THE SAFETY NET CO N SU LTA N T S
IT’S ALWAYS SAFETY FIRST. ▪
VOLUME 14 ISSUE 6
COVID-19 Cuts Car Crashes — But What About Crash Rates? Streetsblog USA | 04.09.2020 By Kea Wilson
So much for the silver lining. The number of car crashes is indeed plummeting due to lower traffic volumes on American roads, but the rate of car crashes is actually up in many cities — as are the injury and fatality rates for both drivers and vulnerable users. Evidence is beginning to emerge that absent traffic jams during the coronavirus crisis, many drivers are getting more reckless. And because speed is the number one predictor of crash severity, the proportion of people dying per collision is on the rise in many communities. It’s an important asterisk that’s largely missing from media reports about the COVID-19 outbreak’s effect on our streets, and one that should prompt leaders of these cities to consider other ways to slow down cars through emergency modifications to road design.
Here’s just a sampling of places that should start strategizing ways to slow drivers
Austin employees have
down if they want to cut the car crash rate on their streets, while making the
worked 3,458,551 hours
crashes that do occur a little less deadly.
without a Lost Time Accident through 05/2020.
MINNESOTA Buckle up for a shock if you think that Midwestern drivers are keeping it Midwestern Nice
previous year every day since March 12 — but pedestrian injuries are down only 58 percent in the last 28 days, a discrepancy that can likely be explained by the fact that the rates of driver speeding is actually higher right now.
during the COVID-19 outbreak.
And more motorists died in the period between March 2
Because here’s the reality: both car
and April 8 — even though there are so few cars on the
crashes and crash fatalities have more
road, as Streetsblog NYC reported.
than doubled in the North Star State since the virus began to accelerate in the state. You read that right. There were 24 crashes and 28 road deaths in Minnesota between March 16 and April 7 this year, compared to 12 crashes and 13 deaths the year prior. That’s a horrifying 100-percent increase in collisions and a 115-percent increase in fatalities — and a persuasive argument that it’s time to take emergency
MASSACHUSSETTS Car crash deaths are down in the Bay State, as our colleagues at Streetsblog Mass reported earlier this week. But the fatality rate for those car crashes is actually on the rise. Collisions were down 73 percent in Massachusetts
measures to flatten the curve.
between March 15 and April 1 compared to the same
percent. Put another way: if you got into a car crash in
dates in 2019, but crash deaths were only down 38
It hasn’t made the local news
Massachusetts around this time last year, you’d have
yet, but preliminary numbers
roughly a 0.45 percent chance of dying. If you got into a
from the Texas
car crash in the speed-happy age of COVID-19, though,
capital’s traffic data
your chances would be closer to 1.05 percent.
portal point to a rise in
Now, it must be said: only a tiny handful of cities provide
traffic injuries — despite
anything close to real-time crash data to the public, and
a slight dip in collisions.
even some of the states that do are not experiencing an
In March, 2019, Austin police
uptick in the death rate.
reported 450 crashes that left 99
The Los Angeles Times reported a 50-percent plunge in
Austinites injured, including one
crash fatalities across the whole state of California, though
pedestrian. This March, by contrast, had just
it should be noted that even that exciting figure doesn’t
381 collisions, but they resulted in 111 injuries — and this
match the drop in total traffic volume, which has been
time around, three of them were walkers.
pegged at around 60 percent. Michigan, which has been
The database doesn’t offer good stats on fatalities, and
hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus, revealed
there’s good reason to be skeptical of waning collision
to Streetsblog that they experienced a 67 percent drop
totals during a pandemic, when police are at least
off in fatalities over the month of March, even though
theoretically less likely to respond to car crashes that
their traffic volume stayed pretty high relative to other
don’t hurt anyone. But the rise in injury numbers are
midwestern states throughout the same period.
alarming nonetheless — and we’ll be following Austin
But those are state-level stats, and it will take time
closely for more details as they’re provided.
for metro-scale data to come available. And in the
NEW YORK CITY Almost no one is driving these days in the Big Apple, but fatalities haven’t declined nearly as much. Vehicle miles traveled on New York City streets have declined by nearly 80 percent compared to the
meantime, we should all be cautious about celebrating declines in traffic deaths too soon — especially when there’s still so much more we can do to make every traffic death a thing of the past.
The 7th reported Michigan worker death of 2020 occurred on May 6. Employers and employees are urged to use extreme care and safety diligence in all work activities. The information below shares preliminary details about the most recent fatalities reported to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) which is believed to be covered by the MIOSH Act. The description reflects information provided to MIOSHA at the initial report of the incident and is not the result of the official MIOSHA investigation.
PRELIMINARY SUMMARY OF INCIDENT: On May 6, at approximately 3:40 p.m., a 48-year-old ironworker was performing bolt-ups while on the main rack and fell 25-feet to the ground below.
