Oregon OSHA Health and Safety


April 2016

Health and Safety Resource Newsletter

Cascade Occupational Safety and Health Conference featured keynote speaker Erike Young

photo of Erike Young
Erike Young

Although they share the same goal of reducing workplace hazards, risk managers and safety officials stay in their respective silos all too often, saddling their organizations with inefficiencies and costs.

The solution: Enterprise Risk Management, a process that bridges the divide by blending the best of what both professionals do to not only curb hazards but also slash an organization's costs and bolster its bottom line.

Those were the upshots of a keynote presentation delivered by Erike Young, a workplace health and safety expert, who spoke during the recent Cascade Occupational Safety and Health Conference in Eugene.

Enterprise Risk Management is no abstract idea. The nimblest organizations are adopting the concept, which is rooted in data and replete with successful examples, according to Young, a vice chairman for the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for ISO 31000 on risk management and global safety manager for Google.

"You've got to have facts to make it work," he said.

Part of what keeps risk managers and safety officials from working together is how they view each other, Young said. Risk managers, concerned with analyzing potential causes of accidents and minimizing their costs, see safety officials as part of their department. Safety officials, focused on identifying hazards and developing methods to control them, look at risk managers as mere purchasers of workers' compensation insurance.

To break down that wall, Young said, safety officials must take the initiative and build relationships with risk managers. That work includes learning to talk about losses in financial terms and showing risk managers how the Enterprise Risk Management model is more effective in reducing risk.

During his PowerPoint presentation, Young showed several examples of the model's successes. Some of those examples involved his previous work as the deputy director of enterprise risk management and director of environment, health, and safety for the University of California.

At the University California, Davis, for example, olive trees were shedding an oily hazard on campus bike paths, leading to accidents and tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs. One impulse would be to cut down the trees. But such a move would have missed the big picture, Young said, not to mention aggravated environmentalists.

Instead, the university took a smarter, more collaborative approach. It conducted a feasibility study that found it could reduce the safety hazard and cut legal costs by harvesting the trees and making a unique campus product: olive oil. That program remains active today.

Enterprise Risk Management is the tool to carry out such programs, Young said. The model breaks down barriers and requires people to get creative. Or, as he put it: "Think different."

Oregon OSHA adopts rule changes for fall protection

image of fall protection harness

Oregon OSHA has adopted rule changes that lower the construction industry's 10-foot general fall protection trigger height to six feet. The changes also ban the use of slide guards as a sole or primary fall protection system.

Approved on March 1, the changes affect only the requirements in Subdivision 3/M (Fall Protection) and Subdivision 3/E (Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment). The six-foot fall protection requirement will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Beginning Oct. 1, 2017, slide guards will no longer be allowed as a primary fall-protection system.

The changes stem from an October 2015 notice issued to Oregon OSHA by federal OSHA. That notice said the 10-foot fall protection requirement and the option to use slide guards as a primary fallprotection system were not as effective as federal OSHA's requirements.

In drafting changes to existing rules during the summer of 2015, Oregon OSHA took input from an advisory group of leaders in the commercial and residential construction sectors. Following those meetings, Oregon OSHA explained the changes to the public during five hearings held throughout the state in January.

To read documents related to the change in the fall protection trigger height, go to Oregon OSHA Administrative Order 1-2016. To read documents related to the prohibition of slide guards as a sole or primary fall protection system, go to Administrative Order 2-2016.

For more information about the changes, contact Tom Bozicevic, 503-947-7431, tom.bozicevic@oregon.gov, or Jeff Wilson, 503-947-7421, jeffrey.r.wilson@oregon.gov.

Take a Safety Break for Oregon!

Safety Break for Oregon logo

Oregon OSHA invites employers across the state to participate in the annual Safety Break for Oregon on Wednesday, May 11. Safety Break encourages employers to bolster workplace safety and health with training, award recognition gatherings, or other creative activities.

When employees and managers work together to identify safety and health concerns, it can result in fewer injuries and reduced workers' compensation costs for employers.

