VPPPA has partnered with experts at MindWise Innovations to present a monthly Q&A article addressing questions that members might be hesitant to ask about. These columns will address your questions about mental health, substance abuse, brain injuries, family issues and more.
October 22, 2020
By: Lisa Desai, MindWise Innovations
“Hey, How’s it going?” It’s a question we probably ask many times a day, or a version of it, such as “What’s up?”, “How are you?”, etc. For most of us, it’s like saying hello. So, how often do we wait to hear how the other person - our co-worker, friend or even family member - is doing? In our busy, stressful lives taking a few minutes to hear about how people are doing can seem unrealistic. However, many studies show that staying connected with others – even through small ways like checking-in – keeps us emotionally connected, helps with stress management, is good for physical health and reminds us to check in with ourselves! Here are some tips for checking-in with others.
October 15, 2020
By: Kevin Gardner
It's never been a more important time to pay attention to the well-being of your employees. Changes in working conditions, social unrest, and making adjustments to daily rhythms all have an effect on wellness and productivity. Your workers will be much more effective if they are healthy in mind as well as body. There are several things you can do to support yourself and those under your supervision while navigating challenging times. Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Take Care of Your Wellness
Stress and uncertainty affect you as well as your employees. Before you can help or supervise anyone else, it's crucial that you remain well balanced. Limiting news consumption and keeping to a routine can make a real difference in your peace of mind. Whether you are working on-site or remotely, keeping the major elements of your life consistent will help maintain your mental health. In between tasks, find time for relaxing activities, whether watching funny videos, yoga, or a mindful minute or two. Try incorporating supports like essential oils to help you soothe yourself and maintain an even keel.
October 8, 2020
By: Kevin Gardner
Every seven seconds, a workplace accident takes place in the United States. These accidents can cause long-term injuries and in some cases death. If you are a business owner, you know how hard it can be to get back to normal following a workplace accident.
One of the main goals you should have as a business owner is keeping your employees safe and informed. Ignoring the need for additional safety training and equipment will put you and your team at risk. The following are some of the things you can do to reduce the number of workplace accidents you have to deal with.
Keep Your Workspace Clean and Clutter-Free
Taking the time to audit your workspace is a great way to figure out where changes need to be made. During this audit, take some time to look at the amount of clutter in your workspace. If there are boxes or equipment lying around, it is online a matter of time before accidents occur.
Rather than waiting for one of these accidents to occur, you need to take action now. Working with members of your team to clean and declutter your commercial building is a great idea. Even if you have to hire part-time laborers to help with this work, it will be worth the money. Generally, college students seeking out a master of science in criminology and criminal justice (MSCJ) will jump at the chance to make a few dollars by helping you clean up your workspace.
By: Aric Asplund, International Enviro Guard
The heavy equipment used to build our communities and the machines that drive manufacturing at high rates of speed are also the leading causes of workplace injury. In the construction industry, caught-in between or compressed by equipment accounted for 5.5 percent of the worker fatalities in 2018.
Per OSHA, workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths per year.
By: Jeson Pitt D & F Liquidators Hayward, CA
Numerous electrical systems and electrical products are prone to arc flash hazards. By individually analyzing these systems and labeling the arc flash boundary, you can increase worker and workplace safety tremendously along with reducing shock hazards and arc flash injuries.
Arc Flash Hazard Study and Analysis
Steps to Complete an Arc Flash Analysis
To perform an arc flash hazard analysis, you must collect necessary data about the facility’s power distribution system. This data includes the details of the arrangement of components on a one-line drawing and nameplate specifications of every device. The lengths and cross-section of all cables are also included.
You can contact the utility team for details about the minimum and maximum fault currents that can be expected at the entrance. Further, you must study the modes of operation to examine the worst-case scenarios, which may cause arc flash.
Engineering Analysis of the Data
After you collect the data, perform a short circuit analysis that is followed by a coordination study. Feed the resultant data into the equations described by NFPA 70E-2000 or IEEE Standard 1584-2002. These equations produce the necessary flash protection boundary distances and incident energy to determine the minimum PPE requirement.
