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Risk Control Issues NewsBrief - June 2015

OSHA issues final rule to protect construction workers in confined spaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces. People working in confined spaces (such as manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks) face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions and asphyxiation.

Last year, two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole, the second when he went down to save the first – which is not uncommon in cases of asphyxiation in confined spaces.

"In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these don't have to happen," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "This new rule will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces. In fact, we estimate that it will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year."

The rule will provide construction workers with protections similar to those manufacturing and general industry workers have had for more than two decades, with some differences tailored to the construction industry. These include requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards – a safety option made possible by technological advances after the manufacturing and general industry standards were created.

For more information, see the news release and visit OSHA's webpage on Confined Spaces in Construction.

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

IBHS provides top five recommendations to help reduce property damage from hurricanes

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a Travelers alliance, is urging business owners to prepare now for the high winds, wind-driven rain and flooding that may occur during the Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1.

Top 5 Hurricane Business Preparedness Recommendations

  1. Review your business continuity plan and update as needed, including employee contact information. If you do not have a business continuity plan, consider IBHS’ free, easy-to-use toolkit for small businesses, OFB-EZ® (Open for Business-EZ).
  2. Remind employees of key elements of the plan, including designation of employees to monitor severe weather and provide appropriate alerts and communication, post-event communications procedures and work/payroll procedures. Make sure all employees have a copy of the plan and participate in regular training exercises. Review emergency shutdown and start-up procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel.
  3. Inspect your buildings and complete any maintenance needed to ensure they can stand up to severe weather. Learn more about what to look for during inspections.
  4. Test all equipment that is critical to carrying out your plan. If back-up power such as a diesel generator is to be used, test your system and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries.
  5. Re-inspect and replenish emergency supplies inventory, since emergency supplies are often used during the offseason for non-emergency situations.

Learn more about what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane to help protect your business and employees in IBHS’ Business Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

For more information about hurricane preparedness, view our Business Continuity TravSources®. Log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page and click on Topic TravSources under Technical Tools. Also, be sure to check out the hurricane preparedness web pages on Travelers Prepare and Prevent.

Educational resources available for young workers

With the summer job season beginning and new workers preparing to enter the workforce, OSHA has many safety and health resources for young workers, their parents, employers and educators. Information and resources on workers' rights and summer job safety are available on OSHA's Young Workers page and on the Wage and Hour Division's YouthRules! page. In addition, brochures for young workers on landscaping and retail work are available through OSHA's interagency workgroup, the Federal Network for Young Worker Safety and Health. Both of FedNet's brochures are also available in Spanish (Agorra la Onda for landscaping and Seguridad Hace Sentido for retail safety).

According to OSHA, workers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to be injured on the job as older workers and are often unaware of their workplace rights. To help spread the word to young workers in your area about job hazards and workplace safety and health rights, order OSHA's I Have Rights poster.

For more information about safety for young workers, log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page. Once in the Portal, search “young workers” in the Keyword Search.

FEMA and NOAA: floods happen everywhere – be prepared

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 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.

  • Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand that flooding can happen anywhere and affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Sign up for weather alerts at Travelers Prepare and Prevent and check the weather forecast regularly at weather.gov. Now is the time to be prepared by ensuring you have real-time access to flood warnings via mobile devices, weather radio and local media, and avoiding areas that are under these warnings.
  • Take Action: Make sure you and your family members are prepared for floods. You may not be together when weather strikes, so plan how you will contact one another by developing your family communication plan. Visit Ready.gov/prepare and NOAA to learn more actions you can take to be better prepared and important safety and weather information.
  • Be an Example: Once you have taken action, tell family, friends, and co-workers to do the same. Technology today makes it easier than ever to be a good example and to share the steps you took to become weather-ready.

For more information about hurricane preparedness, view our Business Continuity TravSources®. Log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page and click on Topic TravSources under Technical Tools. Also, be sure to check out the flood safety web pages on Travelers Prepare and Prevent.

OSHA seeks to prevent heat illness with revised Heat Safety tool app

As summer approaches and outdoor temperatures begin to rise, OSHA is once again informing the public about its Heat Safety Tool app to help protect workers from heat illness, which is available on iOS and Android devices in both English and Spanish. OSHA has updated the version for iPhones, which now offers full screen color alerts for all heat conditions, improved navigation and accessibility options, and compatibility upgrades. The heat app provides heat illness prevention guidance specific to the user's current outdoor workplace conditions using weather data provided by NOAA. The new version provides the daily maximum heat index intended to help prepare for extreme heat and plan work schedules accordingly. More than 187,000 users have downloaded this life-saving app.

OSHA's heat app was updated in-house and is fully open source, so app developers from across the country can access the code and contribute to or improve the app themselves. The heat app's code is available online.

To view more information about working safely outdoors, log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page. Once in the Portal, search “heat stroke” in the Keyword Search.

OSHA's revised Hazard Communication requirements in effect as of June 1

Starting June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers are required to provide a common approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category. Beginning in December, distributors may only ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer if the labels meet these requirements.

The June 1 deadline was established when OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard in 2012 with the global standard for chemical product labeling. The provisions for labeling offer workers better protection from chemical hazards, while also reducing trade barriers and improving productivity for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals. The updated standard also provides cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the standard, saving businesses millions of dollars each year.

The new format for Safety Data Sheets requires 16 specific sections to ensure consistency in presentation of important protection information. For more information, see OSHA's Hazard Communication webpage.

To read more about the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard, view our document in the Risk Control Customer Portal. Once logged in, search “A0533” in the Keyword Search.

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