A revised travel health resource will better assist travelers in planning safer trips abroad. The new edition of the Yellow Book, a health information tool for international travel published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and considered by many to be the gold standard on travel information, has been expanded to offer new information on scuba diving safety, high altitude travel, travelers with special needs, and traveling with children.
The Yellow Book also offers vaccination and medication information for disease risks by destination as well as helpful health hints for cruise ship travel, international adoptions, motion sickness and much more.
Additional new health topics in the book include:
- New recommendations for preventing malaria
- Changes in vaccine recommendations for travelers
- Changes in recommendations for insect repellent use
- Expanded text motion sickness and travel-related injury
- Improved maps and expanded indexing Travelers can look up specific information by travel destination and view or print custom reports based on individual travel plans. In fall 2003, a CD-Rom will be released with more information on travel destinations.
The book is updated every two years.
ASSE Address Occupational Safety & Health Ramifications in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
As a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act new procedures and policies may have to be implemented by safety, health and environmental professionals in public companies in order to safeguard their employers, employees, colleagues, and themselves, says an American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) technical report released recently to its membership.
The public law will go further than financial reporting, the ASSE report notes, and require disclosure of a series of company operations, including those in safety, health and the environment. An organization will be required to report an operation that has a failure (safety, environmental or property) that may "significantly impact" the organization's financial soundness. Among the recommendations, ASSE suggests that safety, health and environmental professionals discuss the law with senior management and legal counsel so that all parties are aware of what is expected. A legal opinion written by corporate counsel is also recommended along with writing, implementing, and documenting communication structures detailing the corporate communication structure.
SH&E professionals with compliance responsibilities, the report notes, will be placed into the position of "navigating uncharted waters in regard to this act." The report states, "There is little doubt that a series of legal proceedings will provide more frameworks for the reporting/disclosure requirements included in the Act. However, until this additional guidance is available it is incumbent upon all safety professionals to be aware of this Act and what potentially could play a very significant role in the practice of the profession."
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires CEOs and CFOs subject to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting requirements to meet stringent corporate accountability requirements that improve the quality of corporate financial reporting by reforming accounting practices and restoring investor confidence in the marketplace. In addition to establishing records retention requirements for audit papers, the law creates a new oversight board for accounting firms auditing publicly traded companies. It also addresses auditor independence, corporate responsibility at publicly traded companies, financial disclosures of publicly traded companies, and conflicts of interest of financial analysts.
The new law also creates protections for "whistle-blowers" applicable to private and public companies and imposes new criminal and civil penalties relating to fraud, conspiracy, and interfering with investigations. Under the Act's strong civil and criminal whistle-blower protection provisions companies must be prepared to defend their actions immediately if there is a claim. The civil provision to protect a whistle-blower who reports corporate fraud allows for a right to job reinstatement, back pay and damages, and, the criminal provision makes it a felony to retaliate against a protected whistle-blower. The OSHA rules set up a stringent time frame for filing and responding to complaints. Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL- based ASSE is the oldest and largest professional safety organization with 30,000 members and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment.
Failure to Safely Handle Volatile Chemical Results in Workplace Explosion, OSHA Fine
U.S. Chemical & Plastics, Inc., doing business as Catalyst Systems in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, is facing $105,500 in fines proposed by OSHA following a January, 2003 explosion at the plant located approximately 30 miles south of Canton, Ohio.
An OSHA investigation into the plant explosion and structural fire resulted in charges that the company violated a variety of workplace safety and health regulations, principally that Catalyst Systems had not implemented effective controls for the drying, handling and packaging of benzoyl peroxide. The uncontrolled explosion occurred shortly before noon in a paste room where benzoyl peroxide was processed. The chemical is used in the automotive aftermarket, reinforced plastics, cultured marble, cosmetics and bleaching, and is the chief product manufactured at the plant.
"It was fortunate that this explosion occurred during the lunch hour, or workers very well may have lost their lives," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "OSHA's first commitment is to protect workers from disasters such as this. We stand ready to assist employers of all sizes to make their workplace safe, but we will fully enforce standards when we must."
Catalyst Systems employs approximately 25 workers at the Gnadenhutten site, and was inspected by OSHA in 1989 and 1990. Those inspections resulted in the issuance of 24 citations in total, including citations for failure to label containers of hazardous chemicals. OSHA found the same violation in this most recent inspection.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA Issues Final Rule on Recordkeeping Form
OSHA has decided not to modify the form which employers use to record workplace injuries and illnesses to include a separate column for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
"This decision does not change the current way injuries or illnesses are recorded and does not affect an employer's obligation to record work-related injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Employers will continue to check the column for 'injury' or 'all other illness' depending on the circumstances of the case."
OSHA concluded that an additional recordkeeping column would not substantially improve the national injury statistics, nor would it be of benefit to employers and workers because the column would not provide additional information useful to identifying possible causes or methods to prevent injury.
The agency also determined that useful information about MSD cases is available from currently published statistics. Current Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) national statistics already include comprehensive information about ergonomic-related injuries that result in days away from work, the number and incidence rate of these disorders, and detailed information on the nature of MSD injuries and illnesses. In addition, the agency believes such information is currently available for individual establishments in the case description section of the OSHA 300 Log and in the 301 Incident Report.
OSHA published a Federal Register notice in December 2002 that delayed a change in the recordkeeping form regarding a separate column for musculoskeletal disorders until January 1, 2004.
MSHA Alerts Coal Miners to Current Trends
Coal Mine Safety and Health inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) are carrying the word about current safety trends to coal miners throughout the nation.
"To make safety a value throughout the industry so every miner can return home safe at the end of the day, miners and mine operators need to be aware of trends in fatalities and other serious incidents," said Dave D. Lauriski, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
Special concerns right now in coal mines include maintenance and repair of mining equipment and the use, transportation, and storage of explosives, MSHA said. MSHA inspection personnel are taking time during regular coal mine inspections to discuss accident and injury trends with miners and supervisors.
Maintenance and repair activities have led to 5 fatalities and 95 nonfatal incidents in coal mines during the past two-year period. In addition, two blasting incidents this year have renewed the focus on safe use of explosives.
"This is an example of the way that MSHA uses enforcement, education and training, and technical assistance - what we call our Triangle of Success -- to address hazards," Lauriski said.