Conduct a short circuit study to determine the magnitude of the current flowing throughout the power system at all the critical points at different time intervals after a ‘fault’ occurs. Use these calculations to determine the bolted fault current as it is important to calculate the incident energy and interrupting ratings of the equipment. Comparing equipment ratings with calculated short circuit and operating conditions will identify underrated equipment.
Protective Device Coordination
Perform protective device coordination to ensure selection and arrangement of protective devices to limit the effects of an overcurrent situation to the smallest area. Use the results to make recommendations for mitigating arc flash hazards.
Arc Flash Calculations
Determine the incident energies and flash protection boundaries for all your equipment. The incident energy is the energy needed for an arc flash to cause second-degree burns, and flash protection boundary is the distance where the incident energy or second-degree burns are caused. Complete the calculations of incident energy levels and flash protection boundaries for all relevant equipment busses.
Arc Flash Study and Analysis Report
Once the calculations are complete, prepare the Arc Flash Report, which provides a short review period during which your team can evaluate modifications. Deduce the results of the report carefully.
Lastly, create and install arc flash warning labels that pinpoint incident energy and working distance, arc flash boundary, and nominal system voltage. Include Limited, Restricted, and Prohibited approach boundaries, date, upstream protective device, and recommended personal protection equipment (PPE) as well.
Implementing policies that encourage a culture of electrical safety doesn’t have to be reactive. Taking steps to minimize the risks associated with electrical hazards will create a safe working environment for everyone.
By: Jeson Pitt, D & F Liquidators Hayward, CA
Electricity is one of the leading causes of accidents in plants. An electrical safety program will keep employees safe and equipment from getting damaged. Below are six ways you can design an effective electrical safety program.
Study and Implement OSHA Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places great importance on companies having a comprehensive electrical safety program. These programs must address all the safety issues that workers are likely to face on the job.
OSHA relies on the NFPA 70E Electrical Safety Standard to define the elements of the electrical safety program. Study them carefully and understand the standards of OSHA. Implement them accordingly in the facility.
Conduct Audit of Electrical Equipment and Procedures
It is vital to perform an audit of the facility’s construction electrical products and procedures, allowing you to identify the specific areas within the plant where electrical hazards may be present.
Conduct the audit at least once per year. It is a good idea to audit whenever changes are made in the facility. This will make sure that the facility and all its electrical systems continue to operate safely.
Design for an Elimination of Electrical Hazard
Try to eliminate electrical hazards in the facility or reduce them to an acceptable risk level. You can consider Prevention through Design (PtD) to achieve this. It is the concept of designing out hazards or designing in controls to equipment or processes to mitigate exposure.
It sounds like a great idea to eliminate the hazard, but it is not practical nor possible. For instance, if you need human input for any process, there will always be a possibility of error. You cannot eliminate intentional or unintentional human error. But try to bring it down as much as possible.
Conducting a risk assessment of any electrical hazard can help in coming up with a probable solution and design, for example, arc flash risk assessment for employee safety.
Verify the Absence of Voltage
You can verify the absence of voltage once the lockout process is completed by using an adequately rated voltage tester. The absence of voltage tested (AVT) simplifies the verification step by automating the process and preventing the workers from exposure to electrical hazards. Once you install the AVT, initiate the test. You will see an active visual indication when the absence of voltage is confirmed. It is equally important to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while doing this.
Practice Electrical Safety Training
Safety drills are standard electrical safety practices in many companies. However, the person most likely to be injured in an electrical accident is the one most likely to be responsible for the electrical system. Design unique and challenging safety drills that are specific to the electrical system. This will help you be more prepared in the event of an actual emergency. You will also be able to identify potential areas of electrical danger within the facility.
