THE ARSC ADVISOR

Governmental Affairs Update for the Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils

By R. Ronald Sokol, CSP
President and CEO of Safety Council of Texas City

Now on to the governmental affairs update. The first thing I’d like to comment on is the monumental change of how things now get done in Washington. It’s called governing by Executive Order (EO). To illustrate my point, let’s look at the governing strategies of the past four President’s as it relates to the use of EO’s during their first 100 days in office. President Bush issued 13 EO’s during his first 100 days. President Obama issued 34 EO’s during his first 100 days and President Trump issued 39 EO’s. President Biden has issued 60 EO’s during his first 100 days and one of the first EO’s was to instruct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop recommendations to modernize regulatory review aimed at reversal of the Trump EO that required two regulations to be eliminated from any governmental regulatory agency before one new regulation could be proposed. I believe the next four years will witness a greater increase in governmental oversight. Speaking specifically in the areas of safety and health, I anticipate a greater emphasis on the enforcement of worker safety and health regulations. Democrats introduced a labor rights bill called the PRO ACT that would allow the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to levy fines against employers who violate workers’ rights, give employees more power to participate in strikes, weaken so-called right to work laws, and offer certain independent contractors the protections held by employees.

Read more ...

New look on OSHA Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccination Side Effects and OSHA’s 29 CFR 1904’s Recording Requirements

By James Hinton
Director, EHS&Q

In the early stages of the vaccination process many employers were not wanting to mandate or participate in vaccinations of employees after hearing of people getting sick or ill after receiving a vaccination. OSHA’s initial response to employees having negative reactions, getting sick or missing work was very detrimental to most employer’s decision not to participate as the initial OSHA response was that anyone who had side effects from a vaccination mandated at work or given at the workplace would require reporting under 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements. This along with General Council advice to not participate or mandate vaccinations did have some effect on workplace vaccination mandates and participation from some larger employers nationwide. 

Read more ...

Remote Safety Inspections the New Alternative to Conducting In-person Safety Inspections During the Pandemic and Beyond?

By James Hinton
Director, EHS&Q

As we all know under the OSHA ACT the requirement for workplace inspections is a legal requirement. The need for these workplace inspections is also a necessary part of our effective safety programs. The use of routine workplace inspections have been proven over time to have positive impacts on identifying existing and potential hazards in the workplace. As Safety professionals we then take this data and utilize it to correct hazards in house and make sure they do not happen again.

Read more ...

Contractor Prequalification – Safety Metrics

By Trish Ennis CSP, ARM, CRIS
Executive Director, Colorado Safety Association

Managing risk on a large project or energy campus is a critical activity for protecting business assets. Requiring suppliers and contractors to go through a prequalification process is one element of reducing risk. A comprehensive prequalification process will enable an owner to benchmark the financial strength, risk management procedures, and safety performance of a potential contractor against acceptable standards. There are numerous services available to provide these prequalification services to owners, such as ISNetworld, Avetta, PEC Safety, BROWZ, Ariba and many other prequalification systems. 

Read more ...

COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Guidance

By Trish Ennis CSP, ARM, CRIS
Executive Director, Colorado Safety Association

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been a long and challenging experience for people across the globe. The good news is that there are vaccines being deployed in the United States under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The challenge facing employers now is the question of whether to make a vaccine policy mandatory. Can employers require a worker to show proof of vaccination before they are allowed to return to work?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the best source for employers interested in guidance on the question of vaccines in the workplace. The current position of the EEOC is that employers may require workers to obtain a vaccine before they can return to work. There are some limitations that employers must consider however, in order to avoid violating a variety of antidiscrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The following link provides a significant amount of information on this topic. Vaccines are addressed under section K. 

https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

Read more ...

Is it Dangerous to Work in or Live Close to Industrial Sites?

By Connie Fabre, President & CEO, Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA)

Have you ever heard someone ask this question? Most people working in industry enjoy the prosperity that their jobs have brought to them and their families, however when people claim that industrial jobs are unsafe or that industry is harming our environment, some might wonder whether there is any merit to these claims. Although the vocal few speaking against industry can cause people to question, the data does not support their claims. 

When it comes to safe jobs, industrial plant, maintenance, and construction work fare better than working for many service jobs. The Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) number measures the number of people who sustain a non-fatal injury among 200,000 hours worked. In the U.S. in 2019 (the latest information available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), petroleum refiners averaged a 0.4, down from 0.7 in 2018, while manufacturing as a whole averaged 3.3. As a comparison, retailers averaged 3.4, hospitals 5.5, and state and local government 4.6. So, how does the petrochemical industry achieve such a good record? Sharing best practices, tackling common issues through associations and organizations such as ARSC, is a hallmark of this industry, however, it is each company and each employee’s attitude and focus on safety that makes the difference. Companies expend incredible resources to ensure that employees meet daily, complete Job Safety Analyses, Hazard Analyses, and training upon training in every aspect of hazards possible and how to avoid injury.  Companies have pep rallies for safety and are unrelenting in convincing employees to believe that “ZERO incidents” is an achievable goal.

