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An innovative national recycling scheme is celebrating more than 10,000 recycled hard hats.

Every year, the UK throws away several million end-of-life protective hats. The National Hard Hat Recycling Scheme is a user-friendly method for old hard hats to bypass traditional waste disposal routes, thereby ensuring end-of-life hats go directly into reprocessing. Three years ago, Yes Recycling built a bespoke recycling capability at its Buckingham shire facility specifically to recycle hard hats.

Although the company is no stranger to innovation when it comes to recycling everyday plastic items – it recycles plastic banknotes, crisp packets, coffee cups and shop hangers – the hard hat recycling presented some particular and unique challenges, not surprising considering hard hats are fundamentally designed to be difficult to destroy.

Nevertheless, engineers were able to overcome this: all hats are completely destroyed by being shred down into 10mm flakes. These flakes are then separated into their constituent polymer elements, washed, dried and then melted down and filtered. The pure molten polymer is then made back into brand new polymer pellets – which are the universal raw material format for all plastic item manufacturing. Thus your hats are fully recycled.

Since its inception, the scheme has seen more than 10,000 hard hats saved from landfill and the scheme now boasts about 50 members from a range of sectors and businesses, including construction, transport, utilities, defence, wildlife conservation, tree surgery and extreme sports.

Network Rail is one such company. Recycling its hard hats through Yes Recycling supports its environmental sustainability goals by reducing waste to landfill through the waste hierarchy. 'It is positive to see companies such as Yes Recycling investing in initiatives to support businesses in contributing to the circular economy,' said technical surveyor Sally Marquis. 'Maybe in the future, an old hard hat could be recycled into a new one and we fully support that process.'

Director of Yes Recycling, Omer Kutluoglu, has high hopes that this will happen. 'One day we hope that we can make this a fully circular process, where the recycled material from the hard hats is put back directly into new ones, but for now we are happy to assure all valuable raw material used in making hard hats is properly recovered and fully recycled back into British manufacturing at end-of-life.'


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The CDC announced on Jan. 12 that air passengers who are entering the United States must provide a negative COVID-19 test before they can board their flight, according to NPR.

The rule will go into effect on Jan. 26. It arrives in the midst of another surge in coronavirus cases across the country—the death toll from the virus is expected to exceed 400,000 in the next few weeks.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield. “But when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports and at destinations.”

Travelers will have to be tested for coronavirus within three days of their departure to the U.S. It is also recommended that passengers get another test administered between three to five days after they arrive in the country.


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Washington — Critics of the Environmental Protection Agency are renewing their call for a complete ban on asbestos after the agency’s release of Part 1 of a final risk evaluation that concludes that the substance – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions.

Used in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, asbestos is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Released Dec. 30 and announced via a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, Part 1 of the final evaluation centers on chrysotile asbestos and states the substance poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in numerous operations, including:

● Processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry
● Processing and industrial use of asbestos-containing sheet gaskets in chemical production
● Industrial use and disposal of asbestos-containing brake blocks in the oil industry
● Commercial use and disposal of aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes/lining, other vehicle friction products and other asbestos-containing gaskets

As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, EPA must address risks by proposing within one year regulatory actions such as training, certification, restricted access and/or ban of commercial use, and then accept public comment on any proposals.

EPA states that Part 2 of the final risk evaluation is in development, and anticipates releasing a draft scope around the middle of the year. Part 2 will focus on legacy uses and disposals of asbestos, which the agency defines as “conditions of use for which manufacture (including import), processing and distribution of commerce no longer occur, but where use and disposal are still known, intended or reasonably foreseen to occur (e.g., asbestos in older buildings).”

In a press release, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization asserts the two-part approach is incomplete, noting that the agency omits five other types of asbestos fiber beyond chrysotile in Part 1 while failing to address known health effects related to asbestos, including asbestosis and ovarian cancer. Additionally, Part 1 “is based on grossly incomplete information about current asbestos exposure and use,” the nonprofit organization contends.

“EPA’s final risk evaluation ignores the numerous recommendations of its own scientific advisors and other independent experts by claiming that these deficiencies will be addressed in a future Part 2 evaluation,” ADAO President and co-founder Linda Reinstein said in the release. “Based on this sleight-of-hand maneuver, the agency has issued a piecemeal and dangerously incomplete evaluation that overlooks numerous sources of asbestos exposure and risk, and understates the enormous toll of disease and death for which asbestos is responsible.”

