Regulatory Roundup, February 12, 2016

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

Texas Mutual News

Functional fitness: Exercise you can live with
ExercisingWant to prepare your body for the rigors of your job? Leave the 1,000-pound tire rolls and 60-inch box jumps to NFL superstar JJ Watt. We industrial athletes can lean on functional fitness to get through the day injury-free…MORE

7 things you should know about the Zika virus
Here are seven things you need to know about the mosquito-borne virus the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency…MORE

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC issues updated guidance on Zika virus
A Dallas County resident recently became the first reported case of a U.S. citizen contracting Zika on domestic soil. The incident prompted the CDC to issue updated guidance, including new recommendations for pregnant women…MORE

Employer accommodations help employees with arthritis stay on the job
rtwArthritis is the most common disability in the U.S., and 30 percent of victims say their condition limits them at work. Employers can help by offering extended health benefits, special equipment, flexible hours, short-term leave, work-from-home policies, modified schedules and wellness tools…MORE

Safety Agency Funding

Proposal bumps budgets of three safety agencies
Under the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget, the Chemical Safety Board will get $12.4 million, up from $1.4 million the previous year. OSHA’s $595 million budget represents a $42 million bump. Finally, the Mine Safety and Health Administration budget will increase $20 million to $397.4 million…MORE

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA’s anti-coercion rule now in effect
The rule gives the FMCSA the authority to take enforcement action against motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries that compel commercial truck and bus drivers to violate hours of service limits and other federal safety regulations…MORE

Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)

CPWR to host free webinar on preventing construction industry falls
safety pays falls costs logoIn 2015, 2.5 million construction workers learned about the importance of preventing falls during the annual Stand Down for Safety campaign. The CPWR, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health hope to double that number during this year’s campaign. The agencies will host a free webinar to build momentum around the event. The one-hour webinar will take place Feb. 16, 2016, at 2 p.m. EST. Falls are the leading cause of accidents in the construction industry, accounting for 30 percent of injuries and deaths…MORE

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

U.S. traffic deaths up 9 percent
IncreaseDuring the first nine months of last year, 26,000 people died in traffic accidents, a 9 percent increase compared with the same period in 2014. Human factors contribute to 94 percent of crashes, according to NHTSA research…MORE

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH, OSHA release safety alert on tank gauging operations
Oxygen-deficient atmospheres, inhalation exposures to concentrated petroleum hydrocarbon gases and vapors, and fires and explosions are just a few of the hazards workers are exposed to when they open thief hatches and manually gauge and sample fluids from production and flow back tanks. In fact, NIOSH identified nine fatalities over five years that were associated with working closely to open hatches of crude oil. This safety alert recommends measures employers should take to protect workers…MORE

Fatigue, high-risk motor carrier led to fatal multivehicle collision
Semi TruckThe driver of a truck-tractor involved in a fatal crash had slept less than four-and-a-half of the 37 hours preceding the crash. Furthermore, the National Transportation Safety Board had labeled his employer a high-risk carrier based on its consistently poor safety record…MORE

NIOSH ladder safety app now includes step ladders
The app provides guides and interactive tools that help users select and safely use extension ladders and step ladders…MORE

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA creates Web page on restroom sanitation obligations
The new page includes information on the minimum number of separate toilet facilities an employer must provide members of both sexes. Restrooms must have hot and cold water, hand soap and a means to dry hands…MORE

New whistleblower guidance could equal higher legal costs for employers
New guidance from OSHA could result in more whistleblower allegations from employees and higher legal defense costs for employers…MORE

OSHA to delay enforcement on part of electrical safety rule
OSHAenforcement_300pxOSHA will not enforce its revised minimum approach distances for voltages of 5.1 kilovolts or greater until at least Jan. 31, 2017, provided employers fulfill two obligations…MORE

OSHA extends temporary enforcement policy for confined spaces in construction
Up to and including March 8, 2016, OSHA will not issue citations under the confined spaces in construction standard to an employer engaged in residential construction work if the employer is making good faith efforts to comply with the standard. To qualify for the exemption, the employer must comply with the new standard’s training requirements or the previous standard’s training requirements…MORE

Studies, Resources, Trends, News

First responders: Beware of stranded energy in alternative vehicles
Hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles reduce pollution and conserve fossil fuels. They also present unique safety risks for first responders in the form of stranded energy. Stranded energy happens when an alternative fuel vehicle crashes or catches on fire, leaving energy in the battery pack. Stranded energy can spark two primary hazards: high-voltage risks and thermal runaway events…MORE

Beyond exercise: Keeping healthy at your desk job
ExercisingAdults are sedentary 64 percent of their waking hours. All that chair time contributes to obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Desk-bound workers can incorporate physical activity into the daily grind by standing up while on the phone, using a standing desk and speaking to a colleague in person rather than on the phone or computer…MORE

U.S. safety rules key to driverless car future: Google
Google says it designed its driverless vehicles to meet or exceed U.S. safety standards. Still, federal regulators’ interpretation of those standards will affect Google’s timeline for making fully autonomous vehicles a reality on U.S. roads…MORE

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