February 1, 2012

In This Update
GHS Changes Coming from OSHA
The Challenges of Eating at Night
Handheld Cell Phones Banned from Commercial Vehicles
ASSE and Hazardous Materials Pros Meet February 7
Alarms Required On Conveyors
Professor Faces Felony Charges in Lab Assistant's Death
OSHA Recordkeeping Interpretation On Work-Related Noise Issued
Many Small Employers Now Exempt from OSHA Inspections
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Chip DawsonThis health, safety and environment electronic update comes from Chip Dawson and the Rochester Business Alliance as a service to member organizations.
general hazard imageGHS Changes Coming from OSHA
It's been ten years since the UN agreed to standardize the classification and labeling of chemicals worldwide using the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The idea behind GHS is to have the same information in the same format so that anyone any place in the World can understand the hazards and risks presented by the chemicals with which they come in contact.

GHS is a system, not a standard, and since OSHA works with standards, the Agency has been working for years to bring the Hazard Communication Standard into alignment with GHS. That process is nearly finished. Final comments were received late last fall and the 90-day comment period is nearly up. Baring any significant last-minute input, a modified Hazard Communication Standard (1910.1200) will be issued in weeks, if not days. Once issued, expect lots of training material to be available from OSHA, plenty of articles in the safety press, and training programs from organizations such as the Rochester Business Alliance to be available. We'll keep you posted.
junk food image
Image from tuberose.com

The Challenges of Eating at Night

Our friends at Circadian (www.circadian.com), the shiftwork specialists, report that diet and nutrition are important considerations for shiftworkers. Night shift workers face a problem with gaining weight because snacking is one of the natural behaviors that people use to try to stay awake and keep alert. Although snacking (eating) triggers one of the nine alertness switches, abuse of this switch to compensate for a sleep-deprived condition can lead to excessive weight gains and impaired health. There's also new research suggesting that being fatigued can trigger our appetite, further increasing the probability of overeating on the night shift.

Circadian suggests that to help shiftworkers understand and manage their diet, 24-hour operations should provide nutritional training for all shiftworkers, especially those people just starting out on shiftwork. The training should be highly practical, providing specific diet tips and recipes, and teaching alternative behaviors to snacking, or at the very least encourage healthier snacks. In this way you can help the shiftworkers at your facility head off some of the very debilitating, ill health consequences of poor nutritional habits and chronic gastrointestinal stress. Many such nutrition programs can be integrated into more general shiftwork and fatigue training and education programs.

Truck imageHandheld Cell Phones Banned from Commercial Vehicles

The change, from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was effective January 3 and applies to all interstate carriers including both trucks and busses.  Hands free devices are still allowed, but some states ban those, as well. All in all, the message to employers is a clear put the phone down and focus on the road! To see the FMCSA press release on the subject, click here.

Safety Awakenings logoASSE and Hazardous Materials Pros Meet February 7

Vapor intrusion case studies will be the topic at the February meeting of the American Society of Safety Engineers being held jointly with the Finger Lakes Alliance of Certified Hazardous Materials Professionals. For those of you unfamiliar with the issue of vapor intrusion, it's an emerging field that looks at the process by which volatile chemicals move from a subsurface source into the indoor air of overlying buildings. Bryan Gallagher, a chemical engineer, and Mindy Zoghlin, an attorney and expert in environmental law, will be the speakers.

The program starts at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, with an Italian Feast Buffet at Valicia's Ristorante, 2155 Long Pond Road. The program follows dinner. The meeting is open to any interested people. Membership in the host organizations is not required. Call Paulette Lantuh, (585) 415-5464 for reservations.

conveyorAlarms Required on Conveyors

A question came up recently regarding the requirement for an alarm on a conveyor at the time of start-up. While OSHA does not have a general industry conveyor standard, the Agency will cite ASME B20.1 (Safety Standard for Conveyors) under the General Duty Clause. While it is best to consult ASME B20.1, OSHA rulings in the past have indicated that conveyors being operated out of the direct view and control of all operators should have an audible or visual alarm to warn of conveyor start-up in the vicinity of all potential hazard points. 

Sheri Sangji
Photo courtesy of Naveen Sangji
Professor Faces Felony Charges in Lab Assistant's Death
A report in the Los Angeles Times Jan. 11 says that Patrick Harran, a 42-year-old UCLA chemistry professor, has been arrested and charged with the death of 23 year-old Sheri Sangji. Sangji was fatally burned while transferring two ounces of t-butyl lithium when the syringe came apart and the material ignited on exposure to air. Both the professor and the University of California are charged with failing to correct unsafe working conditions, allowing clothing inappropriate for the work being done, and failing to provide proper chemical training. Sangji, untrained in chemistry, was working in the lab while waiting for acceptance to law school. Harran faces 4 years in prison and the university could get fines of $1.5M for each of the three counts. So much for academic freedom. 
OSHA Recordkeeping Interpretation On Work-Related Noise Issued   
The Agency issued a new interpretation on Jan.12, 2012 on how a physician or other HCP may determine if hearing loss is work related. New Question 10-4, as added to the Recordkeeping Handbook, says that the HCP must follow the rules set out in 1904.5 to determine if the hearing loss is work-related. If an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the hearing loss, or significantly aggravated a pre-existing hearing loss, the physician or licensed health care professional must consider the case to be work-related.

It is not necessary for work to be the sole cause, or the predominant cause, or even a substantial cause of the hearing loss; any contribution from work makes the case work-related. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the HCP applies the analysis in Section 1904.5 when evaluating work-related hearing loss, if the employer chooses to rely on the HCP's opinion in determining recordability. The full text of Question 10-4 is not yet in the handbook, but should be incorporated soon.
Many Small Employers Now Exempt from OSHA Inspections   
Thanks to the federal Appropriations Act, OSHA is limited in the enforcement inspections that can be conducted in many small employment facilities. In broad terms, farms with ten or fewer employees and non-farm small businesses with ten or fewer employees in a large number of low-hazard SIC codes (as listed in the 1987 manual) are exempt from programmed safety inspections. However, programmed health inspections, employee complaint inspections, fatalities and hospitalizations of two or more and imminent danger inspections can all be inspected. For details on the OSHA Instruction, 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