Safety Net | September 2020

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Driving Safety Tips Every Driver Should Know 08.24.2020 | Nationwide

When you’re behind the wheel of a car – whether alone or with passengers – driving safely should always be your top concern. We’re more distracted than ever, so it’s crucial to know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time you’re on the road. Here are some safe driving tips:

TOP 4 DRIVING SAFETY TIPS Focus on driving • Keep 100% of your attention on driving at all times – no multi-tasking. • Don’t use your phone or any other electronic device while driving. • Slow down. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.

Drive “defensively” • Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing, and expect the unexpected. • Assume other motorists will do something crazy, and always be prepared to avoid it. • Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you. • Make that 4 seconds if the weather is bad.

SAFETY FIRST. Austin employees have worked 3,618,183 hours without a Lost Time Accident through 07/2020.

Make a safe driving plan

Stay in the car

• Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest

If you’re on a busy highway, stay inside the car and

breaks, phone calls or other business. • Adjust your seat, mirrors and climate controls before putting the car in gear.

wait for the police or an ambulance. It’s dangerous if passengers stand along a freeway or other road with lots of traffic.

• Pull over to eat or drink. It takes only a few minutes.

Stay calm

Practice safety

Don’t get into an argument or a fight with the other

• Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion. • Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor. • Have items needed within easy reach – such as toll fees, toll cards and garage passes. • Always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.

driver. Simply exchange contact and insurance information. If possible, also get the name and phone numbers of witnesses.

Contact your insurance provider Call your insurance provider to report the claim. Your agent will ask you for any paperwork you receive about the accident, and will give you important information on getting your car fixed.


Find out more about what to do after an accident or a

• Don’t allow children to fight or climb around in your


car – they should be buckled in their seats at all times. Too much noise can easily distract you from focus on the road. • Avoid driving when you’re tired. Be aware that some medications cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous. Learn more about drowsy driving. • Always use caution when changing lanes. Cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too fast or not using your signals may cause an accident or upset other drivers. • Be extra careful while driving during deer season.

COMMON SENSE ABOUT SAFE DRIVING: WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT If you’re in an accident, first make sure no one in the car

WHAT TO DO WHEN PULLED OVER If you notice that a police car is following you with the lights flashing, pull over to the side of the road safely and quickly. Wait inside your car for the officer to approach, and be prepared to:

Turn on the light Turn on your interior light at night and keep your hands where the officer can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.

Keep your hands visible Don’t reach under your seat or into your glove box. This may cause the officer to think you’re reaching for a weapon or hiding something.

is injured. Next, check on the passengers in the other vehicle, pedestrians and anyone else nearby to make

Provide necessary documentation

sure they’re OK. Then do these five things:

Give your license and proof of insurance to the officer if

Stay at the scene

asked. If the officer asks you to step out of your car, do so without sudden or threatening movements.

Leaving can result in legal consequences, like fines or additional violations.

Call 911 or the local police immediately They’ll dispatch an officer and medical personnel to the scene of the accident. Once the cops arrive, wait for them to complete an accident report.

Be polite Stay calm − don’t become argumentative, disorderly or abusive − and never attempt to bribe the officer. If a citation is issued, present your story in traffic court if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated. You may be represented by a lawyer and, if necessary, you’ll be heard by a judge or magistrate.

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SPEEDING & TRAFFIC LAWS Some roadways are designated as low-speed zones. These include areas with high pedestrian traffic, such

temporarily lowers your mental acuity and can thus compromise your ability to control a vehicle and drive it safely. And yes, even “buzzed driving” is still drunk driving and can be just as dangerous.

as school zones and streets lots of intersections close

A DUI arrest can lead to expensive consequences,

together. Driving over the speed limit can put you and

including spending time in jail, a suspended driver’s

others at risk of harm.

