Health
The Philadelphia Inquirer | 28 April 2016

More Airborne-Particulate Monitoring Coming to Marcellus Shale Areas

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced on 27 April that it will expand its network of systems monitoring fine airborne particulates in Marcellus shale production areas.

The DEP said it would add 10 monitoring sites to its existing network of 27, positioning the metering stations near shale-gas wells and compressor stations in Marcellus shale production areas.

“We need that data and monitoring capability to help us understand whether or not there are risks or impacts to public health from current air quality in these areas,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley.

Safety and Health Magazine | 21 April 2016

Study: Working Long Hours May Raise Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Working more than 45 hours per week may increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, according to a study from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, researchers examined data of more than 1,900 people who worked a minimum of a decade from 1986 to 2011. About 43% of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease (CVD) event diagnosed by a doctor during the study period. CVD events included angina, coronary heart disease or failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, or stroke.

After adjusting for participants’ age, gender, race and wage status, researchers found that risk of a CVD event rose by 1% for each additional hour worked each week during at least 10 years in full-time workers.

 

Sandbox Advisors | 21 April 2016

Business Travel Tips: Harmful Effects You Need To Manage

Even though a job that requires you to travel all over the country or the world, three to four times a month looks appealing, it can be very detrimental to your health.

Frequent business travelers should be concerned about their health as the job comes with a broad range of physiological, psychological, emotional, and social side-effects. This is confirmed by separate studies done at Columbia University, the University of Surrey, and several others.

So before giving up your office job and globe trotting on your company’s dime, you should consider the harmful health effects frequent business travelers face. Or, if you’re already a heavy traveller, then think about how you can reduce the negative impact.

Reuters | 28 March 2016

US Regulators Finalize New Silica Limits

Capping a decades-long effort, US workplace regulators on 24 March announced a final rule to boost protections against occupational exposure to crystalline silica, a carcinogenic dust ubiquitous in construction, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing operations.

Some industry groups have vowed to fight it in court and in the US Congress, calling it unnecessary and warning that compliance will cost billions of dollars.

Issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the rule lowers the exposure limit for silica dust for the first time since 1971 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The levels had been set at 250 micrograms for construction and 100 micrograms for other industries.

It also requires employers to monitor silica in the workplace, use specific methods to reduce exposure, and provide medical exams to workers, among other measures.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration | 2 March 2016

Texas OSHA Offices Renew Two Alliances To Protect Oil and Gas Workers

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA’s) Dallas Regional Office and the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) renewed their alliance to improve the safety and health of workers in the oil and gas well-servicing industry. AESC, along with its member companies, will work closely with OSHA to continually improve and build upon existing training and educational initiatives, outreach and communication initiatives, and workplace health, safety, and environmental initiatives.
OSHA’s Lubbock, Texas, Area Office and the West Texas Safety Training Center in Odessa renewed an alliance to increase awareness of employers’ responsibilities and to promote the rights of workers in the construction, general, and oil and gas industries over the next 3 years.

“Since our alliance began more than 8 years ago, West Texas Safety Training Center has been an excellent agency partner, communicating safety and health information to employers and workers in the petrochemical , construction, and other industries,” said Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | 25 February 2016

Occupational Exposure Limits—State of the Science

The process of developing and using occupational exposure limits is a cornerstone of industrial hygiene practice, with a history dating back to the 1880s. Occupational exposure limits, known as OELs, have not—until recently—evolved enough to reflect the advances in related sciences of toxicology, risk assessment, and exposure assessment.

Much of the pioneering effort to develop and promote OELs as a risk-management strategy occurred in the 1940s, when an organization now known as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists created a list of occupational exposure limits for 132 specific chemicals. While these limits represented a significant step forward in the practice of occupational hygiene, they lacked consistent guidelines, explicit definitions, and technical documentation.

Gradually, these OELs and others have evolved to consider toxicological mechanisms of action, and uncertainties associated with the data available for assessing specific chemical hazards. Yet, there has still not been a concerted effort to explore how advances in toxicology, risk assessment, and exposure and risk management might better inform consistent and transparent processes for assessing chemical hazards and establishing OELs.

To begin to tackle these issues, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health worked with outside subject-matter experts. They developed a collection of 10 articles published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene focusing on the underlying principles for developing and interpreting OELs. The articles also discuss using and interpreting OELs in the context of evolving occupational risk assessment and management practices.

OSHA | 17 February 2016

New Hazard Alert From OSHA and NIOSH Highlights Dangers of Tank Gauging

A new hazard alert from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identifies health and safety risks to oil and gas industry workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks. It was triggered by a series of preventable deaths related to manual gauging of tanks.

The new alert, Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites, provides specific recommendations for employers that will protect workers from hazards associated with opening tank hatches to manually gauge or sample hydrocarbon levels. The recommendations fall into three main categories: engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.

“It has been known for years that oil and gas extraction is extremely dangerous work, with high rates of workplace fatalities. We also know that every incident is preventable,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “It’s critically important that we all work together to make sure that oil and gas extraction workers are aware of life-threatening exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and low oxygen atmospheres and that they are protected.”