Improve and Update Safety Program Continually
Once you make the electrical safety program, keep updating it. The program should include the provision to report any kind of near-miss electrical incident. This will allow you to identify such instances and mitigate them by putting the right actions in place. Strive to continually improve the program for the benefit of everyone working with the electrical equipment.
Don’t let electrical safety be an after-thought in your facility. Be proactive and design the best electrical safety plan that will keep your employees safe.
By: Will Zettler, OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule of Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) became effective January 17, 2017, revising and updating general industry standards that address slip, trip, and fall hazards, as well as other walking-working surface hazards that cause injuries and fatalities to workers.
The rule includes revised and new provisions addressing, for example, ladders, stairways, rope descent systems, and fall protection systems, adds training requirements and adds requirements for employers who use personal fall protection systems. Finally, the rule increases consistency between OSHA’s general industry and construction standards, making compliance easier for employers who conduct operations in both sectors.
Some of the more frequent issues that have come up since the rule became effective are discussed below.
Equipping fixed ladders with fall protection
The rule requires employers to equip new fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet above a lower level, with ladder safety systems or personal fall arrest systems. Employers can equip employees with a harness and a double lanyard system for tying off to the ladder while the employee climbs, provided the components meet all of the applicable requirements in §1910.140(c) and (d) and the ladder rungs are capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds for each employee attached (anchorage requirement for personal fall arrest systems).
A frequent issue for employers trying to comply with the rule is determining when or if their multi-sectioned fixed ladder needs protection installed or used when all or some of the sections are less than 24 feet in length. Whether an employer must equip a fixed ladder or ladder sections with fall protection depends on the height the ladder extends above a lower level, and thus the distance a worker on the ladder could fall, not the length of any particular ladder section. Although the length of a section of the ladder may be less than 24 feet if a worker on that ladder could fall more than 24 feet, that worker must be protected. Fall protection is not required on a multi-section fixed ladder with offset platforms if the platforms are large enough that it would not be possible for a worker to fall past the platform or fall to the platform and roll over an unguarded edge and each ladder section was less than 24 feet in length.
Certification of anchorages for rope descent systems
OSHA became aware of the difficulty of getting anchorages used as part of a rope descent system (RDS) identified, tested, and certified to meet the requirements in 29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1). Several employers and building owners/managers have attempted to get anchorages tested and certified but have not been able to contract with a qualified person to perform the required tasks and come into compliance by the standard's compliance deadline (November 20, 2017). As a result, OSHA issued a memorandum to regional administrators outlining enforcement guidance for the anchorage requirements.
The memo explains that OSHA will evaluate, during relevant inspections, the efforts of both building owners and employers to comply with §1910.27(b)(1). For building owners, the evaluation will consider the building owner's attempts to initiate an inspection, testing, and certification of RDS anchorages. For employers, the evaluation will consider what alternative protective measures are used before anchorages are certified, as well as employers’ efforts to obtain the proper written information (i.e., testing, certification, maintenance, etc. documentation) on anchorages from building owners required by the standard. Where building owners and employers have sufficiently demonstrated/documented such efforts, OSHA will exercise, on a case-by-case basis, enforcement discretion to not issue citations under §1910.27(b)(1).
OSHA continues to update its frequently asked questions webpage for the https://Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protection Equipment rule.
Contributed by Mesothelioma.com
Cosmetic workers are often exposed to a variety of different chemicals. While some are completely harmless, others contain dangerous toxins. Many beauty professionals are not aware of the harmful materials in the products they frequently use. Even if they are educated on the presence of a certain toxin, they may not know the risk it can pose over time.
In the cosmetology field, many salons and stylists will buy products at wholesale rates and in bulk, which can result in some products not having the individual labels which typically list ingredients and carcinogenic warnings. Often times if the toxin is labeled on the packaging, the company will claim that if it’s a small dosage, it is safe for use. However, that is not always the case.
This issue with transparency can create health problems for both cosmetologists and their clients. In order to change this, being aware of different types of chemicals in certain products is key and taking the proper precautions is vital.
