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In this week’s Newsletter
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Perception, work-life balance key factors in workplace safety, says UGA study
Six thousand workers die on the job in the U.S. each year, and millions more are injured. According to a recent University of Georgia study, a worker’s perception of safety in the workplace and the work-life balance established by businesses has a significant effect on on-the-job injury. “We’ve known for some time that certain occupations are more dangerous than others due to a variety of physical and other hazards,” said Dave DeJoy, UGA professor of health promotion and behavior. “But in the last 20 years, there has been growing evidence that management and organizational factors also play a critical role. That is, actions taken or not taken at the organizational level can either set the stage for injuries or help prevent them.” DeJoy and Todd Smith, a recent graduate of the Health Promotion and Behavior doctoral program in the UGA College of Public Health, authored one of the first studies to examine U.S. safety climate perceptions among a diverse sample of occupations and worker groups—from offices to factories—and to highlight the factors linked to injury. The results were published online in January and will be in the March issue of the Journal of Safety Research. Companies that run in a smooth and effective manner and have minimal constraints on worker performance can decrease injuries by 38 percent as worker opinions improve, according to survey results. A worker’s perception of a positive safety climate can decrease injuries by 32 percent. The safety climate category assessed worker perceptions on the importance of their safety in their work organization. “We can design the best safety controls, but they must be maintained, and that falls on management,” Smith said. “Enacted policies and procedures—not formalized ones but those acted upon—define a climate of safety.” DeJoy agrees. “Injury is a failure of management. Organizations who blame individuals for injuries do not create a positive safety climate.” In addition to factors identified by the study to decrease injuries, work-family interference was established as a significant risk for occupational injury. “We used to think work was one thing and family was another, but now there is a realization that work-life balance affects performance and productivity,” DeJoy said. The study looked at the mutual interference between job and family demands. In situations where work interferes with family life or family demands affect job performance, they found that the risk for injury increased 37 percent.
Consistent with previous studies performed by the Department of Labor Statistics, they found whites had higher injury rates than blacks, but both had lower rates than the “other” category, which is predominately made up of Hispanics. “These results provide guidance for targeting interventions and protective measures to curtail occupational injury in the U.S.,” Smith said. DeJoy was part of a team of researchers that worked with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to put together a quality of work life survey module that featured a number of scales and measures assessing different job and organizational factors. This module was included as part of the General Social Survey and administered to a national representative sample of American adults. In their study, DeJoy and Smith assessed occupational injury risk in terms of socio-demographic factors, employment characteristics and organizational factors for 1,525 respondents using data from the quality of work life module. The study identified race, occupational category and work-family interferences as risk factors for occupational injury and safety climate and organizational effectiveness as protective factors.
“The data suggests effects are pronounced and generalized across all occupations,” said Smith, who spent 12 years as a workplace safety consultant before starting his graduate program at UGA. “Most prior research on organizational factors has focused on single occupations or single organizations,” DeJoy said. “There has been a clear need to examine these factors across a diverse array of occupations and employment circumstances to see how generalizable or pervasive these factors are.” The nine factors they examined were participation, work-family interference, management-employee relations, organizational effectiveness, safety climate, job content, advancement potential, resource adequacy and supervisor support. For a PDF of the study, Click Here.
MSHA Results of January Impact Inspections
MSHA has announced that federal inspectors issued 253 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 12 coal mines and four metal/nonmetal mines in January. These inspections began in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, and involve mines that demand increased agency attention and enforcement due to poor compliance history or other compliance concerns. This includes high numbers of violations, frequent hazard complaints, plan compliance issues, injuries, fatalities and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation. In one January inspection, violations exposed miners to the risk of silicosis, black lung and a potential explosion. The mine operator also failed to control draw rock which exposed miners to the risk of being struck by pieces of falling roof. According to Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, while the program has resulted in improved compliance, the seriousness of the violations found in January demonstrate why targeted enforcement is still necessary. For more information, view the spreadsheet containing the results of impact inspections in January 2012.
