmother's good night wish. As I recall, bed bugs were never a real issue when I was little, but they seem to be the infestation of choice these days. In the newspaper, on the web and in the TV, everyone is sounding warnings and offering advice-often very expensive advice. Our friend and frequent contributor Peter Zavon thought you might like some sound advice that is both helpful and reliable in case you are faced with a bed bug problem. If you'd like a well thought out Australian document in its third edition that has been adopted, with modifications, in New Zealand and Italy and that most experts find authoritative, click here for the PDF. By the way, in looking at the code, I was surprised to see that a bed bug infestation will be quite visible and apparent. These may be small, but you will know you've got them.
NYS logoOSHA Faults NYS PESH Program for Multiple Weaknesses   
In an annual examination of state-run safety and health enforcement plans, federal OSHA found many problems with the New York State program for public employees (PESH). Problems included failure to address employee complaints, lack of evidence to support citations, failure to notify next of kin on fatalities, a general lack of documentation, improper classification of cases, and a wide variety of other issues. In general, the OSHA auditors recommended extensive training for compliance officers and their supervisors. For a full copy of the report and recommendations, click here.

driving imageUniversity of Utah Researchers Develop Touch Directional System 
If visual or spoken clues to driving in traffic distract or are ineffective, UT mechanical engineering researchers are working on a solution. Steering wheel sensors gently pull the skin on the right or left hand to signal a right or left turn. Still in the development stage, the devices hold great potential for providing directions to the visual and hearing impaired as well as to vehicle drivers and others requiring alternative directions or signals. For more on the work, click here.

BP Forms New Safety Division 
According to a Sept. 30 press release from BP, BP is to create a new safety division with sweeping powers to oversee and audit the company's operations around the world. The Safety & Operational Risk function will have authority to intervene in all aspects of BP's technical activities. It will have its own expert staff embedded in BP's operating units, including exploration projects and refineries. It will be responsible for ensuring that all operations are carried out to common standards, and for auditing compliance with those standards.  The powerful new organization is designed to strengthen safety and risk management across the BP group. It will be headed by Mark Bly and report directly to incoming chief executive Bob Dudley. For more on the announcement, click here to see the press release.

OSHA Targets High Hazard Worksites for Inspection 
OSHA has issued its annual inspection plan under the Site-Specific Targeting 2010 program to help the agency direct enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces where the highest rates of injuries and illnesses occur. The SST program is OSHA's main programmed inspection plan for non-construction workplaces that have 40 or more workers.


Establishments are randomly selected for inspection from an initial list of 4,100 manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and nursing and personal care facilities. The plan focuses on several variables such as the number of injury and illness cases and number of days a worker has to stay away from work, or the number of workers who received job transfers or work restrictions due to injury or illness. The list of selected worksites has not yet been issued. To see the directive in PDF form, click here.


In addition to SST, OSHA implements both national and local emphasis inspection programs to target high-risk hazards and industries. OSHA currently has nationwide emphasis programs that intensify the focus on topics including amputations, lead, crystalline silica, shipbreaking, trenching/excavations, process safety management in petroleum refineries, hexavalent chromium, diacetyl, recordkeeping and combustible dust.

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