Noise Exposure: Prevention, Hearing Protection, and Training

By Trish Ennis CSP, ARM, CRIS
Executive Director, Colorado Safety Association

A recent study conducted and published by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, October 7, 2021 finds that more than 50% of workers who are exposed to noise on the job do not always, or even frequently wear hearing protection. This information may not be a surprise to the professionals who are tasked with enforcing occupational safety rules, but it is important information. Interestingly, non-compliance was highest among women, young workers, and smokers.

This study, which looked at 39,508 adult workers between 2007 and 2014 was consistent with past research, although this is the first time a connection has been made between smoking, and non-compliance with the use of hearing protection devices. It is to be noted that the data was collected for a period of time that concluded seven years ago and was finally published in 2021.

Linking Important Safety Programs

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Co-Chair

Most of us know the components of a good safety and health management system. For example, see Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, (Federal Register 54(18):3908–3916, January 26, 1989). What many of us may not realize is that several of these components are linked.

The base component of a good safety and health management system is a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs).  SOPs streamline, optimize and reduce risk of error of day-to-day activities.

Electrical Safety: The Qualified, The Unqualified, and The Uncertain

By Bennett Roberson, CSP, CESCP
Director of Business Development, Gulf Coast Safety Council

In the field of Electrical Safety there are, like other disciplines, many terms and acronyms that are frequently used which may have the unintended effect of confusing, or at a minimum, be misleading for some at times. Terms such as Qualified and Unqualified leave many employers “Uncertain” as to where their employee’s skill level and experience leave them in regard to the OSHA standards. Is the journeyman electrician that has been with the company for 15 years qualified? They are licensed by a third party, and have worked on various projects over the years which has given them a broad base of knowledge and skills. Surely, they must be considered “Qualified.” Or are they……

Let’s start by taking a look at OSHA’s definition, in the General Industry Standard, of a Qualified Person for Electrical Work – “One who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.” Although this may appear to be a concise description of what constitutes a Qualified Person, OSHA goes on to expand on the requirements.

October Is Fire Prevention Month

By George Kezerle, OHST
Director of Training & Course Development, ArkLaTex Safety Council

All business and homes need a fire prevention plan.  These plans can be very simple or detailed; depending on the size of the business or the home. Alarm systems need to be installed throughout the business or home as follows:

  1. Wherever a combustible material is installed or available, there should be a smoke detector.
  2. Wherever a gas appliance is installed, there should be a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector installed

What's Your Relationship with the Fire Department?

By Jennifer Williams
EHS Program Manager

When a fire happens at your facility are you truly prepared?  Have you worked with and developed a relationship with your local fire department or do you just rely on “cookie cutter” emergency response plans?  According to the National Fire Protection Agency statistics there are 37,000 industrial fires per year that result in 18 deaths 279 injuries and 1 billion dollars in direct property damage.

As a safety professional we are focused on preventing fires. However, if any error’s occur in that system or natural event strikes your facility, are you and the fire department prepared to keep the impact low to your site and the community around you?

America’s Other Drug Problem

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Chair

Medication non-compliance is simply not taking your medications as prescribed.  It can lead to unnecessary progression, poor outcomes, disease complications, a lower quality of life, increasing healthcare cost and even premature death.  It is estimated that between $100 billion and $300 billion of avoidable healthcare cost in the United States are due to medication non-compliance and non-adherence.  And yet we wonder why the cost of our health insurance is going up every year with less coverage and higher deductibles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published these statistics below concerning medication non-compliance.

  • 20% - 30% of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy
  • 50% of patients with chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes do not take medications as prescribed
  • For patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases, after 6 months, the majority take less medication than prescribed or stop the medication altogether on their own
  • Only 51% of patients taking medication for high blood pressure continue taking their medication during their long term treatment

Governmental Affairs Update for the Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils

By R. Ronald Sokol, CSP
President and CEO of Safety Council of Texas City

Now on to the governmental affairs update. The first thing I’d like to comment on is the monumental change of how things now get done in Washington. It’s called governing by Executive Order (EO). To illustrate my point, let’s look at the governing strategies of the past four President’s as it relates to the use of EO’s during their first 100 days in office. President Bush issued 13 EO’s during his first 100 days. President Obama issued 34 EO’s during his first 100 days and President Trump issued 39 EO’s. President Biden has issued 60 EO’s during his first 100 days and one of the first EO’s was to instruct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop recommendations to modernize regulatory review aimed at reversal of the Trump EO that required two regulations to be eliminated from any governmental regulatory agency before one new regulation could be proposed. I believe the next four years will witness a greater increase in governmental oversight. Speaking specifically in the areas of safety and health, I anticipate a greater emphasis on the enforcement of worker safety and health regulations. Democrats introduced a labor rights bill called the PRO ACT that would allow the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to levy fines against employers who violate workers’ rights, give employees more power to participate in strikes, weaken so-called right to work laws, and offer certain independent contractors the protections held by employees.

New look on OSHA Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccination Side Effects and OSHA’s 29 CFR 1904’s Recording Requirements

By James Hinton
Director, EHS&Q

In the early stages of the vaccination process many employers were not wanting to mandate or participate in vaccinations of employees after hearing of people getting sick or ill after receiving a vaccination. OSHA’s initial response to employees having negative reactions, getting sick or missing work was very detrimental to most employer’s decision not to participate as the initial OSHA response was that anyone who had side effects from a vaccination mandated at work or given at the workplace would require reporting under 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements. This along with General Council advice to not participate or mandate vaccinations did have some effect on workplace vaccination mandates and participation from some larger employers nationwide.