Good Hump Day to you,
As the world of safety turns…
MINE RESUCE MARATHON Rescue efforts continue to save 33 miners, trapped 56 days (as of 9/29) 700 meters under Chile’s Atacama desert, with a surge in the drilling of escape tunnels raising hopes that the men's rescue may come sooner than scheduled.
According to press reports, officials said one of the rescue drills made twice the progress Tuesday than had been expected.
Officials promised the families that preparations for the rescue effort on the surface would be ready by Oct. 12, and said they are planning for the possibility the miners could be pulled up nearly a month ahead of the official schedule.
But the officials also urged caution, warning that unforeseen problems could slow the work.
A capsule to rescue 33 miners trapped underground for two months arrived earlier this week..
The miners will be lifted to safety in the mansized cage one at a time. The shaft is already halfway to the men, trapped half a mile underground since a collapse in August.
They are being kept alive on food and water sent down tiny shafts and officials hope to reach them by early next month.
The pod holds three air tanks - enough for about 90 minutes, with the journey to the surface expected to take 15 to 20 minutes.
A microphone will keep each miner in touch with rescuers and, if the cage jams in the rescue hole, the bottom will open for him to be winched back down.
REPORT: OSHA LETS DOWN WHISTLE BLOWERS
A new Government Accountability Office report slams OSHA for inattention to its large and growing whistleblower protection program. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and other whistleblower support organizations have called upon Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to elevate the whistleblower program into its own office.
The Department of Labor has responsibility for administering the whistleblower provisions of 19 laws covering approximately 200 million U.S. workers. These functions are housed inside OSHA. Last week, GAO issued a report entitled “Whistleblower Protection: Sustained Management Attention Needed to Address Long-standing Program Weaknesses,” which took OSHA to task for more than 20 years of malpractice and neglect. The report faulted OSHA for basic but ingrained failures, including:
Allowing whistleblower funds to be diverted to other uses. OSHA does not have a separate accounting code to track whistleblower program expenditures;
Lacking any action plan or performance measures for the whistleblower program. OSHA does not mention whistleblower protection in its mission statement or strategic plan; and
Abdicating responsible management, as one finding concludes “OSHA has done little to ensure that investigators have the necessary training and equipment to do their jobs, and that it lacks sufficient internal controls to ensure that the whistleblower program operates as intended.”
On July 14, 2010, PEER and two other national whistleblower groups called upon Secretary Solis to move the program out of OSHA into a new “national Whistleblower Protection Office [with] its own budget, programmatic identity, strategic plan, staff, and leadership.”
In a statement responding to the GAO report, OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels said he has undertaken a “top-to-bottom review” of the program but, PEER charges, this evaluation answers to the same dysfunctional leadership, will not consider cost codes or other budgeting reforms and is shrouded in secrecy. For example, OSHA recently conducted a survey of all its whistleblower investigators but has not released the results and is trying to block a PEER Freedom of Information Act request on the grounds that the survey results are “confidential intra-agency…opinions.”
DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE
"It is imperative that employers eliminate financial and other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving," said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in announcing an OSHA program to discourage texting while driving on the job.. "It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality."
Prohibiting texting while driving is the subject of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama last year for federal employees and the subject of rulemaking by the Department of Transportation.
OSHA is launching a multi-pronged initiative that includes:
An education campaign for employers, to be launched during "Drive Safely Work Week" in early October, will call on employers to prevent occupationally related distracted driving, with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving.
An open letter to employers to be posted on OSHA's website, http://www.osha.gov during "Drive Safely Work Week." The website also will showcase model employer policies and encourage employer and labor associations to communicate OSHA's message.
Alliances with the National Safety Council and other key organizations as outreach to employers, especially small employers, aimed at combating distracted driving and prohibit texting while driving.
Special emphasis on reaching younger workers by coordinating with other Labor Department agencies as well as alliance partners and stakeholders.