license and fines. If you hit and/or kill someone while you

1. Never pass a stopped bus displaying a stop sign to its left. That means children are crossing the street. 2. If you hear a siren coming behind you, pull to the side if you can, stop and wait until the police car or fire truck goes by. 3. Completely stop at stop signs and look for other drivers and pedestrians before you proceed. 4. Obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding tickets are costly, and penalties for speeding can include fines, court appearances and loss or suspension of your driving privileges. Also, depending on your insurance policy, speeding tickets can raise your rates. 5. When parking your vehicle, always be mindful of handicapped signs, fire hydrants, bus stop zones, parking restrictions for certain times of day, and parking spots that require permits. Just remember to heed all of the signs. Even if you have to circle the block a couple times, it sure beats getting fined or having your car towed.

ALL ABOUT DUI & DWI Driving after drinking too much alcohol is known as

are driving impaired, the consequences are even worse It’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car. If you’re transporting alcoholic beverages, they should be sealed and in the trunk. All 50 states have now set .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For commercial drivers, it’s .04%. And if you’re under 21, it’s zero tolerance – any amount of alcohol is grounds for a DUI arrest. In some cities, law enforcement officials set up sobriety checkpoints along the road to identify and deter impaired drivers. These are typically set up during holiday weekends or on dates when there might be more drinking and driving. If you’re stopped at a checkpoint, you’ll be asked several questions and might be asked to perform a sobriety test (like saying the ABC’s backwards, performing some physical movements or breathing into an alcohol sensor). If these tests show that you have high alcohol levels, the police may arrest you.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Alcohol slows your reflexing,


Drug Abuse on the Rise Because of COVID-19 08.24.2020 | David Sparkman EEOC addresses employer opioid addiction

“To reduce potential harm of increased substance use


related to COVID-19, resources, including social support,

The Coronavirus pandemic is bad enough, but reports have

comprehensive treatment options and harm reduction

surfaced about a resurgence in opioid use in the wake of widespread unemployment and traumatic isolation created by the lockdowns. In recent years opioid abuse had begun to back off a bit, although substance abuse in general had remained high. With the lockdowns and idling of a large chunk of the workforce, reports from government experts and anecdotal evidence has been mounting for months about

services, are essential and should remain accessible,” the CDC researchers advised. “Periodic assessment of mental health, substance use and suicidal ideation should evaluate the prevalence of psychological distress over time.” America has had a substance abuse problem for a major part of its history, but evidence shows COVID-19 is making it worse. In June. it was reported that alcohol sales had risen

the psychological impact resulting in more suicides, spousal

27% since March 7.

and child abuse, as well as rises in alcohol and drug use.

Millennium Health, a national drug testing laboratory,

In mid-August, the Centers for Disease Control and

also found worrisome trends when comparing the period

Prevention (CDC) revealed the results of a survey conducted in late June that opens a window into just how serious the psychological and emotional impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is for Americans from all walks of life. The survey shows that reports of anxiety disorder symptoms were about three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%), and depressive disorder was about four times that reported in Q2 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%). CDC also said 13.3% of respondents

this year before the national emergency was declared on March 13, to the period from then to the end of May. It found an increase of 32% for nonprescribed fentanyl, 20% for methamphetamine, 12.5% for heroin and 10% for cocaine, accompanied by an 18% increase in suspected drug overdoses. Public health officials across the country are reporting spikes in drug overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 30 states reporting increases in opioid-

reported starting or increasing substance abuse (including

involved overdose deaths, primarily related to illicit fentanyl.

drugs and alcohol).

“Combined with the impact COVID-19 has on patients

In addition, more than twice as many respondents reported

with mental health and substance use disorders, additional

serious consideration of suicide in the previous 30 days than did adults in the U.S. in 2018, referring to the previous 12 months (10.7% versus 4.3%).

resources may be needed to address resulting public health consequences, including the risk of drug overdose,” Millennium states.

EEOC WARNS EMPLOYERS On Aug. 5, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

accrued leave the same as other employees requesting leave for medical treatment.