Read more ...

My Experience with Covid-19

by Sylvia Villarreal
Administrator, Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils

I have been that person who did not take Covid-19 as seriously as I should. Because I took every precaution required to keep myself and my family safe from contracting the virus, I thought that I wouldn’t get it. Boy was I wrong! I unfortunately still fell victim to it. Like most everyone else, I had no clue where I could have contracted the virus. This is my story, and how the virus personally affected me.

In mid-December, I started feeling my allergy symptoms again. I am prone to seasonal allergies and can quickly recognize it if it is just simple allergies. These allergies require me to take over the counter medicine. That evening, I began to feel very tired, more so than usual. I brushed it off as just having a long day, and I was simply mentally drained. The next morning, still dealing with the sniffles, sneezing, and coughing, I got up and went to work. I figured my allergy medication should have or would be kicking in at any moment.                                                  

Read more ...

Safety Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implementing a Digital Site Audit/Inspection plan.

by James Hinton
Director, EHS&Q

The COVID-19 pandemic has given way to a multitude of problems and resolutions for the safety professional. One large problem is how to complete safety inspections/audits when we need to reduce travel and limit exposure to the virus at facilities and construction sites?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced safety professionals to take a very holistic and integrated approach toward site inspections and audits. The safety professional must be able to maintain facility site safety through regular inspections and audits to keep the sites in safe a condition for the employees and the public. Safety professionals have been able to quickly adapt to the pandemic’s resulting issues in many inventive ways.  They have the ability to complete required and needed site safety audits and inspections while still complying with COVID-19 safety recommendations.

Read more ...

Think About This: How can we write a safety program that someone can use?

By Trish Ennis CSP, ARM, CRIS

Executive Director, Colorado Safety Association

Organizations and Safety Professionals spend lots of time and resources developing safety and health documentation, for good reasons. These documents are created for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to:

  • Meeting legal requirements
  • Defining and documenting compliance requirements
  • Providing details about safety rules and procedures

Despite the amount of time and effort put in to these documents, they are relatively dense, filled with technical language (jargon), and frequently hard to navigate. What if we focused on the psychology of how people access and read information based on the intent of that information? What if our safety documentation was designed to accommodate how people look for cues and read information?

Read more ...

Revised Guidance from OSHA When Work-related Infections Must Be Reported

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Chair

On September 30, 2020, OSHA released revised guidance redefining the triggering event determining when employers must report that a worker has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.

These changes are contained in three Frequently Asked Questions added to OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage that outline the need to report employees’ in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from work-related exposures to the coronavirus. The new FAQs offer guidance on how to apply OSHA’s existing injury and illness recording and reporting requirements to the coronavirus, how to calculate reporting deadlines for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities, and define “incident” as it relates to work-related coronavirus in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities.

Read more ...

Safety and Meditation

By Jennifer Williams
EHS Program Manager

Take a moment to think about how many times you have completed an injury investigation that leaves you scratching your head and wondering if you should just bubble wrap everything or everyone.  You have put controls in place from every corrective action decision tree, yet you still find yourself thinking that there is nothing left to do. Is this simple “common sense” or is it?

Consider the most intelligent person you know - who always makes the correct judgement calls - gets injured in a “common sense” accident. You should take “common sense” out of your mind and replace it with their state of mind. “Common sense” has nothing to do with safety on the job; however, the employee state of mind has EVERYTHING to do with safety on the job.

Read more ...

Total Worker Health and Planning for Emergencies: Resources for OSH Professionals

By Trish Ennis CSP, ARM, CRIS
Executive Director, Colorado Safety Association

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Professionals are frequently on the front line of responding to emergencies and critical incidents in the workplace. Emergency response activities present unique risks to responders, due to the unknown nature of the hazards and the heightened sense of urgency to take quick action. Training is key in situations like this. Planning for and caring for workers in emergency response is a component of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Total Worker Heath initiative. According to NIOSH, “Total Worker Health® (TWH) is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.” The Surgeon General has determined work has a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of people, as many employed US adults spend over half of their waking lives at work, or engaging in work activities. The graphic below, from the NIOSH TWH page shows how assessing risk leads to understanding so that effective policies and programs can be developed.

Read more ...

Effectively Working Safety Incentives!

By James Hinton
Director, EHS&Q

We all know how Safety incentive programs are utilized to increases our employee’s participation in Safety in the workplace and to help promote safety, but does this strategy work? Some recent studies have shown what all safety professionals know, which is that they DO work! The issue is that the studies show excellent results in short term, but, as the programs linger in time, the benefits of the programs do not last long.

Read more ...