Investigate and issue citations and penalties where necessary to end the practice when OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE
Distracted driving also calls for these behaviors:
Don’t eat and drive…
Talk to passengers…
Read maps while driving…
Use you cell phone…
Keep checking for ball scores…
Groom yourself – stop looking in the rear mirror…
Fiddle around with the radio dial…
Fiddle with your PDA or navigation system…
Use your cell to snap roadside photos
As Dr. Scott Geller and other behaviorists would tell you, this calls for new “habit strengths.”
VALUE OF AN INDUSTRIAL HYGIENIST
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) will unveil its Value Strategy Manual at the Professional Conference on Industrial Hygiene (PCIH), October 9–12, 2010, in Fort Worth, TX.
The Academy of Industrial Hygiene sponsored the project team and worked to transform the 2008 Value of the Profession Study into a resource for practitioners. That resource, the AIHA Value Strategy Manual, outlines the processes and procedures needed to evaluate environmental health and safety (EHS) programs and initiatives to determine their impact on worker health and an organization’s business. Additionally, there are sample checklists, spreadsheets, and other tools to aid in practitioners in conducting their own value assessment.
“The value proposition represents the sum total of benefits for the organization and answers the decision makers’ question: ‘What is in it for me?’ This has been one of the more difficult questions for industrial hygienists and EHS professionals to answer using language familiar to, and arguments pertinent to, executive level decision makers,” said Bernard D. Silverstein, CIH, chief editor of the manual.
In its 14 chapters, the manual takes you through the seven steps of the AIHA Value Strategy and provide you with approaches, examples, and tools. From the familiar, such as risk assessment and hazard identification, to the (perhaps) foreign, such as financial and nonfinancial benefits quantification, the manual lays out the process needed to develop and present the business case to stakeholders and decision makers.
BAD TIMES FOR GOOD JOBS
OK, so the National Bureau of Economic Research officially announces that the recession ended in June 2009. Gallup finds 88 percent of Americans believe now is a bad time to find a quality job.
Gallup's behavioral economic data tend to support the perception that the recession continues. Americans' views about the availability of quality jobs are worse now than they were at this time in 2008. The unemployment rate and underemployment, as measured by Gallup, are also increasing more than a year after the official end of the recession.
HEALTHCARE PROS UNDER FIRE (LITERALLY)
The public was stunned to learn of the shooting of a physician by a patient's family member at Johns Hopkins Hospital earlier this month, but what many people don't know is that violence in hospitals has become an everyday occurrence, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Health care workers are four times as likely as the average American worker to face assault on the job, according to a federal labor report. For those working in psychiatric units and emergency departments, the risk is considerably higher. Fortunately, most of the assaults â€” unlike the Hopkins incident â€” do not involve handguns and near-fatal injuries, but many of them are life-altering, careering-ending injuries, according to the article.
UNFORTUNATE TEACHABLE MOMENT
Segway Inc. may face challenges trying to broaden the appeal of its transporter after the company’s owner died driving the vehicle off a cliff this past Sunday, reports Bloomberg News.
Jimi Heselden, the British millionaire who owned the company, accidentally drove a Segway off a cliff and into a river, according to police in West Yorkshire, England, where he had his estate. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the two-wheeled vehicle was recovered from the water.
While the accident may have had nothing to do with the Segway’s design, the company could use it to highlight safety precautions, Glenn Bunting, managing director of public- relations firm Sitrick and Co., told Bloosmberg.
“They have to use it as teachable moment for their customers,” said Bunting, whose firm specializes in crisis management. “What we would recommend is: Thoroughly investigate how this tragedy occurred, and from it, not only do you learn, but use it for an opportunity to enhance safety measures.”
Heselden crashed into the River Wharfe in West Yorkshire while riding around his estate on Sept. 26, said Neil Wardley, a police spokesman.
The 62-year-old, who made his fortune from the Leeds, England-based Hesco Bastion Ltd., bought the Segway business this year. He had an estimated personal fortune of 166 million pounds ($263.2 million), according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.