December 7, 2011

In This Update
Occupational Health and Safety Systems Standard Available for Review
Immigrant Workers Face Significant Risks
The Poisoner's Handbook-A Great Read!
EPA Making Previously Confidential Chemical Data Available
Excavator Operator with Remarkable Skills
Ohio Company Cuts Injuries to Zero
OSHA Announces New Chemical Industry NEP
Vehicle Theft Made Easy
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.
Occupational Health and Safety Systems Standard Available for Review
ANSI/AIHA Standard Z10 has been undergoing revision and is now available for review and comment through Jan. 9, 2012. The standard defines minimum performance requirements for occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS) and could easily be used by OSHA as part of the agency's efforts to regulate safety and health programs in the United States. For a free copy of the draft document, click here.

Crane liftImmigrant Workers Face Significant Risks

While workplace incident rates in the U. S. are dropping, foreign-born worker fatalities and injuries are increasing-and the increase has OSHA concerned. I've heard it said that immigrants work in 3D-jobs that are dangerous, demeaning and dirty!

The other day I saw it up close. A young Hispanic male was operating a "weed whacker" in the vertical position, trimming a long stretch of sidewalk. He wore no eye or face protection, no hearing protection, no head protection, no gloves. The only thing he had been given to sustain him on a day of trimming was gasoline. The gasoline was in a clear plastic one-liter drink bottle with a string tied around the neck and then tied on his belt. With no label, it would be easy to confuse it with apple juice. His employer services large commercial contracts and employs 30 to 40 people in season. One could hope for better.

Another scary immigrant job I watched a while back was the one in the photograph. He was part of a storm cleanup crew working on an old three-story rooftop where a tree had destroyed an adjacent addition. His task was using a backpack blower to remove debris while loosely supported by a rope from a crane hook. And, he'd ridden the ball up!

To access the OSHA Hispanic worker home page, click here.

Book cover
Click for larger image

The Poisoner's Handbook-A Great Read!

I've just finished "The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York" by Deborah Blum. It should probably be required reading for safety and industrial hygiene folks. It takes the reader from the early days of the New York City coroner's office when the coroner, a man of no particular qualifications, could certify that a person with five gunshot wounds in various parts of his body died of suicide to the highly professional, standard-setting office it became in the 1930s and 40s.

Chapters cover the poisons of choice from 1915 through 1936 that included chloroform, wood alcohol, cyanides, arsenic, mercury, carbon monoxide, methyl alcohol, radium, ethyl alcohol and thallium. What is most fascinating-and frightening-is how little is known about new chemicals and how many really nasty materials have found their way into medicines, household materials and a raft of other things on store shelves. Also scary is how governments can make decisions so easily that can contribute directly to the deaths of thousands of people.

Consider this. People once drank radium cocktails for their health. Imagine what we'll learn about nano materials in ten or twenty years. The Poisoner's Handbook is available in hard copy and electronic editions. You'll find it easy to read and attention grabbing.

EPA Making Previously Confidential Chemical Data Available

The EPA has reported steady progress in reclassifying nearly 600 chemicals claimed as confidential under TSCA. The two-year effort is part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's commitment to increase public access to chemical information. The declassified and newly available information can be found under a new "declassified tab" in the Chemical Data Access Tool by clicking here.

excavator photoExcavator Operator with Remarkable Skills

If you think you've seen operators of excavators do some pretty amazing work, take a look at the German video here. Keep in mind, however, that this demonstration took incredible planning, top equipment and an abundance of skill. No place here for a "hot dog."

Odom logoOhio Company Cuts Injuries to Zero   
In a remarkable effort following three years of above-average injury rates, Odom Industries of Milford, OH, found a highly effective way to get to zero-they deleted all injuries from the log. OSHA, however, did not agree that the approach was a valid solution and hit the company with fines exceeding $90,000. The fines do cover, however, a number of other safety issues and several willful violations. Odom is a heavy metals fabricator working with exotic materials-not the typical place where a zero rate is found.
OSHA Announces New Chemical Industry NEP   
The Agency has issued a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) for chemical facilities with the objective of protecting workers from catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals.

"Far too many workers are injured and killed in preventable incidents at chemical facilities around the country," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "This program will enable OSHA inspectors to cover chemical facilities nationwide to ensure that all required measures are taken to protect workers." The new NEP replaces one introduced in 2009. The NEP will focus on the OSHA Process Safety Management standard and applies to those organizations that must follow the standard. To see the directive on the program, click here. For more information on process safety, click here
car theftVehicle Theft Made Easy   
There's a video making the rounds that shows how easy it is to get into a car if you have the right tools. Tools such as a bladder and pump or a toilet plunger. If you'd like a short clip for a safety meeting about vehicle security, this one will get the discussion going. For those who think locked doors and closed trunks provide ample security for your electronics and other valuables, think again. By the way, the AAA lock-out service uses a similar technique. To get the video, click here.

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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