New UL Safety Index Measures Global Safety

September 26, 2016

UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a global safety science company, recently released The UL Safety IndexTM, a new tool to quantify the relative state of safety across nearly 190 countries. The Index was formally presented at this year’s World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in Finland. The Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark have Safety Index values that place them at the top of the list of countries.

Focused on safety and well-being, specifically unintentional injuries and deaths, the index provides a snapshot of a country’s relative safety performance based on three measurable drivers of safety: institutional drivers (economics, education, etc.), safety frameworks (current regulations and safety infrastructures), and safety outcomes (unintentional injuries). An algorithm combines data in each of these three areas and calculates an overall safety index number between zero and 100.

Focused on its mission to advance safe living and working environments for people everywhere, UL saw an opportunity to contribute to the discourse on public health and safety with a quantifiable measurement of safety. The index offers insights into how safety works as a system and supports the view that, to improve safety, countries must develop, implement, and sustain a multi-layered, systems-based approach. Developed to help drive decision-making about safety issues by policy makers and other stakeholders, the index can aid in the identification of priorities for investment in programs that can improve safety.

“The need for this index is driven by the complex challenge of improving the safety of people around the world. The intended use of the UL Safety Index is to serve as a tool to stimulate dialogue and ultimately solutions. Comparisons are useful when they lead to conversations and that is what we are expecting by releasing this information,” said David Wroth, UL’s Director of Public Safety. “We intend for the data to be used to identify opportunities for collaboration among change agents, government agencies and the private sector, with a common goal of improving safety. The index helps to identify those areas where countries should perhaps consider allocating more time and resources.”

Highlighted findings include:

  • The Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark have the highest overall Safety Index values (> 94), while South Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti were among the lowest (< 27).
  • The United States, with an overall safety value of 90.84 out of 100, in the top 10 among countries, is notable for its strong institutions and resource drivers (wealth, education, government effectiveness, and technology).
  • Syria* has a relatively strong track record of preventing unintentional injuries, ranking as one the top three countries for safety outcomes, with a 94.8 value. The research counter intuitively revealed that while Syria measures up in outcomes, the measures of safety frameworks and institutions were much lower.
  • Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands all had high values for their safety frameworks, defined by the implementation of strong codes and standards, as well as consumer and labor protections for their citizens.
  • While helpful, safety frameworks are not the only path to a safer world, as evidenced by India, which has the highest safety framework value in the Central and South Asia region, but still exhibits only moderate safety outcomes.
  • Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil all have values in the upper quintile of the index, while neighboring countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador have values in the lower half of all countries. This reveals the potential benefit of regional cooperation to improve safety.

With plans to release an updated index annually, UL is now finalizing the scope of next year’s index. “We are building a diverse external advisory board of public health and safety experts, data scientists and others to help prioritize where the second iteration of the index should go next. Ideally, we will continue to expand the scope with each version, adding security, sustainability and well-being data into the algorithm and providing local safety insights in the future,” says Wroth.

*The UL Safety Index examines safety outcomes related solely to unintentional injury and does not account for conflict in the regions mentioned.

Los Angeles Hazardous Waste, DOT, and IATA Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Los Angeles, CA, on October 11–13 and save $100. Get the training you need to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA Regulations on October 14. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Raleigh 24-Hour HAZWOPER and DOT/IATA Training

Register for Hazardous Operations and Emergency Response 24-Hour Training in Cary, NC on October 17–19 and ensure you are ready to respond. Learn how to prepare hazardous materials/dangerous goods for shipment by ground and air at DOT/IATA: Transportation of Hazardous Materials by Ground and Air on October 20. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Knoxville RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Knoxville, TN, on October 18–20 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)

OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on safety data sheets.

Environmental Resource Center is offering live online training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented. Bring your questions to the upcoming webcasts on How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) on November 15.

Final Technical Support Document on Updated Public Health Goal for Antimony in Drinking Water

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has published an updated Public Health Goal (PHG) for antimony in drinking water. A PHG is the level of a drinking water contaminant at which adverse health effects are not expected to occur from a lifetime of exposure. The California Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 requires OEHHA to develop PHGs based exclusively on public health considerations. PHGs published by OEHHA are considered by the State Water Resources Control Board in setting drinking water standards (Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs) for California.

The technical support document, available for download below, presents an update of the antimony PHG, originally published in 1997. The update includes changes in critical study and endpoint selection, and updated dose-response analysis and exposure estimates. These changes resulted in the revision of the antimony PHG from 20 ppb to 1 ppb.

A companion document contains responses to public comments received during two public comment periods that ended in September 2009 and August 2016, and comments received in February 2016 from an external scientific peer review. OEHHA evaluated all the comments received and revised the technical support document as appropriate.

For further information on this announcement or have questions, please contact Hermelinda Jimenez at PHG.Program@oehha.ca.gov or 916-324-7572.