The ARSC Reciprocal ProtectWatch Course

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Chair

In 2015 the ARSC Owners Advisory Committee (OAC) requested that ARSC develop a new course to train Confined Space Attendants, Fire Watches and Supplied Air Attendants. The goal was to have a standardized course that the owners knew met their requirements. Owners would no longer need to audit their contractors’ or third-party providers’ training programs to ensure these critical positions are adequately trained. The ARSC Curriculum Committee took a course that was developed by an ARSC member and modified it for their use. It was implemented in August of 2017.  The course was not widely used because it did not meet the owners’ needs.

Read more ...

OSHA Recordability of Coronavirus 2019 Cases

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Chair

COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in all parts of the U.S.  Workers in all industries are susceptible to the virus.  Employers have the duty to determine if any confirmed positive cases should be recorded according to 29 CFR 1904.  Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 exposure is a recordable illness and an employer’s responsibility to record the case if:

  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria described in 29 CFR 1904.7

 Because the virus spreads so easily and employees can be exposed to it at and away from work, work relatedness can be difficult to determine.  To assist their Certified Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) OSHA published enforcement discretion guidelines for them on April 10, 2020.  On May 26 OSHA updated those guidelines that are still in effect https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-05-19/revised-enforcement-guidance-recording-cases-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.

Read more ...

Viewing Safety Through a Performance-Based Looking Glass

By R. Ronald Sokol, CSP
President and CEO of Safety Council of Texas City

As safety professionals, we are dedicated to the protection of people, property and the environment. Our success is often measured in the amount of human suffering we prevent as we chart OSHA rates for recordable injuries, lost workday cases or cases of restricted work activity. We attempt to quantify our success as we compare past results against current performance. If the needle trends downward, we pat ourselves on the back, notify management and tout the success of our safety efforts. We become singular in focus as if the success or failure of our organization is predicated on this sole outcome. This type of thinking causes us to be pigeon-holed in our world, many times, outside of the heartbeat of the organization and its leadership. We are brought into the Board room to report on a certain situation and promptly escorted out once our information and expertise are no longer needed. It is a sad reality that this is how a large majority of safety professionals operate. If this is how you operate, the question becomes, why should I change and, if I do, how do I change?

Read more ...

How COVID-19 has Affected Our Safety Councils

By Katie Cerar
Co-Administrator, Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils

The Coronavirus has touched all of us in one way or another. It has called on us to stay home and socially distance ourselves from the ones we love the most. It has affected businesses both big and small and cost others their jobs. The members of the Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils have also been affected. Eighteen of our members had to close their doors at one point during this pandemic, as of May 20th, only seven remain closed. Others have had to alter their hours of operation and use extreme precaution when handling any task. All of the safety councils that are still offering courses are using the best practices to limit the spread of COVID-19. Not only are they utilizing the CDC’s recommendations of washing hands and avoiding close contact, they are also limiting their class sizes and avoiding contact with student’s personal possessions like IDs and paperwork.

Read more ...

The ARSC Curriculum Committee

By Trevonna Hayle
Administrator, ARSC

It’s safe to say that the heart of ARSC is our program curriculum. The Curriculum Committee’s mission is to assure the integrity of ARSC’s Basic Orientation Plus® and Basic Orientation Plus – Refresher®, as well as any additional reciprocal programs developed by ARSC.

The Curriculum Committee meets quarterly to discuss the development of new programs and updates to existing programs. Throughout the year, they work to complete the action items that arise from the quarterly meetings. ARSC Members are encouraged throughout the year to notify the committee of any program edits they feel are necessary. Programs are updated no more than once per year unless there is a change in safety standards that requires an immediate update.

Read more ...

Answering Some of the Frequently Asked Questions About ARSC Programs

By Trevonna Hayle
Administrator, Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils

It is important that you know we are here to answer all questions you may have at any time about ARSC programs. Here are answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Q. Is there a way to take Basic Orientation Plus online?
A. No. All ARSC training programs, including Basic Orientation Plus and Basic Orientation Plus Refresher, must be taken in person at a safety council. 

Q. Do you have an option to take Basic Orientation Plus in Spanish?
A. While ARSC does offer Basic Orientation Plus and Basic Orientation Plus Refresher to our members in Spanish, the course is not delivered at all locations. You should check your local safety council to learn if this program is available at their location.

Read more ...

The ARSC Reciprocal Confined Space Construction Standard Course

By David Womack, Ph.D.
Safety and Health Manager, HSEQ & ARSC Owners Advisory Committee Chair 

In 2010 the ARSC Owners Advisory Committee (OAC) requested that ARSC develop a new course on the Confined Space Construction standard that was recently published by OSHA (Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926). ARSC members along with input from the OAC developed the course which was approved by the ARSC Board of Directors in August 2012. The course was revised in 2018.

The target audience for the course is contract employees that will act as confined space entrants and/or attendants. Many owner companies require all contract employees that will enter a confined space or act as an attendant to take this course to ensure they have the basic training to perform these tasks.

Read more ...