April 19, 2011

In This Update
New NIOSH Blog on Making Work Zones Safer
Welders Risk Brain Damage from Welding Fumes
Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer?
May Safety Management Courses Now Filling at RBA
Occupational Cancers Could Cause 60,000 Deaths Annually
Step Confidently on Slippery Surfaces
Volunteer Dies in Fall from Farm Tractor
OSHA Web Page Covers Effects of Radiation Dispersal From Japan
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.
blind-area diagram
Click for larger image
New NIOSH Blog on Making Work Zones Safer
During National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week (held April 4-8), NIOSH focused a blog discussion on the use of blind-area diagrams (BAD) to prevent workers from being struck by construction equipment operating in work zones. NIOSH developed these diagrams as a research tool, but when industry stakeholders suggested that the blind-area diagrams could be a valuable training resource for the road construction industry, NIOSH developed the construction equipment visibility Web site. Interestingly, there is also application of BAD to manufacturing and service sectors since the same concepts - blind areas around all types of operating equipment - apply here. Even if there are no equipment-specific diagrams, they can be easily developed to teach operators and helpers about the risks of blind spots around the equipment.

welderWelders Risk Brain Damage from Welding Fumes

A new study published in the April 6 issue of Neurology has found that otherwise healthy welders have twice the normal level of manganese which in turn is linked to neurological problems such as Parkinson's symptoms. They also found lower levels of dopamine in one area of the brain similar to those with Parkinson's disease. Plus, motor skills test scores showed mild movement difficulties. Taken together, the findings are suggestive of long-term health issues from welding fume exposure. To see the press release on the study, click here

cell phoneDo Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer? 

As we see in the paragraph above, some tests for cause and effect are fairly clear. But, when it comes to cell phones and brain cancer, an excellent article in the New York Times Magazine  published April 13 reports on the full body of studies attempting to make a link and, to date, finds none. One conclusion: "From 1990 to 2002-the 12-year period during which cell phone users grew to 135 million from 4 million-the age-adjusted incidence rate for overall brain cancer remained nearly flat."


While the stated focus of the article is cell phones and brain cancer, it is even more an outstanding report on the various study methods researchers use to draw conclusions. The article is long, but well worth your time if the causes of illness, occupational or otherwise, are of interest. The final page and a half provide a great summary.

May Safety Management Courses Now Filling at RBA

We announced the safety management training schedule in the last issue of HSE News and we're already getting reports of strong interest. Here's the schedule again. Leading the Safety Process, a day-long interactive program for managers runs on Monday, May 9. Tuesday of that week has OSHA Recordkeeping in the morning and Safety Committee Operations in the afternoon. Managing the Emergency fills all of Wednesday, May 11. The following week on May 17 is a morning session on Accident Investigation Fundamentals. For details and registration, contact Amy Platenik at Amy.Platenik@rballiance.com or by phone at 256-4632.

Occupational Cancers Could Cause 60,000 Deaths Annually     
The April NIOSH eNews leads with an article about the burden of occupational cancer. While exact figures are hard to come by, estimates by the President's Cancer Panel place the figure at a bottom of 4 percent and high of 10 percent - 24,000 to 60,000 cases! Of great concern is the millions of current workers now exposed to OSHA regulated carcinogens and the tens of millions with past exposure, hence the fuzziness of in determining the dominate source of the cancer cause. To see the eNews and read the article, click here.
image of duckStep Confidently on Slippery Surfaces    
Researchers at Clemson University have determined that moving quickly in a forward, firm-footed stance on a slippery surface is better than a slow, tentative movement. Their findings - using helmeted guinea fowl (really) - determined that a slow movement hinders the task of shifting the center of mass forward once foot contact is made. Apparently, the guinea fowl react to slips in the same way humans do. So, tell your people to avoid shuffling on a slippery surface such as ice in the winter and liquids on facility floors. For a look at the Clemson press release that gives additional detail on the study, click here.
Volunteer Dies in Fall from Farm Tractor      
The Bongarde Safety Briefing of April 13 reports that a volunteer helping to repair a community sports complex died of head and chest injuries after a fall from 18 feet to a concrete floor. The individual was one of three (plus materials) in the bucket of a front end loader attachment to a farm tractor that was raising workers and materials to ceiling level. When the bucket struck a support beam, all three fell with the other two sustaining series but survivable injuries. Our suggestion, using this information, is to have a periodic conversation with your employees about taking safety home with them and applying what they learn at work to other life activities.
OSHA Web Page Covers Effects of Radiation Dispersal From Japan      
A new page on the OSHA Web site, Radiation Dispersal from Japan and the Effect on U.S. Workers, provides information to help workers, employers, and occupational health professionals regarding the release of airborne contamination from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Although it is not expected that harmful levels of radiation will reach the United States, OSHA is working with other federal agencies to monitor domestic reports of radiation concerns and provide up-to-date worker protection information. This Web page includes links to a worker information page OSHA developed jointly with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as other resources such as frequently asked questions about the Japan Nuclear crisis, radiation basics, and updates on the current situation in Japan.

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Lawrence H. "Chip" DawsonView my profile on LinkedIn
Dawson Associates
Rochester Business Alliance Coordinating Consultant for HSE
1434 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14610-1619
(585) 461-1549