OSHA Alliance on Hazards Facing Female Construction Workers Continues

January 15, 2018

OSHA has renewed its alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), “to continue promoting safe and healthful working conditions for female construction workers.”

In a press release, as part of the OSHA Alliance Program, the five-year pact will target hazards specific to women in construction, including the selection of personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation, and workplace intimidation and violence. The alliance began in 2013.

According to OSHA’s website, the alliance intends to collaborate on raising awareness of OSHA’s rulemaking and enforcement tactics by:

  • Sharing information on OSHA’s National Emphasis Programs, Regulatory Agenda, and opportunities to participate in the rulemaking process
  • Sharing information on occupational safety and health laws, standards and guidance resources, including the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers
  • Convening or participating in forums, roundtable discussions or stakeholder meetings on construction to create innovative workplace solutions or to give input on safety and health issues

The agreement also calls for encouraging NAWIC chapters to foster relationships with federal OSHA regional and area offices, as well as State Plans and OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program, to address construction health and safety issues.

NAWIC was formed in 1955 and provides educational and professional development opportunities to more than 4,000 women.

Women in Construction (WIC) Week will be celebrated March 4-10, 2018, highlighting women as “a visible component of the construction industry”. WIC Week also provides an occasion for NAWIC’s thousands of members across the country to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry.

Atlanta Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Atlanta, on January 23-25 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Indianapolis Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Indianapolis on January 30-February 1 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Tampa Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Tampa, FL, on February 5-8 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Aruvil International Inc. Fined $200,000 for Safety Violations

OSHA has cited Aruvil International, Inc., for multiple safety violations at its Pennsauken, New Jersey, facility. The chain-link fencing manufacturer faces $199,996 in proposed penalties.

Agency inspectors identified violations, including inadequate lighting; lack of machine guards; failing to keep the workroom clean and dry; failing to inspect and ensure proper use of fall protection; and failing to provide effective training on hazardous chemicals in a June 2017 inspection. A prior investigation in August 2015 found similar violations.

“Aruvil International has failed to correct similar violations cited two years ago,” said OSHA Marlton Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick. “To protect its workers, the employer should abate these repeatedly identified hazards.”

Report Indicates NIOSH, BLS, and OSHA Could Effectively Collaborate on Surveillance Systems

NIOSH should lead a collaborative effort with the BLS, OSHA, and the states to establish and strengthen regional occupational safety and health surveillance programs, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The nation needs a robust occupational safety and health surveillance system to provide critical information about the relationships between work and injuries and illnesses in order to inform policy development, guide educational and regulatory activities, develop safer technologies, and enable research and prevention strategies that serve and protect all workers. A smarter surveillance system will minimize the undercounting of occupational injuries and illnesses by making strategic use of different datasets and surveys, and will maximize appropriate use of technologies.

“Ensuring and improving worker safety and health is a serious commitment, and federal and state agencies along with other stakeholders should diligently act upon it,” said Edward Shortliffe, professor of biomedical informatics at Arizona State University and chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report. “We are experiencing rapid changes in the nature of work, and with new risks developing; the nation is in dire need of a smarter surveillance system that tracks occupational injuries, illnesses, and exposures.”

The estimated annual cost of occupation-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the U.S. is $250 billion, according to the latest data available from 2007. Occupational health and safety surveillance can provide ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data, essential to planning and evaluating public health practices. Currently there is no single, comprehensive surveillance system in the U.S., but rather a continuously evolving set of systems using a variety of data sources that meet different objectives, the report says. So far, the principal focus has been on collecting data on health outcomes, and less attention has been given to collecting information on hazards and exposures.

The report emphasizes the importance and value of sources and quality of inputs to creating a stronger surveillance system. Surveys and assessments designed to count occupational injuries do not capture data on some segments of the working population. For example, the BLS' Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) does not include injuries to workers who are self-employed, like independent contractors, or who work on small farms. The report recommends BLS and OSHA work together to collect more complete, accurate, and robust information on the extent, distribution, and characteristics of work-related injuries and illnesses.

A federal-state partnership can facilitate and serve as a national effort to identify and monitor emerging problems, and to foster prevention programs that can address them, the report says. The committee called attention to enhancing the quality and capacity of informatics, particularly in NIOSH, using advanced computational and analytical tools, and monitoring advances in information technology. NIOSH, OSHA, and BLS should also work together to encourage education and training of the surveillance workforce in disciplines necessary for developing and using surveillance systems, including epidemiology, biomedical informatics, and biostatistics.

Implementing a household survey to record occupational injuries and illnesses will also help fill gaps in the data for populations of workers who are missing from employer-based injury reporting, by obtaining input directly from the worker, the report says. Additionally, OSHA’s electronic employer-based reporting initiative needs to be accompanied by a solid plan for analyzing, interpreting, and disseminating the information, the committee said. Specifically, OSHA should collaborate with BLS, NIOSH, state agencies, and other stakeholders to maximize the effectiveness and utility of the reporting initiative for surveillance.

The report also notes that work-related disease (versus injury) information has been lacking in the surveillance system. NIOSH should work with state occupational safety and health surveillance programs to develop a methodology and coordinated system for surveillance of both fatal and nonfatal occupational disease using multiple data sources. Furthermore, the committee called for an immediate collaborative effort of federal agencies to initiate the development of a comprehensive approach for exposure surveillance that builds and updates a database of risks and exposures to predict and locate work-related acute and chronic health conditions for prevention.

The study was funded by the NIOSH, BLS, and OSHA. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org.

EPA Encourages Home Radon Test for National Radon Awareness Month

Radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that causes cancer, can build up to unsafe levels in any home at any time of year. With many Americans spending more time inside their homes during January, however, there is no better time to make sure our homes are radon-free. That is why EPA starts every new year encouraging Americans to get their homes tested for radon.

“If a high radon level is found, the good news is that this serious environmental risk can be reduced by using simple, proven techniques comparable to the cost of other minor home repair or improvement projects,” said Bill Wehrum, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

Millions of homes in the United States have elevated levels of radon. Inhalation of radon damages lung cells and kills approximately 21,000 people annually, making radon the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

Because radon gas is invisible and odorless, the only way to know if a house, school or other building has a radon problem is to get the building tested.

Although testing for radon is easy and inexpensive, only one in five homeowners have tested their homes for radon. EPA and states are encouraging Americans to test their homes for radon and to fix elevated levels during January as a common-sense step to prevent lung cancer.

Radon test kits are available at hardware stores, home improvement centers, and online. Kits usually cost around $20 and come with easy-to-use testing and mailing instructions. Qualified radon professionals can also perform tests and fix elevated levels.

Don’t delay in testing your home during National Radon Action Month. A simple and low-cost radon test can help save a life in your family.

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