Workplace Safety Index Construction
$2.50 B $1.74 B
Falls to lower level $2.50 billion in cost
Struck by object or equipment $1.74 billion in cost
Overexertion involving outside sources $1.48 billion in cost
Falls on same level $1.36 billion in cost
Pedestrian vehicular incidents $0.79 billion in cost
$1.36 B $0.79 B
Visit Liberty Mutual SafetyNetâ„˘ to help prevent injuries and reduce risk. Liberty Mutual Insurance
Confidential & Proprietary â€“ Not for Distribution
Reducing Silica Exposure Amongst Stone Countertop Workers OH&S | 05.01.2020 By Carly Engels Johnston, Erik Johnson Silica is threatening the health of many countertop
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal
workers—here’s what you can do to reduce their risk.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).1 The
Home renovation is a trend that continues to gain
CDC and U.S. OSHA estimate that over two million American
momentum throughout the United States. Likewise, new
workers are already exposed to silica in construction.
hotels, offices, and other structures are being built at a
These government agencies and media outlets have
rapid pace. Throughout all these projects, many builders
helped bring to light the hazards of stone and engineered
are often choosing to install stone countertops, whether
stone countertop production resulting in silica exposure,
marble, granite or engineered stone that includes quartz
especially when the process of dry-cutting is used instead
and other components. But there is a significant potential
of wet-cutting.3 As these news stories and the statistics
hazard facing stone countertop production facilities that is
show, reports of silicosis, including fatalities, have increased
clouding the health and safety of the workers tasked with
among stone countertop workers.
producing these slabs: silica.
WHAT IS RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA? Crystalline silica is a common mineral that is found in materials such as stone, artificial stone and sand. When workers cut, grind, mix, demolish, polish or drill materials used in stone and engineered stone countertop fabrication that contain crystalline silica, they can be exposed to very small silica dust particles. These respirable crystalline silica particles are able to travel deep into workers’ lungs and are associated with adverse health effects, including silicosis which is an incurable and sometimes deadly lung disease.
As the demand for these stone and engineered stone countertop products has risen, so has the need for more workers and more production. Moreover, not only does natural granite contain silica, but engineered stone contains about twice as much quartz. Crystalline silica content in countertop materials ranges from between 45 percent in granite to 90 percent in engineered stone. Workers utilizing such materials may be exposed to these small silica particles when cutting, grinding, chipping, drilling and polishing stone and engineered stone products; handling ground quartz; or cleaning up afterwards. Use of hand tools at the shop or job site can lead to some of the
SILICOSIS AND STONE AND ENGINEERED STONE COUNTERTOP PRODUCTION
highest exposure levels.
Finding cases of silicosis in the countertop industry is something
associated with silicosis (inflammation and scarring of lungs
relatively new in the United States that has recently been reported on in the media as well as by the U.S. Centers for
Breathing in airborne crystalline silica has not only been that permanently reduces ability to take in oxygen) but also lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), decreased immune system and kidney disease.
Also, there are countertop production facilities throughout
conducting air monitoring and exposure assessments. Next,
the United States that include every type of facility from small
establish and implement a written exposure control plan
shops to large manufacturing plants. Employers should take
(WECP) that identifies tasks that involve exposure, and
steps to protect their workers from silica exposure. No matter
methods used to protect workers in accordance with the
what the size of the facility, workers should carefully review the
U.S. OSHA silica standards.
following recommendations and implement the U.S. OSHA silica standard requirements to help protect their workers.