New Drinking Water Public Health Goals and Final Technical Support Document for Carbofuran, Diquat, Endrin, Picloram, and Thiobencarb

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced the publication of updated Public Health Goals (PHGs) and a technical support document for carbofuran, diquat, endrin, picloram, and thiobencarb in drinking water.

The technical support document presents updates of the carbofuran, diquat, endrin, picloram, and thiobencarb PHGs, originally published in 2000, 2000, 1999 (updated in 2008), 1997, and 2000, respectively. The updated PHGs are 0.7 parts per billion (ppb) for carbofuran, 6 ppb for diquat, 0.3 ppb for endrin, 166 ppb for picloram, and 42 ppb for thiobencarb, all based on non-cancer effects. The updates consider recent toxicological literature and incorporate updated water consumption rates, and where appropriate, updates in risk assessment methodology and provisions to account for the most sensitive members of the population.

OEHHA posted the first draft of this document on August 14, 2015, for a 45-day public comment period and held a public workshop on September 28, 2015. Subsequently, an external scientific peer review of the draft PHGs document was conducted pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 116365 (c)(3)(D). The second draft PHGs document was released for a 30-day public comment period on July 29, 2016. OEHHA received comments from the Sacramento River Source Water Protection Program during the first comment period and received no comments during the second comment period. OEHHA has evaluated all the comments received and revised the technical support document as appropriate. A document containing responses to the public and peer review comments is available for download below.

For additional information, contact Hermelinda Jimenez at PHG.Program@oehha.ca.gov or 916-324‑7572.

Wayne Lumber and Mulch Inc. Fined $214,633 for Multiple Repeat Violations

OSHA issued the Wayne Lumber and Mulch, Inc., three willful, nine repeat, 12 serious, and three other-than-serious violations on September 2, 2016.

On April 13, 2016, OSHA conducted an inspection as a follow up to a March 2014 inspection. Inspectors cited the employer for willful violations due to its failure to properly guard a chop saw and provide standard railing and handrails.

The agency issued repeat citations for the following violations:

  • Lack of an effective hazard communication training plan
  • Exposing employees to electrical hazards, inadequate machine guarding, lack of a conveyor or exhaust system to remove combustible sawdust and shavings
  • Failing to have lockout/tagout procedures in place to prevent accidental machine start-up or movement
  • Allowing buildup of combustible materials
  • Failing to provide leg protection

OSHA cited Wayne Lumber and Mulch previously for the same violations in a 2014 inspection.

Inspectors also identified several serious violations, and the agency issued serious citations for:

  • Exposing workers to crushing and rollover hazards while operating machinery without manufacturer-installed seatbelts
  • Failing to provide employees with protection from falls up to 10 feet above the ground
  • Not providing proper eye, hand, and flashback protection, as well as barriers and warning signs
  • Allowing hazards in the area where mulch was stored
  • Permitting operation of a chainsaw without a manufacturer-approved chain catch
  • Failing to pressure test repaired acetylene and oxygen burning torches before use
  • Allowing workers to use damaged welding cables
  • Failing to ensure a moving vehicle was equipped with an audible warning signal
  • Electrical equipment not used in accordance with included instructions

In addition, the agency issued other-than-serious citations to Wayne Lumber for its failure to report an employee amputation injury to OSHA, provide educational training program for employees on firefighting and fire extinguisher use, and to place a valve protection cap on an acetylene bottle.

"By all indications, Wayne Lumber and Mulch failed to take the violations we found in 2014 seriously. The fact that many of these hazards existed again - and the addition of nearly 30 new violations—tells us this employer is willing to jeopardize the safety of its workers. In 2015, an employee suffered a fingertip amputation due to lack of machine guarding. Without taking immediate action to ensure a safe workplace, more workers could be injured or worse," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office.

Proposed penalties total $214,633.

Dollar General Fined $156,772 for Jeopardizing Worker, Customer Safety

One of the nation's largest discount retailers continues to ignore federal workplace safety inspectors who have found repeated instances where the company endangers workers and customers alike by blocking exit routes with stacked merchandise.

Once again, OSHA inspectors found exits blocked with merchandise at a store operated by Dollar General Corporation. In the latest instance, agency investigators found this and other hazards existed after an August 4, 2016, inspection of the company's store in Bolivar in central Ohio.

As a result, OSHA issued three repeated safety citations to Dollar General on September 8, 2016, and assessed $156,772 in proposed fines to the Bolivar store. In addition to the recurring issue with blocked exits, inspectors found fire extinguisher locations not marked and rapid access to them blocked. They also found electrical panels blocked.

Since 2010, OSHA has recorded more than 100 safety and health violations at Dollar General stores nationwide, and assessed more than $1 million in proposed fines.

"In an emergency, no one should have to struggle to get out of a store safely, grab a fire extinguisher or shut down the power quickly, but these dangerous hazards are exactly what our inspectors found at the Dollar General store in Bolivar," said Larry Johnson, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Finding these conditions in one company location is bad enough, but Dollar General's willingness to ignore its immediate responsibility to protect employees and shoppers in all of its stores is cause for real concern."