(EEOC) issued two technical assistance documents

In addition, employees currently taking an opioid

addressing substance abuse accommodation issues under

medication as directed in a Medication Assisted Treatment

the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for employees

(MAT) program are deemed to be engaging in legal

who use opioid medications or are addicted to them.

use. Under the ADA, employees cannot be denied

The EEOC characterized the documents as “informal guidances” and said their stated purpose is to “provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under

or terminated from a job solely because they are in a MAT program unless they cannot do the job safely and effectively or are disqualified under federal law.

the law.” The commission admitted that the guidance

With regard to drug testing, EEOC says an employer should

documents do not have the force and effect of law or

give any employee subject to drug testing an opportunity

“bind the public in any way.”

to provide information about lawful drug use that may

However, attorneys Kathryn Russo and Catherine Cano of the Jackson Lewis law firm warn that “employers must ensure that they do not make employment decisions that

cause a result showing opioid use. An employer may ask whether the employee takes medication that could cause a positive result before or after the test.

are influenced by the social stigma around substance

When an employer believes that an employee’s opioid use

abuse and recovery.” The commission has had a long

or addiction treatment could interfere with the safe and

history of pursuing cases where employers made adverse

effective performance of their job, the employer may be

employment decisions based on unsupported conclusions

required to engage in an interactive process and provide

about an applicant’s or employee’s ability to perform a job

reasonable accommodation if doing so would eliminate

due to a positive drug test result for opioids or for lawful use

safety or performance concerns and would not cause an

of opioids, they explain.

undue hardship on the employer.

According to the commission, employees who have

That being said, the guidance notes that once an employer

lawfully used prescribed opioids or who are in recovery

has alerted an employee about their concerns regarding

from prior opioid use—but are not currently unlawfully using

the employee’s opioid use, it is the responsibility of the

opioids—are generally protected under the ADA’s non-

employee to ask for a reasonable accommodation if they

discrimination provisions.

want one.

These employees also may be eligible for reasonable

The guidance also make clear that “an employer never has

accommodations if needed because of their lawful use of

to lower production or performance standards, eliminate

the medication or underlying medical conditions requiring

essential functions (fundamental duties) of a job, pay for

its use. However, employees who are currently unlawfully

work that is not performed, or excuse illegal drug use on the

using opioids are not protected under the ADA.

job as a reasonable accommodation.”

The ADA’s protections apply even if an employee is

None of the information contained in the latest guidance

presently experiencing addiction to lawfully used opioids.

set forth new policy or changes to the EEOC’s prior

The guidance further states that opioid addiction is itself

interpretation of the law and are only intended to provide

a diagnosable medical condition that can be an ADA-

clarity to the public regarding existing requirements, note

covered disability and may require an employer to consider

attorneys Evandro Gigante and Laura Fant of the Proskauer

reasonable accommodation. This would include time away

Rose law firm.

from work to attend therapy or support group sessions

“Nevertheless, the documents provide useful guidelines for

to avoid relapse or an extended leave of absence for

employers facing concerns about an employee due to their

treatment or recovery.

current or former opioid usage,” Gigante and Fant offer.

Employees seeking leave for treatment or recovery from opioid addiction also should be permitted to use sick and


Wellness-Equipped Office Makes Employees Feel Safer 08.18.2020 | EHS Today Staff Gartner predicts that by 2022, 60% of hybrid workers will prioritize a wellness-equipped smart office over a remote office. Adapting to the pandemic is taking many forms. One is the under-utilization of existing office spaces and this triggers a need for smart, wellness-equipped office spaces in the future, according to Gartner, Inc. “Due to COVID-19 many offices remain unoccupied or underutilized as employees choose to work remotely,” said Gavin Tay, research vice president at Gartner. “However as more people return to offices, those that have been turned into smart, wellness-equipped spaces make employees feel safer.” The research firm predicts that by 2022, 60% of hybrid workers will prioritize a wellness-equipped smart office over a remote office.

