Wyoming OSHA Expanding To Reduce Oil and Gas Worker Deaths in 2012

January 30, 2012 at 9:03 am • Posted in OSHA Safety Topics, Safety Topics for WorkNo comments yet

According to the Wyoming Star-Tribune, Governor Matt Mead is expanding the role of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Wyoming as part of a followup to a memorandum sent by now-former Wyoming Occupational Epidemiologist Timothy Ryan. The expansion will add three new positions, and request approval for hiring five more. Seven of the proposed eight new positions will be used for consultant inspectors that will conduct “courtesy inspections” at the request of a company to visit a workplace and flag safety violations. The company will not be fined for violations found during this visit, and can thus use the visit to improve safety rule compliance and potentially avoid OSHA fines. The eighth position will be filled by a compliance inspector who will be tasked with inspecting work sites and levying fines.

There are currently over 23,000 employers in the state of Wyoming, including many companies in the mining, oil, and gas industries, and currently only six state inspectors responsible for consultations and OSHA inspections; according to Ryan’s memo, less than 2 percent of Wyoming workplaces are inspected each year by OSHA, and the state’s worker death rate was 3.5 times higher than the national average in 2010. We expect that the opportunity for self-improvement on the part of the oil and gas industry should have a major impact on reducing worker death rates in 2012, particularly in the area of fall protection where accidents in the oil and gas industry could easily prove fatal.

Electrical Safety Tips for The National Electric Code

The National Electric Code, known as NFPA 70, is a large volume and many don’t appreciate the proper way to approach the regulation. As with any electrical safety topic, it’s the strategic approach that matters most. An interesting article about this was published over at safety.blr.com entitled, “3 Steps to NFPA-70E Compliance,” and it’s highly recommended along with the other topic areas there. Basically, the article breaks the approach down into three important considerations, which are summarized here, but it’s recommended you read the entirety of the original article.

Review – Review your electrical safety program and the hazards present for the category of hazard present. This determines the precautions that must be taken and the type of electrical safety equipment you will need to provide electrical safety protection.

Purchase PPE – Purchase the correct level of personal protective equipment and make it available to workers in hazardous situations.

Train – Educate employees about the proper way to in the basics of electricity safety and how to use and fit equipment such as FR clothing, arc gloves, safety glasses and face protection gear.  Read the rest of this entry »

Flame Resistant Coat May Have Saved LA Researcher

When felony charges were filed against the University of California and Professor Patrick Harran in the death of 23-year-old researcher Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji last month from a chemical fire that took place in 2008, the three-year old case also reignited a controversy about the fact that Sangji wasn’t wearing a fire resistant lab coat. Some say that fact is overemphasized, but we at American Work Safety disagree.

It’s not only a blatant disregard for worker safety to not follow proper safety procedures for chemical handling, it was equally clear that the young woman was unfamiliar with procedure regarding a chemical fire. The 23-year-old ran about the lab frantically which only fed the flames that eventually burned nearly half her body, according to the LA Times. The injuries claimed her life 18 days later.

While there were other factors involved in the incident, clearly an inexpensive fire resistant coat would have slowed the flames and perhaps saved the young woman from a painful death. Moreover, proper training in the use of personal protective equipment and proper emergency procedure would have further protected a bright prospect. The cost? A couple hundred dollars maybe, but what is the loss to our society and the economic strength of our economy when someone of this caliber dies an unnecessary death? Far more. Read the rest of this entry »

New Airborne Pathogen Risk for Workers?

January 17, 2012 at 12:01 am • Posted in NIOSH News, NIOSH Safety Topics, Respiratory ProtectionNo comments yet

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has uncovered a new workplace safety topic that has important implications for everyone from road workers to gravel pit workers. Erionite, a silicate mineral classified as a zeolite, was once believed to be a minimal work hazard in America. But when the material becomes airborne it can be a cause of mesothelioma that is normally attributed to asbestos exposure. Evidence is mounting that exposure to erionite has been documented in states such as Nevada, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas.

Respiratory protection programs have mandated breathing masks whenever asbestos and other materdials are present. Recent studies have proven that airborne erionite exposure is present whenever soil containing the material is present and causes pulmonary disease. Breathing masks such as our popular 3M respirators have been a staple at our store ever since, but the origin of the threat is better known than erionite.

Any occupation that involves the disruption of the ground in western states may put their workers at risk. However the level of respiratory protection is unknown at this time and may involve more study to determine whether a simple breathing mask or a full face respirator mask is sufficient worker protection. The findings of NIOSH may eventually affect industries ranging from home construction to oil exploration workers.

Risk managers will in western states will want to follow NIOSH recommendations for reducing risk of erionite exposure.


Chemical Safety and Boots

January 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm • Posted in Chemical Plant Safety, NIOSH Safety Topics, Safety at the Workplace1 Comment

The Chemical Safety Blog has and interesting article about chemical safety and work boots. As a safety shoe distributor of some of the best safety work boots found anywhere, we recommend their buying guide and will soon expand upon it.

Among the most important features the article recommends you to consider:


  1. Right Fit – Any piece of personal protection equipment must be fitted properly to properly guard against industrial hazards, and it’s particularly important for chemical plant safety.
  2. Proper Construction – The materials of the boot must be appropriate for the chemical exposure. Although leather boots are appropriate for most chemical plant hazard exposures, they aren’t good for chemical splash protection which requires rubber.
  3. Reputable Manufacture – It doesn’t pay to buy knock off boots when your safety on the job is at stake. That’s why we carry only the best work boots at our store such as Dickie boots.

Most people think of chemical suits when considering PPE equipment for a chemical plant, but if you’re looking for safety topics to discuss with your staff, start with the boots. It’s often the overlooked items that can present the biggest dangers, and that applies as much for chemical plants as it does for chemistry lab safety. Read the original safety shoe article here.

Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2011

January 4, 2012 at 12:30 am • Posted in OSHA Safety Topics, Safety Topics for Work1 Comment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration published their Top 10 list for safety citations during fiscal year 2011 (October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011). The agency says they publish this list to encourage employers to take action prior to an OSHA inspection. It’s interesting to note that many of the same violations appear in the top 10 nearly every year.

The top 10 list for 2011 includes:

  1. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  2. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  3. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page] Read the rest of this entry »

Employers Pay Heavy Price for Workplace Injuries

Liberty Mutual Insurance company report showed that the most disabling injuries (those involving six or more days away from work) cost American employers more than $53 billion a year – over $1 billion a week – in workers’ compensation costs alone.

That statistic was quoted by Assistant Secretary of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Dr. David Michaels in testimony before Congress on April 14, 2011. He cited the data in support of his administration’s 40 year history of protecting workers from injury on the job. Read the rest of this entry »