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ISHN Weekly News Round-Up

January 26, 2013
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Weekly News Round-UpFrom occupational links to adult asthma to SDS template for retailers to cutbacks at OSHA, here are the week’s top EHS-related stories from ISHN.com:

Report: Only 6.6% of private sector workers are union members

In 2012, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union--was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on January 23. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year.

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Workers, labor unhappy over continuing Flex-N-Gate safety violations

Unhappy with what they call a “piecemeal approach” to safety problems at an Illinois auto parts maker, labor officials are calling for a “wall-to-wall” inspection of the plant.

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Study finds many cases of adult asthma are occupational

In a new study by British researchers, one in six cases of adult-onset asthma was linked to the workplace. Additionally, the illness was strongly associated with 18 different occupations --particularly those that exposed workers to chemicals -- such as cleaning jobs, farming, hairdressing and printing.

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OSHA plans to reduce its ten regional offices to seven

By Dave Johnson

If OSHA’s fiscal year 2013 budget ever gets formal approval by Congress, part of the budget plan calls for cost-savings by consolidating three of the agency’s ten regional offices. States the FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification for OSHA: “In an effort to streamline agency operations, OSHA is reorganizing its regional structure and jurisdictional authority from its current operation of 10 Regional Offices (ROs) to seven.

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Laundry products get new sustainability standard

Green Seal™, a non-profit environmental certification organization, has published a new standard designed specifically to address the life cycle impacts of laundry care products for institutional and industrial settings.

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Association produces SDS template for retailers

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has rolled out an initiative designed to streamline the safety data sheet (SDS) process required by law under which chemical information is provided by suppliers to retailers.

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Why can’t you lose weight? Emotions!

When it comes to losing weight, many people focus on eating less and exercising more. But results of a new survey of psychologists suggest dieters should pay attention to the role emotions play in weight gain and loss if they hope to succeed. For the survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, more than 1,300 licensed psychologists were asked which strategies were essential to helping their clients lose weight and keep it off.

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OSHA salaries: Who makes what

By Dave Johnson

According to the fiscal year 2013 Congressional Budget Justification document for OSHA, here are salary averages for agency personnel: Executive schedule (top officials in the executive branch) - OSHA average ES salary in FY2012 = $170,036. GM/GS grade employees - OSHA average GM/GS salary in FY 2012 = $84,959.

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Whistleblowers may soon get to file e-complaints

OSHA is considering allowing whistleblowers to submit their complaints online. That new method is part of a proposal by the agency to provide additional methods for employees to submit retaliation complaints to the agency, including electronic submission.

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New tanning industry campaign to dismiss skin cancer threat draws fire from doctors’ group

By Bridget Huber

A new campaign by the tanning industry to promote the safety of sunbed use has come under fierce attack from the American Academy of Dermatology, which is accusing the industry of making claims that are “ridiculous” and unsupported by scientific evidence.

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President Obama: “We will respond to the threat of climate change”

By Dave Johnson

Climate change was the subject of a surprising amount of President Barack Obama’s remarks in his 20- minute Inaugural Address given at 11:55 am EST, January 21, 2013, on the steps of the United States Capitol. According to press reports, the President devoted more words to climate change than any other single issue in his address.

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One fed agency to another: OSHA cites vet medical center for unsafe working conditions

No monetary penalties, though

OSHA has issued seven notices of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions found at the Battle Creek Veterans Administration Medical Center, following a safety inspection conducted in July as part of the agency’s Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program.

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OSHA proposes to cut compliance assistance by $3+ million; eliminate 31 staff positions

By Dave Johnson

According to the fiscal year 2013 Congressional Budget Justification document for OSHA, the agency proposes a total of $73,131,000 and 264 full-time employee equivalents (FTE) for federal compliance assistance, a decrease of $3,224,415 and 31 FTE below the FY 2012 enacted level. OSHA historically ramps up compliance assistance under Republican White House administrations, and de-emphasizes compliance assistance when Democrats control the White House.

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MSHA to publish pattern of violations final rule

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis last week announced a final rule to strengthen safety in the nation's most dangerous mines. The rule, which revises the Mine Safety and Health Administration's pattern of violations regulation in 30 Code of Federal Regulations Part 104, has been submitted to the Federal Register for publication.

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New certification for safety pros debuts

After more than a year of development, safety professionals can now apply for the Certified Safety Management Practitioner (CSMP) from the Institute for Safety and Health Management (ISHM). The cert will be grandfathered during 2013, meaning qualified applicants can achieve the CSMP without taking an exam.

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OSHA opens up communication with fatality victims’ families

By Dave Johnson

According to the fiscal year 2013 Congressional Budget Justification for OSHA, the agency will be more transparent in divulging information to the next-of-kin of workplace fatality victims. OSHA has long been criticized by activists such as Alabama’s Ron Hayes, whose son was killed in a grain silo, of frustrating victims’ families by leaving them out of the information loop.

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Compare your metrics to OSHA’s leading & lagging indicators

By Dave Johnson

Everyone these days is talking about performance indicators for workplace safety. It’s widely understood that if you only measure injuries and follow OSHA injury/illness recordkeeping requirements you have a large blindspot in truly assessing how you safety processes are working, or not working. OSHA has its own set of measures.

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First certifications issued to new NFPA criteria for fire service Thermal Imagers

The Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) has announced that the first certifications have been issued to the new NFPA criteria for fire service Thermal Imagers, NFPA 1801, Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service, 2013 Edition. The revised NFPA 1801 standard was issued by the NFPA Standards Council on May 29, 2012, with an effective date of June18, 2012.

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States get report cards on highway safety

Crash fatalities up in 2012

Progress in traffic safety is “at risk of being undone,” according to a safety group that has put together a 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, a report card grading all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their performance on 15 basic traffic safety laws.

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Stakeholders discuss preventing vehicle backup injuries

OSHA held its first of several informal stakeholder meetings Jan. 8 to provide employers, workers, safety professionals and equipment manufacturers with an opportunity to inform OSHA about how workers are injured and killed by vehicle backovers and what can be done to prevent these incidents.

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