CDC Identifies Tips for Reducing the Number One Cause of Death

February 09, 2009

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is also a major cause of disability. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2009, an estimated 785,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, one American has a coronary event.

The chance of developing coronary heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors that put people at greater risk. People who have survived a heart attack can also work to reduce their risk of another heart attack or a stroke in the future.

Conditions that affect your heart or increase your risk of death or disability include arrhythmia, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco, and secondhand smoke are also risk factors associated with heart disease.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense; however, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Quite often, people affected by the mild symptoms aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons you have to fight heart disease. Many people make it harder than it is. It is important to remember that it is the overall pattern of the choices you make that counts.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:

  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat
  • Select fat-free, 1% fat, and low-fat dairy products
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet
  • Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol and aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (or less than 1,500 mg if you are in a higher risk group for high blood pressure)
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men)
  • Keep an eye on your portion sizes

Physical activity in your daily life is also an important step to preventing heart disease. You can take a few simple steps at home, at work, and at play to increase the amount of physical activity in your life. 



Brian Karnofsky Jailed for Muscular Dystrophy

Brian has been arrested and will be put in jail for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) lock-up. We need to collect $2,000 for the MDA to help bail him out. Your tax deductible donation will help MDA continue research into the causes and cures for 43 neuromuscular diseases.

If you enjoy reading the Safety Tip of the Week, now is the time to help us give hope to kids and families that need our help.

Brian is the President of Environmental Resource Center. Many of you helped bail him out in 2007 and 2008, but he’s on his way back to jail this year. Don’t bother asking what crimes he’s committed—just know that we need your help bailing him out.

OSHA Wants More Automated External Defibrillators in the Workplace

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are medical devices designed to analyze a heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock to victims when indicated, thereby restoring the heart rhythm to normal. OSHA is encouraging employers to make this equipment available in their workplaces.


CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care eLearning Courses Available Through the American Heart Association


The training in Part 1 must be paired with a hands-on skills practice and testing session (Parts 2 and 3) with an AHA Instructor.


New Fact Book Examines OSHA’s Impact Since its Creation by Congress


Congress created OSHA through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. In a little more than a third of a century, nonfatal occupational injury and illness rates have dropped 60 percent, while occupational fatality rates have fallen to the lowest annual total since 1992. Since OSHA’s establishment, U.S. employment has doubled and now includes nearly 115 million private sector employees at over 8 million worksites.

Although this significant improvement in saving lives and protecting employees’ safety and health is a considerable achievement, greater progress is still needed. Even one fatality on the job is one too many, and every workplace injury or illness places a heavy burden on our nation.

The Fact Book indicates OSHA’s resolve to make America’s workplaces a world model for safety and health. Included in the Fact Book is information about federal OSHA’s efforts to enforce standards, provide compliance assistance, offer quality training and education in workplace safety and health, foster cooperative relationships with employers and employees, and play a national role in emergency preparedness.

North Carolina’s Department of Labor Case Studies of Deadly Mistakes

Deadly Mistakes is a regular feature of the N.C. Department of Labor’s publication, “Labor Ledger.” Safety managers can use these case study articles outlining situations that resulted in a workplace fatality or a serious injury for training in safety meetings or toolbox talks.

The following articles are available:

Fire Deaths in South Carolina Have Increased at Alarming Rate

South Carolina has almost tripled the number of fire deaths in January 2009 compared to the number of fatalities in January 2008. Fifteen people have died during the first month of 2009 compared to six deaths in the same timeframe last year. Seventy four people died in South Carolina fires in 2008, compared to 60 deaths in 2007. The leading causes of fire deaths in 2008 were cooking related and electrical.

The increase follows a national trend, which has prompted South Carolina State Fire Marshal John Reich to join the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), and other national fire service groups to issue an alert declaring a national fire emergency.

“Since Thanksgiving 2008, more than 158 fatal fires have occurred in the United States, resulting in over 200 fire fatalities,” reports the NASFM. In South Carolina, 16 people lost their lives due to fires in November and December of 2008 and another 15 people have died since January 1, 2009, with many of these victims in multi-fatality incidents.

Reich emphasizes that working smoke alarms should be a priority at any time of year.

“This is a critical time to test your alarms to make sure they are working,” Reich said. “Having working smoke alarms and a prepared and practiced emergency escape plan may help you survive a home fire. Many informed consumers in the United States are taking fire safety seriously and are installing home fire sprinkler systems. The combination of fire sprinklers and smoke alarms increase your chances of surviving a fire to 82%. Fire sprinkler systems are designed to put the fire out before it can become a threat and is a relatively inexpensive way to provide an even greater safety environment for your family.”

Not only do residential fire sprinkler systems help protect citizens, they also help protect the lives of firefighters by containing the fire, Reich said. The majority of firefighter injuries and deaths happen while fighting residential fires.


OSHA Proposes $108,000 in Penalties against Tippins Contracting Co. for Trench Safety Violations

OSHA is proposing $108,000 in penalties against Tippins Contracting Co. for seven safety violations that exposed its employees to possible injury or death at two Georgia construction sites.