The House on Sept. 29 was slated to vote on the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, a bill that calls for a federal ban of asbestos. The legislation is named for Reinstein’s late husband, who died from mesothelioma in 2006.

However, the bill, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a 47-1 vote in November 2019, ultimately stalled and was removed from the suspension calendar without a vote, as House Democrats chastised their Republican counterparts for withdrawing their support.

According to an Oct. 1 report published in The Hill, the controversy centered on a provision that guarantees the bill wouldn’t impact ongoing litigation concerning injuries related to the use of talcum powder.

In a joint statement released Oct. 1, Committee Chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chair Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said: “Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes.”

The group added: “Republicans walked away from this opportunity to ban asbestos merely over language that prevents shutting the courtroom door. This raises serious questions about the sincerity of their intentions.”

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) offered a rebuttal in an Oct. 1 statement: “Saying we walked away is simply untrue. All Democrats have to do is drop the language added to the bill by trial lawyers and bring the bill to the floor that every one of their members voted for when it was considered by our committee. If anyone’s intentions should be questioned, we can assure you it’s not ours.”


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What exactly are key performance indicators (KPIs)? And how can they help you and your management team to set realistic goals and enhance performance? These are questions that many organizations are facing in 2020.

These indicators are necessary in any industry – including occupational health and safety. It can be confusing for organizations to navigate, as there are different types of indicators, for example leading and lagging indicators…

So what exactly are leading indicators vs. lagging indicators? Lagging indicators can measure an organization’s current performance and current or long-term trends.

“Most safety professionals are used to the traditional lagging indicators (rear view mirror perspective) like injury rates, claims, etc. However, as important as these are, they don’t give us the fullest picture of what is in front of us (front windshield) and what to do about it.” Says Adrian Bartha, CEO of eCompliance.

“This paper introduces examples of leading indicators organizations can use to measure risk reduction. It also includes a sample safety maturity program assessment using leading indicators. While no leading indicator is perfect, a small set of leading indicators that fit for your workforce, type of work and culture can not only better communicate the true level of risk, but help rally your workforce around behaviours you want to reinforce and focus on.” Says Bartha.

Leading indicators however focus on an organization’s future health and safety performance, and aim to push for continuous improvement. Leading indicators are proactive, whilst lagging indicators are simply reactive.

“One simple leading indicator may be the number of corrective or preventative actions (CAPA) opened vs. the number closed over a period of time relatively to previous period. In general, the level or growth of CAPA would show that risks are being flagged and that they are being closed.” Says Bartha.

“The ratio between open/closed would show the velocity at which risk reduction is taking place. However, other aspects may be important to evaluate as well,” he says. “For example, how many supervisors created or completed a CAPA in the last month, to evaluate whether a broader section of the workforce is involved – vs. one person.”

Before coming up with a plan, organizations also need to understand their current level of maturity. This is where eCompliance’s leading indicators guide to success steps in. eCompliance has established three levels and has put together over 50 leading indicator ideas to match your organization’s level of safety program maturity.

Organizations also need to review their maturity levels, and review leading indicators, so as to keep them relevant to the company.

“2020 has thrown many of our businesses off and forcing us to recalibrate what success means and how to get there. In a year where health and safety has risen to the forefront and top priority topic for executives and owners it’s an opportunity to redefine how we measure progress in safety and risk reduction overall in our organizations.” Says Bartha. “Revisiting what indicators of performance we measure, evaluate and communicate is critical to a strong start in 2021. By setting the right expectations, right measure, and goal posts, we can be more effective as safety leaders and ensure this is understood up, down and across the organization.”


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This guidance was updated on 26 November and comes into force on 2 December. It is for everyone who has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable (via letter from the NHS or GP).

The guidance has been updated to support the clinically extremely vulnerable in protecting themselves from exposure to coronavirus . It replaces previous guidance on shielding that was in place during the 4-week period of National Restrictions. The guidance is set out in 2 parts:

● Updated advice on protecting the clinically extremely vulnerable, based on the tiers of local restrictions in your area. The advice sets out the additional things people at the highest risk from COVID-19 are advised to do to keep themselves safe for each tier.
● Updated shielding advice that is more targeted and will only apply in some of the worst affected areas and only for a limited period of time. People are only advised to follow shielding advice if they receive a new written shielding notification.