HOW CAN EMPLOYERS CREATE THESE TYPES OF OFFICES? Gartner suggests using technology such as integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) solutions. IWMS and resource scheduling applications (RSAs) that use artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), including motion sensors and beacons, can remind employees to adhere to social distancing rules based on their whereabouts. With help in contact tracing, companies can use virtual personal assistants (VPAs) as wellness coaches. Organizations should not only augment existing hygiene policies with thermal imaging systems but also invest in systems that monitor air quality in real-time and keep employees informed, the report says. Additionally, features that provide the ability to continuously disinfect, improving air quality by reducing airborne and surface contaminants like viruses, bacteria, germs, volatile organic compounds, smoke, and other allergens will be important. Ultimately, cleaner air allows for improved recycling of air, which will contribute to energy-saving benefits as well as make the workplace healthier.

Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity: MIOSHA Michigan Worker Death Notification The 14th reported Michigan worker death of 2020 occurred on August 19. 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 fatality 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. To report fatalities/catastrophes, call MIOSHA at 800-858-0397.

PRELIMINARY SUMMARY OF INCIDENT: On August 19, at approximately 9:00 a.m., a 56-year-old laborer was installing underground utilities when the excavation collapsed. If you need help or assistance in ensuring your workplace is safe, MIOSHA is here with resources to help. The Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division provides workplace safety and health training and consultations to employers and employees throughout Michigan free of charge. Contact CET today at 800-866-4674 or submit a request online at Every life is precious. MIOSHA’s goal is that every employee goes home at the end of every shift.





Type of Injury




A 56-year-old laborer was installing underground utilities when the excavation collapsed.


Caught in or between

South Haven


Austin has teamed up with JJ Keller “Training on Demand” to provide additional safety training by video during this COVID 19 Pandemic. Congratulations to the following Austinites who have completed trainings:

Alex Gibson and Kenneth Strech

Fall Protection for Construction

Excavations for Construction

Matt Luckett

Mark Halasi

Tyler Lee

Neil Burns

Tommy Vega

Matt Luckett

Mark Halasi

Tommy Vega

Paul Malakouti

Tyler Lee

Neil Burns

Nils Christenson

Tu Pham

Glenn Schmidtberger

Alex Gibson

Kenneth Strech 7

How to Bring Office Workers Back Safely 08.07.2020 | EHS Daily Advisor by JP Guilbault, COVID-19 Personnel Safety With offices across the country slowly reopening, workers are returning to a changed landscape with new procedures and office norms. This means that companies must review their emergency preparedness plans and adapt them to the realities of the pandemic. In today’s world, emergency preparedness plans must accommodate fluctuating or rotating staff, social distancing guidelines, and new office layouts. While it’s important to be prepared for all emergencies, the most critical threat to your workers’ safety might not be from a workplace injury but rather from an invisible disease that has the potential to sicken your staff and customers. All plans must account for this new reality. With the stress people have been under from COVID, it’s critical that business owners also take the mental health of both their employees and their customers into consideration and factor in violence prevention plans into all of their reopening strategies.

BEFORE EMPLOYEES RETURN TO WORK Before you reopen your offices to employees, it’s important to reevaluate your office layout. Consider separating critical team members across multiple floors or in different sections of an office building to ensure that if one employee falls ill and spreads the disease, you’re able to retain enough of your workforce to keep your business moving. Given that many offices have been closed for months, it’s important to inspect all safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, carbon monoxide detectors, and other systems, to ensure it is in working order. Health officials are warning of an uptick in mental health challenges as we reenter social life. Due to the rise of significant trauma, stress, substance abuse, and financial challenges and/or layoffs due to COVID-19, more violent incidents are expected to occur in workplaces and businesses across the country. Before you open, ensure your Human Resources (HR) teams communicate any and all available mental health resources to your staff. Advise HR personnel to be on the lookout for employees who are exhibiting concerning behaviors that may lead to violence. In this vein, it’s important that office security have an updated list of who is and isn’t allowed on the premises. We advise that security or health officials be stationed at all entry points to conduct temperature checks for every employee who enters the premises. If that’s not possible, consider creating a policy to ensure each employee takes his or her temperature at home before entering the office. Despite the need for offices to enforce social distancing and limit who can access certain areas, codes still require that all entry and exit points remain clear and well-marked in case an emergency evacuation is necessary. For businesses that have digitized plans that have been shared with their local law enforcement agencies, remember to update these plans with new office layouts to ensure that first responders have up-to-date information at their fingertips.

