Are You Interested in Serving on the ABC Retro Committee?
L&I Urges Workplace Safety for Teens as Summer Hiring Season Nears
Bloodborne Pathogens: Protect Yourself!
Treating Truck Drivers with Sleep Apnea Offers Safety, Health Benefits
US Department of Labor’s OSHA Takes Action to Protect America’s Workers with Severe Violator Program and Increased Penalties
The ABC Retro Committee has been called the most educational and important volunteer opportunity ABC offers. The hugely successful ABC Retro Program now represents 412 firms, paying approximately $20 million in workers’ comp premiums. The program has earned an average refund of over 39% since it began in 1994.
The credit for that success belongs to the nine-person ABC Retro Committee, which sets all program policies, monitors all significant claims, safeguards the ABC Retro Contingency Reserve Fund, approves all program expenses, reviews applicants wishing to join, and decides whether companies will or will not be allowed to re-enroll in the program each year. There is now an opening available for someone wishing to serve on this important committee.
To be considered to serve on the committee, you must:
- Have ownership in or be employed by an ABC member company that is a participant in good standing in the ABC Retro Program;
- Possess a good understanding of the worker’s comp claims process and have experience dealing with claims;
- Commit to a minimum of two years’ committee service;
- Keep all information presented to the committee regarding individual companies in strictest confidence;
- Attend at least one meeting each month, usually from 3:30 to 6:00 PM on the first Tuesday of the month except March, June, September and December which is the second Thursday. The meetings are held at the ABC office (additional meetings may be called as needed).
Experience in construction safety, human resources, and/or financial management is helpful, but not required.
Serving on the ABC Retro Committee allows you to provide a vital service to your association and its members as well as giving you the opportunity to expand your knowledge of retrospective rating, the claims management process, and workplace safety. If you are interested in a volunteer position offering this level of responsibility and satisfaction, please fax a letter expressing your qualifications and interest to: Ron Nolten, Chair, ABC Retro Committee, c/o ABC, (425) 455-5701. Or mail your letter to ABC, 399 – 114th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA 98004. You may also e-mail your letter of interest to Ann Jarvis. If you have any questions please call Vice President of Safety and Education Ann Jarvis at (425) 646-8000 or (800) 640-7789.
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On average, 79 young workers are injured every working day in Washington state – or, about three every hour. Statistics like these from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) are reminders that teens, parents and employers all need to focus on providing safe workplaces for young workers, particularly as the summer hiring season nears.
“Teens are eager to work and may not question a workplace situation that doesn’t seem right, so we must do all we can to create safe workplaces for them,” said Michael Silverstein, assistant director of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety & Health.
Silverstein noted that L&I is in the third year of a program to raise awareness among teens of the importance of workplace safety. The “Injured Young Worker Speakers Program” brings workers who were severely injured on the job as teenagers to high schools around the state.
Creating safe workplaces for teens includes providing adequate training, following laws that prohibit teens from operating dangerous equipment and, in general, giving them extra supervision and lots of repetition, particularly when they’re new to the job. Other tips can be found at www.TeenWorkers.Lni.wa.gov.
Employers who hire teens must obtain a minor work endorsement on their master business license, as well as a parent authorization form for the job assignments and hours the teen will be working. Parents can find out if a business has a permit to hire minors by checking “How to hire a Teen.”
Here are some of the workplace rules covering teen workers:
- In general, 14- and 15-year-olds may perform lighter tasks such as office work, cashiering and stocking shelves, bagging and carrying groceries, janitorial and grounds maintenance (without operating power mowers or cutters), and food service that does not involve cooking or baking duties. They are not permitted to work on a construction site.
- Work assignments for 16- and 17-year-olds can be less restrictive. Their jobs may include such things as cooking, baking, landscaping, window washing (no more than 10 feet off the ground), maintenance and repair, and certain jobs in construction.
- Fourteen- and 15-year-olds can work up to 40 hours a week while school is not in session; 16- and 17-year-olds can work up to 48 hours a week.
- Generally, if safety equipment other than a hard hat, eye protection or gloves is required, then it’s not an appropriate job for minors.
- All minors are prohibited from working with powered equipment such as meat slicers and forklifts, explosives, pesticides and most chemicals.
- In agricultural jobs, additional restrictions apply to minors under age 16.
- Except for minors who work on their family’s farm, child labor rules apply to those working for their family’s business.
~Dept. of L&I
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While your patient’s health and well-being are naturally of great concern in any emergency situation, it is extremely important that rescuers limit their exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) that can be transmitted through the patient’s blood or body fluids. Although methods of transmission are specific in origin and not all body fluids pose a risk, it is best to always place a barrier between you and another person’s blood or body fluids.
Bloodborne pathogens are bacteria and viruses present in the blood or body fluids of an infected person that can cause disease to others. They include but are not limited to:
- Hepatitis B (HBV),
- Hepatitis C (HCV), and
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Feces, nasal secretions, saliva, sputum, sweat, tears, urine and vomit are not considered potentially infectious for bloodborne pathogens unless they are visibly bloody. Still, you should observe Universal Precautions around all body fluids as in trauma induced situations; one can never be sure about the presence of pathogens.
According to the concept of Universal Precautions, all human blood and certain human body fluids are treated as if they were known to be infectious for HIV, HBV, and other bloodborne pathogens. It is better to act “as if” and be safe, than to be sorry later. It is important to note that people with infectious diseases such as those who have Hepatitis or HIV often show no outward signs or symptoms.