Paint thinner leaves a smooth finish
Nail technicians are exposed to a variety of different airborne chemicals on a daily basis. Contact with irritants, allergens, and chemicals can cause common issues like headaches to ones as serious as irreversible central nervous system damage. There are a variety of toxins lurking in nail salons. Some include toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and isopropyl acetone, which are all linked to reproductive complications. Other toxins such as titanium dioxide and formaldehyde also found in nail products are known and indexed as formal human carcinogens.
Upon being surveyed, salon workers reported chemicals and dust in the air of their place of occupation. While some nail technicians wear masks to manage exposure, many of the masks worn are actually the incorrect masks to prevent toxins. The masks that are usually worn are surgical masks, which are meant to control infection instead of reduce inhalation of toxic chemicals.
Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid that is used for dissolving and is used in nail polishes as a paint thinner. Breathing in the substance can cause damage to your nervous system. Temporary effects can be headaches and dizziness, but cognitive impairment, vision impairment, and hearing loss can develop with extended exposure. Some studies show that high levels of toluene exposure can have a negative effect during pregnancy causing mental developmental delays in children.
Dibutyl Phthalate can be found in nail polish and polish hardener and can have harmful effects when airborne. While little is known about the long term effects of this chemical, in the short-term this toxin can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract as well as nausea. This chemical can have poor effects on animals too, causing them to have reproductive issues. With this in mind, the state of California defines it as a developmental and reproductive toxicant.
Another commonly used toxin in nail polish remover is isopropyl acetone. Some of the more common symptoms it can cause are skin irritation, eye irritation, and lung irritation. On the more serious side, it can cause organ toxicity and cancer, as well as reproductive issues. A few studies showed that over an extended period of exposure, this toxin can lead to organ toxicity, especially in the kidneys. They found that when exposed to this chemical, rats developed kidney disease and another study linked prolonged exposure to renal tubule carcinoma, a serious cancer of the kidney.
Asbestos for your matte foundation
For consumers and makeup artists, it is important to know the ingredients in the makeup you will be exposed to and potentially inhaling. The Environmental Working Group reported that women on average use 12 cosmetic products with 168 unique ingredients each day. However, not all of these ingredients are safe or even put on the label.
Currently the FDA does not have any laws regarding the preservatives found in cosmetics. According to the Cosmetic Act, colorants are the only ingredients that need to be approved by the FDA. Any other ingredient does not need to be FDA approved.
Some regular toxins found in makeup cosmetics include parabens, carbon black, and asbestos. Phthalates can often be found in many cosmetic products to help make them more flexible, while better holding color and scent. Phthalates can also be found in anything from deodorants to nail polish to lip balm. According to a study by the University of Maryland, this toxin can cause reproductive abnormalities, premature delivery, or even endometriosis. Most of the time these chemicals are labeled as “fragrance,” which can help to mask the dangers of these toxins.
Carbon black is found in eyeliner or mascara. This material is residue left behind from the incomplete combustion of petroleum tar materials, which leave behind the thick and gritty pigment used in eye makeup. Applying this substance to the skin on a regular basis can cause issues and the substance is known to be a carcinogen and contribute to skin cancer. Working with and breathing in this substance on a daily basis could lead to organ toxicity if it collects in various organs including the lungs, esophagus, kidneys, or bladder.
While asbestos is not an active, or even intentional, ingredient in cosmetics, relaxed regulations in the beauty industry lead to companies skirting corners in their material sourcing. Johnson & Johnson was taken to court because their baby powder contained asbestos and a California jury reached a $29 million verdict against J&J and Cyprus Mines Corporation. The cancer-causing mineral asbestos naturally occurs nearby talc, a common beauty additive. Recently, Claire’s has been producing children’s makeup that contained asbestos. Even as recently as June 2019, when the FDA recalled their JoJo Siwa makeup line for containing asbestos.