Engineering controls such as using tools that include water feeds and high-efficiency particulate air vacuums (HEPA) can
U.S. OSHA SILICA STANDARDS
help to reduce dust. Other engineering controls may include:
In 2016, U.S. OSHA published standards for occupational
• Isolating high dust activities i.e., angle grinding or cutting
exposure to silica in both construction (29 CFR 1926.1153)
• Installing local exhaust ventilation systems next to the
and general industry (29 CFR 1910.1053). These standards, along with frequently asked questions, small business compliance guides, and training materials may be found at www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline. Highlights of these standards include: 1. Lower exposure limit of 0.05 mg/m3 for respirable
dust generation point • Utilizing wet sweeping or HEPA vacuums to clean up instead of dry sweeping or compressed air If these methods are not adequate or while they are being implemented, respirators may help further reduce exposure to and inhalation of silica dust. Depending on
airborne respirable silica levels, respirator options range
2. Exposure monitoring
from disposable or reusable half facepiece particulate
3. Engineering controls such as wet suppression, dust collection, and ventilation 4. Housekeeping to keep dust levels down
respirators to powered or supplied air respirators. When respirators are used, OSHA requires a written respiratory protection program that includes, but is not limited to, proper exposure assessment, proper respirator
5. Limiting access to, or duration in, hazardous area
selection, requirements for respirator maintenance use
6. Respiratory protection
and care, along with fit testing, training and a medical
7. Written exposure control plan (WECP)
evaluation to ensure that the worker can safely wear the assigned respirator. This respirator protection program
8. Designated competent person (construction only)
must have an administrator and be evaluated to ensure
9. Medical surveillance to identify silicosis in exposed workers
effectiveness. Employers and employees may also want to
10. Training including hazards of respirable silica and ensure workers can demonstrate their knowledge 11. Record keeping
REDUCING EXPOSURE: ENGINEERING CONTROLS AND RESPIRATORY PPE If countertop-making businesses don’t follow applicable worker protection regulations, cutting these slabs to fit customers’ kitchens and other uses can release lungdamaging silica that can severely injure workers as well as
consider eye protection, gloves and protective coveralls depending on the level of exposure. Employers must also train workers on the hazards of silica, ways to limit exposure and the WECP. Workers should be able to demonstrate that they are aware of these risks and precautionary steps they should be taking to help protect themselves. You should keep records of all this, including completed trainings, each location’s WECP, exposure measurements, objective data, respiratory program forms and medical exams.
open these fabrication companies up to violations, fines
Forming a countertop and a way to protect the workers
and other problems. Remember, silicosis is preventable, but
who make them go hand-in-hand. Silica exposure is
preventable when employers take the right steps to
So, what should safety managers and owners of these companies do to protect their workforce?
conform to regulatory standards. Consult with a reputable PPE provider or manufacturer for help selecting the right respiratory protection for your workers.
First, assess if employee exposures to respirable crystalline silica are at or above the levels prescribed by OSHA by
SGL, Citadel and Jacobs Named to ‘Dirty Dozen’ Safety Violators List CONSTRUCTION DIVE | 05.15.2020 by Kim Slowey@kimslowey
• The National Council for Occupational Safety and
SGL, which is performing the work on I-4 for the Florida
Health (National COSH) has issued its 2020 “Dirty Dozen”
DOT, is fast-tracking several portions of the project at
report of what the organization characterizes as some of
the agency’s direction in order to take advantage
the worst safety violators in the U.S.
of the reduced traffic volume caused by the
• Construction industry firms in the report include SGL
Constructors (Skanska USA, Granite Construction and
After the last death, which was the fifth struck-by fatality,
The Lane Construction Corp.), which is working on a
SGL evaluated its safety protocols and reportedly
$2.3 billion expansion of Interstate 4 in Orlando, Florida,
changed the way it girder installation.
where five workers have been killed; Citadel Builders
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, city officials and the owner of
and several subcontractors that were working on the Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans when it collapsed last year; and Jacobs Engineering in relation to a coal-fired power plant project in Tennessee where National COSH said that a toxic cleanup gone wrong has killed 41 and injured hundreds of others. • National COSH said that companies on the list were
the Hard Rock project, 1031 Canal Street Development, finally came to an agreement about completing demolition of the structure that partially collapsed last October. The plan is to have cranes to dismantle the structure piece by piece, but the city’s Historic District Landmarks Commission still must approve the associated demolition of three nearby buildings. Once the
chosen based on, among other things, the severity of
commission agrees, demolition would take approximately
injuries on the project; workers’ exposure to unnecessary
and preventable risk; repeat citations from government
Last month, OSHA cited Citadel and 10 other companies
safety agencies; and “activity by workers to improve their health and safety conditions.”
in connection with the October 2019 collapse in which three workers died. The agency proposed the largest fine, $154,214, for Heaslip Engineering and cited the firm
for alleged design flaws and for not program. The current status of Heaslip’s
Longwood Firefighters Remove Trapped Victims
OSHA investigation is Abatement of
Orlando.com | 05.05.2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando
maintaining an accident prevention
Violations, Pending Penalty Payment. Despite requests, Citadel did not respond for comment on the National COSH report. Skanska declined to provide any comments. The Tennessee Valley Authority hired Jacobs to clean up more than a billion gallons of ash and sludge that had been released in 2008 after a waste storage pond collapsed at the Kingston, Tennessee, plant. National COSH estimated that 900 workers had been exposed to dangerous heavy metals and chemicals because of Jacobs’ performance. The engineering firm has been embroiled in project-related lawsuits, but a company representative told Construction Dive that Jacobs is “confident that the evidence will show that Jacobs did not have any connection with any of the alleged illnesses claimed by the plaintiffs.” “Jacobs is proud of its work in assisting TVA with the difficult job of managing the cleanup of the Kingston coal ash spill and is disappointed by the erroneous and
LONGWOOD, Fla. – One construction worker was killed and another was injured when a trench they were working on as part of a sewer project caved in and trapped them, according to the Longwood Police Department. The accident happened on East Warren Avenue in Longwood around 1:45 p.m. Monday.