AS WORKERS RETURN Drills are still vital in ensuring your place of business is prepared in case of emergency, especially as workers have been home for months and are out of practice. That being said, many drills require employees to gather in a designated area, which can violate social distancing guidelines. Instead, try conducting multiple drills with a smaller number of staff, and when possible, move as many aspects of the drill to outdoor areas. Employers with fluctuating or rotating staff need to keep a schedule of when certain employees are in the office to ensure every employee goes through the proper drills. Most importantly, should the need for an emergency evacuation arise, it’s critical that you have an accurate employee head count. With businesses and offices reopening across the country, employees and customers alike are fearful of going back to work. However, by updating your emergency preparedness plans and communicating them to your team, you can alleviate anxiety and confusion. Most importantly, while reopening can have numerous moving parts, don’t wait to rethink your emergency preparedness plans. By doing the work now, you can help save lives and ensure business continuity should an incident arise.


Addressing Confined Spaces and Heat Stress Concerns 08.01.2020 | OH&S by Carly Engels Johnston and Steve Kosch Working in confined spaces can be extremely dangerous. The good news is: many accidents and injuries can be avoided. Working in confined spaces can be extremely dangerous. Workers may be exposed to mechanical and atmospheric hazards. In certain situations, the temperature cannot be controlled and workers are exposed to heat stress. The good thing is, many accidents and injuries can be avoided through the correct application of planning and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

WHAT IS A CONFINED SPACE? For an area to be considered a confined space (in the U.S.) several elements must be met. First, the workplace is not designed for continuous occupation for people, but

the most serious of these conditions is heat stroke, other less serious illnesses can pose a threat to a worker’s well-being such as:

large enough for them to enter. So, while a worker may

• Heat exhaustion

have to enter the area to perform certain jobs, the area is

• Heat rash

not designed for an employee to work there as part of the normal operating procedure on an everyday or continual

• Dehydration

basis. The space will also have limited or restricted ways

• Heat cramps

for the worker to enter and exit the area. Some of the

When planning a job, consider both the temperature

most common confined spaces include tanks, ovens, silos,

outside the confined space and the temperature within

storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, trenches,

the confined space, keeping in mind that the latter rises as

sewers, fuel/chemical tanks and equipment housings. In

workers give off body heat. The more physical the job, the

other words, no matter what your industry, you have the

more likely it is to raise the internal temperature quickly.

potential for requiring your employees to work in confined spaces and should be prepared. Confined spaces are defined by their physical dimensions and/or by the hazards that may arise within the space. In the United States, OSHA differentiates between non-permit

According to the OSHA Quick Card: Protecting Workers from Heat Stress,1 the risk factors for heat illness include: • High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind

confined space and permit-required confined space or

• Low liquid intake

permit space.