It is not possible to get HIV, HBV or HCV from:
- Sneezing or coughing
- Kissing or hugging
- Sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
- Food or water
- Casual contact (such as an office setting)
- Mosquitoes or bedbugs
The talk about infectious diseases all sounds very ominous, but truth be told, the incidence of exposure during rescue scenarios is quite rare. Still, since exposure is possible it is always a good idea to place a barrier between you and another person’s body fluids. Basically, if it’s wet and it doesn’t belong to you, protect yourself from it!
The basics of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would include disposable latex or vinyl gloves, face shields, eye protection and a CPR barrier mask or microshield. After carefully removing PPE, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching any non-contaminated items (especially your face!). If hand washing facilities are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.
Any PPE that becomes soiled with infectious material must be removed as soon as possible and contaminated materials must be handled with caution. PPE that is dripping with blood or body fluids (grossly contaminated) should be placed in a container that is marked with a biohazard symbol or placed in a red bag. Clean equipment and surfaces with a fresh solution of diluted household bleach (1/4 cup in 1 gallon of cool water).
If an exposure incident occurs, it is vital to wash the affected area immediately and follow-up with a healthcare professional. Don’t underestimate the importance of protecting yourself from harm in any emergency situation! Visit www.osha.gov for Exposure Control Plans.
~Evergreen Safety Council
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For commercial motor vehicle drivers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), effective treatment lowers health care costs and disability rates, reports a study in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
Treating OSA in truck drivers has economic as well as health and safety benefits, according to the new study, led by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chief medical officer of Waste Management Inc.
The researchers used insurance claims records to evaluate the effects of OSA treatment in commercial motor vehicle drivers. Costs were compared for 156 drivers who received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other treatments for OSA and 92 drivers who were diagnosed with OSA but were not treated.
For treated drivers, health plan costs decreased by an average of $2,700 in the first year and another $3,100 in the second year, compared to no change for untreated drivers. The treated drivers also missed fewer work days (average 4.4 days in the first year) and had lower short-term disability costs ($528 over two years).
On average, treatment for OSA led to “over $6,000 in total health plan and disability cost savings per treated driver,” the researchers noted. Total costs decreased by 41 percent in drivers treated for OSA (compared to an eight percent decrease in untreated drivers).
Sleep apnea is an important preventable cause of motor vehicle accidents, and studies have found that treatment for OSA can lower the accident rate. Screening and treatment for OSA has recently been recommended for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
The new study suggests that, in addition to lowering accident rates, treating OSA in commercial motor vehicle drivers can reduce health costs, work absences, and short-term disability. Hoffman and colleagues noted, “Addressing OSA in the workplace offers the possibility of early identification and intervention for a chronic disease that is associated with increased health benefit utilization.”
~Occupational Health & Safety, May 14, 2010
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Every day, about 14 Americans fail to come home from work to their families. Tens of thousands die from workplace disease and more than 4.6 million workers are seriously injured on the job annually. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in an effort to address urgent safety and health problems facing Americans in the workplace, is implementing a new Severe Violator Enforcement Program and increasing civil penalty amounts.
“For many employers, investing in job safety happens only when they have adequate incentives to comply with OSHA’s requirements,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Dr. Michaels. “Higher penalties and more aggressive, targeted enforcement will provide a greater deterrent and further encourage these employers to furnish safe and healthy workplaces for their employees.”
The new Severe Violator Enforcement Program is intended to focus OSHA enforcement resources on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law. This supplemental enforcement tool includes increased OSHA inspections in these worksites, including mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections, and inspections of other worksites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present. SVEP will become effective within the next 45 days. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf.
“SVEP will help OSHA concentrate its efforts on those repeatedly recalcitrant employers who fail to meet their obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. It will include a more intense examination of an employer’s practices for systemic problems that would trigger additional mandatory inspections,” said Michaels.
Last year, OSHA assembled a work group to evaluate its penalty policies and found currently assessed penalties are too low to have an adequate deterrent effect. Based on the group’s findings and recommendations, several administrative changes to the penalty calculation system, outlined in the agency’s Field Operations Manual, are being made. These administrative enhancements will become effective in the next several months. The penalty changes will increase the overall dollar amount of all penalties while maintaining OSHA’s policy of reducing penalties for small employers and those acting in good faith.
The current maximum penalty for a serious violation, one capable of causing death or serious physical harm, is only $7,000 and the maximum penalty for a willful violation is $70,000. The average penalty for a serious violation will increase from about $1,000 to an average $3,000 to $4,000. Monetary penalties for violations of the OSH Act have been increased only once in 40 years despite inflation. The Protecting America’s Workers Act would raise these penalties, for the first time since 1990, to 12,000 and $250,000, respectively. Future penalty increases would also be tied to inflation. In the meantime, OSHA will focus on outreach in preparation of implementing this new penalty policy. For more information on the penalty policy, visit http://www.osha.gov.
“Although we are making significant adjustments in our penalty policy within the tight constraints of our law, this administrative effort is no substitute for the meaningful and substantial penalty changes included in PAWA,” said Dr. Michaels. “OSHA enforcement and penalties are not just a reaction to workplace tragedies. They serve an important preventive function. OSHA inspections and penalties must be large enough to discourage employers from cutting corners or underfunding safety programs to save a few dollars.”
For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.
~ Occupational Safety & Health Administration, www.osha.gov
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