Cal/OSHA launches initiative aimed at reducing confined space fatalities in California
The California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has launched a confined space awareness campaign, with assistance from the Oakland Fire Department, to educate the public on the risks associated with working in a confined space. A confined space fatality occurred in Napa at Ancien Wines, Inc. last April. The assistant wine maker was transferring red wine from one tank to another, when he was overcome by nitrogen and argon gases inside the tank. He was later found unresponsive six feet inside the tank and was pronounced dead that evening. Another confined space incident which resulted in two deaths occurred in October at Community Recycling in Lamont. Cal/OSHA’s investigation into that workplace fatality is ongoing. Last year, seven occupational fatalities occurred as a result of confined space hazards in workplaces across the state. The campaign is part of a newly launched campaign by Cal/OSHA to raise awareness of these hazards, to ensure that employers know their responsibilities and employees are aware of confined space hazards and follow safe work practices. Confined space hazards occur in multiple industries, and employers frequently are unfamiliar with the risks of working in such hazardous environments, or do not follow proper safeguards.
Cal/OSHA has posted confined space hazard materials on its website www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/confinedspace. A public webinar will take place for employers, employer groups, worker advocates and others on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 10 a.m. Information on how to register for the webinar is posted on this page. Future training seminar, online webinars and other outreach programs will also be held throughout the year to help educate employers become aware of the risks inherent in working in confined spaces and necessary steps to prevent injuries and deaths. For more help on working safely in confined spaces, contact the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service toll-free at 1-800-963-9424. Also visit www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/consultation.html for more information.
Paper Considers Why Process Safety Systems Aren’t Enough to Prevent Incidents
Organizational failures pave the way for the technical failures that lead to process safety incidents, such as 2010's Deepwater Horizon and San Bruno gas pipeline disasters, say experts at global safety firm BST. The firm has released a white paper describing what it calls a comprehensive process incident prevention approach. The paper also provides recommendations on how to integrate culture and leadership with catastrophic event prevention.
BST says the paper seeks to answer the question of why serious events continue to occur despite sophisticated technical and management systems in industry. "It turns out that process safety systems are critical to preventing catastrophic events, but they aren't enough," says BST president Scott Stricoff. "Good systems fail when culture and leadership don't support them." Preventing incidents in man-made systems (in some industries known as process safety management) is a distinct discipline from employee safety. Employee safety focuses on preventing injuries and fatalities on the job, while the purpose of catastrophic event prevention is to stop systems failures that can result in fires, explosions, uncontrolled releases of hazardous materials, mine collapses, or train collisions. The two categories overlap when a serious process failure injures or kills employees. Failure to distinguish between employee safety and process safety, specifically confusing good performance in one for good performance in the other, has been cited as a contributing factor in some recent catastrophic events. "Preventing the kind of catastrophic events we've seen in recent years requires a willingness to address the organizational issues in addition to the technical issues," says Stricoff. The white paper outlining BST's process incident prevention approach is available at http://www.bstsolutions.com/en/processincident (Note: to download the paper you have to enter your contact info)
Fatal Exposure to Methylene Chloride Among Bathtub Refinishers — United States, 2000–2011
In 2010, the Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program conducted an investigation into the death of a bathtub refinisher who used a methylene chloride–based paint stripping product marketed for use in aircraft maintenance. The program identified two earlier, similar deaths in Michigan. Program staff members notified CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which in turn notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to the three deaths, OSHA identified 10 other bathtub refinisher fatalities associated with methylene chloride stripping agents that had been investigated in nine states during 2000–2011. Each death occurred in a residential bathroom with inadequate ventilation. Protective equipment, including a respirator, either was not used or was inadequate to protect against methylene chloride vapor, which has been recognized as potentially fatal to furniture strippers and factory workers (1,2) but has not been reported previously as a cause of death among bathtub refinishers. Worker safety agencies, public health agencies, methylene chloride–based stripper manufacturers, and trade organizations should communicate the extreme hazards of using methylene chloride–based stripping products in bathtub refinishing to employers, workers, and consumers. Employers should strongly consider alternative methods of bathtub stripping and always ensure worker safety protections that reduce the risk for health hazards to acceptable levels. Employers choosing to use methylene chloride–based stripping products must comply with OSHA's standard to limit methylene chloride exposures to safe levels. Click Here for more on this.