• Heavy physical labor


• Waterproof clothing

If an area is considered a confined space because of the

• No recent exposure to hot workplaces

risk of heat stress, then it is important to understand the risk

OSHA also advises that the following warning signs and

factors and consider them when conducting your hazard

symptoms may indicate that a worker has heat stress illness:

assessment and formulating your work plan. Temperatures in some confined spaces can rapidly rise and expose workers to heat stress, heat illness and even death. While

• Headache, dizziness or fainting • Weakness and wet skin

• Irritability or confusion

a good offense: that is, recognizing the symptoms of heat

• Thirst, nausea or vomiting

illnesses and intervening before the illness occurs.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

As mentioned previously, most confined space injuries

• May be confused, unable to think clearly or pass out

do not occur from atmospheric causes, but that doesn’t mean that injuries cannot and do not happen. In cases

• Collapse or have seizures (fits)

where heat within the space is an issue, consider using a

• May stop sweating

supplied air respirator with vortex cooling that can cool air

OSHA also recommends having a plan for preventing heat illnesses and providing training for workers on the dangers of heat illness. Where applicable, both of these should be part of your work plan.

THE NEED FOR PPE Personal protective equipment (PPE) can play a pivotal role in keeping workers safe in a confined space even though it is the last resort within the hierarchy of controls. In most cases where a rescue is needed, the minimum PPE would be an anchor, body support and connector/ connected retrieval line (also known as the ABC of confined space). This makes it easier to identify a disabled worker and to pull him or her out without exposing the rescue team to the danger. Additionally, if fall hazards are present the use of a self-retracting lifeline (SRL) with

up to 50 degrees.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING By far the best protection a company can have is an educated workforce. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, two leading factors in most workplace injuries were a lack of employee training and a lack of supervisor training. This necessary training should include how to recognize a confined space and how to construct a rescue plan. Moreover, while often cited as the least effective way of protecting workers, PPE can help save lives. It can only do this, however, if it is worn, worn properly and worn throughout the job. The best way to ensure compliance with PPE policy is to train workers in the risks posed by the job, how PPE protects them from these risks, and in the

retrieval would be incorporated.

proper use, care and storage of PPE.

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all for PPE in confined

Additionally, both workers and job supervisors should be

spaces; one has to take the matter on a case by case basis. The process should begin with thoroughly inspecting the confined space and its surrounding environment. A proper assessment should also include employing the hierarchy of controls: start by removing any hazards and looking for safer ways to do the work. This should involve the use of heat instruments as recommended by U.S. OSHA.2 The results may help you to determine PPE options, what

trained in how to inspect PPE and what criteria to use to determine whether or not the equipment should be removed from service. It isn’t always easy to ensure that PPE is fit for use simply through a visual inspection. In other cases, PPE may seem fine for one last job, but when it comes to PPE the rule is: when in doubt; throw it out. It may even mean advising a site leader or safety manager that it might be time to have to purchase new PPE, it pays to err

types of clothing workers should wear and how to schedule

on the side of caution.

work/break intervals.

While appropriate PPE is important in protecting workers in

Next, contain any hazards that cannot be removed.

confined spaces, workers should be encouraged to adopt

Review the rescue plan and inspect all tools and equipment for obvious signs of wear or damage that may impede rescue or slow down workers while they are working

a buddy system mentality and to remind others that the proper use of PPE isn’t just about saving the individual’s life, but it could make the difference between life or death for

and prolong their heat exposure. This may seem like

the entire crew.

common sense, but often skipping these any of these steps


can result in injury or fatality. When the temperature and humidity within the confined space cannot be controlled through engineering methods, PPE may need to be relied upon. While there are PPE

1. 2. pdfs/all_in_one.pdf

manufacturers that offer devices and clothing for lowering the chances of heat illnesses, your best defense remains


UPDATED: View Our New Map of COVID-19 Cases, Plus Resources for EHS Professionals 08.13.2020 | EHS Daily Advisor Staff Our latest interactive map of COVID-19 cases has been

the legend again, and as we continue to confront the

adjusted to reflect the rise in cases in the United States.

coronavirus and mitigate the health and safety risks within

Read on to view our updated color-coded map, a list of

our workplaces and communities, it’s important for EHS

resources, plus an animation showing how our map has

professionals to consult reliable resources; here is a short list

developed over time.

to help.