Asbestos is microscopic and can be inhaled when airborne. These fibers then stick to the lungs and other organs. Over time the body develops scar tissue around the fibers, which can turn into tumors ultimately leading to mesothelioma, an aggressive lung cancer. Cosmetic consumers and professionals should check ingredients for talcum powder and avoid using products with this ingredient due to many situations of cross contamination with asbestos.
Formaldehyde preserves your hair-do
Hairdressers work with harsh chemicals found in products like dyes, shampoo, bleach, and keratin treatments. Cosmetologists who offer keratin, bleaching, and hair coloring treatments can regularly be exposed to formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, nitrosamines, and p-phenylenediamine (PPD).
Formaldehyde is an organic preservative often found in hair straightening procedures, including keratin treatments. OSHA found that some hair products containing formaldehyde at an advertised “safe” level can release this toxin at levels that are unsafe during use. They also found that many products were mislabeled to not contain formaldehyde, when in fact they did. While OSHA allows that 15 mins of exposure is safe, many hairdressers are exposed over the permitted limit by breathing it in or getting it on their skin. This toxin is a carcinogen and exposure should be limited to reduce harm to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.
Products that create suds may contain 1,4-dioxane. This includes shampoos, liquid soaps, and hair relaxers. However, this toxin will not be found on the labels of products because it is created by a chemical reaction within certain products when common ingredients are mixed together. The toxin is created through ethoxylation, which is when ethylene—known to cause breast cancer—is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh. Unfortunately, the FDA does not require 1,4-dioxane to be labeled on products since it is not an additive, but rather a byproduct. This ultimately makes it very difficult for workers to avoid this cancer causing substance. Perhaps due to this, several studies have found that there are higher levels of breast cancer among hairdressers.
P-phenylenediamine (PPD) is most regularly found in permanent hair dyes or oxidative dyes. When hair dye is applied to a customer, PPD reacts with hydrogen peroxide to bind the color to the hair. If this chemical were to react with hydrogen, it could lead to genetic cell mutations and ultimately cancer. Less seriously, this chemical can lead to skin irritation.
No matter the cosmetic specialty, cosmetologists should always be allowed the right to know what is in the products they are using every day. As mentioned there are not always strict laws when it comes to mentioning what ingredients are in the products we use. However, if the FDA were to provide stricter regulations on the contents of cosmetic products in their Cosmetics Laws, many of these ingredients would not pose a threat to workers today. All workers should know the protocol of working with these toxins and if they plan on using any of these substances, please be sure to follow the OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
Indoor air quality can affect an individual's health, comfort, and ability to work. Illnesses such as allergies, stress, cold, and influenza are common symptoms associated with poor IAQ. OSHA provides Indoor Air Quality guidelines for commercial and institutional buildings to help identify possible sources of poor IAQ, develop a contingency plan to control a hazard that may arise, and have a plan for preventative maintenance.
Many common IAQ problems are associated with heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, overcrowding, moisture incursion and dampness, presence of outside air pollutants, and the presence of internally generated contaminants, off-gassing from materials in the building, and use of mechanical equipment. These pollutants, typically fall into three basic categories: biological, chemical, and particle.
Biological can result in excessive concentrations of bacteria, viruses, fungi, dust mites, animal dander, and pollen from inadequate maintenance and housekeeping, water spills, insufficient humidity control, condensation, or water intrusion through leaks in the building envelope or flooding
Sources of chemical pollutants (gases and vapors) include emissions from products used in the building (e.g., office equipment; furniture, wall and floor coverings; pesticides; and cleaning and consumer products), accidental spills of chemicals, products used during construction activities such as adhesives and paints, and gases such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide, which are products of combustion.
Particles are solid or liquid, non-biological substances that are light enough to be suspended in the air. Dust, dirt, or other substances may be drawn into the building from outside. Particles can also be produced by activities that occur in structures such as construction, sanding wood or drywall, printing, copying, and operating equipment.