So far, more than 30 employers have signed up to participate in the event. Employers that participate will be entered to win one of three $100 pizza luncheons when they sign up online by Wednesday, May 4.

For more information, ideas on how to host an event, or to download graphics, visit the Safety Break for Oregon website.

Did you know?

In 1989, the Oregon legislature proposed legislation that would require Oregon employers to establish safety and health programs but the bill died in committee.

National Safety Stand-Down puts a spotlight on preventing falls in construction

construction worker carrying a ladder

Efforts to improve workplace safety will intensify next month as federal OSHA and other federal agencies launch the third annual National Safety Stand-Down. The May 2-6 event puts a spotlight on the dangers of falls in the construction industry.

Federal officials aim to prevent fall hazards in construction by raising awareness among employers and workers. The voluntary event provides an opportunity for employers to talk with employees about safety.

Employers may use the stand-down to conduct safety equipment inspections, develop rescue plans, or discuss specific hazards. They're encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace.

Out of 4,251 worker deaths in private industry in 2014, 872, or 20.5 percent, were in construction, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls.

To join the National Safety Stand-Down, visit federal OSHA's website.

The mysterious case of carbon monoxide and mud

graphic of a detective

It started out as a typical request for Oregon OSHA industrial hygiene consultant Ryan Hibler. The owner of a small metal fabrication shop was concerned about carbon monoxide in the shop and wanted someone to check the carbon monoxide levels from the shop's forklifts.

As soon as Hibler got to the shop and took his carbon monoxide meter out of the bag, he noticed that it was showing levels that were not dangerous, but much higher than he expected. And the shop's forklifts had not yet been running that day.

He took the meter outside to see if it was giving a false reading, but the level immediately dropped. When he returned to the shop, the level shot back up.

There was an old pellet stove keeping the office warm. Was that the source of the carbon monoxide? No. The level didn't change when he put the meter right next to the stove.

When he walked into the shop's main work area, the carbon monoxide level climbed even higher. Now, it was just above the OSHA eight-hour permissible exposure limit, which meant that employees working an eight-hour shift could be overexposed.

There were two gas-powered heaters overhead. Were they the source? No.

Hibler noticed tiny bubbles coming from a water jet cutter bath. When he put a meter above the bath, the carbon monoxide levels shot up. When he stirred the mud (mostly the mineral garnet, commonly used in water jet cutters) that settled at the bottom of the bath, the carbon monoxide released from the bubbles just above the water's surface rocketed to levels that were high enough to harm a person in a matter of minutes.

The carbon monoxide was coming from the shop's water jet cutter bath. Hibler recommended that the shop routinely run its ventilation system, which would prevent the gas from reaching unsafe levels, but he needed to know what was creating it.

He took bulk samples of mud and water, and then went back to the lab to do a few experiments. Maybe there was a chemical reaction in the tank coming from lubricating oils in the water pump and the air compressor. Maybe the carbon monoxide was produced by the water pump, then dissolved in the tank water and trapped in the mud. Or, maybe something else was happening.

Hibler thoroughly dried the bulk sample of mud and then tested it for carbon monoxide. The results were negative; that made sense because any gas dissolved or trapped in the mud would have escaped as it was drying. Then he wetted the mud with tap water and waited for 15 minutes. Bingo – carbon monoxide.

So, there was chemical reaction taking place. The gas was being produced in the mud. Was there a living organism involved in the reaction? Hibler added isopropyl alcohol and concentrated bleach to the sample – enough to kill off anything alive – and the carbon monoxide dropped to negligible levels. The reaction appeared to be biological.

To control any possible future carbon monoxide emissions, Hibler recommended that the shop use chlorine tablets and 5 percent to 10 percent bromine in the water jet cutting bath, clean the water jet tank monthly, and regularly run the building's ventilation system to circulate the air. And, as a justin- case safety measure, he recommended installing carbon monoxide detectors in the shop and training employees how to respond to an alarm.

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