OSHA's Revised Acetylene Standard Will Take Effect March 5
OSHA's direct final rule revising the Acetylene Standard for general industry is effective March 5. The revised standard replaces a reference to an outdated consensus standard with an updated reference from the Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet G-1-2009, Acetylene. According to the agency, the update will provide employers with guidance that reflects current industry practices to better protect their workers from injury or death. In a http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&;p_id=22313" target="_blank" title="">Dec. 5 Federal Register notice, OSHA announced the direct final rule would go into effect after three months, barring any significant adverse comments on the rule. View OSHA’s chemical sampling information for acetylene.
Report of Violation Findings for Fourth Quarter of 2011
The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors has released the Violation Findings Fourth Quarter Report for 2011. The report is based on 61 reports from 37 jurisdictions and covers 132,977 inspections revealing 13,430 violations (10% violation rate). Boiler Controls is the category with the highest number of violations, reporting 4,303. Boiler Piping and Other Systems is second with 3,916 violations. The Violation Findings Report identifies the number and type of boiler and pressure vessel inspection violations found among participating member jurisdictions. It also indicates problem areas and trends related to boiler and pressure vessel operation, installation, maintenance, and repair. Additionally, it identifies problems prior to adverse conditions occurring. This report serves as an important source of documentation for jurisdictional officials, providing statistical data to support continued funding of inspection programs.
Number of jurisdiction reports this quarter: 61
Total number of inspections: 132,977
Total number of violations: 13,430
Percent of violations: 10%
SAFTENG Blog &
SAFTENG LinkedIn Forum
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Discussions @ Safety Engineering Network LinkedIn Group and my homepage blog:
Should the government use "Third-Party Audits" to audit facilities for safety and health compliance?
Worker Safety Rule Under Review at OIRA for Over a Year: A Tale of Rulemaking Delay
United Rentals Introduces Online Trench Safety Training for Customers
Perception, work-life balance key factors in workplace safety, says UGA study
Integrated Safety Management System
Mechanical Ventilation - General Rules to live by
The IMPORTANCE of Hydrostatic relief valves in Ammonia Systems
MAJOR Bromine Rail Car Release (Video)
A Lesson from an American Hero
Loader Blind Spot Fatality
PHOTOS - Unsafe Acts/Conditions & Accident/Injury
30 Million Gas Cylinders Recalled by Worthington Cylinders Wisconsin Due to Fire Hazard
Is experience just as important as certifications for a safety professional?
2012 CCPS Process Beacon - Double Block & Bleed Explanation
Comparison of RMP and PSM Chemicals and Thresholds
13 Methylene Chloride Related Deaths Linked To Bathtub Refinishing
Safety and Health Tip
Industrial Steel Storage Racks - Minimizing Your Risk Over the Life Cycle
This FREE informational webinar will include:
- Current standards and codes
- Roles & responsibilities of all parties involved
- Application and installation issues
- Rearrangement and repurposing
- Inspection and maintenance
- Q & A
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT
Click Here to register.
Civilian Fire Fatalities
On March 1, 2012, 4 residential fire fatalities were reported by news media throughout the United States.
New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association (NJEPA) Conference
April 30 - May 4, 2012
May 8-11, 2012
October 11-12, 2012
If you have a conference or an outing for your safety organization, let me now and I can help spread the message. And yes, posting is FREE!