Inspections conducted in August and October 2008 revealed that Tippins Contracting violated OSHA standards by failing to provide employees with protection from cave-ins while they worked in trenches. As a result, OSHA is proposing two willful citations with $88,000 in penalties. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Five proposed serious violations carry penalties totaling $20,000. Inspectors found that damaged ladders were used at both sites. Additionally, at one site, material excavated from a trench was placed too close to the edge of the excavation, a portable ladder of insufficient height was used in one trench, and employees did not receive adequate training in the proper and safe use of ladders.

“Trenching and excavating can be done without risking employees’ lives but only if employers take the necessary precautions,” said Andre Richards, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office. “Too often, employers focus on finishing a job quickly instead of finishing a job safely.”

Exide Technologies Fined $102,000 for Workplace Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited Exide Technologies for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, proposing a total of $102,000 in penalties. The company, which manufactures lead products, employs 100 people at its Laureldale, Pennsylvania site.

OSHA initiated its inspection on August 1, 2008 in response to a complaint. As a result of the inspection, the company received citations for seven repeat violations, with a $60,500 penalty; 19 serious violations, with $41,500 in penalties; and 10 other-than-serious violations, which carry no penalty.

The repeat violations are due to employee exposure to lead, the company’s incomplete respirator fit test records, the company’s use of defective industrial trucks, and a deficient cadmium compliance program. OSHA issues repeat violations when it finds a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order.

The serious violations include the company’s use of defective machinery, failure to use personal protective equipment, unguarded machinery, use of prohibited flexible cords, an inadequate process involving arsenic, and deficiencies in the company’s lead and cadmium compliance programs. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

The other-than-serious violations reflect the company’s failure to keep aisles or passageways in good repair where mechanical equipment was used, failure to properly use standard railings, an inadequate respiratory protection program, deficient lockout devices to prevent accidental machinery start-ups, and inadequate restroom facilities.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Harrisburg office.

NIOSH Focuses on Making Roads a Safer Place for Workers

Decades of public safety campaigns have emphasized driving safety and have included mottos such as, “Buckle up,” “Don’t drink and drive,” and “Speed shatters life.” Thanks to these types of campaigns, the importance of driving carefully and responsibly is widely recognized. In a complementary way, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and its partners have focused on the prevention of roadway deaths and injuries as an occupational hazard wherever work involves driving or riding in a vehicle.

Motor-vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. Of approximately 5,700 work-related fatalities reported annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35% are associated with motor vehicles. Additionally, road traffic crashes are a leading cause of workplace death, injury, and disability in many countries around the world. Workers, families, businesses, and society all suffer the consequences of workplace crashes. Because rapid motorization and economic development go hand-in-hand, workers in the developing world are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the risk of road traffic crashes.

What complicates the problem further is that unlike other workplaces such as factories, offices, and construction sites, the roadway is not a closed environment. Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles, vehicle design, driver behavior, and good safety-management practices. It is important for employers to realize that although they cannot control roadway conditions, they can and should keep employees safe while driving. They can do so by maintaining work vehicles properly, providing and requiring the use of seat belts, providing motor vehicle safety training, and enforcing driver safety policies, among other steps.

NIOSH is very active in helping to lower the risks for these workers. In March 2008, NIOSH provided input on a United Nations resolution on “Improving Global Road Safety” adopted by the UN General Assembly. For the first time, a UN resolution includes specific language that notes the importance of fleet operations to worker and public safety. This gives strong justification for corporations, governments, and other stakeholders to take action to improve road safety for workers around the world.

NIOSH is anticipating that approximately 200 attendees, with representatives from 40 countries, will attend this meeting to address this important topic.


ATSDR Announces the Availability of Seven Final Toxicological Profiles for Priority Hazardous Substances

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has announced the availability of seven final toxicological profiles of priority hazardous substances. This is the 20th set of toxicological profiles that ATSDR has compiled. The profiles for six of the substances have been finalized and the seventh profile is newly added.

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) amended CERCLA (or Superfund) by establishing certain requirements for ATSDR and for the EPA with regard to hazardous substances most commonly found at facilities on the CERCLA National Priorities List (NPL). One such requirement directs the ATSDR Administrator to prepare toxicological profiles for each substance included on the priority lists of hazardous substances. These lists identify 275 hazardous substances determined by ATSDR and by U.S. EPA to pose the most significant potential threat to human health. The availability of the revised lists of the 275 priority substances was announced in the Federal Register on March 6, 2008 ().

The updated information is now available on the following substances:


Toxicological profile CAS No.


1. Aluminum (Update)...................007429-90-5

2. Cresols (Update).......................001319-77-3

3. Diazinon (Update).....................000333-41-5

4. Dichloropropenes (Update).......000563-58-6







5. Guthion (New Profile)...............000086-50-0

6. Phenols (Update)......................000108-95-2

7. 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane

(Update) 000079-34-5


The updated toxicological profiles are available through the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161, telephone 1-800-553-6847. 

