Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Annual summer campaign to prevent heat-illness

Trade News Release Banner Image


Release: 14-929-NAT
Date: May 22, 2014
Contact: Ann Mangold    Jesse Lawder
Phone: 202-693-4679    202-693-4659
Email: : mangold.ann.r@dol.gov    lawder.jesse@dol.gov

Annual summer campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses
launched by US Labor Department

"Water. Rest. Shade." and acclimatization are critical in preventing heat illness and fatalities
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. For the fourth consecutive year, OSHA's campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards. Workers at particular risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation. 

"Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest." 

WATER. REST. SHADE. The work can't get done without them.
Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed. Heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it is especially dangerous for new and temporary workers.

"Acclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Over the past three years, lack of acclimatization was the cause in 74 percent of heat-related citations issued. Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat."

Last year, OSHA issued 11 heat-related citations. In some of these cases, the employer and staffing agency were cited because they involved temporary workers. 

In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training, also available in both English and Spanish. Additionally, a Web page provides information and resources on heat illness - including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency - for workers and employers. The page is available at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html.

OSHA also has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Since its 2011 launch, more than 130,000 users have downloaded the app. Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in English and Spanish by visiting: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.

In developing its inaugural national campaign in 2011, federal OSHA worked closely with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and adapted materials from that state's successful campaign. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation. NOAA also will include pertinent worker safety information on its heat watch Web page at http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/heat.php.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

OSHA's top leader praises work of On-site Consultation projects

More than 160 safety and health professionals attended the 39th Annual On-site Consultation Training Conference on May 6 in Denver. Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels kicked off the three-day training by praising the work of the 52 on-site consultation projects across the country. The annual conference enables consultants to discuss issues most relevant to their work, including emerging hazards and key topics in safety and health.

OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers a free and confidential service for small and medium-sized businesses. Consultants work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.

Program Information

Using a free consultation service largely funded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers can find out about potential hazards at their worksites, improve their occupational injury and illness prevention programs, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

The service is delivered by state governments using well-trained professional staff. Most consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available.

Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, this safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. In addition, no citations are issued or penalties proposed.

It's confidential, too. Your name, your firm's name, and any information you provide about your workplace, plus any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers, will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff.

Your only obligation will be to correct serious job safety and health hazards -- a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the actual visit and carry out in a timely manner.

Benefits

Your Workforce

An effective workplace injury and illness prevention program at your worksite(s) will enable you to:
  • Recognize and remove hazards from your workplace.
  • Protect your workers from injury and illness.
  • Prevent loss of life at your worksite.
  • Cultivate informed and alert employees who take responsibility for their own and their coworkers' safety and for worksite safety as a whole.
  • Improve employee morale.

Your Managers

An increased understanding of workplace hazards and remedies will put your managers in a better position to:
  • Comply with federal and state safety and health requirements.
  • Become more effective at their jobs. Management experts believe that a company with a well-managed injury and illness prevention program enjoys better overall management.
  • Increase productivity rates and assure product quality.

Your Business as a Whole

An exemplary workplace injury and illness prevention program is "good business sense" that also makes financial sense because it will allow you to:
  • Learn first-hand that the cost of accident prevention is far lower than the cost of accidents.
  • Improve the bottom line by:
    • Lowering injury and illness rates,
    • Decreasing workers' compensation costs,
    • Reducing lost workdays, and
    • Limiting equipment damage and product losses.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Improving Chemical Facility Safety & Security

Executive Order Progress Update*: February 2014

Executive Order Progress Update*: December 2013

Background

On August 1, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13650, entitled Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. The Executive Order directs the Federal Government to improve operational coordination with state and local partners; improve Federal agency coordination and information sharing; modernize policies, regulations, and standards; and work with stakeholders to identify best practices.
The Executive Order working group includes representatives from:
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Executive Order 13650

Federal Workgroups Formed in Response to the Executive Order:

Section 3 - Improving Operational Coordination (Co-chaired by EPA and DHS, U.S. Coast Guard)
Section 4 - Improving Federal Agency Coordination (Co-chaired by EPA and DHS, U.S. Coast Guard)
Section 5 - Improving Information Collection and Sharing (Chaired by DHS, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division)
Section 6 - Modernizing Policies, Regulations, and Standards (Chaired by DOL, Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Section 7 - Stakeholder Outreach and Identifying Best Practices (Chaired by DHS, Infrastructure Security Compliance Division)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Workers' Memorial Day

President Obama proclaims April 28, 2014 Workers' Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial Day poster
In an official proclamation, President Barack Obama declared April 28, 2014, to be Workers' Memorial Day. The President called upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.
"We must never accept that injury, illness, or death is the cost of doing business. Workers are the backbone of our economy, and no one's prosperity should come at the expense of their safety. Today, let us celebrate our workers by upholding their basic right to clock out and return home at the end of each shift,” said President Barack Obama.

“America is built on the promise of opportunity... Yet each year, workplace illness and injury threaten that promise for millions of Americans, and even more tragically, thousands die on the job,” President Obama continued. “This is unacceptable. On Workers Memorial Day, we honor those we have lost, and in their memory, affirm everyone's right to a safe workplace."

Read more in the Presidential Proclamation