Regulatory Roundup, February 5, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly compilation of employee health and safety news.

Texas Mutual News

Texas Mutual, VFIS grant fuels worker wellness at Ben Bolt fire department
Ben Bolt
Imagine spending your days climbing stairs, hauling heavy equipment and racing the clock to put out life-threatening fires, all while lugging 80 pounds of gear. That is a daily reality for firefighters across Texas, and they need to be physically prepared for the job. A grant from Texas Mutual and our partners at VFIS is helping members of the Ben Bolt volunteer fire department get the tools they need to be healthy – and safe – at work…MORE

Industrial athletes take heart
We 9-to-5ers have something in common with the guys who will suit up on Super Bowl Sunday. Whether we make our living sacking groceries or quarterbacks, our bodies are our instruments, and we need to prepare them for the rigors of our jobs…MORE

Work Safe, Texas is open for business
February offerings on our Work Safe, Texas website include a streaming video on the OSHA 300 log and practical tips for making good on your New Year’s resolution to safety…MORE 

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)

DSHS reports first locally acquired Zika case
This week, a Dallas County resident became the first reported U.S. citizen to acquire the Zika virus on domestic soil. DSHS has reported seven other Texas cases of Zika virus. All acquired the virus while travelling to parts of the world hit hardest by Zika…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Does Zika constitute a workplace emergency?
The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global health emergency. Zika could also constitute a workplace emergency, especially for health care providers and first responders, as well as outdoor workers, who could be exposed to mosquito bites…MORE

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

New rule requires real-time monitoring of coal dust exposure
A new MSHA rule requires employers to provide coal miners with continuous personal dust monitors to measure dust levels in real time. Coal miners will know how much dust they are breathing during their shift so they can take immediate corrective action…MORE 

Chemical Safety Board (CSB)

CSB calls for stricter ammonium nitrate standards
A CSB report points to inadequate emergency response coordination and training, as well as careless storage of potentially explosive materials, as contributing factors in the 2013 blast at a Texas fertilizer plant. In its report, the CSB calls on federal regulators to set higher standards for safe handling and storage of fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate…MORE

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

SHRM: Proposed rule discourages participation in wellness programs
A proposed EEOC rule would discourage wellness program participation by imposing caps on incentives for spouses, according to the Society for Human Resources Management. The rule would require employers to count in-kind incentives, such as gift cards, gym bags and time off, toward incentive caps…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH puts an ear to the ground in effort to gauge prevalence of hearing-related conditions
earplugs
Noise exposure contributes to hearing loss and tinnitus, or “ringing in the ears.” A NIOSH study found that 23 percent of people who have been exposed to excessive noise on the job suffer from hearing loss. Approximately 15 percent contend with tinnitus, and 9 percent suffer from both conditions…MORE

NIOSH study would evaluate effectiveness of insurer-sponsored wellness programs
In 2012, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OHBWC) rolled out a grant program to help employers offer workplace wellness resources to their employees. NIOSH wants to partner with the OHBWC to evaluate the impact its program has had on occupational safety and health. Emerging evidence suggests integrating wellness and safety may have a synergistic effect on worker safety and health…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

‘Rogue supervisor’ ruling won’t shield most employers from OSHA violations
Law Book
Employers should not rely on a narrowly carved exception involving rogue supervisors to the general rule that they are liable for workplace safety violations when their supervisors know about the hazards, according to a recent court decision…MORE

OSHA alerts businesses to email scam
If you receive an email with the subject line, “OSHA Regulations — Avoid being fined,” delete it immediately, and do not click on the links. While the sender may appear to be OSHA, — mailer@osha.gov — it’s not an OSHA-generated email…MORE

Environmental health & safety – What to watch in 2016
OSHA is looking to put more bite into its compliance bark in 2016. Employers can expect an 80 percent hike in fines, as well as more criminal prosecutions for worker safety violations…MORE

GOP: DOL response to questions on joint employer guidance inadequate
Last October, OSHA issued a guidance document designed to help its inspectors uncover joint employer relationships between franchisers and franchisees, and to ultimately hold both parties liable for safety violations. OSHA failed to convince a House committee that it did not collaborate with the National Labor Relations Board on the guidance document…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

Wellness no longer strictly an HR initiative
healthy living
Employers increasingly recognize the business value of wellness programs, according to a study by a wellness vendor. In fact, more than half of the human resources professionals surveyed say they are looking to improve employee engagement (60 percent), productivity (53 percent) and organizational culture (52.8 percent) through wellness…MORE

Inventors claim new tool eliminates slips resulting from tank gauging
Two oil industry veterans have invented a tool to help protect workers from slippery surfaces caused by tank gauging operations. The Catch-It, as its name implies, catches oil that would otherwise fall on the ground and on work surfaces such as walkways, stairs and railings…MORE

Bulletin warns firefighters about face piece ‘crazing’
SCBA
Thermal stress caused by intense heat during fires could cause the face piece lenses on a firefighter’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to worsen rapidly and fail. Users should inspect the face piece lens for crazing, which is a series of fine cracks, as well as look for other damage during SCBA inspections. Any lens that is damaged must be removed from service immediately and never reused…MORE

 

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