Koch Foods of Mississippi Exposed Workers to Fall, Unguarded Machinery, and Electric Shock

OSHA issued citations to Koch Foods of Mississippi, LLC, a poultry-processing producer on September 16, 2016, for nine serious safety violations.

OSHA initiated two investigations after learning two workers suffered injuries in the spring of 2016. In March, a 42-year-old man suffered a laceration to his right finger after his glove got caught in a conveyor. In April, a 23-year-old gizzard chiller operator had two fingers on her right hand broken. The woman was attempting to unjam the gizzards inside the chiller when her hand contacted a rotating shaft. The investigation is also part of the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities.

OSHA issued the serious citations to the employer for its failure to:

  • Ensure proper procedures were followed to prevent machinery from starting-up during maintenance or servicing
  • Protect employees from falls up to 18 feet
  • Provide machine guarding on equipment
  • Provide standard railings on stairways
  • Protect workers from electric shock due to corrosive chemicals leaking on outlets

Proposed penalties total $88,632.

"Koch Foods must review its safety procedures to ensure workers are protected from all safety and health hazards to include machinery unexpectedly starting up, falls and electric shock," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in the Jackson Office. "It is the employer's responsibility to protect employees in the workplace."

Grease Fire at U.S. Postal Service Facility Reveals Lack of Working Fire Extinguishers

OSHA’s St. Louis Area Office has cited the U.S. Postal Service's vehicle maintenance facility for one repeated and two serious safety violations.

Investigating a report of a fire in the facility on July 3, 2016, the agency determined that workers attempting to extinguish the blaze found at least two fire extinguishers that were not charged. Employees were able to extinguish the minor grease fire that occurred in a wheel hub, when they located a charged extinguisher.

OSHA cited USPS for failing to:

  • Maintain charged and operable fire extinguishers
  • Train workers on fire extinguisher use and the hazards associated with incipient stage firefighting
  • Maintain a fire alarm system
  • Conduct monthly inspections of fire extinguishers and associated equipment

"Workers responding to a fire emergency should never find uncharged and inoperable fire protection equipment," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "Fortunately, no one was injured and this fire was quickly contained. This could have very easily had a tragic outcome. The postal service needs to take immediate action to prevent such near misses in the future."

Proposed penalties total $87,297.

OSHA, Turner Construction Forge Partnership to Train, Protect Construction Workers

OSHA and Turner Construction Turner Company established a partnership to protect workers on the CH2 Data Center project in Northlake, Illinois. The partnership includes trade unions and 15 subcontractors, with a combined workforce of more than 500 employees. Construction of the $275 million 22.8 megawatt data center is expected to be complete in 2018.

The partnership will emphasize reducing injury and illness on the job site and will focus training on the top four construction industry hazards—falls, struck-by, caught-in/between, and electrocutions.

The partnership will require all employers, contractors and sub-contractors to implement written safety and health programs conduct daily pre-task planning and safety huddles, and job site inspections and involve workers in weekly site safety meetings. In addition, OSHA will review these programs at least annually to track and compare information on injury and illness rates, share best practices and review goals.

"Workplace safety is achieved when labor, management and employees work together to recognize hazards and train workers in safety protocols and procedures," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for its Chicago North Office in Des Plaines. "OSHA has found partnerships like this set a standard for all employers working on the project that safety will not be compromised."

"Turner Construction Company will work with the Program partners as a team to support a culture and environment where safety is paramount and that the workers on site go home safely every day. Turner will assist the program partners with implementing a comprehensive safety and health management system. The inclusive approach identifies and mitigates risks, engages those closest to the risk, provides training to increase capabilities, and integrates a risk analysis observation process with feedback to coach, support and recognize safe practices," said Michael Blackburn, Turner's Regional Safety Director for the Chicago office.

Through its Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA works with employers, employees, professional and trade associations, labor organizations and other interested stakeholders to establish specific goals, strategies and performance measures to improve worker safety and health.

River Metals Recycling Recertified in Indiana Workplace Safety Program

River Metals Recycling (RMR) located in Greensburg, Indiana, received recertification in the Indiana Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (INSHARP). With no OSHA-recordable injury for more than four years, the company shines as an example of what Indiana businesses can achieve in workplace injury and illness prevention.

River Metals Recycling employs 245 teammates, with five on-site in Greensburg. In business for nine years, RMR purchases materials to recycle, such as old cars, aluminum cans, and other scrap metals, which are processed for both non-ferrous and ferrous recycling. The facility then prepares vehicles for final shredding.

“We are very impressed by what this company has accomplished for not one, not two, but several years,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “River Metals Recycling maintains an excellent culture of occupational safety and health thanks to the hard work by all teammates.”

The company’s workplace culture comes from a series of efforts, including multiple preventative and training programs. While the national industry average occupational injury and illness rate is 4.7 per 100 workers, River Metals Recycling Greensburg has been OSHA-recordable injury free for the more than four years.

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