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Risk Control Issues NewsBrief - May 2015

OSHA will host second-annual Construction Fall Safety Stand-Down: May 4-15

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, as hundreds of workers die each year and thousands more suffer catastrophic, debilitating injuries. Yet, lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by OSHA. To recognize this often fatal hazard, tens of thousands of employers and more than a million workers across the country joined OSHA in 2014 for a weeklong Fall Safety Stand-Down, the largest occupational safety event ever held. OSHA hopes to triple these numbers during this year's Fall Safety Stand-Down from May 4-15, 2015.

Building on last year's widespread participation, OSHA has made this year's Stand-Down, a two-week event. From May 4-15, employers and workers will pause during their workday for topic talks, demonstrations and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails and other means to protect workers from falls. Underscoring the importance of this effort, industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups, have already begun scheduling 2015 stand-downs in all 50 states and around the world.

The National Fall Safety Stand-Down is part of OSHA's fall prevention campaign, launched three years ago with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda and The Center for Construction Research and Training. OSHA and partners would like to encourage all workers and employers that face fall hazards on the job to participate in this year's Stand-Down. The newly launched National Safety Stand-Down 2015 website provides details on how to: conduct a Stand-Down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. It will also include a list of stand-down events free and open to the public, as soon as they become available.

For more information about fall protection, view our Fall Management Topic TravSources®. Log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of this page. Once in the Portal, click on Topic TravSources under Technical Tools.

Study spans more than 30 years of hearing loss trends

A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examines 30 years of hearing loss trends experienced by workers exposed to noise while on the job, across various industries. The study, published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that while progress has been made in reducing the risk of hearing loss within most industry sectors, additional efforts are needed within the Mining, Construction, and Healthcare and Social Assistance sectors.

Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise at work. Long-term exposure to hazardous noise, a single instantaneous high noise exposure, or exposure to chemicals that damage hearing (ototoxic chemicals) can cause occupational hearing loss – a job-related illness that is permanent and potentially debilitating, but entirely preventable. This study is the first to look at thirty years of hearing loss trends by industry sector and give a birds-eye view of how workers are affected by hazardous noise environments.

In this study, NIOSH researchers examined audiograms — results from hearing tests for almost 2 million noise-exposed workers from 1981-2010. Some of the key findings are as follows:

  • The overall prevalence of hearing loss for workers in all industries remained consistent at 20% over the entire 30-year period. The prevalence is the total number of workers who have hearing loss (existing and new cases) and illustrates the burden of the illness.
  • The incidence and risk of incident hearing loss decreased over time, indicating some progress in occupational hearing loss prevention efforts over 30 years. The incidence is the number of new cases of hearing loss.
  • The Construction sector had the highest incidence of hearing loss during most time periods.
  • Risks of incident hearing loss were significantly lower during 2006-2010 for every industry sector except Mining, and Healthcare and Social Assistance.

Other factors may have contributed to the improvement in incidence and risk, including the overall reduction in smoking, which is a risk factor for hearing loss, and better treatment of middle ear disorders.

The findings in the Mining, Construction and Healthcare and Social Assistance sectors are also supported by other research. The Mining sector has a higher percentage of noise-exposed workers than any other U.S. industry. The Construction sector has less stringent hearing conservation requirements than most industries, and the mobile, seasonal nature of construction work and large proportion of independent contractors contribute to the difficulty in implementing hearing conservation practices. While only 4% of workers are exposed to hazardous noise in the Healthcare and Social Assistance sector, 74% of these workers have reported not wearing their hearing protection. Efforts to reduce both the burden and risk of hearing loss are still needed. There is no industry where workers can be considered 'safe' from hearing loss.

The study, Trends in Worker Hearing Loss by Industry Sector, 1981–2010, can be found at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.22429/abstract. For more information about hearing loss prevention, visit cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/. To learn more about occupational hearing loss surveillance, visit cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ohl/.

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

Also, be sure to join us for our third webinar in our Noise series Listen Up: Controlling Your Noise Exposures on July 27. Register now. You also can view the replays of the first two webinars.

New driver medical examination and certification form

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently published a final rule outlining changes to the driver medical examination and certification process. The effective date of the final rule is June 22, 2015. Beginning six months after the effective date of the final rule, certified medical examiners must use new Medical Examination Form MCSA-5875 and the accompanying examiner’s certificate MCSA-5876. This final rule also establishes procedure that will eventually require medical examiners to report the results of driver medical examinations to the National Registry system by midnight the day following the medical examination. States will then be required to use the National Registry system to update drivers’ license records within one business day. The electronic transfer of medical examination records between the medical examiner and state licensing agencies is scheduled to take effect June 22, 2018.

Read the final rule: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-23/pdf/2015-09053.pdf

For more driver and fleet safety management resources, visit Travelers’ Prepare and Prevent website.

Learn more about pool and spa safety with pool safely campaign

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year nearly 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools and spas and more than 3,200 children that age go to hospital emergency rooms due to submersion injuries in pools and spas.

The Pool Safely campaign aims to reduce the number of childhood drownings, near-drownings and entrapments in and around pools and spas. The campaign aims to provide the American public, mainly parents, children, consumers, and industry professionals with easy and actionable water safety steps that can save a life.

The CPSC encourages industry professionals to use the resources available on the Pool Safely website to help confirm that the facilities you manage and service are in compliance with the P&SS Act and to learn more about pool and spa safety.

View our Swimming Pool Topic TravSources® for more information about swimming pool safety. Log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal at the top of the page. Once in the Portal, click on Risk Management Resources and then Topic TravSources.

Prepare your business for hurricane season

Colorado State University released its 2015 Atlantic hurricane season prediction for below-average hurricane activity, forecasting seven named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane. While this may be considered good news, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a Travelers alliance, reminds us that it only takes one storm to devastate a community, a state or an entire region.

IBHS urges residents to be prepared, and to start their hurricane home and business protection efforts now.

Hurricane Business Preparedness Recommendations:
While business emergency planning ideally is typically a 12-month priority, the start of the hurricane season is a good time to refocus your efforts. Now is the time to:

  1. Have your buildings inspected and complete any maintenance needed to help your building withstand severe weather. Learn more about what to look for during inspections.
  2. Designate an employee to monitor weather reports and alert your team to the potential of severe weather.
  3. 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 business continuity plan toolkit for small businesses, OFB-EZTM (Open for Business-EZ). Learn more about effectively updating your continuity plan.
  4. Remind employees of key elements of the plan, including post-event communications procedures and work procedures. Review emergency shutdown and start-up procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel, including alternates. Learn how to engage your employees in emergency planning.
  5. If back-up power such as a generator is to be used, test your system and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries. Learn more about proper installation and use of commercial generators.
  6. Re-inspect and replenish emergency supplies inventory, since emergency supplies are often used during the offseason for non-emergency situations.
  7. Test all life safety equipment.
  8. Conduct training/simulation exercises for both your business continuity and emergency preparedness/response plans.

Learn more about what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane to protect your business and employees in IBHS’ Business Emergency Preparedness Checklist. More information is available from IBHS on hurricane preparedness at DisasterSafety/hurricane. Additional recommendations are available on the National Hurricane Preparedness Week webpage.

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