Thibodeaux, LA, Tuesday, March 21: ASSE Bayou Chapter lunch meeting, 11:30 at Nicholls State Student Union in Houma. The charge is $25 to help fund the chapter. Register by emailing the Bayou Chapter officers at email@example.com.
Companies that have been through the brutal downturn in oil are coming to realize that what we thought would be a boom is sounding more like a pop. Even though we are clearly in a recovery, prices have been stuck in a narrow range (low-to-mid $50’s for West Texas Intermediate) for more than three months. The slogan has become Lower for Longer and industry needs to think through what that means, including safety departments.
In the last post, I looked at OSHA’s apparent about face on its policy of publicly calling out companies that violate safety regulations. Under the Obama Administration, OSHA sent out a news release whenever it hit a company with a large fine, but that stopped abruptly when Donald Trump was sworn-in.
The practice has been called Name and Shame or just The Shame Game. Under the Obama Administration, OSHA would publicize large fines on businesses, usually when the fines were levied. The idea was that the publicity would do as much as a fine to encourage businesses to adopt safer practices.
In December for example, OSHA put out 30 news releases identifying companies that had been cited for safety violations. For the first three weeks of January, OSHA put out 16 news releases. And then suddenly, the news releases stopped….right before Donald Trump’s Inauguration. OSHA is still fining violators; about 50 have been cited since the last public news release. The citations are still being posted on the OSHA website. However, OSHA is not going out of its way to call out the violators publicly. Continue reading “The Future of OSHA: End of The Shame Game?”
The Centers For Disease Control came out with a startling report this month. A CDC survey on hearing found that one out of every five Americans in their 20’s have some hearing loss. Since hearing generally deteriorates with age, evidence that so many your adults already have hearing loss makes it a bit of a time bomb for the future.
The CDC also found two other significant trends. The first is that fully a quarter of the people surveyed who said they had good to excellent hearing actually had some hearing loss, meaning that we can’t exactly “trust our ears” to tell us when we have hearing loss. Gradual changes may not be apparent to us. Continue reading “Hearing Loss – Is This The Next Big Workplace Injury Challenge?”
The famous actress Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Maybe so, but news from Australia indicates that putting too much emphasis on reducing lost time injury statistics is producing some less-than-wonderful unintended consequences. Continue reading “Gaming The Injury System: Australian Postal Services Gets Called Out”
I have had several requests for HazMat and HazCom training recently and have found a lot of confusion in what companies were actually looking for. In talking to some colleagues, I realized that this is a fairly common problem. Companies all need to provide OSHA HazCom training and ones that ship transport or receive hazardous materials need to provide DOT HazMat, but they may not know where one stops and the other starts. It is understandable because they overlap and a lot of classes are hybrids of the two. Continue reading “HazMat Prep and Response Training”
Operating procedures are a key part of the offshore oil and gas Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) Rules. If you think of SEMS as a true system, with interlocking parts, operating procedures are the glue that holds the parts together. It is where:
- Hazards analysis is applied to the actual scope of work,
- Specific skills, knowledge, training and safe work practices can be identified and applied, and
- Mechanical integrity has real world meaning (is the equipment or tool fit for purpose, when used?).
A lot of companies have a safety manual that they bought from a service or maybe it was written by some previous safety manager and tends to be updated only when things change. Over time, we tend to accept our written policies and procedures without looking at what they are supposed to accomplish. Managing workplace injuries is one of those areas. So just to take a fresh look at the issue, let’s go back to what the OSHA regulations actually say about managing injuries. It is found in the Medical Services and First Aid Standard (29 CFR 1910.151). It is very simple and very clear:
1910.151(a) The employer shall ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health.
1910.151(b) In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.
New doctors take an oath to “Do no harm.” In safety and occupational medicine, the challenge is to not implement new rules that wind up creating new and potentially worse problems. We’ve seen time and time again that the Law of Unintended Consequences can be unforgiving. Continue reading “NFL Lessons on Occupational Medicine: Law of Unintended Consequences”