Hexavalent Chromium Public Comment Deadline Extended

NIOSH is conducting a public review of the NIOSH draft document “NIOSH Criteria Document Update: Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium.” The previous comment deadline of January 31, 2009 was extended by 60 days to March 31, 2009 due to a request to allow the public more time to gather and submit information.

A public meeting was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 22, 2009 to discuss the document. 

NIOSH Identifies Emerging Issues

Beginning in February, NIOSH will feature a chart or statistical summary to highlight important or emerging surveillance, research, and prevention issues. Content for the charts or tables will be based on surveillance and relevant statistical data, and reflect important priorities, needs, and issues evolving from or developed within the NIOSH Program Portfolio.

For calendar year 2007, nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses among private industry employers occurred at a rate of 4.2 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Two NIOSH Docket Items are Available for Public Comment

Two NIOSH Docket items are available for public comment. One document pertains to quality assurance requirements for respirators and the second addresses fire fighter safety when fires involve unoccupied structures:


NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report on Bus Maintenance Shop Now Available


Investigators recommended that the shop continue to use brake shoes and pads that do not contain asbestos, and discontinue use of brake cleaners that contain tetrachloroethylene. Investigators also recommended that connections between exhaust pipes and exhaust hoses be tightened and that vehicular exhaust hoses be connected to exterior windows for proper ventilation. Employees were encouraged to clean skin with mild soap and water and apply moisturizing lotion to protect skin.

Connecticut’s Attorney General Praises Decision Blocking Manufacturers from Allowing Sale of Toxic Toys

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has praised a federal court that that compels toy manufacturers to remove toys from store shelves containing harmful chemicals known as phthalates.

The decision vindicates a letter that Blumenthal wrote to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), followed by a legal brief in court in 2008.

The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008 bans the manufacture, sale, distribution, or import of children’s toys and childcare articles containing certain phthalates at concentrations of more than 0.1%as of February 10. Phthalates are used to soften plastics, but are known to cause serious reproductive abnormalities, particularly in infants. The CPSC wrongfully interpreted this prohibition to only include toys manufactured after February 10, and not the countless toys already manufactured and ready for sale.

Blumenthal filed a brief in support of the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging the CPSC’s interpretation, which threatens to enable the indefinite sale of countless toxic toys. The lawsuit was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen, Inc.

“As we vigorously argued in our legal brief, the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act is clear—toys cannot be manufactured or sold after implementation of the law,” Blumenthal stated.

Conference to Focus on Occupational Safety and Health Needs of the Aging Workforce

OSHA to Participate in Construction Safety Conference

OSHA Will Participate at National Association of Tower Erectors Conference

NIOSH’s Personal Protective Technology Program Stakeholders Meeting, March 3, 2009

Presentations and discussion will include current and future personal protective technology program projects. There will be an opportunity for questions following the presentations, one-on-one discussions, and a poster session. On-site registration will also be held beginning at 8:00 AM the day of the meeting.

This meeting will also be available through remote access capabilities. Participants simultaneously listen and view presentations over the internet. The remote access capabilities will include the ability to submit questions on the presentations and/or projects. To register to use this capability, please contact Dawn Zubasic at 412-386-6111. This option will be available to participants on a first-come, first-serve basis and is limited to the first 50 participants.

OSHA to Hold Public Hearing on March 17 Concerning the Proposed Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard


Participants who intend to present testimony must notify OSHA in writing by February 13. For participants requesting more than 10 minutes to present testimony or documentary evidence, OSHA must be provided with copies of the testimony or evidence by March 3.

North Carolina Labor Department Accepting Safety Award Applications

The North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) is now accepting applications from businesses in North Carolina for safety awards and million-hour awards. Both awards recognize companies for maintaining excellent worker safety and health programs and showing a commitment to employees during 2008.

The Safety Awards Program is open to any private company or public entity with a site in North Carolina. The awards recognize companies with no work-related fatalities at the site and an incidence rate at least 50% below the industry average. Million-hour awards recognize companies for working 1 million employee-hours, or multiples thereof, without an injury or illness requiring days away from work.

An organization may apply for one safety award for the entire organization, or the applications may be submitted for a division/department within the organization. If an organization chooses to apply by division/department, it must have at least 10 full-time employees in that division.


South Carolina Invites Employers to Participate in the Annual Safety Achievement Awards Program

The program recognizes a company’s efforts to reduce recordable occupational injuries and illnesses during the past year.

Vermont Department of Labor Seeking Nominations for 2009 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Workplace Safety

The Vermont Department of Labor wants to know Vermont employer’s safety success stories—what did you do, how are you doing it, and how do you know you met the challenge of having an excellent workplace safety and health program?

The deadline for nominations is March 13, 2009. All nominations will be reviewed with final notifications completed by March 30, 2009.

The Governor’s Award honors two separate categories of businesses: those with 1 to 50 employees and those with more than 50 employees.

Two OSHA Area Offices Earn VPP Star Recognition

OSHA’s Peoria, Ill., and Eau Claire, Wis., area offices are now “Star” members of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (). These offices join five other OSHA area offices that have earned star recognition under this cooperative program acknowledging an organization’s excellence in workplace safety and health.

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