What has changed

On 2 December the country is moving back to a tiered system of local restrictions. The government has reinstated this guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people linked to these tiers.

It offers additional advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable over and above the rules for the tiers, which apply to everyone. According to the government, the guidance aims to strike a better balance between providing practical steps to help keep people in this category safe while reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on mental and social wellbeing that were associated with previous strict shielding. It sets out the steps clinically extremely vulnerable people can take to protect themselves for each local tier.

In the future, the government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time. This will only apply to some, but not all, Tier 3 areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. The government will write to those affected separately to inform them if they are advised to shield. The guidance states that people in this category are not advised to follow formal shielding advice again unless they receive a new shielding notification advising them to do so.

Advice during the Christmas period

It is recognised that many people may want to be with their friends and family over the festive period. As a result, the government will be changing some restrictions on social contact, allowing the formation of a ‘Christmas bubble’ in which people can spend time indoors and outdoors, including inside a home, with people from up to three households.

This will only apply for a very limited period of time, from 23 December to 27 December.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable can choose to be part of a Christmas bubble but it does involve greater risks as the number of people you have contact with will be increasing.

It is important that you and the other people in your Christmas bubble consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble. Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection, says the guidance.

Advice is set out for those in this category who do decide to form a Christmas bubble.

Advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has been published to help households safely plan for gatherings in the home. The advice from SAGE includes how to make a household plan. This is a practical plan to help you prepare for social interactions in the home, which is agreed by all those who will be attending. Preparing a household plan will help to reduce your risk of transmitting COVID-19, says the document.

A checklist of ten points is summarised below:

1. Consider whether meeting up is essential and cannot be postponed or replaced by safer forms of interaction.

Identify where in-person interactions could be replaced by online events or postponed until an appropriate future date, for example when in a lower tier.

2. Consider replacing indoor events with outdoor activities or using larger spaces to host events.

Outdoor and larger spaces may provide more physical space and better ventilation compared to households with less space.

3. Remember most infections happen indoors in private homes where people get close to friends and family.

Within the home we may be more likely to assume people and places we know are safe.

4. Take special care to protect people who are particularly vulnerable to serious consequences from infection.

This includes older people and those with underlying health conditions. It is also important to reduce the risk of infection among those who have close contact with particularly vulnerable people, for example carers or nurses.

5. Ensure people who are emotionally vulnerable have social support.

Special care should be taken to interact safely with people who are socially isolated, including meeting outside if possible, online or by phone.

6. People who have very little contact with others are unlikely to be infected and may be able to meet together safely.

People who have to self-isolate or quarantine should not meet with anyone. If people have to self-isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test, or quarantine because they have been in contact with a confirmed case, then it is essential to do so regardless of the occasion.

7. Limit interactions to the same small group of people as much as possible.

This reduces the probability that someone will come into contact with the virus and limits how far the virus can spread if there is transmission. Meeting two groups of different people in the same week increases the risk of spreading the virus compared with meeting the same group of people twice. Limiting or avoiding interactions with other people in the 7-14 days before meeting, and reducing travel across different parts of the country can further reduce the likelihood of transmission.

8. Limit the time spent together, especially if meeting indoors.

Indoor interactions should be restricted as much as possible and reserved for short duration quality time. Children should meet vulnerable relatives, including grandparents, outside where possible; brief meetings such as walking or playing outside are safest.

9. Think about the space your event will take place in, and how people will interact.

You will need to think about cleaning, ventilation (fresh air) and the layout of rooms to allow for social distancing. Think about hygiene and any activities associated with the event, such as games or serving food. Transmission through airborne, droplet and surface contact routes can be reduced by following guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your household. Children should meet older or vulnerable relatives outside where possible. Brief outside meetings such as walking or playing are safest.

10. Agree the plan with friends and family before the event so that everyone knows the safest way to meet.

A plan is likely to be most successful if it is agreed in advance. This includes explaining it to children. Examples of household plans published by SAGE are available.


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Workers who spend a great deal of time working at height depend on their fall protection PPE harnesses. They want their gear to be comfortable and lightweight, not hot and heavy. Some harnesses can claim they are lighter weight, but that doesn’t always equate to comfort, especially for workers of varying shapes and sizes. Let’s explore some of the things that can make fall protection harnesses more comfortable, lighter weight and easily incorporated with other PPE.

