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OSHA is Taking Heat for Ignoring a Safety Issue

Although OSHA has established many standards to protect employees in the workplace, the agency doesn’t have any official regulations regarding everyday heat exposure. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 250 people die from exposure to excessive temperatures every year, and many more experience injuries from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As a result, over 130 organizations have recently petitioned OSHA to create a standard that provides at-risk employees with rest breaks, access to shade and other protections.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that OSHA create a heat standard three times—in 1972, 1986 and 2016. Even though OSHA has supported NIOSH’s framework for the standard and created heat exposure guidelines, the agency can only examine heat-specific hazards under its general duty clause for employers to provide a generally safe work environment.

All businesses need to take care to protect their workforces from dangerously high temperatures. Here are some strategies you can use to protect your employees from the heat:

• Increase ventilation at your workplace by using air conditioning, setting up cooling fans or installing insulation around hot surfaces.

• Encourage employees to download the OSHA-NIOSH heat safety tool on their iOS or Android smartphone.

• Train employees on how to recognize the early signs of heat-related illnesses, such as red skin, nausea, confusion, heavy sweating, cramps and dizziness.

• Schedule physical work during times when the temperature is lower, such as the early morning or late afternoon.

• Make sure that your employees have access to water in their work areas, and encourage them to take small drinks every 15 minutes—even if they aren’t thirsty.

• Let your employees take more frequent breaks as the temperature rises.

• Keep in mind that anyone who hasn’t been exposed to excessive heat for a long period of time may need to allow extra time for their body to reacclimatize.

Filed under: OSHA,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:16 pm October 12, 2018


Do Office Employees Need Training for GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Identification of Hazardous Substances)?

Back in 2013, employers were advised of the requirement to train employees regarding new label elements and safety data sheets but there have been questions about why some employees would need to be trained. For example, an office employee cleans their desk surface weekly with a cleaning product purchased by the employer from a grocery store and is available for employee use. Is GHS training required for that employee?

The Technical Answer
California Code of Regulations 5194(b)(5)(G) excludes incidental use as follows:
(G) Consumer products packaged for distribution to, and use by, the general public, provided that employee exposure to the product is not significantly greater than the consumer exposure occurring during the principal consumer use of the product; GHS training is required for employees working with hazardous substances on a regular basis in the course and scope of their employment.

The Practical Answer
GHS Training is not required for incidental use of a consumer product used in a consumer manner but general awareness training for all employees of the hazardous material identification system would be considered wise and a ‘best practice’ for all employers. Why? Because in the event of an injury to an employee caused by substances in the workplace, it could be deemed negligent that an employer provided a product but not information of its hazardous nature. Free information and GHS training materials are readily available from many sources, see below.

Still unsure of whether to train? Call OSHA Compliance 916-263-0704. I reached a knowledgeable person on my first try and/or call your insurance agent/broker for information.

Resources
California Code of Regulations-Hazard Communication https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5194.html
Cal OSHA Safety and Health Fact Sheet on GHS-Globally Harmonized System-DIR http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ghs_fs.pdf
Guide to the California Hazard Communication Regulation-DIR https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/hazcom.pdf
US Department of Labor –OSHA Hazard Communication https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html
Free PowerPoint presentation http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardcommunications/ghsoverview.ppt
Free YouTube Training Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkGbof7FeZA
Sacramento Safety Center http://safetycenter.org/

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jackie Sudia-Reno, AIC, ARM, CRIS
Claims and Risk Management Liaison
Warren G. Bender Co.
License #0406967
jsudia@wgbender.com
(916)380-5333 (Direct Phone & Fax)
(916)960-6957 (Mobile/Text)

Filed under: OSHA,Property & Casualty,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 1:29 pm March 30, 2016