Risk Control Issues NewsBrief - April 2014

FEMA and NOAA: floods happen everywhere, be prepared

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are calling on individuals across the country to Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step by preparing for floods and encourage others to do the same.

Floods are the most common — and costliest — natural disaster in the nation affecting every state and territory. A flood occurs somewhere in the United States or its territories nearly every day of the year.

The flood safety awareness message is simple: know your risk, take action, and be an example. The best way to stay safe during a flood and recover quickly once the water recedes is to prepare for a variety of situations long before the water starts to rise.

For more information about flood preparedness, log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page and search “flood” in the Keyword Search.

April is Safe Digging Month

April 2014 will once again be National Safe Digging Month, the time of year when all Common Ground Alliance (CGA) stakeholders come together to communicate how important it is that professionals and homeowners alike call 811 before digging begins and follow the safe digging process to help prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. To assist damage prevention stakeholders in promoting National Safe Digging Month, CGA has created a full suite of tools – ads, news releases, grassroots marketing programs and more – in the new 2014 CGA Communications Plan. Read more.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

According to the National Safety Council, nearly one-quarter of all vehicle accidents are associated with using cell phones or texting. The number of people injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012 totaled 421,000 – up nine percent from the prior year. Despite these sobering statistics, many drivers continue to talk and text while driving. Research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that drivers who text increase their crash risk as much as 23 times. Reaching for, dialing and talking on a cell phone also significantly increases crash risk. These behaviors have resulted in distraction becoming one of the most serious roadway safety issues we face today.

Travelers recommends a four-step program to help businesses better protect their employees from distracted driving:

Create – Develop a formal, written policy stating your organization’s position on mobile device use and other distractions while driving. This policy should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle, regardless of their position.

Communicate – To be effective, safety policies should be communicated repeatedly. Have every employee who drives acknowledge in writing that they have read, understand and will follow it. Then, send regular messaging to employees via emails, newsletters and bulletin board postings to reinforce the policy.

Follow – Managers and office staff should lead by example. Let employees know that while they are on the road, no phone call or email is more important than their safety. To further prove that point, managers and other staff should defer conversations with employees until they are safely parked.

Promote – Managers should define the safe driving practices and expected behaviors of those that drive for any business purpose. They should also take the appropriate steps to understand who is following these policies, and actively promote the desired behavior.
Join the National Safety Council, government agencies, law enforcement and other safety groups this April in urging drivers to stop distracted driving.

Learn more about driver distraction, including rules and regulations, sample policies and a free cell phone policy kit for employers from the National Safety Council and distraction.gov

To view more information about cell phone safety, log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal and search “cell phone” or “distracted” in the Keyword Search.

OSHA announces final rule revising standards for electric power generation, transmission and distribution

OSHA announced that it issued a final rule to improve workplace safety and health for workers performing electric power generation, transmission and distribution work.

OSHA is revised the 40-year-old construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and is also making some revisions to the construction and general industry requirements. The updated standards for general industry and construction include new or revised provisions for host and contract employers to share safety-related information with each other and with employees, as well as for improved fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts and on overhead line structures. In addition, the standards adopt revised approach-distance requirements to better ensure that unprotected workers do not get dangerously close to energized lines and equipment. The final rule also adds new requirements to protect workers from electric arcs.

General industry and construction standards for electrical protective equipment are also revised under the final rule. The new standard for electrical protective equipment applies to all construction work and replaces the existing construction standard, which was based on out-of-date information, with a set of performance-oriented requirements consistent with the latest revisions of the relevant consensus standards. The new standards address the safe use and care of electrical protective equipment, including new requirements that equipment made of materials other than rubber provide adequate protection from electrical hazards.

OSHA releases new educational bulletin on injury recording requirements to help protect temporary workers

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new educational resource that focuses on requirements for injury recording of temporary worker injuries and illnesses. The bulletin explains the requirements for both the staffing agency and the host employer. The new Recordkeeping Bulletin addresses how to identify who is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illnesses of temporary workers on the OSHA 300 log.

OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative is an agency-wide concerted effort that uses enforcement, outreach and training to assure that temporary workers are protected in their workplaces. In recent months, OSHA has received and investigated many reports of temporary workers suffering serious or fatal injuries, many of which occur within their first week on the job. OSHA's initiative was launched to raise awareness and compliance with requirements that temporary workers receive the same training and protection that existing workers receive.

Under the OSHA Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR 1904), covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses.

The temporary worker Recordkeeping Bulletin helps businesses determine which employer is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illness on the OSHA 300 log. This is the first in a series of guidance documents that will be released to support the initiative to raise awareness about compliance with OSHA requirements for temporary workers.

For more information about OSHA's Recordkeeping and Reporting requirements, visit osha.gov/recordkeeping/index.html. Additional information and resources on temporary workers can be accessed at osha.gov/temp_workers/.

New OSHA educational resources for hazard communication

Two new OSHA resources, “Hazard Communication: Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals” and a new fact sheet, “Steps to an Effective Hazardous Communication Program for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals,” offer employers clear steps to create an effective hazard communication program — including a sample program and a quick guide to hazard communication training.

For more information about severe weather preparedness, log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page and search “hazard communication” in the Keyword Search.

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