Our interactive COVID-19 case map originally launched

• Check out the EHS Daily Advisor’s COVID-19 articles as

on March 16, 2020, and in the first few weeks of the pandemic, we adjusted our map legend four times to keep up with increasing numbers. On April 7, we finally settled on a range that we thought would cover a worstcase scenario. Unfortunately, the legend proved to be insufficient as the months passed, and by August, only 12 states had not crossed our map’s highest threshold of 20,000 cases. We (and a few of our readers) realized a new legend was necessary. Our new map below (finalized August 12) has increased the numbers within the legend tenfold, with the lowest range set at 5,000 or fewer cases and the highest at over

well as BLR’s Coronavirus Response Center. • Track COVID-19 updates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). • Visit websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). • The National Safety Council’s (NSC) Safe Actions for Employee Returns (SAFER) initiative provides a wide variety of guidance for employers. • The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) also has a COVID-19 resource center.

200,000 cases. We sincerely hope we will not have to adjust


OSHA Citations for Falsifying Abatement Claims Upheld By ALJ 08.13.2020 | EHS Daily Advisor by Guy Burdick An Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) administrative law judge (ALJ) upheld citations of a hardwood-flooring manufacturer for falsely claiming to have corrected previously cited workplace safety and health hazards. In July 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Timberline Hardwood Floors LLC with willful violations for uncorrected hazards. The judge’s decision orders the company to pay $166,265 in penalties for all violations. OSHA cited Timberline’s predecessor entity, Timberline Hardwood Dimensions Inc. (THD), in 2012 for failing to train forklift operators adequately and develop and implement lockout/tagout, hearing conservation, and hazard communication programs at the Fulton, New York, plant. Thomas Vavra, a co-owner of both Timberline Hardwood

The OSHA compliance safety and health officer (CSHO)

Floors and THD, signed abatement certifications declaring

observed that it was very loud in the workplace and

the company had corrected the violations as part of an

requested a health inspection. The CSHO returned on

August 2012 settlement agreement with the agency.

January 11 to resume the safety inspection, and an OSHA

“Employers have a duty to take effective actions to correct

senior industrial hygienist initiated a health inspection that

hazards and prevent their recurrence, and provide truthful

included noise sampling.

information as to hazard abatement,” OSHA’s New York

The industrial hygienist found that 6 employees working

Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson said in an

in the mill area were exposed to continuous noise above

agency statement.

the 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) sound level of 85

Timberline Hardwood Floors is located in the same facility as

dBA. The employer had failed to establish and implement a

THD; the company employs many of the same workers as

hearing conservation program.

THD and uses the same equipment and machinery. Assets

The CSHO reported finding that the employer did not

of THD were transferred to Timberline Hardwood Floors at

have safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals in the

no cost. OSHA found that THD and Vavra had not taken

workplace or provide information or training required

any action since the 2012 settlement to establish a hearing

under the hazard communication standard. The inspector

conservation program, train employees on noise, require

reported finding the emergency exit lacked an illuminated

employees to have hearing tests/audiograms, or ensure

exit sign and was locked by a deadbolt.

that employees always wore hearing protection.

The ALJ upheld the willful violations, ruling that the

OSHA also found that Vavra misrepresented that he had

employer knew the occupational safety and health

developed and implemented an energy control (lockout/

standards and disregarded them. The ALJ also concluded

tagout) program and procedures for servicing and

the employer demonstrated plain indifference for worker

maintaining machines. The employer also had not abated

safety and health.

the forklift and hazard communication violations.

“The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal

OSHA’s Syracuse area office began a programmed

actions to ensure that employers comply with the law,

inspection of Timberline on January 9, 2018. The

including when they refuse to correct workplace hazards

establishment was randomly selected as part of an

that expose their employees to potentially fatal or disabling

emphasis program on amputations.

injuries,” New York Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff said in a statement.