Since “falls from height” rank first in cause of death for the construction industry, it’s critical that workers are appropriately protected. These features will make it easier for workers to be compliant by encouraging them to wear their gear properly and keep themselves and the jobsite safe:

■ Ergonomic safety
■ Lightweight and Flexible
■ Integration with other PPE

Ergonomic Safety

Comfort is key to performance and that is where ergonomics comes in. Ergonomics has been defined as the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment, but in the world of health and safety, it tends to define fitting a job or task around the employee.

We can all remember a time when we weren’t comfortable and we just couldn’t get our minds off it. The same can be true for a worker who is wearing a fall harness, except they can do without this type of distraction. If it isn’t comfortable, he or she is more likely to shift it or wear it in an unapproved position to seek comfort. This can have unintended consequences since wearing a fall harness incorrectly affects the protection it can provide and can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). According to the CDC, MSDs are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) are conditions in which the work environment and performance of work contribute significantly to the condition and/or the condition is made worse or persists longer due to work conditions.


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Both Visual Literacy and Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) emphasize slowing down with purpose.

As humans, about half of our personalities are wired more towards action, fast-paced, and getting things done, making it harder to slow down and get help. The other half of us are wired more toward needing additional information, being more methodical. This makes it harder for us to speed through tasks. For those of us who don’t naturally slow down, factors in addition to our personality wiring include production pressures, time pressures, peer pressure, rewards for output, customer demands, and a focus on outcomes.

Those are external drivers of moving too fast. The consequences can be serious, leading to near misses, minor and serious injuries, even fatalities. Rushing through jobs can lead to overlooking hazards, taking risks, working with faulty equipment, dispensing with personal protective equipment (PPE), short-cutting safety rules and procedures, and half-hearted attempts at facility housekeeping.

There are also internal drivers, called personal tendencies, that can cause us to move too fast. Equilibria’s Personality Diversity Indicator identifies action-oriented, task-oriented, information-oriented and people-oriented individuals. Subsets of these personal tendencies are: doers, thinkers, socializers and relators. Doers may rush and take calculated risks. Or they may possess too little information or too little time to process information. Socializers may jump in to help others without thinking of potential risks. Relators may be over-reliant on others.

Visual Literacy and HOP assert that you cannot simply tell individuals to slow down, especially if they do not know what to do while slowing down. There must be a reason, a purpose.

The notion of “slowing down” is often unpopular and resisted in organizations. Organizational leaders may preach using caution and stopping work that poses imminent risks. But this can be lip service, and actions on the factory floor or at a construction site may not match what management says it wants. This is especially true if safety and production are not on equal footing, getting equal respect, in an organization.

Speed can be the enemy of safety, but the ally of production. Safety and production should not be an either/or proposition. The goal, every day, should be safe production. Safety and production intertwined, integrated.

Another perceived problem with slowing down in the eyes of many is the baggage the term carries. It’s easy to equate slowing down with stagnation, obstruction, delay, slackening, inactivity, downshifting, downtime, tying up or holding up work.

Persuading, influencing or coaching a organization to slow down can overcome resistance by emphasizing that we are slowing down with purpose. Slowing down cannot be an empty edict or a top-down command, ordered without a reason. Slowing down has a purpose, an objective.

What is the justification?

Slowing down, according to both Visual Literacy and HOP, gives you an avenue to see more of the big picture, to see in greater detail, and to see with better analysis and interpretation. You gain from both a better understanding, or in the language of HOP, an expanded capacity to apply what you’ve learned. Applying the tools associated with Visual Literacy and HOP helps us to move from our fast brain to our slow brain. This improves our ability to draw meaning and improved interpretation of what we are seeing.

Many safety professionals struggle with “selling” or promoting the necessity to slow down. Visual Literacy and HOP both counsel that you don’t need to slow things down for hours. A minute, even 30 seconds, can be enough time to look at the environment in a larger, more complete way before taking on a specific task. This gives you brain time to interpret what it sees.

One “baby step” to slowing down is to verbalize, to describe and communicate what it is you are seeing during job observations, audits and risk assessments. By verbalizing you naturally slow down your brain and make more objective observations.

