Workers Memorial Day 2021: Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living

Every year on April 28, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) commemorate Workers Memorial Day. Also known as the International Day of Mourning, this is the day we remember and honor the men and women who have lost their lives on the job. Many of these devastating losses were preventable if standards had been followed, appropriate controls existed and if safety and health programs were a priority.

In 2021, the DOL also observes OSHA’s 50th anniversary. Before the 1971 enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the creation of OSHA, many U.S. workers lacked basic protections from workplace hazards. Since then, OSHA and its many partners have helped transform U.S. workplaces and have reduced injuries, illnesses and fatalities significantly.

“Workers Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices many workers make to earn their wages and provide for themselves and … Read more...

U.S. President Joe Biden Directs OSHA to Explore Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from COVID-19

OSHA Temporary Standard COVID-19

On his first full day in the Oval Office, U.S. President Joe Biden on Jan. 21, 2021 signed a number of executive orders, among them, the Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety.

The order states that “Ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative. Healthcare workers and other essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is the policy of my Administration to protect the health and safety of workers from COVID-19.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) issued a statement saying it applauded President Biden for the executive order directing OSHA to determine whether an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is necessary to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19.

“In the last 10 months, employers have operated without a national guideline that provides a uniform level … Read more...

OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Directive: Full Inspections Only in Cases of Elevated Injury and Illness Experience

Updated OSHA Inspection Program

With the end-goal of utilizing limited enforcement resources to target workplaces with elevated injury and illness incidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced updates to its site-specific targeting program. The Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Directive takes the place of Site-Specific Targeting 2016, and focuses on non-construction organizations with a minimum of 20 employees.

The changes to the inspection program are as follows:

  1. The creation of a new targeting category for establishments indicating consistent injury and illness rate increases over the three-year data collection period, and
  2. Permits records-only inspections to be carried out when a compliance officer discovers that an organization was included in the program due to error. In these instances, a complete inspection will only be carried out when it has been determined that the reported number of injury and illnesses have increased.

With this in mind, it is important for organizations to focus on developing a … Read more...

How Digital Transformation Is Propelling Operational Excellence in Oil and Gas

Digital Transformation Oil and Gas

Digital transformation plays an impactful role in shaping practices and processes in most industries, including oil and gas. From accurately forecasting the number of incidents to automating administrative tasks related to those incidents and process hazard analyses, the digitization of the oil and gas industry has contributed to worker safety, streamlined EHSQ and compliance processes and nurtured improved safety cultures.

While the oil and gas industry has not been at the forefront of innovation historically, it has, however, retained its position as a leading player in the economy as it continues to be the largest source of energy (in the U.S., it is the #1 source). As the source material for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, it is also used to make products including propane, asphalt and petro-chemical feedstocks as well as heavy and light fuel oil. On top of that, it is also used in producing many consumer products … Read more...

The Labor of the Safety Professional

The Triangle Shirtwaist Garment Factory fire killed 146 workers in New York City in 1911 and sparked protest marches across the country as workers demanded safer working conditions.

One of the joys of age is the ability to look back with more experience and, hopefully, more wisdom. I began my career as a safety and health professional in 1989. Worker safety and safe working conditions have been top of mind for me for more than 30 years.

It does not escape me that things have changed a lot in our profession these past three decades and, without a doubt, will rapidly change going forward. Yet, our work is still the same: As safety and health professionals, our core duty is to return people – our colleagues and the workers entrusted to our care – back to their families every day. We do more than that, but if we aren’t protecting … Read more...

OSHA Releases Guidance About Preparing the Workplace for the Threat of COVID-19

OSHA urges employers to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

OSHA has released a guidance about best practices for COVID-19 and the workplace. The “Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” planning guidance is based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE).

For employers who have already planned for influenza pandemics, planning for COVID-19 may involve updating plans. These plans could address the specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, routes of transmission, and other unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2.

Employers who have not prepared for pandemic events can still take steps to prepare their workplaces and workers. It’s not too late to create a business continuity plan. In addition, provide cross-functional training for workers so that they can step in for quarantined coworkers … Read more...

OSHA: Final Recordkeeping Rule Protects Sensitive Employee Information

On January 25th 2019 the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule, “Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” in an effort “to protect worker privacy.” The rule eliminates the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA each year.

In a press release, OSHA notes: “By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This rule will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker by removing the requirement for covered employers to submit their information from Forms 300 … Read more...

Tightening Processes is Key to Worker Safety

Variations that exist within system processes may be putting workers on a path to making poor decisions while performing their work and invariably compromising their safety. That’s an assertion made by Scott Gaddis, the Health and Safety Practice Leader for Intelex Technologies and a 25-year veteran of environmental health and safety leadership and management.

It’s important to tighten process methodologies to ensure there’s little room for interpretation by workers that forms bad safety habits. In his recently published Intelex Insight Report, entitled, Unleash a Better Safety Culture by Controlling Process Variability, Gaddis notes that, in many incidents where a worker performs an unsafe act, the decision that often led to err was likely influenced by other uncontrolled variables residing within the work system itself.

Dan Peterson, in his book, Human Error Reduction and Safety Management, writes that “Human error is involved in every accident and there are many reasons … Read more...

Large Corporations Tackle Climate Change, Company Violates Age Policy and More!

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • Corporate Giants Tackle Climate Change
  • Company Violates Age Policy
  • Erin Brockovich Shines Light on USDA approval of Chickens to China for processing

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments. Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. Until next week, enjoy the program!

EHS This Week Resources

For more information on the stories and resources mentioned in this week’s podcast, check out the links below.

  • Major U.S. Corporations Teaming up to Fight Climate Change. Click here
  • Company Violates Age Policy. Click here.

[audio: 2015/07/EHSTW-073115.mp3]… Read more...

U.S. Oil Refinery Workers Striking for Safety

The U.S. oil worker strike has entered its second month with just under 7,000 refinery workers now on the picket lines. They come from 15 plants across seven states and are represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) Union, which represents more than 30,000 American oil workers in total.

The strike, which was first called by the USW on January 31 and began on February 1, has evolved into the largest refinery strike in over 35 years. The last strike of this size took place in 1980, when the work stoppage lasted three months. Today, the 15 plants currently striking include 12 refineries that represent about one fifth of the nation’s refining capacity.

Safety Concerns a Key Issue

One of the central focuses of this strike has been the argument that oil companies are perceived by their employees to be prioritizing profits over worker safety. Some of the employees’ biggest concerns … Read more...