Legionnaires' Disease on the Rise
Much focus has been on the Covid-19 Pandemic as it has been able to spread rapidly throughout organizations. Still, it is also important to highlight that between 8,000 and 18,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized yearly with Legionnaries’ Disease, and the number of Legionnaires' cases reported has been steadily increasing over the last two decades, according to the CDC.
Legionella bacteria are commonly spread through airborne water droplets, which are inhaled or aspired. Although the illness can affect occupants year-round, it is most prevalent during summer and early fall. Rising temperatures produce more virulent strains of the potentially lethal disease. Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease can be abdominal pain, chills, confusion, coughing, diarrhea, fever, and shortness of breath. If multiple workers experience symptoms, illness, or have shared complaints at the same time, a safety and health professional should inspect for IAQ.
Ensuring Good Air Quality
Good IAQ should include comfortable temperature and humidity, adequate supply of fresh outdoor air, and control of pollutants from inside and outside of the building. Worksites should have routine checks on temperature, humidity airflow, odors, water damage, leaks, and pest droppings within the workspace. A preventive maintenance program should be established based on the systems recommended maintenance schedule outlined by the architect or engineer, the manufacturer, or an HVAC professional. Regular preventive maintenance not only ensures that systems are operating correctly, but also can result in cost savings, improved operating efficiency, and increased worker productivity.
Workplaces must provide a safe and healthy work environment for all workers, and workers must also be aware of their rights and must be conscious of their environment and how it relates to or affects their health at all times. Workplace safety and health include IAQ. Prevention is always better than cure.
May 24, 2018
By: J.A. Rodriguez
Article originally published here on May 11, 2017.
Work is progressing as usual. There is a very busy day ahead with at least one hundred things to do before it ends. The time is 0600, then 1600. Time flies by and the work activity correspondingly increases to meet commitments. Hands are on the current task, but the mind is elsewhere, perhaps on the long list of things to get accomplished or perhaps on the family plans that evening. Suddenly, the unthinkable happens. There it is: an almost. A near miss. Your heart is racing. You think “what if?” You contemplate about your family and say to yourself, “Wow! That was close! Need to be careful next time!”
Another day, another week, another month zips by. Same thing. Early mornings. Late evenings. Many things to do in a short period of time with your hands on task and your mind elsewhere. Suddenly the unthinkable happens, only this time, you suffer a serious injury. Your work comes to a halt and so does that of your team. Taking care of you is now the organizational priority, and making sure the best medical care is provided as quickly as possible is the new mission at hand. You are unaware of any of this as your stretcher carefully is loaded into the back of an ambulance and rushed off to the nearest hospital.
Family members are notified. They are on the way to the emergency room. You are now in intensive care being treated for a potentially life-altering injury. In the meantime, there is a great expanse of activity going on to stabilize the work area, determine what happened and what process changes are required to prevent recurrence. The good news is, but only after a painful while, you’ll make it with no permanent harm.
During the two long weeks in the hospital, you reflect on what happened and the personal price paid for not having mind on task in terms of your health, well-being, family and quality of life. You wish you could turn back time and do it again, except you can’t. That’s when you realize, the next time there may not be a next time. That somber thought brings serious reflection… No lapse in focus during the performance of a job is worth the unthinkable to you or your family.
According to OSHA, one worker never returns home from work to his or her family every two hours of every day due to a workplace fatality. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 2.9 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry in 2015. This means that, on average, approximately 7,945 workers are injured or fall ill every day of the year. Three hundred thirty one every hour and almost six every second. While this is a decline over the last several years, the number of injuries and illnesses to our workers are way too high. More can be done. More must be done by all of us.
Always focusing on the task at hand drives higher performance and saves lives. Effectively performing your work not only means being THERE, it also means being PRESENT. It means demonstrating leadership. Deliver performance at every opportunity by keeping your attention laser-guided on working safely and avoid having to reflect back on the real price tendered for injuries.
Protect yourself and others. Keep your hands on this thought and your mind on that task to make certain there’s never a different “almost” all over again.