Other HOP error reduction tools for slowing it down: 1) Verbalize, Point and Touch©; 2) Self-check, self-monitor, reflect; 3) Receive verbal commands and repeat back; 4) Have a positive, questioning attitude – take time to ask questions; 5) Job site walk down; 6) Task review; and 7) Stop when unsure. Fisher Improvement Technologies (FIT) defines "unsure" by using the triggers of OOPPPPS© (Outside Of Procedures, Programs, Processes, Parameters, or the Situation as you expected it to be). There’s often a problem with this last point. Most organizations do not adequately define “unsure.”

They leave it up to a fallible individual to determine what “unsure” means, and that person continually second-guesses themselves after-the-fact. Fisher Improvement Technologies (FIT) has this copyrighted definition of unsure: anything that falls outside of procedures, programs, processes, parameters, or the situation as you expected.

Visual Literacy slows down observations and mental processing by asking individuals: What do you see? What meaning do you attach or interpret to what you see? And what do you do about what you observe? This is called Seeing the Whole PICTURE®. Visual Literacy also slows down observations by using the elements of art. Look at an environment, a job, a piece of equipment, a work layout or process in terms of spacing, colors, lines (alignment or misalignment of equipment, tools, safeguards), shapes (is work organized neatly or loosely?), and texture (is there sufficient traction to prevent slips and falls?).

Slowing down with purpose benefits you, your peers and your organization with many positives: better judgment, decision-making, hazard recognition, risk assessments, housekeeping, communication, audits and incident investigations to name a few. Don’t slow down because it seems to make obvious common sense. What seems reasonable may be no match for reaching or exceeding production quotas and ensuring profitability. Slow down with purpose to reap the positive consequences that in the end will improve productivity, quality, customer satisfaction and ensures that business is conducted safety – safe production.


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As several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies begin to apply for and receive emergency use authorization from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for their COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has activated the distribution phase of its Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine. The playbook for this phase of the plan is complex and relies on several critical components including the need for appropriate IT architecture to support an extensive data monitoring infrastructure.

The data monitoring infrastructure will be relied upon to identify when a person needs a potential second dose, to monitor outcomes and adverse events, and to account for products the U.S. government is spending billions of dollars to research, develop and produce. Organizations that administer vaccines will need the capability to accurately capture and share data at the federal, state, local and tribal levels to ensure efficient management of the vaccine program.

Because the initial supply will be limited, the CDC has recommended that healthcare personnel be the first to receive the vaccination, followed by workers in essential and critical industries, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older. With healthcare workers at the top of the priority list, the impact of the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is significant for many healthcare systems.

Enterprise Health, an employee health IT solution used by several large employers and health systems to manage the health, compliance and wellness of their employees, has been working behind the scenes to configure a COVID-19 immunization workflow within the solution. Dr. Rich Hammel, chief product evangelist and on-staff medical director and Emily McComb, director of account management for Enterprise Health have been leading the effort in partnership with a large healthcare system client in New York.

The COVID-19-specific workflow within Enterprise Health is based on modifying the proven existing mass immunization functionality already routinely used by the company’s health system and other large employer clients to manage large-scale employee vaccination events such as annual flu immunizations. The workflow will be finalized by the Enterprise Health team as soon as published contraindications, administration schedules, CDC CVX codes, VIS and associated barcodes, and other details for each vaccine become available.

According to Dr. Hammel, the Enterprise Health COVID-19 immunization workflow will enable employers to manage vaccine administration to employee populations based on prioritization using rules-based health surveillance panels. These panels can be based on factors such as job role, department, work location or other criteria established to identify critical populations.

Employers will also be able to automate the sending of invitation and reminder emails to notify employees they are eligible for a vaccine and direct employees to a portal to schedule a vaccine and provide electronic consent or declination. Clinicians will use a mass injection screen to rapidly document vaccine administration, and because all employee health information is stored in one place, the system will alert clinicians of missing consents prior to vaccination.

Dr. Hammel and the Enterprise Health team are also closely monitoring the CDC’s position on requiring organizations to report COVID-19 vaccines to a registry. Enterprise Health already has real-time interfaces established with many state immunization information systems (IIS) which should simplify reporting if the CDC leverages these existing systems to electronically feed information to a COVID-19 registry.

As the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines begins, organizations that will be administering vaccines are quickly ramping up to ensure a rapid and safe distribution. Enterprise Health’s comprehensive occupational health IT solution with its extensive immunization functionality is already several steps ahead and positioned to help its health system clients rapidly vaccinate their employee populations.


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Washington — Five Senate Democrats are imploring the Mine Safety and Health Administration to lower its exposure limit for crystalline silica – a carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone.

