Beryllium Final Rule Takes Effect March 21, 2017

The effectivity date of a recently published final rule on beryllium exposure has been postponed to March 21st.

The rule had been scheduled to take effect on March 10th, but was delayed due to President Trump’s memorandum, “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” on January 20th.

The deferment was published in the Federal Register on February 1st.

NIOSH Launches Free ‘Sound Level Meter’ App for iOS

The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) app can now be downloaded for free on the iOS mobile platform, according to a blog from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The app measures and characterizes occupational noise exposure similar to professional instruments. Although the app was rigorously tested, NIOSH maintains that the app is not meant to replace a professional sound level meter or a noise dosimeter or be used for compliance purposes. They do, however, recommend that those interested in making proper noise measurements use an external microphone that can be calibrated with an acoustical calibrator for improved accuracy.

NIOSH uploaded a YouTube video to highlight the app’s functions, including:

  • Readout of the sound level using the built-in microphone (or external microphone if used)
  • Instantaneous sound level in A, C, or Z-weighted decibels.

Key benefits include:

  • Raises workers’ awareness about their work environment
  • Helps workers make informed decisions about the potential hazards to their hearing
  • Serves as a research tool to collect noise exposure data
  • Promotes better hearing health and prevention efforts

To learn more, read the NIOSH Science Blog entry.

David Michaels Steps Down as OSHA Administrator

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), left the agency last month after over seven years of service. He was the longest-serving Assistant Secretary.

According to an OSHA QuickTakes newsletter, Dr. Michaels is rejoin[ing] the faculty of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Jordan Barab, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary, served as Acting Assistant Secretary until noon on January 20, 2017.

As of press time, no one has been appointed to replace Dr. Michaels.

Underreporting of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

A paper published in the Journal of Safety Research revealed that recordkeeping violations were reported in 50 percent of facilities inspected under a National Emphasis Program (NEP) from 2009 to 2012. Injuries and illnesses in the workplace, according to the study, were under-reported and under-recorded.

Examining the NEP data, the authors of the paper argued that workers’ fear of reprisal and employer disciplinary programs were the most important causes of under-reporting.

Also significant, according to OSHA QuickTakes, were poorly operated on-site nursing or first aid stations. For instance, in the case of some poultry facilities, such stations were staffed by emergency medical technicians and licensed practical nurses with little to no nursing or medical supervision, who functioned without appropriate protocols and provided care beyond their scopes of practice.

In other cases, treatment to injuries was limited to first-aid, thus keeping access from higher level medical care and excluding the injuries from recordkeeping logs.

The authors called for more research to better characterize and eliminate obstacles to the accurate compilation of such information.

Read the abstract and full text.

Overexertion Costs Businesses $13.79 Billion

The 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index reports the ten most nonfatal workplace injuries in the United States. Overexertion topped the list followed by falls on the same level.

The report also includes the costs of such injuries. Rankings along with costs in billions, are:

  1. Overexertion -- $13.79
  2. Falls on the same level -- $10.62
  3. Falls to lower Level -- $5.5
  4. Struck by object or equipment -- $ 4.43
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions -- $ 3.89
  6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle --$3.7
  7. Slip or trip without fall -- $2.3
  8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects -- $1.95
  9. Struck against object or equipment -- $1.94
  10. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks -- $1.81

Overall, the direct cost of all disabling work-related injuries came to $59.87 billion, with the top 10 accounting for over 83 percent of that cost.

Read a PDF of the summary.

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