August 23, 2001

The National Safety Council announced that the new proposed voluntary lockout/tagout standard is now available for formal public comment. The Accredited Standards Committee on Control of Hazardous Energy (Z244), accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has developed the proposed standard entitled Control of Hazardous Energy ? Lockout/Tagout and Alternative Methods.

In March 1982, American National Standard for Personnel Protection ? Lockout/Tagout of Energy Sources ? Minimum Safety Requirements Z244.1 was approved. In 1987, the standard was reaffirmed. In 1988, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a proposed rule "The Control of Hazardous Energy Sources (Lockout/Tagout)" 29CFR1910.147 which used ANSI Z244.1 as a principal reference source. The Z244 Committee at the time believed that no consequential action should be taken on the Z244.1 Standard while federal rulemaking was underway. In September 1989, OSHA promulgated its final rule 29CFR1910.147, "The control of hazardous energy sources (lockout/tagout)." Again, in 1992, ANSI Z244.1 was re-affirmed without change.

Due to the rapid growth in technology that requires different methods and techniques for safeguarding workers from the unexpected release of hazardous energy as well as the wealth of casualty data related to hazardous energy release, the Z244 Committee was reconstituted in 1997. The Committee voted to revise the existing standard after over 20 years without change. Consequential meetings began in 1998 and the revision process began with writing task groups and continued through 2001 when this document was produced. The Z244 Committee and the National Safety Council, the Secretariat, have made a concerted effort to produce a standard that represents the "best practice" regarding the control of hazardous energy.

The public comment period is intended to give those not represented on the committee an opportunity to suggest changes to the draft. The comment period will last 60 days, beginning with notification in the August 24, 2001 issue of ANSI's Standards Action newsletter and ending on October 23, 2001. After the comment period concludes, the committee will review and respond to each public comment.

A copy of the new proposed American National Standard is available from the National Safety Council. Orders are being taken now. 


A reader has contributed some hazard alerts that are definitely worth taking a look at. Because they include photographs, we've links below where you can download them so that you can get the "big picture." To get a graphic reminder of why it's important to work safely, check these out today.

Thanks Duane!


OSHA announced it has cited Nationwide Warehouse & Storage, Inc., of East Syracuse, N.Y., alleging that the company kept exit doors locked and failed to clear aisles leading to exits at its 2410 Erie Blvd. facility. The two alleged willful violations carry a total proposed penalty of $126,000.

OSHA inspected the facility from Feb. 13 through April 12, following a referral from a local government agency.

"Locked doors and blocked aisles pose serious safety hazards to workers," said Diane Brayden, OSHA area director in Syracuse. "In the event of a fire or other emergency, lives could be lost because people could not escape. Common sense and human decency should dictate that people need a way to exit a building."

OSHA also cited the company for nine alleged serious violations, including:

  • failure to safely stack mattresses and furniture.

  • failure to provide a sufficient number of exits and directions to exits.

  • failure to provide handrails on stairways.

  • failure to properly inspect and provide an adequate number of onsite fire extinguishers and to train employees about how to use fire extinguishers.

  • failure to properly guard live electrical parts.

The alleged serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $33,300.

In addition, OSHA cited the firm for alleged other-than-serious violations, including failure to properly assess the workplace to determine personal protective equipment needs; failure to provide proper protective equipment to employees working with combustible chemicals; failure to use permanent wiring instead of extension cords; and failure to keep the area in front of circuit breakers clear.

A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH act and regulations. A serious violation is defined as a condition which exists where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm can result. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.


Some simple steps -- allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers, weekly laundering of other bedding and very careful vacuuming and dry steam cleaning of bedroom carpets and upholstery -- can significantly reduce the levels of dust mite allergens in bedrooms, scientists with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the University of Washington and Harvard University reported.

Dust mites are microscopic spider-like creatures that feed on flakes of human skin and reside in bedding, carpets, upholstery, draperies and other "dust traps." Dust mite allergens -- substances which can cause an allergic reaction -- are proteins found in the mite's feces.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate practical methods for lowering these allergens in bedrooms of low income, urban homes. Thirty-nine homes in Seattle, Washington, were studied. Pillows, box springs, and mattresses were encased with allergen-impermeable covers. Bedding was washed weekly in hot water either in the home or professionally. Carpets received a single treatment of intensive vacuuming plus dry steam cleaning or intensive vacuuming alone. Upholstered furniture received either dry steam cleaning or intensive vacuuming.

Recent studies have shown that exposure to house dust mite allergens is a significant risk factor for the development of allergic diseases, such as asthma and rhinitis (hay fever). NIEHS' Dr. Darryl Zeldin said, "Results from an earlier study suggest that over 45 percent of U.S. homes, or approximately 44 million dwellings, have bedding with dust mite allergen concentrations that exceed a level that has been associated with allergic sensitization. We estimated that 22 million homes have bedding with dust mite allergen concentrations at a level that can trigger asthma in susceptible people. So we were eager to test ways to reduce these troublesome substances."

The researchers found that the interventions significantly reduced house dust mite allergen concentrations. The use of allergen-proof covers and either professional or in-home laundering of bedding reduced allergen levels in beds. Both dry steam cleaning plus vacuuming and vacuuming alone lowered allergen levels in carpets. Vacuuming and dry steam cleaning each reduced allergen levels in upholstered furniture. Dry steam cleaning machines have recently become available for home use.

"The decreases in dust mite allergens following a single vacuuming did not last as long as decreases following dry steam cleaning and vacuuming. We believe that the hot dry steam kills the mites, and the vacuuming removes them from the carpet," Dr. Zeldin said.

While the vacuuming and steam cleaning procedures reduced allergen concentrations below the levels believed to trigger asthma symptoms, the interventions did not reduce the concentrations below the levels associated with allergic sensitization. Sensitization -- the process by which the body's recognition of a particular allergen leads to a physical response -- is the first step in allergy development.

"In order to obtain allergen measurements below the sensitization level, people may need to do additional things such as remove carpeting from the floors, replace upholstered furniture with leather or vinyl covered furniture, and reduce humidity levels in the house," Dr. Zeldin said. "However, such a bare-bones home may be less desirable to the residents. In the meantime, more research is needed on inexpensive alternatives for maintaining long- term allergen control."