In a letter dated Nov. 20 and addressed to MSHA administrator David Zatezalo, Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Tim Kaine (VA) and Mark Warner (VA) write that the findings of a recent Department of Labor Office of Inspector General report contending MSHA’s silica exposure limit is out of date “illustrates the need for urgent action.”

The agency’s silica exposure limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was established in 1969. Although OSHA has since lowered its silica exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, “both OSHA and NIOSH warned that 50 μg/m³ is the lowest feasible limit, not the safest,” DOL OIG states in the report released Nov. 16.

Further, DOL OIG says a recent increase in progressive massive fibrosis – the most severe form of black lung disease – has been linked to “high-volume mechanized mining of decreasing deposits of coal, which releases more silica dust.” According to the report, more than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014 compared with 1995 to 1999.

“Our nation’s coal miners have done their jobs, working tirelessly to help win wars, power the nation and keep the lights on,” the senators write. “It’s time for MSHA to do its job and update its regulations to ensure our coal miners have a safe working environment.”

In a Nov. 23 press release, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts called the DOL OIG report “right on the money,” adding that it supports UMWA’s long-standing position calling for a lower exposure limit for silica.

“It is long past time for MSHA to fulfill its responsibilities and act to protect miners from silicosis or progressive massive fibrosis (PMF),” Roberts said. “MSHA knows what measures it must take in order to ensure safe and healthy work environments for the nation’s miners and it has known it for years. The agency has a responsibility to enact those measures.”

DOL OIG recommends that MSHA establish a separate standard to allow the agency to issue citations and monetary penalties for silica exposure limit violations. Additionally, it advises MSHA to increase the frequency of inspector samples “where needed” to enhance its sampling program. One example is by implementing a risk-based approach.

In a response to DOL OIG dated Oct. 27, Zatezalo wrote that his agency does not agree with the recommendations of lowering the silica exposure limit or penalizing operators solely for exposure violations. He added that MSHA plans to issue a proposed rule on exposure to respirable quartz – one of the most common types of respirable crystalline silica.

Zatezalo said MSHA will study DOL OIG’s final recommendation, including the risk-based approach, to see if sampling needs to increase under certain mining conditions.


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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided updated resources on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for employers. These include a fact sheet on case investigation and contact tracing, critical infrastructure sector response planning, and information for school administrators and school nurses.

The CDC offered a cleaning, disinfection, and hand hygiene toolkit for school administrators, as well as disease information for school nurses. It also explained that successful cleaning and disinfection in schools requires administrators to develop and implement a plan, as well as maintain and revise it. The toolkit includes handouts and posters for cleaning and disinfecting school classrooms and other campus facilities. The EPA maintains current lists of disinfectants effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC also combined its “Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19” and “COVID-19 Critical Infrastructure Sector Response Planning” documents, consolidating and clarifying essential public health information. The combined and streamlined document addresses the following issues:

● Growing evidence of transmission risk from infected people without symptoms (asymptomatic) or before the onset of recognized symptoms (presymptomatic);
● Ongoing community transmission in many parts of the country; and
● Continued focus on reducing transmission through social distancing and other personal prevention strategies that include cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, hand-washing, and wearing cloth face coverings.

The CDC emphasized the need for community use of face coverings to curtail the number of COVID-19 infections. It suggested cloth face coverings may provide some “filtration for personal protection,” although cloth face coverings and surgical masks are not approved for respiratory protection. Whatever protection they may offer combined with droplet source control has been shown to reduce exposures to SARS-CoV-2.

The CDC said protection from infection increases as more people wear face coverings consistently and correctly.

The CDC and NIOSH also released a fact sheet for employers covering COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing. Local public health departments are responsible for leading case investigations, contact tracing, and outbreak investigations.

Employers can help local public health departments by:

● Establishing a COVID-19 coordinator or team to serve as a resource for the health department and the workplace to help develop and put into action hazard assessment activities;
● Creating and implementing a COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plan to help evaluate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and to choose actions to prevent its spread;
● Preparing information about the workplace, including work schedules, attendance records, and building map or floor plans for the health department, without revealing confidential personnel information;
● Performing a workplace hazard assessment to identify potential exposures to COVID-19 and using a hierarchy of control methods to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace; and
● Encouraging employees to discuss their symptoms, exposures, and contacts with the health department.


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