President Trump finally nominates someone to head up OSHA; pilots court danger by taking shortcuts and fatigue factored into a multi-fatality wreck and California. These were among the top stories featured on this week.

Worker accidentally injected with flammable gas

On the heels of an incident in which a worker was injected with a flammable propellant gas, OSHA has reached agreements with three Massachusetts packaging companies to correct workplace hazards and enhance safety. OSHA found that Dudley- based Shield Packaging Co. Inc. – which packages aerosol containers – failed to implement required procedures to lock out the machine's power sources or train the employee on how to recognize and avoid the hazard.

Research workshop ignites effort to improve workplace safety

Additional scientific research and a broad sharing of existing data are needed by safety and health practitioners across the country to better protect workers in every industry, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). That’s why ASSE brought together dozens of industry leaders and safety experts recently for a research workshop aimed at creating a new wave of progress.

What safety advocates want to hear from OSHA nominee

The man likely to become the next head of OSHA will first have to face a Senate review process – and safety advocacy groups like National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) have some ideas about the topics that should be covered during those sessions. Scott Mugno, vice president for safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh, Pa.. has been nominated by President Trump to lead the agency.

AIHA wins awards for turning industrial hygienists into comic book heroes

Bringing attention to industrial hygienists - “the quiet heroes in every workplace” - through a website and videos rendered in comic book style has resulted in awards for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). website and the inaugural edition of its IH Heroes comic have both won Gold Awards in the category of Digital Media/Website Nonprofit and Print Media/Publications Book by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) MarCom Awards.

A Confined Space blog post

Hotel housekeepers: Tipping as hazard pay?

Jordan Barab

The New York Times has an article about failure of most hotel guests to give low-paid, hard-working housekeepers a much appreciated tip. Aside from the hard work they do, the Times also notes the hazards of the job. Angela Lemus, a housekeeper at the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill who makes $19.91 per hour, said through a translator that in addition to scrubbing tubs and taking out trash, she sometimes has to clean blood or other medical waste from rooms.


Worker caught in machinery, dies

A 51-year-old worker in Georgia died Monday night after getting caught in a piece of machinery, according to news sources. Shaw Industries employee Jesus Pimentel was caught between a moving part of a machine and a stationary steel I-beam, said Whitfield County Coroner Greg Bates.


NTSB to pilots: Don’t take shortcuts on takeoff

A common aviation practice intended to save time is putting planes and their passengers in jeopardy, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has issued a Safety Alert 071-17 about the hazard. Intersection takeoffs – where a pilot uses only a portion of the runway instead of the entire length for takeoff – is common, but the NTSB says pilots may not fully understand the potential risks associated with conducting intersection takeoffs.


A NIOSH Science Blog post

Blog series to highlight musculoskeletal health research at NIOSH

Before the end of World War II, there was little interest in fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population—a scientific practice known as ergonomics. By the 1970s, NIOSH researchers were pioneering the study of musculoskeletal health as professional ergonomists, examining physical and social components of work environments (such as conveyer belt height and lunch break routines, respectively) to mitigate musculoskeletal injury risks.


A surprising way to cut back on salt

Eating spicy foods can help people eat less salt and have lower blood pressure -- potentially reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke -- according to new research in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Hypertension. “Previously, a pilot study found that trace amounts of capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their pungent smell, enhanced the perception of food being salty,” said senior study author Zhiming Zhu, M.D., professor and director of the Department of Hypertension and Endocrinology at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China. “We wanted to test whether this effect would also reduce salt consumption.”


Exxon Mobile, government settle Clean Air Act violations

Exxon Mobil Corp. and the federal government have settled a case arising from the company being charged with violating the Clean Air Act due to air pollution violations at eight petrochemical plants in Texas and Louisiana. News sources say the company has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty related the violations and spend approximately $300 million to install new equipment to improve operation and monitoring of industrial flares at the facilities.


Worker dies in sewer pipe

A 22-year-old worker died last week in Streamwood, Illinois after becoming trapped in a manhole. Authorities say Brett Morrow was part of a construction crew working to clean out and install lining in a sanitary sewer system. He was about 30 feet into a two foot-wide pipe when he became trapped. According to news sources, firefighters crawled down through the pipe, but had trouble reaching Morrow because of a large quantity of hardened lining material that was blocking the pipe.


Fatigue, stopped traffic caused multi-fatality wreck

Sleep apnea, fatigue and a poor traffic management plan combined to cause a fatal 2016 collision between a motorcoach and tractor-trailer truck near Palm Springs, California, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The driver of the motorcoach and 12 motorcoach passengers were killed on October 23, 2016 when the speeding motorcoach crashed into a stopped truck on Interstate 10 in the early-morning darkness.


Mugno nominated as OSHA chief

Trump has nominated Scott Mugno, vice president of safety, sustainability, and vehicle maintenance at Fed-Ex Ground, to head OSHA. Mugno has worked for FedEx in a variety of safety-related roles since 1994, first as an attorney and then as managing director of safety, health and fire prevention for the Tennessee-based shipping giant in 2000.


AIHA offers info, resources to counter wildfire effects

With wildfires posing a current and – no doubt – future threat to California’s residents and its environment, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is urging California Governor Jerry Brown to turn to the experts – industrial hygienists – when it comes to protecting the health and safety of residents and recovery workers. “AIHA and its members are ready now, and we will remain ready to assist you in recovery efforts throughout the days to come,” wrote AIHA President Deborah Imel Nelson PhD, CIH and California Industrial Hygiene Council President Pamela Murcell, CIH in a letter to Brown.


Climate change health effects may be irreversible, says report

Climate change is already harming human health in ways that are “far worse than previously understood,” according to a new report in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal. "Climate change is happening, and it's a health issue today for millions worldwide,” said Anthony Costello, co-chair of The Lancet Countdown, the commission that produced the report.


APA urges Trump to put money behind opioid declaration

President Trump’s declaring the opioid epidemic a national health emergency is a critical first step, but it does not address the urgent need for more federal funds to fight this crisis, according to Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA). Evans said the declaration does not automatically direct federal funds to address the problem – funds which should go to the states, because they “are battling this epidemic on the front lines.”


A NIOSH Science Blog post

National Protect Your Hearing Month – Time to fill the “know-do” gap

A variety of NIOSH blogs spread the word about hearing loss prevention

When it comes to health, a large gap often exists between what we know (for example, we know that eating too much sugar is bad for our health) and what we still do. Hearing loss prevention is no exception. We have been aware of the harmful effects of overexposure to noise for over a century.


Drinking water still unsafe in Puerto Rico

Two months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, residents of the U.S. territory are still being told to boil water from rivers and streams before using it to drink, bathe, wash or cook with. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that if it’s not possible to boil water – for at least a minute - water may be disinfected with bleach. That warning is part of an EPA update on Hurricane Maria’s effects on Puerto Rico. 


Worker electrocuted, employer cited

OSHA has cited a Pittsburgh masonry contractor for exposing workers to serious dangers including fall and electrical hazards after an employee was fatally electrocuted in April. The 21-year-old laborer was doing restoration work at a Pittsburgh residence when he was electrocuted. A subsequent investigation of the man’s employer, Ski Masonry LLC, resulted in two willful and five serious citations for violations against the company. 


A Confined Space blog post

Just another day in the workplace

Jordan Barab

I get a lot of health and safety-related news alerts emailed to be every day. Some days are worse than others. Here is a sample from yesterday. (With a little commentary.) Someone asked me this morning how writing this blog doesn’t throw me into depression. To some extent it’s an outlet, keeping me from kicking the dogs and throwing things at TV. But then there are days like today when it all seems like too much.