“The expansion of the oil and gas extraction industry has led to new opportunities, but also new risks for workers,” said NIOSH Director John Howard. “This joint alert highlights the importance of remaining vigilant about the safety and health of our nation’s workers as our nation changes and adapts to these new opportunities.”

The alert highlights research from both OSHA and NIOSH that has shown that workers at oil and gas extraction sites may be exposed to very high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapors when manually gauging or sampling production tanks. Workers also face the risk of fires or explosions from high concentrations of hydrocarbon gas and vapors. These activities can also result in oxygen-deficient environments, which can cause loss of consciousness and death. OSHA and NIOSH identified nine fatalities to workers manually gauging or sampling production tanks during 2010–14.

This alert is a supplement to the OSHA Alliance Tank Hazard Alert that was released in 2015 by the National Service, Transportation, Exploration & Production Safety Network.

ISO | 15 February 2016

ISO Occupational Health and Safety Standard Approved for Public Consultation

The International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 45001, one of the world’s much anticipated standards for occupational health and safety, has been approved as a Draft International Standard.

Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease, and 153 people experience a work-related injury. These represent an enormous burden for organizations and society as a whole, costing over 2.3 million deaths a year, not to mention the more than 300 million non-fatal accidents.

Now, with ISO 45001 at the Draft International Standard stage, the world is one step closer to a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains. Designed to help organizations of all sizes and industries, the future standard is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses around the world.

Now that ISO 45001 has advanced to the DIS stage, national member bodies of ISO have been invited to vote and comment on the text of the standard during the three-month balloting period. If the outcome is positive, the modified document may then be circulated to ISO members as a Final Draft International Standard. In the event of an affirmative vote, ISO 45001 is expected to be published as an International Standard by late 2016 or early 2017.

International Labour Organization | 4 February 2016

Occupational Safety and Health in Polar Climates

Representatives of workers, employers, and governments met at the International Labour Organization to discuss occupational safety and health (OSH) challenges unique to the work environment (such as those caused by low temperatures); health protection and access to medical care in remote and isolated areas; working time arrangements; OSH training to promote a preventative safety and health culture; and recruitment, retention and career development schemes.

 

Clyde & Co. Via Mondaq | 19 January 2016

Silicosis: On The Rise?

While silica is a naturally occurring substance found in most rocks, clay, and sand, when it is processed in any way, whether through mining, cutting, crushing, or grinding, silica dust is generated. If inhaled, it can cause significant chest conditions including lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including bronchitis and emphysema), and chest infections of varying severity. Indeed, the UK National Health Service describes silicosis as “a long-term incurable lung disease caused by inhaling large amounts of silica dust” and notes that silicosis in itself can cause heart failure, arthritis, kidney disease, and tuberculosis.

The dangers of exposure to respirable crystalline silica and the attributable injuries are well known. Silicosis is a Prescribed Disease (D1), the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations specify a limit for daily exposure, and there are recognized latency periods depending upon the nature and extent of the exposure. While the latency period for chronic silicosis can be 10–20 years, very heavy exposure could result in acute silicosis, significantly reducing the latency period, causing a much earlier onset of symptoms (possibly within a few months) and a more serious condition. The World Health Organization recommends lifelong surveillance for workers exposed to crystalline silica.

Rigzone | 6 January 2016

Fitness Tracking Devices Not Fit for Monitoring Oil, Gas Worker Health, Safety

A surge in wearable fitness devices such as Fitbit has been seen in recent years as people sought motivation to exercise and monitor their health by tracking factors such as heart rate, number of steps taken, and quality of sleep.

Wearable health tracker devices are usually the first thing that comes to mind when the topic of the Internet of Things (IoT) arises. Dave McCarthy, product director with BSquare Corporation, said he sees limited usage for Fitbits in oil and gas environments. Fitbits and consumer-oriented wearables are not usually built to withstand the rugged environments—with high temperatures and high soot—in which the oil and gas industry operates, McCarthy said. In his discussions regarding health tracking devices in the medical industry, McCarthy found that readings obtained from consumer-grade health tracker devices are all over the place.

“They’re good for determining trends, but not reliable for accurate readings,” McCarthy said.

Instead, he is seeing more companies focused on industrial wearables. These devices are not specifically focused on health tracking but are vertically focused for the types of industries in which they’re used. McCarthy is seeing other use cases such as devices that can track where coworkers are in a refinery, giving them alerts if they’re in a safety zone with certain restrictions. These devices are also allowing for more value-added cases, such as giving information to a worker about the equipment operating in their field of vision.

OSHA | 19 November 2015

OSHA Seeks Public Comment as it Updates Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking public comment on an updated version of its voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. First published in 1989, the guidelines are being updated to reflect modern technology and practices.

These guidelines are intended to help employers establish health and safety management plans at their workplaces. Key principles include finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness and making sure that workers have a voice in safety and health.

The updated guidelines should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses. They also address ways in which multiple employers at the same worksite can coordinate efforts to make sure all workers are protected.

“The goal of safety and health management is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “Employers who embrace these guidelines will experience lower injury and illness rates, and their progress in improving the safety culture at their worksites will contribute to higher productivity, reduced costs and greater worker satisfaction.”

Read the full story here.