How and When to Clean Your Safety Equipment 08.01.2020 | OH&S by David Ivey

By now we all know to wash our hands, but what should be

compromising the material. The same general rules can

done with shared PPE, such as full body harnesses and fall

be used to clean other PPE such as gloves, safety glasses,

protection lanyards?

hard hats and visors. Thankfully, cleaning these types of

As the construction industry ramps back up this summer,

equipment doesn’t require any special products—just clean

there is a focus on cleanliness and safety in shared

tap water and mild soap such as liquid dish detergent.

workspaces, particularly around how to keep shared

This combination is effective in killing the COVID-19 virus,

equipment clean. The health crisis has forced many of us

inexpensive and safe for the integrity of the equipment.

to rethink how we clean and maintain our facilities and

Cold or warm water will work equally well, but avoid hot

our gear. By now we all know to wash our hands, but what

water above 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius)

should be done with shared PPE, such as full body harnesses

that can damage some equipment.

and fall protection lanyards?

All it takes to sanitize the gear is to wipe it down with soapy

Unfortunately, the sanitizers used to wipe down our hands

water using a damp cloth or sponge, and then rinse it with

are not safe to use on many pieces of equipment, and

clean water to remove any soap residue. There is no need

neither are bleach and other harsh cleaning products. Fall

to soak or submerge the gear. After it’s clean, allow it to

protection equipment in particular relies on the integrity

hang-dry in an open, well-ventilated area to prevent mold,

of the material in order to function, so any harsh cleaners

but do not machine dry PPE, as this can damage it.

or chemicals can’t be used to sanitize these items. So how can you clean shared safety equipment effectively?

HOW TO CLEAN PERSONAL SAFETY GEAR As a general rule, start by checking the manufacturer’s product instructions for care and maintenance of any safety equipment. For personal fall protection equipment, material integrity is vital to its function and there are some general guidelines you can follow to disinfect without

Chemicals and cleaning products such as sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, naphtha, turpentine, acetone or other industrial cleaning supplies are unnecessary, and are not recommended for cleaning personal fall protection equipment of any kind, as these chemicals can damage the integrity of the material you rely on to keep you safe in the event of a fall.


It is always a good practice to keep your equipment clean,

inexpensive items at the end of a shift instead of investing the

but it’s especially important in this time of heightened

time into sanitizing them after each use. Think about what an

risk from a potentially dangerous virus. As long as the

employee gets paid per hour and ask yourself whether it’s

contagion is making the rounds, it’s safest to clean the

worth them spending 15 minutes cleaning a three-dollar item,

equipment in between each use. Consider making regular

then build your policy accordingly.

cleaning of your gear part of your process by adding it to to let equipment dry, it may make the most sense to make


your policy to clean the equipment after using it each time,

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World

ensuring that clean gear is always available to the next

Health Organization (WHO) have provided general

worker who needs it.

guidelines to follow to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

your inspection forms or checklists. Because of the need

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20


seconds, or use hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60

It has always been best for each employee to have his or her own safety equipment, to ensure that each worker has gear that fits properly and is comfortable for the individual to wear. Now there is more reason than ever to provide each worker with his or her own personal fall protection equipment and other safety apparel in order to minimize contact between employees and shared gear.

percent or more. Whenever possible, maintain a physical distance of at least six feet (two meters) from other workers, even those who do not appear to be sick. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as on jobsites where workers must be in close proximity. These recommendations

If workers must share communal equipment, cleaning the

are especially important in areas of significant community-

gear between each use before passing it on to the next

based transmission of the disease.

employee is essential for safety during the pandemic. As strange as it may sound, treating low-cost personal safety equipment such as work gloves and safety glasses as disposable items may be another approach to minimizing the spread of germs. These items can be cleaned regularly, of course, but it may prove more cost effective to simply discard

The CDC does not recommend using surgical masks or N-95 respirators because these are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders who are in frequent close contact with sick patients.


Jerry Anderson Safety Engineer for the Western Michigan Operations passed the CHST Exam and received his “Certificate of Board Certified Safety Professionals”


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