misleading report regarding the cleanup
Crews dug a large trench in the roadway as part
by the National Council for Occupational
of a sewer project and in the process, dirt caved
Safety and Health (National COSH),” the
in and trapped the two workers.
company told Construction Dive. None of the parties involved in the coal ash litigation were employees of Jacobs, and there has been no court finding that TVA or Jacobs caused any of the
The worker who died as a result of the accident has been identified as Kevin Jones, and the worker who was injured was identified as Christopher Tabor, according to LPD.
medical conditions or deaths that plaintiffs
First responders removed the trapped workers
allege or that the alleged medical
from the trench.
conditions are the result of exposure to
Tabor was taken to Orlando Regional Medical
coal ash, according to the firm. As of a May 13, none of the companies cited in the collapse, including Citadel, had contested the citations, according to OSHA’s database.
Center in stable condition and has since been released, while Jones was taken to Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital, where he died. The investigation is ongoing.
Addressing Safety Complacency JJ Keller | 05.18.2020 Finally, ask them to think about why they engage in risky behaviors that they wouldn’t accept from others. It’s a rhetorical question, so they don’t need to answer. Justifying something unsafe by claiming that nothing bad happened shouldn’t be accepted. After all, those other drivers didn’t cause an accident, so nothing bad happened, right?
ADDRESSING COMPLACENCY Increasing awareness is a good start, but complacency may return if employees fall into old habits. Changing habits isn’t easy, as noted, so there’s no simple solution. Constant vigilance is Many safety professionals deal with employees who
needed, with continual reminders.
simply ignore the rules or even knowingly engage in
Options include daily meetings on complacency, posting
unsafe behaviors. Those workers may claim “nothing bad
signs, and support from coworkers and supervisors.
happened” so there shouldn’t be a problem. However, safety professionals know that every worker injured or killed thought that nothing bad was going to happen.
One way for employees to spot problems is by observing others. This should go beyond casual observation, such as shadowing a coworker for an hour or so while watching for
Addressing complacency requires an ongoing effort with
safety shortcuts. The workers being observed may even self-
continual reminders. The goal is to change habits, and that
diagnose bad habits, since knowing someone is watching
will take time, but a successful program should result in
likely makes them evaluate their actions.
higher awareness and fewer accidents.
EXPLAINING COMPLACENCY Try explaining complacency using a scenario that should be familiar to everyone: distracted driving. Most likely, some employees checked their phone or adjusted the radio while driving, and suddenly realized they drifted out of their lane. Since they didn’t cause an accident, they do it again a few days or weeks later. That’s complacency.
Eliminating complacency requires a team effort with an ongoing commitment. Getting employees to watch for bad habits (in themselves and others) isn’t easy, but the results should help reduce accidents. Employees who look out for each other work together to make sure everyone goes home without injuries.
HOW SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE CAN HELP Like most safety professionals, you’re probably working
Next, ask workers how they feel when other drivers do that,
hard to go beyond the regulatory requirements by
and a car drifts into their lane. Most likely, they feel angry
implementing best practices. You can find numerous
that someone else nearly caused an accident. Even drivers
resources in the Safety Management Suite Training area,
who remain focused will see how complacency in others
helping you deliver information that employees need.
can cause accidents.
Hand Sanitizer Gel Thermal Burn 05.05.2020
WHAT HAPPENED A worker performing activities for an Oil Gas company used an alcohol based hand sanitizer as recommended by current hygiene recommendations in the Site COVID 19 plan Just after the application to his own hands, but before the liquid disinfectant had evaporated and completely dried, the worker touched a metal surface On this metal surface, an accumulation of static electricity created an ignition source, and the disinfectant (ethyl alcohol based) flashed, resulting in an almost invisible flame ( in both hands The contractor managed to extinguish the flames but suffered from first and second degree burns to both hands
POTENTIAL CAUSE(S) • Hand gels contain high concentrations of alcohol. Once the hand sanitizer was applied, the worker did not ensure that the gel had completely evaporated before proceeding with their work activity. • Alcohol vapors can flame or flash if exposed to an ignition source, switches, or any surface containing static electricity.
CORRECTIVE/PREVENTIVE ACTIONS • When using alcohol based hand sanitizers, be sure to allow for the sanitizer to dry/evaporate before resuming work activity • Avoid touching any surface until the gel has completely dried Stay away from any potential ignition source while sanitizer is still wet and follow the directions and warning labels on the sanitizer container or review the SDS • If you are not sure about the use of alcohol based disinfectants, please use warm water and soap to wash your hands if available rather than using alcohol based hand sanitizer